Saturday, July 19, 2008

Objective approach to 9/11 Conspiracy Theories -Milgram

There is a bias towards the government, the authority. If the answer is unclear, it's being assumed that they're the ones to believe. The general perception is that it is more likely done by terrorists than the government: "Governments don't do bad things, terrorists do."

There is no rational basis for such thinking. Not in today's world, no.

Here is a double-example for bias: SkepDic on 9/11 Conspiracies

Even if they're right about all of their points, they're only skeptical of the so called conspiracy theorists, never of the government. They don't analyze the official story, they focus only on debunking other theories.

The government is the good side by default. If you're skeptical of people questioning the orthodox views, then you're a skeptic. Once you start questioning the orthodox views yourself by becoming more skeptical, then you don't become a better skeptic in the eyes of the majority, you become too skeptical; A Conspiracy Theorist. And never mind that the orthodox views change with every generation...

Been through that myself apparently... But the reality is that even if you don't think that it's an inside job or whatever, no matter what you believe in, then still, you are a conspiracy theorist !

Anyway, one reason for this biased perception is -as in the Milgram experiment- the obedience to authority I suppose. People tend to be on the side of the powerful, the side of the majority, when they have to take sides. They feel comfy knowing that since they're doing -together with the rest of the majority- what their government tells them, the responsibility belongs to the government. And if any "enemies" were to challenge these people, their government would support them and the enemy would be crushed, while the people can still benefit from the protection under their government's wings. They also feel safer knowing that they got the support of the majority -or a community that they're attached to-, they are a part of a whole. This was also confirmed by Asch's Conformity Experiment. (Notice that these effects can also occur if a person is too deep inside the so called "truth movement", not just with non-skeptics and communities of biased skeptics. A little more here: Groupthink)

The other reason is more naive: The governments are supposed to work for the people and people want to be able to trust them, to believe in them. It's very much like the need to believe in God, an almighty force that will protect you. If you can even consider the possibility of such a treason by your own government, then this would mean you're in big trouble; it doesn't only mean that there is no God to help you, it means that the God is in fact Satan themself. So understandably people can easily ignore many significant questions while trying to convince themselves that their government couldn't possible do such a thing, also called confirmation bias. If they're right, that's good. But if they're wrong, then they become a part of the problem and make it even bigger.

So in short, don't assume the official version is more likely to be correct, don't try to defend it, be objective, skeptical, open minded.

Look at the footage alone and ignore the rest of the debate.
Ask objectively which is more probable:

Without explosives or with explosives?
Fire alone or with support from explosives?

Answer = With Explosives

Explosives mean only extra power, they would raise the probability of such a collapse significantly.

But still, there certainly was fire without doubt. Is there any evidence for explosives?
Is there any evidence contradicting the possibility of explosives?
Then go on...

BUT... also know that it's partially a waste of time, because it's impossible to know for sure just by researching and thinking. Even if it was an inside job, everybody involved might be dead already. Besides it's not all about how it happened, it should be more about the result and who's responsible for it. Even if it were really organized by Bin Laden -which seems more unlikely to me- there are enough signs to conclude that it was led happen by the US administration, so they are responsible for the result in either case. And even if somehow they were not, they abused this incident to an incredible degree and they still keep doing it, which is the most important point. So there really are more useful things to spend your time with...

(Spending time with this subject still makes more sense than to play WoW and stuff like that I guess; it's a nice thought exercise at least and it's about the reality we're currently forced to really live in...)

I personally tend to agree with the former Italian President* after doing some intensive research. With or without explosives? I don't really care... But if I were to make a guess, I'd say: With. At least WTC7... Firstly because it certainly looks that way. My primary, logical reasons are that the whole thing involved too much secrecy, was too suspicious. Some evidence has been quickly removed for example... If you inspect the entire debate surrounding 9/11, you'll definitely have enough reasons to be skeptical about many of the official claims...

P.S. Now to think, I think it's better to use the the word "Misfortune" instead of "Conspiracy" -which implies involvement of evilness- as I don't believe in evil, or good either... And of course "misfortune researchers" or something like that, instead of "conspiracy theorists"...

Irrelevant but amazing video: Miami Police Shot Protester, then laugh about it

UPDATE: Criticisms on FaceBook from William Mount and my replies

And I found this guide to be fairly reasonable and objective:
How Conspiracy Theories Work

Might be useful if you tend to dismiss certain claims without giving any thought...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bury the Spirit

I bet the religious beliefs of many people would be greatly weakened if the corpses were not buried/burned. If they had to witness how the bodies of their loved ones slowly decay, consumed by insects and bacteria and other forms of life, it would become much harder to assume that there is so much more to life than just the physical reality.



