Morning Thoughts / “$$$$ research” that proves “the obvious”

Headache: Reading research on brain development in childhood; what is “normal” and what is “not”.

(Hint: “normal” is the state of tolerating brain damage because it adapts one to high stress human social environments and unhealthy “deprived” physical environments. Those individuals who become “sickened” by conditions that harm living things are defective, like smoke alarms that actually respond to smoke!)

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I’m not “picking on” these specific people: this article is merely one of thousands that disclose a severe problem – billions of $$$ being spent to “research the obvious” and so little is spent on real preventive help for children and families. It’s SO FRUSTRATING for an Asperger: the neurotypical limitation of “letting things get screwed up” and only then “coming up with” some kind of “technical fix” that too often merely compounds suffering with new unintended consequences – Dig that hole deeper and deeper, is the prime directive for neurotypicals.  

Effects of Early Life Stress on Cognitive and Affective Function: An Integrated Review of Human Literature

The brilliant conclusion? Childhood abuse, neglect and trauma f**k with living things. Brilliant?

No, repetition of the OBVIOUS pattern:   

The goal of all this research? To somehow “fix” screwed up brains using high-tech engineering to “repair” what’s broken. Not brilliant! The neurotypical pattern is to perpetuate the social structures and toxic environments that damage human beings; let the damage occur, and then send out “recall notices” to come in and have your brain repaired (or further messed up).

The actual “thinking” behind NT behavior is dumb. The illusion that “technical breakthroughs solve problems” is so short-sighted and disproven by social history. Another obvious failure of NT insight into the incredible gap between narcissistic self-assessment and the lack of competency in practical, preventative action. 

Do we want people to be healthy and happy?  Or do we  want people to be f**k’d up? It’s a simple question. 

 

 

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Thoughts on Ancient Males / Life in the flesh

In the ancient world a common greeting among travelers was, “Which gods do you worship?” Deities were compared, traded, and adopted in recognition that strangers had something of value to offer. Along with the accretion of ancestor gods into extensive pantheons, an exchange of earthly ideas and useful articles took place. Pantheons were insurance providers who covered women, children, tradesman, sailors and warriors – no matter how dangerous or risky their occupations; no matter how lowly. Multiple gods meant that everyone had a sympathetic listener, one that might increase a person’s chances for a favorable outcome to life’s ventures, large and small. 

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A curious female type: The goddess Athena is incomprehensible to modern humans. Here she models the Trojan horse for the Greeks.

A curious female: The goddess Athena is incomprehensible to modern humans; and yet for the ancient Greeks, she was the cornerstone of civilization. Here she models the Trojan horse for the “clever” takedown of Troy.

 

 

 

 In The Iliad

…the gods are manifestations of physical states; the rush of adrenalin, sexual arousal, and rage. For the Homeric male, these are the gods that must be obeyed. There is no power by which a man can override the impulse-to-action of these god forces. The gifts of the notorious killer Achilles originate in the divine sphere, but he is human like his comrades; consumed by self pity and emotionally erratic.

In Ancient Greek culture, consequences accompanied individual gifts. Achilles must choose an average life (adulthood) and obscurity, or death at Troy and an immortal name. Achilles sulks like a boy, but we know that he will submit to his fate, because fate is the body, and no matter how extraordinary that body is, the body must die. Immortality for Homeric Greeks did not mean supernatural avoidance of death. To live forever meant that one’s name and deeds were preserved by the attention and skill of the poet. In Ancient Greek culture it was the artist who had the power to confer immortality.

There was no apology for violence in Homeric time. The work of men was grim adventure. Raids on neighbors and distant places for slave women, for horses and gold, for anything of value, was a man’s occupation. The Iliad is packed with unrelenting gore, and yet we continue to this day to be mesmerized by men who hack each other to death. Mundane questions arise: were these Bronze Age individuals afflicted with post traumatic stress disorder? How could women and children, as well as warriors not be traumatized by a life of episodic brutality? If they were severely damaged mentally and emotionally, how did they create a legacy of poetry, art, science and philosophy? Did these human beings inhabit a mind space that deflected trauma as if it were a rain shower? Was their literal perception of reality a type of protection?

imagesD8PA00S5riace bronze

Women will forever be drawn to the essential physicality of Homeric man. He is the original sexual male; the man whose qualities can be witnessed in the flesh. His body was a true product of nature and habit. Disfiguring scars proved his value in battle. Robust genes may have been his only participation in fatherhood.

