TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Cognitive Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cognitive Science. Show all posts

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Latent Feline Infection


This meme dates from 2010. Image Source: Know Your Meme.

Today's post concerns how cats influence human health, based on the article: Influence of latent Toxoplasma infection on human personality, physiology and morphology: pros and cons of the Toxoplasma–human model in studying the manipulation hypothesis. That article concerns the often asymptomatic or latent disease, toxoplasmosis, caused by an intercellular parasite which is passed through cats to humans and is related to human depression, autism, cerebral calcification, sex addiction, and schizophrenia. It is a disease that affects rodents and makes them lose all fear of cats; this has allowed the parasitic protozoan to return to feline systems, where it can complete its life cycle. The parasite also affects the rodent brain's sexual impulses and reward centres.

Toxoplasma gondii parasitic protozoa. Image Source: Ke Hu and John Murray via Business Insider.

Scientists believe that toxoplasmosis infection similarly makes humans attracted to cats. The disease affects an enormous number of people, which may incidentally ensure the survival of the domestic cat, while also safeguarding the protozoan. Wiki:
"Up to half of the world's population are infected by toxoplasmosis but have no symptoms. In the United States about 23% are affected and in some areas of the world this is up to 95%. About 200,000 cases of congenital toxoplasmosis occur a year. Charles Nicolle and Louis Manceaux first described the organism in 1908. In 1941 transmission during pregnancy from a mother to a child was confirmed."
Perhaps those Walking Dead zombie stories are telling you the truth about a reality you suspect, but cannot see. If you think everyone around you is infected by some mysterious bug that makes them crazy, you may not be paranoid. You may be right. From Florence Robert-Gangneux and Marie-Laure Dardé in American Society for Microbiology (2012):
"Low seroprevalences (10 to 30%) have been observed in North America, in South East Asia, in Northern Europe, and in Sahelian countries of Africa. Moderate prevalences (30 to 50%) have been found in countries of Central and Southern Europe, and high prevalences have been found Latin America and in tropical African countries."
Approximate rates of infection by country below are almost all based on tests of pregnant women. Some studies only focus on particular regions, and the numbers change from year to year. Follow the links for years and details; not all countries conduct studies or keep statistics. Note that these statistics tend to show infection passed from mother to child in the womb. They do not include post-natal infection, in which people are infected directly by handling cats or eating raw or rare meat:
  • Argentina: sources for Buenos Aires 45.6%-57.2% infected
  • Australia: 28% infected; 23% found infected in pregnant women from Melbourne
  • Bahrain: 22.3% tested positive, from pregnant women in Manama only
  • Belgium: 48.7% infected
  • Brazil: 66.9% infected; other sources range 55.6%-77.8%, depending on region
  • Canada: unknown; extrapolated estimate 14%-22% infected
  • Chile: 40%-90% of the population, depending on region
  • China: Changchun only, 10.6% infected among pregnant women
  • Colombia: 43.1%-66.7%, different sources, depending on region
  • Costa Rica: approximately 55%, increases in rural areas and with poverty
  • Croatia: 38.1% infected
  • Cuba: different studies from Havana areas, 44%-66.3%
  • Czech Republic: 30%-40% infected; in Prague, 19.8% infected
  • Denmark: statistics for Copenhagen, 27.8% infected
  • Egypt: measured in women only, 46.5% in urban areas, 57.6% in rural areas
  • France: 45% infected
  • Germany: Western Pomeranian statistics only, 63.2% infected
  • Greece: depending on different studies and different regions, 20%-36.4% infected
  • Grenada: 57% infected, nationwide estimate
  • India: 11.6%-45%, depending on class and region
  • Iran: 29.4%-63.9%, depending on class and region
  • Iraq: 49.2% infected, statistics for pregnant women tested in Basra
  • Italy: 17.5%-34.4%, a range of averages, from different studies and different regions
  • Ivory Coast: 60% infected among pregnant women from Abidjan
  • Jordan: 47.1% infected in Amman
  • Kuwait: 45.7% infected among pregnant women
  • Malaysia: 49% infected among pregnant women from Kuala Lumpur
  • Mexico: extrapolated estimate 22% infected; another source found 6.1% of pregnant women infected in Durango
  • Morocco: Rabat statistics only, among pregnant women, 50.6% infected
  • Netherlands: 35.2% nationwide
  • New Zealand: statistics for pregnant women from Auckland, 35.4% infected
  • Poland: 35.8%-43.7% infected, based on pregnant women only in three cities, Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan
  • Romania: 57.6% infected in women of child-bearing age, Timisoara only
  • Serbia: 33% infected nationwide
  • Singapore: 17.2% infected among pregnant women
  • Slovakia: 22.1% among pregnant women, Bratislava data only
  • Slovenia: 34% infected nationwide
  • South Korea: 4.3% infected; other sources range 0.8%-3.7% infected in Daejeon and Suwon
  • Spain: 18.8%-43.8% infected, averages from certain regions only
  • Sudan: Khartoum and Omdurman only, pregnant women tested, 34.1% infected
  • Sweden: 18% infected from Stockholm and Skane only
  • Switzerland: 8.2%-35% infected, based on data from Lausanne, Geneva, Basel only
  • Thailand: 5.3%-21.5% infected among pregnant women from different regions
  • Turkey: 30.1%-60.4% average infected among pregnant women, from different classes and regions, impacted by regional culinary traditions (consumption of raw meat)
  • United Kingdom: 31% infected, 20 million people in 2012, with 80% of these asymptomatic; East Kent statistics for pregnant women showed 9.1% infected
  • USA: 15%-22.5% of the population, depending on demographic, 60 million+ infected; another source states 11% nationwide, with 7.76% for US-born and 28.1% for foreign born
  • Venezuela: 38% infected among pregnant women from Lara State
  • Vietnam: from Nha Trang only, 11.2% of pregnant women infected
In humans, the disease can remain latent until adulthood, or until the body experiences weakened immunity due to other causes. The non-latent form of the disease can feel like the 'flu' and spreads to the brain, eyes, and other organs; it creates cysts in the amygdala and nucleus accumbens, and changes the connections inside the brain which deal with fear responses, sexual attraction, decision-making and memory. The parasite also increases dopamine production, altering brain chemistry in the same ways cocaine - and schizophrenia - do. Those who are infected post-natally and directly through handling cats after birth are affected more severely than those who are infected congenitally.