I remembered that I wanted to know how placebo exactly functions, I have high hopes for it. I dump links here as I discover new stuff that I consider relevant to the topic.
Click on the videos to watch the complete series on YouTube.


"A compassionate, hands-on approach may be more valuable than any single medical therapy.’’ In one extreme case, Dr Herbert Spiegel, of Columbia University, believes that it may have had a hand in a patient’s death. Writing in the report 'Nocebo: The Power of Suggestibility', he reports a case at a large American Roman Catholic hospital, where doctors called for a priest to administer last rites. By mistake, the priest went to the wrong bed and so the wrong patient.

“He gave this patient last rites with an impressive air of authority and a brusque voice,” says Dr Spiegel. Within 15 minutes, that patient was dead, while the other lived for a few more days."
From Times Online - Thinking Yourself Sick

"There is a small group of patients in whom the realisation of impending death is a blow so terrible that they are quite unable to adjust to it, and they die rapidly before the malignancy seems to have developed enough to cause death. This problem of self-willed death is in some ways analogous to the death produced in primitive peoples by witchcraft ('pointing the bone')."
From “Self-willed death or the bone-pointing syndrome,” G.W. Milton, Lancet June 23 1973 pp. 1436-1437

"Alarmingly, the nocebo effect can even be catching. Cases where symptoms without an identifiable cause spread through groups of people have been around for centuries, a phenomenon known as mass psychogenic illness. One outbreak (see "It's catching") inspired a recent study by psychologists Irving Kirsch and Giuliana Mazzoni of the University of Hull in the UK.
Despite the growing evidence that the nocebo effect is all too real, it is hard in this rational age to accept that people's beliefs can kill them. After all, most of us would laugh if a strangely attired man leapt about waving a bone and told us we were going to die. But imagine how you would feel if you were told the same thing by a smartly dressed doctor with a wallful of medical degrees and a computerful of your scans and test results."
From: NewScientist - The science of voodoo: When mind attacks body (Full Text)

More related links below:

The Race for Neurons

I went to see a movie today, a character in it made me think about why it is so hard to change other people.

We all probably heard that children are more open to outside effects and we're all probably aware that what you feed to a child's brain makes a bigger impact on their personality in comparison to adults.

I thought about what the difference really is. I think an important factor is that the parents can determine what their children spend their time with, while adults more or less decide themselves what they want to watch, read etc... They've got no authoritive guide so to say.

So once a "deficient" adult is created, approved as an adult and given the permission to lead their own lives then there is probably no turning back. It is unlikely that such a person can make the correct decisions to better themself*, even with seemingly sufficient amount of external influence. While it is easy to change a child's mind with relatively little amount of exposure to new information.

The brainwashing("informing") needed to change a person increases as the person gets older, because the competition of information in the brain also rises. But note that changing some key views in the brain can result in accelareting the process through chain-reactions, by motivating the person to want to change themself would spare some work for example.

(See also this post to understand why the competition is really needed and why you can't just persuade people by simply using rational arguments.)

In the end, one thing becomes even clearer; as long as so much garbage -in comparison to nongarbage- will continue to be pumped from various sources into people's minds, you can't expect a significant foundational improvement in human reasoning. The negative brainwashing has to stop as soon as possible and the "authorities" should proceed with productive, useful brainwashing.

Hesh and Herm -oh no wait: THEY!


From now on, whenever I have to write "he/she", "him/her", "his/her" and "himself/herself" I'll use the bases "Hesh" and "Herm".

You know what...I'll also use those words even if I only have to say he or she alone...

Like in "Hesh gave me herm apple, because hesh didn't want to eat it hermself, but I gave it back to herm."

Let's see if I can get used to it. I hope I can, because this needs to change if English is to become more efficient. This sexual distinction causes a waste of time. That's an important thing because English is being so widely used already. Maybe I should inform Chomsky about my decision and ask what he thinks...hehehe...

Oh- just as I was about to post this I googled those and found this (it was stupid to think that I'm the first person who was bothered by this) :

Taking the gender out of language is no easy task

' The simplest solution to the problem of finding an epicene singular pronoun, linguists say, is already in the language -- use "they"..
English used to reserve "you" and "your" for plurals, and used "thou," "thy" and "thee" for the singular. But "thou" and the others dropped out, and "you" started pulling double duty. Eventually, "they" could, too, and "he or she" will be as old-fashioned as "thou".'

