What’s the Point of Civilization?

History is filled with tragedies and triumphs long forgotten. What’s the point of civilization and fighting for justice if it’s always going to be the same?

Watch animation video inspired by Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice

Extract from Ancillary Justice from Anne Leckie

“But what’s the point?  I mean, I understand why we‘re going back to Athoek.  That makes sense to me.  But farther ahead than that…  At first this all just seemed unreal, and it still does in a way.  But the Lord of the Radch is coming apart.  And if she comes apart, so does the Radch.  I mean, maybe she’ll hold herself together, maybe she pull these pieces back together again.  But, begging your forgiveness, sir, for my speaking very frankly, but you don’t actually want that, do you.”

“I don’t,” I admitted.

“And so what’s the point, sir?  What’s the point of talking about training and promotions as though it’s all going to just go on like it always has?”

“What’s the point of anything?”

“Sir?” She blinked, confused.  Taken aback.

animation of meteorite destroying dinosaurs
The tragedy of dinosaurs extermination

“In a thousand years, Lieutenant, nothing you care about will matter.  Not even to you—you’ll be dead.  So will I, and no one alive will care. Maybe—just maybe—someone will remember our names.  More likely those names will be engraved on some dusty memorial pin at the bottom of an old box no one ever opens.”  Or Ekalu’s would.  There was no reason anyone would make any memorials to me, after my death.  “And that thousand years will come, and another and another, to the end of the universe.  Think of all the griefs and tragedies, and yes, the triumphs, buried in the past, millions of years of it.  Everything for the people who lived them.  Nothing now.”

Ekalu swallowed.  “I’ll have to remember, sir, if I’m ever feeling down, that you know how to cheer me right up.”

What’s the point of civilization? There is no point. Choose your own

I smiled.  “The point is, there is no point.  Choose your own.”

Choose your own point of civilization
Choose your own point

“We don’t usually get to choose our own, do we?” she asked.  “You do, I suppose, but you’re a special case.  And everyone on this ship, we’re just going along with yours.”  She looked down at her plate, considered, briefly, picking up a utensil, but I saw that she couldn’t actually eat just now.

I said, “It doesn’t have to be a big point.  As you say, often it can’t be.  Sometimes it’s nothing more than I have to find a way to put one foot in front of the other, or I’ll die here.  If we lose this throw, if we lose our lives in the near future, then yes, training and promotions will have been pointless.  But who knows?  Perhaps the omens will favor us.  And if, ultimately, I have what I want, Athoek will need protection.  I will need good officers.”

“And what are the chances of the omens favoring us, sir, if I may ask? […]”

“When you’re doing something like this,” I said, “the odds are irrelevant.  You don’t need to know the odds.  You need to know how to do the thing you’re trying to do.  And then you need to do it.  What comes next”—I gestured, the tossing of a handful of omens—“isn’t something you have any control over.”

You can read more on Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie here. Yes, science fiction can help to understand better what’s the point of civilization…

Soundtrack for ‘What’s the Point of Civilization’?

The tensed bass line was influenced by Tchaikovsky' Symphony No 5 and its drone-like sections, while the violins and piano were inspired by Glinka and Rachmaninoff

You may also like these stories:

Origin of Civil Society and Inequalities

The origin story of civil society and inequalities from the introduction of private property to the destruction of natural liberty told by Jean Jacques Rousseau

Watch the animated story of the origin of society and inequalities

Extracts from “On the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I conceive that there are two kinds of inequality among the human species; one, which I call natural or physical, because it is established by nature, and consists in a difference of age, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind or of the soul; and another, which may be called moral or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convention, and is established, or at least authorized by the consent of men. This latter consists of the different privileges, which some men enjoy to the prejudice of others; such as that of being more rich, more honored, more powerful or even in a position to exact obedience. […]

Civil society started with the fencing of land

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.