Image Source: Twitter.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2017: Psychic Spies and Time Cross Predictions


Image Source: BackPackerVerse.

Welcome to another countdown to Hallowe'en! This year, October 31st will mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant ReformationMartin Luther (1483-1546) nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. On October 31st, I will publish a special interview about Martin Luther.

The Hallowe'en countdown is an online event, a mass blogathon, in which dozens of blogs count down to the end of October every year. The countdown is led by this blog (where you can see the other participants), run by the American comic book and graphic novel writer, John Rozum, and blogger Shawn Robare, who runs the Gen X Website, Branded in the 80s.

My contributions to the Hallowe'en countdown, to be published this year every three days, tend to cover odd subjects which nonetheless shed light on mainstream Millennial technology and culture. Today's post deals with the precognition and temporal psi protocol developed by the US Army in 1978, known as remote viewing. This was one of the primary psychic weapons cultivated in the Stargate Project; you can read the table of contents of the Stargate manual at the CIA's online reading room, here.

During the Cold War, the US military used remote viewing to view its enemies psychically and to foresee the future. A film dramatized this work, The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009); it was based on the 2004 book of the same name and starred George Clooney. On 12 August 2017, Leonard (Lyn) Buchanan, one of the US government's former remote viewers (and the person upon whom Clooney's character was based), gave an interview on Youtube, below.

Original Govt. Psychic Spy Reveals Remote Viewing Secrets (12 August 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Buchanan stated that at the end of World War II, the Nazis' secret research was shared among the Allies. Due to lack of interest from the USA and UK, the Russians took the Germans' psychic and esoteric experiments, including remote viewing. According to Buchanan, the Russians developed this body of knowledge, and achieved apparent successes, to the alarm of the Americans. The most famous psychic in the Russian program was Nina Kulagina (1926-1990), who was later accused of fraud.

This was what led the US Army to develop the Stargate Project, officially until 1995, although the CIA may then have taken it over under another name. You can read a 1985 Master's thesis, Psychokinesis and Its Possible Implication to Warfare Strategy by W. G. Norton, here. There is a 2004 report by Eric W. Davis, Teleportation Physics Study, sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, here.

Lyn Buchanan claimed that remote viewers can see the past and present with high degrees of accuracy. They can view the future, but the future (unlike the past and present) is changeable. Buchanan maintained that he had been tasked to view as far into the future as the year 2080, whereupon he got into strange, conspiratorial territory:
"An agrarian society with very few people. Large cities, mainly deserted, and most people very self sufficient on their little farms. ... A low population count. That's what I found. ... [Between now and 2080] there's going to come some rough times. ... The population will be greatly affected. ... Intentional changes, from the tasking - remember there's 30 per cent inaccuracy here - from what I've found, the first step of all that is what is called chemtrails. The chemtrails are a selective thing that will damage the health of, or even kill off, certain types of people, while leaving others not so badly affected. And in the process, a sort of genetic selection will be made. But that's doom and gloom, and one of the rocks in the pond of time, I don't think there's very much we can do about that."
Other weirdness associated with Buchanan's remote viewing involves psychic police work; gambling; space exploration; space aliens; cosmology; and consciousness. He said he does not "kill things" using remote viewing, but "it's scarily easy to do." Another figure associated with this project is Joseph McMoneagle, who was the first recruit in the US Army's remote viewing program. He was designated as 'Psychic Spy 001.' You can hear an interview with him below. He spoke of visiting Russia, touring their remote viewing facilities and meeting his Russian psychic spy counterparts, who did remote viewing in the conflict in Chechnya. He remarked that the Russian capacity for remote viewing is "substantial."

