Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CNu vs UCBM - Grueling Dueling I

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. Albert Einstein

We shouldn’t ignore our simple, real-world understanding of what “intelligence” is – and what it means – as we navigate this politically and scientifically complex subject. David Mills

My forensic opponent has leveled the following charges against yours truly;
I will leave it to any interested reader to decide which of us spoke plainly and which one argued poorly... which one is ideology-driven and deliberately oblique.
So I'm going to break it down to really simple terms and see if we can bring the Millsian soft shoe to dialectical closure. According to Mills;

1. Intelligence is a faculty

2. One person is strictly smarter than another.

3. The faculty is inherited

4. There's little that society or the individual can or should do to alter where an individual is in the hierarchy.

5. Richer and higher status individuals (and families, since this characteristic is heritable) are richer and have a higher status, because they are smarter.

I believe that in a nutshell, these propositions capture the essence of David Mill's political position on IQ. (David, please correct me if I've over or understated your simple, real-world understanding of what intelligence is and the outcomes which it naturally engenders?)

David, do you understand what a social construct is? Here are a few examples:

academic performance
job performance

I know from our blackprof.com exchanges that you have a racially tinged interest in crime and criminality. Have you included in your crime category, kidnapping people, murdering them, raping them, and making them labor for you without compensation - a pretty good description of the American economic system for 300 years? Any chance that this crime and criminality could have had an adverse effect on Black folks heritable position and status within the American social hierarchy? The fact is, there is no scientific category that is more than tangentially connected to "race", and there is no known genetic marker that is more than tangentially connected to "IQ." Both of those, in the context you are using, are social constructions, not scientific ones.

There's more;

Speaking of politically and scientifically complex...

While Craig Nulan marches up and down the sidewalk wearing a sandwich board that says “IQ is meaningless!” on the front and “Psychometrics is racist!” on the back... guess what? A subset of the high-IQ population is doing things like mapping the human genome, putting machines on the surface of Mars (and communicating with them), and pondering the nature of subatomic particles.

Hell, it takes a high IQ to even comprehend that stuff, let alone do the actual science.

This in itself renders silly any black-partisan blustering about the unknowability of “intelligence,” or the relativism of different kinds of intelligences. Whitey done sent a spaceship past Saturn, got-dammit! How you sound, talkin’ ’bout “IQ ain’t shit”?

Here David has stepped up his argument from individuals to groups and enlarges on his argument that IQ correlates to various outcomes and has value for that reason. Race applies to groups. Given that race also correlates to outcomes, why not simply skip the middle man and claim that race is linked to group intelligence because it is linked to group outcomes? IQ tests, which are products of 19th and early 20th century acculturation - long before the advent of either neurology or genetics, and, at the height of the American racist imperialist ethos - is about group acculturation and its effect on group curricular assimilation. The fatal flaw in whatever the IQ test measures is that it isn't measuring anything beyond the same old environmental factors that it presumes to render irrelevant.

For discussions sake, let's play along with David and see what we have to believe in order to hold his group stratification scheme together, shall we?

1. We pretend that the IQ test developed in the late 19th century corresponds to natural human intelligence, instead of ways of getting ahead in a particular society.

2. A subpopulation of humans, (the Germanics) distinguished only by their skin color, suddenly spread a genetic feature that allowed them to be smarter - as defined by the symbol manipulations of the IQ test - but that the phylogenetic effect of that change lagged behind by, 5,000 years if we compare the Germanics with the poor benighted black folks who did their thing back in Egypt.

3. In fact, for 4,000 years, the symbol manipulation of, say, writing, was far advanced on the Nile, while our Germanics were making do with painting themselves blue and living in caves.

4. Unbeknownst to the rest of humanity though, the Germanics were secretly passing on an absolutely useless genetic mutation across all those millenia, because as Hitler pointed out, Gott im Himmel had a plan for them.

5. When they finally learned to manipulate symbols to the extent that they learned a writing system around 400 AD - they were poised for group explosion.

6. Then came the dark ages....,

7. Until around 500 years ago, across those long dark ages - these hardy Germanics were dwarfed, in terms of their technological and symbol manipulation knowledge by the Chinese, Japanese, North African, African, Mesoamerican, and other civilizations.

8. Thank altertumswissenschaft - all of a sudden - the secret genetic inheritance of the Germanics kicked in and propelled them to a position of group supremacy over all the benighted others.

9. Having arrived at their long-occulted genetic inheritance the lofty Germanics are now doing things like mapping the human genome, putting machines on the surface of Mars (and communicating with them), and pondering the nature of subatomic particles....., amen.

Taking my pop cultural cue from David, until the next installment - a musical outro;

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bio Art

GFP -"Green Fluorescent Protein" - Alba is undoubtedly a very special animal, but I want to be clear that her formal and genetic uniqueness are but one component of the "GFP Bunny" artwork. The "GFP Bunny" project is a complex social event that starts with the creation of a chimerical animal that does not exist in nature (i.e., "chimerical" in the sense of a cultural tradition of imaginary animals, not in the scientific connotation of an organism in which there is a mixture of cells in the body) and that also includes at its core: 1) ongoing dialogue between professionals of several disciplines (art, science, philosophy, law, communications, literature, social sciences) and the public on cultural and ethical implications of genetic engineering; 2) contestation of the alleged supremacy of DNA in life creation in favor of a more complex understanding of the intertwined relationship between genetics, organism, and environment; 3) extension of the concepts of biodiversity and evolution to incorporate precise work at the genomic level; 4) interspecies communication between humans and a transgenic mammal; 5) integration and presentation of "GFP Bunny" in a social and interactive context; 6) examination of the notions of normalcy, heterogeneity, purity, hybridity, and otherness; 7) consideration of a non-semiotic notion of communication as the sharing of genetic material across traditional species barriers; 8) public respect and appreciation for the emotional and cognitive life of transgenic animals; 9) expansion of the present practical and conceptual boundaries of artmaking to incorporate life invention.