Time and culture have produced another type of man, a supernatural creature with no marked talent, one who can offer general, but not specific, loyalty. Domestic man, propertied man, unbearably dull man, emotionally-retarded man. In his company a woman shrivels to her aptitude for patience and endurance, for heating dinner in the microwave and folding laundry. Her fate is a life of starvation.

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Noble Penelope reduced to a neurotypical nag.

A Winter of Life Message / Who is Eckart Tolle?

Who is Eckhart Tolle? Eckhart Tolle is a German-born resident of Canada best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose. In 2008, a New York Times writer called Tolle “the most popular spiritual author in the United States”.   Wikipedia

I don’t know of this person: He sounds a bit “New Age-y” Lots of pithy quotes all over the internet. He’s just about my age, so that may explain why this statement  “resonates” at this point in my life, when the body we count on is well on its way to  breaking down and lurching toward the inevitable. I think the quote is wasted on young people. An act of surrender and bravery is necessary to embrace it, an act that takes a lifetime to acknowledge.

He could have said this one thing and nothing else. It really sums up what life is about. The stupid defiance of “what is” – a constant uphill trudge, battle, struggle to “become” someone -a viable, admirable sprig of life-force that makes its mark – whatever that is. In nature, all this seems automatic: mathematical, chemical, electrical life becoming, evolving – terrible in its ruthless paring down of species into improbably successful and beautiful forms – temporary, all of them. And then there is “us”.

Hell bent on defying nature: swimming upstream, spewing toxins, garbage, waste from our pretty technically savvy vehicles. Congratulating ourselves on having peanut butter in jars, mechanical eyelash curlers, fake fur garments, a gluttonous desire for pizza, remote controls for refrigerators, garage doors and the ability to spy on our children, our dogs, cats, parakeets and snakes; on our front porch deliveries, on road conditions in Zanzibar or the price of sandals in Morocco. And we’re promised / warned that there’s much more of this to come… It’s lovely and cute in a way… giving the finger to nature.

So, resistance is futile, says Mr. Tolle. But without forces to resist, would humans be human? No. But in old age it’s okay to recognize futility; to embrace the lessening need to resist anything.

This is absolutely true if you live in Wyoming…

 

 

 

 

Fate / Human maladaptation to a future world

Each of us is born into a world that is not of his or her own making. The trouble is, that it’s no longer a world that nature has prepared us for. DNA is like a suitcase full of physiological plans, functions and designs; of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics and electro- magnetic energy arranged by billions of years of testing for operational brilliance in an environment that no longer exists.

Human babies are like time travelers, adapted to a strenuous existence in forest and desert; along rivers, lakes and seashores; ready to learn, survive and excel, and to be a wild animal, among wild animals.

We arrive in a place many futures ahead of where we belong. In a hospital. Among machines, without which more and more babies would die on arrival. Not a living thing in sight. To parents whose bodies have adapted rather badly to an artificial world, not of their own making. Trapped in a world not of their own making. The dysfunction of being born into a toxic future, for which our DNA suitcase does not prepares us, accelerates, not by a few years, but thousands of years in mere generations.

The DNA suitcase is becoming useless. We don’t function; we cannot adapt; we can only maladapt.

So what do we do? A frantic response: Attack our DNA. Cut it apart, rearrange it, combine it, mix it like a salad. Hope that we can keep ahead of the future, a future in which dysfunction is normal. Are we there yet?  

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Confrontational scavenging of large vertebrate carcasses / Early Homo

Freshly scavenged elk carcass

OXFORD ACADEMIC

Humans and Scavengers: The Evolution of Interactions and Ecosystem Services

https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/64/5/394/2754213

BioScience, Volume 64, Issue 5, 1 May 2014, Pages 394–403, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu034
Published: 22 March 2014

Excerpt: Diet of early humans: Food provisioning and the onset of cultural services