Joe McMoneagle US Army Remote Viewer aka Psychic Spy 001 (2 March 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

The CIA is also rumoured to have used this parapsychological tool in psychic espionage. The US government's remote viewing training manual is here and here. I have previously written about psychic military projects here.

Excerpt from a CIA document on remote viewing. Click to enlarge. Image Source: 4chan.

Remote viewing is considered pseudoscience, but it has understandably attracted a lot of attention. After all, what government - or civilian group - wouldn't want to be able to predict coming events, re-examine historical events, or send spies to learn closely guarded secrets at almost no expense or risk?  The Chinese have studied remote viewing. The UK's Ministry of Defence secretly ran a remote viewing experiment in 2001 and 2002. Some members of the public are also attempting to conduct organized investigations of this protocol. For example, German remote viewers are listed here.

Proponents of remote viewing claim that the technique seems to work best under blind conditions, that is, viewers should not know what target the project leader has assigned. Some remote viewers, like this one trying to foresee the possibility of war with Russia, use Associative Remote Viewing (ARV), which involves knowing the target.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cairn Building Sacred Tree Chimps


This Could Be First-Ever Observed Ritual Practice Among Chimpanzees (1 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

The above video circulated last year, when researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Chimbo Foundation observed male chimpanzees filling hollow trees up with rocks, and then hurling more rocks at the filled trees in what looked like a strange ritual. This occurred in the Boé region of Guinea-Bissau on the western tip of Africa.

Were the researchers correct in projecting onto the chimpanzees the theory of human evolution, much less a theory of human evolution as dependent on the development of religion? For that seems to be the underlying argument: that biological evolution is impossible without the cognitive moment when the brain seeks the divine. As the researchers put it:
"We found four populations in West Africa where chimpanzees habitually bang and throw rocks against trees, or toss them into tree cavities, resulting in conspicuous stone accumulations at these sites. This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees. The ritualized behavioural display and collection of artefacts at particular locations observed in chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing may have implications for the inferences that can be drawn from archaeological stone assemblages and the origins of ritual sites."
It is a banal but fascinating beginning for the gods: merely a pile of rubble, mounded in a new way which could begin to take on significance. The hypothesis is not asking whether these animals actually find gods in the stone configurations they make, rather whether their brains make the mental jump into thinking they do. In this theory, that's evolution.

One Youtuber summed up the discovery as "chimphenge." Other comments:
  • "Sorry mi english google translator: I do not believe in God, this discovery shows that never need God in our lives, we evolve throwing stones at the trees and forming mounds, then named sacred, those trees symbolically became pillars adorned our temples, after millions of years evolution forget this and we must give a name to both advance and consciousness. Unfortunately there was a lot to us and we prefer to form symbolic it out from within us and shape, we call 'God' and is the perfect excuse to manipulate and keep people away from the truth, everyone is 'God' does not exist a single God, in fact none exists, are just stones of different shapes and sizes in different trees, it depends on the monkey and the group which is the 'real tree' that 'God' is life, we are each living being. We gave shape the world as we know it and everything, God does not exist we create it, we ourselves are God, this evolutionary step in monkeys demonstrated."
  • "and what has been noted on which specific trees have been used? do these specific trees also feature in human's use such as shamanism, or medicinal or spiritual functions?"
  • "Maybe they're trying to recreate fire. . .from a past incident that simply happened by chance."
  • "Stop bring God into it. They are intelligent apes and live with nature. And if humans stopped interfering with there lives they would be ok"
  • "might be the start of next chapter in chimpanzee evolution theyre going to build their first pyramid"
  • "Idiots!!! clear they are playing a game unknown to man. Not everything is supposed to be [for a] reason. ..."
  • "I THINK THEY HIDING HILLARYS EMAILS"
Click to enlarge. Image Source: Nature.

This theory relates to how we worship our own ability to make things. The scientists here may be unconsciously projecting contemporary attitudes toward creativity onto the chimps. Most of the world has received the Technological Revolution with cult-like fervour. Today's Maker Culture is a 21st century extension of the old Arts and Crafts movement (c. 1880-1920), updated with machine building, engineering, arts and crafts, and open-sourced hardware. These trends involve the wonder of building something with one's bare hands, to the point where it enters an intellectual, conceptual, or spiritual realm. A more etheric branch of Maker Culture is software-oriented Hacker Culture.

So, a secular search for a moment of transcendence is there, and central to understanding the creative and intellectual arts. For artists and thinkers as creators, there is something magical about manipulating matter into a thing or moment beyond what existed before, through a creative act. At the core of it lies humankind's conflicted connection with nature.

The current manipulation of the world is based on a presumed human disconnection from the environment. These were the presumptions of the Enlightenment. In Enlightenment secularism, there was no divine entity and we did not derive from divine action. But we also had a right to control, understand, and rationalize the world because we were no longer animals and were disconnected from nature, and thus gained dominion over it.

