Wednesday, December 15, 2010

There must be an angel

"No one on earth could feel like this. I'm thrown and overblown with bliss" - probably my favorite line ever.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Insecurity masked as self-involvement

Today I heard perhaps the best example to illustrate this "thing", which some, or even many people do.

A father and son started a project, sending an HD camera to outer space and back. They achieved this (how incredibly cool!) and when they got the camera back they put the video up on youTube.
[No link or details for this from me this time, feel free to search it on youTube].

So, to the point I was making: In the comment section, some people replied "this is not HD! The quality is OK but not HD like they say it is."

Now, how on earth can someone have that to say as their one, only comment? Is this really the most important thing you could think of to comment on this magnificent and exciting adventure/ achievement? How about the fact that a normal regular family sent an object to outer space?

One has to wonder, what goes on in the minds of people who make comments of this type.

The problem is not the criticism, but the fact that the comment does not focus on the achievement, but on the knowledge of the commenter. It's as if, a scientist creates a device for instant transmission, something amazingly out of this world, and in the article he mentions he used a PC computer, and the reply people would have is: "Oh, I have a mac, it would have been so much better... In my opinion macs have superior processing power".
It's as if the only thing they are after is to pour down their knowledge in front of others - that is THE thing on their mind regardless of what they see or hear.

The softer version of this would be unrelated to knowledge yet still self involved.
Like if an artist would display a masterpiece of figure drawing and an observer would reply: "I'm almost as well built as this figure, I go to the gym 3 times a week you know".

What is it with these people? They seem pathologically self-involved.

What they have in common is a constant internal focus on their self-esteem, instead of focus on the world, on facts and specifically on other people's achievements when they cross their path. The world is viewed through a filter of "How does this relate to my self-esteem" rather than "what is the meaning of this to my life?/ what is the meaning of this?".

The same problem presents itself when these people are involved in some intellectual discussion. Their replies seems to revolve around what they know (whether or not it's the essence of the discussion or a very minor, unrelated point). It's never around facts and knowledge.
It's the sort that likes to "insert their opinion" even when they have no clue on the subject and no interest in inspecting the facts on which their opinion is suppose to rest.

I know from myself that if I ever go into a thinking mode of "how does this subject relate to my knowledge" vs. "what are the facts of this subject and how do they relate to my goals" that I am pursuing the subject for the wrong reason and that my vanity is involved rather than selfish, healthy pursuit of my goals.

Those other people are chronically insecure and they build their whole thinking as a wall to defend against their insecurity. Instead of a mind that performs its function of gaining knowledge and pursuing goals, the mind turns into a self-defense machine that sees the world not for what it is but for opportunities to prove self-worth and to defend from recognition of ignorance.

This is why, in seeing the video of the camera launched to outer space, the one thing they find appropriate to say is: "According to my expert knowledge on the subject, this is not HD".

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Does Vacuum exert force on masses?

Vacuum appears to exert force on objects and molecules, since they immediately and powerfully move toward the vacuum once allowed. For example, a jar sealed with vacuum seems to pull the lid toward it, or pull air into it once the vacuum is released.

However, all that happens is molecules moving where they can move, where they have space to move into. In gas particles barely have any effect on one another (besides collisions, gravity or electric forces are negligible). All that happens when molecules move into a vacuum quickly is that the movement is in a single direction. Normally, in an average density space, particles move in all direction, creating an even pressure in all directions and a net 0 movement of the particles (more or less). However, with vacuum, every particle enters into it - nothing moves out of it, creating a very distinct sense of movement. In fact the empty space does not exert any force on the molecules - it is just normal movement except there is nothing to balance it.

What about the jar? How could I explain the fact that the lid sticks to the jar so powerfully if the vacuum exerts no actual physical force?
Like so: The lid is actually pushed by the particles outside the jar. The inside of the jar can simply offer nothing to balance it, which is why the lid is pushed onto the jar so powerfully.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Using guilt as a weapon and emotionalism

I saw this incident involving an online game (Farmville) and saw a few interesting components about it.

