Beyond Crime and Punishment

Future Positive Timothy Wilken, MD writes: In our present world, it is widely believed that mistakes are the result of badness. So when mistakes occur, we investigate, blame and punish. This belief has resulted in a world where violence, hate and judgment are common.

Synergic science reveals that mistakes are in fact the result of ignorance. If we understand this, then when a mistake occurs, we would analyze, determine responsibility, and educate. This could soon lead to a world where public safety, love and compassion are common.

We can never know all there is to know about anything — this is a fundamental ‘law’ of Nature. This is in fact is the only cause of mistakes.

Ignorance is the word that best describes the human condition. Alfred Korzybski explained this condition scientifically as the Principle of Non-Allness. By this he meant that we humans make all of our decisions with incomplete and imperfect knowing. We make every choice without all the information.

All humans live and act in state of ignorance. Korzybski felt that developing an awareness of this ‘law’ of Nature was so fundamentally important to all humans, that he developed a lesson especially for children. Korzybski would explain:

“Children, today we want to learn ALL about the apple.”

He would place an apple in view of the children, “Do you children know about the apple?”

“I do!”, “I do!”, “Yes, I know about apples!”

“Good” Korzybski moved to the blackboard. , “Come, tell me about the apple?”

“The Apple is a fruit.”, “The apple is red.”, “The apple grows on a tree.”

Korzybski would begin to list the characteristics described by the children on the blackboard.

The children continued, “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away.”

Korzybski continued listing the children’s answers until they run out of ideas, then he would ask, “Is that ALL we can say about the apple?

When the children answered in the affirmative, Korzybski would remove his pocket-knife and cut the apple in half, passing the parts among the children.

“Now, children can we say more about the apple?

“The apple smells good.” “The juices are sweet.” “The apple has seeds.” “Its pulp is white.” “Mother makes apple pie.

Finally when the children had again run out of answers, Korzybski would ask, “Now, is that all-we can say about the apple?” When the children agreed that it was all that could be said, he would again go into his pocket only this time he removed a ten power magnifying lens and passed it to the children. The children would examine the apple, and again respond:

“The apple pulp has a pattern and a structure.” “The skin of the apple has pores.” “The leaves have fuzz on them.” “The seeds have coats.”

Thus Korzybski would teach the children the lesson of Non-ALLness.

Now we could continue to examine the apple—with a light microscope, x-ray crystallography, and eventually the electron microscope. We would continue to discover more to say about the apple. However, we can never know ALL there is to know about anything in Nature. We humans have the power to know about Nature, but not to know ALL.

Knowing is without limit, but knowing is not total. Universe is our human model of Nature. Our ‘knowing’ can grow evermore complete. It can grow closer and closer to the ‘Truth’, but it cannot equal the ‘Truth’. It must always be incomplete. We are not ‘GOD’. We cannot see and know ALL.  (08/17/2014)

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An Open Letter to GAIA

Future Positivehttp://www.questbooks.net/authorimg/SergeKing.jpg Serge Kahili King writes:

Dear Gaia,

Thank you for your last communication. The birdsongs were delightful, the sunrise was spectacular, and the scent of plumeria carried into my room by your trade winds was a very nice touch. I certainly admire your mastery of the sensory medium.

But this is more than just a letter of praise, much as you deserve it. It’s a plea for assistance in the survival of our species.

Oh, I know that many humans (one of your more rambunctious, prolific and mischievous group of apes, in case you aren’t familiar with the term we apply to ourselves) are very concerned about your survival, but they don’t know you as well as some of us . Those of us around the world who communicate with you on a regular basis know that your survival is not at stake. You would still be you whether you were a parched desert, a landless ocean, a ball of ice, a globe of lava or even a radioactive mass. And I’ve no doubt that you are creative enough to come up with some form of life under any conditions, since that’s one of your specialties.

No, Gaia, the problem is us humans, the apes with imagination. Not only have we put ourselves in danger, but we are endangering a lot of your other species in the plant and animal realms. Of course, I realize that we may not be high on your priority list. We are fairly numerous, but we don’t come anywhere near matching the numbers of your plants, insects, fishes, rodents and birds, even though we’ve tried pretty hard to diminish them. And I know we haven’t been around as long as some of the ones I’ve just mentioned. And I also know that your natural forces have wiped out considerable numbers of species over the eons. So why am I writing in hopes that you’ll help us? (08/17/2014)

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State of the Species

Future PositiveCharles C. Mann The mechanisms in use  by modern humanity see to me to be obsolete and no longer working. In my 68 revolutions around the Sun, I have never seen so much human caused chaos and disorder. I first read this essay in the November/December 2012 issue of Orion Magazine. This essay was a finalist for a 2013 National Magazine Award in the Essay category. I originally re-posted it on CommUnity of Minds in November of 2012, and was reminded of it again today. It was and is well worth revisiting. --Timothy Wilken

Charles C. Mann writing in 2012: By 2050, demographers predict, as many as 10 billion human beings will walk the earth, 3 billion more than today. Not only will more people exist than ever before, they will be richer than ever before. In the last three decades hundreds of millions in China, India, and other formerly poor places have lifted themselves from destitution—arguably the most important, and certainly the most heartening, accomplishment of our time. Yet, like all human enterprises, this great success will pose great difficulties.