Around the time of the Pliocene–Pleistocene transition, increasing seasonality in precipitation occurred in African savannas (Cerling et al. 2011a). This forced the australopithecine ancestors of humans to diversify their diet in order to cope with the developing seasonal bottleneck in fruits and other soft plant foods. While hominins of the genus Paranthropus became adapted to exploit durable seeds, roots, and sedges (Cerling et al. 2011b, Klein 2013, Sponheimer et al. 2013), the lineage leading to Homo turned to the meat provided by large vertebrate carcasses to overcome the effects of the increasingly seasonal production of fruits and new plant growth (Foley and Lee 1989, Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Ungar et al. 2006, Klein 2013). Although the relative role of hunting and scavenging by early humans remains controversial (Domínguez-Rodrigo 2002, Ungar et al. 2006, Pickering 2013), many anthropologists contend that the earliest humans obtained animal food largely through confrontational scavenging (also called power scavenging and aggressive scavenging) by driving large carnivores from their kills (figure 1; O’Connell et al. 1988, Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Brantingham 1998, Ragir 2000, Domínguez-Rodrigo and Pickering 2003, Klein 2009, Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011). Indeed, it has been proposed that the emergence of endurance running could have helped early humans to secure sufficient access to the scattered and ephemeral resource that is carrion, although this might have been a later feature facilitating the hunting of live ungulate prey (Bramble and Lieberman 2011).

Figure 1.

Major meat acquisition strategies of humans (Homo spp.) in relation to key events during the Quaternary Period. (a) A logarithmic time scale (in thousands of years ago) showing the main human-related events that occurred during the Quaternary Period that shaped the interactions between humans and scavenging vertebrates. (b) The major means of meat acquisition by humans during the Quaternary Period. See the text for further details.

Major meat acquisition strategies of humans (Homo spp.) in relation to key events during the Quaternary Period. (a) A logarithmic time scale (in thousands of years ago) showing the main human-related events that occurred during the Quaternary Period that shaped the interactions between humans and scavenging vertebrates. (b) The major means of meat acquisition by humans during the Quaternary Period. See the text for further details.

Interference and resource competition probably accounted for most of the interactions among the earliest humans, vultures, bone-cracking hyenids, and other vertebrate scavengers (Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Owen-Smith 1999, Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011, Bramble and Lieberman 2011). In addition, confrontational scavenging would have exposed early humans to increased risks of injury or death while they were driving away the large carnivores that had killed the carcasses or driving away other fearsome scavengers present at them (Bunn and Ezzo 1993, Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011). But facilitatory interactions could also have been a feature, as it happens in current vertebrate scavenger guilds (Cortés-Avizanda et al. 2012, Pereira et al. 2014). For instance, observations of contemporary hunter–gatherers who actively exploit scavenging opportunities suggest that watching the behavior of vultures and large mammalian carnivores could have helped early humans locate carcasses (O’Connell et al. 1988). Such food provisioning probably represents the first ecosystem service that humans gained from scavenging vertebrates.

Moreover, a major function of the earliest stone tools crafted by early hominins was the processing of large carcasses to yield meat and marrow, a pattern of butchery that extended well into the Pleistocene (de Heinzelin et al. 1999). Competition with other scavengers probably contributed to the refinement of these tools and their use and, therefore, to cultural diversity. In addition, selective pressures associated with confrontational scavenging—specifically, the spatiotemporal unpredictability of carcasses and exposure to predation—probably contributed to the most distinctive features of humans: collaborative cooperation and language development (both of which were used to express where the resource was imagined to be awaiting; Bickerton and Szathmáry 2011). In turn, the improved diet quality due to increasing meat consumption has been related, along with other factors, to the extraordinary brain enlargement within the human lineage (Bramble and Lieberman 2011, Navarrete et al. 2011). Therefore, (confrontational) scavenging helped shape our modern cognitive identity.

Glossary

Amensalism: any interaction between two individuals or groups of the same or different species in which one organism or group is harmed but the other is unaffected.

Carrion: any type of dead animal tissue.

Coevolution: reciprocal selective pressure that makes the evolution of one taxon partially dependent on the evolution of another (Brantingham 1998).

Commensalism: any interaction between two individuals or groups of the same or different species in which one organism or group benefits without affecting the other.

Competition: any interaction between two individuals or groups of the same or different species that reduces access to a shared resource or set of resources. Competition is direct (interference) if one organism or group affects the ability of another to consume a given limiting resource or indirect (exploitation) if the consumption of a given limiting resource by one organism or group makes the resource unavailable for another.

