Everything You Believe is Wrong — Laugh at Yourself!

Laugh at yourself and at life.

Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity,
but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain,
cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective
that seemingly terrible defeat and worry
with laughter at your predicaments,
thus freeing your mind to think clearly toward the solution
that is certain to come. Never take yourself too seriously.
Og Mandino

source

You may be unaware that like most people, you experience most of your life from inside a hypnotic trance. If you are like most people, you cannot help being in this state.

Laugh Your Way Out of the Bubble

Most babies and young children haven’t yet learned to suppress their natural instinct of joy. Adults have to teach all of that out of them, along with a great deal of brainwashing and trance programming. All of that is necessary in order to mould the child into the groupthinking somnambulism that allows them to be dominated by “their betters.”

But adults can re-learn natural and individual ways of escaping their hypnotic programmes. One of the best means of escape from groupthinking politically correct conformism is through meditation. And the best form of meditation for quick and reliable results is laughter.

Approaches to Laughter Meditation

Dr. Madan Kataria made it his mission in life to spread laughing meditation across the nation of India, and beyond. He incorporated laughter into a simple form of yoga meditation, starting a movement that has now spread to Europe, North America, and other distant regions.

Long History

Laughter meditation goes back many hundreds of years and more, in both the Zen tradition and the yoga tradition. In the west, the 1979 book “Anatomy of an Illness” by Norman Cousins, made laughter meditation respectable in the west — by looking at laughter as a form of therapy for serious illnesses.

Subsequent to the groundbreaking book by Norman Cousins, western medical science has discovered many benefits from laughter:

It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.

It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and nondiabetics alike.

It improves your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems. Its role in intimate relationships is vastly underestimated and it really is the glue of good marriages. It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned. __ https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200504/laughter-the-best-medicine

But breaking out of one’s lifelong programming in groupthink absurdity may be the most powerful function that laughter can perform for us — in addition to restoring more a more youthful and creative mental outlook to its practitioners.

Everything You Think You Know is a Lie

Don’t be offended — it is true for us all. We all suffer from inherent limitations in our emotional-cognitive systems. And we just don’t have time to think through everything we do and say — we have to let our automatic programming take over most of our lives. And that programming did not come from us.

It was necessary for adults to lie to us in order for them to get us to fall into line and not be so disruptive. So how ironic is it that even when we believe we are being disruptive, we are actually riding the rails of groupthink which were laid for us in our childhood.

The only way to escape this great hypnotic bubble of unthinking trance existence is to break through the indoctrinated habits of thought altogether. And that requires a level of awareness which is beyond words. Laughter is one way to reach such a level of awareness, and it is accessible to everyone. Another wonderful non-verbal approach to alternative awareness is through folk dances.

Whether you choose to watch your “funniest film clips” like Norman Cousins did when suffering from a serious illness — or indulge in laughter meditation or something similar — deep laughter is quick and effective. Where do you go from there? Wherever you want. Solitary laughter will have a different impact than profound laughter with friends and loved ones. The more comfortable and skilled you become with accessing the laughter state, the more uses you are likely to find for it.

Al Fin likes to tack a good belly laugh onto the end of a couple of sentic cycles during long walks in the woods. But there are endless ways of incorporating laughter into a person’s life.

If a person can reliably escape the group trance bubble of imprisoning words and thoughts, he has a chance to see the lies that make up his life — from the outside. And that larger, broader perspective can make a big difference when charting one’s course through life.

Posted in Everything You Think You Know Just Ain't So, Groupthink | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Google Makes Another Huge Blunder: Firing Damore

First Mistake: They Forced Him to Go to a “Diversity Seminar”

Harvard and MIT trained engineer James Damore loved working for Google. He felt free to work on things he enjoyed doing, and liked the people he worked with. But Google’s management made a huge blunder: They forced him to go to a “diversity seminar,” where white males are sent to be made to feel shame and guilt.

Anyone With a Brain Knows that “Diversity Seminars” Are a Stupid Idea

Diversity seminars not only fail to stop bad workplace behaviours and attitudes — they actually make them worse!

… five years after instituting required training for managers, companies saw no improvement in the proportion of white women, black men, and Hispanics in management, and the share of black women actually decreased by 9%, on average, while the ranks of Asian-American men and women shrank by 4% to 5%. Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance—and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward. __ Harvard Business Review

More reasons to put the brakes on the diversity training scam

But Google’s managers apparently fail to use their brains, at least when it comes to topics related to “diversity.” And so they sent elite young engineer Damore to one of these shaming sessions. He didn’t like it. What’s worse, he compiled his thoughts on the topic in a memo, which was made available to other workers at Google. Read the memo in full.

Too Many Workers at Google Started Agreeing With Damore’s Memo

Google’s unthinking managers now had a problem on their hands — the makings of a modest, non-violent mutiny. A mutiny consisting of thoughtful ideas being communicated within the workforce, but ideas that did not conform with management’s conception of what employees should think. In essence, thought crimes were being committed. And so Google fired their elite young engineer, out of fear that more employees might begin to publicly question Google’s groupthink bubble.

A Predictable Public Firestorm Erupts after Firing

Subsequently, James Damore has filed a complaint against Google with the US government’s NLRB. And contributions are pouring in to Damore’s legal defence fund, even while the young engineer hits YouTube and the airwaves explaining his case to the larger public. A New York Times columnist is now calling for Google’s CEO to resign after he justified firing Damore!

The engineer may well have a valid legal case for suing his former employer, the Groupthinking Monolith Now Known as Goolag:

Damore has two viable legal claims, evident from comments he made to The New York Times: “I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does.” Damore added that before his firing, he filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging Google was “misrepresenting and shaming me in order to silence my complaints.” He noted that it was “illegal to retaliate” against him for filing the NLRB charge. __ More at The Federalist

Google Has Already Lost in Court of Public Opinion

Google’s management lives in an echo chambre, which may explain some of its colossal blunders. A survey of workers in prominent Silicon Valley firms indicates that management has a steep uphill battle on its hands:

Blind, an anonymous chat app, surveyed over 4,000 employees of Silicon Valley companies in the wake of Damore’s firing to see where they stood on it. Fifty-six percent of the Google employees who participated in the survey oppose Damore’s firing. True, this survey was voluntary, and is therefore scientifically meaningless, but it does make you wonder how many people within Google are upset with what was done to Damore, but who now know that they must keep their mouths shut if they want to avoid the same fate.

Damore’s great sin here was in saying out loud things that may be true, or at least well within the bounds of debate, but not popular within his social environment. __ Rod Dreher in American Conservative

Science supports the modest claims made by James Damore in his relatively timid and respectful memo. But the way that Google’s management acted — both in forcing Damore to attend a “shaming session” and in firing him for circulating his modest suggestions aftwerward — was anything but respectful to its employees or to the workplace environment. Heads should roll.

More on diversity training:

Diversity training doesn’t extinguish prejudice. It promotes it,” says Peter Bregman in Psychology Today. He’s not alone in his belief. Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com has collected numerous articles detailing why diversity training doesn’t actually make people more tolerant. In fact, it can open your company to lawsuits, as the Federal Aviation Administration found out way back in 1995.

A study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that diversity training had “no positive effects in the average workplace.” Millions of dollars a year were spent on the training resulting in, well, nothing. Attitudes — and the diversity of the organizations — remained the same.

It gets worse. The researchers — Frank Dobbin of Harvard, Alexandra Kalev of Berkeley, and Erin Kelly of the University of Minnesota — concluded that “In firms where training is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of lawsuits, training actually has negative effects on management diversity.”

__ Source

Note: The lucrative scam of “diversity training” has been diverting scarce resources away from productive activities and into the hands of con artists for many decades now. It is nothing more than a tool of indoctrination serving the dominant politically correct groupthink monoculture of the left, which currently controls most of academia, large numbers of corporate boardrooms and management, most of the news and entertainment media, and the core of the deep state behind most governments of the EU and the Anglosphere.

More:

Google’s management pathetically stupid

Google deserves what is coming to them

Posted in Google, Groupthink | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Can Millenials Be Saved from Themselves?

Message to Millenials


University of Toronto professor and licensed clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, wants to help the lost generation of millenials — and subsequent generations. Peterson wants to accomplish this by a two-pronged strategy:

  1. By starving the corrupt politically correct elements of education in humanities and social science
  2. By starting a new — not politically correct — online university

By helping to reduce the damage done to students by universities, Peterson will boost the human future significantly. By providing improved open access collateral paths to deeper knowledge, paths that bypass the indoctrination of conventional universities, he will benefit the future even more.

Starving the Corrupt and Life Ruining Aspects of University

Universities have been diverted and corrupted by brainwashing ideologies. Instead of teaching students how to think about and understand a complex reality, too many university departments now specialise in academic lobotomies — brainwashing and indoctrinating students into narrow-minded, dead end ideologies.

Those university disciplines which have been “corrupted” by what he calls the Post-Modernist (neo-Marxist) academics include Women’s Studies, Racial Studies, Sociology, Anthropology and English Literature — with the very “worst offenders” based in the faculties of education.

“(The neo-Marxist) professors are playing these insane bordering on murderous intellectual games (with their students), he told a crowd of nearly 700 at the first free speech summit in downtown Toronto Wednesday evening.

“It’s a cult and a war of ideas and freshmen coming in from high school should be encouraged to stay away from them (these disciplines).” __ Jordan Peterson (in Toronto Sun)

Starting a Politically Incorrect Online University

Jordan Peterson is using internet “crowdsourcing” to help finance new teaching videos, and to devise strategies for building the new, politically incorrect online university.

About Jordan Peterson

Dr. Jordan B Peterson has been a dishwasher, gas jockey, bartender, short-order cook, beekeeper, oil derrick bit re-tipper, plywood mill labourer and railway line worker. He’s taught mythology to lawyers, doctors and businessmen, consulted for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Sustainable Development, helped his clinical clients manage depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia, served as an advisor to senior partners of major Canadian law firms, identified thousands of promising entrepreneurs on six different continents, and lectured extensively in North America and Europe.

He has flown a hammer-head roll in a carbon-fiber stunt plane, piloted a mahogany racing sailboat around Alcatraz Island, explored an Arizona meteorite crater with a group of astronauts, built a Native American Long-House on the upper floor of his Toronto home, and been inducted into the coastal Pacific Kwakwaka’wakw tribe.

With his students and colleagues, Dr. Peterson has published more than a hundred scientific papers, transforming the modern understanding of personality, and revolutionized the psychology of religion with his now-classic book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. As a Harvard professor, he was nominated for the prestigious Levinson Teaching Prize, and is regarded by his current University of Toronto students as one of three truly life-changing teachers. ___
Jordan Peterson’s website

More on Peterson from Wikipedia

Research citations in Google Scholar (via Wikipedia)

Posted in Education, University | Tagged | Leave a comment

China Preparing for Next Great Leap Forward?

Can China Reverse its Present Stall?

China is experiencing an unexpected slowdown in its global ambitions. The very nature of economic growth in China has changed in an ominous way. A closer look at the fixed causes behind China’s unhealthy economic shift suggests that China’s current stall could easily turn into a dangerous spin.

The root cause of China’s global stall is this continued inability to let markets be markets. Meddling in the allocation of finance has ensured that much-needed capital gets gobbled up by the politically connected, not the competitive. Then the government tries to rectify the damage with more government. In an effort to rejuvenate exports, China has unleashed a subsidy-rich industrial program to upgrade its manufacturing called “Made in China 2025.” To help companies expand around the region, the government has cooked up the Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure-building scheme that looks to many like a boondoggle…

In fact, the entire Chinese export machine is sputtering. Between 2006 and 2011, China’s total merchandise exports nearly doubled, powering the country through the Great Recession. Since then, they’ve increased less than 11 percent, according to World Trade Organization data.

The same trend holds for China’s currency. In late 2014, the renminbi broke into the top five most-used currencies for global payments, reaching an almost 2.2 percent share. China seemed well on the way to achieving its long-stated goal of turning the yuan into a true rival to the dollar. But that progress has reversed. In June, the renminbi chalked up only a 2 percent share, according to Swift, slipping behind the Canadian dollar. __ China’s Ascent Stalling?

China runs a great public relations campaign. In Australia, for example, Chinese Communist Party influence in politics, news outlets, universities, and commercial enterprises is becoming a looming scandal. This covert invasion of Australia by the long arms of Chinese communism would be largely illegal in countries such as the US, but so far seems to be mostly legal in Australia. “Using these inroads… the CCP’s “main purpose” is to “reduce or even eradicate the ‘bias’ and ‘prejudices’ against China that are seen as pervasive in Western media.””

But if China’s economic rockets are losing their “wunderthrust,” bribes and public relations spending will only get it so far.

What’s at play are the operations of the CCP’s overt spy departments, which are mainly run under its United Front Work Department and its Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. These two departments, in turn, run operations through the CCP’s overseas embassies and work to create a “united front” for the CCP by subverting and influencing elements in foreign societies to work on behalf of the Chinese regime’s interests—often unknowingly. __ http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2260058-chinese-front-operations-exposed-in-australia-part-of-a-global-problem-2/

Everyone Remembers China’s Last Great Leap Forward

It was the deadliest act of genocide in history, resulting in almost 50 million Chinese deaths.

It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction. When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, local boss Xiong Dechang forced his father to bury him alive. The father died of grief a few days later. The case of Wang Ziyou was reported to the central leadership: one of his ears was chopped off, his legs were tied with iron wire, a ten kilogram stone was dropped on his back and then he was branded with a sizzling tool – punishment for digging up a potato.

Economic Stall + Debt Mountain + Multiple Bubbles and Pyramids

It has come to the point where one must wonder if anything in China is not a bubble. From real estate to the stock markets to bonds to the shadow banking industry to the Chinese currency itself, the communist party state is built on shifting economic sands — and each grain of sand is a hollow bubble.

Virtually all of China’s GDP growth is illusory, based upon debt and bubbles. State owned enterprises must often take out new loans to pay the interest on old loans, to avoid default. Wasteful overproduction is the order of the day, and even in a dictatorial economy, someone must pay the piper. Local and regional government officials base much of their wealth on the rotting carcasses of rigid state ownership, and debt has erupted to dangerous levels for those government entities.

China’s People are Bright, Energetic, and Ambitious

But they have been hobbled by an obsolete party-driven system of government which no amount of surface level economic liberalisation can overcome. As a result, China’s leadership rightly see their own people as the greatest threat to their continued rule — just as that leadership is the greatest threat to the future prosperity of the Chinese people.

When you read all the “happy-happy” stories about China’s ascendancy and the inevitability of Chinese domination of the future, can you be sure that the writers of such articles have looked at all the facts? Can you even be sure that they are not receiving some sort of under the table compensation for their glowing reports on China’s present and future? Of course not. Knowing how the CCP works, one can never be sure.

Keep Your Eyes Open and Your Mind Your Own

Authority is easily corrupted in virtually any field. Best to give most authority the same respect you would give to the stuff that comes out of the hind end of a cow.

Always collect your own evidence as best you can, and make up your own mind.

A few of China’s problems, not even its greatest ones:

  1. Rising Wages Remove Advantages of Location
  2. Poor Quality Products
  3. Housing Bubble
  4. Explosion of Debt
  5. Loss of popular trust in the party
  6. Demographic trap
  7. Markets are not free to self-correct
  8. Regional insurgencies threaten breakout
  9. Threat of energy bottlenecks
  10. Competition from younger neighbors

China is caught in multiple traps, only some of which were created by the CCP.


When the bubble bursts, the consequences will likely be catastrophic from its epicentre outward.

Posted in China | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Every Day of Trump is a Day Without Hillary

And That’s Reason Enough to Smile

Al Fin was never fond of Trump, until the election. But watching Hillary Clinton and her band of ugly malcontents lose the election somehow created — not a soft spot, but — a spot that wasn’t as hard in my heart for Trump. Then observing many of his appointments for cabinet positions and judicial positions, I began to give the man some grudging respect.

Still, the most positive achievement of the Trump presidency to this point is the prevention of the massive disaster — a Clinton presidency — by its very existence. Any positive accomplishments by Trump beyond that, are just icing on the cake.

Take illegal border crossings, as an example. Since the Trump inauguration — and the return to enforcing border laws — illegal crossings have dropped some 60% to 70%. No wall? No problem. Apparently just talking tough and actually enforcing the laws already on the books are having a measurable impact already.

And what about federal judges? “As of August 1, 2017, the United States Senate has confirmed 5 Article III judges nominated by Trump, including 1 Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 3 judges for the United States Courts of Appeals, 1 judge for the United States district courts…” Source And he’s just getting started.

At the 100 day mark of his presidency, Trump had already helped pass more legislation into law than any President since Truman. Source Despite being surrounded by turmoil from within and without, Trump seems to thrive on the atmosphere of controversy.

As neurosurgeon and US HUD Secretary puts it: “I’m glad that Trump is drawing all the fire so I can get stuff done.” Washington Examiner More But as we have seen, Trump is not only distracting the riff-raff so that competent underlings can get things done — he is getting a lot of things done himself, behind the scenes.

