Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘engineering/research/experiments’ Category

Imposture? Among us long before the emergence of Covid-19

This virus of Covid-19 is Not new, and it mutates fast into many variations, so that a vaccine can only be targeting only one form of it, like the vaccine for the winter flu.

Un professeur italien dévoile l’imposture liée au Covid-19

Par Kamel M. – Le grand professeur italien Stefano Montanari a jeté un pavé dans la mare, en dénonçant un certain nombre de contre-vérités sur le Covid-19.

Ce médecin, fort de ses quarante années d’expérience, a révélé que toutes les mesures barrières sont aussi inefficaces qu’un «grillage en bois contre les moustiques».

«Non seulement les masques, les gants et le confinement ne servent à rien contre l’épidémie, mais il n’y aura jamais de vaccin», a confié le professeur qui explique l’hécatombe qui a endeuillé son pays par l’état de délabrement général du système de santé en Italie.

«A quoi bon porter des gants qui sont un véritable foyer de virus, alors que notre peau est intelligente ?
Quant au masque, si celui qui le porte est contaminé, il devra le changer toutes les deux ou trois minutes, sinon cela ne servirait à rien», a-t-il fait savoir, en ajoutant que «quand une personne asymptomatique est informée qu’elle est atteinte du Covid-19, elle sera terrorisée et se confinera en se privant de vitamine D et verra son état psychologique se dégrader en raison de l’absence de perspectives et des craintes pour son avenir».

«Durant les dix dernières années, la médecine italienne a été détruite, des services voire des hôpitaux entiers ont été fermés», a affirmé le professeur Stefano Montanari, en soulignant que de nombreux licenciements ont été opérés dans le secteur de la santé et que le budget qui lui est alloué est allé en décroissant ces dix dernières années, sans parler de la corruption qui gangrène l’État, «si bien que ce qui revient à 10 euros ailleurs coûte le double en Italie», a-t-il dénoncé.

«Le peu d’argent qui a été consacré au secteur a été mal utilisé. Vingt-sept millions de doses de vaccin contre la grippe porcine ont fini à la poubelle alors qu’il n’y a pas de moyens pour acquérir des respirateurs», fulmine le professeur, en indiquant que «les hôpitaux italiens n’étaient pas préparés pour accueillir les malades souffrant des complications du Covid-19».

Selon lui, «c’est cette incapacité qui a rendu ce virus aussi fulgurant».

«Le problème, ce n’est pas ce virus qui existait déjà. Je ne peux pas attester qu’il a été produit en laboratoire ou est causé par les chauves-souris, mais je peux confirmer que ce virus mute si rapidement que le germe pathogène s’est propagé en Italie n’est pas le même qu’en Chine ou en Allemagne», a-t-il affirmé.

Le professeur Stefano Montanari est, par ailleurs, catégorique :

«Le nombre de morts par le coronavirus est bas et tous les autres décès sont dus à d’autres pathologies.»

«Si nous devions tester toute la population en Italie, nous constaterions que la moitié a réagi positivement au virus car ce dernier a développé un anticorps naturel et tout ce qui se dit sur le vaccin, dans ces conditions, est une imposture mondiale vu que le virus mute de façon tellement rapide qu’on ne pourra pas suivre cette mutation et mettre au point le vaccin nécessaire à chaque fois»,

Il fait remarquer, en se disant convaincu que la vaccination contre les virus à couronne «est un gros mensonge des grands groupes pharmaceutiques. Je suis certain qu’ils finiront par imposer ce nouveau vaccin à l’ensemble de la population, ce qui leur permettra d’engranger des milliards de dollars».

«Le confinement tuera plus de gens que le virus lui-même et c’est peut-être cela le but de ceux qui ont propagé la terreur sur le Covid-19», constate ce professeur italien de renom.

«Toutes les entreprises économiques sont fermées hormis les Bourses. Aussi, ces entreprises peuvent être rachetées à des prix dérisoires. Leurs heureux acquéreurs deviendront encore plus riches une fois le confinement levé», a-t-il dit.

Et de conclure :

«Je crois que tout ceci a été manigancé à des fins lucratives, car les laboratoires vont nous sortir un vaccin qu’ils présenteront comme la panacée et qui leur permettra de gagner des milliards, alors qu’il ne sera efficace que contre une seule forme de ce virus qui mute de manière furtive.»

K. M.

This “Abduction field” that steals your “Free-Will behavior”?

Note: Re-edit of “Deterministic/free-will behavior: What is priming the “Thief Program”? October 31, 2011

Do you know that a few universities have opened courses in “experimental philosophy“?

This new field of study combine neurosciences research with theoretical philosophical concepts such as finding out whether people believe that their behaviors and actions are determined (or perceived as predetermined) or if the “free-will factor” is a working concept…

This field of study wants to associate reflective and elaborate concepts with experimental studies.

Last September, the John Templeton Foundation contributed $4.4 million to a 4-year program in interdisciplinary research projects among natural scientists, philosophers, and theologians…

Apparently, Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols are working on 3 domains:

One, using neurosciences tools to study cerebral activities of subjects confronted with philosophical problems;

Two, adopting questionnaires to clarify intuitions and modalities of everyday reasoning, and

Three, conducting field experiences for observing the manners individuals behave in particular circumstances and situations.

US philosopher Daniel Dennett who published “Theory of the evolution of liberty, (2004)” claims that we have tendency to dissociate the “I” from “my brain”.  For example, is there a specific zone in the brain exclusively reserved for the “I” or the “Cartesian theater of operations“?

The neuropsychology Benjamin Libet demonstrated that we become conscious of a decision half a second after our body gets prepared to react to a decision.

For example, the disparate “I” in our constitution and brain parts contribute to the decision.  It is sort every single muscle has an “I”, our genetic constitution has an “I”, every section and network of neurons has an “I”.

All our “I” have to reach a working consensus before the body react and a decision can be carried out.

Isn’t that how a skill is described?

Neuroscientist Patrick Haggard wrote: “When we talk of free-will, we mean the richness of the act, of our capacity of acting intelligently, of not reacting in the same manner to the same stimuli…”

Scientists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, philosophers, theologians, and the legal profession have to agree on baseline consensus principles before any reasonable set of experiments can be carried out for the purpose of resolving this critical question.

Firstoperational definitions of “what is free-will decision” and “what is understood by deterministic behavior” we are measuring?

For example, how can these concepts be measured and quantified in any experiment?

So far, neuroscientists consider an excitation of neurons in the brain as indication of a decision to act.  Their preferred measuring sticks are time of onset of the excitation and its duration…

Second, what kinds of excitations and their intensity level can be indicators of a particular decision? Sort of we need to agree on a taxonomy of decisions (weak decision, temporary one, routine decision, sub-decision...)

For example, pushing a button, decisions for submitting to a test, an exam…considering an opportunity, running for election, committing a crime…

Third, the legal institutions must be involved in the definition and operational decisions. For example, will the court accept the definition and findings of the neuroscientists as valid in court under the principle of “individual responsibility”? Otherwise, how pragmatic any results can contribute to better mankind existence?

Four, how to separate community moral and ethical standards (idiosyncrasies) from how the real world functions and how people actually have tendency to behave?

For example, experiments demonstrated that group of subjects who were induced to believe in a deterministic world tended to cheat significantly (statistically) more often than the compared groups… Does cheating an indicator of community culture or an individual moral value…?

In Jan. 23, 2010, I published an article titled “Abduction field” or a priori “stealing” program” behavior.

I coined the term “abduction field” to describe and explain how people manage to function in their daily routine. People move and act as if executing an “a priory program” a “primed program“:  They seem to mentally “pick up” objects and event as they go about. People seem to know in advance what they want to do.

