Archive for the ‘Neurology’ Category

Ctenophora Rewriting 750 Million Years Of Neural Evolution

August 2, 2017

Ctenophora were long considered just a kind of jellyfish. Turns out that was a gross mistake. Indeed a Russian immigrant to the USA, Leonid Moroz, found that these animals were unrelated to jellyfish. In fact, ctenophora are so profoundly different from any other animal on Earth, that it has been discovered they are much older, and unrelated, to sponges (previously sponges were thought to be by far the oldest animals; now this is known to be wrong).

In 1995, Moroz tested the nerve cells of ctenophora for the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and nitric oxide, chemical messengers considered the universal instruments of the neural language of all and any animals. He didn’t find any of them.

Ctenophora were already known for having a serious nervous system, complete with neurons; but these first experiments by Moroz showed that ctenophora nerves are built from molecular building blocks – different from any other animal – using ‘a different chemical language’! says Moroz: he calls these animals ‘aliens of the sea’.

If vertebrates had not appeared, 200 million years after ctenophora, probably confining the latter into an ecological niche, civilization may have evolved from ctenophora.

An obscure force seems to compel the apparition of complex nervous systems to evolve. It is universal – not just on Earth, but also on inhabited exoplanets. And I will show roughly what it is, and where it comes from in a companion essay (to which this one is introductory).

Jellyfishes use muscles to flap their bodies and swim. Whereas ctenophora use thousands of cilia to swim. They can be very small, but the largest are 1.5 meter long (5 feet). Jellyfishes sting, ctenophora capture prey using two sticky tentacles that secrete glue. Ctenophora ambush their prey.  

Studies of ctenophora, starting 130 years ago, showed neuron masses, and, more recently, what looked like synapses. 

Ctenophore. It looks as if the ancestors of vertebrates MUSCLED out (serious pun intended!) the ctenophora. With sheer muscle power the cilia smarts ctenophora were thrown into a niche!

Moroz finally was able to make a “transcriptome” of the DNA of ctenophora in 2007.   5,000 or 6,000 gene sequences were actively turned on in the animal’s nerve cells. His team showed that Pleurobrachia lacked the genes and enzymes required to manufacture neurotransmitters seen in other animals. These missing neurotransmitters included the ones that Moroz found to be absent back in 1995 – serotonin, dopamine and nitric oxide – but also acetylcholine, octopamine, noradrenaline, etc. Ctenophora also lacked genes for receptors that to respond to conventional neurotransmitters.

As Moroz team put it in Nature:

“The origins of neural systems remain unresolved. In contrast to other basal metazoans, ctenophores (comb jellies) have both complex nervous and mesoderm-derived muscular systems. These holoplanktonic predators also have sophisticated ciliated locomotion, behaviour and distinct development. Here we present the draft genome of ten… ctenophore transcriptomes, and show that they are remarkably distinct from other animal genomes in their content of neurogenic, immune and developmental genes. Our integrative analyses place Ctenophora as the earliest lineage within Metazoa. This hypothesis is supported by comparative analysis of multiple gene families, including the apparent absence of HOX genes, canonical microRNA machinery, and reduced immune complement in ctenophores. Although two distinct nervous systems are well recognized in ctenophores, many bilaterian neuron-specific genes and genes of ‘classical’ neurotransmitter pathways either are absent or, if present, are not expressed in neurons. Our metabolomic and physiological data are consistent with the hypothesis that ctenophore neural systems, and possibly muscle specification, evolved independently from those in other animals.”

[Nature, June 2014. The ctenophore genome and the evolutionary origins of neural systems]

Further studies have confirmed that ctenophora have evolved earlier, and completely independently of other animals.

Ctenophora lack entire classes of genes that had been thought to be universal to all animals. These included so-called micro-RNA genes, which help to form specialised cell types in organs, and HOX genes, which divide bodies into separate parts, be it the segmented body of a worm or lobster, or the segmented spine and finger bones of a vertebrate.  Such genes are present in simple sponges and placozoa.

Ctenophora are the oldest type of animal known! (Moroz tried to publish a paper in 2009 which implicitly led to that conclusion; it was rejected. He then did more refined studies which led to the 2014 Nature paper.)

Moroz now counts up to 12 independent evolutionary origins of the nervous system. Including at least one in cnidaria (the group that includes jellyfish and anemones), three in echinoderms (the group that includes sea stars, sea lilies, urchins and sand dollars), one in arthropods (the group that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans), one in molluscs (the group that includes clams, snails, squid and octopuses), one in vertebrates – and now, at least one in ctenophora.

“There is more than one way to make a neuron, more than one way to make a brain,” says Moroz. In each of these evolutionary branches, different genes and proteins ensembles got elected through random gene mutations, to take part in building a nervous system. The details are completely different, yet, the big picture is the same!

And that’s no accident, as I will argue, there is an underlying Quantum force pushing towards intelligence… Thus Lamarck was right.

Moroz rejected much of what he was taught. Because his ‘initial hypothesis was exactly what was in the textbooks’, moving to the correct way of thinking about ctenophora took him 20 years.

Science is truth, but truth is not obvious. And searching for it is even more demanding.

Patrice Ayme’

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SUBCONSCIOUS (Theory Thereof!)

June 18, 2017

SUBCONSCIOUSNESS AS HIGHER DIMENSIONAL SPACES OF INCARNATED POTENTIALITIES:

I suggest the following: thesubconscious“, “unconscious”, or “preconscious” (“Vorbewusste”, Freud)  is, partly, the set of all weak synaptic (“Hebbian”) activity (in other words, all weak neural networks; yet, not only!). Thus, I propose that much of the so-called “subconscious” does not differ in nature from normal neuronal activity. The subconscious is not that… subconscious. A difference between conscious and subconscious is in intensity, the facility, of the neuronal pathways, not their nature.

(If you ask where I got this inspiration from, my own brain is a full lab at night, and not just at night; for example hard mountain running causes divided consciousness, but it also shuts down part of the brain, while opening others: thinking about the Foundations of Quantum Physics or Economics, or History, while running, or indulging in another passionate activity, gives completely different insights, contexts, and moods than when cuddling with one’s computer, precisely because parts of the brain shut down, including inhibitory regions… Introspection stays the main engine of philosophy, after all these years; see De La Mettrie’s fever, and his “machine man“, below)

The conscious would be where neuronal connections are strong, well-known. The subconscious would be WHERE connections are weak, and known only occasionally, during sleep, say. Thus the subconscious would be made, in part, of neuronal circuitry which got activated from UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, thus sparsely, rarely, occasionally, and thus established WEAK connections.

In Its Simplest Form, A Subconscious Connection Is Just A Little Used Neuronal Connection. There are more tentative engrams, and some just potential.

Where Are Consciousness & Subconsciousness Located? Configuration Spaces, Just As Quantum Spaces! 

Amusingly, yet deeply, some may ask where is this “WHERE“, I am talking about where the subconscious would be, in my opinion, somehow, somewhat located. They may sneer: ‘isn’t it all in the brain anyway? how can the conscious be in the same 3 dimensional space as consciousness?

So where is this “WHERE“? This “WHERE” is a mathematical space! Hey, why did you think Riemann invented high dimensional geometry for? Interestingly, tellingly, and somewhat connected, the same exact objection has been made when the likes of yours truly have claimed that “Quantum Waves Are Real“: some physicists haughtily sneered back that Quantum Waves couldn’t possibly be real, because they would have to be not just objects in three-dimensional space, like the average tsunami, but in so-called “configuration space“. No, seriously, guys, with Quantum Fields in zillions of dimensions superposed on top of each other, and an omnipresent non-zero “Higgs” field interacting with all other quantum fields, to give them mass, and an all too real as far as the LHC in Geneva has it?… Well, as far as I am concerned, configuration space is space, just like three-dimensional space, is space, it’s real… I am not a mathematician for no good reason!

***

Why Sentient Animals Sleep: So That They Can Think Creatively!

This little theory of part of the subconscious as weak neuronal connections explains in part why animals sleep. Indeed, how were those weak connections which end up constituting most of the subconscious  activated? How come they are not activated in normal, conscious life? Sleep! A trick to do so is by shutting down parts of the brain, and thus forcing connectivity in other parts and pathways. How to shut down part of the brain? With sleep or heavy exercise, or passion, including abject fear and mad hunger, tourism, etc…Shutting down part of the brain, including inhibitory circuitry and organs, forces the Will to Connect to use unusual pathways. If those make sense, they get pre-established, and should some real world situations INPUT resemble what was encountered previously in the inner brain, those networks, that means those logics, those solutions, will get activated…

The usual advantages of sleep are considered to be housecleaning and reviewing, and reinforcing the neurological pathways experienced during the day. What I am saying here is that sleep forces unusual neuronal activity, thus the imagination. It’s an essential way of obtaining creative intelligence.