A recent interesting plot twist in the ongoing “Trump Saga,” is the new sheriff in town, former Marine General John Kelly — now Chief of Staff at the White House. Perhaps Trump finally has someone nearby whom he respects — which might help to smooth some rough spots and help with a more efficient application of force to the problems which the administration faces.

Peter Zeihan Knocked off His Stride

Fresh from a summer backpacking vacation in Wyoming, Peter Zeihan attempted to take in all the domestic US political news of July, 2017, in one sitting. It was almost too much for the geopolitical analyst. But don’t feel bad, Peter. Trying to assimilate that much mainstream media vitriol at one time would be almost fatally toxic to almost anyone — especially when compared to a few weeks of the pristine air and sky of the Tetons!

The media may be unaware of how much credibility it is losing, in the eyes of intelligent people who choose not to succumb to groupthink. And those are the only people who matter in the long run, at least to those who think Dangerously.

Can US politics be made to serve the interests of people who still value the US Constitution? After the seemingly interminable years of Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Bush, that is a difficult question to answer. But here is one perspective on what a president might do.

Most of the US Presidents since Eisenhower may or may not have had a good inkling of how governments work. But for the most part they had no idea how the world works or how prosperous economies work. Which may explain the huge black hole of entitlement spending, unfunded mandates, and other ruinous irrational policies of government which Trump has inherited from his predecessors.

Trump has only been in office about 6 months. He has yet to reach his stride. Trump is the only US President since Reagan to have accomplished anything of any significance outside of government politics, before reaching the White House. There are many important things about government that Trump does not know — yet. But if he is surrounded by knowledgeable and rational men whom he respects — who also have the best interest of the country at heart — he is more than capable of learning what he will need to know.

As for Media Hysteria, Keep it Coming!

The swirling maelstrom of media hysteria keeps the rubes and the dupes well occupied, so that the deeper business of reform can be mapped out and executed. The media is losing respect and making enemies with every day that passes.

Violent Bernie Sanders supporters have been killing people in Portland and Alexandria, and mobbing and assaulting people in numerous other locations. But socialism has always brought out the darker side of human nature, and it may be better for such violent miscreants to come out in the open where they can be dealt with.

As for Trump, don’t get me wrong. I only trust Trump to be Trump, nothing more. He is not particularly enlightened or wise — outside of his areas of expertise. But he is at least not so malevolently destructive as Obama and the Clintons, and not as much in the pocket of the country club good old boys as the two Bush presidents. If he gets it right only 50% of the time, that is still 100% better than most of what his predecessors did.

And as for keeping Hillary out of the White House? PRICELESS!!!

More:

http://thefederalistpapers.org/us/economy-adds-209000-jobs-unemployment-drops-16-year-low

Trump’s quiet triumphs

Trump does not hate the police like Obama and Clinton did. The same for other law enforcement groups, as well as the military. Those who serve appreciate the difference.

Posted in Donald Trump, Politics | Tagged | 13 Comments

Dangerous Child Method vs. Robinson Curriculum

The following article is cross-posted from The Dangerous Child blog

The Robinson Curriculum Teaches the Basics

The homeschool curriculum devised by Arthur Robinson, PhD., prepares children and youth to excel in the challenging modern world of rapidly advancing science and technology. By teaching children to teach themselves, the Robinson Curriculum gives them the powerful thinking and self-disciplinary tools they need to learn virtually any subject on their own.

The six Robinson children were the prototype students in the early development of the curriculum. Each of the 6 children was taking college physics and math courses by age 16 — if not before — and each typically took only 2 years on-campus to finish undergraduate classwork.
Source

Think of the Robinson Curriculum as an Excellent “Learning Core”

Parents who wish to raise Dangerous Children can choose between any number of “learning cores,” or basic learning curricula. The Robinson Curriculum seems to be quite good in its preparation for the modern world of rapidly changing science, math, and technology. The central theme of “teaching them to teach themselves,” in particular, represents an invaluable gift to every child and youth who must face a world of rapid changes.

Dangerous Children Require More

The skills and knowledge provided by the Robinson Curriculum are priceless. Any child would benefit from such powerful core knowledge and skilled learning disciplines of self-teaching. Dangerous Children can use those things, but they will require additional training in particular areas if they are to be truly prepared for what they are likely to face as adults.

Particular Skills of Dangerous Children

  • Mastery of at least 3 means of financial independence by age 18
  • High levels of competence in business and financial skills
  • Skilled proficiency in firearms operation, maintenance, and tactics
  • Navigation and travel skills on land, sea, air
  • Proficiency in rescue and first aid
  • Experience in forming and running multiple businesses before age 18
  • Competence in maintaining equipment and infrastructure of a basic household inside or outside of city environs
  • Basic prepping and survival skills for various time scales
  • Competence in forming a competent and resilient community
  • Competence in networking multiple competent and resilient communities
  • Ability to form ad hoc cooperative groups able to plan and implement parallel critical infrastructures as needed

Much more is involved in becoming a Dangerous Child, and as you can imagine, such children have quite full days. Unless you understand that Dangerous Child training begins quite early in life — before birth (or even conception) if possible — you may not understand how one can pack all the skills needed into one short childhood.

The family is central to the life of a Dangerous Child, although as the child grows older, his powers of independence and self-direction will grow.

Paradoxically, Dangerous Children learn to deal skillfully with a wide range of personalities, persons of multiple social and educational levels, and many different cultures. They are fluent in at least three languages besides their native tongue, and should have little trouble traveling through almost any neighborhood, environment, or climate.

Vision and Advanced Preparation are Key

The conventional method of child-raising seems to be one of “benign neglect,” somehow assuming that a child can fritter away his childhood with trivial amusements and mass production education/indoctrination, and somehow be ready for competent adulthood in a treacherous world, when he comes of age.

Conventional wisdom is quite stupid in that regard, and a parent would be wise to go his own way far apart from mainstream methods.

The Robinson Curriculum is a Good Start

Arthur Robinson provided an excellent core for youngsters. His thoughts on self-teaching are exemplary.

There are many other excellent core curricular methods available to parents, so that it is not necessary for them to reinvent the wheel in order to evade the common rot that pervades government schools and many private schools. Close scrutiny is always required in the choice.

Dangerous Child training is not for every child, of course. But for those who make that choice, it is important to provide a strong core of learning and discipline around which one can build a sound multi-competent and well-skilled young life.

More on The Dangerous Child Method at The Dangerous Child blog.

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Arthur Robinson PhD: A Competent Man

A Portrait of Competence

Art Robinson received a BS in Chemistry from Cal Tech — where he was a student of Linus Pauling — and a PhD in Chemistry from UCSD, where he taught chemistry for a few years before teaming with Linus Pauling to form the Linus Pauling Institute in Menlo Park. After working with Pauling for several years, and finding no evidence to substantiate Pauling’s claims that Vitamin C cures cancer, Robinson and Pauling had a parting of the ways. Robinson and his wife Lauralee — also a scientist — moved to Oregon in 1980 with young sons Zachary and Noah.

A Sudden, Unexpected Tragedy

Between 1980 and 1988, Robinson and his wife lived happily on the farm — creating a family of 6 young children, operating the farm and various scientific and other miscellaneous ventures. Then in 1988 within 24 hours of developing flu-like symptoms, Robinson‘s wife died of hemorrhagic pancreatitis. Their children at that time ranged between 18 months and 12 years of age. The older children were being home-schooled by Lauralee, and the youngest was still in diapers.

Art Robinson picked himself up from this sudden tragedy and shouldered the additional responsibilities of single parenthood of 6 young children, most in homeschool.

Art Robinson, lives on a 350 acre farm in Southern Oregon. The Robinson family has long maintained hundreds of sheep and lambs, over a dozen milk cows, dozens of wild turkeys, and miscellaneous dogs. Robinson has raised and homeschooled 6 children on the farm: [Ed.: paraphrased] Zachary has a doctorate in veterinary medicine and Noah has a PhD in chemistry. Arynne trained in veterinary medicine, twins Joshua and Bethany have both worked toward PhDs in nuclear engineering, and Matthew worked to receive a BS in chemistry.

Each of the 6 children was taking college physics and math courses by age 16 — if not before — and each typically took only 2 years on-campus to finish undergraduate classwork.

Homeschooling Curriculum

Art structured the curriculum and format of the school so that in fact the children were able to teach themselves, for the most part. Then, with the children’s help, Art packaged the family’s complete homeschool curriculum — The Robinson Curriculum — and has been selling thousands of the 22 CD sets a year, at $195 a set. Sales of the homeschool curriculum plus several other enterprising ventures have put Art’s scientific career on a self-sustaining basis.

Suffice it to say that Art Robinson has recovered his financial independence. He no longer needs government grants to pursue the unresolved scientific questions that were put on hold over 20 years ago. In fact, his independence as a scientist is now greater than it would be if he were still at a large research institution. Whether the institution is nominally private, or publicly funded, he points out, most scientific research is held captive by heavy infusions of federal money.

Around the time he heard that the Proceedings of the National Academy would publish the article, Art said: “If we just had a few thousand scientists pursuing their own goals, we’d really be able to get some new research done in this country. As it is, most of them are trapped.”

…Art took over Access to Energy in 1993, at the request of its ailing proprietor Petr Beckmann, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Colorado. Beckmann had printed the newsletter on his own press for 20 years. A defector from Communist Czechoslovakia, he valued the First Amendment highly—and exercised it through a printing press in the basement. Until recently, Noah continued to print the newsletter on the same press, which was hauled from Boulder to Oregon. The letter was always a lively read, and Robinson has preserved that quality. It is something you gladly reach for in the mailbox. A subscription costs $35 for individuals, $150 for tax-subsidized organizations (one or two do pay full freight).

…Art’s warrior instincts also came to the fore after his daughter Arynne enrolled at Southern Oregon University. To graduate, she was told, she had to take a course called “colloquium,” an exercise “specifically designed to destroy her faith, her innocence, her self-respect, and her happiness in her way of life,” Art says. Advance placement had allowed the boys to skip this insult. So why not remove her from the school? As it happened, the science faculty was excellent, the university’s proximity was convenient, and his tax dollars were paying for this travesty. “What can a student do if the science, engineering and mathematics courses are held hostage by the ‘humanities’ departments?”

Art informed the university administration that they faced law suits, adverse publicity, and “an ever increasing telephone, fax, and letter campaign.” The first two did not worry them, Art says-they had the lawyers and the media. But the third did. It would have involved many thousands of inquiries, and they would be needing extra telephone lines and secretaries. The president backed down at the last minute. “We won this fight without firing a shot,” Art told his friends, “but only because we were prepared to shoot.” And they were able to do so only because a large number of his subscribers and home-schooling friends “were available to help.

… _IndependentScientist

Robinson and his son Noah — also a PhD chemist — work together studying the molecular clock of aging. They have their own lab on the farm — complete with a very powerful mass spectrometer, and other instruments. They have published multiple papers together in various journals, including the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings and the Journal of Peptide Research.

Art has also been instrumental in countering the mass hysteria of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, circulating a petition against CAGW with tens of thousands of scientists signing. Many more potential movements and enterprises are being worked out and knocked about inside his head — much to the chagrin of the dieoff leftists of the world.

Most information for this story comes from A Scientist Finds Independence

Other information comes from an update on the Robinson Curriculum home site.

The above was excerpted from the original Al Fin blog posting: Portrait of Competence: Art Robinson (cached page)

Arthur Robinson, Current Links:

http://www.accesstoenergy.com/

The Robinson Self Taught Homeschool Curriculum

Nuclear War Survival Skills from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine

Publications

Looking at Art Robinson’s work as a parent, educator, rancher, scientist, publisher, and a tireless activist against groupthink idiocy, one cannot help but be impressed by his ability to rise above challenges and tragedies to accomplish great things.

Posted in Competence, Education, Optimism | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Africa’s “Complex Transition” Into the Modern World

Africa Unplugged
A Darkness That Abides
https://www.masterresource.org/ via

Darkest Africa and for Very Good Reasons

When President Macron of France suggested that black Africa has “civilisational problems,” he was immediately attacked by the usual suspects of the politically correct mindset. But Macron was merely saying in a polite way what most intelligent observers have known for decades now: Africa is a bloody disaster, and is unlikely to get better in the foreseeable future.

… the reality is that in far too many of [black African] countries we see the same problems over and over: mass poverty, gross inequality, endemic corruption, weak institutions, generally inefficient and insensitive governance, and overpopulation in relation to available resources.

Defensiveness and denial are not helping the hundreds of millions of impoverished Africans living in want, insecurity, and fear. At best, this kind of attitude allows Africa’s middle-class intellectuals and privileged classes to avoid the public airing of uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing truths about the continent where they live. __ Remi Adekoya in Foreign Policy

Nothing Seems to Help

Black Africa is dominated by corruption, rampant violence and poverty, frighteningly high disease rates, and a level of general ignorance / illiteracy / apathy that prevents meaningful change or “civilisational improvement.”

Foreign Aid to Africa is a Disaster

To date, the continent has received well over $600 billion in outside assistance. World Bank data show that a majority of African countries’ government spending comes directly from foreign aid. Yet much of Africa remains impoverished, and rampant corruption continues.

I his 2013 book Doing Bad by Doing Good, the George Mason University economist Christopher Coyne explains why measures intended to alleviate suffering often go so wrong… In [economist Dambisa Moyo‘s] 2009 book Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way to Help Africa, the Zambian-born economist characterizes foreign aid to Africa as an “unmitigated economic, political, and humanitarian disaster” that has actually made the continent poorer.

… The problems caused by poverty and natural disasters are enormous, but aid’s track record suggests that it too often only makes matters worse. __ Foreign Aid is a Failure

International Trade and Infrastructure Projects Likewise Fail

Neither are ordinary black Africans receiving much benefit from international trade deals from China, Europe, or Anglospheric countries. Profits from oil and mineral wealth are skimmed by corrupt leaders and their associates, leaving most black Africans to live in perpetual poverty. Impressive infrastructure projects such as new railways, high rises, electrical generating stations, and so on, are typically left to decay and collapse for lack of routine care and maintenance.

All along the way, wreckage was strewn beside the tracks—railway cars hauled from where they’d derailed or broken down, and left to decay like great, dead beasts.

As we looked out at these rusting carcasses, my cabinmates began talking about the railroad, and what it said about their societies. “This is a good train,” said Isaac, with a trace of bitterness, “but like any piece of equipment, it needs maintenance.” Daniel Simwinga, a voluble, Bible-toting Zambian, responded, “Everyone knows you can’t keep getting milk from a cow without feeding it grass.” (Daniel was bringing a shipment of auto parts and other goods south. As a commercial trader, he rides the Tazara as often as twice a month, and is well versed in its shortcomings.)

“As soon as we have problems, we ask someone else to take care of them for us,” Isaac continued. “We ask the Europeans. We ask the Americans. We ask the Chinese. We will run this train into the ground, and then we will tell the Chinese we need another one. This is not development.” I thought of the wreckage by the tracks. In China, there is no such thing as metallic waste. Armies of migrant workers scour the countryside with hammers and chisels, collecting and selling every scrap to the insatiable smelters that feed the country’s industries. Here, by contrast, was a land without industry.

The World Bank and the United Nations did surveys for a Tazara-like line in the early 1960s, and both concluded that such a railway would be neither economically feasible nor sustainable. But China built the line, between 1970 and 1975, at the behest of two African leaders: Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, who wanted to open up the remote south of his country and bolster his pan-African credentials; and President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, whose landlocked country was seeking an alternative to the trade routes south through white-ruled Rhodesia.

Within a decade, the line was suffering from repeated breakdowns, landslides, and management failures. Planners had envisioned running 17 trains a day, but by 1978 there were only two. __TheAtlantic

More on the failure of maintenance in Africa

African Birthrates Promise A Global Explosion of Dysfunction

Global_homicide Mises Institute


Europe is the current recipient of Africa’s dysfunctional human overflow. Rape and violence are becoming more common in previously safe and sedate communities in Germany, Sweden, France, and many other European nations. Since Europe is so easily accessible from Africa, we should expect to see rising rates in Europe of the same kinds of problems so commonly seen inside black Africa itself. And we do.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

via

Shakespeare might have said the same thing about black Africa, in explanation for the dark continent’s perpetual failure. Politically correct excuses for Africa tell us more about the slavish dogmatic inanity of today’s babbling classes, than about the reality of root causes.

IQ is Not the Whole Story

Economic Success Correlates With National Average IQ
More at VDare


Low population IQs have real world consequences. The same is true for poor pre-frontal executive functions, which often accompany low IQ in many populations.

One must expect to see both genetic and environmental underpinnings of the widespread dysfunction and misery that plague the dark continent. Disease, poverty, corruption, and violence are both causes and effects of suboptimal genetics. “Genetic load” has become a burden on the older populations of man. In this context, it is no wonder that foreign aid has such a deleterious effect on the demographics of Africa — in this case contributing to a dysfunctional overpopulation.

Until Africans Are Allowed to Find Their Own Level . . .