First I'll tell you what the incident was. The game involves operations where a few people set a goal and need to do their part to be able to achieve the goal in due time.
It takes effort on the part of each participant and if the goal is achieved, there is a reward at the end for all participants.

It is possible, under the way the co-op is built to join an operation, not do a thing and get a reward at the end if other people manage to complete the task on time.

OK, so now that we're done with the boring details, here is what happened:

Apparently, some people join those operations but do nothing to contribute to their success. They wait and see if others do enough to get the task done and then do other things.

In this specific incident, one player wrote a note to one of those exploiters asking them to quit the operation so that someone who IS going to get some work done can join.

Guess what the reply was? The "exploiter" posted a note on the Facebook wall (publicly visible) of the one who sent the note saying: "You asked me to quit so I did!".

Seems pretty simple, doesn't it? But it is actually complex and contains many interesting small elements.

For starters - this reply is unjust and dishonest. It is meant to punish the one who sent the note - to make them feel guilty - as if, if they felt guilty, it means the exploiter is off the hook for what they have done. The interesting component is that this is a good example of a second hander, but stunning, to me, in its depth.

Think about what it means - if the other person is made to feel guilt, then the other person is convinced that they were wrong about the case, therefore the exploiter can rest assured that they did nothing wrong because they rely entirely on the judgment of the other person's mind.
Notice that there is no reference to facts, no independent judgment - just an attempt to change the mind of someone else so that, in turn, one's mind can become convinced of the same thing. Insane, isn't it?

Secondly, I find it interesting that the exploiter's state of mind is entirely emotional, bearing very little rational structure. They received a note blaming them for something - the facts of what they are being blamed for do not register in their mind and do not matter. What they do register is that they are being blamed and that makes them feel bad. They then decide to shift the burden of that negative feelings to someone else, as if feelings can be poured from one soul to another. Using ideas is just a tool. In this case, the idea is that the person who sent the note has taken an action against someone and that this, by itself, is suppose to be bad.
Does the exploiter actually believe in such an idea? No - they obviously take actions against other people without any shame or inhibition. The idea here is used carelessly, without any thought, without any understanding that ideas matter. The exploiter felt something bad, and took whatever random action their subconscious could gather up to shift the emotion to someone else.

This guilt trick is very common: Someone judges you badly? Make them feel guilty for it, and, like magic, the blame is gone. Facts of the case? Who cares! Just work to change the content of the mind of the accuser and that would be enough.

It is a good indication of a mind of a second hander - a mind who relies on the judgment of others for its own certainty and ideas.

Another common thing people do is to be emotionalists. Now what does that mean? Obviously, ?I am not going out against emotions as such, nor against the pursuit of pleasurable emotions. The question here is not the goal but the means.

Pursuing pleasure by following every urge and every feeling one happens to have is not going to make one happy. Nor does this means that life consists of a constant struggle to suppress one's emotions that stand in the way of reason.
Without going into the details of what is ideal - here is one thing which is not ideal - what many people are doing, of which this exploiter lady is a good example.

Her emotions mean everything to her. She follows them blindly, with complete servitude. In her mind there is no room for facts or ideas, only for satisfaction of her emotions. Ideas in her mind have no relation to facts and should have no relation to facts - they are mere tools to achieve satisfaction of emotions.
So if insulting someone else (justly or unjustly, hypocritically or not) works to shift her emotions - there is no hesitation - she will do it.
This is an incredible mentality. I am very curious to know how this sort of mentality can develop. I have seen, at times, elements of something like that in myself, as a child - so I can understand it to some extent. But a mind devoted entirely to satisfaction of emotions bypassing rational judgment? That is fantastically bizarre.
One day I will discover how this sort of mentality comes to dominate a person's psychology. I'm guessing it involves some laziness as a child and after enough time it become automatized enough that the person does not even recognize anymore what is motivating them nor their departure from reality. All they know is their emotions.
There is more to understand about this.