In the past, rising incomes have invariably prompted rising demand for goods and services. Billions more jobs, homes, cars, fancy electronics—these are things the newly prosperous will want. (Why shouldn’t they?) But the greatest challenge may be the most basic of all: feeding these extra mouths. To agronomists, the prospect is sobering. The newly affluent will not want their ancestors’ gruel. Instead they will ask for pork and beef and lamb. Salmon will sizzle on their outdoor grills. In winter, they will want strawberries, like people in New York and London, and clean bibb lettuce from hydroponic gardens.

All of these, each and every one, require vastly more resources to produce than simple peasant agriculture. Already 35 percent of the world’s grain harvest is used to feed livestock. The process is terribly inefficient: between seven and ten kilograms of grain are required to produce one kilogram of beef. Not only will the world’s farmers have to produce enough wheat and maize to feed 3 billion more people, they will have to produce enough to give them all hamburgers and steaks. Given present patterns of food consumption, economists believe, we will need to produce about 40 percent more grain in 2050 than we do today.

How can we provide these things for all these new people? That is only part of the question. The full question is: How can we provide them without wrecking the natural systems on which all depend?

Scientists, activists, and politicians have proposed many solutions, each from a different ideological and moral perspective. Some argue that we must drastically throttle industrial civilization. (Stop energy-intensive, chemical-based farming today! Eliminate fossil fuels to halt climate change!) Others claim that only intense exploitation of scientific knowledge can save us. (Plant super-productive, genetically modified crops now! Switch to nuclear power to halt climate change!) No matter which course is chosen, though, it will require radical, large-scale transformations in the human enterprise—a daunting, hideously expensive task.

Worse, the ship is too large to turn quickly. The world’s food supply cannot be decoupled rapidly from industrial agriculture, if that is seen as the answer. Aquifers cannot be recharged with a snap of the fingers. If the high-tech route is chosen, genetically modified crops cannot be bred and tested overnight. Similarly, carbon-sequestration techniques and nuclear power plants cannot be deployed instantly. Changes must be planned and executed decades in advance of the usual signals of crisis, but that’s like asking healthy, happy sixteen-year-olds to write living wills.

Not only is the task daunting, it’s strange. In the name of nature, we are asking human beings to do something deeply unnatural, something no other species has ever done or could ever do: constrain its own growth (at least in some ways). Zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, brown tree snakes in Guam, water hyacinth in African rivers, gypsy moths in the northeastern U.S., rabbits in Australia, Burmese pythons in Florida—all these successful species have overrun their environments, heedlessly wiping out other creatures. Like Gause’s protozoans, they are racing to find the edges of their petri dish. Not one has voluntarily turned back. Now we are asking Homo sapiens to fence itself in.

What a peculiar thing to ask! Economists like to talk about the “discount rate,” which is their term for preferring a bird in hand today over two in the bush tomorrow. The term sums up part of our human nature as well. Evolving in small, constantly moving bands, we are as hard-wired to focus on the immediate and local over the long-term and faraway as we are to prefer parklike savannas to deep dark forests. Thus, we care more about the broken stoplight up the street today than conditions next year in Croatia, Cambodia, or the Congo. Rightly so, evolutionists point out: Americans are far more likely to be killed at that stoplight today than in the Congo next year. Yet here we are asking governments to focus on potential planetary boundaries that may not be reached for decades. Given the discount rate, nothing could be more understandable than the U.S. Congress’s failure to grapple with, say, climate change. From this perspective, is there any reason to imagine that Homo sapiens, unlike mussels, snakes, and moths, can exempt itself from the natural fate of all successful species?

To biologists like Margulis, who spend their careers arguing that humans are simply part of the natural order, the answer should be clear. All life is similar at base. All species seek without pause to make more of themselves—that is their goal. By multiplying till we reach our maximum possible numbers, even as we take out much of the planet, we are fulfilling our destiny.

From this vantage, the answer to the question whether we are doomed to destroy ourselves is yes. It should be obvious.

Should be—but perhaps is not.  (08/17/2014)

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How Ravers Became the New Flower Children

New Republic — The 400,000-odd people who flocked to Las Vegas last month for the Electric Daisy electronic dance music (EDM) festival probably didn’t make much of its name. Clad in sparkly tutus, neon spandex, glittery bikinis, and enormous furry boots, they came to dance, to gaze starry-eyed at the LED graphics, and to enjoy the warmth and communal spirit of the crowdnot to question the unlikely juxtaposition of electricity and daisies.