Consider any of the critical infrastructures:

electricity generation, transmission and distribution;
gas production, transport and distribution;
oil and oil products production, transport and distribution;
telecommunication;
water supply (drinking water, waste water/sewage, stemming of surface water (e.g. dikes and sluices));
agriculture, food production and distribution;
heating (e.g. natural gas, fuel oil, district heating);
public health (hospitals, ambulances);
transportation systems (fuel supply, railway network, airports, harbours, inland shipping);
financial services (banking, clearing);
security services (police, military).

In general, Africans themselves cannot manage modern infrastructures without outside help. And as long as low population average IQ and poor population executive functions remain the problems that they are, modern infrastructure will remain beyond the reach of most African nations. Even South Africa — once relatively wealthy and advanced — is suffering rapid infrastructure decline and failure.

Africa has abundant riches of oil, precious metals, diamonds, useful minerals, uranium, and a massive potential for global agricultural production and trade. But Africans have been generally unable to manage most of this economic trade and activity themselves, to the benefit of general populations. Wealth is seized by those in power, while the people live on a few dollars a day. Foreign aide and foreign trade only facilitate this ongoing mismanagement.

It is clear that a new and more sustainable type of infrastructure must be developed for Africans, which Africans themselves are capable of building, maintaining, and operating. Such a sustainable “African Infrastructure” would not support the type of population explosions currently taking place in so many African cities and nations. But until such a thing becomes a reality, keeping African nations from destroying themselves will remain the geopolitical equivalent of making water run uphill.

Europe lies in the direct path of destruction.


h/t Abelard Lindsey in comments

More:

Why is Kenya spending a $billion on elections?

Posted in Africa, Demographics, Executive Functions, Fertility, Genetics and Gene Expression, IQ | Tagged , | 5 Comments

What is Happening Behind the Scenes in Russia?

In the US, fake news rules the networks – papers – most websites. Important news is more often neglected as a result. And one can certainly not believe official Kremlin-approved news outlets. Other than occasional uncensored glimpses behind the scenes, one must often sift through Russian language news oneself to determine even a small part of what is happening behind the curtain.

The links below are examples of interesting discoveries found by one Russian speaker, looking behind the curtain. Use a web translator as necessary.

Despite Kremlin claims, the Russian economy continued to deteriorate this week, with almost all basic indicators heading in a negative direction and human suffering as a result on the rise.

Russian language news links courtesy of Window on Eurasia

  • Russia’s regions are losing jobs and population (regnum.ru/news/society/2300544.html)
  • The Russian state statistical agency says that the size of the Russian working-age population will decline by 400,000 or more [per year] beginning in the mid-2030s and extending as far into the future as its experts can predict (ng.ru/economics/2017-07-13/4_7028_starenie.html).
  • Capital flight rose by 70 times from two weeks ago (rosbalt.ru/business/2017/07/10/1629327.html)
  • There is no money in the government budget for roads or other infrastructure projects (nakanune.ru/news/2017/7/10/22475742/ and ng.ru/omics/2017-07-11/4_7026_ways.html)
  • The Kudrin Center says the Russian economy is rapidly degrading (newizv.ru/article/general/12-07-2017/tsentr-kudrina-finansovyy-rynok-rossii-prodolzhaet-degradirovat)
  • Residents of the Russian capital are buying boots and anti-depressants at a record rate, experts say (newizv.ru/news/economy/12-07-2017/moskvichi-massovo-skupayut-dozhdeviki-rezinovye-sapogi-i-antidepressanty).
  • Experts say that the situation in the health sector is so dire because of Putin’s “optimization” program that “the greatest healthcare crisis in Russia today is denying that there is one” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59687860E3135).
  • London experts say that Russia must modernize its navy if it hopes to be able to replicate its Syrian support operation a decade from now (svpressa.ru/war21/article/176525/)

More revealed news from behind the curtain

The Decline of Russia Rolling in From the East and South

While most eyes are turned toward Ukraine and Syria, the actual threat to Russia is coming from other directions:

China, the only real threat to Russia, quietly makes progress advancing from the east. China has claims on much of the Russian Far East and is openly replacing Russia as the primary economic, military and political force in Central Asia. This area, which used to be part of the Soviet Union, has become an economic and diplomatic battleground for Russia and China and China is winning. This is something Russia doesn’t like to discuss, but among Russians the real threat is from the east, not the west. According to recent reports from the Russian government China has already become the dominant supplier and trading partner with the Central Asian states…

These days Russia is minor power in purely economic terms, with a $1.2 trillion GDP compared to $11 trillion for China and nearly $19 trillion for the United States. For Russia, the economic news is even worse. Because of overdependence on oil and gas exports (and the sharp drop in oil and gas prices since 2013) plus sanctions (because of aggression against Ukraine and other neighbors) Russian GDP is still shrinking.

____ Source

A weakling bear

More sources for oft-censored and ignored Russian news:

http://www.stopfake.org/en/news/

https://nobsrussia.com/

https://www.rferl.org/p/5547.html

https://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/

https://jamestown.org/region/russia/

https://robertamsterdam.com/n140717/

http://russialist.org/

Russian propagandists and Kremlin trolls put on a good Potemkin front — and are aided in that effort by western news organisations. But corruption is no sound foundation on which to build a nation, at least not as a going concern for long. Any educated person should have understood that.

Reading between the lines, it is clear that critical infrastructure is in terminal decline, and demographic decline is following the same downward trend. Always read between the lines. Most mainstream information sources serve largely as goads and distractions.

Posted in Russia | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Teacher’s Job is to Prevent Students from Learning

Schools today are based on the underlying assumption that students should learn answers. This commonsensical assumption is wrong. Students should instead learn how to ask questions and pursue their own answers. __ Roger Schank

Children begin learning while in the womb. Immediately after birth, a child’s learning rates shoot up exponentially, as more and more sensory information washes over the tiny brain. Infants and toddlers devour information like sponges. Motivation for learning comes naturally — because youngsters want to learn how to do all the things they see older people doing so effortlessly and purposely. To that end, they develop a natural system of learning that is built on asking questions first, then pursuing the answers to those questions.

Children Learn Naturally; Schools Teach Artificially

Schools cannot simply tell the answers, they have to motivate the questions first. Schools that fail to do this will simply not work.

In their eagerness to fill students with knowledge, schools typically try to short-circuit the natural learning process. When we learn naturally, we start by developing an interest in what we are learning about. We try things out and get hands-on experience. We suffer expectation failures and we ask questions. Schools are not built around steps such as these. Instead, they try to cut to the chase. They rush to present answers to questions students have not asked and generalizations about experiences students have not had…

… Because schools were designed around economic considerations, and because curricula are inevitably controlled by the list-makers who want to tell us what everyone should know, school learning has traditionally been something quite different than “real world” learning.

Schools have not attempted to provide an environment within which natural learning can operate.

__ Failure of Schools

Schools focus on the goals of the school system. To achieve the goals of the system, schools must first rip down the “natural learning methods” which children have spent 5 or 6 years successfully and painstakingly building up. And that is exactly what they do — and one of the reasons why society has come to such a dreadful impasse.

Learning is One Thing; Accurate Understanding is Something Else

Roger Schank: The Importance of Experience in Learning

Children check the answers they are given against their own experience. Part of their experience includes answers they have found for themselves in the course of their own research. Another part of their experience involves direct observation.

The development of flexible, inquiring minds has rarely been the primary consideration in the design of educational systems. Making students into proper members of society has usually been of much greater concern than developing students who are creative thinkers.

Source

Because schools destructively bend the minds of children away from natural learning, and force their minds into patterns of unnatural “school-centric” learning, the act of sitting in classrooms soon becomes a stressful experience. And as we know, stress is toxic to the type of deep learning which minds can retain and use constructively.

We have been programmed for so long to accept the type of teaching which school systems enforce, that we have been conditioned not to question whether there are better ways to help our children (and ourselves) to learn the kind of things that would make us better, more independent, more competent thinkers and actors in the world.

Posted in Childhood Development, Competence, Education | Tagged | 1 Comment

Slay the Monsters, Save the Future: Part I

Modern societies are dying from within, being choked to death by monstrous institutional entities of their own making. The particular monster of today’s discussion is the university, a corrupt bastion of ideological indoctrination, massive misallocation of funds into the $trillions, destroyer of untold numbers of young lives, and home to loathsome parasitic creatures in need of slaying.

“Our higher education system is still stuck in the Middle Ages.”

Our current university system has not changed significantly in over 1000 years, [Christine] Ortiz said. __ Former Dean of Graduate Education at MIT

How to Kill the University and Save the Future

To kill the university monster, one must stop its heart, cut it out, and burn it. Where can one find the heart of the monster? Start looking in the lecture halls. Lectures are a fit tool for mass indoctrination, daydreaming, and large scale babysitting for college-aged youth. But fit for little else.

Lecture, rote memorization, and (largely ineffective) short-term study habits are still the norm in college instruction and learning today. __ Critical Thinking


Universities are teaching lies and getting away with it

It is unfortunate that modern university faculties have become dominated by a monoculture of ideologues intent on turning students into drone-like cannon fodder to serve their cause. The lecture is a perfect tool to that end, when combined with a mandated regurgitation by rote of the professor’s notes — rather than independent and considered points of view, as one would expect from a well-educated group of students.

Imagine a university without classrooms, lectures, disciplinary departments, or majors.

Our current university system has not changed significantly in over 1000 years, Ortiz said. So she and her colleagues are building a nonprofit university that:

  • focuses on the transdisciplinary interface between technology and humanity
  • emphasizes personalized, holistic and research-based pedagogy
  • employs dynamic organizational structures and a high quality, low cost, scalable financial model, to serve more underserved and underprivileged students

__ Techrepublic

The new approach to education described by Dean Ortiz above is not unique in its attempt to revolutionise an obsolete and destructive system of higher education. The Minerva Schools represent another approach to higher learning that has eliminated lectures altogether. Instead, Minerva focuses on critical thinking, interdisciplinary problem-solving, project orientation, and world travel to help youth understand more perspectives of thinking.

San Francisco’s Holberton School is another approach that eliminates lectures. The school has no teachers, no lectures, no tuition:

Harvard’s Dean of Applied Physics, Eric Mazur, is another strenuous critic of the lecture system. Mazur wants to move teaching away from lectures and rote memorisation, toward conceptually rich problem-solving methods of learning.

… if we really want students to learn through problem-solving, classrooms will have to change at every level of education. “I think you see that the learning at a very young age takes place very differently—not by asking how but by asking why—and driving parents and teachers crazy. After they get to middle school, all that curiosity has been erased, probably because people discourage the question ‘why?’” says Mazur.

“I consider that my most important task—reawakening their curiosity.” ___ https://www.asme.org/career-education/articles/undergraduate-students/the-death-of-the-lecture

Modern Universities are Obsolete and Destructive Inbred Monstrosities

One cannot build an abundant and expansive future upon systems of learning which dominate today’s higher education landscape. $Trillions of dollars are being diverted away from more productive enterprises toward the dead end rat-hole which modern universities have come to represent.

If you want to save the future, slay a monster. While many modern universities could survive without lectures, they would lose much of the mystique which allows them to currently abuse and defraud so many hundreds of thousands of students, parents, and society in general. It is the future — the long-postponed abundant and expansive human future — which we are missing. Sadly, in today’s world of predatory institutional monsters, most people will never know that such a future was ever possible.

Modern universities have become places where youth go to binge, fornicate, burn through hundreds of $thousands of someone else’s money, and receive a world class indoctrination. At the end of it all, the lucky ones receive a piece of paper to hang on the wall of their basement or garage bedrooms — a mocking reminder of failed promises made to them by monsters they had failed to slay.

Backlash against campus revolt

Universities making war on the people who write their checks

DON’T GO TO COLLEGE! said the self-made millionaire

Students forced to endure — and pay for — “diversity training” indoctrination

Diversity training scam examined

Posted in Education, Future, Groupthink, University | Tagged | 5 Comments

Startling In Eleven Dimensions: Forever Restless Brain

The Blue Brain Project in Lausanne is opening a new window on the mammalian brain: Multi-dimensional algebraic topology. They are still in the early stages of using this tool, but their discoveries are already startling — in 11 dimensions!

On the left is a digital representation of the neocortex in the brain, and on the right is a series of shapes and structures that represent objects of between 1D and 7D – the black hole is the cavity(Credit: Blue Brain Project)

According to various theories, physics only makes sense if there are other dimensions out there that we can’t really picture or even perceive. They don’t really have names since they’re only used in somewhat specialized situations, but in addition to time there could be as many as 10 spatial dimensions. __ http://newatlas.com/brain-learn-11-dimensions/50100/

The 11th dimension is presumably “time.” Of course, in mathematics we can have as many dimensions as we wish. The trick in applied algebraic topology is to make the “dimensions” count for something real.

“We found a world that we had never imagined,” says neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, “there are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.”

Markram suggests this may explain why it has been so hard to understand the brain. “The mathematics usually applied to study networks cannot detect the high-dimensional structures and spaces that we now see clearly.” __ https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-06/f-bbt060617.php

Opening this particular door onto the workings of the brain is likely to be especially fruitful, since it displays levels of neuronal network functioning that could never be revealed through conventional studies of brain imaging or “connectomics.”

Full research study from Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience

Meanwhile Back in Conventional Neuroscience . . .

Researchers at Frankfurt’s Max Planck Institute for Brain Research are devising faster ways of mapping out the mammalian brain’s “connectome.” Using advanced electron microscopy, they are building faster and more detailed maps of how a brain’s many neurons actually connect.

Billions of nerve cells are working in parallel inside our brains in order to achieve behaviours as impressive as hypothesizing, predicting, detecting, thinking. These neurons form a highly complex network, in which each nerve cell communicates with about one thousand others. Signals are sent along ultrathin cables, called axons, which are sent from each neuron to its about one thousand „followers“.

Only thanks to recent developments in electron microscopy, researchers can aim at mapping these networks in detail. __ https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/06/10-fold-speed-up-for-the-reconstruction-of-neuronal-networks.html

The Max Planck research utilises advanced graphical interfaces to allow human observers to more quickly detect connections and branching points of the connectome. Faster and more detailed mapping will help provide some of the underpinnings for more advanced dynamic models of micro-level neuronal networks such as described above at the Blue Brain Project in Lausanne.

Meanwhile in Minority Report Brain Territory

The ability to “mind-read” is something of a holy grail for government prosecutors and law enforcement officers. Solving crimes is one thing, but predicting them before they happen — and preventing them — would change the face of society.

latest research led by CMU’s Marcel Just builds on the pioneering use of machine learning algorithms with brain imaging technology to “mind read.” The findings indicate that the mind’s building blocks for constructing complex thoughts are formed by the brain’s various sub-systems and are not word-based. Published in Human Brain Mapping and funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the study offers new evidence that the neural dimensions of concept representation are universal across people and languages. __ https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/06/mind-reading-technology-to-decode-complex-thoughts.html

The Carnegie Mellon University research is not at all revolutionary or particularly advanced — and it rests upon a number of tenuous assumptions. Nevertheless, it is suggestive. Rather than proving or disproving any particular hypothesis, this type of research is useful for suggesting newer iterations of studies and techniques.

The suggestion that the mind’s building blocks for complex thoughts are not word-based is insightful, but also quite obvious. It may take many years and decades, however, for mainstream society to catch up with that basic and seminal insight — if it ever does.

The Brain Never Sleeps

Even in sleep, coma, and deep anesthesia, the brain never sleeps. Patterns of mammalian brain activity are constantly changing and shifting, from the emergence of neuronal networks in utero until the death of the organism. We have barely begun to learn where we need to start if we are to come to a useful understanding of our own brains — just in small part.

Brain Science is Racing Ahead of the Human Herd

The potential for authentic breakthroughs in cognitive neuroscience will remain high as long as ideological bias is kept out. We have seen the destructiveness of politically correct oversight in climate science, the psychology of gender, genetics, anthropology, and other badly distorted fields of science. Ideology has no place in science — although try telling that to a fanatical Title IX advocate.

What science desperately needs, however, is an enlightened and liberating “philosophy” which helps to sort out the wheat from the chaff, the fertile from the wasteful. The honest from the fraudulent.

High quality cutting edge cognitive neuroscience has immense disruptive potential, but it is also very difficult to understand for most humans. As advanced concepts from mathematics, computing, physics, and other areas of knowledge integrate themselves into cognitive science, expect the difficulty levels to increase. This is why in the future, the only educated human will be the multi-disciplined human. One-field specialists are apt to become too quickly obsolete and replaced by generalist/machine combinations.

More: The Challenge of Current and Future Knowledge


It is bad enough that only 1% of scientific papers are published. Much worse, perhaps one tenth of 1% of published papers actually follow the scientific method.

Fewer than 1 percent of papers published in scientific journals follow the scientific method, according to research by Wharton School professor and forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong.

Professor Armstrong, who co-founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Forecasting in 1982 and the International Journal of Forecasting in 1985, made the claim in a presentation about what he considers to be “alarmism” from forecasters over man-made climate change.

“We also go through journals and rate how well they conform to the scientific method. I used to think that maybe 10 percent of papers in my field … were maybe useful. Now it looks like maybe, one tenth of one percent follow the scientific method” said Armstrong in his presentation, which can be watched in full below. “People just don’t do it.” __ Quoted from Speech at 12th International Conference on Climate Change

Relationships Among Scientific Paradigms


Source

Dangerous Children — competent multi-disciplined politically incorrect humans who network in groups, communities, and societies — have never been in greater demand.