The last interesting element is the use of emotions as a replacement of ideas. This is the least visible elements of the three elements involved in this case.

One element is the emotionalism of this woman (what motivated her action).
The second element is the second hand judgment (relying on someone else's judgment to substitute it for one's own) - however, there is yet another thing hidden here, which is: She was not going directly after this guy's judgment. Instead, she was going after his emotion. If she could get him to feel guilty, it would be as if he had judged her to be good.
People are not generally aware that there is a tie between emotion and ideas, but here is a case that shows it well. This guy feeling guilty in general could not be of any interest to her. She wanted him to feel guilt about THIS CASE. Now why? The reason is that the feeling of guilt indicates a judgment. What she was really after was his judgment, not his feeling - the feeling is simply an indication of a subconscious judgment.

OK, that concludes my thoughts about this.

Feel free to leave your comments below and let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Worshiping of negative emotions

You know you're a philosopher when... you analyze a commercial for its philosophical elements.

For example, this commercial for Vlasic pickles:

I like this commercial, because it shows negative emotions as a source of amusement.

The opposite approach magnifies negative emotions into a scary giant which must not be mentioned at all in any form - it's the approach people showed when they called the Glenn Beck show complaining about frog abuse or the approach I'm sure some people show when they called "animal cruelty!" about the making of this commercial which involved... scaring a cat.
It's a very common approach these days - that negative emotions are important and should take a major role in human interactions (be avoided at all cost).
This social climate makes this commercial a little gem - a reminder of good old fashioned American spirit, under which a little pain is nothing to worry about or pay attention to. Nowadays, a little pain is what we're told we should pay all our attention to, feel guilty about and avoid at all cost. Don't startle, don't insult, don't upset anyone, don't judge.

The philosophical foundation of the commercial is the benevolent universe premise. The opposite - the worship of negative emotions is based on a malevolent universe premise (a term coined by Ayn Rand).

It is based on a view that human beings are not strong, but fragile - that they are not naturally happy, rather they are victims - and that by making the slightest joke, as friendly as it is at their expense, one is committing a terrible crime of attempting to break their spirit.
We are expected to treat each other as if we were all weak victims and made to feel guilty of being a monster if we treat people as strong and happy - as capable of enjoying a friendly joke at their expense (I emphasize friendly).

So, no, this commercial did not say all of this, but it represents this approach, or rather, can be classified under the good approach.

Here are a few cases to illustrate my point:

In college, I decided, one day, to share my sense of humor with my roommate. We were in the kitchen between classes when she started telling me about a certain vegetable and where it grows or something of the sort. It was so boring that I zoned out. I decided that she would find it funny too that I zoned out since the topic was a vegetable, so I told her with a smile that I dozed off. She was so offended she nearly stated crying - she locked herself in the room and would not talk to me for at least a week.
What the hell makes a person fragile to the degree of taking offense on account of a vegetable story? I find it hard to understand. But it is cases like these that make it hard to treat people as strong and independent, that drive people to consider every word they say and honesty on the large out of fear of upsetting someone.

I met my best friend in college in a story entirely opposite to this incident.
We were both undergoing a check by a security guard while we were entering a train station. We had to show our IDs. The guard took specially long time looking at my friend's before letting him in. I made a joke to him that it must be a pretty ugly picture to require so long to decide whether or not he's a security threat.
He laughed and continued talking to me.
I can't imagine how my college roommate would have reacted to such a joke.

Education today seems to be the same. Teachers try to build self esteem in kids by saving them the need to face making errors.
This approach is the same because it views kids as fragile, as unable to deal with failure - since failure is seen as big, as huge and threatening, and kids must be shielded from it.
This, of course, achieves the opposite result - it teaches kids that the proper way to view mistakes is not as something small to correct, but as something big to avoid and fear. Since making mistakes is a normal part of life and of learning - this turns these kids into fragile, unconfident people - the exact opposite of what this approach was suppose to achieve.