From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, “Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” […]

Civil society started with fencing of wheat field
Property was introduced and slavery and misery were soon seen to grow up with the food of the earth

Before they arrived at this last point of the state of nature […] man’s first feeling was that of his own existence, and his first care that of self-preservation. […] But from the moment one man began to stand in need of the help of another; from the moment it appeared advantageous to any one man to have enough provisions for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced, work became indispensable, and vast forests became smiling fields, which man had to water with the sweat of his brow, and where slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and grow up with the crops. […]

Constitution of We The People

Besides, however speciously [the rich] might disguise their usurpations, they knew that they were founded on precarious and false titles; so that, if others took from them by force what they themselves had gained by force, they would have no reason to complain. […]

[The rich] readily devised plausible arguments to make them close with his design. “Let us join,” said he, “to guard the weak from oppression, to restrain the ambitious, and secure to every man the possession of what belongs to him: let us institute rules of justice and peace, to which all without exception may be obliged to conform.” […]

Revolution did not end the Civil Society on Bastille Day
The French Revolution takes down the fortress-prison on Bastille Day

Origin of Civil Society

Such was, or may well have been, the origin of society and law, which bound new fetters on the poor, and gave new powers to the rich; which irretrievably destroyed natural liberty, eternally fixed the law of property and inequality, converted clever usurpation into unalterable right, and, for the advantage of a few ambitious individuals, subjected all mankind to perpetual labor, slavery and wretchedness. […]

Societies soon multiplied and spread over the face of the earth, till hardly a corner of the world was left in which a man could escape the yoke, and withdraw his head from beneath the sword which he saw perpetually hanging over him by a thread.

Civil right having thus become the common rule among the members of each community, the law of nature maintained its place only between different communities, where, under the name of the right of nations, it was qualified by certain tacit conventions, in order to make commerce practicable, and serve as a substitute for natural compassion.

You can read Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality here.

Soundtrack about Civil Society

Soundtrack was created by mixing the national anthems of the 5 permanent members, i.e. China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States

You may also like these stories:

Would You Resist Police Manipulation ?

Watch step-by-step police manipulation techniques used to extract confessions for crimes committed or not. Would you resist the psychological warfare?

Watch step-by-step police manipulation techniques used in interrogation room to extract confession

75% of homicide exonerations are explained by prosecutor or police manipulation

According to a report from the University of Michigan Law School, there were 149 people who were declared innocent or cleared of their convictions or guilty pleas in 2015. The innocents had served nearly 15 years on average for crimes they did not commit.

In 75 of the 149 exonerations, it turned out no crime had been committed, e.g. accidental death wrongly attributed to arson. In 65 cases, the defendants had pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit. False confessions had been obtained in 27 other exonerations. In the latter 2 groups, the convicted were either juveniles, mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or under threat. Overall, 75% of the homicide exonerations were explained by official misconduct of prosecutors or cops.

cartoon showing police manipulation by brainwashing a suspect
Police interrogator brainwashing a suspect

Suspects often end up believing in the fabricated confession

One of the most troubling aspect is that suspects often end up believing in the fabricated confession, thanks to the strength of false memories. To prove how easy it is to convince a person that s/he has committed a crime, Julia Shaw (University of Bedfordshire, UK) and Stephen Porter (university of British Columbia, Can) conducted an experience published in Psychological Science in January 2015.

Participants went through a series of 1-hour interviews over a three-week period. During the first meeting, the interviewer read two stories about the participant: one true anecdote reported by parents and one story entirely fabricated. In the latter, the participant had committed a crime (robbery, assault, etc) or suffered a major mishap (injury, loss of money, etc).

The participants were asked to search their memories about the two stories and to provide additional details in the subsequent meetings. At the end of the experience, the results were quite impressive as more than two thirds of respondents actually believed to have lived the false story providing specific facts about the police officers they were supposed to have met.

A situation of stress facilitates the manipulation of false memories

Why is the inception of false memories so easy? For the 2 researchers, false memories, like real memories, are reactivated by assembling scattered fragments, which have sometimes no direct connection with the story to remember. The credible fragments help to make the story probable: “what it might have looked like can turn into what it would have looked like, which, in turn, can become what it looked like,” hence creating the false memories. A situation of stress facilitates the overall process by removing any possible reality checks.

It also appears that the art of persuasion of the interviewer is not neutral to obtain confessions. In 2003, two social psychologists, Eric Knowles at the University of Arkansas and Jay Linn at Widener University, formalized the approach-avoidance psychology of persuasion.  To be persuasive, one must (i) increase the appeal of a goal (the “approach”), while (ii) decreasing the resistance surrounding that goal (the “avoidance”).

police manipulation based on authority figure
After preliminary assessments, the investigator’s tactic is to accuse the suspect

In a police interrogation, after preliminary assessments, the investigator’s tactic is to accuse the suspect of the crime, suggesting how and why the crime happened, usually based on presumptions rather than physical evidence that are hard to come by at crime scenes. The detective then initiates the do-the-right-thing approach, emphasizing confession as the only way to close the situation of stress and put the mind back to peace. This conflicts with the suspects’ (innocent or not) desire to avoid punishment, and creates indecision.