***

Homme Machine, the Machine Man With A Twist: 

Julien Offray de La Mettrie (1709-1751), a physician born in Saint Malo, France, made observations on himself, during a feverish illness, referring to the action of quickened blood circulation upon thought, which led him to the conclusion that mental processes were to be accounted for as the effects of organic changes in the brain and nervous system. De la Mettrie argued that the organization of humans was done to provide the best use of complex matter as possible (this may have influenced Lamarck, and is as modern as possible: Quantum Field Theory find local minima of Lagrangians which depict energy; in a way a form of generalized economics…)

Julien Offray de la Mettrie, l’ Homme Machine! Obviously a Modern Psychology Animated Julien, But He Lived Only 42 Years (Same as his contemporary, Émilie Du Châtelet, discoverer of energy, infrared, etc.)

Most reasonable  Austrian-British philosopher cum physicist Karl Popper discussed de la Mettrie’s claim that man is a machine in relation to evolution and quantum physics:

“Yet the doctrine that man is a machine was argued most forcefully in 1751, long before the theory of evolution became generally accepted, by de La Mettrie; and the theory of evolution gave the problem an even sharper edge, by suggesting there may be no clear distinction between living matter and dead matter. And, in spite of the victory of the new quantum theory, and the conversion of so many physicists to indeterminism de La Mettrie’s doctrine that man is a machine has perhaps more defenders than before among physicists, biologists and philosophers; especially in the form of the thesis that man is a computer.”

From my point of view, this is not surprising. Indeterminism does not contradict the machine man. Far from it: it makes it possible. Indeterminism, the fuzziness of waves, smooths out and enriches everything, including in the brain: mechanics now does not mean wheels with teeth activating each other, but nonlinear waves crashing and interfering, a greater wealth of logic.

So, in my view, there is programmation, to generate pre-established connections but it’s self-generated, and those connections become self evolved… That’s a situation quite similar to what happens in biological evolution of the phenotype itself… And it’s related; namely lots of “instincts” are just evolved neurocircuitry. Evolved during one’s lifetime, even in a bee’s brain…

***

The Subconscious Is Not Reduced to Alternative Neuronal Networks: Influential Geometries and Topologies Are Crucial Too:

Are potential Hebbian networks all there could be to the unconscious? No. Some of the unconscious is of an even weaker nature. In that case the full neuronal connections were not made yet, but pathways still potentially exist, from the physical proximity of elements of potential paths…

The unconscious is the domain of possibilities and potentialities. The unconscious is a theoretician of the possible, the imaginable… So neuronal, glial, logical, emotional neighborhoods topologically close can well lead to unexpected, never experienced before connections. Those potentialities are also part of the unconscious. So the unconscious is not just (mini or pre-) Hebbian, about weak electric connections, but also about more subtle topologies (in the mathematical sense!). In particular emotional topologies. Thus the subconscious goes from weak Hebbian connections (what dreams are greatly made of) to topological conspiracies.

Take an example: why plutocrats love art so much; they will tell you that they have a sense of beauty, and I will tell you they have a sense of tax evasion; the plutocrats’ subconscious about art is that it enables tax evasion, by creating an untaxable, untaxed currency and store of value; but of course nothing a plutocrat in good standing will want to have pointed out in the plutocratically owned media. Nor anything that a plutocrat who wants to think highly about himself, or herself, would like to see pointed out, anywhere.

***

Consciously Connecting With Socrates’ Daemon, Monism, and the like:

Historically, the subconscious was defined as the part of consciousness that is not currently in focal awareness. The mechanisms I evoked above explain how that work. “Consciousness” is, first of all, an efficient administrator, not forgetting that the brain consumes up to an astounding 43% of the energy that a human uses. Thus “focal awareness” will favor networks with strong synapses bringing action readily. You can’t hesitate when those saber tooth lions come around, lest you want to become dinner. Hesitation, inaction, will surely kill you. Errors may be survivable (and the source of instruction).

The word “subconscious” is an anglicized version of the French subconscient as coined by the psychologist Pierre Janet (1859-1947), who argued that underneath the layers of deliberative, and critical thought functions of the conscious mind lay a powerful awareness that he called the subconscious mind. In my vision that awareness which lays waiting is an enormous construction zone of potential logics. (Logics in the widest meaning of the term, not just mathematical, or neuronal logic, but also emotional logics and even what viciously spiteful “philosophers” tend to call “pseudologia fantastica“; once Professor John Searle qualified me that way, to give him an excuse to censor me; now Searle is the object of various prosecutions…)

That continual attempted construction of all sorts of new logics, that is, of new circuitry, and new geometry (dendrites!) and topology, of course, uses an enormous amount of energy, as construction sites tend to. This is what the brain does most of the time (and, as most of this activity is not spurred by “focal awareness”, most of the time, this explains why neuroscience does not know (yet) what the brain is spending so much energy doing, most of the time).

There is a big difference between the unobserved brain, trying to establish new logics, and the brain in a social, and in particular, in a war mode. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as enabled some progress in envisioning how complex the brain is. The brain evolved as a social interface, not just as an efficient advanced calculus mathematician in charge of trajectories. As Wired UK put it in “Why does the brain uses so much energy?“: “Scans showed the inferior parietal cortex (IPC), an area that helps us control the amount of energy we use, became deactivated when people felt they were being observed. The IPC works with the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) to form what researchers called the “action-observation network” (AON). This area of the brain helps people infer what others are thinking based on facial expressions, body language and gaze.

In any case we are now able to figure out what that “daimon (demon)” who advised Socrates was made of: logical potentialities writ into various material connections and entanglements.

In Plato’s Symposium, the philosophical priestess Diotima teaches Socrates that love is not a deity, but rather a “great daemon”. She explains that “everything daemonic is between divine and mortal” and describes daemons as “interpreting and transporting human things to the gods and divine things to men; entreaties and sacrifices from below, and ordinances and requitals from above…” In Plato’s Apology of Socrates, Socrates claimed to have a daimonion (literally, a “divine something”) that frequently warned him… The Platonic Socrates, however, never refers to the daimonion as a daimōn; it was always referred to as an impersonal “something” or “sign”. Thus Socrates seems to indicate that the true nature of the human soul is pertaining to self-consciousness.

Regarding the various charges brought against Socrates in 399 CE, Plato surmised that “Socrates does wrong because he does not believe in the gods in whom the city believes, but introduces other daemonic beings…” Well those daemonic beings were all potentialities in his head.

Notice that the preceding turns around the problem of the traditional opposition made in philosophy between “monism“(the mind is material) and dualism (body and soul dichotomy). This is true, even without evoking quantum physics, because, even without slipping the ephemeral and ubiquitous Hilbert Spaces of quantum physics in the debate, the argument above implies that the brain geometrodynamics, and topological dynamics are extremely high dimensional objects, always fluctuating (quite a bit in the mood of Quantum Field Theory, and probably, ultimately, for the same underlying reason…)

Also notice that the overall mood of the explanation above is that logical and emotional potentialities are embodied in the brain, and that the brain’s main activity is to further them ever more through imaginable twists and turns (in several manners, including, but not limited to weak Hebbian connections). This is very similar to the potentialities which arise in quantum physics experiments. I believe that’s not coincidence, and that it corresponds to even tighter identification deep down inside, namely that consciousness, which has a lot of characteristics in common with the quantum, originates there; the machine man is quantum mechanical. Or Sub Quantum Real (SQPR!) more exactly.

“Gnosis”, the knowledge of spiritual mysteries, was, for millennia, mostly in the eye of the beholder. Science is now excavating some, spearheaded by the philosophical method. For the longest time, the likes of Joan of Arc, Muhammad, Jesus, Socrates, claimed to have heard voices in their heads, or get otherwise in contact with entities not pertaining to their own consciousness. Maybe, but now we have explanation we can all understand. We also understand why we should take the subconscious seriously: it’s a sort of pre-explanation of whatever may unfold later. It’s both clairvoyance, and exploratory explanatory genius of whichever logics fit best the reality out there

Run-of-the-mill knowledge should also be considered on the ground of synaptic capability. Thus “gnosis”, knowledge, and beliefs, should be evaluate according to the strength of synaptic connections, integrating Hebb theory…. Thus I am saying that knowledge is more or less known, belief more or less held, on the ground of how neurology works… Electronic circuits, the way we have electronics now either work, or they don’t (electronics is not yet quantum, and, presently, more akin to make water circulate in canal networks). Neurological networks works more or less. So do knowledge and beliefs then. When those networks work very well, consciousness. When they are barely there, subconsciousness…

Patrice Ayme’

Artificial Consciousness?

March 14, 2017

Move over, Artificial Intelligence! Artificial Consciousness, while not exactly around the corner, is in sight, as a human creation. I have already advocated, on very general philosophical grounds, that “Consciousness Is Quantum“. Now an article in Aeon argues, reproducing rather murkily Heidegger-like Zeitgeist, that “The body is the missing link for truly intelligent machines“. I will argue a bit more precisely, and it is not the first time, that machines are embodied self-creating intelligent designs. When brains learn from the environment, they self-create accordingly. (The details will probably involve a better knowledge of Quantum Physics than what we presently enjoy.)