But the tension at the heart of the growing electronic music movement is manifest in the festival’s name. Electronic music festivals like Electric Daisy, Electric Forest, and Electric Zoo celebrate a culture of warmth, geniality, and flowers on the one hand, and a musical tradition of impersonal digitization on the other. The Raver’s Manifesto, an anonymous document that outlines the electronic music movement’s core tenets, epitomizes this apparent inconsistency: “the thunderous, muffled, echoing beat was comparable to a mother’s heart soothing a child in her womb of concrete, steel, and electrical wiring,” it proclaims. The music that gave rise to P.L.U.R.“peace, love, unity, and respect,” a doctrine that underlies much of the American EDM sceneis at once tenderly maternal and brutally mechanical.

Why is it this musicwhich has seen an unprecedented surge in attendance in recent years, with the Ultra Music Festival in Miami boasting between 50,000 and 60,000 attendees each daythat has occasioned such an explicit celebration of human connection and community? “Rave culture, despite all the negative attention it receives about its ties to club drugs, is really about togetherness,” a raver gushed to me.  (07/28/2014)

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Unsung Hero

This three minute video has been viewed 15+ million times since April 2014.

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(06/21/2014

The Healing Intention Experiment

Quantum University — Lynne McTaggart and Quantum University want to thank everyone who participated in the first ever Healing Intention Experiment on April 26, 2014, which was broadcast live worldwide on QuantumWorld.TV.

The Intention Experiment was the largest mind-over-matter experiment in history. Lynne invited her audience to take part in well-controlled laboratory experiments with scientists in universities and laboratories, testing the power of intention to affect specific targets.

Thus far, Lynne McTaggart’s global laboratory has completed some 25 experiments, 22 of which have demonstrated significant, measurable effects. Lynne and her team have measured the effects of the power of group intention to make plants grow faster, purify water, and lower violence. These global experiments have attracted participants from 90 countries around the globe. All four of her Peace Intention Experiments have demonstrated powerful effects in lowering violence in violent or war-torn areas around the world.

The Healing Intention Experiment has now concluded. but you can still learn about the results of the experiment, by signing up to the Post Experiment Panel Discussion on May 27th, 2014. (04/28/2014)

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Putting a Human on Mars

BBC Science and Technology – One of Earth’s closest neighbours, Mars is still some 56 million km away at its closest alignment, a journey of at least nine months. Rovers have landed on the Red Planet, probes have scanned its surface but what would it take to put a human on Mars? The BBC asked scientists from Imperial College London to design a mission which could take astronauts to the planet – and back. Watch the videos and explore this interactive to find out about their radical solution.

he crew would need protecting from the rigours of a nine month journey. Long periods of weightlessness cause bone loss and muscle wastage so the craft is designed to create its own artificial gravity by spinning through space. Shields would lessen, but could not eliminate, the threat of solar and cosmic radiation.

During the journey, the crew’s health would be monitored closely with wireless sensors but they will rely entirely on medication aboard the craft and the skills of their fellow crew should they fall sick. The long journey and confined quarters could also affect their mental health and conflicts between crew members could arise. Lack of daylight can disrupt sleep patterns, potentially causing poor concentration. Solar and cosmic radiation are constant threats.

After nine long months in space, the crew would guide the lander vehicle down to the Martian surface, making a fairly conventional landing for such an exceptional voyage. The words spoken as the crew become the first humans to ever set foot on another planet would take between three and 20 minutes to travel back to Earth.

The scientists propose a landing spot near the Martian equator where conditions are relatively mild at an average of -30 degrees Celsius, similar to an Antarctic winter on Earth. The crew would live in a habitat sent ahead in an unmanned mission.

While on the planet, the astronauts would conduct extensive geological and atmospheric surveys. They would also drill into the crust, looking for evidence that simple life once existed on Mars. The length of their stay could be as little as three months or as long as two years, governed by the alignment of Earth and Mars.

It would be expensive to send a craft to Mars with enough fuel for a round trip. So a return vehicle would be sent in advance of the manned mission, landing at a latitude where ice exists just beneath the surface. A robotic device would mine the ice and split it into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. This would be used to create methane to power the return vehicle into Martian orbit where it would dock with the cruise vehicle for the long journey back to Earth. (04/28/2014)

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Descendant of the Hippocrates’ Tree Saved and Cloned

Hippocrates treeBBC Biological Scence — Jane O’Brien reports: Legend has it that Hippocrates, the ancient Greek “father” of medicine, taught his students under a tree on the island of Kos.