This one is from Wiki

That was unexpected... But I think it makes sense... It will certainly be hard to get used to and will be confusing for a while but I think in the end it really does make sense and it'll still be easier than "hesh-herm" :)

I'll give it a shot:

"They gave me their apple, because they didn't want to eat it themself, but I gave it back to them."

It's fun actually! It feels weird but I suppose that's temporary.

Hmm... I get a strange feeling... it's almost as if I'm considering to promote this usage, like by starting a Facebook group or sth. like that..! Maybe I should still ask Chomsky first though, before I go on getting people addicted to it, just to be cautious... Life just got a little more exciting, but it would be pretty hard to get the short-term-thinking, lazy people to accept such an idea. Many would rather shift the responsibility to the next generation, although the hard part is the first 2 weeks only...or 2 years... or something...

Language is the foundation of modern humanity, the fountain of thought. It's also the key to communication, and therefore cooperation and advancement. Although most of the languages are pretty useful already, there is no reasonable excuse to not to improve them.

P.S. Hopefully China won't become a real superpower and conquer the world, and hopefully they won't start making millions of high quality movies, games and sell them to the world, so that English has a better chance at becoming accepted as the world language.

Edit: What about "it"? Do I also say "they" instead? Get them? Naah, that would be too much...

UPDATE: Hmm... I don't think I can afford to stick to this decision at this point in my life, I'm having a lot of important conversations with people who won't be tolerant and patient enough for this kind of stuff... I'll make a more concentrated effort later when I think the time is right.
I can still continue it in this blog though...

The School Effect

Since I want to get others to be interested in science, I began to think about how it started for me. My interest in science has certainly an above average intensity. In the last few years it took a new shape though; this happened through getting to know people like Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan better, through internet.

(I was always interested in science actually, particularly in new technologies. There was never a time in my life when I thought of science in a negative way I guess. It was just that I found the process; mathematics, numbers etc, lack of emotional interaction and all that sort of boring and decided that it wasn't anything for me, it seemed like the result you get isn't worth the effort.)

But I gave a little more thought and realized that even before Feynman and Sagan, there were other factors in shaping my views: I remembered that I wanted to be scientist in the primary school! (How did I even forget such a thing in the first place!?) And I remember really dreaming about it, I was more interested in being an inventor I guess... If you think about it that's not so interesting, because almost every child wants to be an astronaut or something like that when they're still young and "silly". But how did I lose that passion?

Well for me it's pretty easy to explain: The school suddenly got much more complicated!

My education became more exhausting and hard after primary school. We were forced to learn a new language(German) and almost all our lectures were taught in that foreign language. That's a huge factor. We were expected to learn physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics in a language that was essentially unfamiliar to us, and the language itself isn't even so much fun to speak in the first place! That's when I had to part my ways with my education, the school became a burden and not a place where you go to learn new, interesting things. Maybe it would have been different if I were motivated to learn the language in the beginning, but I had no reason to back then.

So for years I ended up doing only enough to pass my classes, nothing more. This also involved copying homeworks of others' and cheating during the exams of course. I remember cheating once in the primary school and feeling extremely guilty. Also in the sixth grade -when I had still hope- I was shocked to hear others talking about a girl having cheated during an exam, I seriously considered telling the teacher about it. But all this had to change as school became more and more meaningless for me... I learned to cheat myself and enjoy it. (I mean it was pretty exciting sometimes, and also knowing that I was able to fool the teachers was not bad for the ego either. But I never was a hardcore cheater, I kept it under control...)

In the last 2-3 years of the high school, as the time to make decisions got closer, I decided that I want to get out of the country, sort of like an adventure... So after that decision I had to increase my efforts in school and really learn some stuff to match the required levels for my ticket out to Germany, the Abitur. I do remember even enjoying biology and mathematics a little bit during that period...

"The school effect" is also mentioned in the books of many scientists like Sagan and Feynman, also peeking into Einstein's biography might give you more insight. They're more concerned with the system and teacher's attitude I guess. An unenthusiastic teacher can make you even hate the most exciting subject after all. Although I didn't mention that above, that doesn't mean I didn't suffer from it, it's just that it was a secondary factor for me. (But Richard Feynman also seems to have understood the role of the language when he taught in Brazil, you can read about that in his books.)

