31 May 2011

Evolving Technium Landscapes of Mind

Just because we are conscious does not mean we have the smarts to make consciousness ourselves. Whether (or when) AI is possible will ultimately depend on whether we are smart enough to make something smarter than ourselves. We assume that ants have not achieved this level. We also assume that as smart as chimpanzees are, chimps are not smart enough to make a mind smarter than a chimp, and so have not reached this threshold either. While some people assume humans can create a mind smarter than a human mind, humans may be at a level of intelligence that is below that threshold also. We simply don't know where the threshold of bootstrapping intelligence is, nor where we are on this metric. _KevinKelly

Kevin Kelly has created a "Taxonomy of Minds" as a way of classifying different types of minds and what they might be able to do.
Precisely how a mind can be superior to our minds is very difficult to imagine. One way that would help us to imagine what greater intelligences would be like is to begin to create a taxonomy of the variety of minds. This matrix of minds would include animal minds, and machine minds, and possible minds, particularly transhuman minds, like the ones that science fiction writers have come up with.

Imagine we land on a alien planet. How would we describe or measure the level of the intelligences we encounter there -- assuming they are greater than ours? What are the thresholds of superior intelligence? What are the categories of intelligence in animals on earth? _Read the rest...TaxonomyofMinds

The actual development of superior minds is more likely to occur via evolutionary mechanisms, rather than from straightforward design from principle. The adaptive landscape graphic above provides a small portion of an evolutionary adaptive landscape. Creatures that achieve the higher peaks may be capable of achieving greater feats, but also may be more subject to extinction when the environment shifts -- or when the adaptive landscape is enlarged by merging with a previously separate adaptive landscape (building a bridge between islands, tunneling through a mountain chain, digging a canal through an isthmus, or the emergence of an intergalactic wormhole).

Rather than waiting until our minds become capable of creating other minds, it is more likely that humans will create an evolutionary landscape from which a more intelligent mind than human minds might emerge.
Recently, in conversations with George Dyson, I realized there is a fifth type of elementary mind:

5) A mind incapable of designing a greater mind, but capable of creating a platform upon which greater mind emerges.

This type of mind cannot figure out how to birth an intelligence equal to itself, but it does figure out how to set up conditions of evolution so that a new mind emerges from the forces pushing it. _Technium
This is the approach to AI which Al Fin cognitive scientists have been promoting and utilising. It would be fooling one's self to imagine that it will be easy to evolve a smarter mind. But at least it is not impossible, as most conventional approaches to AI are proving themselves to be. (conventional AI researchers are attempting quantitative solutions where qualitative solutions apply)

There is something quite amusing here: The human mind itself can flit among the taxonomy of minds, at any given time. Because of how the human brain evolved, and the paths we have taken in development, each one of us is multitudes. Without a doubt, we all need better training in using our minds.

More: An interesting set of links to sources which expect or assume the imminent creation of a super-human machine intelligence (and a consequent "singularity") and a few sources which are critical of such a "hard take-off" to singularity superintelligence

Al Fin is among the skeptics of the "techno-singularity" concept. Rather, Al Fin expects any near-term singularity to be of the "bio-singularity" variety.

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Organising Community Riots: Revolutionary Without a Clue

... Those who run up debt in good times can borrow only so much more when a recession strikes. And heavily indebted governments postpone fiscal stabilization at their peril. If you wait to reform until the bond market calls time, you are—to use a technical term from economics—screwed. _NiallFerguson
Revolutionary Riots Spill Over from Arabs to Europe to US?

If you are US President Obama, you are ready to blame almost anyone else for the economic despair settling over the American population. As a community organiser, President Obama's instinct is to call out the shock troops, take to the streets, and pin the blame on big banks and capitalism. In fact, billions of US$ were recently diverted from Obama's stimulus moneys to community organising groups, for just that contingency -- among others.

In three short years, Obama has added over $3 trillion to the US national debt. And rather than curtailing the deficit as the president had promised, it is getting much worse. Debt is a killer, but it is easy for the politicians who are responsible for the debt to point to everyone but themselves.

Riots in Europe are occurring as European governments look into the abyss of massive debt and cautiously tinker with a few timid spending reforms. But the people of Europe have come to feel entitled, and will not tolerate even the hint of a retreat from the wet nurse nanny state toward a more firm and responsible oversight government.

Americans are beginning to feel the same sense of blanket entitlement as the Europeans, thanks in part to having elected a community organiser as US President. Due to this massive growth of entitlement sense, the same type of riots seen in Arab countries and in Europe could easily spread to the large central cities of the US and Canada.

Risk of systemic fallout from Eurozone crisis

More from Mish on European abyss

The Obama path to collapse

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30 May 2011

Online Puzzles and Brain Boosters: Saving Your Brain

Norman Doidge: Neuro-plasticians show that the brain is plastic not only in early childhood but from cradle-to-grave. This means we have to revisit the whole notion of adult development as a very, very serious undertaking. The adult brain can be maintained, developed and improved in many areas. But not by taking the occasional course after the age of 45.

VB: That message is going to become increasingly important with an aging population.

Norman Doidge: Yes, the longer we live the more relevant it becomes. And it is relevant not just for developing and improving but also for preserving. The secret to old age is a very simple one from the medical point of view. What you want is to have all your organ systems last as long as they can and then cease to function all at once!

VB: Exactly.

Norman Doidge: We’re in a situation now where, because of extended lifespan, a very high proportion of people—close to half—will find that their brains crap out before their hearts, livers and kidneys. So extending mental life span to equal that of other organs is a kind of imperative, otherwise we’ll have aged humans that are like infants who can’t function and care for themselves. _IdeaConnection

We make choices from moment to moment, unconsciously, as to how we will train our brains. Children and young adults need mentors and guides to help them make best use of early life mental plasticity. But the brains of adults and seniors are still plastic to a significant degree. Grownups have to be their own mentors and guides, more times than not, in the continuing task of brain development and preservation. Fortunately, there is a wide range of tools available online to assist in this task. Here is a report on one of these tools, n-back mental training exercises:
In an award address on May 28 at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Washington, D.C., University of Michigan psychologist John Jonides presented new findings showing that practicing this kind of task for about 20 minutes each day for 20 days significantly improves performance on a standard test of fluid intelligence—the ability to reason and solve new problems, which is a crucial element of general intelligence. And this improvement lasted for up to three months.