Hazards can be categorized as just obstacles that the “abduction field” in the brain failed to adjust to, in a timely manner, to redesign the plan.

It might be a good idea to explain what abductive reasoning means before I venture into this topic, and I urge you to read note#1, before you resume reading.

People use the abduction reasoning technique as routine behavior to decide, move, or act. People have implicitly a priori (idea, plan, concept, hypothesis, path, or line of actions) before they get moving.

People move as if they already know what will happen next; they adjust their plan as frequently as obstacles occur. Thus, abductive reasoning is the rule instead of the exception in most commonly used strategies:  We either start our “conscious day” with a priming thief program or we opt for the default “Habit thief program” to carry on our daily decisions and activities.

The abduction field explains the contradictory feeling we have that our actions are frequently determined or occasionally following a free-will course of action.

For example, if we consciously start with a thief program that is pre-programmed to suit what we want today, we tend to steal objects, events, opportunities on our way.  Otherwise, the default value is the “habit thief program”, and we feel that the day is pretty much determined.

The individual “I” is spread all over our organism, physical, genetics, and mental (brain). Decisions are delayed until all the different varieties of “I” reach a working consensus, or a particular “I” or a set of “I” override the other I, depending on which thief program we launched at the start of the day, rejump it (re-edit it) during the day according to our circadian cycles.

For a set of “I” to be able to override the many other “I” it requires a conscious effort of training and awareness for a long time. That is why, we have the feeling that our behavior is pretty much determined because we allow the “conventional wisdom”, habit of convenience, comfort, and “common sense” attitude to take over our decision processes.

A good way to explaining the abduction field theory is by observing someone who is familiar with a particular supermarket.  The customer moves around and pick up items in a determined manner.

A few times, the customer stops and study particular varieties of the “same” items for prices, weight and chemical contents.  The supermarket guide the customer to pose and attend to special new items displayed on shelves. The customer might look as if he just woke up or is disoriented, but his action is kind of planned: he behaves pretty “sober” in his decisions.

People move and act within abduction fields of reasoning, otherwise, how can we imagine extending a step forward without advanced planning?

The initial schemas of abduction fields are Not that well oiled, and many errors and pitfalls occur during the abduction plans.  By the by, the human brain gets adjusted and trained to secure better fit in forecasting next steps and moves.

Highly intelligent people differ from normal intelligence in that, more frequently than not, they consciously apply deductive and inductive reasoning on their initiated abduction fields.  The implicit purpose is to optimize the “abductive field” performance by supporting it with better formal or coded laws among the working laws.

With conscious training and application of the other two reasoning methods, the individual acquire higher intelligence reasoning choices or diversified perspectives to view and resolve a problem.

Brainwashing is an application phenomenon of abduction field distortion.

Brainwashing is Not so much a process of feeding misinformation or disinformation as in ideologically and dogmatic State-controlled government.

Brainwashing is the process of altering the abduction field so that an individual lacks the objective flexibility to pick up the appropriate objects, tools, or events to place on his “abduction path”.

For example,  the individual is picking what is available on his path, including ready-made terminology and definitions, and not what his brain was more likely to select in normal conditions.  The more institutions restrict the freedom of choices, the more the citizen is expected to select what is available to him.

The citizen starts emulating the “ideology” or the opinions of what have been displayed to him (The Silent Majority).  Most State institutions control people in restricting the availability of choices and opportunities, regardless what names are given to them (communist, socialist, democratic, capitalist, theocratic…)

When we say “this guy is a one track-mind or one-dimensional mind”, we basically means that his abduction field has been restricted by habit: His brain ended up lacking the potential flexibility and versatility to train and develop his abduction field reasoning.

Note 1: It might be a good idea to explain what abduction reasoning means before I venture into this topic.  Human mind uses many reasoning methods such as deduction, induction, and abduction.

Deductive reasoning is a process that starts from a set of basic propositions (proved or considered the kind of non provable truths) and then prove the next propositions based on the previous set.  In general, a law, natural or social, or a theorem in mathematics guides the demonstration.  Practically, it is like using a function to find the appropriate pieces of data or information that are available on a well drawn path or trend.

Inductive reasoning is a process of selecting samples from a phenomenon or a basket of items and then studying the samples.  If the items are the “same” in each sample then the individual is prone to recognize that a law is guiding that phenomenon. The sample taker is ready to form a law, though he knows that logically, if in the future one sample is wrong, then the law is logically invalid. In the mean time, the sample taker can resume his life as if the law is valid, as long as it is working (more frequently than not).

We call a “paradigm shift” the period when accumulated samples or observations are showing to be “false” and that the law has to be dropped for a better performing law.  The process needs time before the scientific community reaches a consensus for a change in venue, simply because it was comfortable using well-known mental structures.  The paradigm shift period is shortened if a valid alternative is demonstrated to work far better, not just slightly better, than the previous theory.

Abduction reasoning is an “intuitive” process such as having a few facts or data and we manage to find a connection among these facts.  In a way, we got an idea that the facts follow a definite trend.

For example, the astronomer and mathematician Kepler started with the notion that planets move in circles around the sun; his observations of Mars detected two positions that didn’t coincide with any circle. Kepler selected another trajectory among those mathematically described in geometry that might be appropriate.  The elliptical shape accounted for the two observed positions of Mars.

Kepler got convinced that planet trajectories are elliptical, but he needed to convince the “scientific community”. Thus, Kepler worked for many years waiting for Mars to cross different positions that he knew would inevitably be on the ellipse anyway.

Note 2: I am under the impression that Spinoza had the same philosophical theory when he wrote: “The movements of our investigative spirit obey real laws”.  If we think well, we are bound to think according to rules that link things one to another.  Kant adopted this reasoning and offered the “a priori” dispositions of the mind.

Note 3: You may access experimentalphilosophy.typepad.com

Note 4: I stumbled on this topic reading a piece in the French weekly “The International Courrier” #1095.

Brainwashing or Behavior Priming? Any difference in consequences?

Note: Re-edit of “Any differences between behavior priming and brainwashing? June 28, 2012)

Have you submitted to a scrambled-sentence test? For example, rectify these sentences:

1. him was worried she always

2. from are Florida orange temperature

3. shoes give replace old the…

How quickly do you think you can work out each scrambled sentence?

Suppose among the ten scrambled sentences there are words such as worried, Florida, old, lonely, gray, bingo, wrinkle, forgetful…scattered throughout the sentences…Is there anything common among these words?

Undergraduate students participating in these tests, behaved for a short time as old people do after the test: They invariably walked slowly, back bent…

The unconscious Big Brain was picking up on these common denominator words, behind its locked door…

The unconscious mind got the clues and was telling the body of the test-taker: “We are in an environment that is concerned about old age. We better behave accordingly…”

The unconscious mind is acting as a mental valet, taking care of minor details to act accordingly, so that we can be freed to focus on the main problem at hand…

John Bargh experimented with two groups of undergraduate students.

Group One worked scrambled sentences sprinkled with words such as aggressively, bold, rude, bother, disturb, intrude, infringe…

Group Two worked with words like respect, consideration, appreciate, patiently, yield, polite and courteous…

After the test, each student had to walk the corridor to an office to meet with the principal researcher.

A confederate researcher was to block the entrance of the door and converse with the main researcher, a long and pretty boring conversation…

Group One subjects ended the conversation and barged into the office within 5 minutes. Group Two subject waited for the conversation to end before getting in.

Group Two students could have waited for much longer if the protocol was not set for only 10 minutes of conversation…

There are these mental clinical cases called ventromedial prefrontal cortex,  a part of the brain situated behind the nose.