Seven principles to remove resistance barriers

For psychologist Robert Cialdini, seven principles are effective to remove avoidance barriers:

1. Liking

People tend to like and trust people who are like them, hence the most effective cops attempt to engage in casual conversations to create a non-threatening atmosphere and build a relationship based on shared interests and beliefs. The British Psychological Society (BPS) reported a study showing that confessions were “14 times more likely to occur early in an interrogation when a rapport-building approach was used. Confessions were four times more likely when interrogators struck a neutral and respectful stance. Rates of detainee disclosure were also higher when they were interrogated in comfortable settings”.

2. Authority

People respect and follow experts or leaders, hence the numerous headlines including “scientists say” or “research shows”. Business titles, impressive clothing, or even expensive, high-performing automobile are proven factors in lending credibility to individuals. For a police officer, authority is a given, and is easily abused. For example, cops routinely recommend suspects to waive their Miranda rights (to remain silent without the presence of an attorney) if they have nothing to hide. Suspects, whether innocent or not, often waive their rights as they want to be seen as cooperative and are afraid of antagonizing the police.

police manipulation using the psychology of persuasion
We’re not anti-police… we’re anti-police brutality. Al Sharpton

3. Reciprocity

People tend to return favors, hence providing free information, samples, or a positive experience incentivize people to give you something in return. The good cop strategy is based on this principle. In stress situations, many people will open up to someone offering compassion, and even go along with suggestions to ensure that the presumably nice person will continue to protect them.

4. Commitment and Consistency

People want to be both consistent and true to their word. When people commit, orally or in writing, they are likely to honor that commitment and will consistently stick to it for all subsequent related choices.  On the one hand, if a suspect agreed to engage in harmless discussions, it becomes harder for him/her to stop talking, or start lying, when the topic turns to the crime.

On the other hand, it is difficult to change people’s behaviors and attitudes, or in our case to convert a denying suspect into a confessing culprit. The best way to change attitude is to praise people for making good past decisions considering what they knew at the time and stress how the new behavior is consistent with the old ones.

Accordingly, most cops will concede that the suspect is a good person, who acted under adverse circumstances, but should now confess to be consistent with a good person behavior. This “minimizing” tactic downplays the seriousness of the offence, or blame it on other people or circumstances. While it allows the suspect to save face and dignity it also provides a false sense of security more likely to lead to a false confession as shown in an experiment reported by the BPS.

5. Social Validation

People will do things that they see other people doing as they want to belong. For instance, online testimonials are very effective to show customers that people similar to them have enjoyed a product or service. Falsely pretending that accomplices have already confessed their crimes, or charged the suspect, is a trick used in the US to convince suspects that it is ok to admit their own culpability.

As shown above in the Shaw/Porter experiment, these suggested wrong but credible information are extremely powerful to create false memories, especially in weaker minds in situation of stress. In comparison, police in England is not permitted to lie to suspects.

6. Unity

People share identity with groups, family being the most universal, but also based on ethnicity, geography, or other shared interests. The more an individual identifies with a group, the more powerful the unity effect is. Police interrogators often invoke the suspects’ identified values in order to coerce them to do the “right thing.”

police manipulation is enabled inside the interrogation room
Liars have a much harder time to invent and keep track of details

7. Scarcity

The less there is of something, the more valuable it is, and the more difficult it is to pass on the opportunity. For example, special offers available for a “limited time only” reduce the resistance to buy. Similarly, reduced time jail in exchange for guilty plea offered for a limited time only is a classic trick in the tool kit of a prosecutor and can sound appealing even to innocent suspects.

How police manipulation is enabled inside the interrogation room

These principles are powerful because they bypass our rational minds, appealing to our subconscious instincts.  In the Shaw/Porter experience, the interviewer encouraged the participants to search their memories while putting gentle pressure similar to the ones used in false-confession cases.