Ecosystem services: benefits people obtain from ecosystems (MA 2005) or the set of ecosystem functions that are useful to humans (Kremen 2005). These include provisioning (products obtained from ecosystems), regulating (related to the regulation of ecosystem processes), and cultural (nonmaterial benefits) services that directly affect people, as well as the supporting services needed to maintain other services. Provisioning, regulating, and cultural services typically have relatively direct and short-term impacts on people, whereas the impact of supporting services is often indirect or occurs over a very long time period (MA 2005).

Facilitative processes: those processes whose effects on a given organism are beneficial and increase its development or fitness.

Facultative scavenger: an animal that scavenges at variable rates but that can subsist on other food resources in the absence of carrion. All mammalian predators (e.g., jackals, hyenas, and lions in Africa and southern Asia; foxes, raccoons, wolves, and bears in temperate ecosystems), numerous birds of prey (e.g., kites, most large eagles), and corvids (e.g., ravens, crows), as well as other vertebrates (e.g., crocodiles), can be considered, to a greater or lesser extent, facultative scavengers (DeVault et al. 2003, Pereira et al. 2014).

Mutualism: any beneficial and reciprocal interaction between two individuals or groups of different species. This relationship of mutual dependence can be obligate (when a given organism or group cannot survive or reproduce without its mutualistic partner).

Obligate scavenger: a scavenger that relies entirely or near entirely on carrion as food resource. Among Quaternary terrestrial vertebrates, only vultures (both Old and New World species—families Accipitridae and Cathartidae, respectively) are considered obligate scavengers.

Predation: an interaction in which one animal kills and eats all or part of another. Predation can affect prey through the two fundamental mechanisms of direct consumption and capture risk.

Scavenging: an interaction in which one animal eats all or part of a dead animal. Scavenging is active (also called confrontational, aggressive, or power scavenging) when the predator that was responsible for the kill is chased away and most of the meat on the carcass is procured, or it is passive when the bones, which may contain fragments of meat, marrow, and skull contents, are collected.

Much, much, more…

Mathematics and Blood Sacrifice

Language, art, dance, and music are socially activated instincts.

Sex/reproduction, status, and aggression are socially constrained instincts.

Cultures do the activating and constraining of instincts. Cultures are made up of the living and the dead. This means that the beliefs of dead people have a great deal of influence over what you and I are expected to believe, and how we behave.  Accumulated (hoarded) cultural beliefs are projected onto the world to create a supernatural vision so powerful that it determines how we experience reality and how we interact with other human beings, especially in periods of severe stress.

Our peculiar ability to think outside reality allows us to create objects that are built on the principles of nature, or imitate natural phenomena, but which may not specifically exist in nature. Jet engines, internal combustion engines, computer chips, microwave and x-ray technologies, and chemical products such as glues, dyes, medicines, food and plastics are part of a long list of familiar products made possible by our clever rearrangement of matter and energy.

This type of technical activity is made possible by understanding the underlying principles of nature through observation and experimentation, and by using rational mental constructs that result in provable and testable ideas.

Simple technology is constrained by nature; it is obvious when a tool doesn’t work and needs to be improved. A structure that will not stand in a storm is obviously not good enough. A better one may be built by trial and error, and for most of human history, this is how it was done. In order to understand how nature works, a language that describes physical relationships is needed, and that language is mathematics. The power of its many applications has transformed human culture and the earth in an extremely short period of time. Nature ‘speaks’ to us through mathematical equations.

Unlike the practical and inquisitive Greeks, and despite mathematical creativity, the Maya failed to identify numbers as the keys to understanding physical reality. Their heavily magical perception of  “how things work” perceived maths as possessing supernatural powers and with disastrous results. Instead of a calendar that produced a useful window into how physical reality is created and organized, numbers and astronomical cycles created a prison from which there was no escape. Blood is the prime substance of both contagious and imitative magic: blood is power. For the Maya, mathematical knowledge dictated a schedule of human sacrifice, cannibalism, warfare, and doom. And so, it is not simply the facility with numbers that created a technological world, but insight into mathematics as the language of reality – a tremendously powerful language that reveals the secrets of the universe.

Human sacrifice and cannibalism: A topic few people acknowledge as fundamental to understanding modern social human reliance on magical thinking. 

Library of social science review of: Marvin, Carolyn & David Ingle. Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. U.S. (pb.) ISBN 0521626099. Review by Library of Social Science.