When this part is damaged, the individual is unable of judgment and making decision.

The patient is functional, intelligent and highly rational but lacks judgment. For example, if the patient is asked to choose between two appointment dates, he will analyse and offer all kinds of pros and cons for 30 minutes and still be unable to decide on any date…

The mental valet is not working in this case to guide and orient the patient toward more important tasks at hand…

When mentioning a brainwashed mind, you visualize someone robbing a bank or doing violent acts without his full will, or being induced to describe details of his childhood against his will…

Maybe there is a subtle factor or a catalyst that shifts behavioral priming into the qualitative condition of brainwashing

I posit that brainwashing is very much like priming a brain, but done on successive and frequent occasions, verging on a continuous situation where the mental valet is working full-time and barely able to liberate the mind to focus on more important tasks to reflect on…

Think of totalitarian regimes of communism or the Catholic Church dominion in Europe for 9 centuries of the dark Middle Age period.

People had to navigate an environment of restrictions and limitation in ideas, opinions, objects, products, hair style, fashion…

The neuropsychology Benjamin Libet demonstrated that we become conscious of a decision half a second after our body gets prepared to react to a decision.

For example, the disparate “I” in our constitution and brain parts contribute to the decision.  It is sort every single muscle has an “I”, our genetic constitution has an “I”, every section and network of neurons has an “I”.

All our “I” have to reach a working consensus before the body react and a decision can be carried out. Isn’t that how a skill is described?

Neuroscientist Patrick Haggard wrote: “When we talk of free-will, we mean the richness of the act, of our capacity of acting intelligently, of not reacting in the same manner to the same stimuli…”

You may read about the priming of the thief-program in the link of note 2.

Note 1: Article inspired from a chapter in “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell

Note 2https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/deterministic-or-free-will-behavior-what-is-priming-the-thief-program/

Decades of importing non-standard, tampered with oil and gasoline to Lebanon? How this process endured?

For 30 years, Lebanon has wasted $30 bn on the public electricity and still we have no electricity. Badly tempered with imported gasoline and fuel damaged the turbines and engines in the electrical plants, and the authority new about this calamity.

We are still mostly dependent on private providers with generators and high expenses every decent Lebanese is shelling every month for this basic facility.

Apparently, the political militia/mafia leaders are trying to cover up and appointing politically motivated judges and releasing the second level responsible detainees.

الصحيفة القانونية posted on Fb. Sponsored

الفيول المغشوش.. بين تصفية الحسابات والسيطرة على المنشآت

غسان بيضون(*)

ربما يكون قد بدا طبيعياً للمتابعين إقفال النيابة العامة المالية ملف الفيول المغشوش بعد انتهاء التحقيق،

باعتبار أن الشحنة قد أعيدت إلى مصدرها دون أن يخرج مال من الخزينة وبالتالي، لم تتسبب المخالفة بـ”هدر المال العام”.

غير أن المستغرب والملفت للانتباه هو هذا المشهد المسرحي الذي أطل فيه وزير الطاقة، المتمسك للتو بسرية العقد، ليعلن عن طلب إحالة الملف مجدداً للنيابة العامة الاستئنافية في جبل لبنان التي أحالت المستجوبين إلى قاضي التحقيق الأول،

فيما جميع الأطراف المعنية بدورة تطبيق عقد شراء الفيول مع سوناتراك الجزائرية وبالمسؤولية عن أي خلل أو خطأ أو مخالفة أو غش قد يقع خلالها،

يقعون جميعهم ضمن صلاحية ومسؤولية “وزير الطاقة” ويحظون برعايته وحمايته، ومنهم مدير عام عام مؤسسة كهرباء لبنان، والمدير العام للنفط ورئيس لجنة إدارة منشآت النفط التي عينها وزير الطاقة الأسبق جبران باسيل.

ربما يجد البعض أن السر يكمن في اختيار “القاضي” الذي لجأ إليه وزير الطاقة الحالي وطلب تدخله،

ومن بعده قاضي التحقيق، بحيث يؤشر ذلك إلى نوايا مسبقة تضمن السيطرة على مآل الأمور، بحيث لا تخرج النتائج عن سيطرة الفريق السياسي الذي اختار وزير الطاقة الحالي وقدمه على غيره من المستشارين،

فأصبح برتبة وزير، على غرار سلفيه، فتكون مهمته النيل من المستهدفين وحماية آخرين.

أما وقد تبين أن شركتين محددتين فقط تتوليان تنفيذ طلبيات الفيول لصالح كهرباء لبنان، في إطار علاقة لهما بسوناتراك الجزائرية ما زالت غامضة كل فصولها حتى يومنا هذا، وأن عمليات غش في النوعية قد تكرر حصولها خلال السنوات الماضية، فإن البحث في المسؤولية عن هذا الغش والشركاء فيها، يستوجب العودة إلى البداية وتلمس الحقيقة بين طيات مسار تنفيذ هذا العقد، منذ توقيعه وحتى اليوم،

توصلاً إلى ضبط الوقائع التي يمكن أن تكون ساهمت في تعديله أو في الانحراف في تطبيقه، وأدت إلى انكشاف وهم “العقد بين دولتين”: لبنان ممثلاً بوزير الطاقة، ودولة الجزائر ممثلة بشركة سوناتراك الوطنية، وكان ذلك خلال العام 2005، خلال تولي الوزير محمد فنيش وزارة الطاقة.

ما الذي تغير ليقع ما حصل من غش في التنفيذ استدعى هذا الكباش في السياسة، لا سيما وأن وزير الطاقة الأسبق سيزار أبي خليل حاول رد التهمة عن فريقه السياسي ورميه على آخرين بدءاً من نشوء العقد!

بدايةً، لا بد من التمييز في الأهمية بين أن يكون العقد موقعاً مع شركة سوناتراك BVI (المسجلة في جزر العذراء البريطانية) او سوناتراك الأم وتضمينه بنداً غريباً يتعلق بالسرية، وبين تنفيذ هذا العقد فعلياً.

لا بد من الإشارة أولاً إلى أنه عند توقيع العقد خلال العام 2005 لم تكن هناك بواخر ولا معامل جديدة تستخدم نفس المحركات العكسية التي تحملها البواخر، والتي تعطلت بسبب نوعية الفيول، وأن الفيول السيء “المغشوش” كان يؤمن تشغيل المعامل القديمة، باعتبار أن الزيوت المحروقة والمعادن الأخرى التي يحتوي عليها تعطي مردوداً حرارياً أعلى عند احتراقها،

فيما يقول آخرون أنه كان يلحق بالمعامل القديمة أضراراً “صامتة” من نوع آخر يؤدي إلى “اهترائها” وزيادة في أعباء صيانتها وقطع الغيار التي تستوجبها، والتي كانت بحد ذاتها تتسبب بهدر أموال طائلة، بتغطية من أصحاب نظرية المردود الحراري.

أما البحث في مسؤولية الوزراء المتعاقبين، فيستوجب أولاً التساؤل عن مواقف هؤلاء من أخبار الفساد التي راجت بعد سنوات من توقيع العقد الأساسي حول فساد في سوناتراك نفسها، وهل أخذوا بعين الاعتبار هذا التطور بالجدية اللازمة وبروح المسؤولية، حيث كان يمكن عدم تجديد العقد أو على الأقل إجراء مراجعة شاملة ودقيقة حوله كل ثلاث سنوات، من أجل تحصين موقع الدولة اللبنانية فيه، وضمان تحقيق المنفعة المتوخاة من إجرائه من دولة إلى دولة في الأساس.