Nothing could be sadder or further from the truth, and the fundamental error in that core assumption is reflected in the anguish caused by the superficial focus on modern materialism and rationalism, devoid of emotion and spiritual wonder. It is on the basis of that rigid, mask-like quantification of existence that we find ourselves seduced by technology.

Even technophiles who try to go deeper than commercialism and materialism yearn for microchip implants and brain-machine interfaces. They want the interface to fill the holes in their souls. It is interesting that they are obsessed with organic food, and nature-oriented spiritualism, but with a cardboard level of understanding. The spiritual disconnection from nature is complete, and robot-dom is just around the corner, even if that robot thinks it has done its job by climbing mountains, or contorting itself into yoga poses, drinking purified vitamin water, or eating organic vegetables. Mechanically going through the motions around consciousness does not constitute consciousness. The symbiotic bio-tech mesh between ourselves and our tools has already started. Even with the redemptive Maker Movement still trending, the philosophical consideration of what that means lags far behind.

This is why organized religion, for all its flaws and superstitions, constantly reminded human beings of the creative moment when they tried to understand their place in nature, in a fashion that went way beyond tool-building. Early technological monuments like Stonehenge were conceived not for the sake of technology itself, but to measure astronomical changes for even greater purpose.

Wells Cathedral: Gothic cathedrals were designed to look like the faithful were entering an artificial stone forest, reminiscent of earlier Druidic practices in real forest groves. Image Source: Shutterstock.

Architects designed the Gothic cathedrals of Europe to resemble forest groves. Yes, they invented the flying buttress, but they did it not for the sake of the buttresses. They did it to build stone forests, with stained-glass windows which imitated dappled sunlight, penetrating the canopy.

Compare that to our current disconnection from nature, in which technology is created blindly for the sake of mechanized production and mechanical modalities, desperately rolled out on accelerated machine-oriented schedules. The underlying spiritual gap is evident in the current demolition of European churches because they are too expensive to maintain. They are replaced by square cement boxes.

Today, there are enormous efforts toward creativity; but technophiles still indulge powerful fantasies that they control the process. This Millennial blind spot, which replaced God with the ego, may explain why the chimpanzees' stone cairns remain a mystery to us, who are so much more intelligent.

The scholarly article on the subject, published 29 February 2016, is by Hjalmar S. Kühl, Ammie K. Kalan, and others, "Chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing," Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 22219 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep22219.

Rise of the 'maker movement' (12 March 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

The Mad Geniuses of Maker Faire (10 July 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Maker trailer - A documentary on the Maker Movement (30 September 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

HOME MADE A Documentary on the Maker Movement in Denmark HD (9 January 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

The Next Maker Movement (22 May 2015). Video Source: Youtube.
 
Maker Faire Hannover 2015 Teil 1 - Impressionen JS TECHhack (6 June 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Maker Faire Bay Area 2016 (23 May 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware (Full Documentary) | Future Cities | WIRED (5 July 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Hubs, Hackerspaces and the Maker Movement: Investing in Tech Innovation in Africa | #APF15 (27 July 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

The Maker Movement and the Next Manufacturing Revolution (21 October 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

MakerFaire UK 2017 (1 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

The Maker Movement: Finding Meaning in Work (7 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Bay Area Maker Faire 2017 (24 May 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Maker Faire 2017 Berlin (12 June 2017). Video Source: Youtube.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Tornado


A tornado in Colorado, USA (7 May 2016). Image Source: Tori O'Shea.

This blog is skeptical of conspiracy theories because they are not consistent with the way reality is created. Conspiracy theories about current events - for example, regarding the disastrous situation in Syria - are examples of modern urban folklore, which impose exactly the same superstitious, deterministic logic onto the world that an established religion would. Many of today's orthodoxies are nominally secular, but they are no less based in blind faith. Actors on the international scene do try to impose strategic control on the world's hot spots; the media come to these hot spots with spin, preconceived ideas and even false flag agendas. However, the notion that anyone - governments, politicians, banks, shadowy cabals, unseen actors, evil establishments - controls the reality that ensues from fluid conditions is incorrect.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Time and Politics 19: Predicting the Future, A Tricky Business


Professor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita spoke at LSE (Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building) on 21 October 2009; the chair of the discussion was Professor Richard Steinberg. Video Source: Youtube.

Caption for the above video: "Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has been shaking the world of political science to its foundations with his predictions of world events. His systems based on game theory have an astonishing 90%+ ratio of accuracy and are frequently used to shape US foreign-policy decisions on issues such as the terrorist threat to America to the peace process in Northern Ireland. Considered by many to be the most important foreign-policy analyst there is, it is no surprise that he is regularly consulted by the CIA and US Department of Defence. In this lecture Professor Bueno de Mesquita will look at what is needed to reliably anticipate and even alter events in any situation involving negotiation in the shadow of the threat of coercion. He will demonstrate how to bring science to decision making in any situation from personal to professional."

