About Onus

Advocate of Psychology and Philosophy. Primarily focused in epistemology, cognition, and evolutionary concepts. Passionate fan for media entertainment.

What is DMT? Not magic!

Alex Grey - Mars 1 LSD Bicycle DayWhoah.  Have you heard how we have this natural chemical in our brain that is released on death and gives us an infinite hallucination?  That would be N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT for short) and some people truly feel that this chemical is spiritual and/or magical.  What is it really?  If you think that stand up comedians and sports casters are enough credentials on the matter, you could consider the following video which many hold to be the truth about DMT:

Additionally, you can visit http://rickstrassman.com/ to see the breeding grounds of DMT and its spiritual associations.

Rick Strassman was the first one to purport theories about DMT that people now take as truth (ie. Joe Rogan). He conducted an experiment with DMT and people back in the 90’s and came up with the hypothesis that DMT is massively released before death and during sleep (F1). However, he never actually provided a reason for thinking so, it is just arbitrary. He could have just as well said the hippocampus instead of the pineal gland, except that we know that the pineal gland is the manufacturer of the endocrine system. So, after reading more about the “spirit molecule” I looked more into current studies of DMT today (it was been 20 years since he proposed these theories, with no real evidence).

Today, we know that DMT is in the same chemical family as psilocybin (shrooms). This is evinced in the typtamines chemical structure which acts on the neurotransmitter serotonin. (F2) We also now know that DMT acts on the Endogenous Sigma-1 Receptor Regulator. (F3) This receptor is chiefly correlated (and hypothesized as the crux of) mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. (F4)

DMT Chemical Structure (F2)

I’m sorry if this is too technical, I just find it really interesting to read about. In everyday life, we have neurotransmitters which inhibit the projection of our cognition. So, when we think about a fire truck, we just imagine it. However, in a dream or by taking drugs like DMT, it affects these neurotransmitters so that our projections actually seem like real external stimulus. The problem is that we do not have any sense of control over these projections, they just continue until the neurotransmitters can be produced again. (F5)

Naturally, our senses presume that anything incoming is external and does not exist in our mind. Our mind has it’s chemicals to help us discern what is external and what is internal thoughts. However, when we influence those chemicals, it should come as no surprise that we think that these hallucinations and visions are real because they appear external. Even though we consciously know we took drugs to influence our senses, we fail to see that these ostensibly external images are, in fact, interally influenced images. What this means is that we will never have a case of someone taking DMT and experiencing a novel experience – it is always within the mind of the user, contrary to what people will say with it’s connection to another dimension. It is a glorified view of the drug which is dangerous because there are dire consequences to consistent use of it.

By constantly stimulating serotonin receptors, there is danger of afflicting schizophrenic symptoms. (F6) The most particular symptom that manifests in DMT users is Alogia – poverty of speech. This is simply the first manifest symptom as it progressively becomes worse and resembles that of schizophrenic disorders and even cocaine addicts (F7). In fact, there are associates of Stressman (the man who originated the “spirit molecule” theory) who oppose him and work very hard to spread caution. For example, Patricio Dominguez, although he takes a more spiritual standing, opposes the use of DMT but makes it sound as though only experienced users ought to take it.

While the truth is that there is a correlary effect of schizophrenic symptoms that develop in most psychadelics due to it’s influence on the sertonin receptors (just as it naturally develops in schizophrenics). Thus, the most significant side effect is mental trauma that even the most prideful ignore and yet succumb to.

Hope this was interesting! What do you think?
F1: http://rickstrassman.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=60
F2: DMT (2-(1H-indol-3-yl)-N,N-dimethylethanamine) Psilocybin ([3-(2-Dimethylaminoethyl)-1H-indol-4-yl] dihydrogen phosphate) Serotonin (5-Hydroxytryptamine or
3-(2-aminoethyl)-1H-indol-5-ol) if googled, the chemical structures are a good visual.
F3: http://stke.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;323/5916/934
F4: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-004-1920-9
F5: I am speaking about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monoamine_oxidase_inhibitor if you want to read up on it
F6: https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-2005-916185
F7: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12871086

Advertisements

Most/Least Suicidal Person

tat-2Who is the most suicidal person?  By contrast, who is the least likely to commit suicide?  When looking into the statistics to reflect this, I have noticed that these rates are hardly correlated to the rates of homicide.  It elicits several questions and, while I am interested in discussing them, I just want to present the evidence of suicide. There is also the question of attempted suicide and how it is reflected in these stats.  While it is true that women attempt suicide more often than men, it is men that actually commit suicide more often.

It is important to note that, combined, this person’s probability of suicide likely changes drastically.  I am simply providing each category on its own in list form.   With this said, here are the profiles of those people who are least and most likely to commit suicide:

Most Likely to Commit Suicide

Least Likely to Commit Suicide

  • Gender: Female
  • Race: Black
  • Country: Egypt
  • Age: 5-14
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight (Citation above)
  • Income: No significant evidence.
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Occupation: Inconclusive – Cannot find definite evidence for this.  This may require an entire discussion on its own.
  • Favourite Music: Anything but country
  • Has children
  • Is not an alcoholic or gambles

The Onus

Albert Camus said that the myth of Sisyphus was the greatest analogy for human life - a folly. But, man's greatest achievement would be to smile while in the place of Sisyphus.

o·nus [oh-nuh s]
noun, plural o·nus·es.
1. a difficult or disagreeable obligation, task, burden, etc.
2. burden of proof.
3. blame or responsibility.

This article is meant to answer what the onus is. It is meant to answer how an atheist lives a moral and fulfilling life. For further background, it is best to read the article “Why I am Atheist?” . This article is illustrating how someone, in the face of absolute existential depression, finds exuberant happiness. There are others out there who have no faith in a God, no beliefs in anything skeptical, but live with a dreadnought of infinite nothingness resting in their dreams. I know that feeling; you know there’s no afterlife, you can feel how powerless life really is. The depth of nothing is so daunting. What can we make of it? I know that many people want a quick and easy answer to life. However, I will take my time with this. This is what I live by. This is what I want to share.

Some think this is the easy slippery slope to violence as there are no believed consequences for your actions. However, someone in this position knows how important their actions are to how others view them. For, as Sartre says, once you die, who you are is dependent on what other people think of you and they will determine that on your behavioral conduct. You know that there is no ethereal entity that can pierce through your soul or anything clandestine  It is a mistake to believe that, with no consequences of an after-life, it warrants immediate violence to others. It was the Ring of Gyges that encapsulates this point. If there was a ring that could make you invisible, what would you do with this power? Many argue that anyone would, without a doubt, commit atrocious and manipulative acts. However, these people are wrong to believe that all people would do so. There are also a great many that would do good or nothing at all. These people exist and are easy to meet.

Nothingness

There are a few of us in the world that accept the following, for others, let this set the premise for the mindset of the onus:

There is no creator. There is no God.

Life is fragile and easily ends. There is no afterlife.

Anything considered a soul or spirit is just a matter of physical energy (ie. kinetic). Nothing supernatural.

We are nothing but memories.  Who we are is just a collection of thoughts.  And thoughts are produced by the brain.  Nothing more.

You have been forced into this world. You have been forced with the responsbility to live it.

You are forced with choices on how to conduct yourself everyday of your life.

For the very fact that you are conscious, you can never be free or ignorant from any of the above. You will never escape your burden of responsibility.

You have the burden of responsibility to make choices in life and decide how to conduct it.

Life is an onus.

Exisential Living

Sartre showed that there are two major ways of approaching life:

For-Others: Living with the constant policing of your thoughts by how others perceive you. Consistently worried what others think and how others feel about you. This is living vicariously through others, other constitutions, while justifying it as being empathetic.  Many of these people will consider themselves as “a people person” or “care too much for others”.  These self-descriptions are likely very true, as it is far too easy to neglect the development of your own self-identity by latching onto others.

Sartre noted that we can be consumed by the “look” that others give us. This is the idea that we are being viewed as an object and that our behavior is vulnerable to judgment while our intentions remain unexplained. In this way of living, we utilize society and people by working for it, by discovering what needs are necessary, what resources are asked for, etc. However, there is no room for individual providence because living this way is consumed by an all more important task; maintaing how you are viewed once you die. “Hell is other people” because we depend so deeply on how others judge us and our behavior is what is most salient to them.

In-Itself: Living by attributing your lifes meaning to other variables such as your job, companions, social groups, friends, community, furniture, your car, etc.

I used to contend that living in-itself offered no such means of individual providence, no means to live as an individual as you attribute your self to other things. However, I missed the point of living in-itself in that you are still a comparable variable to these things. “Bad faith” is an important thing to remember in this. When we live as a certain variable in a system, we are still an existant being in that system, regardless of how we look at it. However, if we are able to make the distinction and maintain awareness that we are an inconsequential variable, we can be authentic beings. We can maintain individual providence so long as we remember that our current role is transient. It is not a means of living or an identity, but a role played in order to support our individuality. This is why we cannot let our job identify us, but we also cannot be so easily swept away by the notion, “I am working Y until X happens”. We should not let Y identify us. We ought to maintain our X identity that we are ambitious for, for it is our individual providence.

At length, the onus of life is best fulfilled by living as an individual in-itself. You can live vicariously through others, but you are then no longer an individual. Your individuality is what defines you by others and yourself. You know when you are creating a facade and you know when you are sacrificing your individuality for the sake of pleasing others. However, if we are powerless beings, we must embrace the only thing that matters most; our individuality.