خلال العام 2013، وبعد 47 يوماً من بدء تشغيل البواخر، تبين أن نوعية الفيول أويل الثقيل والمحدد في ملحق العقد مع سوناتراك لم يعد ممكناً تبريرها، إذ توقفت محركات الإنتاج العكسية التي تحملها البواخر بسبب نوعية الفيول المستخدم وإحتوائه على زيوت تؤدي إلى ضرر يصيب بخاخات المحركات.

وقتذاك، ادعى متعهد البواخر أن مكونات المحروقات المعروض استخدامها في دفتر الشروط لم تشمل الزيوت المحروقة والمعادن، التي تبين لاحقاً وجودها وهي غير ملائمة للمحركات وأدت إلى تعطيلها.

ومن أجل إعادة تشغيلها بأمان، أضيفت إلى البواخر أجهزة تنقية للفيول المستخدم. وقد أجرى التفتيش المركزي تحقيقاً حول الموضوع في حينه.

وبنتيجة التحقيق تبين أن نسبة الحديد والالمنيوم والسيليكون الموجودة في الفيول المستخدم من شأنها أن تؤدي إلى أضرار في بخاخات المحركات، وكذلك في أجهزة التنقية والتصفية الممكن استخدامها لمعالجة هذه النوعية الرديئة من الفيول.

بالنتيجة، وبتاريخ 9 تموز/يوليو 2013، أصدرت هيئة التفتيش المركزي القرار رقم 87/2013، وضمنته توصيات لجنة التحقيق، ومنها تعديل مواصفات الفيول أويل المستخدم،

والتنبيه إلى مخاطر نوعية الفيول المستخدم على المعامل الجديدة التي كانت ما تزال قيد التنفيذ في حينه، بحيث كان يستوجب ذلك من وزير الطاقة العمل على اتخاذ الإجراءات الوقائية الآيلة إلى تأمين سلامة تركيب وتجهيز وتشغيل المحركات العكسية في معملي الذوق والجية، الجاري تنفيذهما تلافياً لأية معوقات أو أضرار محتملة.

وفي إطار البحث عن المسؤولية عن فضيحة الفيول المغشوش، من المفيد الإشارة إلى ما ورد في تقرير التفتيش المركزي، حول قيام متعهد البواخر بإبلاغ مؤسسة كهرباء لبنان عن احتواء الفيول المستلم لتشغيل البواخر على زيوت مستعملة ما يرفع نسبة الكالسيوم ويؤدي إلى أضرار في المحركات وأن المشكلة هي في نوعية المحروقات.

وكذلك لا بد من التساؤل حول أسباب الإبقاء على نفس نوعية الفيول بالرغم من إبداء سوناتراك موافقتها على توريد الفيول بمواصفات 8217 ISO وبسعر الفيول أويل الثقيل نفسه بمواصفات لبنانية محددة في ملحق العقد .

إن ما يستوجب تحميل وزراء الطاقة المتعاقبين، المسؤولية عن فضيحة الفيول المغشوش هو أن نتائج التحقيق وتوصيات التفتيش المركزي قد أبلغت، خلال العام 2013، إلى كل من وزير الطاقة في حينه ومؤسسة كهرباء لبنان معاً، فضلاً عن أن جميع الوزراء المتعاقبين منذ ذلك التاريخ، من دون استثناء، هم شركاء في المسؤولية، لا سيما وأنهم يستأثرون بالسلطة ويصرون على اعتبار أن الوزير وحده دون سواه، هو المعني بممارسة الوصاية والرقابة على مؤسسة كهرباء لبنان، التي تعمل في الواقع تحت إشراف وزير الطاقة المباشر أو عبر مستشاريه، ويتدخل في شؤونها الذاتية على جميع المستويات. هذا

ولا يجب أن نغفل ثبوت علم وزيرة الطاقة ندى بستاني بالمخالفات الحاصلة، أقله خلال العام 2019، وفقاً لشهادة مدير العمليات المسؤول عن تشغيل وصيانة معملي الذوق والجية الجديدين.

وعلى سيرة مسؤولية وزراء الطاقة المتعاقبين، لا بد من مقاربة تصريح وزير الطاقة الأسبق سيزار ابي خليل، الذي تصدى محاولاً تبرئة نفسه ورفاقه، من خلال الحديث عن محاولات فريقه السياسي المزعومة المتكررة للتحول عن العقد عن طريق إجراء مناقصة عمومية، دون أن يتطرق إلى موقفه شخصياً بعد ملاحظته ان عنوان سوناتراك المتعاقد عليها يقع خارج الجزائر، ولا إلى قناعته بالبند المتعلق بسرية العقد،

وما إذا كان وجد فيه ما يبرر تكتمهم عليه وصمتهم حيال شوائب تطبيقه، وما إذا كان أبلغ مجلس الوزراء بهذا الالتباس والغرابة، إضافة إلى ارتفاع السعر الذي أشار إليه، وما إذا أثار عند التفاوض على التمديد، هذه الملاحظات وحاول تحسين الشروط على هذا الأساس.

وقد كان لافتاً للإنتباه تطرق وزير الطاقة الأسبق إلى موقف إدارة المناقصات، فقد اختصر أبي خليل الموضوع واستخف بعدم ورود الصفقة ضمن البرنامج السنوي المنصوص عليه في القانون، وعن التوازن المالي بدا جاهلاً بمعناه المرتبط بعدم توازن الموجبات المالية المتبادلة التي تترتب على الفريقين المتعاقدين.

أما الأفدح، فهو إصراره، على التمسك بنوعية الفيول باعتباره المناسب وفقاً لطلب المتعهد الذي نفذ إنشاء المعامل، وأغفل الإشارة إلى صدور الرأي عن خبير من الاتحاد الأوروبي استندت إليه إدارة المناقصات.

وخلال تحليله أرقام حصة عجز الكهرباء من الدين العام، اعترف أبي خليل بـ 16 مليار دولار تعود فقط للعشر سنوات الأخيرة، متجاهلاً السنوات السابقة وتكلفة بناء المعامل الجديدة في أواخر تسعينيات القرن الماضي وبعد 2011،

وتأهيل شبكات النقل المتكررة ومبالغ الاستملاكات لشبكات النقل والمعامل بعشرات ومئات ملايين الدولارات، وتكلفة المستشارين والاستشاريين لوضع دفاتر الشروط والخطط وتطويرها وتقويمها والإشراف على تنفيذها وعن المبالغ المسددة عن عقد البواخر والدفعة المسبقة الموازية لقيمة توحي بـ”العمولة”،

والفوائد المتراكمة على كل هذه المبالغ المسجلة على حساب الخزينة العامة والممولة من قروض قديمة وجديدة ما زال تسديدها قائماً حتى اليوم،

وتكلفة المصالحات مع المتعهدين ودعاوى التحكيم وأكلاف محاكمها ومكاتب المحامين بعد نقل الملفات إلى رئاسة مجلس الوزراء.
وطالما أنه تطرق إلى شبح مافيا المحروقات والمازوت والمولدات و”عرقلتها” التي عطلت تنفيذ “خططهم” وحالت دون إجراء مناقصة للفيول،

فماذا عن مافيا البواخر والمكافآت التي سهل فريقه الحصول عليها لقاء بدعة “وفر الفيول”؟

وماذا عن خطأ الوزيرة بستاني في مبلغ الـ 200 مليون دولار التي طلبتها لاستملاكات معمل سلعاتا وعند كشفها زعمت بوجود خطأ طباعي، وخفضت المبلغ إلى 30 مليون دولار، والفرق فقط “شحطة قلم”!

