Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For The Sheer Joy of Watching a Fellow Human Being Master Something Difficult

Sunday, January 12, 2014


More proof that some smart people just aren't so smart.

A well-kept secret from a marketing guy: most of the 'feel good' stuff you hear/see in advertising for products are clever twists of half truths, like hair is manufactured through our follicles from vitamin B5, so shampooing it with B5 must be good for your hair.  That's like saying humans need water to survive, so go swimming once a day.  You have to EAT vitamin B5 to grow hair, not bathe in it.

Every apple you eat is "genetically modified".  Every single one.  They were cross-pollinated and grafted and selected carefully over many years to become a Red Delicious or a Granny Smith.  Their GENES were modified to make them look/taste the way they do.  YOU are genetically modified --  Natural Selection and your parents manufactured you from genes. When someone kisses you and ingests some of the cells from your inner cheeks, he or she does not start transforming into you.

Modifying plants and animals genetically does not somehow make the pest-resistant wheat you eat into a dangerous substance that will turn your kids into monsters.  The 'modified' DNA of a Holstein cow does not turn the hamburger meat into a perilous horror story ingredient that will somehow give you allergies or make you glow.  It's just meat.  It's just wheat.   

But we humans, with our overly complex brains, have a built-in pathway in our brains that makes us highly susceptible to believing in angels and fairies and gremlins and gods and Pro Vitamin B5 and conspiracies and the power of positive thinking and horoscopes and psychics and aliens visiting the planet earth.  Politicians leverage this tendency to get elected by playing on our darkest convictions (vote against that other guy because he doesn't believe in 'our' god or because he's not from 'our' race/culture).  Jenny McCarthy leverages it to try to convince the rest of us that her own genes and bad luck were not responsible for her son having autism, she totally erroneously claims vaccines were because they have scary sounding things in them and they get injected into our babies like 'mad scientists' do in horror shows.

Genetically modified plants are saving the undeveloped world's population from starving by creating strains that will grow in dry conditions and are resistant to pests.  Genetic modification is making our world a much better place for us to live in.  There is nothing, NOTHING, harmful or scary about ingesting and digesting ANYTHING that is genetically modified.  NOTHING.  ....but it is SO MUCH FUN for our brains to worry about bullshit like this. 

Be smart, buy genetically modified foods for your kids and get the most out of just how smart we human beings are.   Spread the truth, not scary fiction.  Fight your brain's tendencies to believe in and obsess over bullshit.

Image Source:  © 2012 Nature Education Courtesy of Ania M. Wieczorek and Mark G. Wright. All rights reserved.
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In a related vein, the WORST perpetrators of "I'm protecting my children!" are actually just pleasing their own brain's demands and are doing something really, really stupid for their children.  LINK TO POST.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Help Stop Big Tobacco's Last Tools for Addicting Young People to Smoking

There is no bigger promoter of teen smoking than Robert Pattinson.
There's a simple, easy way to gradually prevent the majority of kids from starting smoking, although the industry will fight it tooth and nail behind the scenes.  Ban any photo, or video, or mention of cigarettes in any public medium.

The photo shoot featuring Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame holding a cigarette in almost all the shots did more to start teens smoking than any other advertising or 'placement'.  Mad Men helped gets countless more started.  There are HUNDREDS of popular songs that feature mentions of cigarettes and clearly make smoking seem like it is cool and rebellious, and teens brains go through a period of instinctual, uncontrollable rebellion.

It is this fact of human brain development and our highly addictive nature that the tobacco industry feeds off of, addicting impressionable young people before they have the capacity to resist.  Start your personal lobby against Big Tobacco now.  Sign the petition.

Yes, film producers/directors, songwriters, 'free speech nut jobs' and others (ESPECIALLY the lobbyists funded by Big Tobacco) will scream "ARTISTIC LICENSE!" and "We're just replaying a historical truth!"  I call bullshit.  No TV show or movie is going to be less watched because smoking gets left out.  No character in any show is going to be less powerful due to them not being shown smoking. 

Alcohol is a substance that can be consumed by the majority in large or small amounts by the masses without triggering addiction, that is NOT true of smoking -- once you get started, you are addicted for life.  It takes a LOT of drinking to lead someone to an early grave, it takes just a few cigarettes a day to put smokers into expensive health care as they age.  For the profit of a few of the 1%, millions are being coerced into addiction worldwide.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

No, Virginia, There Are No Aliens... But There ARE Old Nutjobs Who Crave the Spotlight

Former Canadian defense minister, now 91, believes in aliens: LINK


Recent research proves that homo sapiens sapiens have a neural pathway that drives our beliefs in superstition, religion, conspiracy theories, aliens, angels, etc. It's genetic and related to the fact that the bonding hormone oxytocin contributes to each 'tribe' or family or culture being suspicious of and antagonistic toward 'not just like us'.  Not a choice, just 'instinct'. 

These built-in tendencies are ameliorated only with intimate exposure to other cultures/tribes (willingness and $ to travel) and education (accelerated by higher IQ). However some very smart people still believe in aliens and religions because they skew further over on the spectrum of those with very big "NEED TO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES" neural pathways. Others have a very strong need to be famous, regardless of how they get in to the spotlight (see: Jenny McCarthy and her deeply-held, ego-supported, completely erroneous belief that it was something other than her own genes and bad luck that led her child to be autistic).

The reality is that humans have been 'intelligent' for only the past 6,000 years out of the 6 million since we split from the chimps (0.1%).  As Isaac Asimov succinctly pointed out, as the development of intelligent species in the universe is random and conditions conducive to evolution were possible about 6 BILLION years ago, while it must have happened many times elsewhere, as our evolution happened at 0.1% of 0.1% of the time such evolutionary conditions might have been possible, the chances that any other intelligent beings exist AT THE SAME TIME as us is infinitesimally small.

Combine that with the fact that the nearest star system WITHOUT any planet that might support life (and only if we invented a working Ion drive), would take 81,000 years to reach, plus the fact that any star system WITH life-supporting planets are much further away AND that we must send ships to all of the tens of thousands of them in a 3-dimensional spherical pattern, and the chances of any intelligent species every finding any other IN THE SAME TIME PERIOD BEFORE THEY GO EXTINCT is less than zero.  Think about it.   If we sent one million probes that travel as fast as we are capable of propelling them toward the most densely 'populated' area of the Milky Way, in more than 5,000 human generations ALL would scatter to the point that, even if there was an intelligent species scanning for such a probe, one of the one million probes MIGHT pass them by, but at such a distance it would never be detected.  Such is the vastness of space.

Full circle: it seems that part of the fallout of our genetic neural pathway 'need to believe in fairies' is a conviction that, having become conscious, our magnificent species will somehow live forever and find others who ALSO live forever, like the gods-in-human-like-form of Mount Olympus and every other religion that so many humans cling to.  Somehow, some way, defying logic and the laws of time and space/physics, we WILL get together and party together at some point in the not-too distant future, according to these ever-hopeful nincompoops.  Get over it, folks! 

We aren't all that special, despite what your complex neural pathways and brain folds will try to convince you of.  Our human consciousness is just an accident of evolution, not some kind of predestined ultimate achievement of a 'higher power' that lead to a 'chosen people' ('species').  Yes, the thought processes our brains are capable of will lead us there time and again, but we're just a 'too smart for nature' (we are capable of killing ourselves off en masse, and most of our fellow species with us) accident that does have a 'best before date'.  We won't be here in another few million years.


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