Empowerment Through Chaos

Most people have an intuitive understanding of chaos theory; one variable can have significant effects on other variables over time. One friend tells a friend who tells two friends, etc. These two together are powerful concepts to remember; the power of chaos and exponential growth.

The Lorenz system is a system of ordinary differential equations (the Lorenz equations) first studied by Edward Lorenz. It is notable for having chaotic solutions for certain parameter values and initial conditions. In particular, the Lorenz attractor is a set of chaotic solutions of the Lorenz system which, when plotted, resemble a butterfly or figure eight. ~ Wikipedia

I just want to clarify one thing about chaos that is usually misunderstood; chaos theory is not disorder or a mess. Chaos, in this case, is the focus on how one variable can have chaotic implications all over the world. It is chaotic because one variable acts analguously to a virus that affects proximal variables and then extensive variables beyond it’s original locality. In other words, “a butterfly flapping it’s wings can start a hurricane on the other side of the planet”. Now, this doesn’t mean immediately, of course. Chaos is not something that is universally defined or has a set of rules; it’s chaos afterall! This is why chaos theory is also usually associated with evolution. I won’t delve into that, but if you are already reading this, then it is likely that you see how chaos theory is an integral part of the gradual process of evolution. After all, it is not like evolution is something that happens in jumps of vulgar mutations, etc. It’s a gradual, progressive, but system. Chaos theory would say that, given all the information, you could easily observe how one variable affects all the others.

To come off the tangent, my point is just that, as a single individual person, you are a single variable in the world. Although you are only one singular variable, you are significantly important to the world and should never think otherwise. This is used to reinforce the importance of living in-itself as an individual.

Morality..?

A question often asked of atheists is, “Where do you get your morality?”. While this article is not explicitly about atheism, it is about the steps taken while becoming atheist. and afterwards. When it comes to morality, many will argue that you require moral policing, ie. God. This is basically the Santas Claus idea: kids will be good if they are rewarded for behaving good and punished for behaving badly. However, in this case, we do not accept any sort of policing phenomenological being over the universe, it’s just us fragile pathetic humans. Of course, many theologians will bump in with arguments reminiscient of the Ring of Gyges argument, “If there’s no consequences in the after life, then an atheist will commit atrocious evils!”. We can, of course, retaliate by pointing at the evils that theists do. Though, this doesn’t explain why atheists do not commit evils, or what reason they have not to.

As an individual with no belief in a moral God, you only have your own wits and society to help decide your morality. This is where I embrace Humanism. Make no mistake though, Humanism is not a religion. There is no dogma in Humanism. There is no faith required. The fundamentals of humanism rest in the idea that moral decisions ought to be central to human concern and humane interaction.

Let’s take a few specific points into consideration. Keep in mind, each of these can be an entire article on it’s own. However, my point is just to show the reasoning utilized by humanism:

+ If Human-kind takes the top priority in moral decisions, does this mean you ought to sacrifice yourself sometimes?
– Yes. Altruism is something that human-kind thrives on and honours. You can find countless sacrifices made by humans for human-kind and how well they are respected.

+ Hitler and his eugencis argued that we ought to utilize evolutionary concepts to better huamn-kind as a whole. Is this Humane?
– This is a more controversial question, but one I ought to address. Firstly, Hitler was definitively NOT an atheist. To anyone who would argue that Hitler was, I let them consider this video:

– To continue the question, hitler’s intentions were mixed. He may be considered a secular humanist as any religion can utilize humanist fundamentals but act more heavily on other morals. This is why Humanism alone is what is best because it is not then mixed with other religious or zealous beliefs.

+ What about abortion?
– As Humanism embraces humane decisions, it would contend that the most humane decision is dependant on the mother whom would also take care of the potential child. Someone may argue that it ought to be a humane decision for the child. When considering the most humane decision, it is arguable that it is more humane to be aborted. To touch on abortion debates, it is amazing how the debate of the child’s abortion is only when it is in fruition.. If you ought to bare the child when it has begun it’s potential growth in life, then you ought to never use condoms and do your best to become pregnant at any given time. Of course, this is held true by many religions, but it is not humane. Simply being born into life is not humane. The most humane thing, for all man-kind, is to raise a humane child. This means having the child in your most promising context. This is why many people will wait till they can properly provide for their child; because it’s humane. Most people will agree that if you are a teen, with no parents, no job, and no education, you cannot responsibly provide for a child. It would be inhumane.

+ What about capital punishment?
– When considering what is best for all human-kind, I would look at the evidence of capital punishment:

the proposed alternative of life sentences without parole and with restitution would ensure harsh punishment and protection of the public, while providing restitution and ensuring that innocent people are not executed. Figures, tables, chapter notes, index, and 209 references
~ https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=138430

– Personally, I am a proponent of positive psychology and would contend that rehabilitation and restitution is the most optimistic and humane solution. While it cannot always be utilized, this does not necessitate punishment of death. The most beneficial thing for all of human-kind is to protect society from those individuals that can inflict harm upon others. However, that does not necessitate death, especially if it has been shown that these people can be rehabilitated for the benefit of society.
At length, I think these examples show the ideal reasoning of humanism.

What is the purpose of life then?  What is the onus?

Life is easy to lose purpose in.  Humans crave patterns and context.  Our brains are virtually programmed to identify patterns in order to better understand and survive our environments.  When we cannot find a reason or purpose in our own lives, we naturally feel a sense of despair.  Why should I be alive if there is no reason to my existence?

In the face of absolutely pointlessness, nothingness, and no purpose is perfect living potential.  It’s a difficult bridge to gap and not one that you dogmatically accept by leaping into.  It will come naturally.  If you are reading this and feeling the existential depression of purposelessness, then hear me out:

Life has given you no purpose to living.  No reason to be here other than to reproduce.

However, you have the ability to question and reason this.  You have the ability to ask what your purpose is.  So many other living things will never and can not think this, let alone think at all.

You are alive.  Whatever you are, you are alive and able to experience.  You have to make constant choices on how to live your life.  Your purpose will inevitably be to experience and grow.  Learn new things.  Meet new people.  Listen to new music.  Smell new aroma’s.  Taste new food.  Feel the breeze of countrysides and the bustling of crowded cities.  Develop a repertoire of experience.

Andreas Vesalius was the first man to record and observe the bones within us.

We are here for a number of years, and then we are dust. Many will say that “life is short”. However, we are lucky to have had any time at all. If you are alive long enough to acknowledge your own existence, then you have experienced something that countless others that could have been in your place and the infinite amount of others who never will. Though, we should not treat death lightly. It can be very easy to end our lives. So we must treat it seriously and keep our wits about us. For me, the skull is the symbol of our mortality. It represents that which is a part of us we naturally want to ignore; what remains of us when our flesh is gone. It is scary to many because of its strong association to death. To me, death reminds me to live life to its fullest potential and enjoy every moment.

You are a cognizant human with the ability to record your experience and intelligently remember them.  Share this with others.  In your own time, you will find things you like and prefer to others.  You will meet people and know which ones you get along with and ones you do not.  Experiences will not always be pleasant.  You will hear awful things.  Taste and smell disgusting things.  But this comes as a consequence of also finding amazing things.  Delicious and enticing smells and foods.

You are here to experience.  What and how you experience life is up to you.  We are burdened with life and how to make our choices.  When we despair in light of a lacking sense of purpose, you must remember the ultimate reason for your existence: to experience.  The onus of life is to decide how we live our lives.  If you find that you do not know how to experience new things, open the doors to random chaotic experiences.  Order food you have never tried.  Listen to music you never heard of.  Say hi to strangers. Ask that girl out.  Buy that guy a drink.  Talk.  Join the discussion.

Enjoy life.

~

Spicy Food is Good For You

Spicy (or hot) food is loved by a significant amount of people in world and has been enjoyed for a countless time.  However, there are many who believe it to be unhealthy or cause certain health risks.  In this article, I want to provide evidence showing that, not only does spicy not cause any health risks, but it is actually good for you.

It is important to first take a look at what spicy food we are talking about in particular.  My main focus will be on capsaicin which is the active chemical ingredient in spices.

➡ History

Human use of chili peppers dates back to prehistoric times. Archeologists have shown that humans ate wild chili peppers as early as 7000 B.C.E. and probably domesticated peppers between 5200 B.C.E. and 3400 B.C.E. Preserved peppers have provided evidence that South Americans ate and grew aji, or chili in English, in 2500 B.C.E. Chili peppers became increasingly common and integrated into the diet of particular cultures. However, chili peppers and similar spices remained isolated in these cultures until the 13th century when Marco Polo established trade routes to the Far East. In addition, Columbus made his famous voyage to America to find a new route to these spices. Although he failed in his original mission, Columbus found four additional species of chili peppers in America. With the help of the Portuguese distribution to Africa, chili peppers became a spice available to civilizations throughout world.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_6944/is_1_11/ai_n31345603/

Spicy food consists of a specific chemical called capsaicin.  As the wiki puts it: Capsaicin is the active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact. Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as a secondary metabolite by chili peppers, probably as deterrents against certain herbivores and fungi. Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, crystalline to waxy compound.

Capsaicin Chemical Structure

➡ Spicy Food Does not Cause Ulcers

This is the most common myth I hear about spicy food; that it causes ulcers.  However, it does not. In a study by Mortenson and Mortenson in 2009, it was found that capsaicin improved metabolism, alleviated symptoms associated with heartburn and ulcers.  Furthermore, there have been many discoveries in what actually causes ulcers;  helicobacter pylori.