Well before his famous parrots (Husserl, Heidegger, etc.) the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was saying that we think with our gut. Expressions such as “take heart”, “from the heart”, “gut feeling”, and countless others show that the body was long thought to be the source of emotion.

Indeed, neurology extends over the body: there are neurons, dozens of thousands of them, in the heart, guts, spinal cord.

One may view the rise of animals as the rise of organized intelligence. It is likely that, even before DNA, the sort of teleological intelligence Quantum Physics deploys was hijacked by biology (teleo means: at a distance, this comes from the nonlocality of Quantum Physics; “intelligence”, because all and any Quantum Process proceeds as an intelligent choice between various possibilities, encompassing all, thanks to said nonlocality!)

Innards of an Eukaryotic Cell. We are made of trillions of them. Each has hundreds of organs, each functioning as a Quantum Computer. Such cells appeared 2.5 billion years ago. They are vastly more complex than bacteria, and remarkable by their mastery of Quantum Computing.

This natural selection of intelligent self-design, by the way, is the missing piece of evolutionary theory: consciousness, from bio-engineered intelligent design.

Inside the thinking organism, the same propensity towards higher intelligence should be at work (haphazard selection being bound to find, in the end, the best system). Sleep is mostly flight simulation, where plausible scenarios are self-run, memorized, and meditated upon. The “Meta” function is known to be plausibly activated by new dendrites, new synapses, new neurons, and neurons which control myelination along axons (making them more or less conductive, here or there).

This means that software activation in the brain brings hardware modifications, and even gigantic hardware creation. Through intelligent (self-)design. We were looking for Intelligent Design, in their silliness. And it was us, all along!

Throughout, Quantum Processes are run, more or less haphazardly thanks to whatever stimulation the cosmos brings.

Cosmic rays modify the behavior of smart phones and computers… although those do not, yet, operate Quantum Mechanically (aside from a few prototype Quantum computers), and are larger by orders of magnitude than the smallest biological scale.  Whereas it is known in the case of a few biological systems, that Quantum Physics is central and essential for their functioning (for example chlorophyll). One can guess it is the same all over the finest biology, even for the genetic code (the hydrogen bonds therein are fragile Quantum devices, very sensitive to the environment surrounding the DNA; they will change if said environment changes)

Thus brains are embodied Quantum computers, constantly running, constantly self-recreating, and body-building according to what they perceive out there 

The day we can have Quantum hardware endowed with the same nature, capable of the same feats, we will not just have created Artificial Intelligence. We will have created AC, Artificial Consciousness. The ethical and security consequences will be many.

Patrice Ayme’

Hormones Rule Reason

January 30, 2017

Is reason free as a bird? Well, first birds are not that free, and reason springs from brain organization, something that biochemistry built.

Old wisdom: there is reason, and then there is its opposite, its enemy, irrationality. New wisdom: reason is context dependent and context is hormonally determined.

In turn, hormones are dependent upon cognitive environment…

(Nietzsche already wrote people thought with their stomach:”a spirit is more similar to a stomach”. A general mood already found in Napoleon’s writings:”an army marches on its stomach”.)

Indeed, there are the hormones everybody has heard of, but less noticed are neurohormones, more recently discovered. Neurohormones double as neurotransmitters. Dependent upon hormonal, and neurohormonal activity, part of the brain gets active (at least that’s my hypothesis). So what? So, mental inertia. Reason does not remain a question of logic as found in logic text books, but also a question of chemical logic, and vast inertia, as sub-organs within the brain gets active, or asleep: a sub-organ will develop according to activity (say posterior pituitary gland, versus its anterior part: they secrete different neurohormones!)

There Are 50 Neurohormones Known. Moreover, There Are More Ephemeral "Neurohumors"... These Chemical Universe Means Bias & Inertia

There Are 50 Neurohormones Known. Moreover, There Are More Ephemeral “Neurohumors”… These Chemical Universe Means Bias & Inertia

Tied up with that concept of chemical machines as the factories of reason within the brain, is psycho-rigidity, also called by me “mental inertia”.

A practical example: many anti-Trumpists revel in hatred at this point. Differently from other activists such as Islamists, anti-abortionists, neoconservatives, etc., they are unfamiliar with hatred, they are accustomed to it, and they really love it. After a few months of this, they may find it addictive, and pursue it by sheer mental inertia.

Reason is not just about building neuronal connections, it’s about building chemical factories within the brain. Factories are infrastructure: they don’t go up, or down, easily.

So, if one wants to become a superior mind, not cannot just cultivate one’s logic and facts carefully, and hope for the best. To reach the highest and best reason, one also has to manage which experiences, emotions, or types of emotions one engages in, and one has engaged in, carefully: emotions and experiences build up the brain, one just cognitively, logically, but in its very chemical infrastructure, and what one has the propensity to engage in, like, love, or detest. Mental imprinting, even apparently distant imprinting, even apparently distant imprinting of one’s feelings, impacts one’s subsequent capability to generate superior reason.

So one cannot just think about a subject, roll-out the Socratic method, and get it right. One has first to be in the appropriate mood. Socrates did not know this, and that’s why he ended up drinking hemlock, after 501 members of the jury found “he had corrupted the youth” (Socrates’ students and lovers imposed dictatorship and various lethal mishaps upon Athens, and it was widely considered that Socrates taught his students, many more than 40 years younger than him, in a way which was not appropriate; Athens lost her empire, and half her population in the war…)

Speaking of Socrates, indeed, the philosopher was widely viewed, at the time, as “anti-demos”. Still, Socrates is always, apparently always very logical. So how could Socrates be both very logical, and very wrong? Simple. Socrates was chemically disposed against the total democracy instituted by Pericles (and his top philosopher friends and lovers) which made Athens a lasting jewel for civilization. Thus he rolled out plenty of very logical logic against democracy.

The brouhaha against the Trump order against immigrants from seven countries gave several examples of a similar type. Obama’s spokesman said“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,”

Motivated by a mood of cheap vengeance, (but I can understand the motivation of jumping in at the first occasion,) and with the advantage of getting in the interventionist mindset (which I advocated). Also wrong in several ways: first Trump said it was not “anti-Muslim” (there too, the occasion was too good to show everybody who the boss was… while rushing US Army tanks to the Baltics, to help sober up Putin in advance of NATO deployment in Spring).

Second, and more importantly, we DO discriminate against faiths or religions: more than 99.9% of historical faiths and religions are outlawed in Republics such as the USA or France (and their many parrots around). Did you try a human sacrifice, Gallic, Punic, or Aztec style recently? Or eat someone, Polynesian style, as happened when the esteemed Captain Cook got cooked in Hawai’i? No. Not really: it’s not our taste anymore. A question of stomach, in more way than one.

This means that we do discriminate against individuals who would insist on bringing back those faiths or religions. And why? Because such faith and individuals promoting them are incompatible with Republican law.

That is exactly the case of those faiths and individuals promoting “Sharia”, the so-called “Muslim law”, which is incompatible with Republican law. If we get in a mood of compromise, there, we will hurt, fatally in the long run, the Republic. With Sharia, the proper mood for the Republic is not tolerance, but abrogation and retribution against its unlawful promoters.

I will give another example soon of chemistry ruling reason: Sartre, De Beauvoir and other “existentialists” being all too existential, namely ruled by a mood all too sympathetic too pleasing to those who have the biggest stick around, and above. Those had a mood of submission (as Obama did), a brain chemically made for submission, not rebellion (whereas Camus did, and so did most real resistance fighters).

Any logic, logical textbooks will reveal, is bounded by the universe in which it is applied. Alternative facts will call on a different universe, thus a different logic. And those universes are chemically dependent.

I don’t believe in the multiverse as a foundation for physics. However, the multiverse is a fact, for reason itself. And those various universes are made from alternative facts and chemistry.

How we feel, how we felt, implies how we think, and will think. I think, therefore, I am in some universe, somewhere. Reason is not the end-all, be-all. And one of the reasons for the lack of reason, beyond emotion, is that logic itself is not one: consider the Incompleteness Theorems in metamathematics. Beyond those, modern logic has been demonstrated to be pretty much anything we want. And we want what feels good.

Reason has its reason that only the heart knows.

Patrice Ayme’

Bees Learn From Culture & Experience

October 25, 2016

When “INSTINCT” IN BEES:TURNS OUT TO BE LEARNING JUST AS HUMANS DO. Bees Practice The Experimental Method, Observe Others & Transmit Knowledge To Others!

Bumblebees can experiment and learn to pull a string to get a sugar water reward and then pass that skill on to other bees.

This comforts a long-held opinion of mine. See: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/instinct-is-fast-learning/.

There I claimed that:

“Innate Knowledge” is a stupid idea. The truth is the exact opposite: LEARNING IS EVERYWHERE, OUT THERE. Learning is the opposite of innate. This insight has tremendous consequences on our entire prehension of the world.