CAROLYN MARVIN, an award-winning author, is the Frances Yates Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania. Her book Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag, reveals the central dynamic underlying violence performed in the name of the nation-state.

https://www.libraryofsocialscience.com/reviews/Marvin.html

Sample: What is “really true in any community,” Marvin and Ingle claim, is “what its members can agree is worth killing for,” or what they can be compelled to “sacrifice their lives for.” Thus, what is “sacred” within a given society is easily recognized. It is “that set of beliefs and persons for which we ought to shed our own blood.” Rituals that celebrate blood sacrifice “give expression and witness to faith.” Warfare constitutes the central ritual allowing societies to enact or demonstrate faith in the nation.

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Comment: The chronic state of “American Wars on XXX” that has dominated our lives since Viet Nam, reveals ongoing and desperate attempts to “renovate and shore up” a rapidly expanding awareness of the failure of American Culture to live up to it’s post-WWII promises of being a “powerhouse of virtue”. A promise that the U.S. would be a “new” kind of master, one that would liberate mankind, once-and-for-all, from a sad history of evil-doers, dictators and tyrants. It was a dream that was sure to fail, because it sought to impose a Disneyland system of “democracy” on the nations of the world, whether or not it was what the people wanted.

It was, and is, an infantile dream, full of magic and arrogance, blood and murder. 

Eugenics in Psychiatry and Psychology/ A Contemporary Issue

From the website: “Saybrook University was established to challenge the idea that human beings needed to be broken down into parts and isolated from the rest of the world to be understood. Instead, our founders declared that human beings are complex, and to understand them, one must understand the interconnectivity of everything that they experience. Committed to helping students achieve their full potential, our community is deeply rooted in this humanistic tradition.”

https://www.saybrook.edu/newexistentialist/posts/09-12-12/

My highlights in bold; comments in green. 

Eugenics and Psychiatry: A Brief Overview of the History

 