We used videoendoscopy to investigate the effect of eating spicy foods on the gastric mucosa. We employed four meals: a bland meal of unpeppered steak and french fries (negative control), a bland meal with 1950 mg of aspirin (positive control), a spicy Mexican meal (30 g of jalapeño peppers), and a pepperoni pizza. Twelve subjects (eight men and four women, aged 24 to 43 years) were studied in a randomized, crossover trial with the test meal given at the noon and evening meals; each subject received all four test meals. Each study consisted of a baseline endoscopy, which was repeated approximately 12 hours after the last test meal. Gastric and duodenal damage was scored using a modification of the Lanza scale. Eleven of 12 individuals taking the bland meal plus aspirin developed multiple gastric erosions (median score, C; which equates with “severe” injury). In contrast, the median endoscopic score for the other three meals was 0. Single cases of a single erosion were present after the Mexican meals and after the pizza meals. Another experiment was done to examine the effect of spices directly on the gastric mucosa; approximately 30 g of fresh jalapeño peppers was ground in a food processor and then placed directly into the stomach. Endoscopy after 24 hours revealed no visible mucosal damage. The ingestion of highly spiced meals by normal individuals is not associated with endoscopically demonstrable gastroduodenal mucosal damage.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3210286

In fact, it was found that digesting capsaicin actually deters ulcers and stomach cancer:

A case-control study involving interviews with 1,016 gastric

cancer (GC) patients and 1,159 population-based controls in high- and low-risk areas was conducted to evaluate dietary factors and their contribution to the marked geographic variation in mortality from this cancer within Italy. Risks of GC were found to vary significantly with estimated nutrient intake. Risk rose with increasing consumption of nitrites and protein, and decreased in proportion to intake of ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and vegetable fat. The associations with nitrite and beta-carotene tended to fade, however, in multivariate analyses adjusting for intake of other nutrients. Ascorbic acid showed the strongest geographic gradient, with highest consumption in low-risk areas. The findings suggest that the protective effects we previously reported for consumption of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and olive oil may be linked to the vitamins C and E contained in these foods. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that N-nitroso compounds are involved in GC risks, since elevated risks were apparent for agents (nitrites, protein) that promote nitrosation, while decreased risks were found for nutrients (ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol) which inhibit the process.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2335393

Biopsy specimens were taken from intact areas of antral mucosa in 100 consecutive consenting patients presenting for gastroscopy. Spiral or curved bacilli were demonstrated in specimens from 58 patients. Bacilli cultured from 11 of these biopsies were gram-negative, flagellate, and microaerophilic and appeared to be a new species related to the genus Campylobacter. The bacteria were present in almost all patients with active chronic gastritis, duodenal ulcer, or gastric ulcer and thus may be an important factor in the aetiology of these diseases.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6145023

➡ Spicy Food is Good For Your Heart

Another commonly said thing is that spicy food causes “strain” on your heart.  However, this is not the case.  In fact, capsaicin reduces heart disease and prevents hypertension:

Some plant-based diets lower the cardiometabolic risks and prevalence of hypertension. New evidence implies a role for the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) cation channel in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases. Little is known about impact of chronic TRPV1 activation on the regulation of vascular function and blood pressure. Here we report that chronic TRPV1 activation by dietary capsaicin increases the phosphorylation of protein kinase A (PKA) and eNOS and thus production of nitric oxide (NO) in endothelial cells, which is calcium dependent. TRPV1 activation by capsaicin enhances endothelium-dependent relaxation in wild-type mice, an effect absent in TRPV1-deficient mice. Long-term stimulation of TRPV1 can activate PKA, which contributes to increased eNOS phosphorylation, improves vasorelaxation, and lowers blood pressure in genetically hypertensive rats. We conclude that TRPV1 activation by dietary capsaicin improves endothelial function. TRPV1-mediated increase in NO production may represent a promising target for therapeutic intervention of hypertension.

http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(10)00228-7

➡ Spicy Food is Good For Your Colon

The common joke is that ingesting spicy food will “burn yer ass”.  However, spicy food is actually good for your colon.

The relaxant effect of capsaicin (300 nM) has been studied on mucosa-free circular strips of the human sigmoid colon in vitro. The response of precontracted preparations to capsaicin (sub-maximal relaxation) was reduced by over 50% by the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor NG-nitro-L-arginine (L-NOARG; 20 µM or 100 µM) or by the guanylate cyclase inhibitor 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ; 1 µM), but not by tetrodotoxin (1 µM) or the P2 purinoceptor antagonist pyridoxal phosphate 6-azophenyl-2′,4′-disulfonic acid (PPADS; 50 µM). L-NOARG or ODQ caused moderate contraction of the circular muscle, indicating a tonic “nitrergic” control. Anandamide (1-100 µM), an endogenous cannabinoid and capsaicin VR1 receptor stimulant, failed to either mimic or modify the response to capsaicin (300 nM).

It is proposed that capsaicin causes the release of smooth muscle relaxant substance(s) from afferent nerve endings in the gut wall, in a tetrodotoxin-resistant manner. Nitric oxide (possibly released from capsaicin-sensitive afferents) plays an important role in the capsaicin-evoked response. No evidence has been found for an involvement of PPADS-sensitive P2 purinoceptors in the response to capsaicin or for a stimulation or inhibition of capsaicin-sensitive receptors by anandamide in the human sigmoid colon.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/ku5tch5uyrbguay5/

Capsaicin can help improve digestion, fight Irritable Bowel Syndrome, prevent diarrhea and stop intestinal infections. It does this by increasing the levels of digestive fluid in the stomach. Capsaicin also helps kill bacteria that may cause infection or diarrhea.

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/capsaicin-topic-overview

➡ Conclusion

There are many other things said about spicy food, but these were the ones that concerned my attention the most.  I may come back to add upon this article as I see fit (ie. nutritional value, etc.).  Go enjoy some spicy food.

➡ Follow Ups

Ileocecal Valve/Junction

First, it’s important to note that humans do not precisely have ileocecal valves but ileocecal junctions:

“A localised muscle thickening at the base of the ileal papilla is consistent with an intrinsic anatomical sphincter. There was no evidence that the ICJ has increased submucosal vascularity or a greater density of innervation compared to the adjacent bowel. The term ileocaecal valve is misleading and should be replaced by ileocaecal junction.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21863224

Following this, I’d like to provide the evidence I have found that capsaicin has no significantly detrimental health effects on the digestive tract:

“Intraduodenal capsaicin had no effect oncontractility. Stimulation of afferent fibers bycapsaicin in the stomach but not in the duodenumaugments contractile activity in local and distantregions of the gut via distinct pathways.”

http://www.springerlink.com/content/ugg65848u583r177/

“It is suggested that capsaicin relaxes the rat ileum via its direct action on smooth muscle, and that capsaicin inhibits contractile mechanisms involving extracellular Ca2+ influx via non-L-type Ca2+ channels, possibly via store-operated Ca2+ channels and Ca2+release from intracellular storage sites.”

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014299904000755

“The influence of small- and large-dose capsaicin on systemic inflammatory responses, nitrite/nitrate (NOx), tissue superoxide dismutase, and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels was investigated in the rat model of sepsis. Small-dose capsaicin treatment attenuated the increases in proinflammatory cytokines and decreased NOx and tissue MDA in septic rats.”

http://www.anesthesia-analgesia.org/content/99/5/1501.short

” in a concentration of 10(-4)M, further reduced the frequency in the segments representing the proximal 30% of the colon. This effect of capsaicin is like that reported previously with other laxative agents.”

http://gut.bmj.com/content/18/8/666.abstract

I must first make special note that I am not a doctor.  With that said, it is only my opinion, based on what I have read, that those with sensitive digestive tracts’ only concern with capsaicin is a laxative like effect (at worst) with higher doses of spicy food.

Vaccines

There is a major problem in this world when we have a major disease that spreads to thousands of people and we have no way of stopping it.  Our best defense is to build our natural defenses against it and the best means to do so is to introduce a weak form of the virus so that our immune systems become familiar with what it is for future prevention of infection.  However, there seems to be a significant amount of people who have a problem with this idea.  There are many claims made and I will systematically tackle each one:

➡ Ethics of Vaccines

First, we must cover the basic ethics argued.  “The greater good” is the commonly held argument and the one that many hold against vaccines.  Vaccines prevent millions of deaths.  However, there is correlative evidence for vaccine-related deaths.  The argument is that, those vaccine-related deaths are reason enough to not use vaccines because the greater good should not out-weight someones life.  The problem with this argument is that it completely ignores the fact that not getting a vaccine is also a means to killing your child.  If you have the means to prevent your child from contriving a disease, it would be irresponsible to not take advantage of that.  Just because we do not use vaccines does not mean you are somehow immune to the disease that the vaccine is intended to defend you against, not too mention the deaths it would cause to thousands of others would need the vaccine.

Secondly, some argue that vaccines are a means to depopulate the Earth as it kills people.  This is probably the most ridiculous argument because, if your intent is to depopulate the Earth, then you ought to not have vaccines as it allows diseases to flourish.  There will be arguments that vaccines cause autism or cancer, however they are unsubstantiated and I will provide empirical evidence of this.