I don't complain though... Even though I don't approve of that system I'm using the advantages of the language I learned today. Being able to live in a foreign country at that age is something very valuable. (Even though I could also speak English, having an Abitur made that process much less complicated.) Apart from forcing you to overcome many obstacles it also broadens your world view and stuff like that. Also the internet connection is faster here... :) And no ridiculous censorship like in Turkey. (The nazi stuff is still censored here though.)

Plus, the time I spared from school enabled me to invest more time in other things, like art.

Anyway the current education system has to change if we are to live in a perfect world, or as close as it gets to it. Since my desire is to get us all as close as I can to that point it's important for me to keep that in mind. But it's a complex issue of course and there are some other problems, which maybe should be dealt with first. Like instead of teaching every nation in their own language, it makes more sense to me to try and use one language worldwide. That would have some huge advantages, many of them even completely irrelevant to the education system. English is a good candidate right now, even if it isn't optimal.

To get the teachers more enthusiastic about their subjects and try to invoke more interest and motivation among students would still be a very worthwhile cause though... I don't think this can have any significant disadvantages, and the advantages can have very exciting results. But also this problem can't be dealt with purely on a psychological level; politics and the whole underlying system must be considered. Maybe I'll put more thought into this issue when I can really deal with it.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Life": Just Another Concept

Not all humans have internalized all this, so it deserves some space:

The concept of "Life", as it is generally understood today, is just another one of those unrealistic divisive concepts. So is "death" too.

If you look close enough you'll see that everything, dead or alive, consists of the same matter.

There is no such thing as a dead/alive atom. Life begets life but death also does that, and sometimes life begets death. So there is no real distinction between "alive" and "dead" in essence. The more complex the molecular structure gets, the more fascinating it becomes for us:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Arthur C. Clarke


I'm not exactly saying that "alive" and "dead" are the same. Obviously I can tell the perceptual difference. But we shouldn't get carried away with the concepts of our own creation and forget the underlying reality. A sane mind has to keep in mind (even if in the depths of it) that all matter is equal, in a sense.

By the way, although I think the view I expressed was more materialistic, a similar view is also existent in Buddhism as far as I know, and probably in many other similar belief systems... It can be found in "Siddartha" by Hermann Hesse for example.

The last chapter is relevant, but read the whole thing if you have time. It's a powerful little book and fairly easy to read. Basically it comes down to the answer here:

"...There may be a carbon atom in your left arm that was once part of Abraham Lincoln's head."

Maybe Buddhism can be considered the most scientific religion...

Perceiving the act of "living" as something superior to not being "alive" is also the source of abstract, baseless beliefs, like in the existence of a "purpose" or an "higher intelligence".

The "energy of life" can be found almost everywhere, at all times. The forms might change through transformations, yet it's still the same energy, no different than the one inside "dead" materials. There is no special kind of energy for alive beings: Conservation of Energy

There is no such things as "the meaning of life" that can be objectively determined. It all means just whatever your brain happens to make out of it. (Thanks to ungtss.)

P.S. As a sidethought; it's not our purpose to reproduce, it's just that we survived because we tend to do it. The desire for sexual intercourse is a part of our nature, but there is no reason to keep sticking to that instinct so heartfully even today as if it is something extremely essential. Having sex without aiming to have babies is not so much more meaningful than eating chocolate for pleasure. The priority of the act of sex is overrated in modern culture, even if eating chocolate can be considered pretty meaningful, just because of the pleasure...

(Didn't read but potentially related: Why We Do What We Do )
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Friday, July 4, 2008

About (Beta)

Since the beginning, I was planning to post something which defines my position and the purpose of these blogs, explains why I chose these titles. I began blogging more or less in a hurry, it wasn't really an organized attempt and what ought to be the first blog entry, an introduction to my world, never appeared.

Now, I just sent a message to someone, it sort of goes in that direction. I plan to create a more detailed, proper entry about this, but this should do it for now:

" ...I used to be someone who would have also reacted by saying "I'm an artist, so I lose myself in my own world" . But things have changed for me, that's why I'm trying to contact people like you -like former me- instead of joining a forum somewhere...

You see, I also don't give a shit about others as long as I can comfortably live in my own world. My plan was to enjoy losing myself in that world, while I'm also benefiting from all kinds of social, scientific advancements, which I took for granted.