NPR Story today on Bioart:

Low Self-Esteem the Root of Material Desire

Contemporary American tweens and teens have emerged as the most ;

materialistic generation

in history. And they top the list globally. . . .More children here than anywhere else believe that their clothes and brands describe who they are and define their social status.

Growing up in a Material World: Age Differences in Materialism in Children and Adolescents

Changing Images of Man

You already know that I'm a big fan of information absorption from the Rand archives. Well let me introduce you to another one of my favorite watering holes of elite thought exteriorization. Always mindful of what that Northern Cali bunch have been up to, I must say that these folks have had an amazing history and they have a very large footprint indeed.
Changing Images of Man predicts an American economic collapse and a "garrison" (police) state," if the overwhelming inequities of our economic system are not corrected by powerful multinationals making more humane decisions. Alternatives to this doomsday scenario are discussed, all of which point to the need to devote all available resources towards transforming the image of man, changing man's nature, instead of altering the corrupted economic system which has brought America to this dire state. In this government study it was inappropriate to denounce the evil culprits behind all our troubles (who pull the strings on government itself), even though the task was to document and remedy the damage that they have done. Instead, they are cited as the hopeful "saviors," that we should look to for help and leadership. The hypocrisy of the hegemons! The authors admit that it is "utopian in 1974 to think of the multinational corporations as potentially among our most effective mechanisms for husbanding the earth's resources and optimizing their use for human benefit -- the current popular image of the corporation tends to be more that of the spoiler and the exploiter."

Instead of charging the people who are responsible for our situation, for manipulating our economy and our democracy to maximize their profits, the multi-national corporations and their owners were exalted as the potential saviors of mankind. The elite have consistently taken steps to dominate the world by controlling people through "humanitarian" projects which, in the end, turn out to be profit mechanisms. The "green revolution" to spread corporate farming to the Third World has been the key to globalization's destabilizing of world labor markets, in order to create populations of "refugee workers," who are willing to go anywhere to find work for slave wages. This is the cause of the wave of illegal immigration into the US from Mexico. This is part of the proof that there are powerful individuals who are using their economic power to undermine nations in a long-term scheme to gain control of nations and multiply their profits.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Neuroscience and Fundamentalism - Social Policy Implications

Having banged heavily on conservative and racist just-so stories about genetic determinism, IQ, and eugenics for the past month or so - here now is a heavily value-laden perspective from the other side of the political fence. What types of socio-political policies are warranted and appropriate on the basis of the neurological data and hypothesis set forth in this article? Murray and Herrnstein didn't hesitate to propose policies in their polemical "The Bell Curve" - so surely there are evaluative, psychological, educational, and security policy implications resulting from the fact that there may well be a neurological basis for inflexible, dogmatic people who are stuck on stupid?
Do extremism and an unconditional adherence to religious dogma result from a failure of a portion of the frontal lobe to fully develop or, if fully developed, to activate? Studies suggest that faithful adherence to a single reasoning strategy on tests such as the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test means that parts of the frontal lobes are inactive, have failed to fully develop, or have even been damaged. Thus, unqualified disdain for divergent beliefs,for personal interpretation, and for creative theories like Darwin’s theory of evolution, may indeed have, at least a partial, biological explanation: a reduced utilization of that section of the brain which has played such a vital role in humanity’s creative advances—the frontal lobes. By unconditionally obeying religious tenets—or any dogma—some people may be relying on the phylo-genetically older, more posterior portions of the brain that store knowledge and enable consistent or stable behaviors and, unknowingly, circumventing the portion which has been gifted to humans alone through evolution.
Doesn't the natural implication of congenitally "stuck-on-stupid" folks gobbling up the lion's share of welfare state benefits clearly compromise the aim of resource optimization in an increasingly resource scarce world? This is a condition for which one can easily screen and objectively document.

Is the Brain Really Necessary?

This was the question asked by British neurologist John Lorber when he addressed a conference of p├Ždiatricians in 1980. Such a frivolous sounding question was sparked by case studies Lorber had been involved in since the mid-60s. The case studies involve victims of an ailment known as hydrocephalus, more commonly known as water on the brain. The condition results from an abnormal build up of cerebrospinal fluid and can cause severe retardation and death if not treated.

Two young children with hydrocephalus referred to Lorber presented with normal mental development for their age. In both children, there was no evidence of a cerebral cortex. One of the children died at age 3 months, the second at 12 months. He was still following a normal development profile with the exception of the apparent lack of cerebral tissue shown by repeated medical testing. An account of the children was published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

Later, a colleague at Sheffield University became aware of a young man with a larger than normal head. He was referred to Lorber even though it had not caused him any difficulty. Although the boy had an IQ of 126 and had a first class honours degree in mathematics, he had "virtually no brain". A noninvasive measurement of radio density known as CAT scan showed the boy's skull was lined with a thin layer of brain cells to a millimeter in thickness. The rest of his skull was filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The young man continues a normal life with the exception of his knowledge that he has no brain.

Although anecdotal accounts may be found in medical literature, Lorber is the first to provide a systematic study of such cases. He has documented over 600 scans of people with hydrocephalus and has broken them into four groups:
  • those with nearly normal brains
  • those with 50-70% of the cranium filled with cerebrospinal fluid
  • those with 70-90% of the cranium filled with cerebrospinal fluid
  • and the most severe group with 95% of the cranial cavity filled with cerebrospinal fluid.

GMO as a Weapon of Biowarfare?

Can the development of patented seeds (genetically modified organisms - GMO) for most of the world’s major sustenance crops such as rice, corn, wheat, and feed grains such as soybeans ultimately be used in a horrible form of biological warfare?