In an earlier post, I discussed the work of NYU professor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, who uses game theory to predict the future in international relations and advises businesses and the American government on major strategic policy concerns. In the 2009 talk above from the London School of Economics (at 53:00), he explained how he was hired to develop a fraud prediction model applied to banking regulations. At 55:32, he remarked:
"One of the best early warning indicators of fraud is that, relative to growth in market cap, compensation for senior management is under expectation for the size of the organization of the firm, not over. ... They're husbanding whatever resources they can to try to save the company."
Bueno de Mesquita has become widely known for his predictions on war, the economy and politics, although he remains dogged by popular fringe elements who compare his work to mystical prognosticators and fortune-tellers of the past, such as the Renaissance apothecary Nostradamus (1503-1566). In this lecture, he maintained a serious academic attitude while promoting his book, The Predictioneer's Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future. He has since published a book on how leaders exercise power (2012); and he issued a new edition of his book on war and peace in international politics (2013). He need not worry about becoming too popular; one Youtuber was unimpressed:
"The fiction that human beings are 'rational actors' has been totally discredited. Establishment academics with tenure have a hard time accepting real [world] facts that most people on the street intuitively understand without ... study. Anyone who claims 90% prediction accuracy in working with any complex system - who has not made themselves a billionaire with such gifts - is a con man."
Two questions put to Bueno de Mesquita at the end of his talk suggested that the Youtuber's remark had some weight. Random events, as well as anti-rational or irrational impulses, fall outside the professor's model. This is the 10 per cent range of human behaviour extending into the future, where game theory meets chaos theory meets randomness.

At 56:40, a member of the audience asked about Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007; 2nd ed. 2010). To paraphrase, the person asked if random, chance occurrences could drastically affect statistical models (Bueno de Mesquita corrected him: game theory models) due to unique expressions of human nature.

At 1:10:00, another member of the audience asked about Frederic Vester's (1925-2003) sensitivity model, which applied game theory to biology and behavioural ecology, and produces results similar Bueno de Mesquita's application of game theory to economics and politics. This similarity implies that organic systems mirror human systems in their predictability and unpredictability.

Both questions relate to the nature and impact of the Internet, especially as it is redesigned to endure and become a lasting edifice. Is the Web a techno-organic entity which reflects the rational and irrational impulses of its users, and to what degree? Can we describe peer-to-peer technological environments as 'ecosystems,' and if they are organic, to what degree are they chaotic and unpredictable? Or are the computer systems and technical designs of the Web and other peer-to-peer technologies, including cryptocurrencies, shaping the way we behave and think inside virtual realities? Are we driving the car or is the car driving us? This is a concern as Big Data analysts flock to predict, manipulate and control consumers' behaviours and voters' choices. In future posts, I will consider how these theories of predictability relate to decentralized behavioural psychology and the psychodynamics of peer-to-peer technologies.

See all my posts on Time and Politics.
See all my posts on Cryptocurrencies.
See all my posts on the Permanent Web.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Look Skyward: Total Solar Eclipse


The 2012 total solar eclipse as seen from Queensland, Australia. Image Source: EPA via Daily Mail.

On March 8 and 9 there is a total solar eclipse. It begins on 8 March 2016 at 11:19 p.m. UTC. It reaches its maximum point on 9 March at 1:59 a.m. UTC. The full eclipse will end in its range of visibility on 9 March at 3:38 a.m. UTC. The totality will be visible in Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi and the partiality in locations across the Pacific.

Visible area of solar eclipse, 8-9 March 2016. Image Source: Time and Date.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fountain of Youth 20: Alzheimer's Drug Reverses Ageing


Researchers Antonio Currais and David Schubert. Image Source: Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Gizmag is reporting that a scientific journal article published on 12 November 2015 demonstrates that a new Alzheimer's drug reverses ageing. The authors of the article hypothesized that since Alzheimer's was caused by ageing symptoms, then reversing those symptoms would prevent or treat Alzheimer's. Gizmag:
The Salk research is looking to tackle the disease from a new angle. It expands upon a previous study conducted back in 2013, working with a potent memory-enhancing and neurotrophic drug called J147. Unlike most medicines designed to combat the disease, J147 was synthesized after looking at age-associated brain toxicities, and looks to tackle the major risk factor for the disease – old age itself.

The older research looked at the effect of J147 on mice with an inherited form of Alzheimer's, finding that it was able to prevent and even reverse memory loss in subjects. While that was promising, inherited Alzheimer's is far less common than cases of the disease triggered by old age.

The new study looked to discover whether the experimental drug is as effective at fighting Alzheimer's caused by old age, which is responsible for 99 percent of cases. Once the results were in, things were looking very positive, with the researchers surprised by how effective it had proved.

"We did not predict we'd see this sort of anti-aging effect," says lead author Antonio Currais. "But J147 made old mice look like they were young, based upon a number of physiological parameters."
Salk Institute for Biological Studies: Press Release, 12 November 2015.

