You Don’t Read, You Don’t Know


Try to know something about everything, and try to
know everything about something.
 ~ anon

If you’re reading this know that you are either curious, eccentric or a busybody. Positively I mean. You’re the reading ones.

A wise man once said, information comes to you in two ways:

  1. To you, or
  2. Through you

The first one is the normal everyday process of how information gets to anyone. This comes in two forms:

Textual or Verbal

This medium will be in the form of books, mails, newspapers, TV, radio, Internet, and at times (most times for most people) through the grapevine.

The second is not capricious or abnormal in anyway, it is sort of a download of information from the ethers (if you like) consciously, sub-consciously or unconsciously. This medium is not fully realized and understood by most people and greatly ignored. This download process is commonly termed as intuition, inspiration, gut feeling, and channeling as popularly known in the spiritual circle.

Now that we’ve settled how one receives information (data) and those are the only ways (I can’t think of anymore), we can surmised that if one does none of the first, and ignore or totally disregard the second, one will not get any information and ends up having no knowledge.

Where am I getting to with all this gibberish?

Well, I’m amazed at the sleepers. You know, those who are not awaken to the current winds-of-change. Many have been kept busy and preoccupied in their little corner of their small world, just surviving hand-to-mouth and not have any time to know anything else. Okay I’m not being judgmental, a man has gotta do what a man has gotta do. So, that’s fine with me. I’m thinking out loud here and just wondering why any one would not want to know anything?

I observe that people I meet daily are unhappy, stressed out by the System and are yearning for “change” (whatever that means to them) and yet are not doing anything about it. Is it because they have no information? With the IoT™ I think ignorance is a choice.

Where I am, the people here are not the reading type. I know this for sure as I’ve given out many many books and articles to many people and I see that they don’t read them as they never talk about it. At times when I asked if they had read them, they’d answer the proverbial, “I’ve been busy lately and have no time!”

For me, its important for example that I read the Federal Constitution of my country. The Federal Constitution?? YES! And why not? I am a citizen and I must know everything about the government, especially my fundamental rights, which the constitution is supposed to safeguard. Oh, but you need to be a lawyer to understand all the legalities therein. Says who? I read and I understood everything I need to understand to the point that no one, yes no one could tread on me.

Okay, so the constitutional reading is a bit too tall an order. How about reading the holy scripture of your own faith? The clergyman warns of the do’s and don’ts, god’s retribution and the heaven and hell thingy. I know it scares the hell out of most of the devotees. Yet, very very few read their own scripture to find out if what they’ve been told is true.

Okay, that’s that I guess and to each his own.

I also know that if reading is the path to knowledge, it is unaffordable to many because you see, knowledge is not free. You have to pay attention

It all boils down to one thing…

You don’t read, you don’t know.


Originally appeared on Steemit

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Your brain is not a computer


aeon

The empty brain

Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer

by Robert Epstein

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

Our shoddy thinking about the brain has deep historical roots, but the invention of computers in the 1940s got us especially confused. For more than half a century now, psychologists, linguists, neuroscientists and other experts on human behaviour have been asserting that the human brain works like a computer.

To see how vacuous this idea is, consider the brains of babies. Thanks to evolution, human neonates, like the newborns of all other mammalian species, enter the world prepared to interact with it effectively. A baby’s vision is blurry, but it pays special attention to faces, and is quickly able to identify its mother’s. It prefers the sound of voices to non-speech sounds, and can distinguish one basic speech sound from another. We are, without doubt, built to make social connections.

A healthy newborn is also equipped with more than a dozen reflexes – ready-made reactions to certain stimuli that are important for its survival. It turns its head in the direction of something that brushes its cheek and then sucks whatever enters its mouth. It holds its breath when submerged in water. It grasps things placed in its hands so strongly it can nearly support its own weight. Perhaps most important, newborns come equipped with powerful learning mechanisms that allow them to change rapidly so they can interact increasingly effectively with their world, even if that world is unlike the one their distant ancestors faced.

Senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms – this is what we start with, and it is quite a lot, when you think about it. If we lacked any of these capabilities at birth, we would probably have trouble surviving.

But here is what we are not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, algorithms, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers – design elements that allow digital computers to behave somewhat intelligently. Not only are we not born with such things, we also don’t develop them – ever.

We don’t store words or the rules that tell us how to manipulate them. We don’t create representations of visual stimuli, store them in a short-term memory buffer, and then transfer the representation into a long-term memory device. We don’t retrieve information or images or words from memory registers. Computers do all of these things, but organisms do not.

Computers, quite literally, process information – numbers, letters, words, formulas, images. The information first has to be encoded into a format computers can use, which means patterns of ones and zeroes (‘bits’) organised into small chunks (‘bytes’). On my computer, each byte contains 8 bits, and a certain pattern of those bits stands for the letter d, another for the letter o, and another for the letter g. Side by side, those three bytes form the word dog. One single image – say, the photograph of my cat Henry on my desktop – is represented by a very specific pattern of a million of these bytes (‘one megabyte’), surrounded by some special characters that tell the computer to expect an image, not a word.