Jonides, who is the Daniel J. Weintraub Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, collaborated with colleagues at U-M, the University of Bern and the University of Tapei on a series of studies with more than 200 young adults and children, demonstrating the effects of various kinds of n-back mental training exercises. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and by the Office of Naval Research.

According to Jonides, the n-back task taps into a crucial brain function known as working memory—the ability to maintain information in an active, easily retrieved state, especially under conditions of distraction or interference. Working memory goes beyond mere storage to include processing information _MedXPress
Online brain games from Online Brain Games Blog:
Memory Games:
Dual N-Back — Documented I.Q. booster!
Cogolog — Memory game site with 14 different memory games
Board Games:
Go (Go Rules and tips) — 3000yr old board game!
Crosswords(Crosswords Rules and tips)
Online Math Games – Highlight post with many links
Click The Color – Based on the Stroop Effect
Connect4 — (Connect4 Rules and tips)
Other Websites with Free Brain Games
funbrain.com – elementary school
fun4thebrain - elementary school
mathplayground – elementary/middle school
neuroscience for kids - elementary/high school
samgine.com – online flash game puzzles

100 Online Puzzles, Brain Games, and Brain Tests from Nursingdegree.net (excerpt):

  1. Sharp Brains: This site is "the brain fitness authority," and you’ll find all kinds of tricky brain teasers.
  2. Smart Kit: This "brain gym and puzzle playground" has picture puzzles, Flash puzzle games, brain games, cryptograms, logic puzzles and more.

Evaluation Tools and Articles
Test your brain fitness with these tricks and games.
  1. Brain Teasers and IQ Tests: Visit this site to take all kinds of tests and quizzes and to solve brain teasers.
  2. Test Your Brain: Test your brain on its processing speed, ability to process information in a noisy room and more.
  3. Lumosity: The initial trial for Lumosity’s brain fitness program is free.
  4. IQ and intelligence tests: Take these IQ tests, subliminal messages test, organizational web design tests, memory tests and more to see how well your brain is functioning.
  5. 50 Fun Ways to Maximize Your Brain Fitness: This website has lots of great ways to keep your brain in shape, from drinking pomegranate juice to changing up your regular route.
  6. Steps to Brain Fitness: The Alliance for Aging Research lists 10 different ways to have a well-exercised brain.
  7. Train the Brain: Take reflex tests, play with a Rubik’s cube and more on this site.
  8. Mensa Fun Test: Find out if you’re one of the smartest people in the world when you take this test.
  9. Surveys and Psychology Tests: Tests offered on this BBC website include an art and personality test, memory and more.
  10. Test Cafe: Take all kinds of quizzes to test your brain, IQ, personality type and more.

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29 May 2011

Radical Optimism? Protopia vs Utopia vs Dystopia

Technium Protopia
In a short Technium essay, Kevin Kelly makes a case for radical optimism, referencing Matt Ridley (author of The Rational Optimist). It is true that pessimism acts as a paralytic, whereas optimism can act as an activator or motivator.
1) Optimism is not based on temperament. (Ridley says he is not temperamentally optimistic.) It is a perspective that is, and should be, based on evidence and facts. It is a type of rationality that can, and should be, tested with facts. And tossed out if not true.

2) We behave better when we are optimistic. Progress depends on innovation, and innovation needs optimism; where optimism is most present, so is innovation. Hot spots of innovation in history were hot spots of optimism in otherwise pessimistic societies. What we believe about our trajectory matters.

3) A lot of pessimism is correct. If things continue as they are we are doomed. As Ridley writes: "If the world continues as it is, it will end in disaster for all humanity. If all transport depends on oil, and oil runs out, then transport will cease. If agriculture continues to depend on irrigation and aquifers are depleted, then starvation will ensue. But notice the conditional: if. The world will not continue as it is. That is the whole point of human progress, the whole message of cultural evolution." The world will not continue as is, but will change the game. _KevinKelly
Some optimists are temperamentally inclined to think positive. But most of us have to work at it. There is evidence to suggest that optimism can pay big dividends. And pessimism can sap one's energies, imagination, and will to solve problems.

A healthy optimism should not cause us to think that utopia is just over the horizon. But something called "protopia" may be closer than we realise. Protopia is an intentional trend toward improved circumstances -- a proactive bettering of prospects and living conditions due to applied intelligence combined with the optimistic belief in a positive future.
hPlus via Al Fin, The Next Level
It is sometimes the case that persons who become very wealthy may apply some of their wealth toward building a better future for not only themselves, but also for others. The billionaires listed above have all chosen to invest in a more positive future. Money alone cannot achieve a better future. It will require the energies of large numbers of intelligent, creative, and hard-working individuals if humans are to overcome the forces of dystopia and Idiocracy being unleashed by their governments.

And don't forget the "invisible hand" of constant creative reshaping -- the market -- as a protopian agent of change.
via Al Fin Potpourri

Humans were not made for utopia. Despite the best efforts of idealists, ideologues, revolutionaries, and community organisers, it is simply not in humans to work selflessly for the common good like some type of hive animal.

If government or cultural restraints prevent humans from improving their own situations, people will all too readily grow dependent upon outside assistance and entitlements. Such a dynamic leads to more powerful governments and less competent individuals and private sectors. Those who are at top levels of government or positioned to be favoured by government contracts and disbursals of funds, will be greatly advantaged by such trends.

That is why ambitious politicians often use quasi-utopian language in order to gain power. Sometimes these "revolutionaries" mean well, and sometimes they are sociopathic power mongers or narcissistic seekers of adoration. Their motivations are irrelevant, since the end result -- dystopia and Idiocracy -- is the likeliest outcome of a massing of power within a central government.

Of the three -- Utopia, Dystopia, and Protopia -- only Protopia has a future. While protopia can be assisted by persons of power and wealth, it is actually based upon a growing degree of competence, creativity, and optimism at the level of societal ferment. Such a shift in power -- from the top to the middle -- will only be possible with a diminishing of the nanny state's all-pervasive, top-down meddlings and dictates.

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27 May 2011

Sublime Ecstasy and Exquisite Agony


Love is a delicate but compelling medley of dynamic brain networks. Swept by a torrent of hormones and neurotransmitters, the brain-in-love is released from many ordinary worries and concerns -- and firmly compelled by others.

When one gives themselves up to their feelings of love -- when she let's herself go -- she can experience one of the ultimate pleasures of life: the beautiful agony.
... researcher Janniko Georgiadis said the OFC may be the basis for 'sexual control', and that by 'letting go' women can induce orgasm.