Research report: "A comprehensive multiomics approach toward understanding the relationship between aging and dementia" in Aging, vol. 7/11 (November 2015), pp. 1-19.

Abstract: Because age is the greatest risk factor for sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD), phenotypic screens based upon old age‐associated brain toxicities were used to develop the potent neurotrophic drug J147. Since certain aspects of aging may be primary cause of AD, we hypothesized that J147 would be effective against AD‐associated pathology in rapidly aging SAMP8 mice and could be used to identify some of the molecular contributions of aging to AD. An inclusive and integrative multiomics approach was used to investigate protein and gene expression, metabolite levels, and cognition in old and young SAMP8 mice. J147 reduced cognitive deficits in old SAMP8 mice, while restoring multiple molecular markers associated with human AD, vascular pathology, impaired synaptic function, and inflammation to those approaching the young phenotype. The extensive assays used in this study identified a subset of molecular changes associated with aging that may be necessary for the development of AD.  

See all my posts on the Fountain of Youth.
See posts related to Alzheimer's, Memory and Anti-Ageing.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Photo of the Day: Technological Enslavement


Street photo taken by friend and reader, -C., in San Francisco, California, USA (October 2015).

- A note about the blog: as of today, lengthy posts are going up fortnightly, due to other work commitments.

This street poster promotes a book by Swiss writer James Heim. His site, VoluntaryEnslavement.com, warns that we are interacting with technology like drug addicts and enthralled cultists:
Our use of technology gives us a broad range of intriguing advantages, which in turn strengthen our belief in technology as a universal remedy. It seems increasingly self-evident, that we should focus ever more of our time, energy, and attention on technology’s efficiency and functionality to reach our goals and satisfy our needs.

Enjoying some ice-cream or a glass of beer or wine can great. Being agreeable has many advantages, as does exercising regularly. We know, however, that habitually enjoying too many sweets or too much alcohol, never being able to say “no,” and constantly overstraining one’s body are likely to have negative effects. These insights are common knowledge. We accentuate the important idea of balance through sayings such as “everything in moderation.”

Yet regarding technological development – the most crucial area of human endeavor in our times – there is an alarming absence of moderation. What are the consequences of this lack of restraint?

Aldous Huxley once remarked that “… in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost.” Has our culture of technology become a religion? Are we – on a societal level – still able to question how quickly and thoroughly we are infusing technology into our human circumstances? Or has it become “sinful” to doubt our culture’s central paradigm, which simplistically equates technological development with being beneficial?

The book 'Voluntary Enslavement', by James Heim, fundamentally questions our technology culture. The questioning is rooted in the assumption that the variety of our human essence – for instance, that we are social and cultural beings – as well as human choice and freedom are valuable aspects of the human experience. It is explained why an uncritical submission to the inherent logic of technology's evolution inevitably dilutes human diversity and undermines choice and freedom. The book also examines the fueling of technological progression through the systematic over-empowerment of some of our primal motivations, such as curiosity. The basic pillars of an improved culture of technology (i.e., one that sustains a broad and free human experience) are discussed, as are the ways we can contribute to such a transition.

Changing our views on technology and our handling of technological development has become humanity’s biggest evolutionary challenge. Rising to the challenge would be humankind’s greatest accomplishment.
In 2010, I wrote that it would take time for anti-tech movements to get off the ground. When it comes to combating voluntary enslavement, the solution may be simpler than building a neo-Luddite counter-movement. Time recently reported that nanotechnology had lost its lustre; perhaps technological addiction will simply go out of fashion, like sun-tanning.

See other earlier posts on the Anti-Tech Backlash here, here, here, here, here and here.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Making Memories


How our brains make memories. By tracking mRNA in brain cells, scientists captured the brain making memories. Hye Yoon Park, Ph.D. Source: Vine.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hallowe'en Countdown 2015: The Tunnel


The Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, where Princess Diana died in 1997. Image Source (2009) © shirley77 at flickr.

Tunnels symbolize death, near death experiences, ascension to heaven, time travel, or a sealed fate. As Princess Diana lay dying in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris in 1997, police arrested seven photographers at the accident. A commenter under a video about the paparazzi who chased her car into the tunnel wrote:
"I can't imagine what it would be like breathing your last and all you can see is flash bulbs going off and knowing that people will make a mint out of your death. There's something eerily pornographic about the photographers standing there taking pictures and not helping."
Tunnels represent travel forward to a new or final destiny. In the French film Irréversible, Monica Bellucci's character Alex is raped in a pedestrian passage in Paris. The film's scenes run in reverse chronological order to connect her grim end to time travel:
In An Experiment with Time, which Alex is reading during the last (i.e. chronologically first) sequence in the film, J. W. Dunne postulates the existence of a "time-travelling observer", which in dreams can move backwards or forwards in time to actually observe events which may not have yet happened. These are the 'premonitory dreams' which Alex mentions to Marcus and Pierre. Alex earlier describes such a dream to Marcus, where she is in a 'red tunnel' which breaks in two.
You can read An Experiment with Time (1922), here. The theory of the book is that all points in time coexist simultaneously; due to human perception, we are only conscious of one forward stream of time. But the other events are there, including potentials. To indicate this, Alex discovers she is pregnant shortly before her rape in the tunnel. Those who claim to have had psychic or precognitive experiences would, in Dunne's terms, be people who tap the unconscious parts of their brains to see past, present and future. This is how Dunne would have explained precognitive experiences of fictional characters (or in Diana's case, of a real person), whose destinies end in a tunnel.