Computers, quite literally, move these patterns from place to place in different physical storage areas etched into electronic components. Sometimes they also copy the patterns, and sometimes they transform them in various ways – say, when we are correcting errors in a manuscript or when we are touching up a photograph. The rules computers follow for moving, copying and operating on these arrays of data are also stored inside the computer. Together, a set of rules is called a ‘program’ or an ‘algorithm’. A group of algorithms that work together to help us do something (like buy stocks or find a date online) is called an ‘application’ – what most people now call an ‘app’.

Forgive me for this introduction to computing, but I need to be clear: computers really do operate on symbolic representations of the world. They really store and retrieve. They really process. They really have physical memories. They really are guided in everything they do, without exception, by algorithms.

Humans, on the other hand, do not – never did, never will. Given this reality, why do so many scientists talk about our mental life as if we were computers?

In his book In Our Own Image (2015), the artificial intelligence expert George Zarkadakis describes six different metaphors people have employed over the past 2,000 years to try to explain human intelligence.

In the earliest one, eventually preserved in the Bible, humans were formed from clay or dirt, which an intelligent god then infused with its spirit. That spirit ‘explained’ our intelligence – grammatically, at least.

The invention of hydraulic engineering in the 3rd century BCE led to the popularity of a hydraulic model of human intelligence, the idea that the flow of different fluids in the body – the ‘humours’ – accounted for both our physical and mental functioning. The hydraulic metaphor persisted for more than 1,600 years, handicapping medical practice all the while.

By the 1500s, automata powered by springs and gears had been devised, eventually inspiring leading thinkers such as René Descartes to assert that humans are complex machines. In the 1600s, the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes suggested that thinking arose from small mechanical motions in the brain. By the 1700s, discoveries about electricity and chemistry led to new theories of human intelligence – again, largely metaphorical in nature. In the mid-1800s, inspired by recent advances in communications, the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared the brain to a telegraph.

The mathematician John von Neumann stated flatly that the function of the human nervous system is ‘prima facie digital’, drawing parallel after parallel between the components of the computing machines of the day and the components of the human brain

Each metaphor reflected the most advanced thinking of the era that spawned it. Predictably, just a few years after the dawn of computer technology in the 1940s, the brain was said to operate like a computer, with the role of physical hardware played by the brain itself and our thoughts serving as software. The landmark event that launched what is now broadly called ‘cognitive science’ was the publication of Language and Communication (1951) by the psychologist George Miller. Miller proposed that the mental world could be studied rigorously using concepts from information theory, computation and linguistics.

This kind of thinking was taken to its ultimate expression in the short book The Computer and the Brain (1958), in which the mathematician John von Neumann stated flatly that the function of the human nervous system is ‘prima facie digital’. Although he acknowledged that little was actually known about the role the brain played in human reasoning and memory, he drew parallel after parallel between the components of the computing machines of the day and the components of the human brain.

Propelled by subsequent advances in both computer technology and brain research, an ambitious multidisciplinary effort to understand human intelligence gradually developed, firmly rooted in the idea that humans are, like computers, information processors. This effort now involves thousands of researchers, consumes billions of dollars in funding, and has generated a vast literature consisting of both technical and mainstream articles and books. Ray Kurzweil’s book How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed (2013), exemplifies this perspective, speculating about the ‘algorithms’ of the brain, how the brain ‘processes data’, and even how it superficially resembles integrated circuits in its structure.

The information processing (IP) metaphor of human intelligence now dominates human thinking, both on the street and in the sciences. There is virtually no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour that proceeds without employing this metaphor, just as no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour could proceed in certain eras and cultures without reference to a spirit or deity. The validity of the IP metaphor in today’s world is generally assumed without question.

But the IP metaphor is, after all, just another metaphor – a story we tell to make sense of something we don’t actually understand. And like all the metaphors that preceded it, it will certainly be cast aside at some point – either replaced by another metaphor or, in the end, replaced by actual knowledge.

Just over a year ago, on a visit to one of the world’s most prestigious research institutes, I challenged researchers there to account for intelligent human behaviour without reference to any aspect of the IP metaphor. They couldn’t do it, and when I politely raised the issue in subsequent email communications, they still had nothing to offer months later. They saw the problem. They didn’t dismiss the challenge as trivial. But they couldn’t offer an alternative. In other words, the IP metaphor is ‘sticky’. It encumbers our thinking with language and ideas that are so powerful we have trouble thinking around them.

The faulty logic of the IP metaphor is easy enough to state. It is based on a faulty syllogism – one with two reasonable premises and a faulty conclusion. Reasonable premise #1: all computers are capable of behaving intelligently. Reasonable premise #2: all computers are information processors. Faulty conclusion: all entities that are capable of behaving intelligently are information processors.