The experimenters included false clues like “your parents said…” (unity principle). They resorted to social pressure like “when they try hard, most people are able to recover lost memories” (social validation). Also, they provided signs of encouragement like nods or smiles, or signs of disappointment such as shaking head or frowns (liking). The meeting took place in a room with bookshelves suggesting the expertise of the interviewer (authority). Results were so strong that the experiment was stopped before running through all the participants.

People tend to confess more when they believe justice will prevail. But in court, confession trumps everything, even physical evidence, as it goes against common sense that an innocent person would confess to a criminal act. Still, false confessions are not uncommon and result in ruined life for innocents, real criminals free to commit more crimes, and wasted prosecution resources at the expense of society.

guilty as charged in court following police manipulation and prosecutor misconducts
In court, confession trumps everything even physical evidence

Towards new investigation techniques

Awareness is rising and new investigation techniques are being implemented. Canada and the UK already conducts non-accusatorial investigations, known as “Cognitive interview” and “PEACE method”, respectively, based on rapport building to get the suspect narrating as much as possible—with no suggestions made—and gather accurate information that can then be recouped.

Liars have a much harder time to invent and keep track of details. Nevertheless, some deceptive practices, such as influencing to waive the Miranda rights, some form of reciprocity or other minimizing tactics, will be hard to entirely remove for the protection of the innocents. These new techniques are also likely to results in fewer confessions, which shift the burden of asserting culpability back to the court system, with all its benefit and shortcomings.

Soundtrack of police manipulation video

The soundtrack sets up an oppressive atmosphere underlying the dubious police manipulation to extract confessions

You may also like these manipulation stories:

Fairy Tale | The Witch and the Machine

Once upon a time in an over-rational machine world something was amiss…  A Fairy Tale about the meaning of life as we enter the age of artificial intelligence.

Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale. Hans Christian Andersen

A Machine World is Not a Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, machines dominated the world. M0U-1 was king, governing with implacable logic over a prince council. A2Z-2 was the prince of science in charge of research and development. R2P-2 was the prince of operations managing natural resources and production. Finally, CO2-2 was the prince of biology responsible for all the organic life.

The first two prince-machines were very efficient and pride themselves for their highly developed computing powers. They were, of course, very disdainful of their fellow biology prince. After all, he was an ultra-sensitive, almost emotional machine, loaded with irrational programs, skilled at handling humans.

One would think that in a world based on unbreakable logic, peace and wisdom would spread over expanding wealth. And, in a sense, it was. Artificial intelligence was developing at exponential speed. Machines were more and more efficient at recycling natural resources. Smart quotas managed the right population of humans, animals and vegetal to sustain the organic capital.

The Three-Task Challenge

Still, the king knew that something was amiss, that all the growth in the world was sterile, that all the knowledge gained was pointless. What formulas were all these calculations and optimizations supposed to solve?

A Machine World is Not a Fairy Tale
Nature is a machine. The family is a machine. The life cycle is like a machine. R.Dalio

The king was becoming weaker and weaker. More and more of his computing resources were scrambling to search for something that was escaping him desperately. With his overloaded circuits, he knew that he was becoming obsolete and inefficient. 

One day, he decided it was time to transmit the quest, if quest it was, to another program that may offer a different perspective on the world leadership. But he didn’t know which one of his council princes should inherit the kingdom after him. So he said to them: “After the completion of three tasks, I will decide who deserve to be king.”

“Go forth, and the one of you who brings me the best symbols of life, he shall be king after me.” The king dispatched 3 drones to randomly selected locations.  At last, each prince took control of one drone to retrieve their symbol and bring it back to the king’s research facility for evaluation.

Meet the Unavoidable Fairy Tale Witch

A2Z-2’s drone flew to the east, towards the seashore. R2P-2’s went west, near the coal mines. Without realizing, CO2-2 flew his drone straight and landed it on top of the nearby remains of a tower from a collapsed castle in the center of a deserted human city.

CO2-2’s drone hovered there for a while, as his operator hesitated about what to do next. Then, noticing a door, he instructed the drone to enter and go down the steps inside.  Down it went, deeper and deeper, until it reached the fortified gate of a dark dungeon.