A word of clarification before I finish: I do not mean to imply that negative emotions are insignificant or should be ignored or viewed as insignificant. It is important for psychological health to know why one feels what one feels - be it a pleasurable or a painful emotion.
But to view negative emotions as powerful metaphysically (by their very nature) is to view people as fragile by their very nature, and that is what I am against.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Who is the hero - Lois Lane or Superman?

Lois Lane is a determined reporter, acting daily to be the best reporter she can be.
She exposes crime and corruption, sometimes risking her life to do so.
Her work helps some people, but she is primarily working for herself. She takes great pride in doing her job well which is what keeps her going.

Superman does what he does for free. He considers it a bad taste to request money for helping people. What he does saves many lives.
Superman refuses to take any pride in what he does. "This is what every decent person would have done, it's nothing". However, when the streets are clean of crime (this happens in one episode of the second season of Lois and Clark), superman looses his sense of self-esteem, hanging around high school kids to help them with their baseball game just to feel that someone needs him.

Lois Lane's happiness and self-esteem come from her job. Superman's happiness and self-esteem come from being able to help someone in trouble.

A business offering service to aid in disasters has the same focus as Lois Lane has - how to improve their business, how to offer a faster, better service - how to offer such a great service that they get more costumers and make more money.
Like Lois, they derive pleasure from being a good business and their focus in on their own product - not primarily on the trouble of other people.

Superman is suppose to be an ideal - a hero we would all admire and aspire to be. But I think Lois Lane and the insurance company I described are the real heroes.

Superman is a product of an altruistic morality, a morality that teaches people that their only source of self esteem (unadmittedly) depends on the misery of others, on helping the sick and needy. It creates a disgusting, modest kind of empty character.

This is the character that's suppose to stand for "Truth, Justice and the American way". Well, truth and justice - that's fine, but the American way is not to give stuff for free. The American way IS about making a fortune, succeeding in the world - not being a sucker for hire, apologizing for the option of taking pride in what one does for a living. No sir, that is not the American spirit, though it may have become so over the years under the influence of Christianity.

I think Lois Lane is the real star of the show - a person of character and determination - superman is a modest bore in a suit.

I think the creation of Superman is evidence for the idea that there is no glory in the life of ordinary people. That being a man holds no potential for greatness. But take something that can fly and lift up buildings and we have something to talk about.

Nah, I'd look at those who can erect buildings the old fashion way any time over the one who can do it as easily as he can breath. That's where the real glory is.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The meaning of "Percent"

We need the concept of percent because we need a convenient way to measure the size (or amount) or one thing compared to another basic amount. For example, if you are selling apples and you want to know how well you did in a particular year, you need to measure your success compared to how much demand there was for apples in that year.
If the market had 100 people looking to buy apples and 30 of them picked your apples, your success was 30% of the market. If, however, there were 10,000 people looking to buy apples and only 30 of them bought yours, your success was only 0.3% - much lower, which means that there could be a problem with your apples or with the way you are selling them.
This shows that the number 30 (30 apples sold) is not significant by itself to measure performance. Performance is measured by percent - by how one amount is compared to another one (in this case, the amount of apples sold vs. the amount of people looking to buy apples).

Another example is if you are opening a business with a few partners and you want to divide the profits. Suppose you decide that the right way to divide the profits is 50%-25%-25%. Suppose one month you got paid $1000 - is this your fair share or not? The only way to know is to measure this compared to the overall profits in that month. If the profit was $2000 you got 50% which is your share, but if the profit was $10,000 then you deserve more. Again the significant number here is a numerical relation between one amount to the other.