The explicit aim of the eugenics lobby funded by wealthy elite families such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harriman and others since the 1920’s, has embodied what they termed ‘negative eugenics,’ the systematic killing off of undesired bloodlines. Margaret Sanger, a rapid eugenicist, the founder of Planned Parenthood International and an intimate of the Rockefeller family, created something called The Negro Project in 1939, based in Harlem, which as she confided in a letter to a friend, was all about the fact that, as she put it, ‘we want to exterminate the Negro population.’

A small California biotech company, Epicyte, in 2001 announced the development of genetically engineered corn which contained a spermicide which made the semen of men who ate it sterile. At the time Epicyte had a joint venture agreement to spread its technology with DuPont and Syngenta, two of the sponsors of the Svalbard Doomsday Seed Vault. Epicyte was since acquired by a North Carolina biotech company. Astonishing to learn was that Epicyte had developed its spermicidal GMO corn with research funds from the US Department of Agriculture, the same USDA which, despite worldwide opposition, continued to finance the development of Terminator technology, now held by Monsanto.

In the 1990’s the UN’s World Health Organization launched a campaign to vaccinate millions of women in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines between the ages of 15 and 45, allegedly against Tentanus, a sickness arising from such things as stepping on a rusty nail. The vaccine was not given to men or boys, despite the fact they are presumably equally liable to step on rusty nails as women.

Because of that curious anomaly, Comite Pro Vida de Mexico, a Roman Catholic lay organization became suspicious and had vaccine samples tested. The tests revealed that the Tetanus vaccine being spread by the WHO only to women of child-bearing age contained human Chorionic Gonadotrophin or hCG, a natural hormone which when combined with a tetanus toxoid carrier stimulated antibodies rendering a woman incapable of maintaining a pregnancy. None of the women vaccinated were told.

It later came out that the Rockefeller Foundation along with the Rockefeller’s Population Council, the World Bank (home to CGIAR), and the United States’ National Institutes of Health had been involved in a 20-year-long project begun in 1972 to develop the concealed abortion vaccine with a tetanus carrier for WHO. In addition, the Government of Norway, the host to the Svalbard Doomsday Seed Vault, donated $41 million to develop the special abortive Tetanus vaccine.

Is it a coincidence that these same organizations, from Norway to the Rockefeller Foundation to the World Bank are also involved in the Svalbard seed bank project? According to Prof. Francis Boyle who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 enacted by the US Congress, the Pentagon is ‘now gearing up to fight and win biological warfare’ as part of two Bush national strategy directives adopted, he notes, ‘without public knowledge and review’ in 2002. Boyle adds that in 2001-2004 alone the US Federal Government spent $14.5 billion for civilian bio-warfare-related work, a staggering sum.

Rutgers University biologist Richard Ebright estimates that over 300 scientific institutions and some 12,000 individuals in the USA today have access to pathogens suitable for biowarfare. Alone there are 497 US Government NIH grants for research into infectious diseases with biowarfare potential. Of course this is being justified under the rubric of defending against possible terror attack as so much is today.

Many of the US Government dollars spent on biowarfare research involve genetic engineering. MIT biology professor Jonathan King says that the ‘growing bio-terror programs represent a significant emerging danger to our own population.’ King adds, ‘while such programs are always called defensive, with biological weapons, defensive and offensive programs overlap almost completely.’

F. William Engdahl is the author of Seeds of Destruction, the Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation just released by Global Research. He also the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Pluto Press Ltd.. To contact by e-mail: info@engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.

William Engdahl is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
His writings can be consulted on www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net and on Global Research.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

II - Why Has David Mills Internalized Racist Pseudo-Science?

If as your post on the subject suggests David, The Bell Curve and selective breeding are the sole basis for your uncritical acceptance of genetic determinism of IQ in humans - you have disclosed specific logical fallacies coupled with basic scientific ignorance as the foundation of your beliefs on this subject. Perhaps there's more to it than that - but thus far - those are the basis which you've cited.

Broadly speaking, in the former case you've made a fallacious appeal to authority coupled with basic scientific ignorance that not even Murray or Herrnstein endeavored;
The authors were reported throughout the popular press as arguing that these IQ differences are genetic, although they state no position on the issue in the book, and write in the introduction to Chapter 13 that "The debate about whether and how much genes and environment have to do with ethnic differences remains unresolved."
- and in the latter case fallacious question begging coupled with basic scientific ignorance . (restated in more popularly accessible terms here)

There are tons of reasons why Murray and Herrnstein refused to subject the polemical thesis of The Bell Curve to peer review. It was a masterpiece of deceptive conservative propaganda intended to provoke controversy and fool the gullible. As such, it was wildly successful and it even appears to have worked like a charm on you;
Jump to "The Bell Curve." Like a lot of thoughtful people, I followed that controversy closely. Particularly the many rebuttal essays published in Commentary and The New Republic.

It was the unpersuasiveness of those rebuttals which impacted me. I was like, "Shit... they didn't knock it down at all." I was rooting for them to. But they didn't.
Specifically speaking, I believe you've suffered an a priori entanglement in the projective snare of the three lies you posted - underscoring the fixity of your poorly informed and politically motivated beliefs concerning the subject;
And so I asked Nulan: Did those childhood tests measure something real... and worth measuring? He buck-danced around that one like Sandman Sims, refusing to give the simple and obvious answer: YES.