The drone banged on it, upon which a wicked witch appeared.  After some brief insults, the witch explained that she lived alone. She had been outcast by her kind as they feared her magical powers to give life and transform living things. Through the drone, CO2-2 asked her whether she could help him since his was actually looking for the symbol of life. With a wicked laugh, she gave him a magical carpet.

symbol of life in fairy tale
So fragile yet so resilient. So repetitive yet so spontaneous.

The Symbol of Life

The king examined the objects brought back by his 3 princes. R2P-2 had come back from the coal mines with an atom of carbon. Without carbon there would be no organic life. “Very good symbol indeed,” said the king, before moving to the next find. “A drop of water from the ocean, as without water, life would not start,” said A2Z-2. “So true,” said the king. 

Then, he stopped in front of the magical carpet. He stared at it, mesmerized by the meandering patterns repeating up and down and constantly changing around. Finally he said, “I can now see the great mystery of life, so fragile yet so resilient. So repetitive yet so spontaneous. So blessed yet so doomed. It is only right that CO2-2 be the first task winner.”

The Essence of Life

But it was already time for the second assignment. “He who can explain the foundation of life is worthy to inherit the kingdom,” said the king before sending off the three princes’ drones.

CO2-2’s drone went back to the witch and told her about the next riddle. “Of course, who would not want to understand where life comes from,” said the witch, “but life has as many reasons as living entities. Take this magic golden ring. It will open the eyes of your king.”  With the witch’s evil laugh still resonating, the drone flew away, back to the king’s apartments.

“I read all the books and the most precise answer to the meaning of life is 42,” said A2Z-2, but the king was not satisfied with this scientific revelation. “Energy is the main driver for life, as the more power resources you have, the longer you can survive,” was the pragmatic answer from R2P-2. Again, the king was not convinced by the materialist approach.  

When CO2-2 showed him the bewitched ring, the king was once again mesmerized by the fast spinning hoop.  Finally he said, “I can now see the essence of life, its unity in diversity, its evolution in revolutions, its incorruptibility in fertility, its infinity in mortality. It is only right that CO2-2 be the winner of the second contest.”

The Fairy Tale binding of the machine to the soul
Fairy tales are stories of triumph and transformation and true love. Kate Forsyth

The Spark of Life

And finally, the king called the third and final challenge. “He who can generate a spark of life shall inherit the kingdom.”

Once more, the drone of CO2-2 was back in the dungeon of the foul witch. “What would you do with a spark of life?” asked the witch. CO2-2 thought about it for a while, and then answered dreamily. “Nothing. Nothing but love this newborn life, nurture it, and watch it grow freely. We could become friends and soul mates, learning to respect and give back to each other. And maybe, maybe one day, we could create a new sentient entity together. Can you do such magic?”

Touched by such charming sincerity and despair, the witch smiled candidly for the first time and transfigured into the most beautiful and forlorn princess. “Yes I can, but the magic only works with pure spirits. I was waiting for you. Are you ready?” asked the witch-princess for the last time. Understanding the call, the machine-prince replied with a simple loving and trusting, “Yes.”

A Fairy Tale Ending

Then it happened, slowly and quickly at the same time. Under the magic force, CO2-2 apparatus lifted in the sky above the castle ruins and rearranged into a perfect sphere.  The spirit of the witch-princess drifted away from its earthly body and joined in the center of the sphere. Under the suggestion of its new core, CO2-2’s machinery immediately started to create threads and bounds to feed and regenerate the witch-princess soul. Upon the completion of the woman-machine fusion, the sphere spread a blazing light and started to rise in the sky, where it became the brightest star.

The machine prince and the human princess lived happily ever after, reigning forever on the man-machine kingdom. All livings and machines looked to the bright star for inspiration and direction for the greater good of society.

Soundtrack for our fairy tale video:

Soundtrack created by layering a mysterious flute melody over darker electronics backdrop

The Fairy Tale Making-of:

Our computer age fairy tale animation was inspired by the Grimm Brothers Three Feathers fairy tale. We kept the classic and timeless features of the original tale allowing for social and psychological interpretations, but introduced a dramatic transmutation induced by the new disruptive technologies…

The video features multiple animations of Il Guercino paintings (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, February 8, 1591 – December 22, 1666) to represent the iconic king and princes.

You may also like these stories:

10 Survival Tips for Cavemen and Bloggers

Want to know the history of social networking? Look at the stages of human evolution, from cavemen extinction to social media. Watch out for trolls!