Percent, mathematically, is a conversion of units of measurements. Knowing that you got 16/123 of the profit contains the exact same information as knowing that you got 13% of the profit, yet 16/123 is not an amount we can easily concretize in our head - not a number we can easily relate to. To make sense of it, we would need to see how it stands in relation to something more familiar, like one half, one third, a decimal number or a percent.
Is there something inherit about the base of 123 that makes it hard to measure things like 16/123? Not really. Had we measured percent with a base of 123, the number 16 would have been far easier to concretize (connect to an actual amount of objects in reality) than the corresponding amount (13, in this case) had the base been a 100.
The amount of 100 is easier to handle since we count in tens, but the main reason it is easier to grasp the meaning of 13/100 than 16/123 is because using 100 units as the whole is far more concretized for us - due to extensive use in daily life.

One can see this phenomenon by the need of Americans to convert kilometers to miles to get a sense of the distance and of Europeans to convert miles to kilometers for the same purpose.
There is nothing special about the length of one kilometer or one mile except that one gets a sense of their length by repeatedly using those units and getting a sense of their physical meaning in reality.

When calculating what is the percent of something, what we do is to ask the following question: Given that we have X units from type Y - how many units would we have had we converted the measurement unit into one of a hundred?

For example, suppose we have 15 seconds out of a minute - the basic measurement unit is 1/60. Asking what percent 15 seconds are from one minute is the same as asking - if a minute were composed of 100 units of time, how many units would we have to take to equal the time duration of 15 seconds?

15             ?
__     =     __
60           100

The question mark is the percent (the percent 15 seconds are out of a whole minute).

So, in conclusion, percentage is a measurement of the size relation of one amount to another, represented in a unit base of 1/100 (in which the whole is 100 units).

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Civil discussion" rules on online forums are counter-productive

This common rule restricts users from engaging in "personal attacks" or "personal insults".

Seeing how some people turn intellectual discussions into a king of the jungle war - one might think this rule is a good solution.
I think it's not and here is why:

If a law came to pass forbidding the use of weapons - what do you suppose would happen? Criminals would still get weapons, illegally (since they, by definition, do not care about the law, but about getting away with disobeying it) and the police would not be able to use weapons to combat crime, since they DO hold themselves up to the law.

Crime would be unstoppable.

This applies equally to discussions. Words carry power with them - the power of ideas, knowledge - which result in behavior. Words, when the situation calls for it, ARE weapons - intellectual weapon against intellectual criminals.
When one is not allowed to use them against those criminals, the result is the same as in the case of physical weapons.

To illustrate my point, consider the following examples:

Someone posts the following: "Hi guys! I am really upset. X told me that I am cheating by doing Y! I am so angry. I only do Y occasionally, so how dare he accuse me of doing it?! To fight this injustice I have asked all my friends to stop associating themselves with him to teach him a lesson!"

The appropriate response to this person is by saying explicitly that they are dishonest and unjust. However, the "no personal insults" rule kicks in to achieve its goal of a "civilized discussion". No one is allowed to tell this person that they are dishonest. At best, people can say something like: "I don't think what you did is right"/ "I don't think this guy deserved what you did".
This gives the original poster appearance of rationality and honesty since such replies make it seem like the original poster made a mistake of judgment. The replies focus on whether or not such "judgment" was mistaken. The truth is, the original poster used no judgment at all - they used evasion and were thoroughly dishonest both in the actions they reported and in their reason for posting.

This "civil discussion" rule gives them the safety of posting any kind of dishonest act without being called on the immorality of their mental process.

How about this example: Two people are discussing a topic. One of them brings facts, arguments and logical analysis of the topic at hand and of the other side's viewpoint. The other side, however, replies without any attempt to digest what is being said to them - they barely even read what is said - all they are looking for is how to prove they are right, but without relation to the facts or arguments presented to them.
This type of debate is very common, yet the "no personal insults" rule forbids anyone from calling someone else on doing this.
Instead the rational side has to either quit the discussion quietly, or continue it AS IF they were talking to a thinking person (in the context of the discussion).