The subheading of the film title is 'Le Temps Detruit Tout' - 'Time Destroys Everything.' In the film, the tunnel Alex enters is analogous to the course of normal human perception, which rams forward to cut off all possibilities, except the one set of events we finally perceive as 'what happened.' The vicious creation of one path of consciously-seen outcomes, i.e. 'time,' is akin to a brutal rape and destruction of all other potential alternate futures.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer's Nameless Emotions


Picture of man at night on Wall Street at night time. Photograph by Ashley Gilbertson. Image Source: National Geographic.

A heat wave here inspired today's collection of my best previous summer posts, along with Ashley Gilbertson's photo of Wall Street, above. All of these earlier posts explored summer's sultry, nostalgic or noir atmosphere and together illustrate one of the relationships between the environment and brain function, a cornerstone of cognitive science.
Psychoanalysts have particularly focused on nameless emotions as points at which experience moves past the capacity of language to describe it. See popsci's 2013 list by Pei-Ying Lin of twenty-one emotions for which there are no English words; and below, twenty-three emotions people feel, but cannot explain.

Image Source: Art of Manliness.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Forty Days and Forty Nights: The Rule of Three


Christ in the Wilderness (1872) by Ivan Kramskoy (1837-1887). Image Source: Wiki.

For Christians, this is the season of Lent, a period of contemplation on sin, repentance and atonement, which lasts for 40 days. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the number 40 appears repeatedly, often as a measurement of time. How and why do forty days and forty nights unite these three faiths? Wiki also records the number's occult astrological dimension:
The planet Venus forms a pentagram in the night sky every eight years with it returning to its original point every 40 years with a 40 day regression (some scholars believe that this ancient information was the basis for the number 40 becoming sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims).
Many occult websites claim that Venus traces a pentagram path through the heavens as viewed from Earth.
Scientific astronomical sites do not appear to discuss this phenomenon. Video Source: Youtube.

In religious texts, the number 40 simply came to mean 'a lot.' But the number is a third multiple of the 'Rule of Three,' which makes it fundamental to the structure of creative expression, philosophystatisticscomputing, investing, diving, military strategy, and aeronautics. When you see any number repeated in many sacred texts across thousands of years, it is worth asking if some innate knowledge is passed on in the mythological cryptics. Even a secular outlook can decode the idea of religious fasting periods. The basic notion is that sensory deprivation quiets clamour and distractions. Hunger makes you think about the eternal! Stop feeding the senses, and let them redirect toward the big picture. Finally, one focuses to hear and see the truth in things. And there sits the number 40, in plain sight, at the end of Lent. What does it mean?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Howling Dogs and Flightless Moths


Image Source: Youtube.

Horror has a philosophical side. Western horror stories are usually social commentaries, not that different from morality plays of the middle ages. A regular at Scans Daily remarked: "a lot of horror ... raises the question of 'Who is the real sick man ... in this so-called society?'"

In Asia, there is a greater sense of continuity between non-being, being and death, so hungry ghost stories often involve reincarnation or karma (see related posts here and here). You can find no better blend of eastern and western traditions than the ghost stories of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), an American who lived in Japan. I have previously mentioned his 1899 collection of ghost stories (which you can read online here) in this post.

Sometimes, the bridge between different human traditions is a non-human perspective. Other creatures bear witness on the other world, or afterlife, or the paranormal world beyond our senses. Youtube has many videos made by dog owners who claim that their dog can see a ghost.

Lafcadio Hearn came to the conclusion that domesticated creatures' lives are so intertwined with human lives that they, with their fundamentally different ways of being, mirror some of the things we cannot understand about ourselves and our existence. These creatures are so tied to us that they mirror these hidden truths within the human space. Our pets also perceive some of the things we cannot usually sense - including, in Hearn's view, ghosts.

The alien familiarity of silkworm moths (Bombyx mori); cultivated for over 5,000 years in China (possibly since the end of the Neolithic Age) to produce silk, the insects no longer exist in the wild. They can't fly and are completely dependent on humans in order to eat and survive. Image Source: Science Image.

If you don't want to read Hearn's stories, you can hear them below the jump. They have been prepared as an audiobook by LibriVox recordings. It is not shock or gore and can seem dry, but if you have time to listen to this video, In Ghostly Japan conveys the real meaning of horror. Hearn ponders mundane subjects, then veers off into horror, relating it to life's greatest mysteries and philosophical questions in a mind-blowing, sometimes very scary way.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Problem with Memory 10: Alzheimer's Portraits


Year 1.