And still, even Gould (
whose resume of the history of psychometrics has been well studied by Nulan)

So, at least in Gould's case, we've narrowed down the area of interest: figuring out just how major or minor is the acknowledged influence of genetics on intelligence.
Craig Nulan won't grant even that much.
I didn't buck dance, I answered your question very precisely then, which answer I will now repeat;
After the middle of the 19th century, industrialization in America and western Europe forced a growing demand for universal public schooling as the means by which children could be taught the skills and values desired by industry. It was in this industrially oriented educational climate that the French minister of education Alfred Binet, director of the psychology laboratory at the Sorbonne, developed a testing procedure capable of identifying students in need of special schooling. The task as defined was essentially a technical one, and Binet approached it in a straightforward practical fashion. He amassed hundreds of questions drawn from the school curriculum and covering a broad range of difficulty.

His basic idea was to design a test which could be given to children of varying ages and on which children at a given age or grade level would do either well or poorly - depending on whether they were already doing well or poorly in school. Preliminary versions of the test were given to small groups of children whose scores were compared with their teachers ratings of classroom performance. In the process, items were added or deleted in order to bring about the closest possible correspondence between test performance and educational age norms.

In its final form, Binet's test provided an index of scholastic performance based on the prevailing standard of scholastic success. In other words, scores on his test generally correlated with the ratings assigned by French teachers in the classrooms of his day. By using teachers judgements of classroom performance as the standard by which his test was validated, Binet established a practical basis for its use as a predictor of success in the school system. Because his aim had been to identify children who required special schooling, he did not require, nor did he assert, a theory or definition of intelligence. Moreover, he did not make a distinction between acquired or congenital feeblemindedness and he never argued that poor performance on his test was a sign of innate mental inferiority. On the contrary, he sternly rebuked his contemporaries who contended that intelligence is a fixed quantity that cannot be augmented.
Genetics doesn't have a causal or correlative effect on scholastic performance based on the prevailing standard of scholastic success. Which is what IQ tests measure.

Education - OTOH - has a decisive effect. With that answer, all further controversy should have ceased - but because of your unshakeable conviction that IQ is innate and measurable - you proceeded into a series of factual errors -All of Nulan's polemical eggs appear to rest in a basket of denialism...
denying that intelligence is heritable;

denying that intelligence can be measured via testing;

denying even the possibility that different human sub-groups might have unequal cognitive aptitudes.
Social heritability - YES - Genetic heritability - NO

Scholastic aptitude as a function of curricular competency can be measured, but that's not intelligence

Human sub-groups? Are these breeds of human David?

In the course of nearly 1000 words of bloviation in which you claim to be a good faith seeker after objective truth - you even managed two ad hominem attacks on me;
Having traded a few comments with this charmer at BlackProf.com and The Assault on Black Folks' Sanity, I'm fairly certain that Mr. Nulan isn't interested in a good-faith dialogue on this wickedly complicated subject.

Nulan's preferred style of disputation seems to be
the "ad hominy" attack (i.e., throwing personal insults around like hot grits)
Let the record show, I deeply dislike anti-Black propagandists. I am prone to viscerally respond to sources of anti-Black propaganda whenever and wherever I encounter them. Why do you suppose your reflexive and uncritical screeds on Black crime at Blackprof.com triggered my gag reflex concerning your ideological orientation? My boy Cobb is a conservative and staunchly pro-American commentator, and we stridently disagree all the time - but never once in all the years we've sparred politically have I seen him get the racial dimension of crime all twisted up the way you seem to have gotten it twisted David. If I couple your expressed views on crime with your expressed views on intelligence, you read exactly like a dyed-in-the-wool racist. This puts a completely unexpected spin on your nom de plume "undercover black man" don't it?

I - Why Has David Mills Internalized Racist Pseudo-Science?

This past week, I asked the journalist and screenwriter David Mills the following question;
“The main question I’d like answered is how precisely did you get hoodwinked and bamboozled to serve as a host and conduit of racist thought David? What was the intrinsic appeal of IQ heritability pseudo-science that made you buy into it hook, line, and sinker?”
I gather from the response posted at his blog, that the origin of his belief in the genetic determination of IQ consists of three parts ;
  1. An episode of Good Times
  2. Murray and Herrnstein's The Bell Curve
  3. Tryon's (1940) selective breeding for maze "Bright" and "Dull" mice - which was the basis for Cooper and Zubek's 1958 demonstration of genetic interactionism. (the link is to a recent analysis of the complexity involved with a genetic interpretation of "selective breeding")
Additional influences may pertain - and I encourage David to state these - however, these are the three he cited. In addition to the above, he managed to ask one factually distorted question of me;
So, at least in Gould’s case, we’ve narrowed down the area of interest: figuring out just how major or minor is the acknowledged influence of genetics on intelligence. Craig Nulan won’t grant even that much. (I wonder why?)
- to which I'll respond very simply - I'm an interactionist. The interactionist consensus prevails in science today rather than the popularly held dualism of nature/nurture and their effect on physiological or behavioral phenotypes.

Neither the exclusive or the additive models make any biological sense whatsoever. No genetic factor can properly be studied independent of, or just in addition to, the environment. The same is true for the environment. The concept of the environment includes a wide variety of very different causes and factors, from the genomic environment of a gene, over its chromatin packaging and cellular context, up to ecological, social and cultural influences over the whole organism. In addition to the complex facts pertaining to genetic science, I reject the genetic determinism of IQ because;
  1. I know exactly what the history and politics of IQ measurement in America
  2. I know what IQ measures and doesn't measure
  3. I know that science has had no part whatsoever in the construction of this uniquely value-laden psychometric enterprise
The politically motivated dualisms which ascribe aspects of behavior or the underlying cognitive mechanisms to either innate/genetic or acquired/environmental causes - drastically confuses the issue and leads to objective error by introducing he following error sources;
  1. Political bias
  2. Lack of basic biological knowledge in political science and psychology.
  3. Misunderstanding of what counts as an explanation
Explanations may be in terms of;
  • causal mechanisms
  • developmental processes
  • function and fitness values
  • evolutionary origin of the behavior in question

  • The interactionist scientific examination of genetics will continue, hopefully with a minimum of politically motivated distortion from the popular political controversy over nature versus nurture.

