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January 1, 1973

The Mind and its Computer

Author Affiliations

Manchester, Conn

JAMA. 1973;223(1):82-83. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220010068037

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To the Editor.—  A point of view, perhaps an odd one, that intrigues me is the frequent resemblance of the human mind to a computer, particularly in those areas dealing with reactionary as opposed to instinctive behavior. When the input to a person's mind is nonsense, the output is also apt to be nonsense—just as it is in the case of the computer. There are numberless examples that I believe will show that this is so. When people's minds are programmed to react in a certain way, it is only with the greatest effort that they can be made to respond in any other way. This may explain in part the conditioned reflex, the mechanism of habit, so-called "brain washing," and the compelling forces of tradition or custom.A simple hypothetical case to illustrate the above thesis could be structured as follows: A little old lady was accustomed to crossing