Posted in Connectome, Discovery, Human Brain | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Solar Panels: 300X More Toxic Waste Than Nuclear

Governments of Europe and California are willing to lay waste to their economies in pursuit of unreliable and destructive forms of energy — big solar and big wind. We already knew that these untrustworthy forms of energy bring instability to life-or-death critical power grids. But now we are learning how they are poisoning our landscapes, our waters, and the air we breathe.

EP estimated the total number of operational solar panels in 2016 and assumed they would all be retired in 25 years — the average lifespan of a solar panel. EP then estimated the total amount of spent nuclear fuel assemblies that would be generated over a 25 year period. EP then divided both estimates by the quantity of electricity they produced to come up with the waste per unit of energy measure.

While nuclear waste is contained in heavy drums and regularly monitored, solar waste outside of Europe today ends up in the larger global stream of electronic waste.

Solar panels contain toxic metals like lead, which can damage the nervous system, as well as chromium and cadmium, known carcinogens.All three are known to leach out of existing e-waste dumps into drinking water supplies.

__ http://www.theenergycollective.com/energybants/2407383/headed-solar-waste-crisis

China, Japan, Germany, India, and California are among the worst offenders.

Hacking/Disabling Big Wind Turbines Chillingly Easy

Governments have thrown hundreds of $billions into the mandated and subsidised construction of big wind farms — even though the deadly monstrosities could never pay for themselves in a competitive market place. Now we are learning how pathetically easy it is to take the bloody monsters down with a few simple tricks:

“When we started poking around, we were shocked. A simple tumbler lock was all that stood between us and the wind farm control network,” says Staggs. “Once you have access to one of the turbines, it’s game over.”

… The researchers developed three proof-of-concept attacks to demonstrate how hackers could exploit the vulnerable wind farms they infiltrated. One tool they built, called Windshark, simply sent commands to other turbines on the network, disabling them or repeatedly slamming on their brakes to cause wear and damage. Windworm, another piece of malicious software, went further: It used telnet and FTP to spread from one programmable automation controller to another, until it infected all of a wind farm’s computers. A third attack tool, called Windpoison, used a trick called ARP cache poisoning, which exploits how control systems locate and identify components on a network. Windpoison spoofed those addresses to insert itself as a man-in-the-middle in the operators’ communications with the turbines. That would allow hackers to falsify the signals being sent back from the turbines, hiding disruptive attacks from the operators’ systems.

While the Tulsa researchers shut off only a single turbine at a time in their tests, they point out that their methods could easily paralyze an entire wind farm, cutting off as much as hundreds of megawatts of power.
__ https://www.wired.com/story/wind-turbine-hack/

The more deeply dependent societies allow themselves to become on intermittent, indefensible energy sources, the more easily a malicious attack could bring down not only an entire wind farm — but an entire power grid that depended upon those hundreds of megawatts of power to keep from collapsing at that moment of sudden shutdown.

Wind Kills Entire Economies

The massive kills of endangered birds, useful bats, and occasional humans, are readily ignored by the news media. Perhaps worse than destruction of wildlife and habitat by government-subsidised $billionaire wind developers is the littering of priceless landscape as wind turbines break down and become worthless eyesores after a short ten or twenty years of destabilising use as energy sources. Even worse is the inevitable jacking up of electric power prices, often squeezing less affluent customers into choosing between staying warm/cool or being well fed.
More on the green energy scam

Lithium Batteries: Global Race to Dominance

Elon Musk and many others involved in the subsidised energy scam, claim that lithium batteries in automobiles, homes, and elsewhere, will facilitate the economic use of these toxic solar panels and risky/destructive wind turbines. In fact, he has leveraged his personal ownership in SpaceX — his only worthwhile large enterprise — to save his lithium battery-based enterprises. But nobody told Elon that China was stealing a lot of steps on him, and is even now preparing to eat his lunch!

Chinese companies have plans for additional factories with the capacity to pump out more than 120 gigawatt-hours a year by 2021, according to a report published this week by Bloomberg Intelligence. That’s enough to supply batteries for around 1.5 million Tesla Model S vehicles or 13.7 million Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids per year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

By comparison, when completed in 2018, Tesla Inc.’s Gigafactory will crank out up to 35 gigawatt-hours of battery cells annually. __ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-28/china-is-about-to-bury-elon-musk-in-batteries

More

Elon Musk has mortgaged ownership in his good company — SpaceX — to support his bad companies, which are dependent upon government handouts, mandates, subsidies, tax breaks, and protectionist policies for their survival. He had better hope that a more delusional and soft-brained government (like Obama’s) comes to power in the US soon, or he is in trouble.

Wind and Solar are Deathly Toxic to an Abundant Human Future

Big wind and big solar cannot provide safe and reliable electric power for advanced technological societies — unless it is always fully backed up by reliable power generators — and the total backup of one form of generation by another is exorbitantly expensive. Why would any rational society risk its life or death critical infrastructures on unreliable and intermittent energy producers which cannot even provide a “black start” in case of grid shutdown?

These untrustworthy and short-lived technologies destroy economies, landscapes, squander resources, destabilise power grids, kill wildlife, and poison air-water-land.

Big wind and big solar are politically correct “feel good” technologies, which are lauded by most governments, media, school teachers and university professors, and others of a parasitic nature who have never had to work an honest day’s labour in their entire lives. To persons entrapped within verbal prisons, an assertion must be true if an emotionally persuasive verbal argument can be made supporting it. This is particularly true for the modern young, who typically lack critical thinking skills.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the Worst

It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood. The best prophylaxis against an incompetent society is the instilling of a competence-based confidence into as many children and youth as possible. This will require many radical changes to the way things are currently being done — on the part of parents, communities, and larger societies if possible.

Posted in Electrical Power Grid, Energy | Tagged | Leave a comment

How Reality is Like a Circle, and Not Politically Correct

Reality as it is incorporated into the brain is neither tame nor sequential. It is cyclical and wild. The sooner we learn to equip our young to deal with the evolving world as it is — rather than an idealised world of fantasy mongers — the better.

Cross-posted from The Dangerous Child blog

Or Why Lesson 1 and Lesson 15 Must Often Be Taught as One

The minds of infants are ejected into the world with no sequential lesson plan. Immersed in a turbulent cauldron of sensations and ideas — alternately startled, alarmed, and fascinated. Their emotions strained to the breaking point, their newborn powers of reasoning constantly twisted like painful pretzels. Breaking all the proper rules of pedagogy, it is how we all learned as babies, as toddlers, as young children.

There is no step by step, logically sequential plan for growing up and learning how to think and how to live. If we are lucky, we are exposed to a wide range of badly diced, sliced, and mangled lesson plans with no logical connection to each other — which our minds must then try to make sense of. For the most part, tiny brains do amazingly well.

Real Education is More Like a Perpetual Stew Than a 12 Course Meal

Modern school curricula are laid out as logical step by step sequences of knowledge acquisition. Each content module follows another, like building blocks each supporting the next. But some lessons cannot be adequately understood until one first digests the ideas hiding inside lessons that will not come for weeks, months, or years in the future.

The human brain often retains disconnected pieces of poorly formed knowledge fragments long enough to make later connections with other knowledge fragments — which is how baby brains are often able to bootstrap themselves into the mastery of language, movement, pattern, and social connections.

Trying Too Hard to Fit a Sequential Lesson Plan to the Child Will Backfire

Because we cannot see into the minds of small children, we can never really know what has been left out and what has been incorporated in latent form. Wiser persons of experience learn how to probe for knowledge fragments, and how to supplement them with often-useful supplementary concepts and experiences. But there are always missing pieces needing to be supplied, before a satisfying comprehension can emerge.

If we want to make a child’s mind into a rickety and brittle structure — unable to stand up to the inevitable stresses of the real world — we should probably just keep doing what school systems are doing.

Politically Correct Educations are Criminally Incomplete Educations

Teachers who force students to endure politically correct indoctrinations — and who filter all educational materials through the lens of politically correct dogma — are guilty of twisting reality and starving children of crucial concepts and factual information which will be of critical importance at later stages of life. Reality has never been politically correct, and never will be.

Life is Never Fair — Get Used to It!

Because life itself can never be entirely sensitive, equal, or nurturing, every child’s feelings will be hurt. Every child will sooner or later be treated unfairly, or will fall short of others on his own merits — in one area of measurement or another. Children must learn how to deal with the inevitable inequities and injustices of life as early as possible.

The modern approach of attempting to shelter children from scraped elbows or bruised egos is ultimately crippling. Rather than training children to be sensitive to every imagined insult or injustice, a real life education would train them to formulate meaningful goals and to sustain a reasonable focus on those goals — at least until they have learned the lessons the goals were meant to teach, and usually a lot more.

Where other children rank on the infinitude of measurements utilised in schools should be largely irrelevant. Particularly irrelevant are any perceived insults or non-PC attitudes displayed by classmates or others in the child’s environment. It is a waste of time for a goal-oriented child to stop his advancement in order to attempt to bring an insensitive cohort to heel. He should have better things to do, farther places to go.

If You Wait Until College to Teach Them, It Will Be Too Late

In many school systems, classrooms below the college level have become glorified daycare holding cells. Reading and teaching materials are carefully screened and dumbed down to fit with the dominant political themes of the system. Sensitive periods of development come and go without having been primed by the necessary experiences and concepts which would have allowed for a fuller development of body and mind. By the time the child grows to a college aged youth, many of the crucial components of careful and meaningfully creative thought will be missing.

Unfortunately, even in college education today, politically correct constrictions deprive students of vital ideas, facts, and experiences needed before the youth can become a responsible and responsive adult in the real world — as opposed to the incoherent fantasy world which professors and administrators are attempting to build.

You can observe in the video clip below that the absurdity has come full circle, to consume its own:

There may be no better argument for homeschool than the real world environment that one finds on campuses of mainstream politically correct schools — from K thru university.

And So We See the Circularity of Life and Mind

We miss a lot of things the first time around. How can we help it, we are only babies? But we keep coming around again in a cycle — as embodied in the daily sleep-wake cycle, in the cycle of the seasons, and ultimately in the cycle of life we observe in shorter-lived species and in the others of our kind who pass away before us.

But we keep coming around, being given second – third – fifteenth — and hundredth chances to learn more completely what we learned only partially in earlier attempts. And by reading the experiences of many generations of historical figures, communities, and societies, we can experience many cycles of learning by proxy.

Children and youth who are indoctrinated in politically correct or religiously correct mindsets will have many of their mind-windows shuttered and nailed closed. We can see that in the video above, and we can see it in the way that people keep returning to failed ideologies of the past without any insight into their ongoing self-sabotage. In the minds of modern systems of education, it has become anathema to build strong, independent, well rounded minds, capable of deciding things on their own merits without guidance from a central committee’s daily talking points.

Real Life and the Human Brain Are Not Politically Correct

Reality as it is incorporated into the brain is neither tame nor sequential. It is cyclical and wild. The sooner we learn to equip our young to deal with the evolving world as it is — rather than an idealised world of fantasy mongers — the better.

Postscript:

Thoughtful readers may note the sequential nature of verbal language, and the many incompatibilities between verbal language and human thinking. If we are limited in our thinking by verbal language, then many of our deepest insights will be limited to the worlds of dream, trance, and induced stupour. For those of us — perhaps most of us — who have been cursed to a lifetime of language dependency, it is a limitation which we must constantly struggle to surmount.

Useful tools such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be of immense help in this effort. It must be acknowledged that CBT itself is terribly language-constrained. But even so, it can allow liberation from many of the unfortunate bindings that bad use of language places on many of us.

Posted in Childhood Development, Education | Tagged | 6 Comments

This’ll Kill Ya: They’re Coming For Your Electric Power

Up to 90% of the inhabitants of advanced nations would die within one year, if all electrical power were lost.

No, I Am Not Talking About Electromagnetic Pulse

Area Affected by Nuclear EMP According to Altitude of Blast


Although both North Korea and Iran are steadily working to build the capability to “put the lights out” in all the infidel nations using any means necessary.

Dr. Peter Pry, a member of the Congressional EMP Commission and executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, said during testimony that the issue is urgent because an EMP event could wide out nine-tenths of the nation’s population. __ Source

But the loss of the continental power grid by any cause could lead to the same dire outcome.

No, I Am Not Talking About CyberAttack


Although both China and Russia are working feverishly to develop the means to shut down any power grid on the globe, should it serve their goals. The collapse of power grids by cyber attack is possible and would lead to many of the same deadly outcomes as collapse by EMP.

A Stable Power System is Vital to any Advanced Nation

A stable power system is one that continuously responds and compensates for power/ frequency disturbances, and completes the required adjustments within an acceptable timeframe to adequately compensate for the power/frequency disturbances. __ Source

Who Needs EMP and CyberAttack When They Have These?

Reliable, Affordable Electricity is a Life or Death Matter

Sure, they kill bats and birds, break down years before their time, make deep maddening noises that drive any humans close by to distraction, and are apt to burst unpredictably into flames. But those problems do not even hint at the life or death threat posed by big wind developments and their cousins big solar.

Why Are Big Wind and Big Solar a Deadly Threat to Humans?

Reliable and affordable power is the life’s blood of any modern society. As long as electric power remains reliable, affordable, and abundant, the wheels of society can keep rolling. Without electric power, as many as 90% of the inhabitants of the advanced nations of Europe and the Anglosphere would die within one year. Up to half of Americans living in cities could die after just two weeks without any power in the national power grids. According to a poll linked above:

Almost 50% of the people who were polled said they would not be able to survive for more than 2 weeks without the electricity. An astonishing 75% of them said they would be dead within two months.

The grid collapse events above are of a sudden and catastrophic nature. But a grid collapse that creeps up gradually behind a media and governmental smokescreen can be equally deadly to large portions of a modern population. Our societies are built upon a foundation of electrical machines, lights, and appliances. Any persons or movements which threaten the reliability, affordability, and supply of electrical power represent deadly threats to that society’s existence.

What Makes a Reliable Power Grid?

Voltage and frequency define a modern grid supply. Both must be kept within close margins of stability, but frequency in particular must be tightly controlled. If one does not understand these basic concepts, he has no chance of understanding the life or death issues of energy policies and the relative merits of large energy supplies of various kinds.

For a power supply system to be stable it is necessary to control the frequency. Control systems continuously observe the frequency, and the rate of change of the frequency. The systems control generator outputs up or down to restore the frequency to the target window. An also as a backup, other control systems measure the frequency and rate of change of frequency and carry out staged load shedding to help restore the frequency to the target window.

Of course energy imbalances of varying size are occurring all the time. Every moment of every day the load is continuously changing, generally following a daily load curve. These changes tend to be gradual and lead to a small rate of change of frequency. Now and then however faults occur. Maybe a whole city is disconnected instantly removing say 50 MW from the grid. Or maybe a generator trips off removing say 100 MW of generation. A power system has to cope with these changes too. The rate of change of frequency in these cases is far higher. These events require a fast response (within a few seconds) if the deviation is to be corrected before system collapse. If the system can cope with the range of disturbances thrown at it, it is described as ‘stable’. If it cannot cope with the disturbances it is described as ‘unstable’. __ Energy Balance and Grid Stability

When large and unpredictable load changes occur, grid supplies and connections must be able to respond very quickly, or the entire grid can collapse. In the face of this innate unpredictability with its threat of potentially catastrophic grid instability, an intelligent observer would expect policymakers to try to increase the robust resilience of the power system and to reduce as many unpredictable threats to grid stability as they can.

Instead, government policy-makers are ramping up unpredictability and potential instability in power grids too quickly for utilities and technological innovation to compensate.

It is the assertion of most professional power engineers who keep the grids operational for a living, that grid penetration of unpredictable energy sources such as big wind and big solar can not be allowed to exceed 20% — else grids will grow unstable, risking collapse. But Germany is aiming for a renewables grid penetration of 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Renewable advocate Mark Jacobson of Stanford University is on record claiming that a 100% grid penetration by renewables can be both affordable and reliable. Who is right, and who is headed for disaster?

The Debate: 100% Renewables Pro or Con?

On the face of it, it makes no sense to expect unreliable intermittent sources of energy to be able to match unpredictable changes in demand. But wind/solar activist professor Jacobson makes a bold try at “making water flow uphill.”

Mark Jacobson’s 2015 paper in PNAS claims an affordable and reliable path to 100% renewable energy supply. Jacobson made a large number of questionable assumptions in asserting what would seem (to anyone who knows anything about power grids) impossible.

But a recent 2017 PNAS examination of Jacobson’s paper by more careful investigators reveals some startling weaknesses and outright falsehoods contained within the Stanford energy activist’s paper. Once again, we see how activism and science do not mix well in a free society.

The new paper concludes that the prior study is based upon significant modeling inadequacies, is “poorly executed” and contains “numerous shortcomings” and “errors” making it “unreliable as a guide about the likely cost, technical reliability, or feasibility of a 100% wind, solar and hydroelectric power system.”