Setting aside the formal language, the idea that humans must be information processors just because computers are information processors is just plain silly, and when, some day, the IP metaphor is finally abandoned, it will almost certainly be seen that way by historians, just as we now view the hydraulic and mechanical metaphors to be silly.

If the IP metaphor is so silly, why is it so sticky? What is stopping us from brushing it aside, just as we might brush aside a branch that was blocking our path? Is there a way to understand human intelligence without leaning on a flimsy intellectual crutch? And what price have we paid for leaning so heavily on this particular crutch for so long? The IP metaphor, after all, has been guiding the writing and thinking of a large number of researchers in multiple fields for decades. At what cost?

In a classroom exercise I have conducted many times over the years, I begin by recruiting a student to draw a detailed picture of a dollar bill – ‘as detailed as possible’, I say – on the blackboard in front of the room. When the student has finished, I cover the drawing with a sheet of paper, remove a dollar bill from my wallet, tape it to the board, and ask the student to repeat the task. When he or she is done, I remove the cover from the first drawing, and the class comments on the differences.

Because you might never have seen a demonstration like this, or because you might have trouble imagining the outcome, I have asked Jinny Hyun, one of the student interns at the institute where I conduct my research, to make the two drawings. Here is her drawing ‘from memory’ (notice the metaphor):

And here is the drawing she subsequently made with a dollar bill present:

Jinny was as surprised by the outcome as you probably are, but it is typical. As you can see, the drawing made in the absence of the dollar bill is horrible compared with the drawing made from an exemplar, even though Jinny has seen a dollar bill thousands of times.

What is the problem? Don’t we have a ‘representation’ of the dollar bill ‘stored’ in a ‘memory register’ in our brains? Can’t we just ‘retrieve’ it and use it to make our drawing?

Obviously not, and a thousand years of neuroscience will never locate a representation of a dollar bill stored inside the human brain for the simple reason that it is not there to be found.

The idea that memories are stored in individual neurons is preposterous: how and where is the memory stored in the cell?

A wealth of brain studies tells us, in fact, that multiple and sometimes large areas of the brain are often involved in even the most mundane memory tasks. When strong emotions are involved, millions of neurons can become more active. In a 2016 study of survivors of a plane crash by the University of Toronto neuropsychologist Brian Levine and others, recalling the crash increased neural activity in ‘the amygdala, medial temporal lobe, anterior and posterior midline, and visual cortex’ of the passengers.

The idea, advanced by several scientists, that specific memories are somehow stored in individual neurons is preposterous; if anything, that assertion just pushes the problem of memory to an even more challenging level: how and where, after all, is the memory stored in the cell?

So what is occurring when Jinny draws the dollar bill in its absence? If Jinny had never seen a dollar bill before, her first drawing would probably have not resembled the second drawing at all. Having seen dollar bills before, she was changed in some way. Specifically, her brain was changed in a way that allowed her to visualise a dollar bill – that is, to re-experience seeing a dollar bill, at least to some extent.

The difference between the two diagrams reminds us that visualising something (that is, seeing something in its absence) is far less accurate than seeing something in its presence. This is why we’re much better at recognising than recalling. When we re-member something (from the Latin re, ‘again’, and memorari, ‘be mindful of’), we have to try to relive an experience; but when we recognise something, we must merely be conscious of the fact that we have had this perceptual experience before.

Perhaps you will object to this demonstration. Jinny had seen dollar bills before, but she hadn’t made a deliberate effort to ‘memorise’ the details. Had she done so, you might argue, she could presumably have drawn the second image without the bill being present. Even in this case, though, no image of the dollar bill has in any sense been ‘stored’ in Jinny’s brain. She has simply become better prepared to draw it accurately, just as, through practice, a pianist becomes more skilled in playing a concerto without somehow inhaling a copy of the sheet music.

From this simple exercise, we can begin to build the framework of a metaphor-free theory of intelligent human behaviour – one in which the brain isn’t completely empty, but is at least empty of the baggage of the IP metaphor.

As we navigate through the world, we are changed by a variety of experiences. Of special note are experiences of three types: (1) we observe what is happening around us (other people behaving, sounds of music, instructions directed at us, words on pages, images on screens); (2) we are exposed to the pairing of unimportant stimuli (such as sirens) with important stimuli (such as the appearance of police cars); (3) we are punished or rewarded for behaving in certain ways.

We become more effective in our lives if we change in ways that are consistent with these experiences – if we can now recite a poem or sing a song, if we are able to follow the instructions we are given, if we respond to the unimportant stimuli more like we do to the important stimuli, if we refrain from behaving in ways that were punished, if we behave more frequently in ways that were rewarded.

Misleading headlines notwithstanding, no one really has the slightest idea how the brain changes after we have learned to sing a song or recite a poem. But neither the song nor the poem has been ‘stored’ in it. The brain has simply changed in an orderly way that now allows us to sing the song or recite the poem under certain conditions. When called on to perform, neither the song nor the poem is in any sense ‘retrieved’ from anywhere in the brain, any more than my finger movements are ‘retrieved’ when I tap my finger on my desk. We simply sing or recite – no retrieval necessary.