He said: 'I don't think orgasm turns off consciousness but it changes it.

'When you ask people how they perceive their orgasm, they describe a feeling of a loss of control.' _DailyMail

Beautiful agony - Watch more Funny Videos
The pleasures of love -- both orgasmic and non-orgasmic -- are addictive just as surely as any drug of pleasure. Withdrawal is a painful and disorienting experience, leading many to try to grasp the fading remnants in an iron grip.

But it is the letting go that opens the floodgates of the love experience. That is the hardest to learn.

Cross-posted to Al Fin, You Sexy Thing!
Female Orgasm MRI DailyMail
To create the scans, Dutch researchers stripped strapped the women into an MRI scanner and then allowed their partners to pleasure them to orgasm, all the while taking snapshots of their brain activity.

It is hoped that by comparing the brain scans of women having an orgasm with those who cannot, scientists will be able to 'coach' those with anorgasmia into truly 'letting go'.

Kenneth Casey at the University of Michigan explained that people who suffer from chronic pain conditions can be coached to relieve some of their symptoms by altering how they thought.

Experiments proved that when people watched real-time video of their rostral anterior cingulate cortex - the site of their 'pain' - they were able to reduce their symptoms by mentally adjusting it and watching the results on screen. _DailyMail
Such real-time MRI neurofeedback as described above can be used for far more than the control of physical pain. Pleasure can be enhanced, as can cognitive skills and memory. Unpleasant memories can likewise be minimised.

We are entering a brave new world of understanding, with regard to brain states and networks. What we do with this new understanding is up to us.

More on the neuroscience of love and lust

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26 May 2011

Human Brain Networks Can be Tattle Tales

Thanks to advanced brain imaging tools, scientists are getting better at judging general tasks the brain is doing at any given time. Stanford researchers Michael Greicius and colleagues used fMRI to detect particular brain networks being used by subjects performing one of four different tasks: silent singing, recalling the days events, counting backward by threes, or simple relaxation.
Greicius and his colleagues have previously shown that the brain operates, at least to some extent, as a composite of separate networks composed a number of distinct but simultaneously active brain regions. They have identified approximately 15 such networks. Different networks are associated with vision, hearing, language, memory, decision-making, emotion and so forth. _PO
The findings suggest that patterns for thousands of mental states might serve as a reference bank against which people's thoughts could be compared, potentially revealing what someone is thinking or how they are feeling. "In some dystopian future, you might imagine reference patterns for 10,000 mental states, but that would be a woeful application of this technology," says Greicius.

..."The most important potential for this is in the clinic where classifying and diagnosing and treating psychiatric disease could be really important," says Brodersen. "At the moment, psychiatry is often just trial and error." _NewScientist

Greicius has been studying brain networks for many years. He began looking at the brain's default mode network. Then he looked at dissociable intrinsic connectivity networks for salience processing and executive control. Now the team has progressed to the point where roughly 15 distinct networks have been identified, including some involving the cerebellum.

Government snoops, interrogators, marketing agencies, and other inquiring minds would like to be able to read your thoughts, of course. But it will be a while yet before brain scanners can read a brain from a distance. Since every brain is different, interpretation of scans will depend upon the ability to calibrate equipment for each brain without influencing the scan.

Remember that the ability to read a brain's network activity is just a step away from the ability to influence that brain's activity. After a certain point, wearing a tinfoil hat may begin to make sense. ;-)

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25 May 2011

Understanding the Brain: Videos via Simoleon Sense

via SimoleonSense

Simoleon Sense has been a particularly seminal website for the dissemination of ideas which underlie the economic behaviours of humans. Miguel links to a wide array of viewpoints, many of which contradict each other. That is the best -- perhaps the only -- approach to take in order to most closely approach a global maximum of "truth."

The videos for the day are meant to help understand how the human brain -- your brain -- works. Here is a list of links to scholarly videos from the Society for Social Neuroscience.

Larry Young: Effects of Oxytocin on social behaviour
Bruce McEwen: The brain as an organ of stress
David Amodio: Control of thinking processes

Unfortunately, modern educational systems are not helping students to make the best use of their amazing, complex brains (NYT via SimoleonSense)

Each human brain is a dynamic data point within the vast matrix of global human society. Understanding mass behaviour of societies is a challenging task, given that humans do not yet have a decent inkling of how individual brains work.

No matter how futile the task, however, chipping away at the challenge does occupy the time and can occasionally lead to profitable discoveries.

More: Peter Thiel pays 24 winners of the Thiel Fellowship $100,000 NOT TO ATTEND COLLEGE! The fellowship promotes entrepreneurship and the building of new businesses as a better way of learning about life. Face it: Being indoctrinated into dysfunctional groupthink -- whether at Harvard or at Podunk U. -- is worse than a waste of your brain's potential. Today's college indoctrination and academic lobotomisation is actually the destruction of yours and your children's potential, besides being a rapid route to debilitating debt.


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24 May 2011

Growth in National Debts over Time

Public Gross Debt as Percent of GDP by Country – 1992-2011

gfmag Click on arrow to start

This graphic understates the deadly peril that national economies of advanced nations find themselves in. The drivers of debt growth are built into the economies as fixed entitlements and as growing interest payments on the debt. Exponential growth of debt and eventual default or monetary collapse are inevitable -- unless governments can bring themselves to either institute painful budgetary reforms or to open their economies to market reforms which expand economic opportunity and facilitate competitiveness.

Modern quasi-leftist nanny state democratic governments whose citizenries suffer from an aggravated sense of entitlement, will never be able to absorb the painful sacrifice necessary to discipline their debt. Demographic trends of aging populations and decline of human capital are not helping.
This table uses data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and measures gross debt as a percent of GDP. Most major statistical organizations measure debt with fairly consistent results, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Eurostat.

The 2007-2009 financial crisis led to a dramatic increase in the public debt of many advanced economies, with many of them experiencing their highest levels of debt since World War II. This was in large part due to the huge stimulus programs in countries around the world, in addition to government bailouts, recapitalizations and takeovers of banks and other financial institutions. Another contributing factor to the increased debt was the decrease in tax revenues.

Public debt as a percent of GDP in OECD countries as a whole went from hovering around 70% throughout the 1990s to more than 90% in 2009 and is projected to grow to almost 100% of GDP by 2011, possibly rising even higher in the following years. It could already be higher, as potential costs of aging populations may not be entirely reflected in the budget projections of some countries.