Additionally the new paper harshly chastises the previous study by noting “It is one thing to explore the potential use of technologies in a clearly caveated hypothetical analysis; it is quite another to claim that a model using these technologies at an unprecedented scale conclusively shows the feasibility and reliability of the modeled energy system implemented by midcentury.”

The new paper describes in detail many flaws and failures of the prior study to address and appropriately deal with critical electric system reliability requirements… __ WUWT

More on the recent PNAS expose of Mark Jacobson’s shenanigans from Brian Wang

Grid Stability: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Generation

Conventional power generators driven by coal, nuclear, and natural gas turbines add stability to the electrical grid because they operate synchronously with grid power. This provides near-instantaneous frequency control. But synchronous generators can also be “governed” to adjust the energy input and thereby control frequency.

Synchronous generators are controllable by governors which monitor system frequency and adjust prime mover input to bring correction to frequency movements. Asynchronous generators are typically used in applications where the energy source is not controllable, eg: wind turbines. These generators cannot respond to frequency movements representing a system energy imbalance. They are instead a cause of energy imbalance.

… Synchronous machines provide stability under power system imbalances because the kinetic energy of their rotors (and prime movers) is locked in synchronism with the grid through the magnetic field between the rotor and the stator. __ Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Generators

More on this:

Conventional generation has characteristics that support the stability and operation of the grid. They have inertial mass and spin in synchronism with the wave forms powering the system while readily providing voltage and frequency support. The grid was built upon and depends on the characteristics associated with large rotating machines. __ https://judithcurry.com/2016/01/06/renewables-and-grid-reliability/

Big wind and big solar have no similar grid support mechanism, nor could they. This means that the more wind and solar that is thrown slapdash onto the grid, the more unstable it becomes.

You Cannot Control the Wind or the Sun

One of the many fatal flaws of wind and solar energy in the context of large electrical grids is that energy output is erratic, and not available on demand (not dispatchable). A patient in an intensive care bed on a ventilator and computer controlled intravenous pump cannot wait around for the wind to blow or the sun to come up high enough to provide energy. In a modern society, high quality – affordable – reliable – abundant electric power must be available at the flip of a switch.

What is less well known is that erratic and quickly changing power inputs fed into the grid create constant mini-instabilities which must be solved on a moment to moment basis. Failure to solve these constant mini-crises of wildly fluctuating intermittency can lead to destruction of customers’ sensitive equipment and in some cases to grid collapse.

South Australia: Poster Boy for Green Disaster

South Australia — like California and Germany — is at the forefront of the government-mandated intermittent energy experiment. Predictably, prices are high and reliability is low. South Australia has pushed grid instability to the point of failure, risking the economic livelihoods of its residents on a technology that cannot perform as advertised.

Produce supplier Tony Belperia said supermarkets were already suffering from “ridiculous” power increases and were losing thousands in blackouts.

“When power goes out in supermarkets, you’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars,” he said.

“Once it goes out over 24 hours, you start throwing your stock out, such as ice creams and frozen stuff.

“We supply [produce] locally, all the country areas, as far as Coober Pedy and all the way to Mount Gambier. Everyone reckons it’s a joke about this power.

“What are the governments doing about it? Nothing. They’re just sitting back.” __ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-09/south-australians-blackouts-costing-businesses-money/8255086

Will hospitals have to start throwing out their critically ill patients in the same way that grocers are throwing out their spoiled frozen goods? It may be just a matter of time.

We should get used to hearing more stories such as the above from Australia, Germany, California, and the other green delusional jurisdictions who never seem to learn. Spain and Denmark have stepped back a bit from the disastrous government mandates that threatened their economies. Other governments apparently have harder heads, and will need to be concussed by reality in far more forceful ways.

http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/germanys-green-energy-destabilizing-electric-grids/

We’re Gonna Need A Lot More Guillotines!

It is government policy that is driving power grids into instability and collapse. Thus it is government policy-makers who are responsible for the carnage that is coming.

First we see higher prices and economic hardship, along with brownouts and blackouts. Then businesses and employers begin moving away in hopes of finding greener energy pastures to graze. With higher unemployment and lower incomes, hard times set to in earnest. Perishable items — including foods, medicines, vaccines, and even people — are thrown onto the rubbish heap in greater numbers due to the inability to power the equipment that had previously kept them fresh and viable.

When the axe falls onto the back of society, who will remember the government policies that led to such problems, and the many activists who cheered on the deadly changes?

We’re gonna need a lot more guillotines.

Reading:

Renewables and grid reliability

Balance and the Grid

https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/renewable-energy-the-question-of-capacity/

Wind Power Chaos Promises to Deliver Mass Summer Blackouts Across Australia

Comparing Costs of Intermittent and Dispatchable Generation: Why Popular Cost Comparisons Fail Badly

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/339365-doe-grid-study-has-wind-and-solar-lobbyists-spooked

http://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2017/06/25/wind_powers_future_in_us_could_be_thwarted_by_grassroots_opposition_110238.html

Shocker: Government mandated trillions in global renewable investment tally

It is the unpredictable occurrences that set the collapse in motion. When government officials go out of the way to make the life-or-death power grid more vulnerable to unexpected events, they set themselves up for culpability of mass murder on an unprecedented scale.

Without Heavy Government Subsidies, Unreliables are Doomed

… in the markets where governments reduced generous financial support for solar, wind and electric vehicles, sales have plummeted. New European solar installations dropped by one-third in 2016 as several countries reduced high prices for purchased power.

… An end to heavy subsidies and mandates might not cause the near-disappearance of these industries as in the past, but some serious retrenchment is a real possibility and it’s puzzling that so many are treating that as impossible. __ Michael Lynch

Natural gas cleanest and most versatile form of energy, next to advanced nuclear.

Advanced societies cannot survive without abundant, affordable, reliable electric power — the cleaner the better. That is why advanced nuclear and natural gas should receive the lion’s share of backing, and why the unreliables should be ejected post haste.

Posted in Electrical Power Grid, Energy, Green Quagmire | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Even in Gas-Rich USA, Nuclear Energy is the Future

Nuclear demand is high where air pollution is at its worst and where economic activity is fast and furious — in Asia generally, and in China and India in particular… China and India are building half of the 60 new reactors under construction worldwide, according to Andrew Paterson of Verdigris Capital Group, which studies nuclear. __ Inside Sources

Populous Asian nations China and India are currently leading in the global race to install new nuclear power plants. Japan is in the middle of restarting its nuclear plants after a temporary post-Fukushima shutdown for maintenance and upgrades. US nuclear construction is currently stalled while its abundant deposits of cheap natural gas are being utilised for electric power generation. And most of Europe is fearfully retreating from nuclear power, even while it eagerly welcomes a much greater threat in the form of human time bombs from the third world.

Despite the temporary slowdown of new US nuclear power plant construction, in the long run there is no substitute for nuclear energy in a modern and prosperous society. In a free society, technology development never stops.

The United States is on the frontier, pioneering a generation of wholly new reactor concepts, mostly for small modular reactors and even big new reactors.

Source

We know that big wind and big solar are unreliable and intermittent. Now we should also understand that there is no such thing as affordable big wind and solar. And there never will be, no matter how good batteries eventually become.

Eventually the supplies of oil, gas, coal, and other hydrocarbons will become too expensive to burn. Whether that deadline occurs in ten years or two hundred years, improvements in nuclear reactor design will continue to be made. Newer reactors are becoming safer, cleaner, more efficient, more affordable, more reliable, better at “load following,” more versatile for CHP (combined heat and power), and more scalable. Within the next few decades — even if hydrocarbon fuels remain abundant — advancing nuclear technologies will gradually crowd older technologies out of most power applications.

Nuclear Energy is Already Reliable, High Quality, Safe, and Clean

The average wind turbine you see along the highway turns out 2 megawatts of electricity when there is wind, a trifling amount compared to the 1,600 megawatts a new nuclear plant produces continuously — and probably will produce for 100 years before it is retired.

Asia, choking on air pollution and with huge growth, needs nuclear. America is not gasping for new generation: demand is static and there is a natural gas glut… But U.S. nuclear creativity, even genius, will not rest. The United States is on the frontier, pioneering a generation of wholly new reactor concepts, mostly for small modular reactors and even big new reactors, which may first be built in China and India but, like so much else, will be “thought up in America.” __ http://www.insidesources.com/nuclear-booms-asia-new-reactor-ideas-flourish-u-s/

Image Source

Energy Densities: Orders of Magnitude

The following table from Wikipedia (Specific Energy) reveals why nuclear fission and fusion will power advanced human societies on Earth and beyond, for tens and hundreds of thousands of years:

105 2.16 NiMH rechargeable batteries
6.12 Lead acid car batteries
6.3 Li-ion watch batteries
106
107 1.6 Wood fuel
1.7 Protein (about 4 nutritional calories per gram)[1]
Carbohydrates (about 4 nutritional calories per gram)[2]
2.5 Ethanol
2.9 Alcohol (about 7 nutritional calories per gram)
3.8 Fat (about 9 nutritional calories per gram)[3]
4.4 Petrol (gasoline)[4]
6.249 Specific kinetic energy required to escape the Earth’s gravity from its surface.
108 1.2 Hydrogen
109
1010
1011
1012
1013 8.6 Nuclear fission: natural uranium in fast breeder reactor
1014 5.76 Nuclear fusion: deuterium-tritium
1015
1016 ~8.9876 Matter-antimatter annihilation: indeterminate matter and antimatter

Nuclear fission and fusion have the capacity to cleanly power advanced human societies into the indefinite future — on planet and off.

New nuclear plants are likely to produce high levels of clean, reliable, affordable power for over 100 years. The components in the best wind and solar plants, for example, lose efficiency and begin to break down in less than ten years. The most modern electric storage batteries begin to lose efficiency within a few years.

When contrasted with intermittent and unreliable forms of energy such as wind and solar, nuclear comes out far and away the winner on all counts. By abandoning newer, safer, more efficient nuclear reactors, most of Europe — and California — are walking down a road leading to energy and economic suicide.

The $2.5 trillion scandal you will never read about or hear about in the mainstream skankstream

Gen IV reactors are being designed for higher efficiency, less waste, greater safety, etc.

Generation IV reactor designs under development by GIF

neutron spectrum
(fast/ thermal)
coolant temperature
(°C)
pressure* fuel fuel cycle size(s)
(MWe)
uses
Gas-cooled fast reactors
fast
helium
850
high
U-238 +
closed, on site
1200
electricity
& hydrogen
Lead-cooled fast reactors
fast
lead or Pb-Bi
480-570
low
U-238 +
closed, regional
20-180**
300-1200
600-1000
electricity
& hydrogen
Molten salt fast reactors
fast
fluoride salts
700-800
low
UF in salt
closed
1000
electricity
& hydrogen
Molten salt reactor – Advanced High-temperature reactors thermal fluoride salts 750-1000 UO2 particles in prism open 1000-1500 hydrogen
Sodium-cooled fast reactors
fast
sodium
500-550
low
U-238 & MOX
closed
50-150
600-1500
electricity
Supercritical water-cooled reactors
thermal or fast
water
510-625
very high
UO2
open (thermal)
closed (fast)
300-700
1000-1500
electricity
Very high temperature gas reactors
thermal
helium
900-1000
high
UO2
prism or pebbles
open
250-300
hydrogen
& electricity

* high = 7-15 MPa
+ = with some U-235 or Pu-239
** ‘battery’ model with long cassette core life (15-20 yr) or replaceable reactor module.

Paradoxically, new nuclear technologies may help bring about a new age of hydrocarbons. But rather than burning most of them in combustion engines, most will likely be used for other purposes such as plastics, fertilisers, lubricants, and similar higher value commodities requiring organic feedstocks.

More

New Reactors:


More —

Light water uranium reactor vs. Molten Salt Thorium Reactor

Comparisons of efficiency and nuclear waste remaining:

Posted in Energy, Nuclear Power | Tagged | 11 Comments

Astounding Ghost Towers of Shanghai

A dangerous proportion of China’s vaunted GDP is based upon capital misallocation, overproduction, and “broken window” style investments. The “demolish and build” cycle so prominent in many Chinese cities is only one case in point.

The era of economic reform and openness that Deng Xiaoping launched in 1978 was built on a foundation of gradual liberalization at home and greater openness to the outside world… All of China’s growth now is achieved through mobilizing more money and labor, not improvements in human capital or technology. It now takes three times as much capital to generate a single unit of economic growth as it did in 2008. The result is an explosion of debt that now accounts for at least 280 percent of GDP, and could break through the 300 percent mark by year’s end. __ Source

PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft MediaUK Office, London.T +44 845 370 2233W http://www.barcroftmedia.comUSA Office, New York City.T +1 212 796 2458W http://www.barcroftusa.comIndian Office, Delhi.T +91 11 4053 2429W http://www.barcroftindia.com (Photo credit: Feature China / Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Human “Monkey Brains” are Easily Impressed by Size and Glitter

Beneath its glossy exterior, ghostly troubles haunt the daunting Shanghai skyline. Only 20% of office space is actually occupied. So while Shanghai’s skyline paints an impressive facade of China to the world’s gullible, a deepening problem of “ghost tower architecture” spreads outward from Shanghai to other Chinese cities.

For two decades, Shanghai’s skyline has symbolized China’s economic renaissance and modernization. That’s by intention. In 1991, the local government held a competition to design a signature business district on the riverfront. The winning proposal included three supertall buildings intended to represent the rise of Shanghai’s financial district — and of China more broadly.

… The only problem? Finding people to work there: Only 60 percent of Shanghai Tower is rented out, and only a third of current tenants have actually occupied their leased space. __ Bloomberg View

Other cities have followed Shanghai’s “skyscraper facade” model, and are beginning to suffer from the same ghostly after effects. Back in the 1990s, China was booming and flush with foreign direct investments, technology transfers from the west, and an export bonanza that simply would not quit. Now, everything has changed. Today’s Chinese skyscraper boom is built on an entirely new economic model, which is quite unsustainable.

Beware the “skyscraper curse”

Famed capital manager Kyle Bass says: “I don’t know how they can hold this all together. The numbers are telling me that we are right. The numbers are getting so bad so quickly.”

Some 46 percent of the 500-foot-plus buildings under construction in the world are in China, partly spurred by local governments keen to emulate Shanghai’s skyline (just as the Shanghai government once hoped). In recent years, seemingly every aspirational Chinese city has followed the same model of highly concentrated downtowns topped by massive towers.

Yet for all its symbolic value, that model is almost certainly obsolete — and the Chinese cities of the future are likely to look very different.

One reason is that China’s breakneck urbanization is creating cities that sprawl further than ever, leading to long commutes, reduced well-being and economic inefficiency. __ BV

Since 2008, China has suffered significant losses of exports, foreign direct investments, and legitimate technology transfer from the west. Foreign owned factories are moving from China to Mexico and to friendlier countries in Asia. China’s economy has hinged on massive stimulus, local government driven city sprawl, shadow loans, and a massive indebtedness that is eating away at the pillar of corrupt state-owned enterprises.

Even China’s current diminished economic growth is largely an illusion, created by government policies and maneuvers which in the long run will have devastating effects on the lives of the Chinese people.

… the country’s economic growth has slowed considerably, and that changes the dynamics.

Worries about China’s economy are prompting companies and families to send their money out of the country for investment or safekeeping. If the Chinese central bank did nothing, the net outflow of money would cause the renminbi to weaken against the dollar. __ NYT

China is faking its economic numbers

Trouble with China’s European trade partners

How the China Boom became the China Bubble

Toxic China shadow banking threatens Canadian banking system

Many otherwise intelligent observers and analysts have become caught up in the excitement of the China boom –> bubble. But after all this time and turbulence, wise readers will have at least become sensibly sceptical and thoughtfully contrarian about China. Potemkin skyscrapers are no longer enough for intelligent brains — even for human monkey brains.

The “China Bubble” phenomenon still has a ways to go before most of Europe, the Anglosphere, and the free nations of East Asia wise up. But when things go “pop!”, those who “hoped for the best but prepared for the worst” will be feeling a good deal better than those with monkey brains who failed to read the portents.

Posted in China | Tagged

For the Good of the Species: Older Men Mating with Younger Babes

Re-published from the “Al Fin, You Sexy Thing!” blog

Research published in PNAS reveals that the sperm of older men tends to have longer telomeres, conferring an advantage in longevity to offspring.

Dr Dan Eisenberg and colleagues from the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University studied telomere inheritance in a group of young people living in the Philippines.

Telomeres, measured in blood samples, were longer in individuals whose fathers were older when they were born.

The telomere lengthening seen with each year that the men delayed fatherhood was equal to the yearly shortening of telomere length that occurs in middle-aged adults.

Telomere lengthening was even greater if the child’s paternal grandfather had also been older when he became a father.

…Inheriting longer telomeres will be particularly beneficial for tissues and biological functions that involve rapid cell growth and turnover – such as the immune system, gut and skin – the scientists believe.

And it could have significant implications for general population health.