In my casual observations in conversation with colleagues, I find that very few mental health professionals are aware of the historical link between psychiatry and eugenics. I was not aware of this history until relatively recently, when I read Robert Whitaker’s groundbreaking and brilliant text, Mad in America. When I read that section of the book, I was utterly devastated and filled with righteous anger. How could this have happened? How could it be that medicine, with its benevolent intentions, could be used so easily in the service of dehumanization and oppression? Eventually, I wrote my own account of this history in the book Drugging Our Children: How Profiteers are Pushing Antipsychotics on Our Youngest, and What We Can Do To Stop It. In my chapter in this text, I make the case that the over-medicating of our children is part of a longer history of abuses by psychiatry, and it is a biologically reductive approach to dealing with human suffering.
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The history of eugenics is a story we all need to know and understand, or else face the penalty of dooming ourselves to repeating it once again. But first things first: What exactly is eugenics? Eugenics was a movement that began in the late 1800’s. It was influenced by the ideas of Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin, as well as by selective breeding in the farming of plants and animals. At that time—the dawn of the Industrial Age—populations within urban areas were swelling at breakneck speed, and it became increasingly difficult to feed these populations. It took government intervention and strategic planning to find ways to innovate farming in order to be able to feed the growing and hungry masses. Selective breeding of crops and farm animals allowed farmers to maximize the potential of the land, so that it could feed many more people than had previously been conceived. Selective breeding was so successful, many powers-that-be began to raise the question: if selective breeding can be beneficial with crops and farm animals, why not apply this new technology to shape the genetic future of the human species? This was the birth of eugenics. Those who began to study eugenics took it that the human population can be separated into two genetic classes—the eugenic, or those who were deemed to have “fit” genes that should be perpetuated into the future, and the cacogenic, or those who were condemned as having ill-fit genes that were believed to be toxic to the future health of our species.
Given that rich, white, Anglo-Saxon males were the ones with wealth, power, and influence, it was predictable that, of course, they deemed themselves to be the ones who were “fittest,” and anyone who threatened their power were conveniently situated on the cacogenic side of the eugenic divide. (Actually, many non-Anglo Saxon males saw themselves to be superior models and jumped into Eugenic activity) Those deemed cacogenic at this time included blacks, immigrants, criminals, the poor, the mad, the disabled, the mentally retarded, those with drug and alcohol addiction, and gays and lesbians, among others. The eugenic movement viewed individuals in these social classes (females are and were considered to be cacogenic by default – see The Bible and other foundational religious texts) as persons who were victimized by disease that must be cured by eliminating these people from the population, whether through segregation, sterilization, or extermination. (And still are)
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Few people will be ignorant of the fact that the eugenics project came to its fullest realization with the Final Solution of Hitler and the Nazis in WWII Germany. What many do not realize, however, is that it was in fact America that led the international movement toward eugenics, and it was only because of America’s example of putting eugenics successfully into practice that Hitler was able to persuade the Germans that their own eugenics project was the way to go. The end product of eugenics in Nazi Germany was the death of somewhere between 11 and 17 million human beings—6 million Jews (a quarter of them children under 15), about 270,000 gypsies, 3.3 million Soviet POWs, 2 million non-Jewish Poles, 250,000 disabled, 15,000 homosexuals, and many others. Those who were targeted first were those who were considered to be mentally unfit—the mad and the mentally retarded. These unfortunate individuals were corralled into rooms, and succumbed to exhaust fumes (the tail pipes of trucks had been connected by hoses to vents in the room). The result was the first mass killings by the Nazis. How could this happen?
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In America, the eugenics movement was funded by big money (and still is! – and by average Americans who invest in bio-tech companies): Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and the widow of Edward Harriman. At this time, for example, Victoria Woodhull stated, “imbeciles, criminals, paupers, and the otherwise unfit…must not be bred,” and supported the forced sterilization of American citizens. (Control over reproduction of “unfit” humans is being promoted today as genetic repair of defective fetuses and selective engineering of “designer” fetuses, sold as the “right of parents” to select for “perfect children”. Hence the crazed search for arrays of  genes linked to Autism – no proof of cause is necessary; just bogus science that legitimizes a vast array of “defects” bundled into the Autism grab bag of socio-developmental disorders)
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Charles Davenport, a Harvard-trained biologist, was appointed head of the Eugenics Record Office on Long Island, and Davenport and his team of heavily funded researchers began to investigate and maintain files on family lines in the general population who they considered to have defective genes. Meanwhile, money and influence was used to manipulate politicians and judges in order to make eugenics legal and to put it into practice. (It is, de facto, legal today, due to legislation and protection of industries such as Big Pharma and vast research funding by governments around the world. )
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Connecticut has the dubious distinction of being the first state to ban marriage among those deemed “unfit.” By 1914, more than 20 states had followed in the footsteps of Connecticut, and by 1933, every single state in the union had fallen into line. At this time, those deemed to be disabled or unfit were segregated into populations in order to prevent them from reproducing in the general population. These “asylums” were later rationalized to be “treatment” centers rather than the concentration camps they were originally intended to be. Between 1907 and 1927, the United States had victimized over 8,000 people with eugenic sterilization so that they could never again reproduce.
xCalifornia took the evil of involuntarily sterilization to the level of an art form. Faced with the problem that involuntarily sterilization is a form of medical intervention that is intended to harm—that is, intended to destroy the ability to procreate—it was in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” To remedy this problem, California medical doctors quickly rationalized their behavior by claiming their eugenics project was actually a form of treatment that would ‘cure’ the patient of his or her mental illness. (But then, it was discovered by the “helping, caring, fixing industry” that incredible profits could be made by “increasing” the number of “defectives” by  mass diagnosis, an almost infinite supply of psychoactive pharmaceuticals, and chronic subjection of the American population to ever-expanding theories and applications of “mental health” therapies. Promote addictions … bingo!) In the case of Buck v. Bell, the “right” of California to sterilize its own citizens was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision in 1927.The American eugenics project, with the backing of the U.S. Supreme Court and supported by the huge pockets of the robber barons, inspired Europe nations to initiate their own eugenics programs. Soon, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland were sterilizing citizens the elite deemed to be “unfit” according to their classist, xenophobic, sexist, and racist standards. It was only later that Hitler came to power and used these movements to initiate Germany’s own eugenics program, which took the American eugenics project to its logical conclusion with the extermination of those deemed “unfit.” No public outcry against the Nazi extermination of the disabled could be heard. In fact, American publications from the New England Journal of Medicine to The New York Times sang Hitler’s praises as “progressive” for his “humane” extermination of “unfortunates.” Reading these articles in American academic journals and in a publication such as The New York Times, I became nauseated and could barely read on. Yet, one can go to these publications and read for him or herself how easily and skillfully hatred can be rationalized and disguised within the false benevolence of a medical discourse.Has psychiatry today fully exorcised the demons of it’s past? I think not. Children in poverty, especially those on public welfare and in foster care, are much more likely to be drugged with harmful antipsychotic drugs. I see this kind of psychiatric abuse as an extension of the eugenics project, and it needs to stop. Psychiatry is also still used to perpetuate racism. Today, we still see that black men are misdiagnosed with schizophrenia five times more often than white people. It is easier to label a person with madness and force his compliance with antipsychotic drugs than to endure the difficult job of listening to a man who lived with the darkness of a lifetime of victimization by racism. Until we see such patterns disappear from psychiatry practice, I will remain unconvinced that psychiatry has fully escaped the weight of its shameful eugenic legacy.— Brent Dean Robbins