Having to absorb the intellectual corruption of someone else to try to translate it, in replies, into an appearance of an honest intellectual process is damaging to the honest person's psychology because it instills a habit of self-imposed deceit about the nature of corruption (e.g. "X is not dishonest, they are just misjudging", "X is not trying to secretly insult me, they are simply judging me wrongly", "X is not a non-thinking, self-made idiot, they just don't know enough about this subject" and so on).

Again, the corrupt intellectual behavior goes uncalled and unchallenged - and therefore, safe and secure, while the rational side is left to quietly carry the burden of the intellectual corruption of the other side. This tends to chase good people away from those forums or discourage them from engaging in an intellectual discussion.

The result is that it is very difficult to find people willing to think and discuss topics in online forums devoted to intellectual discussions. The good guys give up after a short while and the bad guys stay and enjoy the freedom to do whatever they want. If someone insults them in any way by calling on what they are doing, all they have to do is call a moderator to protect them.

It is important to make the distinction between those whose main goal in a discussion is to "appear right" and insult the other participants as a tactic of achieving this end, vs. those who pronounce honest criticism of the one they are having a discussion with.
The "no personal insults" rule fails to make this distinction; before this rule, policemen and criminals are nothing more than men with guns, which need to be equally penalized for it.

Ad-hominem is a symptom of irrationality, not an essential, just as the problem with promiscuity is lack of spiritual values - not the amount of sex, or the problem with hateful people is their irrationality, not the emotion of hate.

To come up with a good set of rules one must go through a process of induction to identify the essential characteristics of rational vs. irrational behavior. Only rules based on identifying the essentials of proper intellectual discussion will do to create a good environment for rational, prosperous, discussions.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is luck? Is it a valid concept?

Luck is the relation between random occurrences and one's values.

Random occurrences in favor of one's values are "good luck" and random occurrences against one's values are "bad luck". The less probable the event the higher the "luck" is. When the event is fully predictable in under one's control the term "luck" no longer applies to the situation.

For example: If you walk in the street and an envelope full of money lands on your head - that is good luck. It is a random occurrence that you happened to be at that place at that specific time and the relation to your values is positive since money is a value.

If you win every single game you play in a gambling place that is an extremely good luck - but again, it is all random (putting aside whatever brain was required to win the games). What makes it "extremely good luck" is the relative rarity of the events (the length of the winning streak).

I think that people see "luck" as an actual spiritual entity, as some form of liquid running in one man's body at some time. Evaluations like "This man is lucky" tend to mean that the man himself actually has some quality about him that affects events around him. In fact, no man can be lucky in that sense. Such a concept is mystical.

The reality is that some people have more random occurrences in their favor than their disfavor and this changes nothing of the fact that random occurrences are random occurrences.

Wishing someone "good luck" is no more than letting them know that you wish them success, that you wish the conditions they would encounter outside their control would be in their favor.

So if you are feeling lucky, punk, better check your premises. A feeling of "luck" is not reality based, one cannot "feel" future occurrences outside one's control. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

In the Dawn’s Early Light: Patrick Henry—Beacon for America

Link to watch the lecture

A fascinating and, to me, a very inspiring and emotional video lecture - by John Ridpath from the Ayn Rand Institute.

The lecture describes how one brave man passionate about the human spirit and the freedom it requires - inspired the creation of the United States of America.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is there such a thing as too much money? Not for me.

If had earned a lot of money, practically unlimited amount to spend, here is what I would buy:

  1. An ice skating rink, all to myself.

  2. A beautiful house with a huge garden which I would design myself, with a lake, small river, lots of flowers, statues and hidden gardens where I could just sit by myself and think, read a book or have an interesting conversation. The house would have huge windows compromising no privacy since the house would be relatively secluded.