➡ How Vaccines Work

The following is graph illustrating the efficacy of booster shots:

The following is taken from the Public Health Agency of Canada:

Here’s how vaccines work:

  • Most vaccines contain a little bit of a disease germ that is weak or dead. Vaccines do NOT contain the type of germ that makes you sick. Some vaccines do not contain any germs.
  • Having this little bit of the germ inside your body makes your body’s defence system build antibodies to fight off this kind of germ. Antibodies help trap and kill germs that could lead to disease.
  • Your body can make antibodies in two ways: by getting the disease or by getting the vaccine. Getting the vaccine is a much safer way to make antibodies without having the suffering of the disease itself and the risk of becoming disabled or even dying.
  • Antibodies stay with you for a long time. They remember how to fight off the germ. If the real germ that causes this disease (not the vaccine) enters your body in the future, your defence system knows how to fight it off.
  • Often, your defence system will remember how to fight a germ for the rest of your life. Sometimes, your defence system needs a booster shot to remind it how to fight off this germ

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/vs-sv/vs-faq01-eng.php

The following is a video on the strategy to eliminate HIV and flu:

➡ The Safety of Vaccines

 The Safety Review of Thimerosal-containing Vaccines and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Conducted by the Institute of Medicine

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine convened a committee (the Immunization Safety Review Committee) to review selected issues related to immunization safety. [For more information regarding this committee, their charge, and their reports, find the link to IOM’s Web site in “Related Links” below.] The IOM has, to date, completed reviews in two areas. The first review by this committee focused on a potential link between autism and the combined mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine. The second review focused on a potential relationship between thimerosal use in vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders (IOM 2001). This latter issue was brought to the fore primarily as the result of the hypothesis, formulated by S. Bernard and others from Cure Autism Now, that autism is a novel form of mercury poisoning (Bernard et al. 2001); this hypothesis, linking autism to mercury, was based on a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on mercury toxicity.

In its report of October 1, 2001, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee concluded that the evidence was inadequate to either accept or reject a causal relationship between thimerosal exposure from childhood vaccines and the neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and speech or language delay. Additional studies were needed to establish or reject a causal relationship. The Committee did conclude that the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines could be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders was biologically plausible.

The Committee believed that the effort to remove thimerosal from vaccines was “a prudent measure in support of the public health goal to reduce mercury exposure of infants and children as much as possible.” Furthermore, in this regard, the Committee urged that “full consideration be given to removing thimerosal from any biological product to which infants, children, and pregnant women are exposed.”

In 2004, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee issued its final report, examining the hypothesis that vaccines, specifically the MMR vaccines and thimerosal containing vaccines, are causally associated with autism. In this report, the committee incorporated new epidemiological evidence from the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and studies of biologic mechanisms related to vaccines and autism since its report in 2001. The committee concluded that this body of evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, and that hypotheses generated to date concerning a biological mechanism for such causality are theoretical only. Further, the committee stated that the benefits of vaccination are proven and the hypothesis of susceptible populations is presently speculative, and that widespread rejection of vaccines would lead to increases in incidences of serious infectious diseases like measles, whooping cough and Hib bacterial meningitis.

The FDA is continuing its efforts to reduce the exposure of infants, children, and pregnant women to mercury from various sources. Discussions with the manufacturers of influenza virus vaccines (which are now routinely recommended for pregnant women and children 6-23 months of age) regarding their capacity to potentially increase the supply of thimerosal-reduced and thimerosal-free presentations are ongoing. Discussions are also underway with regard to other vaccines. Of note, all hepatitis B vaccines for the U.S., including for adults, are now available only as thimerosal-free or trace-thimerosal-containing formulations. In addition, all immune globulin preparations including hepatitis B immune globulin, and Rho(D) immune globulin preparations are manufactured without thimerosal. For additional information on the issue of thimerosal in vaccines, see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

+ The safety of thimerosal in Vaccines and difference between methylmercury and ethylmercury

http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228

The body of existing data, including the ecologic data presented herein, is not consistent with the hypothesis that increased exposure to Thimerosal-containing vaccines is responsible for the apparent increase in the rates of autism in young children being observed worldwide.

+ Autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines: lack of consistent evidence for an association
http://www.pkids.org/files/pdf/AMJPRMED.pdf

➡ The Consequences of Controversy

Imagine you had the means to prevent a disease from killing countless amounts of people, but there are so many people who doubt your evidence that it works and no matter what evidence you provide, they don’t believe you that it works.  As Bill Gates put it, “To be skeptical against vaccines is to be for killing children.”

There are a number of documentaries out there that claim that the government is fear mongering you into getting vaccines.  However, it is the very movie itself that is fear mongering you into not getting vaccines based on unsubstantiated or anecdotal evidence. One movie, for example, is “The Greater Good” which does a horrible job of discussing the efficacy of vaccines.  Here is an already existing article that does a wonderful job of showing how these anti-vaccines movies are nothing but “unadulterated anti-vaccine propaganda masquerading as a ‘balanced’ documentary”

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-greater-good-pure-unadulterated-anti-vaccine-propagand/

There are also many cases in which people use inappropriate data systems to collate data for vaccine efficacy.  Here is an article from the American Academy of Pediatrics critiquing a commonly heralded anti-vaccine article as a failed research program:

http://www.vaccinationnews.com/sites/default/files/DailyNews/2003/June/03/AAP3.pdf

➡ Myths About Vaccines

This is taken from the World Health Organization (WHO):

Myth 1. Better hygiene and sanitation will make diseases disappear – vaccines are not necessary.

Fact 1. The diseases we can vaccinate against will return if we stop vaccine programmes.
While better hygiene, hand washing and clean water can protect people against diseases such as influenza and cholera, most viruses spread regardless of how clean we are. If people are not vaccinated, so-called old diseases will quickly reappear, such as measles.

Myth 2. Most of the people that contract vaccine-preventable diseases are actually vaccinated.

Fact 2. Most of the people that suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases are not vaccinated.
Owing to the complexity of the human immune system, no vaccine provides 100% protection, but this persistent myth also draws on the fact that true immunization status is not always recorded correctly and that numbers can be manipulated. Over 90% of the people with measles cases reported in 2009 had received less than the recommended two doses of measles vaccine.

Myth 3. Vaccines have several damaging and long-term side-effects that are yet unknown. Vaccination can even be fatal.

Fact 3. Vaccines have side-effects, but none of them are as severe as the diseases themselves.
All medical treatments, including vaccination, can have side-effects. But soreness, mild fever and the extremely rare serious side-effects must be compared to the consequences of having a vaccine-preventable disease. In the case of polio, these consequences can include paralysis; measles can cause encephalitis and blindness; and vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death.

Myth 4. The combined vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and the vaccine against poliomyelitis cause sudden infant death syndrome.

Fact 4. There is no documented correlation between the vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome.

These vaccines are administered at a time when babies can suffer sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but there is no documented correlation. These four diseases, however, are life-threatening and babies who are not vaccinated against them are at serious risk.

Myth 5. As vaccine-preventable diseases are almost eradicated from western Europe, there is no reason to be vaccinated.

Fact 5. Vaccine-preventable diseases still exist in Europe. Since the proportion of vaccinated people is below 95% in many western European countries, these diseases can quickly return to countries where they were once uncommon.
In western Europe, measles outbreaks have occurred in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom since 2005. In 2009, over 82% of measles cases were in the western part of Europe.

Myth 6. The vaccine-preventable childhood illnesses are just an unfortunate fact of life.

Fact 6. Childhood illnesses are serious and can lead to severe complications in both children and adults.
Diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella are called childhood illnesses because they usually affect children. They are not harmless and can lead to serious complications, including congenital rubella syndrome for rubella, and death.

Myth 7. Giving a child more than one vaccine at a time can increase the risk of harmful side-effects, which can overload the child’s immune system.

Fact 7. A child’s immune system handles several hundred foreign bodies every day and can easily handle multiple vaccines administered at the same time.
Antibodies are proteins designed to recognize harmful invasions. The antigens/antibodies a child is exposed to through vaccine regimens are insignificant compared to those a child is exposed to every day or while having a simple cold or sore throat.

Myth 8. Influenza is just a nuisance.

Fact 8. Influenza is a serious disease that kills several hundred thousand people worldwide every year.
The disease is extremely hazardous to small children, elderly people with poor health and anyone with a lung and/or cardiovascular disease. Further, unprotected people can transmit a virus to at-risk groups such as hospital patients and residents of nursing homes, where it can lead to death.

Myth 9. The influenza vaccine is not very effective.

Fact 9. The influenza vaccine protects 70% of the people vaccinated.
Despite vaccines, influenza causes many people to stay home from work or school and this may lead to the belief that the influenza vaccine is not very effective. In fact, a wide range of viruses can cause influenza-like symptoms, which lead people to think they had influenza. Additionally, numerous influenza strains circulate during each influenza season and the vaccine only offers immunity for the three most prevalent strains.

Myth 10. It is better to be immunized through disease than through vaccines.