A few years ago, I asked the neuroscientist Eric Kandel of Columbia University – winner of a Nobel Prize for identifying some of the chemical changes that take place in the neuronal synapses of the Aplysia (a marine snail) after it learns something – how long he thought it would take us to understand how human memory works. He quickly replied: ‘A hundred years.’ I didn’t think to ask him whether he thought the IP metaphor was slowing down neuroscience, but some neuroscientists are indeed beginning to think the unthinkable – that the metaphor is not indispensable.

A few cognitive scientists – notably Anthony Chemero of the University of Cincinnati, the author of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science (2009) – now completely reject the view that the human brain works like a computer. The mainstream view is that we, like computers, make sense of the world by performing computations on mental representations of it, but Chemero and others describe another way of understanding intelligent behaviour – as a direct interaction between organisms and their world.

My favourite example of the dramatic difference between the IP perspective and what some now call the ‘anti-representational’ view of human functioning involves two different ways of explaining how a baseball player manages to catch a fly ball – beautifully explicated by Michael McBeath, now at Arizona State University, and his colleagues in a 1995 paper in Science. The IP perspective requires the player to formulate an estimate of various initial conditions of the ball’s flight – the force of the impact, the angle of the trajectory, that kind of thing – then to create and analyse an internal model of the path along which the ball will likely move, then to use that model to guide and adjust motor movements continuously in time in order to intercept the ball.

That is all well and good if we functioned as computers do, but McBeath and his colleagues gave a simpler account: to catch the ball, the player simply needs to keep moving in a way that keeps the ball in a constant visual relationship with respect to home plate and the surrounding scenery (technically, in a ‘linear optical trajectory’). This might sound complicated, but it is actually incredibly simple, and completely free of computations, representations and algorithms.

We will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace, and we will never achieve immortality through downloading

Two determined psychology professors at Leeds Beckett University in the UK – Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Golonka – include the baseball example among many others that can be looked at simply and sensibly outside the IP framework. They have been blogging for years about what they call a ‘more coherent, naturalised approach to the scientific study of human behaviour… at odds with the dominant cognitive neuroscience approach’. This is far from a movement, however; the mainstream cognitive sciences continue to wallow uncritically in the IP metaphor, and some of the world’s most influential thinkers have made grand predictions about humanity’s future that depend on the validity of the metaphor.

One prediction – made by the futurist Kurzweil, the physicist Stephen Hawking and the neuroscientist Randal Koene, among others – is that, because human consciousness is supposedly like computer software, it will soon be possible to download human minds to a computer, in the circuits of which we will become immensely powerful intellectually and, quite possibly, immortal. This concept drove the plot of the dystopian movie Transcendence (2014) starring Johnny Depp as the Kurzweil-like scientist whose mind was downloaded to the internet – with disastrous results for humanity.

Fortunately, because the IP metaphor is not even slightly valid, we will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace; alas, we will also never achieve immortality through downloading. This is not only because of the absence of consciousness software in the brain; there is a deeper problem here – let’s call it the uniqueness problem – which is both inspirational and depressing.

Because neither ‘memory banks’ nor ‘representations’ of stimuli exist in the brain, and because all that is required for us to function in the world is for the brain to change in an orderly way as a result of our experiences, there is no reason to believe that any two of us are changed the same way by the same experience. If you and I attend the same concert, the changes that occur in my brain when I listen to Beethoven’s 5th will almost certainly be completely different from the changes that occur in your brain. Those changes, whatever they are, are built on the unique neural structure that already exists, each structure having developed over a lifetime of unique experiences.

This is why, as Sir Frederic Bartlett demonstrated in his book Remembering (1932), no two people will repeat a story they have heard the same way and why, over time, their recitations of the story will diverge more and more. No ‘copy’ of the story is ever made; rather, each individual, upon hearing the story, changes to some extent – enough so that when asked about the story later (in some cases, days, months or even years after Bartlett first read them the story) – they can re-experience hearing the story to some extent, although not very well (see the first drawing of the dollar bill, above).

This is inspirational, I suppose, because it means that each of us is truly unique, not just in our genetic makeup, but even in the way our brains change over time. It is also depressing, because it makes the task of the neuroscientist daunting almost beyond imagination. For any given experience, orderly change could involve a thousand neurons, a million neurons or even the entire brain, with the pattern of change different in every brain.

Worse still, even if we had the ability to take a snapshot of all of the brain’s 86 billion neurons and then to simulate the state of those neurons in a computer, that vast pattern would mean nothing outside the body of the brain that produced it. This is perhaps the most egregious way in which the IP metaphor has distorted our thinking about human functioning. Whereas computers do store exact copies of data – copies that can persist unchanged for long periods of time, even if the power has been turned off – the brain maintains our intellect only as long as it remains alive. There is no on-off switch. Either the brain keeps functioning, or we disappear. What’s more, as the neurobiologist Steven Rose pointed out in The Future of the Brain (2005), a snapshot of the brain’s current state might also be meaningless unless we knew the entire life history of that brain’s owner – perhaps even about the social context in which he or she was raised.