The rise in public debt has been seen not only in countries with a history of debt problems - such as Japan, Italy, Belgium and Greece - but also in countries where it was relatively low before the crisis - such as the US, UK, France, Portugal and Ireland. _gfmag_via_MJPerry

The combined scourges of debt and demographic decline allow observers to anticipate economic and sociological trends for several regions across the globe. Only by looking at these and other underlying dynamic mechanisms of change, can individuals and groups position themselves to meet the turbulent transformational events coming their way.

Data is from the OECD Economic Outlook 87 database, June 2010.
Figures are a percent of GDP.

Click on the column heading to sort the table.



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23 May 2011

No Way to Pretend that this Mangy Dog is a Beautiful Princess

More... FinancialArmageddon: Not a sense of recovery wherever you turn

The global economy remains devastated, despite all popular claims to the contrary. And it is not just Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal which are in trouble. The US is beginning to feel the hurt from ludicrous fiscal and monetary policies which date back to the 1970s -- but which have reached particularly destructive levels under the Obama-Reid regime. The global economy still pivots around the US economy. And that is bad news all around.
1) Existing home sales for April were down 0.5% to 5.05 million as compared to 7.2 million at the peak. Inventories of homes for sale increased to a 9.2 months, the highest since December while prices were down 5% from a year earlier.

2) April housing starts dropped 10.2% to 523,000, barely above the recession lows, and below any level prior to 2008. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) traffic of potential buyers was still extremely low. Keep in mind that this is an organization that usually puts a positive spin on any results.

3) While weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance declined to 409,000 from the prior week, the number has now been over 400,000 for six straight weeks after a period of coming in below that level.

4) The Philadelphia Fed Index for May fell sharply to 3.9, losing 39.5 points in the last two months. This is also well below the 1st quarter average of 32.9. Both new and unfilled orders dropped significantly while inventories also declined, indicating that the inventory buildup that helped support the recovery may be moving back in line with demand, which has been growing less than production.

5) Consistent with the above, April industrial production was flat. It is likely that production, which had consistently been running ahead of demand, is being reduced as inventories that were depleted during the recession have now caught up. This also may explain the higher level of initial claims.

6) The Empire State Manufacturing Survey was also down 9.8 points to 11.9, the lowest level since December. This index therefore confirms the Philly index and suggests similar lower results from the ISM manufacturing index.

7) The April index of leading indicators declined 0.3%. While one month does not make a trend it was the first monthly drop since last June, and fits in with what other indicators seem to be telling us.

8) Similarly, the ECRI Weekly leading indictor has been down for three of the last five weeks and has been about flat since mid-December after rising steadily from the recession lows. This is indicative of at least a pause in coming economic growth, and perhaps something worse.

9) April core retail sales increased only 0.2%, and were probably flat to slightly down when adjusted for inflation. Higher income from reduced social security withholding was more than offset by higher gasoline prices, tepid wage increases, high unemployment, lower home prices and recessionary levels of consumer confidence. And this is happening even before the end of QE2, which has been keeping the economy afloat since November.

10) The April Small Business Survey, after rising weakly from recession lows, has now dropped 3.1 points in the last two months. Even at its most recent high it was below any level in its history prior to 2008. Key segments that declined were plans to increase employment and capital expenditures. In addition the number expecting sales to rise also dropped.

11) In addition to the domestic concerns cited above, the global picture is also not looking too rosy. ECRI's long leading indicator of global industrial growth peaked last August at 0.7 and stood at 0.1 in March. ECRI managing director Lakshman Achuthan stated "There's a downturn in global industrial growth in clear sight". EU production fell in March and retail sales have been flat for six months. In the UK there's been no GDP growth for six months. Japanese GDP dropped 3.7% annualized in the 1st quarter and 3.0% in the 4th. Note that the earthquake occurred on March 11th, toward the end of the quarter, so cannot be fully blamed for the 1st quarter and not at all for the 4th. Industrial output in all of the BRIC nations seems to be slowing, and current monetary and fiscal policies suggest more to come.

All in all it seems to us that the odds are high that a domestic and global economic slowdown is already in place. In the U.S. the slowdown is happening with only six weeks to go before the end of QE2, a program that has been a major prop for even the tepid recovery we've undergone so far. For the stock market nothing seems to matter until, suddenly, it does. _ComstockFunds
Did you imagine that China is ready to take over as the global economy's driving force? Better think again. More here.
via EconomyWatch

Drowning in Debt: Why the economy still cannot seem to recover.

Reading the consequences of debt: The hidden taxes of debts, deficits, and a deflationary : inflationary chaos -- along with dysfunctional government regulations, incentives, corruption, and laws -- combine to crush any nascent recovery in its cradle.

But the disaster is compounded by the effect of demographics: If human capital is not growing and improving, any realistic hope of economic growth and development is delusional.

Japan is the canary in the coal mine, the early warning signal for the rest of the world, on the dangers of debt and demography. The PIIGS of Europe are following closely behind. Russia would be a global economic basket case except for Siberian wealth -- and how much longer can the bear hold on to Siberia in the face of shrinking demographics and evaporating human capital?

Will the people of the west ever wake up to what they are doing -- and allowing to be done -- to themselves? If not, what are the alternatives? Who is John Galt?

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22 May 2011

Politically Correct Delusions and Madnesses of Crowds

The fates of modern democratic societies are dependent far more upon the behaviour of crowds -- or the mob -- than most citizens would like to believe. Popular culture is determined by mob tastes and preferences, and the often unpredictable behaviour of mobs on election day is bemoaned by leaders of all political parties -- at one time or another. Mob behaviours are guided by mob beliefs, which are as often as not, delusional. Here is a good example of a modern popular delusion from Princeton Physics Professor William Happer:
I want to discuss a contemporary moral epidemic: the notion that increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, will have disastrous consequences for mankind and for the planet. The “climate crusade” is one characterized by true believers, opportunists, cynics, money-hungry governments, manipulators of various types—even children’s crusades—all based on contested science and dubious claims.

