How We Read Each Other’s Minds
TED Talk: Speaker Rebecca Saxe
Notations by Jennifer Kiley
Created on Thursday 5th December 2013
Posted On Thursday 5th December 2013
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Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other’s minds
Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural
talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca
Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the
brain thinks about other peoples’ thoughts — and judges
Alan Greenspan said: “I know you think you understand
what you thought I said but I am not sure you realize
what you heard is not what I meant.”
Three things about the project:
1. Special brain
2. Development of the system
3. Difference between people
Special brain region: It is where you think thoughts.
Kids learn that other people can have beliefs that
are different then their own.
No. 1 Kid leaves a cheese sandwich on a Pirate chest
A wind comes along & blows away the cheese sandwich
onto the grass.
No. 2 Kid comes along. He loves cheese sandwiches too.
He has a cheese sandwich and takes a bite of it.
He decides he needs to go to do something so he puts
his cheese sandwich on the Pirate chest.
No. 1 Kid returns with his soda he goes to eat his
cheese sandwich. Which cheese sandwich does he take.
He takes the cheese sandwich on the Pirate chest.
Was he bad for taking No. 2 Kid’s cheese sandwich?
No. 2 Kid sees that Kid No. 1 taking his cheese
sandwich. What should he think?
Grace & a friend were taken on a tour of a chemical
factory & they were taking a break. Her friend said
she wanted a cup of coffee with some sugar.
What if Grace no. 1 when she went to get the coffee she
sees that there are two packets, one labelled poison.
Grace puts the packet of poison in her friend’s cup of
coffee & gave it to her friend.
It turns out the packet was not really poison.
Grace once again is on a tour with her friend &
her friend wants a cup of coffee. Grace goes for the
coffee & this time picks a packet that says sugar on
it & puts the packet into her friend coffee. She gives
her the cup of coffee.
It turns out that the sugar was actually
poison this time after all. Her friend dies.
How much is Grace to blame for either act?
One she puts poison in the coffee but it turns
out not to be poison.
Two she puts a packet she thinks is sugar into
the coffee & it turns out to be poison.
She tried to do harm when no harm was actually done.
And then she does harm with no intention to do harm.
What kind of punishment should Grace receive?
People feel it less ok when the person dies.
How responsible is she for either act?
We have a special brain system to be able to think
about other peoples thoughts. Judging other people.
Differences in adults. We develop this from the time
of childhood into adults. Developing moral judgements.
“The fact remains that getting people right is not what
living is all about anyway, it is getting them wrong, that is
living. Getting them wrong & wrong & wrong & then on
careful consideration, getting them wrong again.”
— Philip Roth
— Notations by Jennifer Kiley