“As paternal ancestors delay reproduction, longer telomere length will be passed to offspring, which could allow lifespan to be extended as populations survive to reproduce at older ages.” _BBC

Here’s more from an earlier Stanford study:

It turns out that older men chasing younger women contributes to human longevity and the survival of the species, according to new findings by researchers at Stanford and the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Evolutionary theory says that individuals should die of old age when their reproductive lives are complete, generally by age 55 in humans, according to demographer Cedric Puleston, a doctoral candidate in biological sciences at Stanford. But the fatherhood of a small number of older men is enough to postpone the date with death because natural selection fights life-shortening mutations until the species is finished reproducing. _Stanford

This makes a certain amount of evolutionary sense. If humans stop reproducing around the age of 40 or 45, there is no particular reason that longevity-promoting genes would be passed on to future generations at a higher rate than anti-longevity genes.

We know that women lose fertility fairly rapidly after the age of 35. A woman’s overall energy levels and ability to keep up with a young child also decline with age.

Women in their twenties have a good chance of becoming pregnant as a result of a relatively greater number of eggs in their ovaries. Additionally, a larger percentage of those eggs are normal genetically. Since a woman is born with all of the eggs that they will have in their lifetime, the older she gets the fewer eggs are left. In addition, as women age the percentage of genetically normal eggs remaining decreases. This is why women have a decreasing fertility rate, increased miscarriage rate and increased chance of birth defects like Down syndrome as they age. _Female Age and Fertility

Older Sperm and Younger Eggs?

Scientists have learned that in more traditional hunter-gatherer societies, the older man / younger woman pairing was most common, with a typical age difference of up to 15 years. And for good reason: The younger the eggs, the longer the telomeres!

Starting at puberty, there is a hierarchy with long-telomered oocytes ovulating first [14, 15]. This contrasts with the constantly high telomerase levels in the testes, which ensure lifelong telomere length stability in male germ cells per generation [6, 7].

… the widely known strong positive correlation between the mother’s age at conception and trisomic pregnancies (e.g. Down’s syndrome) [18] seems to be a clear indication of telomere erosion in the female germline [7], and even more so since the father being of an advanced age does not increase the incidence of chromosomally abnormal offspring, despite lifelong germ cell divisions [18]. __ Molecular Cytogenetics

In other words, the younger the eggs the better. As for the age of the testicles, sperm from older and more vital men is likely to have longer telomeres due to a temporary sidestepping of the steady shortening in human telomeres generation by generation — which is located in the female germline. By skipping more generations of this female-based decline of the human telomere, older and more vital male sperm confers advantages of various sorts — many of which have yet to be investigated.

For those especially curious about the likely mechanisms for this effect, consult the Molecular Cytogenetics paper linked just above. I suspect that the author of that paper has hit upon the likeliest explanation.

Other Advantages of Older Man – Younger Woman Pairings

In modern times, older men capable of attracting younger women are more likely to be able to provide an economic advantage to offspring — in addition to the pro-longevity advantages. A more affluent mate can provide more assistance and a greater sense of security, which young mothers often need. The relative maturity and greater experience of the older man compared to the younger woman can provide the wisdom of a longer time perspective for the family as well.

Future Fertility Methods Should Improve

Eventually, scientists will be able to select both sperm and eggs which confer life extending advantages — and many other benefits — to offspring. Until then, it might be best to follow the proven evolutionary path. At least, Donald Trump and a large number of other men seem to think so. 😉

PNAS Paper: Delayed paternal age of reproduction in humans is associated with longer telomeres across two generations of descendants

Posted in Biomedicine, Sex | Tagged

Emerging Ghost Malls, Hotels, Office Buildings and Cities of Africa

We usually think of China when contemplating “ghost cities” and other ghost real estate properties. But the Chinese propensity to build infrastructure far in advance of actual demand is not limited to the Middle Kingdom. The Chinese Communist Party wants to open the world to the construction of ghost infrastructure by Chinese economic consortiums. Africa has been one of the first overseas test platforms for this “Chinese economic pressure relief valve,” but it will not be the last.

Chinese Ghost Infrastructure Rushes Into Kenya

Observers now warn of overbuilding. Nairobi is a traffic-clogged city, with sprawling slums where most of 4 million population lives. Too many high-end developments are being built for the number of high and middle-income consumers that exist.

Too much new office space in Kenya last year hurt rental prices and occupancy rates, according to Knight Frank’s 2017 Africa Report. The report notes that this was exacerbated somewhat by the departure of oil multinationals like Shell and Chevron over the last few years, and the exodus of expatriates. Prime residential prices also fell. Retail space took longer to let; mall merchants reported sales declines as high as 60%.

Economist David Ndii from the Nairobi-based Africa Economics warns that the real estate market might be glutted and that this could be “a case of investors chasing their own tails.” __ Chinese-built Ghost Skyscrapers and Malls Submerge Kenyan Markets

It is not the problem of Chinese developers when real estate supply overwhelms real estate demand. That is a problem for the host country — whether in Africa or in any other country that buys into the global Chinese push to build infrastructure.

In Africa, Chinese developers have often used the “natural resources in exchange for infrastructure” business model. When worked properly, Chinese developers walk away with their profits. African nations are usually left with infrastructure that they cannot properly maintain or operate.

Lessons of Kilamba, Angola

Kilamba, Angola
Source


Between 2008 and 2011, Chinese development company CITIC built an empty city for 500,000 people on the outskirts of Luanda. Christened Kilamba by the Angolan government, apartments were promptly priced too high to sell. Two years later, the Angolan dictator ordered prices to be lowered. Subsequently, the occupancy rate for Kilamba rose from near 0% to around 20%. But the journey from “ghost city” to development success has been very rocky and is nowhere near the halfway point. Consider:

Now in 2014, there are indeed many people living Kilamba, but there, and in other similar developments, the issue is that basics like running water and electricity remain elusive. I saw pictures just last week of women queuing with buckets at communal taps.

Several journalists have continued to report on the trials and tribulations of Kilamba, though mostly in Portuguese, so perhaps the stories have not been seen as widely as the early pieces with the “ghost town” headlines. __ In Comments Here

In China, ghost cities are often used as “investment markers” by absentee owners eager to protect their wealth in an economy where they are not allowed to invest freely overseas. With their investment options severely limited, putting money in real estate — even ghost real estate — seems better than hiding it under the mattress.

In Africa, a Chinese-built ghost city looks better than almost any other existing place to live — at least in the city’s early years before decay, infrastructure breakdown, and slum-building have had a chance to fully emerge. The government was forced into lowering rents and prices to below profitability, for political purposes. And occupancies do indeed rise. But no political edicts can stop the inevitable onset of widespread decay.

Africans Have Little Understanding of Maintenance

All technology requires maintenance. When technology is not maintained, it eventually stops working as designed. This is a problem everywhere, but particularly in third world countries — especially Africa.

White rule in South Africa ended in 1994. It was about ten years later that power outages began, which eventually reached crisis proportions. The principle reason for this is simply lack of maintenance on the generating equipment. Maintenance is future-oriented, and the Zulu entry in the dictionary for it is ondla, which means: “1. Nourish, rear; bring up; 2. Keep an eye on; watch (your crop).” In short, there is no such thing as maintenance in Zulu thought, and it would be hard to argue that this is wholly unrelated to the fact that when people throughout Africa say “nothing works,” it is only [a slight] exaggeration.
_Gedaliah Braun, “How Africans May Differ From Westerners”

More

The abysmal decay of foreign-built infrastructure for lack of maintenance is a common problem across sub Saharan Africa. It makes no difference whether the railways, electrical power infrastructures, or high rise constructions were built by the Chinese, Europeans, or Americans. The inevitable onset of decay from lack of proper operation methods and routine maintenance leads quickly to breakdown and the need for replacement.

The sickening collapse of Zimbabwe and the accelerating decline of South Africa highlight the difficulty of Africans to maintain infrastructures of all kinds. After China gets the natural resources it wants from Africa, it too will leave the dark continent to its own decay.

More: Why China must expand its infrastructure bubble to as much of the world as it can — someone has to finance all the dysfunctional domestic spending and bad debt.

What Chinese Cash Has Done to Venezuela . . . This kind of Chinese roadkill is likely to grow more common worldwide as China’s debt mountain global diplomacy expands.

As for Africa, it is in a race against time, and losing. African populations are bursting the seams, pouring into African cities and beyond. Ghost cities can certainly be built in Africa by the Chinese, but they will soon be crime-ridden slums of broken down hopes and infrastructures.

As Africa’s workers seek better opportunities, they are flocking to cities faster than those cities can absorb them, leading to the proliferation of slums in urban areas and a flood of illegal migration to the West. As the demand for education, health care, and other public services continues to grow, social pressures will continue to mount. And without economic security, some young people will resort to illegal activities, or fall prey to extremist groups exploiting their desperation. __ https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/automation-africa-industrialization-by-brahima-coulibaly-2017-06

Posted in Africa, China, Maintenance | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Why College Students & Recent Grads Can’t Think

Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging

. From a report:

At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years. Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.

__ Colleges Fail to Teach Thinking Skills

More here and here

Thinking Skills Improvement by University


There is an excellent reason why today’s college students never learn to think in all their years of higher education: They are never taught to think. Why not? In the first place, teaching students to think is not a priority for the faculty, staff, and administration of most universities. Secondly, most faculty members themselves never learned to think — so they could not teach students those skills even if they wanted to.

Faculty Members Can’t Think

Sadly, studies of higher education demonstrate three disturbing, but hardly novel, facts:

Most college faculty at all levels lack a substantive concept of critical thinking.

Most college faculty don’t realize that they lack a substantive concept of critical thinking, believe that they sufficiently understand it, and assume they are already teaching students it.

Lecture, rote memorization, and (largely ineffective) short-term study habits are still the norm in college instruction and learning today.

These three facts, taken together, represent serious obstacles to essential, long-term institutional change, for only when administrative and faculty leaders grasp the nature, implications, and power of a robust concept of critical thinking — as well as gain insight into the negative implications of its absence — are they able to orchestrate effective professional development. __ Critical Thinking

You may be surprised to learn that small, relatively unknown colleges often succeed far better at teaching students to think than many larger and more prestigious schools.

At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.

Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum. __ Tax Prof Blog

If They Haven’t Learned to Think Before College, Too Bad

Children and youth should have been taught thinking skills long before reaching college age. Teaching thinking skills to college students should probably be thought of as remedial education — and it is typically left out of the curriculum.

Critical thinking, like other higher-order skills, gets crowded out in college courses that try to cover as much of the subject matter as possible. In the large introductory courses, with the largest number of students per class, students devote instructional time to a wide range of topics because no one wants to leave anything out. That forces the students into a breakneck pace that leaves little time for anything more than learning the vocabulary of the discipline — vocabulary that mostly gets forgotten just after the final exam. If critical thinking is addressed at all, it tends to be tacked onto the core content in a manner that everyone can tell is contrived. Students might be invited to reflect on potentially interesting topics, but few will do so without meaningful feedback and some kind of credit toward a good grade. __ https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/11/29/roadblocks-better-critical-thinking-skills-are-embedded-college-experience-essay

And — once again — faculty members themselves tend to not have a clear idea what critical thinking is and how to teach it:

Though the overwhelming majority of faculty claimed critical thinking to be a primary objective of their instruction (89%), only a small minority could give a clear explanation of what critical thinking is (19%). Furthermore, according to their answers, only 9% of the respondents were clearly teaching for critical thinking on a typical day in class.

Though the overwhelming majority (78%) claimed that their students lacked appropriate intellectual standards (to use in assessing their thinking), and 73% considered that students learning to assess their own work was of primary importance, only a very small minority (8%) could enumerate any intellectual criteria or standards they required of students or could give an intelligible explanation of those criteria and standards.

While 50% of those interviewed said that they explicitly distinguish critical thinking skills from traits, only 8% were able to provide a clear conception of the critical thinking skills they thought were most important for their students to develop. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority (75%) provided either minimal or vague allusion (33%) or no illusion at all (42%) to intellectual traits of mind.

Although the majority (67%) said that their concept of critical thinking is largely explicit in their thinking, only 19% could elaborate on their concept of thinking.

Although the vast majority (89%) stated that critical thinking was of primary importance to their instruction, 77% of the respondents had little, limited or no conception of how to reconcile content coverage with the fostering of critical thinking.

Although the overwhelming majority (81%) felt that their department’s graduates develop a good or high level of critical thinking ability while in their program, only 20% said that their departments had a shared approach to critical thinking, and only 9% were able to clearly articulate how they would assess the extent to which a faculty member was or was not fostering critical thinking. The remaining respondents had a limited conception or no conception at all of how to do this.
__ Critical Thinking

College students are typically considered to be the leaders of the future. They will certainly be tomorrow’s journalists, politicians, academicians, and political activists.

They will be tomorrow’s voters. If they cannot think, they can have no perspective on world and national events. They will increasingly be prey to political hucksters such as Corbyn, Obama, and Sanders. They will be doomed to repeat the fatal mistakes of recent history, because they never learned the lessons — and would not be able to connect the dots even had they memorised the historical facts.

Demographic decline takes many forms. Dysgenic decline occurs when higher-IQ populations have far fewer children than lower-IQ populations — both internationally and within a nation’s borders. This phenomenon is clear to see when comparing birthrates of sub Saharan Africa with birthrates in East Asia, Europe, and the Anglosphere. Another source of dysgenic decline is when low-IQ immigrants from the third world pour into traditionally higher-IQ countries — such as what is happening inside Europe, Russia, and most of the Anglosphere.

But demographic decline also occurs when higher-IQ populations are immersed in dysfunctional ideologies. The prominence of the climate apocalypse cult, for example, across much of Europe and the Anglosphere, exposes an ideological self-immolation by populations that have marinated too long in a dumbed-down educational environment and a degraded popular culture. They cannot think, so they are easily led from one artificial hysteria to another by dysfunctional systems of media, education, and government.

Instead of helping students to think for themselves, modern colleges and universities seem committed to stamping out any sparks of original thought that students may once have had.

Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate the connection between evidence and potential conclusions. It is the ability to make logically sound judgments, identify assumptions and alternatives, ask relevant questions, and to be fair and open-minded when evaluating the strength of arguments. __ Inside Higher Ed

It does no good to have the genetic ability to learn to think when one never utilises his genetic complement.

Hope for the Best. Prepare for the Worst

The Dangerous Child Method is the perfect antidote to the engineered obsolescence of the modern western mind. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood. But no one can be forced into being a Dangerous Child, whatever his age. It is an informed choice, made by people who learned to think.

More: Within the mental void left by the absence of critical thinking, rampant anxiety and deluded thought streams abound.

Posted in Education, Groupthink, University | Tagged | 4 Comments

On the Verge of an AI-pocalypse?

For 70 years we have been told that we are on the verge of a machine apocalypse — the near-total replacement of humans by machines across society. But the gap between the reality and the hype remains wide.

Artificial Intelligence: Failed Early Predictions

In the 1950s and 1960s, computing pioneers were convinced that humans were on the brink of the emergence of revolutionary “thinking machines.” Smart computers would design smarter computers, and so on, until machine intelligence would eclipse the intelligence of humans.

In the 1960s, pioneers in artificial intelligence made grand claims that AI systems would surpass human intelligence before the end of the 20th century. Except for beating the world chess champion in 1997, none of the other predictions have come true. __ http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/micai.pdf


Research in artificial intelligence has been able to provide a number of technological breakthroughs in isolated areas, but the quest to create a machine of human level intelligence across a wide range of problems continues to run into significant obstacles.

Now, as Moore’s Law seems to be starting some sort of long goodbye, a couple of themes are dominating discussions of computing’s future. One centers on quantum computers and stupendous feats of decryption, genome analysis, and drug development. The other, more interesting vision is of machines that have something like human cognition. They will be our intellectual partners in solving some of the great medical, technical, and scientific problems confronting humanity. And their thinking may share some of the fantastic and maddening beauty, unpredictability, irrationality, intuition, obsessiveness, and creative ferment of our own. __ IEEE Spectrum: Can We Copy the Brain?

Researchers are being led to an imitation of nature, motivated by opportunism combined with frustration over past failures.

The Return of AI Giddiness in the 21st Century

The failure to achieve “artificial general intelligence,” or human level intelligence, has not stopped 21st century researchers from continuing to pursue the holy grail of the great machine ascendancy. Consider the recent special issue of the IEEE Spectrum, an international journal for electrical engineers, which examines how machines might become intelligent by imitating or “recreating” the human brain:

Karlheinz Meier of Heidelberg University describes various approaches to computer imitation of the human brain — including his own research efforts — in the article linked below:

Copying brain operation in electronics may actually be more feasible than it seems at first glance. It turns out the energy cost of creating an electric potential in a synapse is about 10 femtojoules (10-15 joules). The gate of a metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) transistor that is considerably larger and more energy hungry than those used in state-of-the-art CPUs requires just 0.5 fJ to charge. A synaptic transmission is therefore equivalent to the charging of at least 20 transistors. What’s more, on the device level, biological and electronic circuits are not that different. So, in principle, we should be able to build structures like synapses and neurons from transistors and wire them up to make an artificial brain that wouldn’t consume an egregious amount of energy. __ Imitating the Brain with Electronics

The brighter theorists in AI are no longer discussing “intelligent algorithms,” but are rather pursuing the “supra-algorithmic space” in which human brains operate. But they have not quite located the level of salience within the brain’s cognitive operations. But they are trying very hard.