    A little background housekeeping is in order before I proceed with my analysis of the question du jour - why has David Mills internalized racist pseudo-science?

    First - I was in the interdisciplinary AI program at MIT and I studied neurophysiology and computer science and was awarded the Thomas Marill scholarship for AI my senior year.

    Second - Stephen J. Gould was not an influence on my thinking in this area - at all. My primary influence was Dr. Stephan Chorover. Unlike Gould an anthropologist, Murray an alleged political scientist, or others involved in the popular political discourse - Chorover is a neuropsychologist who served for many years on the board of directors of the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). He wrote the book From Genesis to Genocide (1979) in part to expose experimentation and activities funded by the NIMH that he felt violated fundamental human rights.

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    It's the Drugs....,

    Of course high capacity firearms were the implement of choice, but methinkst you've overlooked the underlying common denominator tying together many if not all of these recent mass shootings.

    While a state ward, he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, mood disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and parent-child relations problems.

    Robert Hawkins, the 19 year old who killed himself and eight other people with an assault rifle last night in Omaha, Nebraska had a history of treatment with psychiatric drugs for depression and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and was on prozac according to press reports.

    Of course the headlines will once again focus on how evil and dangerous guns are, how the second amendment should be reevaluated and will once again ignore the fact that this young man was subject to dangerous brain altering chemicals for a number of years prior to this tragic incident.

    Investigators believe that Cho Seung Hui, the Virginia Tech murderer, had been taking anti-depressant medication at some point before the shootings last April, according to The Chicago Tribune.

    Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, as well as 15-year-old Kip Kinkel, the Oregon killer who gunned down his parents and classmates, were all on psychotropic drugs.

    Jeff Weise, the Red Lake High School killer was on prozac, "Unabomber" Ted Kaczinski, Michael McDermott, John Hinckley, Jr., Byran Uyesugi, Mark David Chapman and Charles Carl Roberts IV, the Amish school killer, were all on SSRI psychotropic drugs.

    Antidepressant drugs have never been tested on children nor approved by the FDA for use on children, however, Scientific studies proving that prozac encourages suicidal tendencies in young people are voluminous and span back nearly a decade.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Stem Cell Superpowers....,

    Sign me up for a pair of Zeiss-Ikon nightvision joints....,

    The work on stem cell therapies in the eye is mostly clinical and offers hope for those with severe eye damage, blindness, macular degeneration, cataracts, and more. But why stop there? Scientists such as Jay and Maureen Neitz at the Medical College of Wisconsin have been experimenting to see the effects of giving humans the ability to see different amounts of color when looking around the world, from dichromatic to tetrachromatic vision to even infrared.

    Imagine eyes that are even better in terms of mechanics or aesthetics than the best endowed pilot, sharpshooter, or actor. How far from therapy for cataracts is the use of a gene for night vision? Scientifically, perhaps not far, but what about ethically?

    The answer hangs on how you view enhancement. Literally. There are those who oppose the improvement of human nature on the grounds that we ought not to play God, or engage in risky research with no clinical benefit. But we are a society that enhances vision all the time with optical devices, ranging from night-vision goggles to colored contact lenses. I find it difficult to believe that building these changes into the eye itself would be morally more problematic.

    If such technologies are available, and the implantation and maintenance of "eyes from the dish" is safe and effective, I would argue we should not draw an arbitrary line between enhancement for eyes versus enhancement for any other aesthetic feature on the body (such as noses or breasts).

    Each of us may well have to decide just how far we are willing to go in terms of enhancing our perception. But the vision of better vision is coming to fruition. I'd keep an eye on it.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Vat Grown Organs - Tomorrow's Industry Today

    Scientists will take one of the white spheres floating in the jars - the scaffolds - and add layers upon layers of human bladder cells, then ship the organ to a surgeon, who will implant it in the body of its donor. From biopsy to surgery, the process takes six to eight weeks.

    In case you missed it, that patient just bought a new bladder, made out of her own cells. This may sound like science fiction, but scientists have been performing the technique, on a smaller scale, for eight years. As you read this, at least seven people are going about their business with autologous bladders that were created as part of an early clinical trial. In a smaller Tengion pilot facility in North Carolina, human bladders are already growing, part of two ongoing Phase II trials to determine if the process can help the thousands of people who need new bladders every year.

    Tengion's investors have banked - literally - on the hope that the company will, eventually, be able to supply this need, every year, from now on. If everything goes according to plan, the company, based 32 kilometers outside of Philadelphia, will be the first to sell autologous organs - meaning there's no risk of rejection and no need to take immuno-suppressive drugs.

    When Elite Juggernauts Collide

    Back in October, I found Cold Spring Harbor's rapid response repudiation of James Watson gratifying albeit disingenuous. My thinking then, as now - is that there's simply no way that the board of trustees was unaware of Watson's odious views and because of that fact, complicit in that worldview through its sanction of his executive privileges at that institution.

    In November, I chronicled the New York Times and Washington Post's (via Slate) gushing endorsements of the historic American racial genetic determinism of IQ slander of Black folks. Based on what I read, and my expectations for journalistic responsibility and accountability - I concluded that elements of the establishment were blowing propagandistic smoke to cover over institutional/elite blowback from the Watson snafu and simultaneously throwing the weight of their considerable strategic and social capital into the reintroduction of this most dangerous and odious practice of racial pseudo-science.