Fact 10. Vaccines provide the immune system with enough knowledge to fight an invading virus and can prevent serious complications and death.
Diseases provide the immune system with more detailed knowledge than vaccines. The immune system only needs a certain amount of information to recognize an invading microorganism, however, and vaccines are fully capable of providing this to ensure long-term immunity.

http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/disease-prevention/vaccines-and-immunization/european-immunization-week/10-myths-about-vaccination

This report updates the 2004 recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) regarding the use of influenza vaccine and antiviral agents (CDC. Prevention and control of influenza: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices [ACIP]. MMWR 2004;53[No. RR-6]:1–40). The 2005 recommendations include new or updated information regarding 1) vaccination of persons with conditions leading to compromise of the respiratory system; 2) vaccination of health-care workers; 3) clarification of the role of live, attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) in vaccine shortage situations; 4) the 2005–06 trivalent vaccine virus strains: A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like, A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like, and B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigens (for the A/California/7/2004 [H3N2]-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent A/New York/55/2004 virus, and for the B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent B/Jilin/20/2003 virus or B/Jiangsu/10/2003 virus); and 5) the assessment of vaccine supply, timing of influenza vaccination, and prioritization of inactivated vaccine in shortage situations

– http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5408a1.htm

➡ What Does Cause Autism Then…?

+ Risk of autism is 75 times greater if their sibling has the disorder than those who do not have. (McBridge, Anderson, & Shapiro, 1996)

+ Twin studies show a 60 to 90% concordance for autims between identical twins, compared with concordance rates of 0 to 20% in fraternal twins (LeCouteur et al., 1996)

+ Autism is the most heritable psychiatric disorder with heritability estimates that are even higher than those for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (Nicholson and Szatmari 2003)

“The foregoing evidence indicates that ASD involves changes in
regional brain anatomy and functional neural networks and
likely results from abnormal regulation of multiple ontogenetic
processes”
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/26/26/6897.full.pdf+html?sid=0cb9815c-327b-46fd-9cd3-8f6b8d09b2e9

+ “A Genomic Screen of Autism: Evidence for a Multilocus Etiology”
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002929707620667

” It is now generally accepted that autism has a biologic cause, and considerable research has been carried out with the aim of uncovering its nature. Both hereditary factors and the prenatal and perinatal environment have been considered. This paper will review the role of genetic factors in the cause of autism; the role of the prenatal and perinatal environment is considered in the paper by Nelson”
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/87/5/767.short

➡ Alternatives…?

Often it is argued that one can build their immune systems with natural medicines and homeopathy, etc.  However, they fail to recognize that this is only building your already existing antibodies and does not introduce any foreign bodies that could be used to allow the body to familiarize itself with for future prevention.  Vaccines functions on specifics while most alternatives only focus on eating habbits and avoiding certain products.  It is important to here note the concept of herd immunity:

Herd immunity (or community immunity) describes a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity.  Herd immunity theory proposes that, in contagious diseases that are transmitted from individual to individual, chains of infection are likely to be disrupted when large numbers of a population are immune or less susceptible to the disease. The greater the proportion of individuals who are resistant, the smaller the probability that a susceptible individual will come into contact with an infectious individual

– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity

There does exist alternatives to needle vaccines and they are called FluMist.  You can learn about them here:

Flu Mist

➡ Obligatory Case Study

This is the famous Waverly Hills Sanitorium:

Here are some famous legends of Waverly Hills that you may be familiar with:

Room 502

An episode of the Scie-Fi Channel television show Ghost Hunters featured the cast’s investigation of Waverly Hills, including a local myth about the death of a nurse by murder or suicide in Room 502. Legend says the nurse found out she was pregnant by the owner of the sanatorium without being married and had contracted tuberculosis, so she hung herself in the room she was in at the time. The room was also investigated by the show Ghost Adventures in 2010, in which they used a special device called a EM-Pod to detect spirit activity.

Death Rate

Some urban legends claim that “63,000 deaths” occurred at the Sanatorium. According to Assistant Medical Director Dr. J. Frank W. Stewart, the highest number of deaths in a single year at Waverly Hills was 152. Stewart wrote that the worst time for deaths was at the end of the Second World War when troops were returning from overseas with very advanced tuberculosis cases. Some independent researchers suggest that since 162 people died at Waverly Hills in 1945, the highest total number of deaths possible over 50 years was approximately 8,212.

“Body chute” or “Death tunnel”

In recent years the popularity of the Sanatorium as a haunted attraction and exaggerations of numbers of dead that were moved through the first floor tunnel have lead to nicknames such as “Death Tunnel” or “Body Chute.”

There was something that was invented to stop the suffering that happened in this place; a vaccine called Streptomycin

➡ Conclusion and Who Supports Vaccines?

Here is a list of people/companies/etc. that support vaccines that I have cited in this article alone:

Public Health Agency of Canada

US Food and Drug Administration

Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

British Medical Journal

National Center for Biotechnology Information

The Official Journal of the American Pediatrics

Science Based Medicine

The Journal of Neuroscience

The Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine

Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases

The New York Times

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

There is one very important thing that many people fail to recognize; autism has always manifested within the first 3 years of life. Since vaccines begin at around the same time (respective to your regions vaccine-schedule), there is going to be an inexorable coincidence of occurrence. Autism has existed long before vaccines have and autism would exist even if vaccines did not. Furthermore, the diagnosis for autism has taken several changes. Asperger’s, for example, only became a recognized term in 1981 and even then it was recognized as a medical term until 1991. Please take this information into serious consideration as it is pertinent to peoples lives, children’s lives, and refusal to listen to reason, because of pride, could lead to their death.

Vaccines work.  They prevent millions of deaths.  They are safe.  They do not cause autism.

Follow-Up

Here is a incredibly well written article on the anti-vaccine groups and how they misrepresent data to fear monger people away from vaccines: http://www.pathguy.com/antiimmu.htm

Why 2012 Doomsday Theories are Moot

There are so many 2012 doomsday theories that it has made making this article quite difficult.  I can easily understand how one could make a book out of this.  However, my aim is to quickly tackle the evidence from each and weight its credibility.  There are so many doomsday theorists in the past and they will never stop.  What needs to grow is people’s critical thinking and ability to discern credible predictions from complete fabrications.  It did not help that the movie 2012 had a marketing scheme incorporating bits and pieces of actual history to try and scare people into seeing the movie.

For each theory, I want to explain the basic premise and then look at the evidence provided.  I am not going to dive into details that rely on “coincidence?” type persuasion.  That is not a valid reason to believe in something.  I will be drawing from direct FAQ’s by NASA as they are most frequently used as evidence for believing in these doomsday theories.  (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html)

Nibiru

Nibiru is the name of a planet that is said to be on a path to destroy earth.  There are few origins of this planet.  I will first cover grounds for claims and then counter evidence.

Zecharia Sitchin 

Zecharia is a fictional author about Mesopotamia and Sumerian civilizations.  He claims that he found a translated document that identifies the planet orbiting the sun every 3600 years.  On this planet is where aliens beings live called the Annunaki.  The Annunaki are god-like deities in Sumerian, Akadian, Assyrian, and Babylonia.  The Annunaki were introduced in a Babylonian myth named “Enuma Elish” which can be read here:

http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/225/

Zecharia claims that the Annunaki, who were separated from Earth and sent to heaven, exist on the planet Nibiru and are intended to return in 2012 and profoundly change the earth.  The part that Zecharia seems to ignore is that the myth claims that only half the Annunaki were sent to heaven while the other half remained on Earth.  Furthermore, what Zecharia refers to as Annunaki in the Enuma Elish story is actually Marduk which the Mayans referred to as Jupiter. (Jastrow, Jr., Morris (1911). Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York and London. pp. 217-219.).

At length, Sitchin claims that Nibiru exists because of his interpretation of the texts.  However, there are many critics, like Michael S. Heiser, that find his interpretations to be far to extrapolated from the original context.  Considering Sitchin’s history of novel publications, there is an obvious bias that needs to be addressed; creating controversy over the mis-interpretations is entirely the only reason his works became known.

Phil Plait and Michael Heiser have done a great job demonstrating how Zecharia’s sholarly work is dishonest and out of context.  You can read more here: http://sitchiniswrong.com/

Nancy Lieder

Nancy Lieder is the founder of http://www.zetatalk.com who claims to be the emissary of the extra-terrestrials known as Zeta’s.  This is not the first time someone has claimed to be in contact with aliens on a foreign planet that created civilization.  We have seen the Heaven’s Gate group that is infamous for the “kool-aid” suicides in order for their souls to enter the space-ship that was Hale-Bopp’s comet.  The Heaven’s Gate website is still up and can be visited (http://www.heavensgate.com/).  Zeta Talk is not far from this concept.

Nancy claims that, in 1993, she was contacted by the Zeta’s and endured a hybrid program in order to become an emissary to Earth.  Now, aside from the obvious point that this lunacy is not enough persuasion for anyone alone, she claims that Planet Nibiru was sighted by astronomers all around the globe (we will clarify this momentarily).  In fact, she claims:

 That a middle aged woman with a high school degree, who does not even know which end of a telescope to look into, could pinpoint the RA and Dec of the brown dwarf, Planet X, is astonishing, and speaks to the validity of ZetaTalk

I agree… it does speak to the validity of ZetaTalk.  ZetaTalk had originally claimed that the world would end in May of 2003.  However, when that did not happen, they postponed it to 2012 which coincided with the Mayan calendar, compounding its appeal, though not its validity.

Proof of Nibiru..?

Infrared observations = Planet X

There is a great deal of reliance on the early 80’s project by NASA called Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) which can be seen here.  In short, there was some ambiguous readings that some, including journalists, took as evidence of “Planet X”.  However, one ought to consider:

A number of candidate identifications have been considered including near-solar system, galactic, and extragalactic objects. Further observations at infrared and other wavelengths may provide additional information in support of one of these conjectures, or perhaps these objects will require entirely different interpretations.”

Houck et al, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 278:L63, 1984.