My reasoning was typical philosophy: well-informed general reasons. Now there is increasing evidence that not only big brained vertebrates, but smaller brained invertebrates learn.

Conclusion: we humans do not differ from other animals, even insects, in kind, but in the amount of capability we enjoy. Thus, if we want to be truly human as much as we cannot just lay there like cows.  If we want to be fully human we must learn more of what is significant, and learn how to learn it. We cannot just sit on our hands and do as Barack Obama, the do-not much not-so-funny clown in chief, did, obsess about easy one liners and sport scores.

***

Intelligence Is A Fact, Instinct Just A Vague Theory:

For years, cognitive scientist Lars Chittka was intimidated by studies of apes, crows, parrots, and other brainy giants. Crows make tools. And they obviously talk to each other (my personal observation in the mountains). From the latest research in Brazil, parrots seem to have advanced language among themselves (which we don’t understand yet, as it too fast and high pitch for humans to hear it, and there is too much “austerity” around to pay scientists to understand the world as much as they could).

Chittka worked on bees, and almost everyone assumed that the insects acted on so-called instinct, not intelligence. Instinct? Come again.

As Bumblebees Can Learn To Pull Strings, So Can Plutocrats. Thus We Need To Outlaw Such Pluto Strings

Hillary Pulling Out Her Reward? As Bumblebees Can Learn To Pull Strings, So Can Plutocrats. Thus We Need To Outlaw Such Pluto Strings

Sophisticated behavior from “instinct” is a rather stupid assumption, because it is a superfluous assumption: Who needs instinct to explain an animal’s behavior, when we have simple, old fashion intelligence to explain it? Well, speciesists! (Same as who needs the Big Bang, a theory, when we have Dark Energy, a fact, to explain the expansion of the universe.)

Indeed we know of intelligence (some people, and certainly children, can be observed to have it). We can observe intelligence, and roughly understand how it works (it works by establishing better neurology, that is, neurology which fits facts better).

We can define intelligence, we cannot define instinct. But what is an instinct? We can neither observe “instinct”, for sure, instead of learning. Nor can we give a plausible mechanism of how “instinct” would generate complex behaviors (DNA does not code for “instinct”).  

When carefully analyzed, complex behaviors turn out to be learned. In humans, social motivations such as the Will to Power, are primary, thus Chitkka was motivated by : “…a challenge for me: Could we get our small-brained bees to solve tasks that would impress a bird cognition researcher?”

***

Einstein Bumblebees & Their Superstrings:

Now, it seems his team has succeeded in duplicating, with insects, what many birds and mammals are famous for. It shows that bumblebees can not only learn to pull a string to retrieve a reward, but they can also learn this trick from other bees, even though they have no experience with such a task in nature. Christian Rutz, a bird cognition specialist at St. Andrews university in Scotland concludes that the study “successfully challenges the notion that ‘big brains’ are necessary for new skills to spread”.  

Chittka and his colleagues set up a clear plastic table barely tall enough to lay three flat artificial blue flowers underneath. Each flower contained a well of sugar water in the center and had a string attached that extended beyond the table’s boundaries. The only way the bumble bee could get the sugar water was to pull the flower out from under the table by tugging on the string.

The team put 110 bumblebees, one at a time, next to the table to see what they would do. Some tugged at the strings and gave up, but two actually kept at it until they retrieved the sugar water: two Einstein bees out of 110! In another series of experiments, the researchers trained the bees by first placing the flower next to the bee and then moving it ever farther under the table. More than half of the 40 bees tested learned what to do with the strings. See: .Associative Mechanisms Allow for Social Learning and Cultural Transmission of String Pulling in an Insect.

Next, the researchers placed untrained bees behind a clear plastic wall so they could see the other bees retrieving the sugar water. More than 60% of the insects that watched knew to pull the string when it was their turn. In another experiment, scientists put bees that knew how to pull the string back into their colony and a majority of the colony’s workers picked up string pulling by watching one trained bee do it when it left the colony in search of food. The bees usually learned this trick after watching the trained bee five times, and sometimes even after one single observation. Even after the trained bee died, string pulling continued to spread among the colony’s younger workers.   

But pulling a string does not quite qualify as tool use, because a tool has to be an independent object that wasn’t attached to the flower in the first place. Yet other invertebrates have shown they can use tools: Digger wasps pick up small stones and use them to pack down their burrow entrances, for example.

***

Bees: New Aplysias For Intelligence & Culture?

Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, following a mentor of his in Paris, worked on the brain of the giant California sea snail, Aplysia Californica with its 26,000 neurons. This enabled to progress in the understanding of basic learning and memory mechanisms. However, Aplysias are not into tools and culture. Bees are. Bees have a million neurons, and a billion synapses.

[The bee brain is only .5 mm; whereas the human brain is ~ 400 larger, thus 4x 10^2 larger, its volume is thus ~ 10^2 x 10^6 = 10^8 larger than that of the bee brain; thus scaled up, with the same neuronal density, the human brain should have 10^14 neurons! Which is the number of synapses in the human brain. The density of the bee brain Thus we see, in passing, that human neurons pack up much more power than bee neurons! That has got to be a quantitative difference…]

The discovery of bee culture involved almost 300 bees, documenting how string pulling spread from bee to bee in multiple colonies. Cognitive studies of vertebrates like birds and monkeys typically involve smaller tribal units (30, not 300). Thus the bee studies on culture, more broadly based, show better propagation (at least at this point). .

Clearly bees are equipped, psychobiologically, for the meta behavior known as creative culture: learning from others, while experimenting on one’s own. Thinkers of old used to believe these behaviors were exclusively humans: animals were machines (Descartes) and only man used tools (Bergson, who called man ‘Homo Faber”, Homo Worker)

That insect can learn and experiment, and have culture was obvious all along, according to my personal observations of wasps’ intelligence: when I threaten a wasp. It gets the message, and flies away (I have done the experiment hundreds of times; it does not work with mosquitoes). Reciprocally, if I try to get a wasp out from behind a window, it somewhat cooperates, instead of attacking me. Whereas if I come next to a nest, I will be attacked when my intent is deemed aggressive (reciprocally if a nest is established in a high traffic area, the culture of the local wasps makes it so that they will not attack).   

What is the neural basis for these “smarts”? Some say that the insects might not be all that intelligent, but that instead, “these results may mean that culture-like phenomena might actually be based on relatively simple mechanisms.” Hope springs eternal that, somehow, human intelligence is different.

Don’t bet on it. Studying how bees think will help us find how, and why, we think. And the first conclusion is that it matters what we do with our brains. If we want to rise above insects, we cannot mentally behave as if we were insects all day long. Being endowed with human intelligence is not just an honor, but a moral duty. (Learn that, clown in chief!)

Patrice Ayme’

Civilization & Its Mad Haters

September 25, 2016

Anti-West Propaganda: Dumb Yet Unexamined In Causes and Extent:

There is colossal anti-West propaganda going on. I will give a striking example here: asinine graphics from no less than “The Economist” (I had noticed it when it came out, but now it has gone viral). Propaganda is not just made of systems of ideas, but systems of moods. For example, racism or ‘esclavagisme’ are certainly moods. So is nationalism. The mood that civilization, in its present form, did not blossom in Europe, is just counter-factual… And as we will see below, insane, serpentine, base and villainous. And self-serving to a malevolent elite.

Anti-Western propaganda is also anti-civilizational propaganda. Many will disagree with this; because they have been thoroughly molded by anti-Western propaganda. But actually, it is pretty clear: the United Nations charter is the French Declaration Des Droits, written large… (The various US “Bills” and “Independence Declaration” or “Constitution” are not far removed.)

Who would have interest to undermine Western ideology, also as known as civilization? Those who want to undermine correct civilization. The one and only. And replace it by plutocracy (evil boosted oligarchy).

So what did The Economist do? It published these cute, authoritatively spoken of, yet viciously lying graphics:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/10/daily-chart-9

Just restricting Europe to “Italy” means nothing. For most of the history of the place presently known as “Italy”, “Italy” did not exist. Here is the real situation before Charlemagne conquered Eastern Europe (including the Avars in Hungary).  

Europe 800 CE, Before Franks Conquered Eastern Europe. The Franks reconquered Britannia in 1066 CE, giving birth to the present polity there.

Europe 800 CE, Before the Franks Conquered Eastern Europe. The Franks reconquered Britannia in 1066 CE, giving birth to the present polity there. (Yes, they called themselves “Franks” or “Europeans”.)

The description given by The Economist incredibly shrinks Europe, by comparing provinces of Europe, with giant multinational, multireligious empires. “The Economist’s” brain-molding will work only for those who know nothing of the history of the Indian subcontinent, nothing of the history of “China” and nothing of the history of Europe. Comparing two empires, India and China, with portions of the European world and its colonies is both stupid and biased, to the extreme.