Think how difficult this problem is. To understand even the basics of how the brain maintains the human intellect, we might need to know not just the current state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, not just the varying strengths with which they are connected, and not just the states of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point, but how the moment-to-moment activity of the brain contributes to the integrity of the system. Add to this the uniqueness of each brain, brought about in part because of the uniqueness of each person’s life history, and Kandel’s prediction starts to sound overly optimistic. (In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, the neuroscientist Kenneth Miller suggested it will take ‘centuries’ just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity.)

Meanwhile, vast sums of money are being raised for brain research, based in some cases on faulty ideas and promises that cannot be kept. The most blatant instance of neuroscience gone awry, documented recently in a report in Scientific American, concerns the $1.3 billion Human Brain Project launched by the European Union in 2013. Convinced by the charismatic Henry Markram that he could create a simulation of the entire human brain on a supercomputer by the year 2023, and that such a model would revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders, EU officials funded his project with virtually no restrictions. Less than two years into it, the project turned into a ‘brain wreck’, and Markram was asked to step down.

We are organisms, not computers. Get over it. Let’s get on with the business of trying to understand ourselves, but without being encumbered by unnecessary intellectual baggage. The IP metaphor has had a half-century run, producing few, if any, insights along the way. The time has come to hit the DELETE key.

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What does it take to wake the people up?


One thing I know I am not an alarm clock or could ever be one to another human being. Thankfully my personal alarm clock worked very well to wake me up. For the past two decades I’ve been nudging colleagues, friends and relatives to come out from their warm cozy blankets, open their eyes and sit up at least, as jumping out and standing up would be asking too much from them while still sleepy eyed.

Whatever information and knowledge I had then was relatively very small compared to now, as there was no Internet yet. With the advent of the World Wide Web (www), information start to ooze out like blood flowing from a deep gash wound. Yes, more and more people began to sit up and rub their eyes and begun to see what’s really around them as compared to the night before.

Not until lately, everything seems to be flung out of the closet. Things and issues that was quickly brushed aside before as “conspiracy theories” are now clearly and openly displayed as real conspiracies. Whistlers or whistleblowers are coming out on almost a daily basis. As you reading this might already know, the dark shadowy groups and organizations like the Bilderberg are dancing out from behind the curtain and even setup their own official websites. The latest to follow suit is the lovey-lovey Illuminati, and this lot’s appearance really gives me the goose bumps. All said, I see progress and things are moving toward the change that we the people want albeit quite not as quickly as we would want it to be…nuff said.

What this post is really about is that the world is visibly changing and the news and reports to the many happenings are openly and readily available. Many if not all the news do sound simply insane. For instance, Obama became a Nobel Peace laureate and most recently the war criminal teflon Tony Blair received the Save The Children award? If that’s not madness I don’t know what is.  Now, take this one on (I once thought was) a fabulous actress – Angelina Jolie. She’s set to become a peer! What this means is she is to be given a seat in the House of Lords at the Westminster and she will be a Lawmaker!

angelina jolie

Good grief! I know in the US Hollywood actors do/did become President and State Governor, but the Brits? I thought they are more conventional, traditional and sober than their drunkard American cousins. Anyway, this Angelina is not as angelic as you may think she is. She’s been serving the dark side for sometime, perhaps as long as she’s been acting. Without a doubt she’s been picked and groomed by the Illuminati like many other artistes as declared by the Illuminati themselves on their official website.

Illuminati website

On the front page they declared:

The Illuminati Organization is an elite collective of political leaders, business owners, entertainment celebrities, and other influential members of this planet. By uniting leaders of the world in an unrestrictive, private domain – free of political, religious, and geological boundaries – our organization helps to further the prosperity of the human species as a whole…

That’s proof enough about who and what Angelina Jolie is, and its a no secret that she is a member and an ambassadress for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which many know by now what this organization represent.

angelina and CFR

So you see, if this happened twenty years ago prior the Internet, this would be quickly stamped and labeled as a conspiracy theory. Now… here you are… its openly displayed for all to see. Unfortunately, with all these information about the cabal and their NWO program freely and easily available, many more people are still sleeping and I just wonder what does it take to wake them up?

Here’s a pretty good round up of what’s happening round the world:

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home

 

 

In the Shadows of the Unknown


FEE

Fear is a political instrument, but knowledge is power

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haloween

OCTOBER 31, 2014 by CONNOR BOYACK

Your doorbell rings in the dark of night, so you quietly approach the peephole to size up your visitor. The porch light doesn’t illuminate the person well enough to see him clearly, but he’s definitely wearing a mask. You move your eyes lower to get a better look at the tall figure. He’s standing, waiting, on the other side of the threshold. He’s holding a machete.