وفي إطار البحث عن أبعاد وخلفيات أخرى لإحالة ملف الفيول المغشوش مجدداً إلى القضاء، يجب ألا نغفل الرغبة بإقصاء رئيس المنشآت المحسوب على تيار المردة، انتقاماً منه وتسهيل للاستيلاء على المنشآت، وفتح صفحة جديدة في إطار إعادة هيكلة حصتهم من مرافق الطاقة والمشتقات النفطية والتوسع إلى ما بعد البنزين بعد نجاح الوزيرة بستاني في اختراق السوق ووضع يدها على حصة منه،

وربما على حصة من الرسوم غير المتوجبة التي يستوفونها وتبقى في جيوبهم.

(*) مدير عام الإستثمار السابق في وزارة الطاقة والمياه

Cognitive mechanisms? How my brain works

Note: Re-edit of “How my brain works: Cognitive mechanisms; (Jan. 9, 2010)”

Before venturing into this uncharted territory, let me state that there is a “real universe”, which each person perceives differently: If this real world didn’t exist, there would be nothing to perceive.

The real world cares less about the notions of time and space.

No matter how we understand the real world, our system of comprehension is strictly linked to our brain/senses systems of perceptions.

The way animals perceive the universe is different from our perception.

All we can offer are bundles of hypotheses that can never be demonstrated or confirmed, even empirically, except in few cases in the processes.

The best we can do is to extend the hypothesis that our perceived universe correlates (qualitative coherent resemblance) with a de-facto real universe of the moment.

The notions of time, space, and causality are within our perceived universe.

Each individual has his own “coherent universe” that is as valid as any other perception.

What rational logic and empirical experiments have discovered in “laws of nature” apply only to our perceived universe. Mainly, to what is conveniently labeled the category of grown up “normal people” who do not suffer major brain disturbances or defects.

How newborn and toddlers perceive the universe is very challenging, and could be the dawn of a breakthrough cognitive scientific era.

Man uses symbols such as language, alphabets, mathematical forms, and musical symbols to record their cognitive performances.

Brain uses “binary code” of impressions and intervals of non impressions to register a codified impression.  Most probably, the brain creates all kinds of cells and chemicals to categorize, store, classify, and retrieve various impressions.

The rationale is that, since no matter how fast an impression is, it stands to reason that the trillions and trillions of impressions would saturate the intervals between sensations in no time.

We are born with 25% of the total number of synapses that grown up will form.

Neurons have mechanisms of transferring from one section of the brain to other parts when frequent focused cognitive processes are needed.

A child can perceive one event following another one but he has no further meaning, but simple observations.  A child is Not surprised with magic outcomes; what is out of the normal for a grown up is as valid a phenomenon as another to the child (elephant can fly).

We know that vision and auditory sensations pass through several filters (processed data) before being perceived by the brain.

The senses of smell and taste circumvent filters and are sensed by the limbic (primeval brain) before passing this data to cognition.

The brain attached markers or attributes to impressions that it receives.

A marker represents a special network form of synapses.

Four markers that I call exogenous markers attach to impressions as they are “registered” or perceived in the brain coming from the outside world through our senses.

At least four other markers, I label “endogenous markers” are attached to internal cognitive processing and are linked to information during the  re-structuring or re-configuring of events are performed during the dream periods: massive computations are needed to stored data before they are transformed to ready useful data before endogenous markers are attributed to them for registering in other memory banks.

There are markers that I call “reverse-exogenous” and are attached to information meant to be exported from the brain to the outside world. They are mainly of 2 kinds: body language information (such as head, hand, shoulder, or eye movements) and the recorded types on external means, such as writing, painting, sculpting, singing, playing instruments, or performing art work.

The first exogenous marker directs impressions from the senses in their order of successions.

The child recognizes that this event followed the other one within a short period of occurrence. His brain can “implicitly” store the two events as following in succession in a qualitative order (for example the duration of the succession is shorter or longer than the other succession). I label this marker as “Time recognizer” in the qualitative meaning of sensations.

The second marker registers and then stores an impression as a spatial configuration. At this stage, the child is able to recognize the concept of space but in a qualitative order. For example, this object is closer or further from the other object. I call this marker “space recognizer”.

The third marker is the ability to delimit a space when focusing on a collection of objects. Without this ability to first limit the range of observation (or sensing in general) it would be hard to register parts and bits of impressions within a first cut of a “coherent universe”. I label this marker “spatial delimiter

The fourth marker links “strength” or “weight” of occurrence as the impression is recognized in the database.  The child cannot count but the brain is already using this marker for incoming information. In a sense, the brain is assembling events and objects in special “frequency of occurrence” database during dream periods and the information are retrieved in qualitative order of strength of sensations in frequency.  I call this attribute “count marker”.

The fifth marker is an endogenous attributes: this marker is attached within the internal export/import of information in the brain. This attribute is a kind of “correlation” quantity that indicates same/different trends of behavior of events or objects.  In a sense, this marker will internally sort out data as “analogous” or contrary collections along a time scale.

People have tendency to associate correlation with cause and effect relation but it is Not. A correlation quantity can be positive (two variables have the same behavioral trend in a system) or negative quantity (diverging trends). With the emergence of the 5th marker the brain has grown a quantitative threshold in synapses and neurons to start massive computations on impressions stored in the large original database or what is called “long-term memory”.

The sixth marker is kind of  gross “probability quantity” that permits the brain to order objects according to “plausible” invariant properties in space (for example objects or figures are similar according to a particular property, including symmetrical transformations). I label this the “invariant marker” and it re-structures collections of objects and shapes in structures such as hereditary, hierarchical, network, or circular.

The seventh marker I call the “association attribute”. Methods of deduction, inductions, and other logical manipulations are within these kinds of data types.  They are mostly generated from rhetorical associations such as analogies, metaphors, antonyms, and other categories of associations.

No intuition or creative ideas are outside the boundary of prior recognition of the brain.

Constant focus and work on a concept generate complex processing during the dream stage. The conscious mind recaptures sequences from the dream state ,and most of the time unconsciously.

What knowledge does is decoding in formal systems the basic processes of the brain and then re-ordering what seems as chaotic firing in brain cells.  Symbols were created to facilitate rules writing for precise rationalization.

The eighth marker I call the “design marker”.

It recognizes interactions among variables and interacts with reverse exogenous markers since a flow with outside perceptions is required for comprehension.

Simple perceived relationships between two events or variables are usually trivial and mostly wrong. For example, thunder follows lightning and thus, wrongly interpreted as lightning generates thunder.  Simple interactions are of the existential kind as in the Pavlov reactions where existential rewards, such as food, are involved in order to generate the desired reactions. The Pavlov reaction laws apply to man too.

Interactions among more than two variables are complex for interpretations in the mind and require plenty of training and exercises.

Designing experiments is a very complex cognitive task and not amenable to intuition: it requires learning and training to appreciating the various cause and effects among the variables.

The first kinds of “reverse exogenous” markers can be readily witnessed in animals such as in body language of head, hand, shoulder, or eye movements. Otherwise, Pavlov experiments could not be conducted if animals didn’t react with any external signs.

In general, rational thinking retrieves data from specialized databases “cognitive working memory” of already processed data and saved for pragmatic utility.

Working memories are developed once data find outlets to the external world for recording; thus, pure thinking without attempting to record ideas degrades the cognitive processes with sterile internal transfer without new empirical information to compute in.

An important reverse-exogenous marker is sitting still, concentrating, emptying our mind of external sensations, and relaxing the mind of conscious efforts of perceiving the knowledge “matter” in order to experience the “cosmic universe”.

I presume that a few particular markers of the same kind can handle the flow of impressions, but the brain tends to construct many duplicates of redundant markers for emergency occurrences and for the regeneration processes.