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Aspergers / Below Robots on the Social Pyramid

Paper: Emotion Attribution to a Non-Humanoid Robot in Different Social Situations

journal_pone_0114207_g001

Above: The robot used in this research. I don’t know how other Asperger types view robots, but I’ve never seen one that could be mistaken for being a living object. 

In fact, I find the dedication (obsession with) designing robots to be ‘humanlike” a real obstacle to creating FUNCTIONAL robots, and yet millions are being invested in research to “duplicate” human form and functions – when humans already are “human” and vastly superior products of evolution –

____________________________

Gabriella Lakatos, Márta Gácsi, Veronika Konok, Ildikó Brúder, Boróka Bereczky, Péter Korondi, Ádám Miklósi

PLOS

Published: December 31, 2014 Full Article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0114207
Note how robots possess Attributes that Aspergers lack, according to you-know-who.

In the last few years there was an increasing interest in building companion robots that interact in a socially acceptable way with humans. In order to interact in a meaningful way a robot has to convey intentionality and emotions of some sort in order to increase believability. We suggest that human-robot interaction should be considered as a specific form of inter-specific interaction and that human–animal interaction can provide a useful biological model for designing social robots. Dogs can provide a promising biological model since during the domestication process dogs were able to adapt to the human environment and to participate in complex social interactions. In this observational study we propose to design emotionally expressive behaviour of robots using the behaviour of dogs as inspiration and to test these dog-inspired robots with humans in inter-specific context. In two experiments (wizard-of-oz scenarios) we examined humans’ ability to recognize two basic and a secondary emotion expressed by a robot. In Experiment 1 we provided our companion robot with two kinds of emotional behaviour (“happiness” and “fear”), and studied whether people attribute the appropriate emotion to the robot, and interact with it accordingly. In Experiment 2 we investigated whether participants tend to attribute guilty behaviour to a robot in a relevant context by examining whether relying on the robot’s greeting behaviour human participants can detect if the robot transgressed a predetermined rule. Results of Experiment 1 showed that people readily attribute emotions to a social robot and interact with it in accordance with the expressed emotional behaviour. Results of Experiment 2 showed that people are able to recognize if the robot transgressed on the basis of its greeting behaviour. In summary, our findings showed that dog-inspired behaviour is a suitable medium for making people attribute emotional states to a non-humanoid robot. (Does this mean that if Asperger types imitate dog behavior, we too, will be granted “emotional” status?)

Introduction

A general requirement for social robots is that they should be able to participate in different interactions with humans. In order to interact socially with humans the robot has to convey intentionality, that is, the human has to think that the robot has goals, beliefs and desires [1]. There is evidence that humans are willing to interpret lifeless objects as social beings, attributing aims, desires, inner states and even personality to them (e.g. [2], [3], [4]). Designers of artificial agents try to exploit this anthropomorphizing tendency and supply social robots with social cues that induce the concepts of intentions in people.

Many scientists in social robotics agree that the main requirements of a complex social interaction include communication, the recognition and expression of emotions, and some rudimentary form of personality (Does this describe a neurotypical human?) [5], [6], [7]. These features are widely thought to increase the believability of artificial agents (e.g. [6], [7], [8], [9]) and enhance the long-term engagement of people toward artificial companions.