    Yesterday and over the weekend - I witnessed one of the most astonishing outings and subsequent crushing disavowals as Patricia Cohen of the NYTimes lampooned Slate's conservative neo-eugenicist William Saletan and Stephen Metcalf of Slate took him out behind the building and double-tapped him. Now my boy Cobb would say that this only goes to show the trustworthiness and moral rectitude of the American system. For my part, I'll grant that it's a good and necessary thing that a cleanup has taken place after the fact, but I'll truly believe it only when the Times takes Amy Harmon and Nicholas Wade out behind the building and dispatches them with the same ruthless aplomb with which the WaPo dispatched its garbage - and - when the license to publish such egregious anti-Black propaganda is permanently and preemptively revoked.

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Neuroeconomics - Dopamine Hegemony

    Physiological utility theory and the neuroeconomics of choice;

    For decades it has been known that these neurons and the dopamine they release play a critical role in brain mechanisms of reinforcement. Many of the drugs currently abused in our society mimic the actions of dopamine in the brain. This led many researchers to believe that dopamine neurons directly encoded the rewarding value of events in the outside world.
    That last one is a gem. Even though the discipline is barely aborning, it's already become value-laden and placed in the service of a political agenda.

    Neuroeconomics has been described as:

    • "an emerging transdisciplinary field that uses neuroscientific measurement techniques to identify the neural substrates associated with economic decisions” (Zak, 2004, p. 1737)
    • “Economics, psychology and neuroscience are converging today in to a single unified discipline with the ultimate aim of providing a single, general theory of human behavior. (…) The goal of this discipline is thus to understand the processes that connect sensation and action by revealing the neurobiological mechanisms by which decisions are made". (Glimcher & Rustichini, 2004, p. 447)
    • “the program for understanding the neural basis of the behavioral response to scarcity” (Ross, 2005, p. 330)

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Identifying and Destroying False Ideas

    As allegedly independent agents within the consensus reality, one of the things each of us has to do in our lives is to discover, as far as possible, the grounds for believing what we are asked to believe. Theories of human nature are inherently controversial because they are socially constructed. This includes allegedly scientific theories of human nature. Whenever you see something presented under the rubric of human nature: science, technology, and life - question it ruthlessly.

    No amount of special pleading on behalf of the alleged moral and ethical neutrality of genomic science should be allowed to obscure the fact that the conceptual and material deliverables of scientific research are not value-free. Yet, we have recently been beset by precisely such special pleadings within two dominant organs of the mainstream media which have each sought to make the case that the long-standing theories of genetic determinism of IQ is in fact a useful, helpful, and value-free research domain. Nothing could be further from the truth. Racists in America, the UK, and Germany have believed in and pursued these value-laden and heavily politically charged notions for well over a century, long prior to the advent of the scientific realization that there was even such a thing as a "genome".

    The story of eugenic pseudo-science is one of manifold superstitions and cruelties and measures and meanings invented, fostered, and propagated for no other reason than to provide an excuse for the exercise of social and political power that would otherwise be completely morally and ethically inexcusable. Those who govern employ a variety of methods to control the contents of the consensus. Much of that content is engineered to provoke fear and to foster ignorance between groups because a divided and fearful populace is a more readily controlled and manipulated populace. Often as not, what induces human groups to fear and destroy one another is the prevalence of false ideas about human nature.

    Last friday, I wrote that the NY Times and Slate.com have each published a series of articles drawing from the blogs of ill-informed people who do not warrant respectful attention in the case of the Times, and in the case of Slate - a conservative commentator draws from both racist blogs and a hardcore racist pseudo-scientist backed by strategic capital going back to the Nazi era. Slate and the New York Times are supposed to know better. Because I know that they know better - this leads me to one inescapable conclusion. Decision makers at these two media giants have decided for whatever reason to editorially back the reintroduction of racist pseudo-science into the public and political discourse.

    I was not aware at the time I wrote this opinion that Slate is a property of the Washington Post. Now knowing this fact, I find the assertion that elements of the Establishment are injecting eugenic themes back into the public discourse even more compelling. If I can find an instance where the Wall Street Journal is also involved with the eugenic revival, I'll consider it a media Establishment trifecta. What brings me back to this topic is William Saletan's pathetic mea culpa published in yesterday's Slate.
    Many of you have criticized parts of the genetic argument as I related them. Others have pointed to alternative theories I truncated or left out. But the thing that has upset me most concerns a co-author of one of the articles I cited. In researching this subject, I focused on published data and relied on peer review and rebuttals to expose any relevant issue. As a result, I missed something I could have picked up from a simple glance at Wikipedia.

    For the past five years, J. Philippe Rushton has been president of the Pioneer Fund, an organization dedicated to "the scientific study of heredity and human differences." During this time, the fund has awarded at least $70,000 to the New Century Foundation. To get a flavor of what New Century stands for, check out its publications on crime ("Everyone knows that blacks are dangerous") and heresyAmerican Renaissance, which preaches segregation. Rushton routinely speaks at its conferences. ("Unless whites shake off the teachings of racial orthodoxy they will cease to be a distinct people"). New Century publishes a magazine called

    I was negligent in failing to research and report this. I'm sorry. I owe you better than that.

    Oh Hells to the Gnaw - Saletan categorically must not be given a pass for his "dog ate my homework excuse" of sloppy fact checking! This was not merely an instance of sloppy fact checking, rather, it was a demonstration of the willful deceit which would have people to believe that research into the genetic determination of IQ is value-free, morally and ethically neutral, scientific research for the common good. What an audacious and ahistorical crock of conservative nonsense. Such nonsense trading on the collective amnesia and historical ignorance of the public demonstrates the free and easy interlocks between conservative and racist politics and serves as a tour de force illustration of the extent to which the latter ideology perniciously infects and pervades the political and scientific expressions of the former. Only a month earlier, writing in defense of James Watson, Saletan drew the following conclusion;
    Well, if he wants to paper over his bruised ego, that's his business. But racism, genetics, culture, black America, and the future of Africa are too important to be papered over.