  3. Then, I would have an airplane. Why? Because it's darn nice to be able to fly to anywhere in the world, to visit a great restaurant, or shop for clothes at a great designer store abroad. Which brings me to number 4:

  4. Lots of clothes. I love shopping, I love clothes that emphasize the figure, can't get enough till I get enough. So shopping would be a great side activity, whenever the mood strikes.

  5. A good studio for my art.

  6. An art gallery where I would put up all my favorite works of art which I would collect.

  7. Restaurants and food. I can admire a good meal, and would gladly admire more of them.

  8. Some cool personal flying machine, whatever exists.

  9. A very powerful computer or two.

  10. It's hard to believe but I am running out of things. I would contribute to research that I think would come up with cool new technologies or medical products. I would also contribute to the Ayn Rand institute.

  11. Buy great presents for my family and friends. I would get my little brother a decent private tutor who would educate him correctly, unlike the crap he has to go through at school.

  12. All the music I want, and my private dance studio.

  13. A huge room full of small lamps and elegant decorations for ball dancing parties which I would throw sometimes.

  14. OK, I guess I would also require a car, with a driver. I don't think I will have a servant though, I like getting my own stuff and not having a stranger in my house.

OK, I can't think of more things, but given more time I'm sure I'd come up with them. Point is, money can provide a lot of pleasure, a lot of ways to enjoy yourself and express yourself.

Money also has to be earned to be enjoyed - earned by productive work (unlike just a boring job or just getting the money without doing anything to earn it).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thinking in principles

Some people only look at short term actions without relation to the ideas behind them to decide if they should trust somebody or not and if such action is good or not - and they get screwed.

One example is government financing. People think that because the government offers them free money - to finance their house, mortgage, education, healthcare (coming up - let's hope not) that the government is good and trustworthy. However, this is what the pig thinks too about the farmer that feeds it - and will continue to think it until the day it gets slaughtered. "I wake up today, he brings me food. I wake up tomorrow he brings me food - what could be wrong?".

Without long term vision, without thinking in principle and seeing what such actions mean in principle (in case of government financing: loss of freedom and individual rights) we are all like a pig led to the slaughter, led by the blindness of pigs who can see nothing beyond the immediate free cash they are getting at somebody else's expense.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My thoughts about organic food

Well, I've been thinking about it a little bit since I started shopping at an organic food store conveniently located nearby.

For centuries, farmers have struggled to find ways to improve their product and production. From new irrigation systems to new manures, chemicals that protect the plants to chemicals that make them grow bigger and tastier - one generation building on top of the knowledge of the previous generation. Genetic engineers, chemical engineers, all joined the task of making produce better; And here comes the organic food farmer with one thing to say to these people: "You guys screwed it up. It's better without any of the improvements you guys have been adding".

Huh? This sounds bit bizarre to me. After thinking about it for a while, I see two options: One is that organic food provides better tasting products but in lower volumes.
In this option, it is filling the hole of a needed, yet otherwise unavailable product since by this hypothesis it cannot be found in traditional farming.
According to this idea, traditional farmers focus on volume at the expense of quality, and the many improvements over the years add little to the taste but more to the longevity, size and volume of the produce.

The second option is that organic food is a result of philosophical ideas, the philosophy that views man as a parasite on earth, as an animal with one too many ambitions, an animals that thinks it knows better than nature what is good for it. According to this view, modern medicine does not heal, it destroys, technology does not improve man's life but makes man miserable and destroys the earth. Science, especially genetic engineering is a sin because it attempts to change the way nature is.
Organic food by this option is just another instance of this view: "Respect nature and be humble", "man can never and should never improve upon nature", which means to live like our ancestors did, in a cave, and never try to rise above that level.

Which one is it? If you have an opinion with some facts to back it up, please leave it in a comment.

How can the organs of an organism cooperate so well?

I had an interesting thought about living things. We tend to think of living things as a single entity composed of "parts", each ...