Although there was research following up these ambiguous readings, the public had already got a hold on the idea and ran with it.  These are the two following publications that show that the infra-red readings were not objects coming towards us:

Unidentified IRAS sources – Ultrahigh-luminosity galaxies

+ The IRAS view of the extragalactic sky

Orbital perturbations = Planet X

A commonly referenced quote to best explain this theory is:

Unexplained deviations in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune point to a large outer solar system body of 4 to 8 Earth masses, on a highly tilted orbit, beyond 7 billion miles from the sun,

http://yowusa.com/planetx/2007/planetx-2007-08b/1.shtml

It is pertinent here to note that there is a belt in the reaches of our system called the Kuiper belt.  This is where some people believe that planet X exists and how it influences the deviations of Uranus and Neptune because of the planets significantly larger size to other bodies in the belt.  However, there is actually no evidence of these deviations and NASA has a thorough list of known bodies that influence these orbits known as the trans-Neptunian objects.  Here is that list: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/astro/tnoslist.html

But there are photos of Nibiru!

Just as there are photos of ghosts, often these photos are relying on a sort of lens flare to prove the existence of Nibiru.  If it was not lens flare, then the photos ought to have compounding evidence with other photos of the same regions.  Unfortunately, this is not the case and there is no citation that can be given to prove the exact image or location of “Nibiru”.  Most photos are features of the sun, namely, internal reflections in the lens often called lens flare.  These images appear diametrically opposite the real solar image as if reflected across the cente rof the image.

Gas shell around the star V838 Mon.

Earths Defenses Against Asteroids

We do have measures to defend our planet from foreign cosmic bodies.  TED talks has a good video explaining these measures if you are interested:

Q: Is the Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?
A: The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA NEO Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html

Mayan Calendar Predictions

There are many claims that, because the Mayan calendar is ending in 2012, it must mean that they predicted the end of the world or some sort of transcendent change in the Earth or its population.  However, there are a lot of misleading information when regarding the Mayan calendar because it has several calendars and forms of calculating time.  It is when this is compounded with the other theories that makes it seem all the more appealing to those who do not investigate and separate the facts from fiction.

It is important to first state that this is not the first time the Mayan calendar has “ended” in the same way that your calendar, the Gregorian one, has ended many times before.  The specific calendar that is often reference is the Bak’tun and it will end, for the 13th time, in 2012.  Normally, I would never reference wikipedia, but they have done a wonderful job showing how the calendar works and anything I were to make would only look similar, please consider: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_calendar

The famous Maya Long Count calendar begins on August 11, 3114 B.C.–just as our own calendar begins on January 1 of the first year of the Christian era….Presumably, the Maya…attached some significance to their own day zero, but we don’t know what it was. (Diamond 2005: 167)

Jared Diamond (author of “Guns, Germs, and Steel”) tackles the Mayan Calendar in his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

Long Count calendar, which is reset to day 0 every 1,872,000 days, a period known as The Great Circle (Diamond 2005: 167).

Doomsday sayers, like John Calleman (http://www.calleman.com/) and “Great Dreams of the Great Circe” (http://www.greatdreams.com/mynproph.html) claim that this Great Circle/Cycle is the end of times in 2012.  These reasons are based on dreams, visions, and some interpretations of actual Mayan text.. but out of context.  The Mayan calendar was not intended to predict, but calculate time.

In truth, the only real relevance the Mayan Calendar has to 2012 is that a Bak’tun is ending and it coincidentally lies with other theories (likely only because of the calendars date).  Let’s explore these other possible theories..

Polar Shift

Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the earth’s crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours?
A: A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-switch to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. A magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html

Reversal in rotation is impossible and has never happened and never will. Tectonic shift does not equate reversal. Magnetic field of earth does change irregulary around 400k years but does not cause any harm to earth. Rotation direction and magnetic polarity are not related, there is no reason to expect a reversal of magnetic polarity any time soon. A suddent shift in the rotational pole with disaster is impossible.

The science shows that magnetic pole reversal is – in terms of geologic time scales – a common occurrence that happens gradually over millennia. While the conditions that cause polarity reversals are not entirely predictable – the north pole’s movement could subtly change direction, for instance – there is nothing in the millions of years of geologic record to suggest that any of the 2012 doomsday scenarios connected to a pole reversal should be taken seriously. A reversal might, however, be good business for magnetic compass manufacturers.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-poleReversal.html

Planetary Alignment

Some theories rely on the fact that there will be a planetary alignment that will cause tragic consequences. Firstly, the earth can not be the center of the galaxy.  We are 30k light years from the center of this spiral, we circle the galactic enter in a period of 225-250 million years always keeping the same distance. Alignment of earth and sun with the center of the milky way and the constellation Sagittarirus happens every December. Alignment with black hole at center of galaxy an its strong pull. It is 30k light years away so it has negligible effects on our solar system let alone earth.

Q: Could phenomena occur where planets align in a way that impacts Earth?
A: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades, Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012, and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html

There is also reference that the planetary alignment is in, what the Mayans called, “the Dark Rift”.  Broad and diffuse dust clouds in the inner arm of the milky way galaxy which glock our view of the galactic center.  The sun, in December, is always approximately in the direction of the center of the galaxy as seen from the Earth.

The first strike against this theory is that the solstice itself does not correlate to any movements of the stars or anything in the universe beyond Earth. It just happens to be the day that Earth’s North Pole is tipped farthest from the sun.

Second, Earth is not within range of strong gravitational effects from the black hole at the center of the galaxy since gravitational effects decrease exponentially the farther away one gets. Earth is 93 million miles from the sun and 165 quadrillion miles from the Milky Way’s black hole. The sun and the moon (a smaller mass, but much closer) are by far the most dominant gravitational forces on Earth. Throughout the course of the year, our distance from the Milky Way’s black hole changes by about one part in 900 million – not nearly enough to cause a real change in gravity’s pull. Moreover, we’re actually nearest to the galactic center in the summer, not at the winter solstice.

Third, the sun appears to enter the part of the sky occupied by the Dark Rift every year at the same time, and its arrival there in Dec. 2012 portends precisely nothing.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-alignment.html

NASA/Google is Covering it Up!

First of all, this is exactly the path to paranoid conspiracy theorists.  When one cannot be proven wrong, they embrace un-falsifiability which broods illogical reasoning.  This is the very thing that perpetuates many imaginative, but false concepts (eg. tooth fairies, sasquatch, loch ness monster, etc.).  It is up to the theorist to prove their claims, not for others to disprove their theory.  Also, when considering a theory like Nibiru, it ought to be incredibly difficult to hide an entire planet from the astronomers of the world.

Google Sky is Covering Up Nibiru!

There is no cover up as alternate sources show blocked areas which are, in fact, just a result of data loss.

Solar Storm/Flares

Other groups claim that a solar storm is brewing, such as http://www.solarstormwarning.com/ but it is important to first note that these theories are entirely relying on NASA’s data.  Thus, we ought to consider what NASA has to say:

Q: Is there a danger from giant solar storms predicted for 2012?
A: Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html

Groups like Solar Storm Warning work a lot of hype up around an idea and compound it by including things like the Mayan calendar or Nibiru theories.   One such theory is the solar flares.

Given a legitimate need to protect Earth from the most intense forms of space weather – great bursts of electromagnetic energy and particles that can sometimes stream from the sun – some people worry that a gigantic “killer solar flare” could hurl enough energy to destroy Earth. Citing the accurate fact that solar activity is currently ramping up in its standard 11-year cycle, there are those who believe that 2012 could be coincident with such a flare.

But this same solar cycle has occurred over millennia. Anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar maximum with no harm. In addition, the next solar maximum is predicted to occur in late 2013 or early 2014, not 2012.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft captured this image of a solar flare as it erupted from the sun early on Tuesday, October 28, 2003. This was the most powerful flare measured with modern methods. Credit: NASA/SOHOMost importantly, however, even the biggest solar flares are not powerful enough to physically destroy Earth.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-superFlares.html

Conclusion

Doomsday theories have been around for all of time.  Ever since man was able to write, there have been theories about the end of the world.  The truth is, we live such short fragile lives, and it comes as no surprise that some fantasize that their life is in the most climactic time in the history of human-kind.  David Hume said it best:

But the life of a man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.

We must also learn how to question and analyze these theories so we know the truth from the fantasy.  There are some truths in 2012: a Mayan calendar is ending, there is normal Earth activity (ie. some alignments), etc.  However, we can not make the mistake of taking these small truths to lead us to believing the preposterous.

For more debunking of the 2012 hoax, please visit http://www.2012hoax.org/

➡ Follow-Ups

+ Earliest Mayan Calendar found, further compounding that 2012 doomsday theories are moot: http://www.livescience.com/20218-apocalypse-oldest-mayan-calendar.html

I Know You Care

Each generation see’s a number of problems as they grow up and is taught, usually in vain, that they will be the next better generation.  We diligently work hard to learn and make our parents proud, our ancestors happy with what we are doing.  We research new technology.  We fight for rights.  We diplomatically approach economies to strengthen our international relations.  But we always come to the same points of disappoints that we want to fix by teaching our youth.  By strengthening the next generation, we hope to make a difference in the world.  The loop continues.

The only thing we can truly leave behind after we die is our legacy.  We don’t leave behind an angel or spirit to manipulate the world.  We don’t leave behind our body to act as a ghost to tell trivial gestures and pointless pantomimes.  The only thing you can leave behind is your name, who you are, what you did.  And if you did not accomplish a global scale of accomplishment, you have little chance of really being remembered.  So, the one true thing you can leave behind is your legacy, your rationality, what you believed, what made your self.