...We need to be vigilant to keep our land, air, and waters free of real pollution, particulates, heavy metals, and pathogens, but carbon dioxide (CO2 ) is not one of these pollutants. Carbon is the stuff of life. Our bodies are made of carbon. A normal human exhales around 1 kg of CO2 (the simplest chemically stable molecule of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere) per day. Before the industrial period, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 270 ppm. At the present time, the concentration is about 390 ppm, 0.039 percent of all atmospheric molecules and less than 1 percent of that in our breath. About fifty million years ago, a brief moment in the long history of life on earth, geological evidence indicates, CO2 levels were several thousand ppm, much higher than now. And life flourished abundantly.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate atmospheric CO2 as a “pollutant.” According to my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, to pollute is “to make or render unclean, to defile, to desecrate, to profane.” By breathing are we rendering the air unclean, defiling or desecrating it?

...As far as green plants are concerned, CO2 is not a pollutant, but part of their daily bread—like water, sunlight, nitrogen, and other essential elements. Most green plants evolved at CO2 levels of several thousand ppm, many times higher than now. Plants grow better and have better flowers and fruit at higher levels. Commercial greenhouse operators recognize this when they artificially increase the concentrations inside their greenhouses to over 1000 ppm.

...We would be perfectly healthy in a world with little or no atmospheric CO2—except that we would have nothing to eat and a few other minor inconveniences, because most plants stop growing if the levels drop much below 150 ppm. If we want to continue to be fed and clothed by the products of green plants, we can have too little CO2.

The minimum acceptable value for plants is not that much below the 270 ppm preindustrial value. It is possible that this is not enough, that we are better off with our current level, and would be better off with more still. There is evidence that California orange groves are about 30 percent more productive today than they were 150 years ago because of the increase of atmospheric CO2.

...A rare case of good correlation between CO2 levels and temperature is provided by ice-core records of the cycles of glacial and interglacial periods of the last million years of so. But these records show that changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 levels, so that the levels were an effect of temperature changes. This was probably due to outgassing of CO2 from the warming oceans and the reverse effect when they cooled.

...The earth’s climate has always been changing. Our present global warming is not at all unusual by the standards of geological history, and it is probably benefiting the biosphere. Indeed, there is very little correlation between the estimates of CO2 and of the earth’s temperature over the past 550 million years (the “Phanerozoic” period). The message is clear that several factors must influence the earth’s temperature, and that while CO2 is one of these factors, it is seldom the dominant one. _WUWT
Full article by Professor Happer at First Things

Another popular delusion of politically correct crowds is a strong belief in the desirability of replacing modern coal, gas, and nuclear power plants with wind and solar power.

Mass delusions do not require reason or logic to gain converts. They only need to project the view that "everyone knows that ..." "every schoolboy knows ..." or "everybody believes that ..." This false sense of security in perceived numbers of believers has taken in a huge number of pseudo-intellectuals within the academy, in journalism, in politics, and in popular media and entertainment. All the better to project the delusion of universal belief.

In hindsight, such delusional madnesses are quite clearly absurd and without rational foundation. But when one is living through the delusion, the primeval instincts of the species hold sway.

Basic Reading on crowd behaviour:

Gustave le Bon: The Crowd
Charles Mackay: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Both titles above are also available for download at the Gutenberg Project

More on Gustave le Bon from Against Politics

23 May 2011 More: The increasingly rowdy and violent mobs known as government unions should be seen a particularly ominous portent for the future, to anyone who cares about freedom and independent action.

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20 May 2011

A Return to "Snowball Earth"

via NextBigFuture

The natural state of most planets is cold, very cold. Planet Earth owns some prime orbital real estate near its sun, but even so it has experienced periods of Snowball Earth, when virtually the entire planet was covered with snow and ice. If humans are not careful how they approach the chaotic issue of Earth's climate, they could very well push the planet back toward that strange and very cold attractor. Here is one way it could be done:
HIGH-FLYING BLIMPS, based on existing protoypes, could support a hose no thicker than a fire hose (above) to carry sulfur dioxide as a clear liquid up to the stratosphere, where one or more nozzles (below) would atomize it into a fine mist of nanometer-scale aerosol particles.

The cost to construct a Stratospheric Shield with a pumping capacity of 100,000 tons a year of sulfur dioxide would be roughly $24 million, including transportation and assembly. Annual operating costs would run approximately $10 million. The system would use only technologies and materials that already exist—although some improvements may be needed to existing atomizer technology in order to achieve wide sprays of nanometer-scale sulfur dioxide particles and to prevent the particles from coalescing into larger droplets. Even if these cost estimates are off by a factor of 10 (and we think that is unlikely), this work appears to remove cost as an obstacle to cooling an overheated planet by technological means. _NextBigFuture
Remember the idea of using "near space" as a waystation to Earth orbit? The type of lighter-than-air craft involved are very similar. One big difference between the two schemes is that the climate repercussions of massive cooling of the planet could lead to the dieoff of billions of humans, due to widespread crop failure.

A similar geoengineering climate scheme involves the use of stratospheric mirror-balloons to reflect any unwanted solar radiation back into space. The mirror-balloons -- unlike the sulfur dioxide aerosols -- would be controlled so as to block sunlight, allow the sunlight through, or to focus sunlight on a particular area of land surface, ocean, or atmosphere. The weapons potential of the mirror-balloon geoengineering scheme should be obvious.

Human scientists barely understand the salient mechanisms of Earth's chaotic climate. Certainly stratospheric water vapour concentration is also likely to be extremely important in the overall scheme of climate.

But once humans begin to actively interfere with the radiative balance of Earth on a grand scale, they risk pushing the scale toward a catastrophic ice age, which would be incalculably worse for the human population of the planet than any realistic temporary warming scenario from anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

People are getting de-sensitised by the constant doom-and-gloom predictions from faux environmentalists and climate pseudo-scientists. Particularly when many of these predictions are decades old, and no closer to coming true than when they were originally published or proclaimed. The IPCC in particular is losing credibility by the day.

But the momentum from all the decades of carbon hysteria and faux environmental doom will take time to dissipate. Many academics, journalists, and other slow thinkers will take years or decades to die off -- or wise up to the obvious fact that their most closely held beliefs are not supported by the evidence or the passage of time.

The SO2 injection scheme pictured at top is a good example of a "file it and forget it" idea. Anyone who wants to push the planet into an ice age so as to trigger a massive human dieoff.orgy may want to pursue the idea further, however.