So the entire idea of The Economist’s graphs (‘China back on top!’) is silly: It is little more than comparison of demographics. And wrong demographics: implicitly identifying “Italy” as its own power in 1 CE is exhibiting a total ignorance of Roman history and politics (the Gallic tribe of the Senones had captured, centuries earlier, Northern Italy, and defeated Rome; in 1 AD, Gallia Transalpina, North Italy, was still administratively, part of Gaul).

If one wants Western GDP in 1 CE,  one has to look at the entire Roman Empire, and add Britannia and Germania.  That would make for the world’s largest GDP (Rome had already 25% of the world’s population, then, more than 60 millions, and the richest areas, like Syria (!); East Asian populations would explode later, from new rice cultivars producing two harvests a year).

In the West, the (legal, political, civilizational, linguistic, imperial, spiritual!) successor of Rome was Francia (“Imperium Francorum”). It was synchronous with Tang China, and comparable in population, extent and GDP (Tang controlled a gigantic desert far west of not much import on GDP). Tang was a high point of Chinese civilization complete with empresses (like Francia!) and printed paper money.

So why not consider just GDP within the Central China Plain, if one wants to compare with portions of Europe?

China, to this day, is made, officially, of one hundred ethnicities (several times more than Europe). China was rarely united in the last 4,000 years. When Genghis Khan’s army invaded “China”, “China” was actually made of several empires with different languages and religions.

Ditto with India (many parts of India were independent nation-states with their own languages, alphabets, religions, for most of their history).

***

Ironically Enough, Those Who Promote Civilizational Decay Bemoan ‘Shrinking Europe’:

That Europe is shrinking, there is no doubt. As soon as Europe finally orders Apple Inc., the world’s largest market cap company, to pay more than 1% tax, Washington screams, and then right away retaliate by ordering Deutsche Bank to pay 14 billion dollars in fine. What does Europe do? Bleat. Even the anti-Euro Stiglitz admits that we are dealing here with a “fraud”. “Frauds” like that undermine Europe, by undermining the tax base of countries such as France, hence the French or British military and defense financing, hence system, thus all what’s left of European defense, and so on. (In the next step, naturally enough, Europe makes humiliating treaties with the Turkish Sultan, as Europe does not have the military will, let alone the military strength to go re-establish order in neighboring Syria!… and leaves the Russian and American empires in control, free to extend the mess ad nauseam).

In “Charlemagne”, The Economist pontificates that: “Unshrinking the continent: Europeans see themselves as mouse-sized. They need to man up…output in 11 EU countries has yet to recover to 2007 levels. Large economies, like France and particularly Italy, are struggling. The IMF has downgraded its forecasts for the euro zone, warning of the risks posed by Brexit. Unemployment remains over 10%, twice the American rate. And there is precious little thinking about long-term challenges like ageing, infrastructure or education. ”

Why would one to “man up”, when one is told one was always insignificant, wrong, colonialist, exploitative, cruel and degenerate? Did not insignificance and all these other wrongs work pretty well? In the fullness of time?

In truth, Europe spread civilization by the sword, and then the gun (against all sorts of established plutocrats, often, not always, to put in place neo-plutocrats). Field guns were developed by southern French to win the “100” Hundred Year War against Northern France and England… A bit earlier, the Mongols used rockets rather than guns. Later the giant “Ottoman” guns which fell the walls of Constantinople were actually made by hungarian engineers…

Civilization without guns, that’s called pasta.

Implicitly, “The Economist” concludes the same:”Hormones Needed”. Yes, well, hormones, the right hormones, come from the right moods. And that comes, in turn, from a correct version of history. The right moods come only from a correct version of history, in the individual, as much as in a civilization. 

***

Why So Much Hatred Against The West, In The West? Why So much hatred Against Civilization?

The bottom line is that civilization has always been victim of a chronic disease, plutocracy. Plutocracies rest on ideologies, including self-serving religions (Islamism and Christianism are examples).

The adversary of plutocracy is, always, the optimal civilization (OK, sometimes it is not easy to imagine how a civilization like that of the Aztecs could have quit the man-eating habit, considering the context).

What is this optimal civilization? The one closest to human ethology writ large: liberty, equality, fraternity. At a given technological level, in a given ecology there is pretty much just one. Those who hate civilization, In other words those who aspire to rule over others, using whichever ideology comes in handy, the plutocrats. This is generally how plutocrats come to power. Chains control rebellious bodies. Erroneous ideas and misleading moods control minds, eschewing the potential for rebellion altogether.

An example; the first two presidents of the USA, in the Eighteenth Century, signed a document, the first international treaty of the USA, stating that “the USA has nothing to do in any sense with the Christian religion”. Perfect. And the motto of the USA was “E Pluribus Unum” (“Out of the many, One”, a verbal version of the Roman and French Republic fascist principle). However, in 1954, apparently inspired by the Nazi SS, the US Congress replaced it with “In God We Trust”. That was a perfect mood to accompany the USA’s superficially pro-Islamist policy (pro-Wahhabist, pro-oil, pro-Saudi, anti-French, anti-British, pro-Shiite, anti-democratic Iran, etc.).

Telling us constantly that European civilization was weak trash, throughout history is self-serving propaganda on the part of those who hold (most of) the media, the plutocrats. They want We The People to be weak. So they persuade We The People that it was always weak. We have seen all before, when the Roman Republic, and, later, the Greco-Roman empire imploded. The best of the Greco-Romans, the Neo-Platonists, were told, again and again, that they were enemies of God. And often submitted to abuse, and sent to torture, or death (see Hypatia).

We don’t need to see it again. The world seems at peace now, as it seemed to be in May 1914. However, and differently from 1914, a huge catastrophe, the greatest in 65 million years, is gathering steam. That could heat up the situation quickly, in all sorts of unexpected ways: cornered, overcrowded rats tend to become very aggressive. And not just rats. When a situation gets tense, war hormones go up, and small provocations can lead to irreversible combat.

Patrice Ayme’

 

 

No Philosophy, No Progress, No Civilization

September 17, 2016

Progress is necessary: all ecologies, and thus technologies, get exhausted, or exhausting. Civilization rides a bicycle, and cannot long stop anywhere.

Progress does not happen out of the blue. It is instigated by the love of wisdom (philosophy). The progress of humanity is propelled by exerting a mind, one mind, at the highest level, first, and find a new idea, or emotion. And then to make that new wisdom blossom, and propagate throughout society. How exactly this happened can help figure out how it may happen again.

The explosion of philosophy in Ancient Greece was not sparked by Socrates (contrarily to legend). The reason for the veneration of the trio constituted by Socrates, his student Plato, and  Aristotle, student of the latter, is rather sinister. Socrates launched a weasel denunciation of Direct Democracy. demolishing it because of technicalities. That turned into the Politically Correct justification of more than 20 centuries of fascism (“monarchies”) from Eire to India.

Thus Socrates was a sort of famous counter-revolutionary. He helped demolish what he profited from, Athenian civilization (Aristotle did much worse, he demolished democratic civilization itself, promoting instead a fascist plutocracy led by his most intimate friends). The ascent of wisdom and progress was fully evident by the age of Pericles, decades before. Pericles’ top advisers, including his wife, were top philosophers. They promoted the concept of Open Society (lauded in Pericles’ Funeral Oration). Arguably, the concept of Open Society, and the progress of mind it brought, was important than the entire work of Socrates.

But to understand the rise of wisdom in Greece, one has to go much earlier than Pericles’ generation. The great legislator Solon, a bit more than a century before Pericles, replaced the draconian Draco style of legislation with the opposite orientation. 

On The Left, Representation Of Solon In The US House Of Representatives. On the right, a statue of Solon.

On The Left, Representation Of Solon In The US House Of Representatives. On the right, a statue of Solon.

Solon was born around 638 BCE. He was also a poet and war leader (he secured to Athens the possession of the island of Salamis through battle and Sparta’s arbitrage). Solon replaced systematic execution for any crime, by subtle and appropriate laws. More controversially, he erased debts (the ones in the know, his friends, profited from it).

Solon launched Athens into that Open Society managed around ideas and progress. Solon was a great traveller, and left Athens for more than a decade. Even earlier, Homer played an important role, with his tales of how the deepest emotions mess up with the world, or lift it beyond heavens. 

So why was Greece so wise? Because that’s how it rose to prominence. 

Similarly, the renewed rise of wisdom in the European Middle Ages did not happen just in the famed “renaissance” around 1450 CE. It had started much earlier. A full millennium earlier, when the Franks founded their civilization on tolerance. By 650 CE, the Merovingian Franks, by then the great power of Europe, thanks to their control of Gallia and Germania, outlawed slavery (under Bathilde, the slave who became queen). That was followed by nationalization of the Catholic church, fighting off three massive Islamist invasions, mandatory education, total religious tolerance, and a “renovation of the Roman empire”. By then all religious establishment had to teach everybody secularly, founding the university system. 