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On any other night, this scenario might send adrenaline coursing through your veins, fueling an almost palpable fear. But tonight is different. It’s Halloween. And rather than feeling scared, you casually open the door to discover that the dimly lit figure is the teenager from down the street dressed as the killer from a slasher flick.

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We don’t fear a scary-looking stranger on our doorstep on October 31 because we know it’s very likely to be a friendly neighbor seeking sugar. This information, born of experience, empowers us to act rationally. It’s possible, of course, that the machete-wielding figure really is a murderer going door to door — but the odds are against it, especially on this night of the year.

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Imagine if you didn’t know how to assess that risk. Imagine locking your doors, turning off all the lights, and cowering in the dark, waiting for all the trick-or-treaters to go away.

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Unfortunately, this is the situation we too often find ourselves in when politicians and the media tell us to be scared — of terrorists, of deadly contagions from overseas, or just of each other. We know that not all of the threats can be real, but how are we to discern the true menaces from the false alarms?

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When people are scared, they will support policies that promise to keep us safe, but end up costing us ever more—both in tax dollars and lost liberties. That’s why despots throughout history have sought means by which the masses could be intentionally kept in the dark: ignorance and fear give the despots power. It doesn’t matter which political party is in power. The left tries to scare people with dark visions of unchecked greed and exploitation. The right wants people to fear alleged threats to our security, both abroad and within our borders. Fear pervades politics generally. As John Adams once wrote, it is “the foundation of most governments.”

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We naturally defer decision making to those who have access to greater political and military intelligence than the general population does. Christopher Guzelian, a legal theorist, posits that politicians are so successful in their use of fear because of “risk information (whether correct or false) that is communicated to society.” In other words, we fear the hobgoblins we can’t see solely on the basis that we’re told they exist and are coming after us. Guzelian concludes that it is “risk communication, not personal experience, [that] causes most fear these days.” Without information, and lacking direct experience, we often respond irrationally.

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What can we do when we are not ourselves scientists, soldiers, or spies? How do we protect our freedom from a political class that benefits from our fears?

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We’re all familiar with the fable about the boy who cried wolf. A shepherd boy repeatedly tricked nearby villagers into thinking that a wolf was attacking his flock of sheep. After multiple “false alarms,” the wolf actually did attack. But this time, when the boy called for help like he had many times before, the villagers did not respond. What changed? This time, they had information. While they didn’t know if there was a wolf or not, they did have observational data informing them about the trustworthiness of their source.

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Our lives are filled with supposed shepherds warning us about the terror du jour. This warning may be completely concocted for political gain, or simply amplified or misinterpreted as a prediction of how a potential malefactor might act. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in an analysis of predictions made by 300 subject matter experts — and summarized in his book Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? — Philip Tetlock observes that “there is a tendency for experts to claim to know more than they do about the future.” Put differently, we rely on people who often do not know what they’re talking about.

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While we may not have access to the information necessary to know whether a purported political, economic, or other threat is as bad as is claimed, we are not helpless. Some sources are more reliable than others. We can cautiously develop a sense of which sources to listen to based on their track records.

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The US government’s record is especially bad on foreign threats. “A few recent examples,” writes historian Tom Woods, “include the alleged Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnam), babies being tossed out of incubators (Iraq I), ‘genocide’ (Kosovo, where ‘hundreds of thousands’ of dead turned out to be 2000 dead on both sides of a civil war combined), weapons of mass destruction (Iraq II), and many others.”

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Like the villagers in the fable, we cannot trust our shepherd — but what alternative do we have? Having grown weary of being duped by false reports, the villagers might have constructed a tower and employed an observer to stand watch and provide an accurate assessment of the surrounding area. The problem for the villagers, and for us, is that new infrastructure can be expensive. And, in the end, the new guardian may develop the same incentives as the old one.

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Fortunately, modern technology offers us a superior strategy to combat those who wish to deprive us of the truth.

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Prior to Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1436, it was economically unfeasible for most individuals to own books, leading to widespread illiteracy. Without the ability to read information, let alone scrutinize and judge it, commoners had no intellectual defense with which they could combat falsehoods. The printing revolution empowered people to access and act upon truth, thus holding religious and political officials accountable for their misdeeds.

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The Internet has similarly revolutionized information access and analysis. Leaks of confidential government documents have turned into a flood; firsthand reports from theaters of war circumvent government censors and combat propaganda; the proliferation of mobile devices has turned every citizen into an agent of accountability who can document the actions of police officers and turn their abuses of authority into viral videos. These and a host of other innovations empower the individual to obtain and act upon the truth. They also minimize the risk of our believing that something is a threat to our health, safety, or welfare when it really isn’t.

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The most important and innovative byproduct of this technological advance is the decentralization of information, including inputs and outputs. There are now an abundance of sources and a variety of means by which we can listen to them. We’re not reliant upon a single shepherd. The world features observation towers in abundance—a marketplace of investigators, researchers, analysts, and commentators. Should one source prove untrustworthy, we have other options from which to choose.