The most used markers such as “count” are distributed in many strategic nodes and chemicals are attached to incoming impressions so that any “count” node may recognize the alterations.

Talented individuals have more specialized markers for the skills they acquired and thus, the denser and more varied are the synapses networks that correspond to the more intelligence kinds we developed.

Note: This article was not meant to analyze emotions or value moral systems.  It is very probable that the previously described markers are valid for the moral value systems with less computation applied to the data transferred to the “moral working memory”.

I believe that more other sophisticated computations are performed than done to emotional data since a system is constructed for frequent “refreshing” with age and experiences.

I conjecture that emotions are generated from the vast original database; and the endogenous correlation marker is the main computation method: the reason is that emotions are related to complex and almost infinite interactions with people and community.

Thus, the brain prefers not to consume time and resources on complex computations that involve many thousands of variables interacting simultaneously.

An emotional reaction in the waking period is not necessarily “rational” but of the quick and dirty resolutions kinds.

In the dream sessions, emotionally loaded impressions are barely processed because they are hidden deep in the vast original database structure and are not refreshed frequently to be exposed to the waking conscious cognitive processes; thus, they flare up within the emotional reaction packages.

Note 2: The brain is a flexible organic matter that can be trained and developed by frequent “refreshing” of interactions with the outside world of sensations. Maybe animals lack the reverse exogenous markers to record their cognitive capabilities.

More likely, it is because their cognitive working memory is shriveled that animals didn’t grow the appropriate limbs for recording sensations:  Evolution (or lack of it) didn’t endow them with external performing limbs for writing, sculpting, painting, or doing music.

The fact that chimps were trained to externalize cognitive capabilities that are as valid as a 5 years old mankind child, suggest that attaching artificial limbs to chimps, cats, or dogs that are compatible with human tools will demonstrate that chimps can give far better cognitive performance than expected.

This is a first draft to get the project going. I appreciate developed comments and references.

Who care to see Reality as Is? Who can we trust to deliver “what is Reality”?

Note: Re-edit of “Are we able to see Reality as is? July 2015 and Donald Hoffman speech on March 2015”

Let’s begin with a question: Do we see reality as it is?

Are we shaped with tricks and hacks that keep us alive (evolutionary process)?

I love a great mystery, and I’m fascinated by the greatest unsolved mystery in sciences, perhaps because it’s personal.

It’s about who we are, and I can’t help but be curious.

The mystery is this: 

What is the relationship between your brain and your conscious experiences, such as your experience of the taste of chocolate or the feeling of velvet?

This mystery is not new. In 1868, Thomas Huxley wrote,

“How it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as the result of irritating nervous tissue is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the genie when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.”

Huxley knew that brain activity and conscious experiences are correlated, but he didn’t know why.

To the sciences of his day, it was a mystery. In the years since Huxley, sciences have learned a lot about brain activity, but the relationship between brain activity and conscious experiences is still a mystery. Why?

Why have we made so little progress?

Some experts think that we can’t solve this problem because we lack the necessary concepts and intelligence.

We don’t expect monkeys to solve problems in quantum mechanics, and as it happens, we can’t expect our species to solve this problem either.

Well, I disagree. I’m more optimistic. 

I think we’ve simply made false assumptions, one assumption in particular.

Once we fix it, we just might solve this problem. Today, I’d like tell you what that assumption is, why it’s false, and how to fix it.

Let’s begin with a question: Do we see reality as it is?

Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is?

Aren’t we reconstructing “reality” everytime?

I open my eyes and I have an experience that I describe as a red tomato a meter away. As a result, I come to believe that in reality, there’s a red tomato a meter away.

I then close my eyes, and my experience changes to a gray field, but is it still the case that in reality, there’s a red tomato a meter away? I think so, but could I be wrong? 

Could I be misinterpreting the nature of my perceptions?

We have misinterpreted our perceptions before. We used to think the Earth is flat, because it looks that way. Pythagoras discovered that we were wrong.

Then we thought that the Earth is the unmoving center of the Universe, again because it looks that way. Copernicus and Galileo discovered, again, that we were wrong.

Galileo then wondered if we might be misinterpreting our experiences in other ways. He wrote:

I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on reside in consciousness. Hence if the living creature were removed, all these qualities would be annihilated.” (Meaning, nature and its plants have their own consciousness, regardless of the disappearance of living creatures?)

That’s a stunning claim. Could Galileo be right? Could we really be misinterpreting our experiences that badly? What does modern science have to say about this?

Neuroscientists tell us that about a third of the brain’s cortex is engaged in vision. When you simply open your eyes and look about this room, billions of neurons and trillions of synapses are engaged.

This is a bit surprising, because to the extent that we think about vision at all, we think of it as like a camera.

It just takes a picture of objective reality as it is. Now, there is a part of vision that’s like a camera: the eye has a lens that focuses an image on the back of the eye where there are 130 million photoreceptors, so the eye is like a 130-megapixel camera.

But that doesn’t explain the billions of neurons and trillions of synapses that are engaged in vision. What are these neurons up to?

Neuro-scientists tell us that they are creating, in real time, all the shapes, objects, colors, and motions that we see. 

It feels like we’re just taking a snapshot of this room the way it is, but in fact, we’re constructing everything that we see. We don’t construct the whole world at once. We construct what we need in the moment.

Now, there are many demonstrations that are quite compelling that we do construct what we see. I’ll just show you two.

In this example, you see some red discs with bits cut out of them, but if I just rotate the disks a little bit, suddenly, you see a 3D cube pop out of the screen. Now, the screen of course is flat, so the three-dimensional cube that you’re experiencing must be your construction.

In this next example, you see glowing blue bars with pretty sharp edges moving across a field of dots. In fact, no dots move. All I’m doing from frame to frame is changing the colors of dots from blue to black or black to blue. But when I do this quickly, your visual system creates the glowing blue bars with the sharp edges and the motion. 

There are many more examples, but these are just two that you construct what you see.

But neuroscientists go further. They say that we reconstruct reality. So, when I have an experience that I describe as a red tomato, that experience is actually an accurate reconstruction of the properties of a real red tomato that would exist even if I weren’t looking.

Why would neuroscientists say that we don’t just construct, we reconstruct?

The standard argument given is usually an evolutionary one. The notion that “Our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage compared to those who saw less accurately, and therefore they were more likely to pass on their genes…” (This hypothesis didn’t withstand investigation).

We are the offspring of those who saw more accurately, and so we can be confident that, in the normal case, our perceptions are accurate. 

You see this in the standard textbooks. One textbook says, for example, “Evolutionarily speaking, vision is useful precisely because it is so accurate.” So the idea is that accurate perceptions are fitter perceptions. They give you a survival advantage.

Now, is this correct? Is this the right interpretation of evolutionary theory? 

Let’s first look at a couple of examples in nature.

The Australian jewel beetle is dimpled, glossy and brown. The female is flightless. The male flies, looking for a hot female. When he finds one, he alights and mates.

There’s another species in the outback, Homo sapiens. The male of this species has a massive brain that he uses to hunt for cold beer. (Laughter) And when he finds one, he drains it, and sometimes throws the bottle into the outback.

Now, as it happens, these bottles are dimpled, glossy, and just the right shade of brown to tickle the fancy of these beetles. The males swarm all over the bottles trying to mate. They lose all interest in the real females.

Classic case of the male leaving the female for the bottle. (Laughter)  The species almost went extinct.

Australia had to change its bottles to save its beetles. (Laughter)

Now, the males had successfully found females for thousands, perhaps millions of years. It looked like they saw reality as it is, but apparently not. Evolution had given them a hack.