The Economist wrote a critique of “The Dream of Enlightenment” (by Anthony Gottlieb) “on some of the great Enlightenment thinkers, including Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau and Voltaire…

They were freelance philosophers working independently of the universities, criticising mainstream views and liberating thought from its academic straitjacket and neo-Aristotelian dogmatism. They were dangerous thinkers all, one publication away from exile, imprisonment or worse for their radical views on religion, politics and morality. Spinoza was the subject of a cherem, the equivalent of excommunication from the Amsterdam Sephardic synagogue; Locke disguised his authorship… spent a number of years in self-imposed exile; Hume chose to publish his “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion” posthumously; and Rousseau fled to England when persecuted in mainland Europe”. 

One cannot underestimate the terror generating new thinking brings. Most of the top thinkers where on the run, or in terrible trouble, fleeing here and there, from Giordano Bruno to Kepler, Galileo,  to Descartes, Hobbes, etc. In “What is Enlightenment?” (1784), Immanuel Kant used the motto Sapere aude (“Dare to know”) 

This all started five centuries earlier. By 1100 CE, the great philosopher, lover and songwriter Abelard was called “our Aristotle” by Peter the Venerable, head of Cluny (the largest religious establishment). Abelard fought Saint Bernard. Cathars and later Vaudois appeared in short order. Abelard got excommunicated, then readmitted to the Church (?), etc. 

It was even worse under Islam. A bit after the war between Abelard and Saint Bernard, the famous Ibn Rushd (“Averroes” in Western historiography), an Islamist judge, philosopher and doctor to Caliph (of Spain) was banned, and his books destroyed for writing “The Incoherence of the Incoherence” against a religious fanatic who had attacked philosophy in The Incoherence of the Philosophers  (Ibn Rushd got rehabilitated, shortly before his death, after a great victory of Caliph Al Mansour). 

In the next five centuries, many thinkers would be legally executed. Executed for offenses such as printing books; the Sultan Francois Premier of France (soon imitated by the Sultan of Turkey) outlawed printing for a while, under the penalty of death, some of Rabelais’s friends and printers were burned alive; Rabelais himself, a well-connected top doctor, was not touched, but implicitly threatened. This courage is what the Enlightenment was built on.

Bringing people together on yesterday’s consensus is easy. Politicians love to do that. Philosophers, the real ones, do the opposite: they bring people asunder, down to the bottom of their souls, to establish tomorrow’s consensus, with superior, yet unborn ideas. The greatest leaders were definitively either advised by philosophers (for example, Charlemagne, and the US Founding Fathers) or philosophers themselves (Cicero, Caesar, Clovis, Solon, Pericles, Queen Bathilde, etc.)

We are the thinking species. Yet thinking means creation, anew. And creation means destruction, at least neurologically speaking. Loving is giving, yet the gift of really truly new thinking, is a gift of destruction. This is definitively a paradox, common people have a hard time embracing the concept and the mood behind it, as they rather embrace the mood that being a sheep in the flock is much safer.

No wonder humanity is ambivalent about real philosophers, except when they are safely dead already. 

Patrice Ayme’

Essence Of MORALITY: SUSTAINABILITY, Not Just Avoiding Suffering.

September 12, 2016

What is morality? The answer is not in “religions” established in the last few centuries, by self-obsessed elites, such as Islam. Verily, there is just one religion, the religion of man: Ecce Homo.

Past religions could not be sure that man was a religion, so they invented god(s). The idea is that, to distinguish right from wrong, one needs absolute truth, and that absolute truth was called god(s).

However, we now know for sure that there is an absolute, an absolute creator, and an absolute morality, from that long (quantum) computation called evolution.

Right And Wrong Draws Another Line, Across Knowledge Bases. That the All Too Christian Solzhenitsyn Naturally Forgets

Right And Wrong Draws Another Line, Across Knowledge Bases. That the All Too Christian Solzhenitsyn Naturally Forgets

Heart Without Knowledge Is Only Ruin Of Morality

The fact that we, ourselves, are an absolute, is why hysterical “animal rights” advocates have not much standing: animals are not equivalent to us. They are no absolute. That is why Gary Francione, a professor of law at Rutgers and East Anglia Universities is fundamentally wrong.  

https://aeon.co/essays/why-keeping-a-pet-is-fundamentally-unethical

Says he: “A morally just world would have no pets, no aquaria, no zoos. No fields of sheep, no barns of cows. That’s true animal rights.” No poetry, no heart for other species, no alter sentiencism, either. That’s the perfect recipe for the total disappearance of the entire animal kingdom. Animals can survive only if us, masters of the Earth, and soon the Sol-Centaurus system, are interested by them.

True stupidity gives me counterexamples from which reason can bounce. Francione knows nothing. More than once in the mountains I met a solitary sheep, grazing. What did the sheep do? It had a good look at me, and then came to me, so I could rescue it from its predicament. Was the sheep suffering? No. Was the sheep feeling friendly? Yes. Is that a crime? No.

Law professor Francione confuses “what hurts a sentient being” with “immoral“. Pushing his logic further would mean all life of ALL sentient beings should be stopped, as life means hurt, for a sentient being, at one point, or another. (This is my old objection to Fundamentalist Buddhism; at least Buddhism, following Hinduism, is logical, and calls for Nirvana, the extinction of all cycles of life. The extinct Celtic religion was just the same.)

Thus, pushed a bit further, we should not have children: surely they cry as they are born, and that’s just the beginning. Hence we should let humanity disappear.

Leaving animals free to hurt each other.

This is a problem: if we are around, we may hurt animals, if we are not around, animals will eat each others.

Thus the author writes of ethics, while not knowing that the fundamental sense of “moral” is not “avoiding hurt”, but avoiding the behaviors which are unsustainable for our species.

Morality is species dependent. In some species, the newborns eat each other.  Newborn eating is moral in those species.

Thus, there is even worse. The real nature of the group of species known as hominids is that these were carnivorous bipedal apes who rose to dominance, precisely because animal protein and fat is so nourishing. It is moral for hominids to eat flesh, and especially so for the highly carnivorous Homo Erectus and Sapiens.

Many are the species which eat animals, few are those who do not. All primates, even cute, innocent looking Lemurians and Golden Tamarins, grab animals and eat them, whenever they can. Even grazing animals eat meat. The meat of snails, insects, and whatever crawls in the grass end in the stomachs of innocent looking grazers. This is why PM Thatcher made the cows cannibalistic, and, to save money, did not “render” the meat very long, thus causing “mad cow disease”.

In a just punishment, Thatcher herself became a mad cow, and croaked from it.

Meat made humanity, by enabling big brains and their extravagant energy consumption. Indeed, the meat habit came first. By millions of years. Those, like professor Francione, who cry each time we eat an animal raw (it happens when I run), want to deprive us of the very essence of our humanity. Being bipedal made our ancestors in the most efficient savannah dwellers: man is the animal with the fastest, furthest ground transportation capability, especially when it’s noon, and very hot. This (apparently weird and useless) characteristic is explained by an asset: the ability to catch up with any potential prey, especially when it’s very hot in the tropics, and Homo can see very well by mid-day.

Not just this.  Our hominid ancestors accelerated their evolution, by carrying weapons in their arms. Forgetting this and pushing a morality which even sheep would find better for what they eat (grass) will leave those who adopt it, and those that they pretend to defend, defenseless. One may as well advocate pacifism when facing deliberate evil. This sort of nonsense is what enabled the Twentieth Century’s greatest horrors, such as Nazism. And, indeed, the Nazis were fanatically for animal rights. Why? Because pushed to the extreme, animal rights contradict human rights. Thus, promoting the former exaggeratedly, enables  to violate the latter.

Patrice Ayme

No Many-Worlds Consciousness

September 2, 2016

OFF WITH DENNETT’S CONFUSED THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Consciousness is not part of science… Yet. Science will be complete, when it is. Except, and that is a huge ‘except’, possibly, most people would have to admit, consciousness may already haunt the foundations of Quantum Physics: this is what the ‘Schrodinger Cat’ paradox is all about (the lives of cats depends upon what we think!). And, indeed, I believe consciousness has to do with the Quantum.

But first I have to dispose of those who claim that consciousness is a non-problem. The famous academic philosopher Dennett asserts that consciousness has to do with brain parallelism. My friend Karen Eilbeck, a ‘biomedical informatics’ professor: “I never was satisfied with [Dennett’s] explanation of consciousness”. Indeed. Consciousness and ‘multimodal parcellationare completely unrelated.

It is now considered that there are around 180 different areas of the cortex, per hemisphere, each doing different things (it used to be 83 different “areas”). 

The Brain Is An Orchestra With More Than 180 Players

The Brain Is An Orchestra With More Than 180 Players, Per Hemisphere

As the authors of  “A multi-modal parcellation of human cerebral cortex” (August 11, 2016), have it:

Understanding the amazingly complex human cerebral cortex requires a map (or parcellation) of its major subdivisions, known as cortical areas. Making an accurate areal map has been a century-old objective in neuroscience. Using multi-modal magnetic resonance images from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and an objective semi-automated neuroanatomical approach, we delineated 180 areas per hemisphere bounded by sharp changes in cortical architecture, function, connectivity, and/or topography in a precisely aligned group average of 210 healthy young adults. We characterized 97 new areas and 83 areas previously reported using post-mortem microscopy or other specialized study-specific approaches. To enable automated delineation and identification of these areas in new HCP subjects and in future studies, we trained a machine-learning classifier…”

Thus the science of finding regions in the brain is more than a century old, it was not viewed as, nor has anything to do with trying to make a theory of consciousness . Yet, Dennett confuses brain activity here, there, and every way, with consciousness. 