Your genes pass on the necessary biological information.  Your genes take care of the physical treasures you get to pass on to your generation.  But it’s up to you to get involved.  If you want to make a difference, you have to be passionate.  You have to care about what you believe, why you’re alive, and why we’re here.  If you want a purpose in life, you have to bleed for it, you have to search down into your depths to find that piece of you that knows you will fall flat one day and end up into dust.  You have little time to make a difference.  You have little time to explore, experience, learn, and teach.

It should not be depressing to face death, it’s exuberance.  You are completely free to think and act, to choose and live.  How you think and feel is your choice.  If you are healthy and competent to read this, you have the infinite freedom in each breath to make an infinite amount of choices.  Will you be happy tomorrow with the sacrifices you made today?  It is because of death that you are able to make these choices, that you are able to change the world.  As long as humans keep dying, there will be a chance for change, development, and liberty.  There will be the chance for sacrifice, for hope, and for freedom to reign.

Humans are not the reason why the universe exists.  There was no anthropomorphic God in the sky that created us.  There was no two humans that initiated all life.  The universe is far more grand than that.  It is one of the greatest flaws of human thinking that we, a spec of dust in the garbage bin of the universe, am the purpose for its existence.  The purposes we find in life are subjective, for ourselves, and followed through only by ourselves.  It is not by the will of a supernatural entity.  We are inconsequential.  We are insignificant.  If you want to make a difference in the grand scale of time, you must do your best to influence on the one thing we are most lucky to have; intelligence and rationality.

We are so lucky to have the ability to speak, to communicate, to express, to recognize other people’s ability to think, to lie, and, after all, to breathe.  Think of all the time and variables that had to take place just for you to be here.  Think of all the time and variables it took for humans to exist, to come to where we are, to be able to speak with one another.  We may be the speck in the garbage bin that is the universe, but we are lucky to know that we are a speck.  We are lucky to have that spark in us that can say, “I am alive!”

In your life, you have the choice on what you want to tech the next generation.  Always remember that they are the most important thing in our life as a species.  The youth deserve the utmost respect as does our elderly.  The youth will teach you things about yourself as you will guide them on life’s path.  As you age, you will learn more about the flaws in your thinking, flaws in how you have lived, and be humbled.  Accept the humility and accept what the youth have to say.  Return that gracious gift with guidance.

Tell the youth that the world is not a just world.  The good will be punished.  The evil will be rewarded.  Good people suffer and die.  Evil people conquer and relish.  While good people can be rewarded and conquer, we cannot make the mistake of thinking that is the way of the world.  The pride and anxiety in all of us is our greatest deterrent from progress, from helping our fellow human, from being empathetic.  Help the old woman with her groceries.

Be aware that people won’t take action unless others do.  Tell the youth this.  There is always one to scream the first battle cry.  There is always one to start the proud mob of altruistic hearts.  We care for each other.  We can love each other.  But we need those role models.  We need those to show that this is true.  We easily doubt this in the world, and who can blame them?  There is a lot of hate, anger, blood, and suffering.  But for every person who is raped, murdered, or molested, I hope that twice as many people interject with a perverted predator, donate money to honest fundraisers, jump into that lake to save the child, crowd together to defeat those hijackers, and scream, “WE will not stand for that!” because I know, just as you do, that the human race has survived for so long because we do care for one another.

Altruism is inherent in us all, but it takes individuals to bring it out of us.  Teach your children this.  Search yourself for this.  I know it’s in you.  I know you have a passion for life and your fellow human.  Show it.

Response to Pascal’s Wager

Often theists and theologians alike try to utilize an old argument from Pascal to try and persuade atheists that it is more prudent to believe in God.  The crux of the argument is, “what is there to lose in believing in God?” when compared to the belief in nothing.
This argument centers around theologian Gods (ie. Christianity) in attempt to convert more passively minded people who do not really care to think about these matters too much.  However, the atheist response focuses on the question of do you really want to wager to waste away your life in worship, doing rituals and living accordingly to the relevant God, that may not exist at all?
What is Pascal’s wager?
Pascal offered this wager to all atheists for a reason to become theist:

Belief/Wager That God Exists:
If God exists: Gain all
If God does not exist: Status quo (nothing)

Belief/Wager Against God:
If God exists: Misery
If God does not exist: Status quo (nothing)

You can essentially see the argument best here as an analogy:

You can bet on two flips of the coin. There are two sets of wagers to choose from:
Bet for Heads:
If Heads: Win $1k
If Tails: Nothing

Bet for Tails:
If heads: Lose $1k
If tails: Nothing

From the above, you can best see which seems intuitively best. It seems to be a strong argument. In fact, many people base their entire beliefs just on this logic.
➡ Immediate Obstacle
The most immediate obstacle that the wager must deal with is the question, “Which God do I wager on?  How do I make this decision?”.  This question, alone, is enough to quell the entire argument as it reaches for reasoning, beyond the subjective.  However, the only real conclusion that theists can use is the subjective.  Subjective reasoning is not enough to logically throw your entire life into a religion.  Or, at least, it should not be.

Atheist Response/Wager

Premises:
+ Believing in theologian Gods takes away personal meaning to ones life. Likely, if you do believe in the above, that statement will startle you and you immediately want to jump in response to it. Here is why you should not:
– If you believe in a theologian monotheistic God, you believe that everything has been planned out for you, life has been pre-arranged, an entity knows everything about you, etc.
– Essentially, you relinquish personal responsibility – your credibility for all your actions.

+ If you believe in God, you will live a life to fulfill expectations of that God. Of course, this severely depends on your definition of God. Considering that the above wager works from a God that would punish you for eternity if you did not believe in him, I will respond with that God in mind.

+ All you can ever be completely certain of is that you are thinking and live right now (allusion to Cartesian epistemology). The belief in God is primary reinforced on personal revelation and not any sort of intellectual or empirical means. 

Let us work from the standpoint of what we can see and function with.
+ If we work from the above, then a meaningful life would be one that utilizes fundamental and functionally viewable beliefs. 
– Example 1: If I believe in gravity, I will not jump off a cliff.
– Example 2: If I believe in God, I will do my best to abide by their doctrine. 
This would likely include worship, etc.

With these premises in mind, consider this alternate wager:

Belief/Wager God Exists:
God Exists: Gain all
God Does Not Exist: Wasted Personal Life

Belief/Wager God Does Not Exist:
God Exists: Misery
God Does Not Exist: Fulfilling Life.

Confident Atheist Wager

This may also apply to fundamentalist Atheists (ie. those that fervently deny any proof of a God. They believe God does not exist whatsoever). 

Many Atheists are very confident that God does not exist and feel no worry about misery. To demonstrate to Theists how an Atheist views this wager on a more personal level, consider this matrix:

Belief/Wager God Exists:
God Exists: God does not exist, so this would not be a considered wager.
God Does not Exist: Wasted Personal Life

Belief/Wager God Does not Exist:
God Exists: Not a concern; that type of God simply does not exist.
God Does not Exist: Fulfilling Personal Life.

The above is not an argument so much as an illustration of how Atheists tend to think of the manner. It truly comes out looking like this:

Live An Independent Life:
Atheist

Live A Dependent Life:
Theist

Keep in mind before responding that this is in response to the type of God that would punish [misery] for not believing in it, as proposed in the initial argument by Pascal. Other definitions of God are open to discussion, but not entirely relevant.  In any case, this is usually considered a weak argument for any side.  My intent in this article is really just to show how an atheist responds to this argument and views it.  Disregarding the whole problem with theologian God’s to begin with, Pascal’s does not add any leverage to the matter and could only convince those already inclined to believe such nonsense.

What do you think..?

References:
+ Pascal’s Wager. (2004) Stanford University. Retrieved from

How the Brain Works

When I was first interested in neurology, I tried so hard to find a website that explained, in plain English, a good introduction to how the brain works.  Now that I’m done university, I can see why it was difficult.  However, this article is intended to fill in those gaps and do my best to (hopefully) provide what I wanted back when I started.  I hope that it helps at least 1 person.

First things first, the brain is complicated.  There is no simple way of explaining it.  Not a wiki article, no cliffnotes, sparknotes, etc.  You have to accept that the brain is a reflection of how we live and that is complicated.  However, not impossible.  Though the first step is to realize that there are a lot of variables involved and you have to imagine the working of the brain as an orchestra with various instruments playing at the same time being guide by a conductor.  However, don’t be mislead, it’s still more complicated than that.  In any case, I want to provide some sources and quick notes on how the brain works for newcomers.  The truth is, you’re not going to learn how the brain works in the matter of an hour or 5 minute read, it takes time.  So make sure you’re prepared for reading, and a lot of it.  There’s several routes to take, but I’ll provide the basics.

➡ Introductory Notes

The first thing you have to look at is if you’re after understanding the psychology or the biology of the brain.  The difference between the two is more or less biological vs psychological.  On the biological terms, you’re looking towards reductionism which is saying that all thoughts and behaviour is reducible to biological systems.  On the other hand, psychological concepts (and perhaps spiritual) are looking are more intangible things which I do not really want to delve into here.  If you are inclined to the psychological workings, then you ought to look into developmental psychology.  If you are inclined into the actual biological functions of the brain, then neurology and neuroscience.