A female is anything dimpled, glossy and brown, the bigger the better. (Laughter) Even when crawling all over the bottle, the male couldn’t discover his mistake.

You might say, beetles, sure, they’re very simple creatures, but surely not mammals. Mammals don’t rely on tricks. Well, I won’t dwell on this, but you get the idea. (Laughter)

So this raises an important technical question: Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is?

Fortunately, we don’t have to wave our hands and guess; evolution is a mathematically precise theory. We can use the equations of evolution to check this out. We can have various organisms in artificial worlds compete and see which survive and which thrive, which sensory systems are more fit.

A key notion in those equations is fitness.

Consider this steak: What does this steak do for the fitness of an animal? Well, for a hungry lion looking to eat, it enhances fitness. For a well-fed lion looking to mate, it doesn’t enhance fitness.

And for a rabbit in any state, it doesn’t enhance fitness, so fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes, but also on the organism, its state and its action.

Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is.

And it’s fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution.

In my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds.

Some of the organisms see all of the reality, others see just part of the reality, and some see none of the reality, only fitness. Who wins?

In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality but are just tuned to fitness drive to extinction all the organisms that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor vertical, or accurate perceptions. Those perceptions of reality go extinct.

I hate to break it to you, but perception of reality goes extinct (compared to fitness)

This is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?

That is a bit counterintuitive. But remember the jewel beetle. The jewel beetle survived for thousands, perhaps millions of years, using simple tricks and hacks.

What the equations of evolution are telling us is that all organisms, including us, are in the same boat as the jewel beetle. We do not see reality as it is. We’re shaped with tricks and hacks that keep us alive.

Still, we need some help with our intuitions.

How can not perceiving reality as it is be useful? Well, fortunately, we have a very helpful metaphor: the desktop interface on your computer.

Consider that blue icon for a TED Talk that you’re writing. Now, the icon is blue and rectangular and in the lower right corner of the desktop. Does that mean that the text file itself in the computer is blue, rectangular, and in the lower right-hand corner of the computer? Of course not.

Anyone who thought that misinterprets the purpose of the interface. It’s not there to show you the reality of the computer. In fact, it’s there to hide that reality.

You don’t want to know about the diodes and resistors and all the megabytes of software. If you had to deal with that, you could never write your text file or edit your photo.

So the idea is that evolution has given us an interface that hides reality and guides adaptive behavior. 

Space and time, as you perceive them right now, are your desktop. Physical objects are simply icons in that desktop.

There’s an obvious objection.

Now, if you think that train coming down the track at 200 MPH is just an icon of your desktop, why don’t you step in front of it?

And after you’re gone, and your theory with you, we’ll know that there’s more to that train than just an icon.

Well, I wouldn’t step in front of that train for the same reason that I wouldn’t carelessly drag that icon to the trash can: not because I take the icon literally — the file is not literally blue or rectangular — but I do take it seriously. I could lose weeks of work. 

Similarly, evolution has shaped us with perceptual symbols that are designed to keep us alive. We’d better take them seriously.

If you see a snake, don’t pick it up. If you see a cliff, don’t jump off. They’re designed to keep us safe, and we should take them seriously. That does not mean that we should take them literally. That’s a logical error.

Another objection: There’s nothing really new here. 

Physicists have told us for a long time that the metal of that train looks solid but really it’s mostly empty space with microscopic particles zipping around.

There’s nothing new here. Well, not exactly. It’s like saying, I know that that blue icon on the desktop is not the reality of the computer, but if I pull out my trusty magnifying glass and look really closely, I see little pixels, and that’s the reality of the computer. Well, not really — you’re still on the desktop, and that’s the point.

Those microscopic particles are still in space and time: they’re still in the user interface. So I’m saying something far more radical than those physicists.

Finally, you might object, look, we all see the train, therefore none of us constructs the train.

But remember this example. In this example, we all see a cube, but the screen is flat, so the cube that you see is the cube that you construct. We all see a cube because we all, each one of us, constructs the cube that we see.

The same is true of the train. We all see a train because we each see the train that we construct, and the same is true of all physical objects.

We’re inclined to think that perception is like a window on reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that this is an incorrect interpretation of our perceptions.

Instead, reality is more like a 3D desktop that’s designed to hide the complexity of the real world and guide adaptive behavior. Space as you perceive it is your desktop. Physical objects are just the icons in that desktop.

We used to think that the Earth is flat because it looks that way. Then we thought that the Earth is the unmoving center of reality because it looks that way. We were wrong. We had misinterpreted our perceptions.

Now we believe that spacetime and objects are the nature of reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that once again, we’re wrong.

We’re misinterpreting the content of our perceptual experiences. There’s something that exists when you don’t look, but it’s not spacetime and physical objects.

It’s as hard for us to let go of spacetime and objects as it is for the jewel beetle to let go of its bottle. Why?

Because we’re blind to our own blindnesses. But we have an advantage over the jewel beetle: our science and technology.

By peering through the lens of a telescope we discovered that the Earth is not the unmoving center of reality, and by peering through the lens of the theory of evolution we discovered that spacetime and objects are not the nature of reality.

When I have a perceptual experience that I describe as a red tomato, I am interacting with reality, but that reality is not a red tomato and is nothing like a red tomato.

Similarly, when I have an experience that I describe as a lion or a steak, I’m interacting with reality, but that reality is not a lion or a steak.

And here’s the kicker: When I have a perceptual experience that I describe as a brain, or neurons, I am interacting with reality, but that reality is not a brain or neurons and is nothing like a brain or neurons.

And that reality, whatever it is, is the real source of cause and effect in the world — not brains, not neurons. Brains and neurons have no causal powers. They cause none of our perceptual experiences, and none of our behavior. 

Brains and neurons are a species-specific set of symbols, a hack.

What does this mean for the mystery of consciousness? Well, it opens up new possibilities.

For instance, perhaps reality is some vast machine that causes our conscious experiences. I doubt this, but it’s worth exploring.

Perhaps reality is some vast, interacting network of conscious agents, simple and complex, that cause each other’s conscious experiences. Actually, this isn’t as crazy an idea as it seems, and I’m currently exploring it.

But here’s the point: Once we let go of our massively intuitive but massively false assumption about the nature of reality, it opens up new ways to think about life’s greatest mystery.

I bet that reality will end up turning out to be more fascinating and unexpected than we’ve ever imagined.

The theory of evolution presents us with the ultimate dare: 

Dare to recognize that perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids. And by the way, even this TED is just in your head.

19:31 Chris Anderson: If that’s really you there, thank you. So there’s so much from this. I mean, first of all, some people may just be profoundly depressed at the thought that, if evolution does not favor reality, I mean, doesn’t that to some extent undermine all our endeavors here, all our ability to think that we can think the truth, possibly even including your own theory, if you go there?

 Donald Hoffman: Well, this does not stop us from a successful science. What we have is one theory that turned out to be false, that perception is like reality and reality is like our perceptions. That theory turns out to be false.

Okay, throw that theory away. That doesn’t stop us from now postulating all sorts of other theories about the nature of reality, so it’s actually progress to recognize that one of our theories was false. So science continues as normal. There’s no problem here.

20:22 CAThis is cool, but what you’re saying I think is it’s possible that evolution can still get you to reason.

DH: Yes. Now that’s a very, very good point. The evolutionary game simulations that I showed were specifically about perception, and they do show that our perceptions have been shaped not to show us reality as it is, but that does not mean the same thing about our logic or mathematics.

We haven’t done these simulations, but my bet is that we’ll find that there are some selection pressures for our logic and our mathematics to be at least in the direction of truth. I mean, if you’re like me, math and logic is not easy.