Dennett observes that there are “various events of content-fixation occurring in various places at various times in the brain”. (everybody knows this: reach synapse, each neuron, even each axon and dendrite, etc.) The brain consists of a “bundle of semi-independent agencies“; when “content-fixation” takes place in one of these, its effects may propagate so that it leads to the utterance of sentences that make up the story in which the central character is one’s “self”.

A pretty useless ‘explanation’, dear Dennett, and not the problem of consciousness: consciousness is a feeling we all have, not just an utterance. If consciousness were an utterance, the speaking robots we are now interacting with, would be conscious. They are not. They are just algorithms. An algorithm does not have any more consciousness than a canal system. (Philosophers love to pontificate by calling what Dennett did, a ‘category error’; namely one confuses unrelated categories.)

Dennett followers claim that “subjectivity” can NEVER be made a subject to objective inquiry. That is a contradiction with the entire history of science, ever since the first Homo made the first fire.

What do I mean by this? ANY scientific theory started from a subjective experience. The first hominid who realized he could generate sparks with flints was subjectively engaged. So was the first who realized rubbing sticks could also generate incandescence. So the entire history of science, in the last three million years, has consisted, again and again and again, into turning subjectivity into objective inquiry.

When Dennett’s followers claim to have discovered that ‘subjectivity’ can never turn ‘objective’, they fail to understand that science rests precisely on this. In other words, they think as if they did not know that science is possible. Sorry to ask them to jump three million years.

Dennett looks a bit like Socrates with a big bushy beard, he is paid to utter statements viewed as philosophical, and has no doubt many other duties to attend to his enthusiastic following. So much thinking to produce, so little time, drowning in an ocean of fame. Can’t be easy.

How can fame and mental depth coincide? They are adverse to each other. It would be like getting money from oligarchs or financial monopolists, while claiming to want to help average people.

Is there really no connection whatsoever between the brain’s cortex working in plenty of little areas (brain parallelism) and consciousness? I did not say that. Dennett identifies consciousness and parallelism. That’s wrong. But that does not mean that consciousness did not evolve to make arbitrage between all these little areas, being the conductor of that otherwise discordant orchestra.

So Dennett confuses one evolutionary advantages of consciousness and the nature of consciousness. That nature probably has to do with the nature of the Quantum, and the difference between vegetal and animal. “Animal” comes from anima (soul in Latin). The soul is Quantum, this is what the Schrödinger(-Einstein) Cat thought experiment says.

Why the allusion to the “Many Worlds” Interpretation of Quantum Physics in the title? It is more than an allusion. The Many Worlds interpretation of the Quantum consists into sweeping the difficulty of how one goes from many possible outcomes to just a single one, under the rug of formalism. Instead of figuring out what is really going on, Many Worlders of physics say basically that everything and anything goes (all outcomes are ‘real’). One can say that Many World physicists shrug and answer the way Valley Girls do:”Whatever!“. Dennett does just the same. And this is not just a meta-analogy. If I am correct, and consciousness is intrinsically Quantum, the reason is exactly the same: evading a serious attempt at a deeper explanation… of the same phenomenon.

I don’t really expect celebrity physicists and celebrity philosophers to acknowledge that their cute little reasonings are shallow cope-outs, and popular, precisely because they are shallow and cute. However, the last nail in their coffins consist in pointing out that they offer an endearing, yet really terrible example of superficiality to the rest of debating society. Civilization rots by its head.

Patrice Ayme’  

CLIMATE CHANGES: CO2, Islam, & The Eternal Return Of Fascism

July 27, 2016

Another day, another Islamist attack in France. This was “Islam de France“, as it is among all too many youth. The two (French) Islamist “martyrs” were shot dead by the BRI (Brigade d’Intervention Rapide). Armed with knives and a gun they took hostage several parishioners in a church. The 86 year old priest was made to kneel before his throat was cut. Several other elderly persons were cut. The Islamist “martyrs” were so busy filming their “heroic” deeds, that a nun was able to escape discreetly, and alerted the police. As with the latest attack in Bavaria at a music concert two days ago, the Islamist pseudo-state ISIS claimed it set it up. The area, in rural Normandy, is known as one of the most Islamized places in France, thanks to a Salafist mosque (which, if one followed Israeli methods, would have been dynamited long ago!)

No wonder Donald Trump wants “extreme vetting” of French visa applicants.

Yes, I know, it’s dreary. Yes I know, among the looming threats gathering out there, Islamism is the silliest fanatical cretinism on steroids. However, Islamism is dreadful enough to cause great dislocation, and lack of focus on the real problems. After all, it was the (de facto) pro-Islamist mood which Kanzler Merkel organized, all by herself. The reaction to this pro-Islam mood, in turn, broke the European Union’s back with Brexit (I watch plenty of German TV, and I was aghast with the let’s-embrace-Islam mood the Merkel-led authorities promoted rashly, with their naive approach… Admitting refugees (which I am for) is one thing, welcoming the mood of the religion which has caused the refugee crisis is something else: it is in an absolute contradiction).

Want to see a real threat? Something really hot and hard? Here it is, spiking up, as I said it would, so long ago

Climate Change: CO2, Islam, & The Eternal Return Of Fascism. Temperature In 2016 Is Exceeding All Expectations.i

Climate Changes: CO2, Islam, & The Eternal Return Of Fascism. Temperature In 2016 Is Exceeding All Expectations Scientists Who Are Paid To Sound Nice Officially Expected.

[Image source: Dr. Stephan Rahmstorf. Data source: NASA GISS. Data 1880 CE to April 2016.]

What is the reason for this sharp spike? Fundamentally the global rise in temperature is driven by the man-made GreenHouse Gases (GHG: CO2, CH4, NOx, ClFs, etc.). The GHGs block infrared radiation more than normal air does, trapping heat in the biosphere. This “climate forcing” warms up the lower atmosphere (and cools the irrelevant stratosphere!) The GHG density is increasing at a steady pace from human industry. But the resulting warming, and thus the GHG emissions have clearly now started to self feed. (How do we know this? From the divergence of the graphs. More on this another day.)

What of the change of mental climate Islam brings? Is it benevolent as the proselytizers of Islam claim, a “religion of peace”? Or do we need to read what is really going on, and find out why 18 year olds with criminals pasts, and no education to speak of, know Islam way better that judicial and legislating authorities in the West claim to?

Those who fight for Islam get “special reward”:

Quran (4:95)“Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.”

Those who don’t help God, go to hell:

Quran (9:39)“If ye go not forth God will afflict you with a painful doom…”

When fighting the unbelievers, God hates a coward and throws him to hell:

Quran (8:15-16)“O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. If any do turn his back to them on such a day – unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!”

Those who die, fighting for God, go to paradise:

Quran (3:169-170)Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.”

As usual, the preceding is confirmed, and amplified, in numerous parts of the Hadith and the Sira:

Muslim (20:4678)It has been reported on the authority of Jabir that a man said: “Messenger of Allah, where shall I be if I am killed?” He replied: “In Paradise.” The man threw away the dates he had in his hand and fought until he was killed (i. e. he did not wait until he could finish the dates).

Abu Dawud (14:2515)I asked the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him): Who are in Paradise? He replied: “Prophets are in Paradise, martyrs are in Paradise.”

If you are young, depressed, and believe in the preceding, and surrounded with what preachers and sacred texts tell you are unbelievers who deserve to die, what would you do? The answer is all too obvious.

I was watching a top, senior, just retired, French judge,  and she calmly pontificated that youth who committed assassinations of unbelievers in the name of Islam perverted Islam. Well, if you read Islamist sacred texts, you can judge the judge. I judge that judges like that, who pontificate that fanatical Jihadists “pervert Islam”  are themselves perverse idiots and could well be viewed to be a deeper source of terrorism than the youth who commits such assassinations, to start with. Yes, some will say I am out-Trumping Trump. But think about it: the white judge just claim that Islam, Literal Islam, is perfect, and youth was perverse. OK, then the judges say that the quotes above are perfect, while accusing those who act on them of what, exactly?

Another angle on the same problem: imagine that a youthful would-be assassin confronts a judge. The judge tells the youth to be less perverse and to follow Islam more closely? In the case of the assassination of the priest this happened precisely with one of the two 19-year-old Islamist assassin: the youth opined that he would be a better Muslim, follow the Qur’an better. So he was judged mature enough by a lady judge to be freed from jail, where he had been for eight months after being arrested in Turkey for trying to slip into Syria.