More than 25 centuries later, experts in the US have produced the first DNA barcode of the Oriental plane that is believed to be its descendant. The original tree died centuries ago but the Greeks believe one of its descendents grows in the same place.

“In terms of symbolism this is huge,” said team member Amy Driskell. Dr Driskell manages the Smithsonian’s Laboratories of Analytical Biology, which carried out the barcoding.

Hippocrates invented the idea that people with the same disease exhibit similar symptoms which produced similar outcomes. His book, Prognosis, was the first to compare cases in an organised study and remains the basis of the theory of modern medical diagnosis.

Cuttings from this 500-year-old tree, a member of the Oriental plane tree species, have been presented as gifts to major medical institutions all over the world. One was planted at the National Library of Medicine near Washington DC (part of the National Institutes of Health – NIH), when the building opened in 1962 – and the DNA barcode was created from this tree. Barcodes are fragments of DNA that are unique to individual species and serve as their genetic fingerprint. More than 200,000 have been collected as part of the DNA Barcode of Life Project which aims to create a database of barcodes from every species on Earth. The Hippocrates Tree at the National Library of Medicine has become the source of the first barcode for the Oriental plane tree species. …

“I’m sure that Hippocrates would have been fascinated by the DNA Barcode Project and I think he would have been very excited about how DNA comparison and other modern methods are being used to better understand and ultimately treat human disease,” said Dr David Lipman, director of the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information.

But it very nearly didn’t happen. In 1990 NIH chief landscape architect Lynn Mueller noticed the tree’s health was declining and by 2003 it was almost dead. He began a desperate quest to find ways to clone the tree and save one of the few tangible links to Hippocrates in the US. Nurseries around the country were given cuttings, but all failed to take. Eventually he contacted the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in Michigan where experts managed to produce several clones. “A new growth clipping is taken from the plant and the end is submerged in different rooting hormones to encourage new cell growth,” said Mr Mueller. “They’re put into a special soil which is sterilised – and we have our new trees.”  (04/28/2014)

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1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

CommUnity of Minds — Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in December of 1964: I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome! (01/20/2014)

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David Suzuki on Population

Future Positive — Some interesting human population facts: The planet earth can sustainably support; 15 billion people if all consumption was at India’s levels; 18 billion people if all consumption was at Rwanda’s levels; 2.5 billion people if all consumption was at Britain’s levels; or 1.5 billion people if all consumption was at USA levels.

The worlds human population was self-regulated to about 1 billion up until the year 1800, since which time the exploitation of fossil fuels has seen the population explode to the current number of 7.1+ billion. The worlds population is currently increasing by 2 people every single second.

If this doesn’t get your attention watch this 3.5 minute video by David Suzuki. (01/20/2014)

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Smart Contact Lens Measures Glucose

BBC Medical Technology — Google has said it is testing a “smart contact lens” that can help measure glucose levels in tears. It uses a “tiny” wireless chip and a “miniaturised” glucose sensor embedded between two layers of lens material. The firm said it is also working on integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed certain thresholds …

Many global firms have been looking to expand in the wearable technology sector – seen by many as a key growth area in the coming years.

Various estimates have said the sector is expected to grow by between $10bn and $50bn (£6bn and £31bn) in the next five years. Within the sector, many firms have been looking specifically at technology targeted at healthcare. Google’s latest foray with the smart contact lens is aimed at a sector where consumer demand for such devices is expected to grow.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, one in ten people across the world’s population are forecast to have diabetes by 2035. People suffering from the condition need to monitor their glucose levels regularly as sudden spikes or drops are dangerous. At present, the majority of them do so by testing drops of blood. Google said it was testing a prototype of the lens that could “generate a reading once per second”. (01/20/2014)

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Preventing Blindness

Graphic showing gene therapy to prevent blindnessBBC Medical Science — Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind. The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells. The doctors involved believe that the treatment could in time be used to treat common forms of blindness.

Prof Robert MacLaren, the surgeon who led the research, said he was “absolutely delighted” at the outcome. “We really couldn’t have asked for a better result,” he said. …

If the improvements seen in the patients continue, the aim will be to offer the treatment to younger choroideremia patients to prevent them from losing their sight. The condition is relatively rare: it is thought to affect a thousand people in the UK. But Professor MacLaren believes that success with choroideremia demonstrates the principle that gene therapy could be used to cure other forms of genetic blindness including age-related macular degeneration. This condition causes blindness in 300,000 people in Britain and causes a deterioration in the vision of one in four people over the age of 75.

“The mechanisms of choroideremia and what we are trying to do with the treatment would broadly be applicable to more common causes of blindness,” the professor explained. “Choroideremia shows some similarities with macular degeneration in that we are targeting the same cells. We don’t yet know which genes to target for macular degeneration but we do know now how to do it and how to put the genes back in.”  (01/20/2014)

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