We don’t get it all right, but at least the selection pressures are not uniformly away from true math and logic. So I think that we’ll find that we have to look at each cognitive faculty one at a time and see what evolution does to it.

What’s true about perception may not be true about math and logic.

CA: I mean, really what you’re proposing is a kind of modern-day Bishop Berkeley interpretation of the world: consciousness causes matter, not the other way around.

DH: Well, it’s slightly different than Berkeley. Berkeley thought that, he was a deist, and he thought that the ultimate nature of reality is God and so forth, and I don’t need to go where Berkeley’s going, so it’s quite a bit different from Berkeley. I call this conscious realism. It’s actually a very different approach.

Donald Hoffman on March 2015

Note 1: The way I comprehended this awesome speech is:

1. There are only 2 realities:  The survival process of the species and Death

2. If mankind tampers with the survival process we are doomed (as we already decimated countless other species)

3. We don’t love Death. We don’t love making babies: we just deal with this survival reality as best we can.

4. Love is not within the realm of making babies: we just fall in love.

5. If we try to keep mathematics and logic out of the survival process, then we are Not allowing them to give us new ideas on the topic of survival

Note 2: I like to expand this concept a little further. After many trials in the living, we settle in a “comfort zone” and we stick to this zone and let the advertisers and politicians abuse of our perception of what is reality. We become the Silent Majority in a society. Unless we get out of our comfort zone again and again, we deny ourselves and our descendents the advantage of the survival process.

This Hedonic happy cell?

Note: Re-edit of “This Happy Cell, and What a Happy Cell Looks Like, 2015”

And I thought that memory is confined in brain cells and nerves only?

“What is the truest form of human happiness?”  Steven Cole asks.

It’s a question he’s been considering for most of his career—but Cole is an immunologist, (very timely for this Covid-19 pandemics?) not a philosopher.

This question isn’t rhetoric or a thought experiment. It’s science—measurable and finite.

A growing field of research is examining how life satisfaction may affect cellular functioning and DNA.

Cole, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, has spent several decades investigating the connection between our emotional and biological selves.

“The old thinking was that our bodies were stable biological entities, fundamentally separate from the external world, But the new thinking is that there is much more permeability and fluidity.”

Betty Nudler/Flickr

His latest project is the examination of happiness in biological terms.

“There’s an intrinsic connection between our direct experience of happiness and the perception of that experience in our bodies, as represented by changes in our biologic mechanisms. We’ve found that happiness can remodel our cellular composition,” he explains.

Specifically, Cole and his team of researchers at UCLA have found that happiness seems to alter the function of immune cells.

“It’s no question that the mind and immune system are intrinsically linked. Our body is a literal product of our environment.”

As Cole explains, the immune system has two primary functions: to fight infection and to cause inflammation.

The first function, known as the antiviral response, is generally considered positive because it helps ward off external threats, like viruses, that might otherwise harm the body.

The second function, known as the inflammatory response, is less positive because its efforts is to keep healthy immune cells circulating in the body can also cause tissue damage.

Cole has found that the balance of these two functions of the immune system may change based on life experiences.

His work has shown that negative experiences like a new cancer diagnosis, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and low socioeconomic status may cause changes to someone’s immunologic profile.

Over the past 15 years, our work has shown us that diverse social and psychological experiences that cause a sense of threat or uncertainty can evoke a similar response in our immune cells,” he says.

Listening to him explain his work is part philosophy lesson, part cellular-biology lesson, a scientific discourse on la dolce vita.

“We’re beginning to understand that life experiences like chronic stress, loneliness, and social isolation negatively affect our immunologic profile. This gives us a sense of how Not to live—but more importantly, it also tells us something about how to live, because there are concrete things we can do to actively promote a positive change in our immunology,” he says. “The biology of happiness is in our hands.”

But how exactly do our immune cells register this abstract concept of happiness? The answer depends on how “happiness” is defined.

“There are two distinct forms of happiness, hedonic happiness and eudaimonic happiness, and our bodies respond differently to each type,” Cole explains.

“Hedonic happiness is the elevated mood we experience after an external life event, like buying a new home,” while eudaimonic happiness “is our sense of purpose and direction in life, our involvement in something bigger than ourselves.”

Of the two, eudaimonic happiness in particular is associated with a better-functioning immune system, according to Cole.

To determine this effect, Cole and a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, asked 80 healthy adults to fill out questionnaires about their well-being.

The researchers then analyzed the volunteers’ answers to assess their levels of eudaimonic and hedonic happiness, and took blood samples to study the functioning of their immune cells. (I don’t give much credit to research based on questionnaires)

They found that a high score of eudaimonic happiness, more than a high score of hedonic happiness, was correlated with a better genetic expression profilemeaning the immune cells showed high rates of the antiviral response and low rates of the inflammatory response.

The researchers posited that though both types of happiness may look similar on the outside, the corresponding genetic expression profiles are quite different.

“When we asked people how happy they felt, both [the high eudaimonic and high hedonic] groups seemed about the same,”Cole says.

But when we looked at the cellular and molecular level, it looks like people with high levels of eudaimonic happiness are better off, immunologically speaking.”

“We already know ways to achieve hedonic happiness, but how can we live our lives to evoke a eudaimonic experience in our immune system?” he continues.

One way is through mind-body practices, like meditation, which “have been shown to cultivate positive and happy immune cells,” he says.

But perhaps the most striking theory posed of meditation is that it could alter genetic material.

In recent years, a new field of study, known as mind-body genomics, has emerged.

Among the most well-known researchers in this area are Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, a biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleague, psychiatrist Elissa Epel.

Through a series of studies, the two found that meditation could affect the ends of DNA known as the telomeres, which act as protective caps for genes. The longer the telomere, the greater the protection conferred for the DNA strand, and the longer that cell can survive.

And telomeres, like immune cells, seem to respond to emotional cues.

Negative external conditions like chronic stress that reduce eudaimonic happiness may shorten telomere length, while stress-reducing activities like meditation may help to maintain it.

“Telomeres are affected by many things, but they are directly affected by stress. So we can see how improvements in our mental health, through the practice of meditation, might be linked to improvements in our telomeres,” Epel explains. “They offer us a window and some insight into how we are living, and help us appreciate how what we do today can affect our health tomorrow.”

As the field of mind-body genomics matures, the focus is moving towards gaining a better understanding of not only how DNA could be structurally changed by meditation, but also whether meditation can alter DNA functionally, through changes in how genes are expressed.

In one recent study, for example, meditation was linked to enhanced expression of genes associated with insulin secretion, telomere structure, and cellular energy and function, and decreased expression of genes linked to inflammation and stress.

What’s more, blood samples collected during the study found that experienced meditators showed changes in their genetic activity after just one meditation session.

With 21,000 genes in the human genome, Cole, Epel, and other researchers have just scratched the surface of the connection between our emotional and biological selves.

“We are an ever-changing conglomeration of cells very much influenced by our experience of the world around us,” Cole says. “At the rate we’re going, we have more data than we can make sense of. It’s this process that helps us get closer to understanding the black box.

Who knows? Maybe in the future we may be able to sequence our own genes.” Epel agrees: “We don’t yet have the technology to monitor our telomeres, but it’s coming.”

In the meantime, though, the lessons of mind-body genomics still apply.

“The experience you have today will influence your body composition for the next 80 days, because that’s how long most cellular processes hang around,” Cole says. “So plan your day accordingly.”

Note: Research has linked meditation to reduced negative inflammatory activityincreased positive antiviral responseimproved function of specific strains of immune cells, and higher antibody production.

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

May 2020
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