Jeff Hawkins of Numenta describes his own multidisciplinary approach to the problem in the article linked below:

The solution is finally coming within reach. It will emerge from the intersection of two major pursuits: the reverse engineering of the brain and the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. Over the next 20 years, these two pursuits will combine to usher in a new epoch of intelligent machines.

The neocortex stores these patterns [of perception] primarily by forming new synapses. This storage enables you to recognize faces and places when you see them again, and also recall them from your memory. For example, when you think of your friend’s face, a pattern of neural firing occurs in the neocortex that is similar to the one that occurs when you are actually seeing your friend’s face.

While it is true that today’s AI techniques reference neuroscience, they use an overly simplified neuron model, one that omits essential features of real neurons, and they are connected in ways that do not reflect the reality of our brain’s complex architecture. These differences are many, and they matter. They are why AI today may be good at labeling images or recognizing spoken words but is not able to reason, plan, and act in creative ways.

__ Jeff Hawkins in IEEE Spectrum

AI is Not Ready to Tackle the Human Brain as a Whole

Even the rat brain is currently too much of a challenge. At this time it is all that neuroscientists can do to comprehensively map 1 cubic mm of a rat’s brain.

That may not sound like much, but that tiny cube contains about 50,000 neurons connected to one another at about 500 million junctures called synapses. The researchers hope that a clear view of all those connections will allow them to discover the neural “circuits” that are activated when the visual cortex is hard at work. The project requires specialized brain imaging that shows individual neurons with nanometer-level resolution, which has never before been attempted for a brain chunk of this size. __ “http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/imaging/ai-designers-find-inspiration-in-rat-brains”

Think about that for a moment: The 5 year, $100 million project is hard-put to thoroughly understand 1 cubic mm of rat visual cortex! Not only that, they are looking at a “static” map which can only be computer modeled — not actually observed in action as it works within the living creature going about its natural life.

Some Differences Between Brains and Electronic Machines

The grand pioneer of information theory, Claude Shannon, was quoted in 1961 as saying:

…I believe that… there is very little similarity between the methods of operation of [present-day] computers and the brain. Some of the apparent differences are the following. In the first place, the wiring and circuitry of the computers are extremely precise and methodical. A single incorrect connection will generally cause errors and malfunctioning. The connections in the brain appear, at least locally, to be rather random, and even large numbers of malfunctioning parts do not cause complete breakdown of the system. In the second place, computers work on a generally serial basis, doing one small operation at a time. The nervous system, on the other hand, appears to be more of a parallel-type computer with a large fraction of neurons active at any given time. In the third place, it may be pointed out that most computers are either digital or analog. The nervous system seems to have a complex mixture of both representations of data.

These and other arguments suggest that efficient machines for such problems as pattern recognition, language translation, and so on, may require a different type of computer than any we have today. It is my feeling that this computer will be so organized that single components do not carry out simple, easily described functions. One cannot say that this transistor is used for this purpose, but rather that this group of components together performs such and such function. If this is true, the design of such a computer may lead us into something very difficult for humans to invent and something that requires very penetrating insights… I know of very few devices in existence which exhibit this property of diffusion of function over many components… __ http://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/global-catastrophic-risks/potential-risks-advanced-artificial-intelligence/what-should-we-learn-past-ai-forecasts

Computing has advanced since Shannon’s day, but the essence of many of his reservations holds true. Neural nets, fuzzy logic, genetic algorithms, and many other clever approaches to overcoming the limits of digital computing algorithms are still not bringing us close to human level AI.

Some specific challenges of imitating the brain:

Traditionally, neurons were viewed as units that collect thousands of inputs, transform them computationally, and then send signals downstream to other neurons via connections called synapses. But it turns out that this model is too simplistic; surprising computational power exists in every part of the system. Even a single synapse contains hundreds of different protein types having complex interactions. It’s a molecular computer in its own right.

And there are hundreds of different types of neurons, each performing a special role in the neural circuitry. Most neurons communicate through physical contact, so they grow long skinny branches to find the right partner. Signals move along these branches via a chain of amplifiers. Ion pumps keep the neuron’s cell membrane charged, like a battery. Signals travel as short sharp changes of voltage, called spikes, which ripple down the membrane.

The power of the brain goes beyond its internal connections, and includes its ability to communicate with other brains. Some animals form swarms or social groups, but only humans form deep hierarchies. This penchant, more than any unique cognitive ability, enables us to dominate the planet and construct objects of exquisite complexity. __ http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/in-the-future-machines-will-borrow-our-brains-best-tricks by Fred Rothganger of Sandia National Labs

More from the IEEE Spectrum special edition:

Could We Build an Artificial Brain Now? No, but . . .

Deep Learning via Neuromorphic Chips

Navigating Using Artificial Rat Brains

Can We Quantify Machine “Consciousness?”

Human Level AI “Right Around the Corner?”

AI Optimists Were Wrong 60 Years Ago

Are their predictions more accurate now? Ray Kurzweil predicts human level AI by 2029. Jurgen Schmidhuber of the Swiss AI Labs predicts human level AI “soon.” Jeff Hawkins expects it to take 20 years. Psychology prof Gary Marcus of NYU predicts such machines within 20 to 50 years. Most other “experts” are more cautious in their predictions.

Minds are not Like Computers

Early AI researchers imagined that they were devising algorithmic “thinking machines” which worked in closely analogous manner to how minds work — in essence if not in substance. But that optimistic idea (to them) fell by the wayside.

Few researchers now have the goal of devising a single method that will by itself give rise to a thinking machine; instead, typical research projects attempt to tackle small subsystems of intelligence. The hypothesis, again, is that the separability of the mind into layers implies that each layer, like a computer system, is composed of distinct modules that can be studied and replicated independently. Among those researchers whose ultimate goal is still to create a truly thinking machine, the hope is that, when the subsystems become sufficiently advanced, they can be joined together to create a mind. __ Why Minds are Not Like Computers

It is likely that those researchers who wish to create individual working components of thinking minds — then join them together to achieve human level AI — are barking up the wrong tree. Such an approach may well create “brain prostheses” which can be implanted to “replace” damaged brain components. But enough of the original brain must remain to coordinate activity and compensate for the shortcomings of the artificial prosthetic devices.

Those theorists who drone on about creating a “thinking algorithm” are even more completely deluded as to the nature of human cognition. And those who believe that assembling a large enough conglomerate of computing devices will result in a thinking machine, are most deluded of all.

By examining the basic misconceptions of AI researchers, it becomes easier to understand why the research has become so fragmented, specialised, and diverging. No single approach — or simple combination of approaches — is achieving what is desired. And so, unfortunately, $billions of dollars and many of the best human minds are sent on wild goose chases in search of a holy grail that cannot be found on the level of thinking which is being utilised.

We will continue to reap significant benefits from this research, of course. But anyone who is well informed in the multiple disciplines of neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, computing, and information theory cannot help but be frustrated by the failure of both the researchers themselves — and the funding agencies — to see beyond the fumbling levels of thought currently being utilised. This is particularly true for any such person with even a milligram of intuition or lateral thinking skill.

All of the cutting edge repositories of modern technological wealth — including Amazon, Google, Apple, IBM, etc. — are in pursuit of the holy grail of machine intelligence. The rewards of winning such a race are incalculable, particularly if human-level AI quickly morphs into superhuman-level AI.

But to this point none of the published approaches seem to have overcome the theoretical limitations pointed out by so many AI sceptics over the past several decades.

While AI may not “stink” as badly as it did for many years, it can still be labeled “malodorous” in comparison to the many claims still being made by its enthusiasts. AI is likely to remain in the category of subservient “human helpers” for many decades to come.

The Age of Machines Has Not Been Canceled

At the same time, the steady replacement of human workers by machines — which started thousands of years ago and was accelerated in the industrial revolution — shows no sign of slowing down in the modern age of advanced computing.

Humans must therefore develop great flexibility of mind and body if they are to avoid becoming underskilled dependents of the steadily encroaching “age of machines.” It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood.

More:

Deep Neural Nets: Someone needs to tell the writers of this type of article that such computing devices can no longer be properly referred to as “algorithmic.” Training algorithms are utilised, but that is also true for training humans. The actual functioning devices — neural nets or human brains — do not utilise algorithms to complete their tasks in any meaningful sense of the word. The use of the word to describe non-algorithmic mechanisms betrays the lack of relevant vocabulary for what is on the way.

Posted in Human Brain, Machine Intelligence | Tagged | 2 Comments

The 3 Empires of the 21st Century

World Map
Fate of Empires?


Just over 100 years ago at the dawn of the 20th century, the world was awash in empires. Once strong empires such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Tsarist Russian Empire, The British Empire, The German Empire, The Qing dynasty of China, and other miscellaneous European colonial empires were in decline, and doomed to fall. Soon, horrific world wars and bloody wars of colonial revolution dotted the globe, putting an end to the most recent age of empire for the most part. Even the strong and budding US empire closed its own era of territorial acquisitions, and eventually turned over most its populous overseas possessions and protectorates to self-rule (e.g. Philippines) or the option of self rule (e.g. Puerto Rico).

Since World War II and the Bretton Woods agreement, the US has provided an umbrella of protection over Europe, the Anglosphere, and the world’s oceans, trade routes, and resource centres such as Saudi Arabia. A subsequent explosion of global trade has allowed nations such as Germany, Japan, China, and to some extent Russia, to emerge into prosperity from devastating wars and experiments with ideological suicide.

The 3 Empires of Today

Now in the early decades of the 21st century, 2 new empires — the Russian neo-empire and the Chinese Communist Empire — vie for influence and domination in a world where the USA appears to be backing away and entering a stage of retrenchment. The result is one empire that is voluntarily stepping back (the USA), one empire that is making a grand gesture of indebtedness to “have it all” (CCP and its ambitious new Silk Road), and one empire that is using every desperate measure just to hold itself together in its ghostly self-image (neo-imperial Russia).

Each empire is nuclear armed and capable of dominating most of its own region. Only the USA is still capable of force projection over virtually the entire globe at a moment’s notice. But China is moving forward frantically in an attempt to make itself the “global pivot.”

Where is Europe?

Europe was, for a time, the centre of global empire. But after the cruel bloodletting of the 19th and 20th centuries, the human substrate of Europe has been in decay.

Now under the EU, most of Europe has made itself into an egregiously effeminate example of autophagy — a foppish continent devouring itself. Even before Angela Merkel unilaterally opened Europe to the destructive, untrainable hordes of the violent third world, the demographic decline of Europe was essentially set in stone.

Europe was already becoming an increasingly seedy retirement home for for the fearfully entitled, long before Merkel embraced energy suicide (Energiewende and the nuclear phaseout) and demographic suicide (the admission of millions of violent and unassimilable third worlders). But after Merkel’s fateful and unutterably stupid decisions, Europe has no chance — unless the EU is obliterated and a strong, new, rational generation of national leadership emerges in Europe.

Unfortunately, given the ongoing population collapse of indigenous Europeans, the future of the “old countries” is grim.

Where is Japan?

In the 1920s and 1930s, Japan was in ascendancy, seemingly destined for a central position among the world’s leading nations. World War II put an end to those Nipponese dreams. But once again in the 1980s Japan seemed to be destined for global greatness. Its manufacturing might and prowess in robotics and computing projected an intimidating image over Europe and North America. But economic overreach and mismanagement stalled Japan’s late 20th century move to greatness. Finally, the demographics of Japan point toward population collapse, as in Europe.

What are the Prospects for Today’s 3 Empires?

Most empires fail in less than a century. Few survive for longer than 250 years.

Economically, the US dominates — by GDP, and by several other measures. China is in second place and may eventually match the US raw GDP numbers due to its massive population. Russia’s economy has been in trouble now for over eight years, and has been forced to cut back on many projects which will make its neo-imperial ambitions far more difficult to accomplish.

If the US does not enmesh itself in the EU’s mutual suicide pact of energy, climate, economic, and immigration stupidity, it will face a relatively prosperous future.

If China’s economy does not implode — and if China’s people do not rebel against a governmental system that fails to keep its end of the bargain — China is likely to expand its area of economic and political dominance over ever larger parts of the third world as well as the Russian Far East.

For economic and demographic reasons, Russia will be lucky to avoid significant fragmentation and loss of territory before 2040. Since the Kremlin is also aware of this ominous likelihood, expect ever more destructive flailings from the neo-empire, similar to Crimea, Donbass, and Syria.

Informed speculation on the near-future geopolitical scene:

Peter Zeihan on "The New President & the World: Challenges & Opportunities" from McConnell Center on Vimeo.

Peter Zeihan 2016 interview

The US global empire is over 200 years old, and showing many signs of age — but also some signs of self-renewal. Just a few clever decisions made at top levels now can set a course change that will renew the US for decades — even centuries — longer.

The Chinese Communist empire is less than 70 years old, and already shows many troubling cracks about the walls and foundations. The video above exposes many of China’s weaknesses and problems which most readers will not have considered.

Neo-imperial Russia is less than 30 years old, and if not for its vast nuclear missile fleet would be considered on a par with Saudi Arabia as an energy resource hub. A shrinking number of ethnic Russians will struggle increasingly to hold the vast and loose collection of nations and states together by whatever means they can under the flag of Muscovy.

Posted in China, Empire, Europe, Peter Zeihan, Russia | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Importance of Versatility

A Dangerous Child will master at least three means of financial independence by the age of 18 years. And that is just the beginning. Dangerous Children continue to learn and master new skills and competencies their entire lives, in order to be able to ride the shifting currents of creative destruction in the larger world.

Versatility in Thinking is Just as Important

Being able to thrive financially is important for adults of all ages from 18 to 108. Just as important is the ability to adapt to new ideas and ways of thinking, as we gain experience.

If we indoctrinate the young person in an elaborate set of fixed beliefs, we are ensuring his early obsolescence. [It is important to] develop skills, attitudes, habits of mind and the kinds of knowledge and understanding that will be the instruments of continuous change and growth on the part of the young person. __ Chapter 3 in Self-Renewal by John W. Gardner

The Dangerous Child movement grew from the realisation that if humans are ever to move beyond the current levels of thinking and living, that a better — more competent and self-aware — substrate of humanity is needed.

Albert Einstein understood that humans needed to move to different levels of thinking in order to solve many new problems which were cropping up.

The world we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them. __ Albert Einstein quoted in Des MacHale, Wisdom (London, 2002)

The above quote is often phrased: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” (Goodreads) .

It is safe to say that most people rarely contemplate the different levels of thought which they — and others — may use in the course of making plans, solving problems, and working through their days.

It is unfair to expect everyone to be able to change their ways of thinking, at whatever point in their lives they have reached. But children are something else, and Dangerous Children are something else yet again.

While ordinary and extraordinary children will inevitably think somewhat differently from their parents, Dangerous Children are trained specially to be flexible and versatile thinkers and doers.

The versatility of thinking displayed by Dangerous Children goes far beyond their broad base of skills, competence, and resourcefulness in the practical world. Dangerous Children are flexible thinkers, and are trained to review key assumptions in their thinking and planning at regular intervals. This is necessary because much will have been experienced by the child directly and indirectly over time, which may induce him to modify some of his basic assumptions. He must have a sound and effective way of making whatever changes are necessary in his conscious (and sometimes unconscious) foundations of thought and action.

Habits Rule us All

The specialist is more susceptible to falling into the rut of rote responses to stimuli, over time, due to the limited scope of problems he typically faces. Generalists must necessarily be more flexible, since they face a wider range of problems.

But even generalists can be forced into rote patterns of thought and response. That is why periodic reviews of personal and professional axioms, premises, and assumptions are necessary.

Habits are good insofar as they allow us to function productively in a more efficient way — freeing us up for greater achievement and enjoyment. But habits must be questioned from time to time, and changed as necessary.

The Dangerous Child is Usually a Mixture of Specialist and Generalist

In human societies there is no reason whatever why specialists should not retain the capacity to function as generalists. __ John W. Gardner in Self-Renewal

We are born into generalism and must function as generalists as we learn to walk, talk, read, and get along with others. Dangerous Children are immersed much more deeply into versatile generalism in the course of developing their broad base of skills and competencies. But many Dangerous Children will launch themselves from the springboard of early financial independence into more specialised careers and businesses — until they are ready to move on to something more challenging.

Modern human societies are based upon the specialisation of labour, and would not be nearly as prosperous without it. But specialists too often find themselves out on a limb as times change, and the world seems to move forward and leave their now-obsolete specialty behind. For the individual as for society as a whole, versatility is crucial.

The above is Co-posted on The Dangerous Child blog

Posted in careers, Competence, Dangerous Child | Tagged | 1 Comment

Is “Image” Really Everything?

Note: In an age when most of mainstream international media is united in prosecuting an “image war” against an unconventional but accomplished US president — using unnamed sources, innuendo, and all the weapons of propaganda — we must remember the difference between unsupported speculation and documented fact. “The map is not the territory.” The model is not the climate. The news story is only about creating an image, and has nothing to do with reality. We are living in a superficial and chimerical age of popular delusion.