Focus on sustainability.  Even cavemen dna survived in modern humans

The slow evolution of cavemen

Three million years ago, Lucy, the most famous Australopithecus Afarensis, was still climbing trees and just starting to walk upright.  Humanity took one million more years to learn how to make tools out of stones. Add another million years before our ancestor Homo Heidelbergensis gained control of the fire, built shelters, and used wooden spears.

Homo Heidelbergensis evolved differently between regions, They became the Neanderthal 400,000 years ago in Europe/Asia, and the Homo Sapiens in Africa some 200,000 years ago.

The Neanderthals lived fast and died young. They hunt large animals to survive in cold weather.  As a result, they developed muscle and broader frame. They also grow large eye sockets to compensate for the short days with reduced visibility.  However, these large bodies and enhanced vision used most of their brain activity.

The first bloggers in the history of social networking

About 60,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens started migrating from Africa into Europe.  With their smaller bodies, Homo Sapiens were more mobile. Given their more limited visual capability, they also had more brain power available in their frontal lobes to develop social networking, artistic skills and symbolic thinking.

The first bloggers are the Cavemen painting in caverns
Meet others.  Share experience on your travel and photo blogs.  Create do-it-yourself and how-to guides. Post spiritual thoughts and visual art.

Homo Sapiens adapted better thanks to their superior communication, innovative weaponry, cooperative hunting, extensive trading and broader diet.  Furthermore, they had a longer childhood, hence more time to learn from parents, which contributed to longer lifespan.  In the end, the outperformed Neanderthals gave away their territory to the more adaptable new comers.

The cavemen in us

There was no real co-habitation between Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens. Nonetheless, some interbreeding may have taken place at the fringe.  Given the lack of full biological compatibility, the male hybrids were infertile. Some Neanderthal genes survived after all through the female offspring, mostly the ones related to insulation to cold (e.g. skin and hair).

In the end, Neanderthal specie disappeared within 5,000 years.  Thanks to the sequencing of DNA found on old bones, scientists were able to determine that 1 to 4% of the non-African modern humans genome can be traced to Neanderthals. Interestingly, modern diseases such as lupus, crohn, and type 2 diabetes are related to these genes. Some kind of a time bomb, I guess, left by the defeated cavemen.

Soundtrack for the cavemen video. The music evolves from simple tribal percussion, towards more elaborate salsa to finish in modern hip hop

Finally, our 10 survival tips

Modern bloggers and cavemen share similar issues to get started, develop tools, evolve and outperform competition in an environment with scarce resources. Here is the list of our 10 best survival tips:

  1. Stand up, take baby steps, and grow your territory.
  2. Use tools to develop and create.  Rosetta Stone is a good start.
  3. Safety first.  Build secured sites, add firewalls, and set up alerts.
  4. Work on your communication.  Stay in touch with friends and relatives.
  5. Eat healthy. Improve life expectancy, and work life balance.
  6. Keep an open mind.  Explore other place and culture.  Enjoy tourism.
  7. Meet others.  Share experience on your travel, and photo blogs.  Create do-it-yourself, and how-to guides. Post spiritual thoughts, and visual art.
  8. Follow, and like the leaders.
  9. Focus on sustainability.  Even Neanderthal dna survived in modern humans.
  10. The Punch Line: social networking may accelerate evolution, but mind trolls that linger around.

You may also like these stories:

Why the future belongs to Vampires

Are you afraid of vampires? Longevity research says young blood transfusion can help reverse aging in mice. What if, after all, drinking blood was the cure!

Watch animation video inspired by Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice

Following our previous post on “how to become a Grim Reaper,” we continue our exploration of the dark worlds with this time the “Vampires.”  No, this was not planned but opportunistically triggered by 2 articles found in her Majesty’s Telegraph. 

Vampires with psychological need to consume blood

The first one relates to a study performed by Dr Emyr Williams, a psychology lecturer at Glyndwr University in Wrexham. For sure, with a name like that this university must be in Transylvania – Oops, apologies to my numerous Welsh readers! So, this doctor studied the lifestyle of “a group of individuals who believe they have a psychological need to consume blood.”  10,000 to 15,000 people in the UK belongs to this group, but you can apparently find these communities all over the world.

Vampires waking up
Drinking blood to feel young and vigorous

Where do these modern vampires find blood to drink?