The climate in the West has been that Islam was good, whereas poor youth was bad, uneducated, not worth of correct schooling and employment. Verily, the truth is the other way around: Islam has been good for plutocracy, and orienting, actively or indirectly, youth towards Islam, Literal, Wahhabist, Salafist Islam, a perversion.

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When Climate Changes, Species Go, And Smarter Ones Thrive:

Dinosaurs, pterosaurs, mesosaurs, plesiosaurs, and the like were all what some now call “mesotherms”: their temperature was in-between. They depended too much upon the balmy Jurassic and then Cretaceous climate to insure their own temperature. When the climate cooled, they faltered, and then disappeared. Whereas the hot “endotherms” (self-warm), mammals and birds, thrived.

A change of climate changes which species thrive, or even exist. It is the same with ruling systems of ideas, such as religions, and the mental climates they bring.

Islam created a wonderful climate among desert nomads. Prior to it, Arabs were at each others’ throats, and killed girls to limit the population explosion. Meanwhile, the Arabs were fully exposed, and frustrated, by the great civilizations swirling around them: Ethiopian, Yemenite, Egyptian, Zoroastrian, and then the formidable Greco-Roman civilization, and its partial descendant, the Persian Sassanid empire. However, soon after 605 CE things changed: a formidable war between Sassanids (Zoroastrian Persians) and “Rome”, turned suddenly to Persia’s advantage (the Persian Shah In Shah was all the bolder as the Romans had put him back on his throne earlier: a case of back-stabbing).

It is a long story, and I want to tell it (but will have to do so some other time). It is a matter of climate. In more ways than one.

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Mental Climate Catastrophes Brought Islam:

To understand the change of species which Islam brought, one has to understand the anti-intellectual climate which brought a deep mental freeze in “Rome” (Constantinople), and the influence the resulting refugee crisis of fleeing Roman intellectuals had in Persia. Then a terrible storm arose: an all-out war between Constantinople and Persia, of an extraordinary violence, back and forth, like a tsunami going one way, and then the other.

Thanks to a crazed out Persian emperor, Persia made the greatest invasion of the Mediterranean basin in 1,000 years, even conquering all the way to Libya, something it had never done before. By 622 CE, the situation was so desperate, that emperor Heraclius thought of evacuating the Roman capital to Carthage. Just when the enormous reforms he had made back to a citizen army and other reconstitution of ancient Greco-Roman traditions, changed the climate completely in the Roman empire. That change of mood mobilized the population, and enabled to reverse the military tide.

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Why Islam Swept All:

Islam is a war religion. As simple as that. It went much further that way that Roman Catholic Orthodox had (= Christianism imposed by the Roman state, now headed from Constantinople and Milan). Christianism celebrated a “Lord” mimicking Constantine’s behavior. That included the summary execution of the son… and Verses of the Sword:  Luke 19; 27 is unambiguous. The mythic Jesus Christ supposedly said:

But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.

It could not be any clearer. A total negation of the state of law. A proclamation of human sacrifice. Yes, when thinking of religion, remember this: human sacrifice is about having a religious reason for killing others.

“Religious” means non-legal. “Legal” does not just mean legal in the Roman sense, but legal in the ethological sense.

Hence the imposition of (fascist, mono-dictatorial, lethal, jealous, imperious) Christianism, between Roman emperors Constantine and Theodosius (both initially generals, reigning absolutely on the entire empire) changed the climate completely. Instead of having a state of law, one passed to a state of caprice of the emperor, sultan, prophet or caliph at the head. Or, as Constantine modestly depicted himself “thirteenth apostle”.

This anti-intellectual climate appeared just when a greater intellectual activity was called for. This is what generally happens, it’s no accident.

Meanwhile, to the south-east, the Arabs saw all of this. They saw the Persians invade Yemen and seize Aden. They saw Rome nearly collapse, and, while Muhammad was fighting Mecca from Yathrib (= Medina), from 622 Ce to 630 CE, he saw the fabulous Roman counter-attack, and Persia collapse in coups, civil wars, queens reigning for a year or two, top generals assassinated…

The Roman nadir was in 622 CE. In 630 CE, Muhammad was religious dictator of Mecca. As a prophet, he could re-organize the Qur’an, and he did. Exit the kind, loving and tolerant Islam. However, quite a bit of the Meccan religious arsenal was preserved, including perhaps the Satanic Verses, and certainly the Moon as a symbol, Mecca as a religious center, complete with meteorite and recycled Kabaa.

So Muhammad changed the climate, but not too much where not needed. Instead he led a crusade of united warriors to the north, to attack the Romans (who smirked and avoided contact, as they had just concluded peace with the Sassanid Persians, reconstituting the old borders… and had decided to spurn Monophysite Arabs).

Kill or fight the enemy, go to paradise? What better mental climate to impose an empire?

What is sure is that, if we don’t kill the CO2 rise pretty soon, the notion of paradise will change. And that this Literal Islam, Salafism, Wahhabism, Wall Street compatible Islam, thing is an un-amusing distraction.

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Nothing new under the sun; civilizations can die quickly:

1,500 years ago, or so, the mighty Moche civilization, along the coast of Peru knew a drought and a super El Nino (certainly amplified by natural climate change, probably of volcanic origin).

The Moche survived initially, but their religion became all-consuming (full of human sacrifices and pyramids). It is the usual reaction: when a society gets stressed, it reacts as a baboon troop: everybody of one mind, behind the chief (right now Trump).

In a civilization, if more than one fascist movement appear (say the Communists at the same time as the Nazis, as in Germany in the 1920s; or Syria now), civil strife ensues. This is what happened to the Moche, and in such a violent manner, that the civilization collapsed.

Something similar, a super drought in the Seventh Century, accompanied by civil war and ecological devastation, nearly eradicated the Mayan civilization, thereafter a shadow of its former self (until the Spaniards showed up, 6 centuries later).

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“Hydraulic Dictatorships” And, Or Fascist Over-Reaction?

The basic problem of the zone where Islam festers, has been ecological. A massive, epochal drought, tied to the interglacial cycle, started more than 6,000 years ago, triggering the Egyptian civilization. The drought forced the Egyptians to get along with agriculture, in a very long and narrow valley, and vast associated oases, where hydraulic was crucial. Fernand Braudel rightly introduced the notion of “Hydraulic Dictatorship”. And the reasoning is obvious: big hydraulics means big society, armies of workers, relative wealth, hence big army to protect the whole thing, etc. So I supported that reasoning (which I had developed on my own). However, I am starting to have second thoughts: after all, many Western societies, including some Greek city-states, and Rome for much of her history, and the various regimes which descended from the Franks/French, including England, did not fall into the same pattern (nor did Egypt, mostly, for that matter).

After all, the entire region was long the richest in the world, where many Neolithic and civilization basic techniques were discovered, invented and blossomed. And the climate got desperately dry 6,000 years ago, when the deserts became basically uninhabitable. Still, the area was at the very forefront of civilization until the massive Celto-Greco-Roman (“The West”) took over, starting 23 centuries ago. Some of the degeneracy occurred before Islam, or even just before the Hellenistic civilization of the Trojan War took off. However Babylonians and later, the Achaemenid empire still made civilizational innovations. And yet the fact the Achaemenids’ greatness depended mostly upon one man, Darius The Great a sort of Zoroastrian Muhammad, with more brains, experience and statesmanship, reveals the truth: the Middle Earth had become way too fascist already 3,000 years ago, used as it was, by then, upon depending on just one individual. A climate of intellectual fascism had come to rule. (It’s no coincidence that the monotheism of Abrahamism, blind obedience to the Lord, mauling all and any human decency, came to fester there.)

So what could be going on? The mental climate may have over-reacted to the increasingly desertic situation. A climate of intellectual fascism had come to rule, and rightly so. Yet, in my view, there was an overshooting of the fascist mood. A bit like an immune system over-reacts, and a lethal auto-immune disease develops. True, strong government were needed, associated to strong religions, such as Judaism, and Constantine’s “Catholicism”. A bit of the Dark Side is often necessary. But Islam ended changing the mental climate way too far to the Dark Side (contemplate the quotes above).

Political and intellectual fascism can self feed, through religious effect (= the madness of the crowds), similarly to the self-feeding of the climate we are witnessing now (the ever crazier ending of the Nazi regime is a case in point! The more desperate the military situation was getting, the more insanely lethal the Nazis became, including against their own ilk!) Thus, as fascism arises from bad situations, as a healthy, and most effective defense reflex, it can bring in an even worse situation, through its own actions, which, in turn, ask for even more fascist action. Just as, the higher the temperature, the more methane and carbon dioxide released, hence more greenhouse, more temperature, thus more methane and carbon dioxide, etc…

The climate is changing, whether we want it or not. We have to do as the Egyptians did, 6,000 years ago: change minds, moods and civilization. We have to do much because now history is moving at the fastest clip ever. And history shows that civilizations which lasted many centuries, or even millennia, can collapse in days, and commonly do so in years.

Patrice Ayme’