➡ Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychology looks at the progress of human thinking across their lifespan.  Given there is a lot of room for debate here, there is also still a lot of science.  I can’t really give basic introductory notes because there’s a lot to talk about.  However, I can suggest a book and I suggest:

http://www.amazon.ca/Developmental-Psychology-Dr-David-Shaffer/dp/0176416749/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1316641950&sr=8-2

I have had Wood as a professor and am pretty pleased with her background.  The book is well written for any person first interested in learning about human developing psychology.

I know it may seem like a cop-out linking to a book, so I should make a few notes here.  When it comes to developmental psychology and asking how the brain works, there are far too many variables in play.  Remember that it also varies so much depending on age, environment, and biology.  What I can suggest is doing a google search on Piaget.  Piaget has a great deal of research in developmental psychology with some notable videos too.  Here is a link to a video search which showcases videos of developmental psychology:

http://www.google.ca/search?gcx=c&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=youtube+piaget

Neurology

The first and most important thing about understanding the biological science of how the brain works is the neuron.  The neuron is the functional cell of the brain.  There are various kinds of neurons, but what’s important is learning the fundamental cell.  Also, it’s important to learn how neurons communicate with one another.  Once you have an understanding of the neuron, the rest of the brain will be much easier to understand.  Here is a video on the basic anatomy of the neuron:

How neurons communicate is via a neuronal system utilizing synapses.  That may sound complicated but what it means is that neurons don’t actually connect to each other.  There is a small space between their reaching limbs (dendrites) and they communicate in the small space between them.  It is in this space between neurons that exchanges are made to communicate pain, temperature, pleasure, sense, etc.  The small varying chemicals that are exchanged in this space are called neurotransmitters and you may have heard of at least one called endorphins.  Endorphins being the neurotransmitter which act as a natural analgesic to pain, or pleasure, etc.  Here is a video explaining synapses:

Once you have an understanding of neurons and how they communicate, it’s time to delve deeper.

Neurology

Here, I just want to share some links to sources that provide great details on how the brain works.  It was really hard for me to find them when I started, so I help they help someone else.  I will make a few notes I feel may be necessary, but they are mostly complete.  Furthermore, they are from notable sources.

The Society for Neuroscience released a Brain Facts primer on pdf for those likely who would be reading this article.  Please consider:

+ http://www.sfn.org/skins/main/pdf/brainfacts/2008/brain_facts.pdf

For a basic introduction for the common person, about.com gives a fundamental approach to the lobes of the brain.  I think that this is probably the most basic link I can provide in comparison to the others, but maybe the quickest:

+ http://psychology.about.com/od/biopsychology/ss/brainstructure_2.htm

The Centre for Neuro Skills is an organization dedicated to providing knowledge and support for brain injury.  Within their website, they provide an informational map of the brain which I found useful:

http://www.neuroskills.com/brain.shtml

Lastly, once you feel you have a basic understanding, I found some lecture material from the University of Washington on neuroscience.  It is real material taught in neurology classes and gives a great insight into what to expect if you were to enter to the program.  Please consider:

+ http://thalamus.wustl.edu/course/

Closing

At length, how the brain works cannot be explained simply.  It requires dedication and patience.  However, you will learn a lot and it will definitely change your view on you and others.  There are a lot of misconceptions and proverbs that cause a great deal of delusion over the true nature of the brain.  However, with a little research, it’s easy to uncover.

I hope this article helps.  I posted it because search terms for this site reveal a great number of people looking for this sort of detail so, please, if you have any question, ask!

~

Logical Fallacies

Here’s some quick summaries of logic and logical fallacies:

 

Deductive Logic
Bolstered by Rene Descartes
– Example: All ravens are black.  That is a raven.  Therefore, it is black.
– Process in which a conclusion is reached by a series of premises. 
– Logic Example: P = Q, Q = R, Thus, P = R

Inductive Logic
Bolstered by Francis Bacon
– Example 1: This raven is black and that raven is black.  Therefore, all ravens are black.
– Example 2: This swan is white.  Therefore, all swans are white.
– Note: It only takes one black swan to prove it wrong.
– Process of generalizing premises or a sample to the population of the relevant context. 

➡ Logical Fallacies:

Non-Sequitor
+ This is the fallacy where a statement is made that does not follow from the premises or conclusions.  It is usually intuitive to note it as nonsense.
– Example 1: We found his fingerprints on the gun.  Therefore, guinea pigs are evil.
– Example 2: If all boys like chocolate and chocolate is given for free, then the sun revolves around the earth.

Illicit Appeal to Authority


+ Although we often rely on experts in fields for professional opinions, we somtimes entirely rely an arguments credibility on a professionals opinion.

+ What kind of people should not be relied upon?
– It is a fallacy to rely on those that lack of expertise of the relevant issue, who have no expertise in the relveant issue, and people talking about matters that are known to be problematic (ie. issues that are of subjective nature or inconclusive conclusions)

+ When is it okay?
– When other and independent experts agree with the claim that they are making (ie. gravity is real), and it must be possible for you yourself to check the claim by some systematic observation (ie. drop a cup). In other words, you should always be able to examine the evidence that the experts used to establish the relevant point.

Ad populum; Argument from popularity

+ Sometimes we believe something just because everyone else does, or many others hold a similar belief.  However, if it is a popular belief, then it should be all the more easier to verify its cogency. It is unnecessary and a fallacy to simply accept a belief because other people do.
– Example 1: There is good reason to believe in God; people in every culture, at all times, believed in a God. Therefore, I believe in God.
– Example 2: Everyone smokes, therefore, you should smoke to.

Ad Hominem Argument (against the person, to the man)

+ This is the attempt to make a criticism of the opposition by directly attacking the person purporting arguments. This is a fallacy because the legitimate criticism should be made to the proposed argument, not the person giving the argument. Even evil people can say completely cogent things
– Example 1: Freud’s theories should never be considered in any field.  After all, he did do drugs and was obsessed with sex.
– Example 2: 
Circular Reasoning

+ It is a fallacy to presuppose the truth of your conclusion in your premises. If you are going to assume your conclusion is true before trying to prove it, you are using circular reasoning. 
– Example: There must be a God, since there bible and quan both say there is and the bible and quran were inspired by God.

Begging the question

+ Similar to circular reasoning. When the reasoning for the conlcusion depends on accepting the truh of the conclusion. 

Slippery Slope

+ This is a type of argument in which one makes the claim that one event will inevitably lead to greater other consequences. Often, this further consequences have no relevance or the person does not show a chain of causation. It is usually used as a scare tactic in order to convince others to not follow a certain opposition
– Example 1: If gay marriage is legalized, polygamy will be legalized, and even worse, and soon people will be marrying their relatives and pet animals, thus, same-sex marriage will lead to social chaos.
– Example 2: Marijuana is a “gateway drug”. Marijuana leads to the usage of cocaine.

Straw man

+ The straw man tactic is to take the opposition and set the arguments in a way that is easier to attack or misrepresents their claims. 
– Example: Very popular edited videos of Richard Dawkins by creationists to try and prove him wrong:


Fallacy of Equivocation

+ This fallacy is commited when a key word in an argument is used in two or more sense and the premises seem to support the conclusion. However, this is because the sense of the defined words are not distinguished. It will seem to make sense but only if the words are not defined separately.
– Example 1: Everything evil is black. Everything good is white. Thus, black people are evil.
– Example 2: Theism is better than nothing. Nothing is better than Theism. Thus, theism is better than nothing.

Red Herring

+ Not necessarily a fallacy but an attempt to divert attention away from the real issue. 
– Example 1: Richard Dawkins “What If You’re Wrong?”

– Although his answer is thorough, it does not technically answer the question. However, if he were to add the presumed “I don’t know” or “I would go to hell” then it would be perfectly fine. Creationists often use this as an example to show how Dawkins is wrong – which is a thoroughly false assumption because he explains his answer thorooughly afterwards. 
– Example 2: “I believe in abortion” “Really? Well, the doctor there that does abortions is also a wife beater!” Although it may be true that the doctor beats his wife, it has nothing to do with abortion.

Tu quoque

 

+ This is the attempt to divert attention of vices to the opposition.  It stands for, “You too!” and is usually when someone is trying to show that you are just as faulty for the pointed flaw as they are.  While it may be true that you are at fault for something, it is a fallacy to ignore the point in favour of attacking the other.  Truthfully, this is usually just an attempt to save-face rather than admit being wrong.

 

Confusing Correlation with Causation

 

+ There is a plethora of evidence out there involving correlations and they are often used to imply a causation of a factor.  So, with more X we have more Y.  However, that does not mean that X causes Y, it only indicates a relationship or coincidence.

 

Post-hoc ergo propter hoc

 

+ “After this, therefore because of this” follows correlations perfectly because it is the exact fallacy that is being used.  It is also common for someone to think that because a certain variable simply happened before another, that it must have caused it.
– Example 1: I bought a stock in apple then terrorists crashed into the WTC.  Therefore, buying stocks causes terrorist attacks.
– Example 2: Helen moved into my house and then I noticed cockroaches in my basement.  Therefore, Helen causes cockroaches to appear.

 

False Analogy

 

+ Often in arguments, we use analogies to draw similarities between concepts to relay a point.  However, there is the fallacy of using an analogy between two things which have no relevant variables.
– Example 1: Gun control is like birth control.

 

Examples of debates using fallacies

 

Media examples chock full of fallacies, can you find them..?


What do you think..?