    It's clear from Watson's revisionism, reticence, and retirement that he wants to make his hypothesis go away. But wanting it isn't enough. That's not science. It's politics.

    Saletan is a liar, plain and simple. That he was exposed very quickly and decisively is to the good. The fragemented state of the American political world is one tiny click less fragmented for these disclosures. That the attempt to misuse tidbits of genomic "evidence" in support of socially and politically defined objectives is evidence of a larger scheme of fragmentation that is very widespread and backed by some very serious strategic capital. The process of fragmentation maintained by elements in the U.S. establishment makes it very difficult if not impossible for most folks to put the world and its contents in a proper perspective. Fragmenting theories of human nature comprise a continuing exercise on the part of certain evil elements in society to excuse the inexcusable aspects of their past and continuing conduct.

    Playing God?

    What else are we supposed to do?

    This was the starting point for this web log on October 6. Apparently J. Craig Venter hasn't slowed his role at all. This ABC news video is hot and fresh out of the oven an hour or so ago this morning. Headline;
    A scientist says he has created a new species.
    • Pollution Eaters
    • Biological Fuel Cells that create clean water and electricity
    • Biological Fuel Sources

    Programming the Genome IS the Singularity - the realization of our destiny and our species' childhoods end. Click the graphic or the post title to view the video.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Realizing the Imaginal Pathway of Sustainable Transformation

    laetusinpraesens is a bottomless well of ethical resources. Enjoy...,

    Interrelating problematique and resolutique in terms of "real" and "imaginary" - the following diagram is an effort to hold within a single framework a number of strategic dimensions and dynamics descriptive of the contemporary challenge.


    Axes: The above image is not to be understood as having conventional Cartesian axes, although some significance may be associated with the conventional axes as discussed below.

    The diagonal axes may have however be related those used to map the complex plane, fundamental to issues relating to complexity. In the case of the complex plane it is used to provide a representation of complex numbers, made up of a "real" and an "imaginary" component. The real part of a complex number is conventionally represented by a displacement along an x-axis (of a modified Cartesian representation), and the imaginary part by a displacement along the y-axis. In the above diagram, the real and imaginary axes are represented diagonally as:

    • axis of imaginary explicit: phenomena associated with this axis (the problematique and the resolutique, discussed below) are those that are the subject of open "opinionated" debate interpreting explicit phenomena (whether symptoms of problems or proposals for their solution). The "reality" of problems is typically challenged in this debate -- as is the "reality" of any imagined resolution of them.

      • There is an imagined progression:
        • from the purportedly undesirable condition of the problematique, driven by the problematique as a form of repulsor
        • towards the imagined condition of achieved through the resolutique, as a form of enabling attractor

      • There is however a counter-dynamic arising from:
        • the problematique operating perversely as an attractor -- as with the attractiveness of habitual behaviours however much they reinforce a problematic situation.
        • the resolutique operating perversely as a form of repulsor -- as with the threatening challenge of change (however supposedly desirable), encouraging its avoidance

    • axis of implicit real: in any progress along the imaginary explicit axis towards the desirable condition implied by the resolutique there are two major forms of deviance or distraction:

      • game-playing amongst those mobilized in support of any collective project, as is typical amongst those within any institution, between its departments, or in any process of inter-institutional, inter-disciplinary or inter-faith "collaboration". Whilst felt to be very real, this is typically not rendered explicit in the articulation or assessment of that collaboration, or in the manner in which it was originally designed. It is an emergent dynamic which effectively functions as an attractor that is typically of greater significance than those of the explicit objectives associated with progress towards the resolutique. It is the stuff of daily office gossip and bureacratic game-playing: who is "up" or "in", who is "down" or "out", and who successfully did what to whom, and the success or failure of any actions in revenge. It typically interfaces with unethical operations, whether minor or major, possibly even criminal in nature -- a form of "black economy". These rarely ever figures in any reporting of reasons for the problematic performance of a collective endeavour. It is "real" but "implicit" -- and may be the "only game in town".

      • engagement in any collective endeavour is accompanied by the role it plays in the personal and collective development of those involved, their learning processes, their maturation processes, and those through which their sense of self-esteem is articulated. These considerations may totally determine responses to strategic opportunities and necessities. Again these are not the subject of explicit formal discussion but are noted in corridor gossip regarding the arrogance or driving status needs of collaborators, or the obsession with making a mark and ensuring a historic legacy. Again it is only too "real" to those driven by this dimension, but may be so "implicit" in decision-making as to be completely disguised. Again it can be a primary attractor, irrespective of what is presented as the desirable outcome of a resolutique towards which all effort is purportedly directed. function of this attractor is only too evident in leaders with a tendency to megalomania but may be as important with those struggling more discretly for self-esteem and recognition.

      Both these attractors are associated with complex patterns of denial. Although well-recognized by any with experience in complex institutions, or even community initiatives, they cannot be "put on the table". For this reason they cannot be recognized in the design of projects, thus preventing any provision for corrective and counter-acting measures. However these phenomena are of fundamental significance in ensuring deviance from the achieving any movement from problematique to resolutique.

    Problematique: This term has been given prominence by the Club of Rome as the configuration of problems for which a strategic response is sought through appropriate analysis. It is presented in the above diagram as the repulsor driving humanity out of the many particular conditions in that configuration (hunger, disease, ignorance, homelessness, etc). However it may also be understood, as noted above, as the pattern of habitual behaviours that are sufficiently attractive -- as addictions -- to resist any change to another condition, however credibly it is promised and whatever the threat. The phenomena of smoking by well-informed members of the medical profession offers a powerful example of the operation of such an attractor.