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Likewise, our ability to share the truth using technology ensures that controls and censorship will forever be circumvented; with the click of a button, we can now help countless others see that the emperor isn’t wearing clothes. Social media has radically altered the traditional news networks, and citizen journalists are increasingly empowered to identify, investigate, and report on an issue of concern. Worldwide dissemination of information is no longer a fanciful, futuristic dream—the revolution has become our reality.

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We live in a dangerous world, where threats do exist and should be dealt with. We should be diligent, however, in figuring out what is or isn’t a credible threat. Imagine if your young neighbor was shot and killed by another homeowner unfamiliar with Halloween. Wouldn’t we agree that more information would have caused that neighbor to respond differently?

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We can’t expect people to act reasonably in the face of some purported threat unless they can access the truth and the context that surround it. Thankfully, today we have more tools than ever to check those who cry wolf and expect people to stay cowering in the shadows of the unknown.

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New ”broadcasts” that will start to come your way


The manuscript of survival – part 365

by Aisha North

As you have perhaps already seen, things have definitely picked up speed now, and as such, the days and weeks ahead will be more than eventful for you all. Again, you will be all set to expect a certain chain of events to take place, but please remember this plan is carefully planned, and even if you should have some prior knowledge of it, you do not have all the details, and as such, a human mind is not even capable of picturing it all in full and glorious detail. For you have been well groomed for this, but still there is much that is kept hidden from view, and so we caution you to expect the unexpected. For what you are about to witness will not be like anything you are expecting to observe and as such, we caution you to throw any previous knowledge to the wind and start afresh with a blank slate as it were when it comes to expectation.

Things will be set into motion now that will take many by surprise, and as usual, there is so much more to this than what will be visible on the surface. For remember, you have all been set up with a brand new way of SEEing things by now, and as such, what you will perceive from these upcoming events will vary much from what your next door neighbour will take out of it. For again we say expect the unexpected, and expect to become more than a little bit overwhelmed by what you sense will be happening beyond the scope of human perception. For what you SEE will be very different from what will take place in front of your eyes, and when we say this, it is indeed to remind you all to see beyond the obvious, and take in the reality that hides behind this veil of illusion that is currently being laid out before you all. For now, you are all more than capable of seeing past this illusion, and again, we refer to your abilities to connect with these currents that go far, far deeper than the mere illlusion on the surface of things. We know we speak in convoluted terms as usual, but it is indeed imperative that you all start to go beyond the words and the images that you are being presented as face value, and start to tap into that vast source of information that lies beyond that. For there is where the truth resides, and you are more than welcome to SEE this truth for yourself now. Indeed, you are all required to do so, as otherwise, you might get stuck in all of the machinations that the old illusion will engender in order to once again divert your intention from these deep layers of reality that is obscured by the hue and cry that will soon ensue from those old guardians of this selfsame illusion.

For remember, you have been taught to look the other way whenever a piece of information that will rip asunder this curtain of disillusion may come across the horizon. But this time, those of you who have managed to fully open your hearts to this truth will be more than ready to finally start to see these glimmers of truth for what they really are. For they are no longer able to be dismissed as mere folly, wishful thinking or even proofs of delusion. No, now these snippets of Source that will be made available to you will speak the truth to humanity for the very first time, and so we urge you to open yourselves and start to tune into this brand new channel of information that is about to be opened. And you are more than welcome to be the first ones to report exactly what it is that you can pick up from these new ”broadcasts” that will start to come your way. For remember, you are all more than capable of not only tuning into these brand new levels of vibrational information, you will also be asked to share just what it is you are picking up from them. For the information that will be sent through, is of such a magnitude and scope it takes more than one brave heart to take it all in, and so, you will once again discover the underlying factor that this is indeed for all intents and purposes a vast collective event, and this time, you are the ones that will be asked to not only participate, but also to give your voice to this choir and make it sing out loud and clear all across your world.

For you will hear and you will see and you will sense, and so we ask you not to keep any of it quiet, but please make sure that someone else will be brought in on this ”secret” in any way you can. For this is no longer to be a secret, this is all meant to become common knowledge, and as such, the first steps you need to take, is to let go of any inhibitions you might have as to what your role in all of this should be. For you are all here to OBSERVE, and through that you CREATE, but you are also here to REPORT what you observe, whether it will be through your ”human senses” or whether it will be through any of the more far-ranging ones. So again we say, sit up and take notice of all the things that will start to come into your sphere of influence these upcoming days and nights, and know that no detail is unimportant. So take notes, and take heed, and make sure that what you ”see” will not go unreported. And remember, this exchange of information can also be carried out in all sorts of ways, so we do not ask you to step up on a box on a street corner like a preacher and shout it out. No, you will all find a way to divulge these ”secrets” that are not to be secrets any more.