The thing is, since I love living -and losing myself in my own world-, I also prefer to live as long and as healthy as possible, and through future scientific research I hope that the current limits of life expectancy will be far exceeded in our lifetime. I don't believe in afterlife, so I'll try to keep this one for as long as possible.

So far so good, that was still a part of the old artist-me. I would just wait for the advancements to come and enjoy my life.

What happened was I somehow got skeptical about what's really going on on this planet and began researching all kinds of "truths". Needless to say, it should be clear by now, many significant things turned out to be extremely wrong.

This revelation made it clear to me that my future won't be as easy as I imagined it to be and that it's delusional to believe that the humanity will keep advancing at this point no matter what. So there is a great risk of a huge decrease in our life quality in the future. I just can't afford to keep ignoring others' problems because overtime they'll all effect me in some way. The only way to ensure a fantastic future for myself is to do my best to ensure a fantastic future for everbody on this planet.

I was 100% percent apolitical in the past (until January 08), now it's sort of the opposite.

I'm not going to force you to reconsider anything, but I'll only say it's hard to know the truth while you're living in your own world, no matter how super-smart you are...

And one more thing, that truth is much more exciting than you can imagine and it's a lot of fun to deal with. :)
But that's my personal opinion. I enjoy my "new life", I don't think it'll be the same for everybody though. Yet I can assist you, if you ever change your mind... "

And a small addition to clarify the purpose of the blogs a little further, ConDeve is about my personal development through all kinds of information, while ConSelf deals with the results of the information I gather, how I use them to effect the world around me... They're both babies still, and the distinction isn't all that clear, but that was the idea basically.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Biggest Obstacle


Self-Deception / Self-Honesty
Never moral?

Tolstoy syndrome

The behavior of confirmation bias has sometimes been called "Tolstoy syndrome", in reference to Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), who in 1897 wrote:[9]
"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life".
A related Tolstoy quote is:
"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him."[10]

Self Deception - Theorization:

...It has been theorized that an instinct for self-deception can give a person a selective advantage, based on the rationale that if a person can believe their own "lie" (i.e., their presentation that is biased toward their own self-interest), the theory goes, they will consequently be better able to persuade others of its "truth."
This notion is based on the following logic. In humans, awareness of the fact that one is acting deceptively often leads to tell-tale signs of deception. Therefore, if self-deception enables someone to believe their distortions, they will not present such signs of deception and will therefore appear to be telling the truth. ...

Why It's Hard to Admit to Being Wrong
Book - Counselling?

Instinctive defense system:
*preservation of Status Quo + lazyness + cognitive bias(denial)
*Conscience/Ego Protection(but why exactly? because it's unhealthy to feel bad?) +cognitive bias(denial)

What to do? Research. Think.

Long-term-thinking (Pessimism of the intellect: Nonzero Selfish) + "Pleasure of finding things out" = Antidote?

The Logic of Life
Deactivate Emotions or Abuse them ? read reviews
On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation
...suggestions for getting around the brain's flaws and achieving true wisdom
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

It is of utmost importance to create the right conditions for everybody to be able to accept the change and adapt to new developments. For military/medical industrial complex, for religious people. People should be able to welcome change and not be threatened by it (like the global warming alarmists begin to achieve)...
Hmm... I begin to sound like Henry Kissinger, but I don't mean to create the right conditions by starting wars, deceiving the public and spreading terror and horror, I mean to really make positive changes to help people adapt through financial support, by presenting them new information(correct) and by restructuring the system. You can't expect the president of a military corporation to simply shut down the factories. Even if he can afford that, what will do workers do? Same with the AIDS, cancer, Christianity, oil, meat industries and many other...

Not so relevant
- unconsciousness - one review:
Burton attacks Richard Dawkins for "believing in the myth of the autonomous rational mind," and Daniel Dennett for insisting that the secular and scientific view of the world ought to be accepted by everyone. "Try telling a poet to give up his musings and become a mechanical engineer", says Burton, in an either-or fallacious attempt to convince us that someone cannot be a poet and accept a scientific view of the world. Even the Dalai Lama tries to have a scientific view of things.
There are interesting ideas in the first eleven chapters of this book, it is unfortunate that the author did not expand on them, did not provide more elucidation and data, but chose instead to attack Dawkins, Dennett and science itself.
Questioning Technology
What Orwell Didn't Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics
Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts

To try and change the idols of a population instead of spending time with changing everybody in general?
To use their language while trying to persuade them, like american raw food ?
To create better idols or to idolize better people?