The following article is re-published from The Dangerous Child blog.

Children Deserve Better than “Image is Everything”

Image is Everything


Remember when tennis legend Andre Agassi was the poster child for “pretty-boy losers?” No matter how many times he said “Image is Everything,” his perfect image still lost tennis matches. Only after devoting himself to the hard work of becoming a better tennis player was he able to escape the “image trap” and develop the master inside of himself.

Agassi After Being Hit by Reality

Although the popular culture of celebrities is all about the fantasy life, the “image is everything” life, the real world only has room for so many celebrities and artificial role models. For most people, a successful life would be better achieved through facing reality head on.

Genuine Self vs. Fantasy Self

Dangerous Children cannot be owned or made by anyone but themselves. Becoming a Dangerous Child is hard — but playful — work. The art of personal unfolding and self-realisation, which all Dangerous Children must undergo, leads naturally into a deliberate and self-guided ascent up the mountain to becoming a genuine — as opposed to fantasy — self. Genuine selves are aware that they are fallible, with faults and weaknesses. It is this awareness which allows genuine persons to push themselves to grow.

Mainstream society, on the other hand, encourages conformity, dependency, and fantasy as ways to escape difficult challenges and personal responsibility.

Because the main goal [of the fantasy self] is the attainment of glory, he becomes uninterested in the process of learning, of doing, or of gaining step by step — indeed, tends to scorn it. He does not want to climb a mountain; he wants to be on the peak. Hence he loses the sense of what evolution or growth means, even though he may talk about it. Because, finally, the creation of the idealized self is possible only only at the expense of truth about himself, its actualization requires further distortions of the truth, imagination being a willing servant to this end. Thereby, to a greater or lesser extent, he loses in the process his interest in truth, and the sense for what is true and what is not true — a loss that, among others, accounts for his difficulty in distinguishing between genuine feelings, beliefs, strivings and their artificial equivalents (unconscious pretenses) in himself and in others. The emphasis shifts from being to appearing. __ “Human Growth” by Karen Horney

It is easy to recognise the modern perpetual adolescent in Karen Horney‘s description above. Today’s university student may spend years exploring college coursework before finding a field of study which does not require too much exertion. Because they had always been told how “special” and “smart” they were, and how they could accomplish anything at all to which they set their minds — and because they had never learned how to work or to discipline themselves — today’s generations of psychological neotenates find themselves at a loss. As they move out of the respective wombs of their childhood homes and artificial school environments, they become aware that the world that awaits them may not place as high a value on their abilities as they do themselves.

Limit Early Exposure to Supernatural Fantasies

Since very young minds are exquisitely impressionable to all ideas — no matter how unrealistic or absurd — Dangerous Children are not exposed to the concept of superheroes or perfect humans until they have acquired the character and self-discipline they need to teach and guide themselves through the difficult process of self-discovery. They must avoid groupthink and become natural independent contrarians.

In the young years, teaching the child to love working hard to achieve his own goals should take precedence over any religious concepts of “perfection through faith” or other ideas that could easily be taken as magical by very young minds. Children must grow from the stage where everything is done for them to later stages where they are able to do more and more for themselves and eventually for their own families. “Magical solutions to real problems” can become lifelong impediments to a child’s development of personal competence.

For this reason, Dangerous Children spend most of their early years experimenting and discovering their interests and aptitudes, developing grit and character (executive functions), and in establishing footholds for future learning and self-teaching. This is all done in a playful context, allowing for plentiful serendipity, but within a deliberate framework.

Modern Culture is a Cesspool of Mindless Fantasy

And this is why so many college graduates and college dropouts cannot pay their student loans, and are forced to live in their parents’ basements or garage bedrooms. This is why young men who should be working and starting families spend their lives playing video games, watching internet porn, and living in fantasy worlds imagining themselves as superheroes and superstuds.

When the early years are frittered away on television comics and fantasy tales, invaluable time is lost which should have been spent developing basic foundations of competence and character. When children are handed over to institutions run by persons who have no real interest in the child’s development of a genuine self — but prefer instead to mold the child into a groupthinking zombie mind to make things easy on the institution — opportunities for developing personal competence and individual mastery of aptitudes and skills are squandered.

Today’s Youth are Disappointed In Reality, but Helpless to Make Things Better

Because most modern youth have been pampered, sheltered, made to feel special even when they are not, and are never given meaningful foundations for learning, self-teaching, or common sense — they are apt to have trouble finding a place for themselves. Their genuine selves were never developed, so they are left with fantasy selves and overactive imaginations necessarily disconnected from reality.

The modern world is evolving rapidly as a result of disruptive innovations in science and technology. In addition, the foundations of modern societies are being eroded by unwise energy policies (green energy scams), scientific hoaxes perpetrated by political activists (climate apocalypse cult), suicidal debt levels, and a dysgenic undertow that threatens to carry everything away.

Modern youth have never been prepared for such a world of increasingly precarious foundations. They have not even been prepared for a normal world of real-life expectations. But this world? It is an impossible situation for them.

And So the Need for Raising Dangerous, Self-Teaching Children, Who Love Hard Work

The perfect is the enemy of the good. And the perfect — the Platonic ideal — does not exist in the real world. Dangerous Children understand this, and are taught early to learn the shade-tree engineer’s approach of optimising, rather than perfecting.

The real world is where things get done and where there is money to be made — as opposed to government, organised crime, and academia where there is money to be stolen and stripped away from the productive world of work and enterprise.

Dangerous Children Teach Themselves Money Skills and Entrepreneurship and Much More

There are dozens of $billionaire college dropouts and thousands of millionaires who never went to college or dropped out to participate in the real world. They are largely self-taught. Self-Teaching for Ordinary Adults

The Dangerous Child movement is about more than building a strong personal base of operations. It is about building a competent society, one Dangerous Child at a time. Dangerous Children go on to network with other Dangerous Children to form Dangerous Communities, and networked Dangerous Communities. As these networks of competent communities proliferate, they provide a safe redundancy for the larger society in case of disaster or catastrophe. If worse comes to worse, networked Dangerous Communities can provide the nuclei for a more robust, resilient, and anti-fragile society to come.

An abundant and expansive human future of free people is only possible if children grow into their genuine selves, rather than into the fantasy selves which today’s degenerate societies seem to prefer. Genuine selves will not accept the claims of media, academicians, or politicians without actual proof to back them up. The world is in desperate need of more “genuine selves” as opposed to fantasy selves.

Image is not nothing, but it is far from everything. It is only a bare beginning for further work and investigation.

Posted in Childhood Development, Competence, Dangerous Child, Education | Tagged | 1 Comment

How to Think Better

1. Understand deeply
2. Make mistakes
3. Raise questions
4. Follow the flow of ideas
5. Change
__ Burger and Starbird, quoted here

Note: The following article is adapted from a piece previously published on The Dangerous Child blog

How to Think
PDF Essay: Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz

Thinking is a set of skills we learned at a very young age, in an automatic and mostly unconscious manner. We cannot remember how we learned to think the way we do, and so we are stuck with a large number of thinking “tics and foibles” that we might be better off without. This is unfortunate for us, and even the most intelligent of us must often struggle to compensate for our sub-optimal set of thinking skills.

If we started at the beginning, we could provide a better path to deep, powerful, and independent thinking for our children — if we only took the time and trouble to discover how. First, we need to learn to think better for ourselves. Then we can do a better job setting the stage for our Dangerous Children, in their adventures in thought and learning.

How Does One Learn How to Think (Better)?

If you do an internet search query: “How to Think,” the search engine response is likely to contain a large number of links to websites telling you how to think in particular ways. “How to think critically,” “How to think creatively,” “How to think logically,” etc. It can be difficult to find information on “how to think” in general.

Even so, some websites provide bits of interesting advice that may help youth and adults to think more effectively, within conventional boundaries. For example:

Thinking is something that happens naturally in each individual, but there are ways to deepen your thinking abilities. It takes time and practice to become a better thinker, but it’s a process you can hone all your life. Being a better thinker and keeping your mind sharp can help your mental and physical health in the long run!
__ More: How to Think

When I applied for my faculty job at the MIT Media Lab, I had to write a teaching statement. One of the things I proposed was to teach a class called “How to Think,” which would focus on how to be creative, thoughtful, and powerful in a world where problems are extremely complex, targets are continuously moving, and our brains often seem like nodes of enormous networks that constantly reconfigure. In the process of thinking about this, I composed 10 rules, which I sometimes share with students. I’ve listed them here, followed by some practical advice on implementation.

__ https://www.technologyreview.com/s/409043/how-to-think/

Every magazine trumpets the latest discoveries about how to be more physically fit.

But enhancing your thinking skills? Enriching your mind management skills? Not many articles about that. __ https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/05/29/thinking-about-how-to-think/

The short articles linked above contain some useful tips for improving one’s thinking skills. But even the most unconventional suggestions are still quite conventional. If we are to help to liberate the minds of future generations of Dangerous Children, we will need to unleash our own minds in some radical ways.

Making Radical Improvements in Thinking is Difficult (but not impossible) After a Certain Age

Edward De Bono, who introduced the idea of Lateral Thinking, has devoted his life to helping adults to think in more powerful, profound, and playful ways. He has been largely successful, but with only a surprisingly limited audience.
Full book catalog

De Bono has written a book on teaching children how to think. The slide presentation below provides a quick introduction to the ideas in Teach Your Child How to Think.

We should keep in mind that thinking is a set of interlocking skills and processes, which work behind the scenes in most adults in an almost wholly unconscious manner. These skills were developed from a very early age, beginning in the womb. They were automatically bootstrapped onto the rapidly developing neural substrate of the developing fetus, neonate, and infant. The process of thinking skills acquisition continues in childhood, is knocked off the tracks in puberty, and settles more or less in place by early adulthood.

If you want your Dangerous Child to have the most powerful and independent mind he can have, certain approaches to child nurturing and child raising will work better than others. If a parent or caretaker waits until college age — or even high school age — to provide an environment conducive to developing thinking skills, it will be much too late.

Teaching a Child to Think is Teaching Him to Be

The Dangerous Child Method is based upon the development of creative skills in movement, language, music, art, and pattern. Because the foundations of these skills are built long before the child can walk, talk, and meaningfully converse — even before birth — the approach to guiding Dangerous Child development in skills competency (including thinking skills) must take a primarily nonverbal form.

By developing the latent patterns of space, time, language, music, and motion, the Dangerous Child is prepared for a fuller range of possible skills when his brain moves through the sensitive periods of development in childhood.

For a very young child, there is no difference between thinking and being. It is only later that he learns to deceive, and create a secret inner life. It is crucial to facilitate the development of powerful thinking skills in the formative years, before the child begins to feel the strong tug of popular, nonsense culture.

Children are Born Creative

It is not necessary to teach a child to be creative. Rather, it is necessary to restrain yourself from destroying the child’s innate creativity. Some discipline is always necessary, since the child’s basic needs must be met in spite of the turbulent impulses and inner demands that most children are prey to.

Give the child a wide range of opportunities to experiment and exercise his creativity. Children begin to reveal their aptitudes and inclinations from an early point in their existence. Look for particular strengths which can be utilised for growth, and look for particular weaknesses which will need to be either eliminated or compensated for.

At each state of development, the process of developing new thinking skills will evolve and take different forms — building on older skills and integrating themselves, new into old.

Coaches Must Understand How New Thinking Skills Fit In

Some skills, such as music, art, motion, and language, seem to progress in a logical fashion, with occasional large jumps in skills and comprehension from plateau to plateau. The toddler is not so different from the olympic athlete, for example, in basic neuromuscular function. The development from one to the other is a matter of qualitative refinement and quantitative progression over time — and entirely plausible.

The development of a world class mathematician or theoretical physicist from a babbling infant is a little more difficult to conceive, but the basic ingredients are all there. Most infants who have the latent potential to be productive mathematicians or theoretical physicists will never develop into those professions, for many reasons.

One of the reasons for such a failure to evolve is that the necessary early forms of pattern experimentation and exploration were never attempted. Another reason for failure of latent physicists and mathematicians to develop is lack of interest or motivation. And so the tools for personal evolution (thinking skills and executive functions) were not provided at the needed time — usually long before parents even have an inkling that any useful skills of such a nature exist.

Children must be nurtured, but allowed to experiment and fail. They must be supported, but also taught to develop natural skills of hard work and independence. They must be valued, but not be led to see themselves as the centre of the universe.

Eventually the child will teach himself to bootstrap his own thinking skill sets. The real world will provide plenty of challenges against which to test himself and his unique approach to thinking.

Why today’s college students still can’t think

Afterword: From birth, Dangerous Children are provided strong foundations in music, art, movement, language, and pattern, according to the child’s age and stages of development. This is in preparation for “the great divergence” in learning which occurs as children take up more and more of the responsibility for their own learning.

Thinking skills are both conscious and unconscious, and underlie the basic foundational skills above. Whatever the child’s level of intelligence, whatever his inclinations and strengths, he will benefit from thinking skills training in conjunction with executive function training.

Note: Thinking skills evolve over time, in layers which interact. Providing ample clear and clean experiences in a loving and playful context over a wide range of categories — from language to music to movement to textures, colours, and patterns — will give newborns, infants, and toddlers plenty of grain and grist for the mill. If you follow the techniques used to teach children to teach themselves, soon they will take on more and more of their training — including thinking skills training.

For adults who want to learn to think better, consider these tips:

1. Synthesize new ideas constantly. Never read passively. Annotate, model, think, and synthesize while you read, even when you’re reading what you conceive to be introductory stuff. That way, you will always aim towards understanding things at a resolution fine enough for you to be creative.

2. Learn how to learn (rapidly). One of the most important talents for the 21st century is the ability to learn almost anything instantly, so cultivate this talent. Be able to rapidly prototype ideas. Know how your brain works. (I often need a 20-minute power nap after loading a lot into my brain, followed by half a cup of coffee. Knowing how my brain operates enables me to use it well.)

3. Work backward from your goal. Or else you may never get there. If you work forward, you may invent something profound–or you might not. If you work backward, then you have at least directed your efforts at something important to you.

4. Always have a long-term plan. Even if you change it every day. The act of making the plan alone is worth it. And even if you revise it often, you’re guaranteed to be learning something.

5. Make contingency maps. Draw all the things you need to do on a big piece of paper, and find out which things depend on other things. Then, find the things that are not dependent on anything but have the most dependents, and finish them first.

6. Collaborate.

7. Make your mistakes quickly. You may mess things up on the first try, but do it fast, and then move on. Document what led to the error so that you learn what to recognize, and then move on. Get the mistakes out of the way. As Shakespeare put it, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

8. As you develop skills, write up best-practices protocols. That way, when you return to something you’ve done, you can make it routine. Instinctualize conscious control.

9. Document everything obsessively. If you don’t record it, it may never have an impact on the world. Much of creativity is learning how to see things properly. Most profound scientific discoveries are surprises. But if you don’t document and digest every observation and learn to trust your eyes, then you will not know when you have seen a surprise.

10. Keep it simple. If it looks like something hard to engineer, it probably is. If you can spend two days thinking of ways to make it 10 times simpler, do it. It will work better, be more reliable, and have a bigger impact on the world. And learn, if only to know what has failed before. Remember the old saying, “Six months in the lab can save an afternoon in the library.” __ https://www.technologyreview.com/s/409043/how-to-think/

The better one learns to think, the more obvious are the modern attempts to bamboozle by media, academics, government bureaucrats, attorneys, advertising, and the hordes of academically lobotomised psychological neotenates roaming the landscape.

Be wary about your use of and appeal to authority. Don’t rely on other people’s opinions, even if they seem to know what they are talking about. Check facts, look at alternate viewpoints. If you see holes in their arguments or reasoning, look into it. Don’t ever just stop looking into something just because an authority figure (like the news, or your professor, or your senator). Now, if a variety of independent sources are making the same argument or claim, it’s more likely that it is true.
Practice a healthy skepticism about what you uncover. Make sure that you find information that is corroborated by more than one source (it’s best to look for independent sources). Look into who is making the claims (are they subsidized by big oil companies, do they have a stake in propagating misinformation, do they simply have no idea what they’re talking about?).
Try new things and get outside your comfort zone. The more you do this, the easier it will be to look at opinions and ideas that don’t immediately conform to your worldview. It will also introduce you to ideas that you would never have encountered. So try out a cooking class, or learn to knit, or get interested in amateur astronomy.
__ http://www.wikihow.com/Think

Always continue to sharpen your skills at detecting scams and con jobs by persons high and low.

How to Lie With Statistics A classic sourcebook on common statistical fallacies used to deceive, free for reading or download at archive.org.

The Works of Edward de Bono

Useful for learning math concepts: A Mind for Numbers

The more skillful and knowledgeable about thinking the adult, the better for guiding their Dangerous Child in his thinking evolution. The weakminded will never make the transition to The Next Level. But that is no reason for the rest of us to lag behind.

More:

Potemkin University: Where Not to Go to Learn to Think

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/why-information-matters

Posted in Cognition, Creativity, Dangerous Child, Human Brain | Tagged