Tragic and terrifying, Alzheimer's disease proves that having an accurate memory of oneself and the world is essential to sanity, health and life itself. There is a gene for forgetfulness and it is deadly. But new research from June 2014 promises new genetic approaches to understand and treat the disease. Visual News:
After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1995, artist William Mutermohlen set out to document himself slipping away through a series of self-portraits. The project spanned 8 years and shows the decline of his motor and perceptual skills as well as the emotional aspects associated with losing his reality. Mutermohlen’s project has helped psychologists to better understand this disease that affects over 1 in 8 elderly Americans and all of those who knew and loved them. See more self-portraits at WilliamUtermohlen.org and find out more behind this fascinating story in this New York Times article.
From imgur: "Alzheimer artist's self portrait over 8 years' time from onset until he forgot to send portrait to care facility management." See the full set of portraits below the jump.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maturation Expiration


Annie Leibowitz's Peter Pan photo composition, with Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan, Tina Fey as Tinker Bell and Gisele Bündchen as Wendy. Image Source: Business Insider.

As lifespans have extended, so has the age of emotional maturation. Evidence for this fact is more than anecdotal. A 2013 British study of male psychology found that new generations of Peter Pan men now finally reach emotional maturity at age 43, eleven years after women, who emotionally mature by age 32.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Smartphone Brain Scanners


Image Source: emotiv.

In the never-ending quest to quantify reality and generate dubious data sets, we come to the invention of smartphone brain scanners. Real time brain-mapping Emotiv EEG was created in 2011 by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark. Billed as "holding your brain in the palm of your hand," this app demonstrates how Millennial technology puts the cart before the horse, curiously reversing the normal understanding of how we function. Computers are creating the illusion that everything can be understood by being measured and instrumentalized before we consider any other factors: the hand drives the mind, rather than the other way around. This makes us unreflective puppets of concepts such as 'usability.' Make something or do something because we can; build apps around that capability; worry later about what it all means or what it will do to us.

The current applications of this technology relate to medical research. But the tech's inventors are confident that the app will be widely applied for other reasons. From Science Nordic:
Initially, the researchers will use the mobile system for research purposes, but one day this type of small brain scanner will perhaps be something that everyone has.
“There’s a trend at the moment to measure oneself more and more,” says Larsen. “An everyday example is the Runkeeper app for the iPhone, which measures the user’s running and walking trips. There will be more and more of this type of sensor, which you can wear on your body and connect to your mobile phone, so you can see the data that’s collected.”
Jakob Eg Larsen suggests where a mobile brain scanner can be useful: “If you’re about to doze off, you can actually see this from an EEG signal. If you’re driving a car or if you’re a long-distance lorry driver, then you could have this mobile equipment with you and you could have a system that warns you if you’re about to fall sleep.
The tech is open source. Originally out on the Nokia N900, a subsequent variation of the design was made for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. An iPhone app, Mynd, uses similar technology. Think of the potentials for marketing! Below the jump, a demo video shows that several sets can be worn in social situations and people can observe each other's brains as they interact with one another.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Problem with Memory 9: Remembering to Predict the Future


Image Source and © Traer Scott Photography.

Researchers at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Raboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands are studying how to erase painful memories which are the main symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. On 22 December 2013, Time reported that the Dutch researchers found that specific and recent bad memories could be targeted and erased with shock treatments. But they have not established that entrenched negative memories, typical in PTSD sufferers, could be so treated.

Image Source and © Traer Scott Photography.

This post and this post noted similar memory-erasing research currently undertaken in California and Massachusetts. All of these concepts recall the grotesque treatment dramatized in the 2004 sci-fi film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Some researchers find the notion of erasing memory to be "too invasive"; they are instead trying to decouple memory from associated negative emotions. And they acknowledge that erasing negative memories of important events is akin to erasing the primary sources of history:
Elizabeth Phelps, professor of psychology and neural science at New York University ... and other researchers have previously used far less invasive techniques to reduce the emotional charge attached to a memory— rather than eliminating the memory itself. For example, one study exposed participants to smells paired with shocks and then wafted the same scents into their noses as they slept.  The volunteers didn’t forget which scent was linked with the shock— but they no longer had a fear response to it. “If you could take away the fear associated with the memory and keep the memory, that would be more optimal,” she says.

[T]he potential uses of a technique that erases personal memories raises profound ethical questions. Our memories are deeply related to our selves and many survivors of trauma get a sense of meaning and purpose from knowing what they have conquered. If negative or challenging memories are selectively removed, what would they leave behind?

“What if we wiped out all of the memories of the Holocaust?” asks Greely, “That would be terrible.  On the other hand, the suffering caused by some memories is really powerful and I would want to prioritize letting people who want to relieve their suffering, as a general matter, relieve their suffering.”