The importance of the representation of emotions in artificial agents (or virtual characters) has been recognized long ago in art. According to Thomas and Johnston [10], two of the core animators of the Disney’s productions, “it has been the portrayal of emotions that has given the Disney characters the illusion of life”. Many robots and virtual agents (e.g. Kismet, Yuppy, Max, Greta, Probo, EDDIE, Feelix [9], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17]) have been supplied with affective expressions so far in order to examine the contribution of emotions to livingness or to observe humans’ perception of the expressive behaviours of robots. Although, it is important to note that most of these studies used only facial expressions to express robotic emotions and questionnaires to analyse the recognition rate of the different emotions. Direct human-robot interactions analysing humans’ reactions also on the behavioural level are relatively rare. For example, one of these studies showed that subjects tended to feel less lonely and found the agent (Max) more life-like if it expressed empathy toward them compared to situations, in which the robot did not show emotions or tended to be self-centred [5]. (Once again, cartoon characters and robots are granted the attribute of empathy, but not Asperger humans. It could be that NTs are so childlike that they can’t escape an anthropomorphic interpretation of everything they encounter, and that every object in the environment must pay attention to them.)  Additionally, the electromyography showed that subjects had higher activity of the masseter muscle (which is one of the muscles of mastication and an indicator of negative valence) when the agent expressed negative empathy (“Schadenfreude”) compared to positive empathy [5]. (So now we learn that positive or negative empathy is displayed by a chewing muscle.)

Many of the present day social robots are built to have humanoid embodiments and their behaviour is designed on the basis of human psychological models. Designers of such humanoid social robots aim to implement human-like behavioural and cognitive features in the robots along with human-like social competencies using human-human interactions as a model (e.g. developing social relationship with humans, gesturing, using speech-based communication etc.) [6], [18]. In the last few years impressive improvements have been achieved in this field and it has been proved by separate studies that humans can successfully recognize emotions displayed by a humanoid face of robots or virtual agents. (Neurotypicals are easily fooled) (see also the above mentioned studies and for other examples e.g. [19], [20]; or for a review see [21]). Moreover, some studies provided evidence suggesting that emotions expressed by a humanoid robot face evoke similar emotions in humans as well (e.g. [22], for a review see [21]). Although, a recent study of Chaminade et al. [23] showed that on the level of neural responses humans react differently to the emotional expressions of a humanoid robot and of a human. Besides, again, we have to note that most of these studies have been restricted to the use of facial expressions (instead of using multimodal emotional expressions), which on the other hand requires complex technology both considering the perception and the signalling [24].

In fact, human-human interactions are very complex since they are generally symmetric, develop since birth and are based on the use of language. Hereby, it is extremely hard for robot designers to mimic human behaviour successfully and the robots mimicking human behaviour will never be perfect “humans”. This can lead to mismatches between the appearance and the behaviour, which means that the users’ prior – often unrealistic – expectations, mostly based on the appearance, will be violated resulting in a feeling of unease. (Is this how neurotypicals “see” non-conforming people? ) [21], [24], [25]. This is the well-known phenomenon of the “uncanny valley” [26], that is, agents which are very but not totally similar to humans, induce aversion in people.

Other companion robots are designed to have rather pet-like appearance (e.g. PLEO, AIBO, PARO [27], [28], [29]) and have also been used as alternatives to animal assisted therapy [29], [30]. However, the behavioural repertoire of these pet-like social robots is very limited and for this reason, compared to animal pets they proved to be less successful in maintaining humans’ interest in long term [31], [32].

cont., at link above

Is Life a symptom of the death of the universe…

…the tail end of an arc of evolution, from the initial expansion of energy, to heat death?

This thought came to me this morning as I awoke and saw our true winter, framed as a miniature universe by the windows; brittle orange light on bare tree branches, cut eerily sharp against the intense blue sky; the objects detailed, sharp; both warm and frigid, ice crystals sparkling on the roof, the house a tiny raft of defiant “warmth” that makes my life possible – a delusion of safety for someone acquainted with physics: I also see energy streaming from my body, the dog’s body, the house itself; lost to my beloved Wyoming landscape: a two-part dream of land and sky that negates natural and human energy production, turning our efforts into the frozen beauty that mesmerizes my greedy eyes?

Entropy: no equations for me. Physics is personal. I see it, feel it, sense it, experience the change and flow of energy, because that is what we are; temporary locations, which in defiance of entropy, increase the rate of entropy. We, and all life, help our sun to die; help the universe to die. It’s sublimely beautiful.

What we describe as “life” may be so much more simple than we make it out to be: no different really than what we name non-life.

A visual analogy: the brief but spectacular conversion of potential energy held within black powder into light and motion that quickly dissipates into the cold environment. Is life not simply a more efficient “location” for speeding up local entropy “production”?