    Clarifying the extent and complexity of the problematique has been the preoccupation of the World Problems Project, initiated in 1972 -- partly in reaction to the particular focus (see methodological comment) of the original report to the Club of Rome (Limits to Growth, 1972). The project notably profiled problems variously "imagined" to exist by distinct international constituencies, irrespective of alternative perspectives included that were claimed to have a more "realistic" focus.

    The above diagram positions the problematique as the focus of the undesirable conditions that might be considered as the significance of the lower-left quadrant. However it is important to recognize the extent to which the problematic nature of this quadrant may be contested. For some any such judgement reflects profound misunderstanding of the extent to which "we have never had it so good". Pressures for change may well be rejected because of the manner in which the current condition (exemplified by the lower-left quadrant) is what should be preserved.

    Geometry is All

    An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything"[1] is a physics paper submitted to the arXiv library on Nov. 6, 2007 by Antony Garrett Lisi. His theory claims to unify all fields of the standard model with gravitylattice of E8peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, but it has drawn a wide range of professional reaction and stirred public interest in the topic and its author. using a 248-point geometry. The title is a mathematical pun on E8's classification as both a simple group and an exceptional group.

    That a theory of everything might emerge from geometry would be neat, but it is a long shot. Nevertheless, that is what Garrett Lisi is proposing. The geometry he has been studying is that of a structure known to mathematicians as E8, which was first recognised in 1887 by Sophus Lie, a Norwegian mathematician. E8 is a monster. It has 248 dimensions and its structure took 120 years to solve. It was finally tamed earlier this year, when a group of mathematicians managed to construct a map that describes it completely.

    What a refreshing leap of faith rewarded that a contemporary ronin physicist would posit an outrageous construct taken straight from the most archetypal depths of sacred geometry as a grand unified theory of everything.....,

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    75th Anniversary of Genocidal Man-made Famine

    Yesterday, Ukraine marked the 75th anniversary of the terrible famine of 1932-33, engineered by Soviet authorities to force peasants across the former U.S.S.R. to give up their privately held plots of land and join collective farms. Millions perished.

    Now President Viktor Yushchenko is leading an effort to gain international recognition of Holodomor - or death by hunger, as it is known there - as a crime rather than merely a disaster, by labeling it an act of genocide.

    Long kept secret by Soviet authorities, accounts of the Great Famine still divide historians and politicians, not just in this nation of 47 million but throughout the former Soviet Union.

    Some are convinced that the famine targeted Ukrainians as an ethnic group. Others argue authorities set out to eradicate all private land owners as a social class, and that the Soviets sought to pay for the U.S.S.R.'s industrialization with grain exports at the expense of starving millions of its own people. What is most interesting to me in all of this, is that these were hardy, capable, self-sustaining farmers driven to catastrophe simply by being robbed of their food. In a time of plenty, and despite their skills to sustain themselves, these people were wiped out.

    Looking at the extent of economic instability facing the U.S., and the potential for economic and political unrest - I wonder what will happen here if supplies crash (like the water supply is crashing in Atlanta), or, TPTB simply cut off supplies in selected cities for political reasons? I suspect that things will be a lot like they were in Argentina after the collapse.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Stem Cell Breakthrough

    So we're doing the family chitchat over dinner yesterday evening, and my daughter is on about how much more opulent her lifestyle will be than the one she currently enjoys with her mother and I. This child has been versed in the realities, so it's a humbling parental reality check to witness all those carefully sown facts disintegrate into nothingness in the face of peer and media information onslaught (consensus reality).

    Anyway, not wanting to harsh her thanksgiving mellow with my own somber outlook on what's around the signpost up ahead, I ask her if she's on top of this week's big news in the life sciences? Thankfully, both children are very interested in biology and I've made a point of trying to steer them in the direction of computational biology, genomics, and so forth, because this area has an exceptional concentration of new institutional investment in these disciplines, and, they have easy access and extensive potential exposure to folks working in this fundamentally important area;
    To help explain this, we turn to Kenneth Miller, a cell biologist and professor at Brown University. He also serves as an adviser to the NewsHour's Science Unit.

    Well, Ken, let's start with the science here. What does it actually mean to reprogram cells?

    KENNETH MILLER, Cell Biologist: Well, what it means to reprogram cells, builds upon essentially a trick. And it's a trick that our own reproductive cells pull off when a sperm and egg unite to form an embryo.

    The cells in an adult body -- skin cells, muscle cells, nerve cells -- are sort of at dead ends. In other words, that skin cell is going to remain a skin cell; that muscle cell is going to remain a muscle cell.

    But our reproductive cells have the ability to go back to stage one, form a single-celled embryo, and then grow into every one of the tissues and cells in the body. That reprogramming is something that happens with us normally between each generation.

    What developmental biologists have longed to understand is how that reprogramming takes place. And what this development means today is that we are a little bit closer to understanding how to switch on the reprogramming, take one of our adult cells, trick it into thinking it's part of an embryo, and hopefully get that cell to develop into cells that we really need to repair or to heal the body.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And this work came out of studies that were done on mice, right? We talked about it on the program when that was done. So what's the advance here?

    KENNETH MILLER: Well, the advance here, on one hand, the advance isn't much. In other words, you could minimize it. You could say, back in June, three laboratories reported that it was possible to pull this feat off, of taking an ordinary adult cell, sticking a few extra genes in it, and reprogramming it to become an embryonic stem cell, and that was done in one species, mice.

    The development today is now it's been done in another species. And you might say, "Big deal." But that other species happens to be human beings, human cells. And now it's getting close to having direct application in hospitals and in laboratories.
    You never know. Maybe we are on the cusp of the singularity and Moore's Law applied to the quantum computational apparatus of life itself will unlock a bounty and a utopian rather than dystopian future for this child of mine dreaming of opulence....,