For this time, the cat will be well and truly let out of the bag – or perhaps we should say box – and now there is no way it can be enticed back in again. For the old illusion is about to come apart at the seams, and your willingness to be the witness, the observer, is what will make it all come about. For as you start to SEE the changes, you will also speed the whole process up, and as such, you are the ones that will make it all come about. So again we say on behalf of All of creation: thank you for all that you are and all that you do, and know that without you, there would be no change, at least, not for the better. But with you, nothing will ever be the same, and the one thing that can be assured, is that this time, the light is shining the way for you all to exit this small, claustrophobic, dark box that has been your only place of abode. But not anymore, as this time, not only the lid but every single wall will be removed in such a way no traces of it will be left. And so we say, go out and shine dear ones, and start to SEE these changes, and know that the more you look, the more you will find, and through that, even more change will be created at an even faster rate.

 

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The information now being brought into the light is empowering you all as never before


The information now being brought into the light is empowering you all as never before

by John Smallman

2013-07-14-saul-audio-blog-for-sunday-july14th.mp3

We are all one.  That is the divine, the inescapable, and the most wondrous truth, and all you need to do is to embrace it and live it.  When you do there will be peace, harmony, and unconditional acceptance throughout humanity.  The energies of your New Age are flooding in and demonstrating this truth all over the world as ever more of you open yourselves in acceptance of it.  It is an eternal truth that is now becoming so obvious, so irrefutable, that no one can continue to deny it and still claim to be level-headed or well-informed.

Your science has proven, without any possibility of doubt, that you cannot go on treating your planet as a place of unlimited resources for you to mine, while at the same time desecrating her by your literally poisonous agricultural policies and by using her as a toxic waste dump in which to bury the evidence of your materialistic and unconscionable activities.  It has proven that you are one with her and with each other.  She has provided everything you need to live in security, comfort, and peaceful harmony, and yet it seems that you have been hell-bent on destroying the hospitable and welcoming environment she so willingly provides and which makes life upon her viable.

All across the planet loving beings have been and are continuing to form groups that will bring together the essential skills and competences, along with the necessary influence and determination, to reverse and then repair the damaging activities that have been heedlessly used on the planet for so long.  Sufficient numbers of you have now become aware that these uncaring and destructive ways of living cannot be allowed to continue if the major changes necessary for you to assume your proper roles as guardians and protectors of the planet are to be brought into effect.  Even your mainstream media is reporting on the crumbling foundations that underlie your political, military, industrial, and economic systems and organizations, although, as yet, they have not been prepared to acknowledge and point out publicly that you cannot continue on your present course unless you plan to self-destruct.

Yes, from time to time individuals and groups have drawn attention to numerous vital issues that need urgent attention if humanity is not to bring about its own extinction.  And while those involved have most certainly joined the dots, those who still – just – hold the reins of power are doing their utmost to discredit and then ignore the overwhelming evidence of the impending mass-extinction of humanity to which your present policies are leading.

Because of the divine field of Love enveloping the planet and because of its massive influence on humanity, your collective mind has now taken the decision to awaken and to dissolve the illusion with all its fear-oriented power structures.  That is why so much sensitive and secret information – which those in power and those beholden to them have taken so much trouble to keep hidden – is now being revealed by an ever-enlarging phalanx of whistle-blowers.  So far you have seen only the tip of the iceberg of deceit and corruption which underlies the systems that were supposedly established – if you believe the rhetoric – for the well-being of humanity.  As the days pass, more and more alarming information will be released into the public arena.

As you all know, information is power, and the information now being brought into the light is empowering you all as never before.  This does not mean that violent and armed revolution is to engulf the planet.  That would be totally self-defeating as has been demonstrated so many times in humanity’s history over the eons.

No, the Love that is enveloping you in Its warm and unconditionally accepting embrace is bringing most clearly into your collective and individual consciousness the awareness that violence and a self-righteous quest for restitution will only further aggravate an already dangerous and unstable situation.  And of course It is also showing you, and constantly reminding you that all are one – that whatever anyone does and thinks affects all.

Within the illusory environment which you are presently experiencing, the immediate effects that one’s thoughts, words, or actions have on others or on the planet are mostly not immediately apparent, and sometimes are never known.  However, you are most definitely becoming aware that there are no thoughts, words, or actions that do not spread out like ripples on a pond, causing untold perturbations way beyond your immediate field of vision.

The divine field of Love is now actively encouraging you to change, permanently, your perception of the world and of all the different races and cultures that she supports.  It is reminding you that you are all the children of God, dearly and eternally loved by Him, and that that being the case, your only option is to treat one another with love and respect, honoring each other’s choice of lifestyle, religion, culture, etc., and then completely refraining from judgment of any kind.

The Love flow across the planet is seriously effecting everyone without exception, so honor your loving thoughts and impulses.  Do not think you are losing your minds. What you are experiencing – even if it seems strange, unusual, or inappropriate – is the inflow of Love into your hearts because you are now ready and have chosen to accept It and act on It.  Everyone is feeling these urgings to be loving.  Act on them and enjoy the amazing results that follow, as others respond in kind.

With so very much love, Saul.

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