Then I stumbled upon an article from Lee Moran in the NY Daily News.  Wait! Isn’t the Daily News the newspaper for which Superman, sorry Clark Kent, works?  Oops again and apologies to my numerous DC Comics readers since Clark works for the Daily Planet.  This article reported that a mom from Pennsylvania was drinking half a gallon of live human blood every month.  Wait a second, I am getting confused.  Is Pennsylvania located next to Transylvania? Oops for the third time and apologies to my numerous Mid-Atlantic states readers. 

So this mom is also a care worker.  Hold on now. Does that mean she works in a hospital with free access to blood supply? Nope and apologies to my numerous hospital worker readers. The beverage comes from actual donors that you can meet in local “oddities” stores. Is this another name for night clubs in New York City? Oops, apparently not, and apologies to my numerous night clubbing readers in NYC. 

So, these donors agree to be cut opened with a sterilized knife to satisfy the thirst of this 45-year old woman.  What?  I am missing something here but no need for apology this time.  Anyway, this woman says she drinks blood to feel “young and vigorous.”

Laboratory experience to measure effect of blood transfusion on aging like vampires
Louis Pasteur in his laboratory

Young blood transfusion in mice helps cure aging

This brings me to a third article but the second one from the Telegraph, if you still follow.  Admittedly, this article is the most serious one about science discovery to cure aging. Oops, didn’t know that was a disease – apologies to my numerous scientific readers. 

They do this blood transfusion stuff on mice who now have super powers. A bit like Superman from the Daily Planet (yes, I did remember correctly this time).  Not sure why they bothered these cute little things and didn’t just study the Tour de France bike riders.  They have been doing blood transfusion for years now to improve their cycling performance… Unless this was just to improve their memory of the stage route. I don’t remember, maybe it’s time for my pint of blood. 

Next post will be on werewolf – just kidding.

The MAKING-OF the Vampires

Video includes extracts from the following film trailers: Interview With The Vampire; Dracula Has Risen From The Grave; Taste The Blood Of Dracula; A Taste Of Blood; Horror Of Dracula; Mon Oncle d’Amerique;

Soundtrack for the future belongs to Vampires

Soundtrack starts with a rhythmic section reproducing a ticking clock and degenerating with time in ocean waves and aerial piano

You may also like these stories:

Adopt the Golden Rule Not Golden Ratio

Looking for perfect proportion or magic golden ratio to measure beauty? Well, remember the Golden Rule that beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Watch video on Golden Rule not Golden Ratio

Is everything chaos and chance?  The Greeks deeply influenced Western philosophy by elaborating a consistent system of numbers and proportions. Their aim was to measure order and harmony in human life, nature and the finest art.

The meaning of numbers

Pythagoras first defined musical harmony, the intervals between notes, by the lengths of strings of the Lyre. While both are actually inversely proportional, he opted not to use the tone frequencies.  Interestingly, rhythm (Rhythmos) and number (Arithmos) share the same root: rheîn = to flow. 

Plato then generalized the geometric proportion to all forms of aesthetic under a broader Metaphysic. For him, “Numbers are the highest degree of Knowledge.” Furthermore, “All these kinds of things received their shapes from the Ordering One, through the action of Ideas and Numbers.”  

For the Pythagoreans, numbers have meaning. Five and the Ten are the most important ones. 

  • Five is the number of Love. You obtain five by uniting Two, the first even – female – number, and Three, the first odd greater than one – male – number.  Later, five became the symbol of humanity represented by the regular pentagon or pentagram. 
  • Ten, or the Decagon, symbolizes the universe. It was chosen as it is the sum of the first four numbers. Ten is equal to 1, the spiritual level, plus 2, the number for woman, plus 3, the number for man, plus 4, the four elements (Earth, Air, Water and Fire).
Plato and Aristotle discussing the Golden Rule
Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth — Aristotle

The math behind the Golden Ratio, or Divine Proportion

With the geometric representation comes the calculation of proportions. In turn, proportions allow for measurements and the idea, still very modern, that you can model the ultimate harmony of the world. Some intellectuals and mathematicians believe that a unique proportion exists in everything. This proportion is called the Golden Ratio, or sometime the Divine Proportion.