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19 May 2011

China: "An Unsettling and Unending Vista of Emptiness?"

video via economiccollapse.net

Most of the modern worldwide commodities bubble is being driven by demand from China -- both directly and indirectly. China's GDP continues to impress the outside world's economic gurus and analysts. But "it's not the quantity of GDP that matters, it's the quality." If, after the collapse of much of China's huge export market, China's economic growth is now being built upon ghost infrastructure (to nowhere), a financial reckoning will eventually come. When that happens, what will global commodities markets do?
Source for Table

As western economies begin to crumble and even China’s cheap manufactured items become too expensive, the Asian powerhouse could be in big trouble. Maybe even more trouble than the western economies.

Fact is, its domestic market isn’t robust enough to take up the slack. Not nearly robust enough. The government overlords can only keep the factories running, people employed and inventories piling up for so long.

At some point, even the Chinese must submit to the inexorable forces of supply and demand. Factories will be shuttered. Massive layoffs will ensue. Unrest will rise among millions of Chinese factory workers (nee peasants). _EconomicCollapse
More from the Atlantic
Dramatic Slowdowns in China Coming

If your investment strategy is based upon a continuing exponential growth in demand for petroleum and other commodities, it may be time for a rethinking.

Certainly most believers in "peak oil doom" are counting on continued high global demand, to make their dreams of doom come true. For those in better tune with the global economic and demographic symphony, it is not too late to move away from the groupthink to a more justifiable position.

Further, if you are an American who is coming to see your president as a combination of Nixon's paranoia and Carter's incompetence, you may want to take a look a some "going Galt" options that many of your cohorts are eyeing.

More interesting takes on why the government -- any government -- is not a friend to your financial well-being, by Doug Casey

The US population is drowing in debt and demographic decline. The same twin disasters are beginning to take hold of many European nations, if they are not careful about who immigrates. Japan and Russia may well be beyond the point of demographic return, for their core populations.

As long as the "intelligensia" of the world can be distracted by hysteric nightmares of carbon climate catastrophe, overpopulation doom, resource scarcity doom, ecological collapse, and other figments of inadequate and undisciplined minds, attention of the masses will be diverted from the genuine disaster creep of debt and demographics.

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17 May 2011

Life is the Education, Not College

Update 25May2011: An article describing the Peter Thiel Fellowship -- which pays fellows $100,000 not to attend college -- providing further details and information on this theme.

Humans begin learning as soon as the central nervous system begins to develop in the womb. Learning during infancy and early childhood is more intensive than any other learning in a person's life. Over historical and pre-historical time, most humans learned about life from observation, imitation, apprenticeship, and experimentation -- and just doing it. Only recently has it been thought necessary for every child to receive a formal, government-approved education before being released into the real world.

And still it is life that is the real education, not schools, not colleges. Schools can only prepare a student for a few of the things he will confront in real life, the rest is up to the lifelong student's capacity to adapt and grow in the real world.

Don't Let Your Schooling Get in the Way of Your Education

There is a significant mismatch between what schools "teach" and what life will demand of a student. School curricula do not generally provide the education a person needs to confront the real challenges to be faced. While a child may be forced to attend school up to a certain age or level, there is no guarantee that he will learn even the barest of necessities. In today's climate of indoctrination-by-school, what the child learns in school may be both patently false and outright counter-productive to his life prospects -- besides being a total waste of his time and a distraction from his true education.

Too much of the time, the actual "education" a child receives from lower education is an induction into delinquency and basic groupthink. Proceeding to "higher education," advanced studies in binge drinking, fornication, and an indoctrination into dysfunctional ideology and advanced groupthink, help to complete the blunting of the once-promising prospects which the child may have possessed.

Most bright and observant people have come to doubt whether it is in the best interests of families and society to pay the huge and ruinous price to maintain the modern system of "education." Particularly when a better education is readily obtainable at a minimal cost via the internet, libraries, used book stores, and real life.

The raucous marching of the paid, truant, and quasi-violent drones in Madison, Wisconsin, was but a gentle preview of the truly violent clashes to come, between the entitled establishment and the embattled taxpayer.
Most Americans think college is not worth the money

Winds of change in college infrastructure portend massive changes in how advanced education will be provided
In place of "unions" in the cartoons, one could also write "tenured professors" and "university administrations." A sense of entitlement runs deep and rampant in "educational" circles, and in societies with topheavy governments in general.

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16 May 2011

Human Intelligence Comes from the Genes

LAMC3 Gene and Effect on Brain Convolutions

The difference between the brain on the left above and the brain on the right, comes from a single gene -- LAMC3 -- which influences the formation of convolutions in the cerebral cortex. Brain convolutions allow for much greater volume of cerebral cortex, which is associated with the higher intelligence seen in apes, cetaceans, and humans (one of the apes). An alteration of the nucleic acid sequence in the LAMC3 gene in humans can apparently lead to the loss of convolutions in the cortex in affected individuals, as seen in the image above.
The folding of the brain is seen only in mammals with larger brains, such as dolphins and apes, and is most pronounced in humans. These fissures expand the surface area of the cerebral cortex and allow for complex thought and reasoning without taking up more space in the skull. Such foldings aren't seen in mammals such as rodents or other animals. Despite the importance of these foldings, no one has been able to explain how the brain manages to create them. The LAMC3 gene – involved in cell adhesion that plays a key role in embryonic development – may be crucial to the process.

An analysis of the gene shows that it is expressed during the embryonic period that is vital to the formation of dendrites, which form synapses or connections between brain cells. "Although the same gene is present in lower organisms with smooth brains such as mice, somehow over time, it has evolved to gain novel functions that are fundamental for human occipital cortex formation and its mutation leads to the loss of surface convolutions, a hallmark of the human brain," Gunel said. _Medicalxpress

Thousands of genes take part in the intricate developmental dance of forming the central nervous system in all its complexity. But specific genes play more dominant roles in differentiating human brains from brains of "lower" animals.

Genes control the size of particular systems and components of the brain which are instrumental in providing for more rapid mental processing and more complex processing. Some brains can hold more ideas in the mind simultaneously, while performing transformative operations on those ideas. "Human calculators" capable of computing solutions to complex arithmetical and mathematical problems in their heads, are one obvious example. But the mental machinations of scientific theorists, elite diagnosticians, and top level novelists, illustrate the same type of differentiation of mental ability -- largely originating at the genetic level.

James Watson -- one of the discoverers of the modern genetic theory of DNA inheritance -- received almost universal condemnation for expressing a few elementary facts of human genetic biodiversity. Here is some background information concerning that shameful episode of modern human culture and its prejudices:

GNXP: James Watson tells the Inconvenient Truth

Slate: Created Equal [AF Note: After being threatened with a similar fate as that of Watson, the much beaten-down Saletan (author of the slate piece above) published a "mea culpa" and submitted to the PC inquisition]

Useful PDF article from Robert Plomin discussing Genes and Intelligence

It is critical to understand how many genes are involved in weaving the fabric of higher intelligence. It is not a question of finding THE GENE for intelligence. Rather it is a question of understanding how all the many genes which create the potential for intelligence, work together.

And it is important to become a bit more sophisticated about how a crucial variability in gene expression can occur -- even when conventional genetic analyses fail to distinguish between two genomes.

Humans are not all the same. In fact, no two humans are exactly the same -- even identical twins. This is true for reasons of gene expression, in all its many levels of complexity -- both known and unknown. These differences can also originate from differences in experience and culture, as in when identical twins are separated at birth and raised in entirely different environments. But even then, the powerful impact of genes on the life outcome of the separated twins is all to obvious.
IQ is not everything. Executive Function (EF) is also crucial to life success. But EF is perhaps even more heritable than IQ. That is why it is so crucial to take advantage of a child's critical developmental windows for boosting the components of competent thinking, acting, and planning when one can. After that time period passes, it is mostly too late for those at the greatest genetic disadvantage.

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15 May 2011

Human Brain Project Moves Toward Human Cortex Model


Henry Markram's Human Brain Project in Lausanne, is competing for funding from the FET Flagship Initiative, to the tune of 1 billion Euros, disbursed over a ten year period. Markram's goals are extremely ambitious, and unprecedented. He aims to model the human cerebral cortex to an exquisite degree of precision. Markram expects that his model of the human brain will be so exact, that he will be able to study inaccessible brain diseases and devise impossible brain cures by using his model. He may be right. But in only ten years?
Scientists are paying particular attention to the cerebral cortex. This layer on the outside of brain, only a few millimeters thick, is the most important condition of it evolution. It is the starting point for efforts to understand what makes us tick -- and for endeavors to find solutions when things go wrong. Our brain builds its version of the universe in the cerebral cortex. The vast majority of what we see doesn't enter the brain through the eye. It is instead is based on the impressions, experiences and decisions in our brain.

Markham already completed important preparatory work for the computer modeling of the brain with his Blue Brain Project, an attempt to understand and model the molecular makeup of the mammalian brain. He modeled a tiny part of a rat brain, a so-called neocortical column, at the cell level. To understand what one of these columns does, it's helpful to imagine the cerebral cortex as a giant piano. There are millions of neocortical columns on the surface, and each of them produces a tone, in a manner of speaking. When they are simulated, the columns produce a symphony together. Understanding the design of these neocortical columns is a holy grail of sorts for neuroscientists.

It is important to understand the rules of communication among the nerve cells. The individual cells do not communicate at random, but instead seek specifically targeted communication partners. The axes of nerve cells intersect at millions of different points, where they can form a synapse. This makes communication between individual neurons possible. In a recent article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Markram writes that such connections are also developed entirely without external influence. This could indicate a sort of innate knowledge that all people have in common. Markram refers to it as the "Lego blocks" of the brain, noting that each person assembles his own world on the basis of this innate knowledge. _Spiegel
The object of study for the Human Brain Project may be the most complex dynamic system in the universe. The attempt would be impossible without the most sophisticated computing hardware and software available. And one must have more than a mere fistful of Euros to acquire such advanced goodies.
Modeling all of this in a computer is extremely complex. Markram's current model encompasses tens of thousands of neurons. But this isn't nearly enough to come within striking range of the secret of our brain. To do that, scientists will have to assemble countless other partial models, which are to be combined to create a functioning total simulation by 2023.

The supercomputers at the Jülich Research Center near Cologne are expected to play an important role in this process. The brain simulation will require an enormous volume of data, or what scientist Markram calls a "tsunami of data." One of the challenges for scientists working under Thomas Lippert, head of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre, is to figure out how to make the computer process only a certain part of the data at a given time, but without completely losing sight of the rest. They also have to develop an imaging method, such as large, three-dimensional holograms, to depict the massive amounts of data.

All it takes is a look at the work of Jülich neuroscientist Katrin Amunts to understand the sheer volume of information at hand. The team she heads is compiling a detailed atlas of the human brain. To do so, they cut a brain into 8,000 slices and digitized them with a high-performance scanner. The brain model generated in this way consists of cuboids, each measuring 10 by 10 by 20 micrometers, and the size of the data set is three terabytes. Brain atlases with higher resolutions, says Amunts, would probably consist of more than 700 terabytes _Spiegel
The answer to the question posed above is: No, this goal cannot be met within a time frame of ten years. Because the challenge is not merely quantitative -- a matter of compiling the precise assembly of terabytes to create a brain atlas. The goal is to create a dynamic, interactive model of incredible plasticity -- a model which changes itself moment to moment. The "700 terabyte" requirement mentioned above is just the starting point -- the bare beginning -- in the assembly of such a dynamic and ever-changing model.

But the problem is even harder -- much, much harder. The quantitative complexity -- even in dynamic flow -- is nothing when compared to the qualitative complexity, which is nowhere near to being solved by Markram's team.

The project as described in brief above is an excellent starting point. Much can be learned from such an approach. But starting points do not necessarily point directly toward the end that one seeks. Rather, they point somewhere "out there." It is for the questers to continuously adjust their headings -- and often they are forced to adjust their goals.

Good luck to Henry and his team -- with the funding and with the ongoing project. It is an ambitious goal worthy of any scientist.

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14 May 2011

The Search for the Safest Place in US and World

NYT via Lifehacker via Keelynet
Looking for a safe place to live? You are not alone. First, it is important to separate dangers into natural disasters and man-made disaster. Looking at natural disasters in the US, we can see the approximate risk of US cities from tornado, hurricane, and earthquake in the map above. Notice that flood risk is not specifically covered -- although it is one of the most important periodic natural disasters. Wildfire is yet another devastating periodic natural disaster that is ignored by the map. Volcanoes are an extreme hazard, but relatively rare, so are not considered in the above list. That is fortunate for most of the cities considered the "safest," since they are sitting in the middle of volcano country.

The map below merely lists standardised mortality ratios from disasters of all types in the US. The emphasis for the lower map is on weather, ignoring earthquakes, fires, and apparently floods. Here is an example of a top 10 US safest city list, which attempts to take crime AND natural risks into account.

But if you are only looking at natural disaster risk, you may be ignoring the far more important risks which come from humans. Crime and traffic accidents would rank highest, but industrial and infrastructural accidents may also be fatal -- eg exploding gas pipelines, collapsing bridges and buildings, dam failure, flying ice and blade debris from exploding wind turbines, etc. (It is not commonly known, but nuclear power plants are the safest form of power production)

If you focus on safety from crime and disorder, the safest cities in the world are to be found in Switzerland and Japan, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting. According to Expatify's list, Switzerland sits on top, and Japan isn't even in the top 10 safest -- presumably due to Japan's proximity to age-old enemies China and Russia.

Some persons are concerned with mitigating a possible increased risk of global disaster connected with the year 2012. Another website deals specifically with an anticipated (by some) 2012 "pole shift," and the search for the safest place in the world for dealing with such a disaster.

Al Fin disaster forecasters expect the year 2012 to be no more catastrophic than Y2K was, and only slightly more disastrous than carbon climate catastrophe and peak oil doom. Standard precautions for unanticipated events -- solar flare, EMP, NBC terrorist attack, Obama government debt default etc. -- remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Other recommendations: Do not build your house on the flood plain. Do not build your house in an avalanche zone. Do not be the first one to inhabit a newly opened gentrification zone. More advice to come.
US Crime Rates


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13 May 2011

The College Imperative and the Coming Idiocracy

More: Now we are learning that as many as 85% of US college graduates are forced by debt to move back in with their parents when they leave college. Perhaps someone should have told their parents this was going to happen, before the fact?

For several decades, American children have been pushed toward a college education as the path to life and career success. More and more children are enrolling in college -- over 70% of American high school graduates enrolled in college over the past decade. Yet there are many reasons to believe that this rush to a college education is not only counter-productive, but may be downright destructive to a society.
Image Source

It has been argued persuasively that a rigorous 4 year college degree can only be put to good use by a person at or above the 80th percentile of IQ. Forcing more people into the system requires a dumbing down of admissions, a dumbing down of course work, and a dumbing down of evaluations and credentials.
If 70.1% of high school graduates enroll in a college or university, how does a college degree give you an advantage over the rest of the population? Back in the early 1960s, Americans didn't need to go to college. We were a creditor nation with a strong manufacturing base. With an unemployment rate of only 5%, jobs were available to almost everybody. Less than 50% of American high school graduates enrolled into college. For those who did attend college and graduate with a degree, it was actually something special that made you stand out from the rest of the field, because not everybody had one.

...The current college education bubble is one of the largest bubbles in U.S. history. The college bubble has been fueled by the U.S. government's willingness to give out cheap and easy student loans to anybody who applied for them, regardless of if they will ever have the ability to pay the loans back. Student loan debt in America is now larger than credit card debt, but unlike credit card debt, student loan debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy. _CollegeBubble

The situation is even worse for women. Women who go put all their energies into the higher education bubble and a career, all too often risk dying childless and unloved, and deeply in debt besides. Even so, the proportion of women attending college is growing and approaching 60% as the proportion of men continues to fall toward 40%.

It is the most intelligent and best educated women who are choosing careers over motherhood, while the least intelligent women are bearing the lioness' share of children. Given the choice of sex partners by less intelligent women, it is likely that the average intelligence of newcomers to society is declining -- a dysgenic process leading to Idiocracy.

The same trend toward higher proportion of births from low-IQ populations is taking place in nations across the western world -- in no small part due to the push for more children to go to college, particularly women.

Many other potentially catastrophic side effects of the "college imperative" are put on display in the documentary "College Conspiracy." The college bubble is a source of massive capital misallocation and extreme (often frivolous) debt, for youth just beginning their lives. The psychological impact of living under so much debt is incalculable. Many young people must postpone thoughts of marriage and raising a family for many years -- and sometimes indefinitely -- due to massive educational debt. And the problem is only growing worse over time.

Is college a waste of time? No, it is a waste of lives and a waste of human capital. The college imperative is becoming the waste of the future -- the midwifing of the Idiocracy.

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Oceans: More Complex and Resilient than We Know


Popular culture is soaking in the dogma that "humans are killing the oceans" and "man is destroying the planet." But science is so abysmally ignorant about what is actually happening in the seas and on land, that the faux environmentalist message of doom is based upon a blooming ignorance, and little else.

Take a recent declaration of "plankton apocalypse" by researchers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Faux environmentalists seized on the single, unsubstantiated report as confirmation that the end of the world is near. More knowledgeable and intelligent persons knew -- or at least sensed -- that the Dalhousie report was hagwash. And so it seems to have been. Much of modern published "science" dealing with the environment and climate is unmitigated hogwash, albeit politically correct.

But there is much valid and valuable science to be learned from the oceans, if one can work objectively and without prejudicial biases.
"The big mystery about bacteria is what they are doing in nature," Whitman said. "The organisms metabolize compounds for their own needs. We need to understand what they are getting out of it to understand what it means for the ocean, and now it will be possible to look at the environmental importance of this process and how it's regulated." That will help to answer the "why" of the two sulfur fates. _Physorg
Notice that the U. of Georgia scientists are microbiologists -- not "climatologists." Although the microbiologists link their study to climate -- for reasons of funding among others -- their results help to expose the abysmal ignorance of climate "science" with regards to the oceans and cloud formation.

Scientists have discovered that marine diatoms, tiny phytoplankton abundant in the sea, have an animal-like urea cycle, and that this cycle enables the diatoms to efficiently use carbon and nitrogen from their environment.

The researchers, from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and other institutions, published their findings in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

The team, led by lead author Andrew Allen from JCVI and co-author Chris Bowler, Institute of Biology, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, believes that the cycle could be a reason for the domination of diatoms in marine environments, especially after upwelling events--the upward movement of nutrient rich waters from the deep ocean to the surface.

In response to ocean upwelling, diatoms are able to quickly recover from prolonged periods of nutrient deprivation and rapidly proliferate. _Physorg
Here again, we see a significant finding that relates importantly to global carbon balance, ocean phytoplankton levels, and atmospheric oxygen levels. How many other momentous and paradigm-changing discoveries are waiting for humans to discard their politically correct prejudices in order to better perceive the reality of the universe?

Taken from an earlier posting at Al Fin the Next Level

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