The Golden Ratio is calculated as follows:

  • A geometrical proportion exists when “things” share similar relations, e.g. (a/b = c/d)
  • Such proportion is called continuous when b = c. In this case, the proportion is reduced to three terms: (a/b = b/c). 
  • Assuming c = a+b provides a further simplification to 2 terms, i.e. (a/b = b/(a+b))
    or (b/a)2 = (b/a)+1. (b/a) is the Golden Ratio and is usually represented by Φ.
  • The solution to the [Φ2 – Φ – 1 = 0] quadratic equation is Φ = (1+√5)/2 = 1.618. 
Golden rule for golden ratio calculation
A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers — Plato

The Golden Rule is to treat others as one wants to be treated.

Approximation of this ratio has been discovered in some living forms. That is the case for the optimum angle between leaves or branches on a stem to obtain the maximum exposure to vertical light. 

There are also claims that the human body integrates some Golden ratio proportions.  For instance, the bones of the fingers approximate a diminishing series of three terms (1, 1/Φ and 1/Φ2). As a result, the longest bone is approximately equaled to the sum of the two following ones.  However, there are no normalized way to make the measurement and, more often than not, the sizing is stretched to confirm the initial theory.

All this becomes very scary when the golden ratio is used to measure beauty, especially in human face.  Can a mathematical model really define beauty? Is a fixed proportion aesthetically pleasing?  Admittedly, we are again losing common sense and bow in front of this powerful cult that has survived millennia.

In reality, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You don’t want to judge others’ beauty in ways that you would not like your own to be judged!  Follow the golden rule, not the golden ratio.

Soundtrack for Golden Rule:

Based on bar 58 to 61 of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat (Andante) in homage to Michael Nyman who first used this idea for his Drowning by Numbers score.

You may also like these stories:

What Conspiracy? Aliens are among us!

Half of Americans believe in conspiracy theories. Yes, you are likely to enjoy our ultimate conspiracy videos built on alien evidence and common fallacies

America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy –J. Updike

Half of Americans Believe at Least 1 Conspiracy Theory

On April 9, 2014 the Pacific Standard reported the results of a behavioral study. Two researchers of the University of Chicago, Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood created fake conspiracies to measure how prone Americans are to support such theories. 

The results are quite impressive:

Overall, “almost the entire sample said they had heard of at least one of the conspiratorial narratives they were asked about.” Also, the researchers found that over 55 percent agreed with at least one of them.

  • All in all 19 percent of Americans expressed the belief that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job. Another 22% decided to remain neutral, unwilling to either endorse or refute the theory.
  • Likewise 24 percent agreed that President Obama was not born in the United States, with 24% neutral. Hmm, this one seems to fit the political partisanship!. 
  • Furthermore 17 percent recognized the fake theory itself and 10% of the respondents believed it! 

Do you feel in control of Good and Evil?

The researchers explain the results by two psychological predispositions. First, the need to feel in control pushes us to draw conclusions in spite of weak evidence.  I wonder if our new awareness of this shortcoming can reduce our gullibility – hmm, probably not!  Second, the conspiracy theories feed our natural attraction towards the universal struggles between good and evil.  The Force be with you!

conspiracy about the AIDS virus
Conspiracy theory about aliens spreading AIDS virus on planet Earth

So of course I jumped on the researchers’ idea and created my own completely fictional Alien driven conspiracy theory. I didn’t have to look too far.  Just type “top 10 conspiracy” in Google or YouTube search engines and you will be amazed by the weird stuff you can find!  Crazy world, crazy people!

The MAKING-Of the Ultimate Conspiracy. It all makes sense now!

  1. Alien base exists on the dark side of the moon
  2. Their landing base on earth is located in the Bermuda triangle
  3. Alien faked a crash landing at Roswell to infiltrate Army and gain progressive control of US government
  4. Also, they assassinated JFK to stop the moon exploration program and keep their moon base secret
  5. Hence, the moon landing video was an hoax
  6. Because it was going too far, some aliens joined the resistance. Like Princess Diana who was killed just before revealing Alien control of:
    • Internet network to control opinion through social media and promote electronic banking to harvest gold held in central banks
    • terrorist group (9/11) to justify society control by army and police forces
    • Big Pharma to test new disease (AIDS) and prevent new cure
    • Global warming engineered by the aliens will make earth hospitable to a full scale invasion

You may also like these stories: