Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Kurt

Vonnegut in 1972
"Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.

Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

It’s perfectly ordinary to be a socialist. It’s perfectly normal to be in favor of fire departments.

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here.

There’s only one rule that I know of, babies---‘... you’ve got to be kind.’
" - Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Abiotic Evolution: Can It Explain An Origin For The Toxins of Power? - 3

First, since this series has focused to some degree on stem cells (1st post, 2nd post), and since there was a big row/scrap about some scientific papers concerning stem cells (papers that were said to be flawed); today, I will update/narrow the line of reasoning in this series to the degree that these events might apply.

Note that this blog never agreed nor disagreed with the papers which indicated that stress could generate stem cells ("embryonic-like stem cells could be created by exposing bodily cells to stress" - Nature Retraction Notice).

That dust-up, in the journal Nature, is still ongoing to some degree, because there were some mysteries then which still remain in that ongoing scientific drama:
The investigation also has not explained one of the most notable features of the cells — their ability to form a placenta — something that embryonic stem cells do not generally do. “That is still one question that to me is still a mystery,” says Manuel Serrano, a cancer biologist who has worked with stem cells at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid.

Serrano, like many of his colleagues, was intrigued by the papers, published in Nature in January 2014, reporting that adult cells could behave like stem cells after experiencing severe stress1, 2. To him, the premise made sense — there was ample evidence in the literature that stressed cells were prone to taking on new identities.
(Nature, "Questions Linger Over Stress-induced Stem Cells", emphasis added). There is little to no dispute that stress has an impact on organisms.

In fact, the stress involved in this drama being played out led to the suicide of one of the scientists involved (STAP Paper Co-author Sasai Commits Suicide).

Second, since we apply the toxins of power hypotheses to adults, we can ignore embryonic and other stem cells, to focus directly on adult stem cells:
Adult stem cells. These stem cells are found in small numbers in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat. Compared with embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have a more limited ability to give rise to various cells of the body.

Until recently, researchers thought adult stem cells could create only similar types of cells. For instance, researchers thought that stem cells residing in the bone marrow could give rise only to blood cells.

However, emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells may be able to create unrelated types of cells. For instance, bone marrow stem cells may be able to create bone or heart muscle cells.
(Mayo Clinic, emphasis added). So, as these cells are going through the process of "shape shifting", what could cause that morphing process to be initiated, and what toxins could impact upon those cells, and the ones they were morphing into or creating, during and/or after the metamorphic process?

One of the country's top experts on stress (quoted often on this blog) has given stress a substantial amount of thought:
In 1900, what do you think were the leading causes of death in this country?

If you were 20 to 40 years old and a woman, the single riskiest thing you could do was try to give birth. TB, Pneumonia, influenza killed a lot of other people. But few people under the age of 100 die of the flu anymore. Relatively few women die in childbirth. Instead, we die of these utterly bizarre diseases that have never existed before on the planet in any sort of numbers—diseases like heart disease, cancer, adult-onset diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Now, some of this has to do with nuts and bolts biology. But some of it has to do with issues that nobody ever had to think about before in medicine—totally bizarre questions like, “What’s your psychological makeup?” or “What’s your social status?” or “How do people with your social status get treated in your society?

And this one: “Why is it that when we’re feeling unloved, we eat more starch?” Figure that out, and you’ve cured half the cases of diabetes in this country.

Indeed, when you look at the diseases that do us in, they are predominantly diseases that can be caused, or made worse, by stress. As a result, most of us in this room will have the profound Westernized luxury of dropping dead someday of a stress-related disease. That’s why it’s so urgent that we understand stress—and how to better manage it.
(How to Relieve Stress, by Dr. Sapolsky; emphasis added). So, the stress addressed in the valid parts of the scientific papers that were recalled by the journal Nature for other reasons, and the subsequent testing (i.e. "embryonic-like stem cells could be created by exposing bodily cells to stress") are still worthy of further consideration.

A substantial number of related events that are causes of, or contributors to, our demise or death are also worthy of further consideration.

Why, then, would anyone question the potential impact of the constant exposure to stress on people who are sitting in seats of power?

Especially since astronomically smaller amounts of exposure to stress in "minor" events, such as traffic jams, can even have an impact:
For 99 percent of the species on this planet, stress is three minutes of screaming terror in the savannah, after which either it’s over with or you’re over with. That’s all you need to know about the subject if you’re a zebra or a lion.

If you’re a human, though, you’ve got to expand the definition of a stressor in a very critical way. If you’re running from a lion, your blood pressure is 180 over 120. But you’re not suffering from high blood pressure—you’re saving your life. Have this same thing happen when you’re stuck in traffic, and you’re not saving your life. Instead you are suffering from stress-induced hypertension.

We humans turn on the stress response with memories, with emotions, with thoughts, and the whole punch line is: That’s not what it evolved for. Do it regularly enough, and you’re going to damage your cardiovascular system. Increased blood flow hammers on the walls of your blood vessels, causing inflammation. Fat and glucose and cholesterol glom on and begin to clog your arteries. That’s bad news. You are more at risk for chronic fatigue, sleep disruption, muscle atrophy, and probably most importantly, adult-onset diabetes, this once obscure disease that’s just on the edge of being the number one killer in this country.

Chronic stress also does bad things to the nervous system. Stress kills neurons in the part of the brain called the hippocampus and weakens the cables between neurons, so they can’t talk to each other. This impairs the formation and retrieval of long-term memory. The opposite thing happens in the amygdala, which is where we see fear in a brain scanner. In the hippocampus, stress causes stuff to shrivel up. But stress feeds the amygdala. It actually gets bigger. Chronic stress creates a hyper-reactive, hysterical amygdala, and this tells us tons about what stress has to do with anxiety disorders.
(ibid, "How to Relieve Stress", emphasis added). Regular readers know that this blog has many posts concerning the impact which the amygdala has on behavior (e.g. The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere, Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala).

But, perhaps equally central to the analysis of what impact it has on those in seats of power, the frontal cortex is implicated too:
What about the frontal cortex? It’s the most human part of the brain; we’ve proportionally got more of it than any other species does. And what does the frontal cortex do? It does gratification postponement, self-discipline, long-term planning, emotional regulation. It’s the last part of the brain to fully mature—that doesn’t happen until you’re 25 years old, which explains a lot about the freshmen year of college.

This has a very interesting implication. If this is the last part of the brain to fully develop, by definition, then, it is the part of the brain least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience. What does chronic stress do to the frontal cortex? Atrophy of neurons, disconnecting circuits. As a result, you make the most idiotic decisions, which are going to haunt you for the rest of your life, and yet you think they’re brilliant at the time. That’s another effect of chronic stress: Your judgment goes down the tubes.
(ibid, "How to Relieve Stress", emphasis added). That fits well with what we see happening in seats of power (e.g. The Peak Of The Oil Wars - 12, New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 11, The Ignoratti Preacher Says: "The Ice Age Cometh").

And since Dr. Sapolsky said "it [frontal cortex] is the part of the brain least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience", it might help to review posts related to the impact that experience has on those in seats of power (epigenetic and cultural: One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene?, Choose Your Trances Carefully).

Some of the observations the world makes based on Americans in power, when "judgment goes down the tubes", is to change their perspective on America:
In the early fall of 2014, I traveled from my home in Oslo, Norway, through much of Eastern and Central Europe. Everywhere I went in those two months, moments after locals realized I was an American the questions started and, polite as they usually were, most of them had a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy? Please explain.
(The Life and Death of Bright Things - 2, emphasis in original). Stress causes death and lack of judgment, nevertheless its impact on those in power, in some ways, is said to still be a mystery:
The profound evolution of primate neocortex was influenced by the computational demands of living in a complex social environment (Dunbar & Shultz, 2007). For primates, a key factor creating structure within the social environment is power. In nonhuman primates, an animal’s power is partly determined by the degree to which they dominate conspecifics. Those that are able to exert dominance over others gain greater access to valuable resources like food and potential mates (Dunbar, 1980; Lewis, 2002; Watts, 2010). In human societies, power similarly creates “dependence asymmetries,” wherein the powerless depend heavily on the powerful for resources, whereas the powerful enjoy relatively unabated access to resources (Russell & Fiske, 2010). This asymmetry results in differences in how the powerful and the powerless process other individuals. Despite what we know about the effects of power on social information processing, the majority of the evidence is indirect, and the mechanisms underlying power’s influence remain a mystery.
Future research will be needed to determine the mechanisms through which power impacts motor resonance. Though it is dangerous to rely solely on brain imaging to infer mental activity (cf. Poldrack, 2006), extant neuroimaging data are crucial for generating testable predictions for this work. In this vein, one possibility is that the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), a brain region that sends visual input to resonant brain areas, is inhibited or somehow deactivated by high power.
(Power Changes How The Brain Responds To Others, PDF; emphasis added). Clearly, there is mystery still out there to be considered by those laboring in the realm of serious research.

That reality lends some credence to this blogs focus on a broad area of potential sources for the origin toxins of power, from memes all the way to microbes, viruses, and molecules.

Since abiotic evolution still takes place in an area which impacts the relevant areas higher up in the hierarchy of physics, genetics, and biology, in closing today's post, let's take a look at that abiotic source once again:
"The analysis of the original proton wave packet involves an interesting phase problem, and, since the energy distribution is temperature dependent, the whole phenomenon is also temperature dependent."
"The tunneling times will depend essentially on the height and the form of the barrier. In DNA, the form of the double-well potentials regulating the hydrogen bonds depend not only on the base pair involved but also on neighboring pairs, their net charges, and the entire electric environment. The tunneling time is hence not only characteristic for a certain biological specimen but is also a function of the position in the DNA molecule involved. The tunneling time is very likely also temperature dependent, even if the protons are well shielded in the double helix. The main problem is whether the tunneling time is very short in comparison to the replication time, or whether there exist organisms where the penetration of the barrier is slow in comparison to the replication." 
"It should always be remembered that, in Born's interpretation of quantum mechanics, the quantity |¥|² represents the probability density for finding the proton in a specific position. The tunneling of the wave packet is hence a time-dependent process which is going to influence the properties of the genetic code.
"In this connection, it should be observed that the tunneling probabilities depend not only on the base pair involved but also on the electrostatic environment, the neighboring base pairs, etc., which may explain the occurrence of "hot spots."
At a DNA replication, the protons have to "choose sides," and the proton code immediately after a DNA replication represents actually a nonstationary state from the quantum-mechanical point of view. The time evolution of the system and particularly the penetration of the potential barrier in the double-well potential represents a loss of the genetic code which should perhaps be considered as the primary cause of aging. The aging is thus a process which goes on continuously in the DNA molecule but gets "manifested" at the replications.
Proton tunneling may finally be of importance in connection with the occurrence of spontaneous tumors. The growth of an individual is a highly refined balance between factors which enhance the cell duplication and other factors which limit this duplication so that the organism takes a specific shape. The entire process is stimulated and controlled by various enzymes, and there is a feedback from the environment about which we know, at present, very little. If there is a somatic mutation, i.e., a change of the genetic code in a DNA molecule in the body of an organism, the change may influence the protein synthesis and the balance between the enhancing and controlling enzyme actions in the growth cycle. Actually, the new genetic code may lead to the development of a "new individual" within the individual, i.e., a tumor."
"In this paper we have pointed out that, since the protons are not classical particles but "wave packets" obeying the laws of modern quantum theory, the genetic code cannot --in spite of all precautions-- be 100% stable. Due to the quantum-mechanical "tunnel effect," there is always a small but finite probability that the protons will change place, alter the genetic code, and give rise to mutations. This implies also that this transfer of protons over a distance of about 10-8 cm may be one of the driving forces in the evolution of living organisms on the earth."
(Stem Cell Malfunction A Quantum Toxin Source?, @ Review of Modern Physics). While we digest all this we need to remember that we are considering the impact of the type of stress which is induced or enhanced by exposure to power.

Today, I am saying that such impacts may reach all the way down to the abiotic dynamics that can cause mutations at the atomic level.

I am also saying that those impacts may reach up to higher level genetic dynamics, as well as upon even higher level adult stem cells as they function to repair the damage stress has caused to cells around them.

The previous post in this series is here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala

"I said hard a-starboard"
When archaeologists use the word "cultural" it may not mean exactly the same as when we use it in everyday street talk.

The "Museum of Natural and Cultural History, University of Oregon" excavated caves in Oregon this year, in one pursuit on the trail of ancient culture.

When discussing the culture found in "Paisley Caves" in the state of Oregon (likely the oldest yet found in the U.S.), the word we are discussing is used to describe material in layers of cave soil:
Our emphasis was on the recovery of in situ bone, coprolites and cultural materials ... The upper 80 cm of sediments contained sparse Middle and Late Holocene cultural deposits. Deposits between 80 and 160 cm are, for all practical purposes, culturally sterile though a small hearth and a few artifacts, dated at 8440 cal. BP, were encountered just below a lens of Mazama ash at approximately 120 cm. The oldest and densest cultural remains in the cave were located between 190 and 230 centimeters ...
(NGBPP Research at the Paisley Caves, emphasis added). The words "cult" and "culture" hint that "cultural" can describe physical artifacts as well as ways of thinking.

Thus, the concept of the "cultural amygdala" can seem to be ambiguous at first blush (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala, 2, 3, 4).

But, if we use words that we are more accustomed to, it does not seem quite so ambiguous (e.g. compare: Cultural Trance, More About Cultural Trance, Consensus Trance, Trance, Functional Psychosis, and Culture).

The cultural amygdala works like what psychologists call "group-mind trance" as follows:
American psychologist Boris Sidis wrote of a striking instance of a trance that was not limited to one person, but affected a whole group. He cited the memoirs of Russian writer and journalist Ivan Ivanovich Panaev, describing the riots of military colonists in Russia in 1831. Panaev recounted that in the course of some of the hardest fighting, he came across a corporal lying in the street, crying bitterly. When Panaev asked why he was crying, the young soldier said it was because down the street, a mob was trying to kill his beloved commander, Sokolov. Panaev suggested that the corporal stop crying and go to his leader's aid. A little later, when Panaev himself brought soldiers to help Sokolov, he was astonished to see that the corporal had joined the mob and was beating Sokolov with a club. When Panaev asked what on earth he was doing, the young man replied: Everyone else is doing it. Why shouldn't I?

Immersed in the energy of the mob, the corporal had totally given up his own individuality and control of his own mind. His normal perception of reality had disappeared, and he was locked into the thinking and reality of the mob. The mob possessed a corporate mind that overwhelmed the personal views of all who came under its sway. The "group mind" of the rioters was so strong that even the soldier, who was sincerely devoted to his commander, could not resist it. He was plunged into a group-mind trance in which he was absorbed in the thought and emotion of the group and out of touch with reality as he normally knew it.

Group-mind trance does not occur only in highly charged temporary gatherings, such as riots or lynch mobs. Group-mind trance is a part of the everyday life of each one of us. We belong to various kinds of groups--families, work groups, churches, and other organizations. Each has its own group mind that entrances us, perhaps more subtly than a lynch mob, but every bit as effectively. And in the group-mind trance, we experience all the features of other trance states.

Group-mind trances give us a basis for understanding the macrotrance of culture. We could think of group-mind trances as existing on a spectrum from the family on one end to culture on the other. Culture is the group-mind trance of a whole people, and because it is so pervasive, it remains largely invisible to those who are held in its sway.

The influence of group-mind trances cannot be overestimated.

The trance that is least recognized but very significant in our lives is group-mind trance ... Here the individual becomes a carrier of the values and drives that characterize the group as a whole. While immersed in the group mind, people may think and act in ways that are totally out of character with how they are when separate. Group-mind trance can occur in connection with such groups as one's family, church, or club; at sports events, rock concerts, tenants' meetings, and political conventions; or when involved with the staff at work or friends at a gathering. Group-mind trance forms a bridge to cultural trance, which may be thought of as a group-mind trance on the level of a whole people.
(Are You In a Trance?, cf. Trance Zero: The Psychology of Maximum Experience, emphasis added). We are born into the trance-like dynamics of our culture which builds our cultural amygdala circuits in our brain.

Another brain scientist has put it this way:
Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious - what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can't even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.
(The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere, quoting Dr. Lakoff, italics added). The part of our brain that begins to be shaped by our culture early on, continues to be shaped in our adulthood.

Wars and other problems (Titanic Mistakes Using The W Compass) can and do develop from time to time, when cultural amygdala circuits "naturally" function differently in two different cultures:
The "foreigner" is, moreover, outside the principal immediate system of law and order; hence aggression toward him does not carry the same opprobrium or immediate danger of reprisal that it does toward one's "fellow-citizen." Hostility to the foreigner has thus furnished a means of transcending the principal, immediately threatening group conflicts, of achieving "unity" —but at the expense of a less immediate but in fact more dangerous threat to security, since national states now command such destructive weapons that war between them is approaching suicidal significance.

Thus the immense reservoir of aggression in Western society is sharply inhibited from direct expression within the smaller groups in which it is primarily generated. The structure of the society in which it produced contains a strong predisposition for it to be channeled into group antagonisms. The significance of the nation-state is, however, such that there is a strong pressure to internal unity within each such unit and therefore a tendency to focus aggression on the potential conflicts between nation-state units. In addition to the existence of a plurality of such units, each a potential target of the focused aggression from all the others, the situation is particularly unstable because of the endemic tendency to define their relations in the manner least calculated to build an effectively solidary international order. Each state is, namely, highly ambivalent about the superiority-inferiority question. Each tends to have a deep-seated presumption of its own superiority and a corresponding resentment against any other's corresponding presumption. Each at the same time tends to feel that it has been unfairly treated in the past and is ready on the slightest provocation to assume that the others are ready to plot new outrages in the immediate future. Each tends to be easily convinced of the righteousness of its own policy while at the same time it is overready to suspect the motives of all others. In short, the "jungle philosophy"-which corresponds to a larger element in the real sentiments of all of us than can readily be admitted, even to ourselves-tends to be projected onto the relations of nation-states at precisely the point where, under the technological and organizational situation of the modern world, it can do the most harm.
(Certain Primary Sources ... of Aggression ..., p. 319-20, PDF, emphasis added). This difference of culture and its impact was pondered in this series when we considered the impact of a form of culture shock:
For example, let's hone in on that by recognizing for the moment that a person raised in Mississippi on a small farm, then living there through adulthood, will have a different social awareness and cultural Amygdala when compared to a person who is raised and lives their life in the art district of Paris, France.

The more temporary nature of the cultural Amygdala could be envisioned by imagining that the two individuals, one from Paris and one from Mississippi, were relocated in their teens, the person in Paris relocated to a small farm in Mississippi, and the person in Mississippi relocated to the art district in Paris.

The cultural Amygdala hypothesis would predict, upon relocation, a change over time in the cultural Amydala of both individuals as a result of being placed into very different cultures from the one they experienced through their teen years ...
(Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala). The rewiring of cultural brain circuits is automatic over time, but resistance to change, i.e., perpetuating the status quo, is the norm.

This is why the ships of state in various cultures have a difficult time making course corrections, and why the majority of them commit suicide:
Historically, self-destruction is the common denominator for past human civilization, culture, and society:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). As regular readers know, I have posted Sigmund Freud's writings where he indicated that psychoanalysis of groups, including civilization itself, would not prove unproductive ...
(Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch). Diversity has its benefits together with its drawbacks.

Unless good communication and awareness are part of our cultural amygdala circuitry, an opening for toxins of power to develop arises.

That can cause a dangerous trance like state where those who are on watch miss dangerous threats that develop from time to time (You Are Here).

You might want to read a similar post (Comparing a Meme Complex to a Cultural Amygdala).

On the cultural trance of deniers ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A New Potential Source for Toxins of Power: Wireless Signals

CQ CQ CQ Wx-104 Got your ears on?
Regular readers here at Toxins of Power Blog know that I look high and low for sources of the Toxins of Power (About Toxins Of Power).

This includes memes, microbes, viruses, memory corruption, and even meteorites (you name it and I search it out).

Today, I announce several new potential sources for those wily rascals that generate toxins of power.

Before getting into the wireless hypothesis, remember that molecular (chemical) signalling, messaging, and/or communication has been considered here before (see e.g. Microbial Hermeneutics, 2).

To move into the additional wireless signalling aspect of communication, let's begin by first checking out a Dredd Blog post which furnishes the following information:
It is well accepted that all objects, whether living or nonliving, are continuously generating electromagnetic fields (EMFs) due to the thermal agitation of their particles that possess charges. Interest in EMFs as alternative forms of cell-to-cell communication can be traced back to at least the second decade of the 20th century. Interactions between EMFs and biosystems have been intensively studied for over a century and a quantitative understanding of many interaction mechanisms exists, There is much evidence that biological processes can be induced or modulated by induction of light of characteristic frequencies.

Recently, distant interactions between mammalian cells through EMF coupling have been shown. Distant (non-chemical) interaction in biosystems is not limited to interactions at the cellular level. Biosystem interaction has been reported at the level of plants, insects and other biosystems.

In 1997 Cosic proposed that there is a resonant interaction between macromolecules that plays an essential role in their bioactivity. The key point of Cosic's finding is the assignment of specific spectral electromagnetic (EM) characteristics of proteins to their specific biological function. Proteins with common biological functionality are known to share one significant peak, called the Consensus Frequency, which is acknowledged to represent the region responsible for the biological functionality. Bio-molecules with the same biological characteristics recognize and bio-attach to themselves when their valence electrons oscillate and then reverberate in an electromagnetic field. Protein interactions can be considered as resonant energy transfer between the interacting molecules. In simple words each protein and biomolecule has its fingerprint electromagnetic characteristics that can be used for its identification. In living systems long-range electromagnetic fields exchange messages across a distance because of matching emissions and absorption spectra. Non-resonating, unwanted random signals are excluded simply because they do not resonate.
The chemical mode of communication [between and among microbes] is the best studied of all. Nevertheless, bacteria also use electromagnetic signals as part of sophisticated signaling [systems] that function over distances that are substantially larger than cellular dimensions (which are the order of one to a few micrometers). The following descriptions focus mainly on the investigations in the area of electromagnetically mediated communication of microorganisms.

Research into the electromagnetically mediated communication of microbes started immediately after the discovery of mitogenetic radiation (MR) by Alexander Gurvitch in the 1920s. His observation stimulated early research, which led to over 500 publications on the ability of information exchange by means of electromagnetic fields between micro-organisms.
(On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 11, quoting science journals). This means that molecular, chemical communication or the corruption of that molecular, chemical communication between and/or among cells within the human microbiome is not the only potential source of miscommunication --a potential source of "toxins."

Today, I want to focus on a hypothesis I conjured up circa 1994, which is that human brain cells use wireless communication at certain junctures (synapses) within the brain circuitry system.

That is, the human brain circuitry has a wireless component at or in the synapses, which is in addition to the molecular, chemical communication components at or in the synapses.

These hypothetical wireless components are in addition to the known molecular, chemical communication that is conducted between human cells and microbes within our human bodies.

Over the past few years we have already considered, as potential toxin sources, the molecular, chemical communication (or miscommunication) between and/or among microbial and human cells in our bodies.

Wireless communication is the new potential source that we are contemplating today, as well as the potential for corruption of those wireless signals.
Figure 1: Synaptic communication

First, as a contemplative example, imagine that human brain synapses have wireless modules, in addition to the chemical, molecular modules which facilitate communication.

Figure 1, to the right, illustrates synaptic locations - (click to enlarge).

In future posts the construct of those wireless modules will be discussed in more detail.

A closer look at the known chemical, molecular communications, as well as the hypothetical wireless communications that take place in the brain, at synapses, is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: chemical-molecular & wireless signals

The Figure 2 graphic shows the traditional, comparatively slow molecular, chemical communications within the human brain synapse, as well as the hypothesized practically instant communication by wireless, photon signals which are also sent and received in the same synapses in the human brain.

Some cognition in the human brain takes place far too fast and too efficiently for it to be a system composed solely of waiting for slow chemical transfers to take place at synapses.

Therefore, the hypothesis goes, there is also electromagnetic wireless communication which takes place at the speed of light (because the components of that communication, photons, only travel at the speed of light).

If bacteria and viruses can do some wireless communication for efficiency and immediacy, human brain cells must handle at least the most urgent communication in the same or similar wireless fashion don't you think?

Wireless signalling takes place orders of magnitude faster and more efficiently than chemical, molecular communication can take place.

Further, since photons are orders of magnitude smaller that molecules, far less material (matter) is required for wireless communication.

Next, to address the issue of toxins in this process, consider that our civilization's communication system could be disrupted by, for example, CME bursts from the Sun (Coronal Mass Ejection).

That phenomenon tends to disrupt communications (wireless, etc.) between and/or among electronic devices on Earth, including orbiting satellites (ibid).

Disruption and/or corruption of communication can also take place in our brains when viruses, microbes and/or other cells (including brain cells), are conducting wireless communication.

In closing this first post of this series, I want to be clear and emphasize that viral and microbial communication with human cells is not conducted at human brain synapses.

Only human brain cell to human brain cell (neuron to neuron) signalling is being considered in the synapse to synapse depiction and discussion.

Wireless virus and microbe communication would seem to be done in an entirely different location and manner that at synapses.

Thus, we can focus on the origin of toxins of power in this context as arising in the area where hypothesized signal corruption or disruption would take place, which is at or in the synapses of human brain cells.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Comparing a Meme Complex to a Cultural Amygdala

"98% of Reasoning is Subconscious"
In past posts on this blog, discussions have considered the hypothesis of a meme complex (e.g. The Territorial Realm of Toxins of Power).

Similarly. a hypothesis of a cultural amygdala has been advanced (e.g. Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala).

A meme complex is an analytical tool like Freud's ego, id, and superego in the sense of not being associated with physical brain parts such as the lobes, medula oblongata, or amygdala (Wikipedia Human Brain). 

The "cultural amygdala" is a notion of physical brain circuits that attach to and extend from the physical amygdala, but it operates like a meme complex in many ways.

The definition or description of a meme complex should help:
A set of mutually-assisting memes which have co-evolved a symbiotic relationship. Religious and political dogmas, social movements, artistic styles, traditions and customs, chain letters, paradigms, languages, etc. are meme-complexes. Also called an m-plex, or scheme (Hofstadter). Types of co-memes commonly found in a scheme are called the: bait; hook; threat; and vaccime. A successful scheme commonly has certain attributes: wide scope (a paradigm that explains much); opportunity for the carriers to participate and contribute; conviction of its self-evident truth (carries Authority); offers order and a sense of place, helping to stave off the dread of meaninglessness. (Wheelis, quoted by Hofstadter.)
(Memetic Lexicon). One church has memes, ideas, and dogmas that differ from those of another church, yet some of the memes, ideas, and dogmas of both churches can be the same or quite similar.

The differences may be in degree or in kind, depending on which culture, nation, or society the meme complex or church is located.

The meme complex or cultural amygdala of a group of athiests in India is going to vary in degree and in kind with a meme complex or cultural amygdala of Christian Baptists in Mississippi, U.S.A.

Both the concept of a meme complex and the concept of a cultural amygdala invite the notion of a sub-entity such as a sub-meme-complex and a sub-cultural-amygdala.

An example of an overall or super-meme-complex would be "Baptists" while some sub-meme-complexes within it would be "English Baptists," and "American Baptists":
Baptists are individuals who comprise a group of denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and that it must be done by complete immersion (as opposed to affusion or sprinkling). Other tenets of Baptist churches include soul competency (liberty), salvation through faith alone, scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice, and the autonomy of the local congregation. Baptists recognize two ministerial offices, pastors and deacons. Baptist churches are widely considered to be Protestant churches, though some Baptists disavow this identity.

Diverse from their beginning, those identifying as Baptists today differ widely from one another in what they believe, how they worship, their attitudes toward other Christians, and their understanding of what is important in Christian discipleship.
(Wikipedia, Baptists, emphasis added). That description or definition includes the adjectives "diverse" and "differ," which applies equally well to political concepts such as "conservative" and "liberal."

The adage "it takes a village to raise a child" could apply, the village being the meme complex or cultural amygdala circuits, the "child" being a meme or circuit.

What is important about this, is that our brains are different as a result of the culture -- that "village" -- in which we grow from childhood into adulthood:
Progressives tend to believe that democracy is based on citizens caring for their fellow citizens through what the government provides for all citizens — public infrastructure, public safety, public education, public health, publicly-sponsored research, public forms of recreation and culture, publicly-guaranteed safety nets for those who need them, and so on. In short, progressives believe that the private depends on the public, that without those public provisions Americans cannot be free to live reasonable lives and to thrive in private business. They believe that those who make more from public provisions should pay more to maintain them.

Ultra-conservatives don’t believe this. They believe that Democracy gives them the liberty to seek their own self-interests by exercising personal responsibility, without having responsibility for anyone else or anyone else having responsibility for them. They take this as a matter of morality. They see the social responsibility to provide for the common good as an immoral imposition on their liberty.
(Alternet - Lakoff). Those two meme complexes joust for power as people within each of those cultures develop different memes and different cultural amygdala circuitry:
Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.
(What Orwell Didn't Know, see this also). The sub-entities are like clouds that take on various shapes and changes as the wind blows them along, mixing together at the edges from time to time, bending, morphing, and being reshaped down through history and down through one's lifetime.

I also mentioned similarities among meme complexes and cultural amygdalas, because some of those similarities are areas that deserve major consideration and contemplation:
Even more specifically, we have been looking at the dynamics involved when the citizenry sees the government as a parental figure.

That may sound strange to those who have not read up on it, but according to those who labor in this realm, as professors and social scientists, it is generally understood to be a real cultural phenomenon:
Have you ever noticed how many "family" words are associated with the concept of "nation" in literature, politics, and government?

A quick check of a few relevant metaphors (forefathers, father of the constitution, Uncle Sam, motherland, fatherland, homeland, father of the nation, founding fathers, mother of the nation, family of nations, etc.) makes me want to look at perhaps the key source-metaphor for this notion:
... a common metaphor, shared by conservatives and liberals alike -- the Nation-as-Family metaphor, in which the nation is seen as a family, the government as a parent and the citizens as children ...
(The Nation-as-Family Metaphor). To expand upon this concept a bit, consider these comments:
It’s no accident that our political beliefs are structured by our idealizations of the family. Our earliest experience with being governed is in our families. Our parents “govern” us: They protect us, tell us what we can and cannot do, make sure we have enough money and supplies, educate us, and have us do our part in running the house.

So it is not at all surprising that many nations are metaphorically seen in terms of families: Mother Russia, Mother India, the Fatherland. In America, we have founding fathers, Daughters of the American Revolution, Uncle Sam, and we send our collective sons and daughters to war. In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the voice of the totalitarian state was called Big Brother.

As George Lakoff discussed at length in his 1996 book, Moral Politics, this metaphorical understanding of the nation-as-family directly informs our political worldview. Directly, but not consciously. As with other aspects of framing, the use of this metaphor lies below the level of consciousness.
(Security: Familyland, Fatherland, or Homeland?). When the government evolves in a direction from left to right, the citizenry will in general also have that tendency.
(Security: Familyland, Fatherland, or Homeland? - 2). Using that metaphor we can think of the nation as the super-cultural-amygdala, super-meme-complex, or village.

That super-entity contains within itself both political diversity (progressive, conservative) and religious diversity (Northern Baptists, Southern Baptists).

Those can be thought of as a sub-meme-complex or sub-cultural-amygdala.

Ideas, feelings, and behaviors of different degrees or kinds are at work in each of those "super-" and "sub-" structural entities.

How does that relate to the toxins of power?

It is instructive to remember that pathogens work as a sub-group within a host:
Quorum sensing is the regulation of gene expression in response to fluctuations in cell-population density. Quorum sensing bacteria produce and release chemical signal molecules called autoinducers that increase in concentration as a function of cell density. The detection of a minimal threshold stimulatory concentration of an autoinducer leads to an alteration in gene expression. Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria use quorum sensing communication circuits to regulate a diverse array of physiological activities. These processes include symbiosis, virulence, competence, conjugation, antibiotic production, motility, sporulation, and biofilm formation. In general, Gram-negative bacteria use acylated homoserine lactones as autoinducers, and Gram-positive bacteria use processed oligo-peptides to communicate. Recent advances in the field indicate that cell-cell communication via autoinducers occurs both within and between bacterial species. Furthermore, there is mounting data suggesting that bacterial autoinducers elicit specific responses from host organisms. Although the nature of the chemical signals, the signal relay mechanisms, and the target genes controlled by bacterial quorum sensing systems differ, in every case the ability to communicate with one another allows bacteria to coordinate the gene expression, and therefore the behavior, of the entire community. Presumably, this process bestows upon bacteria some of the qualities of higher organisms. The evolution of quorum sensing systems in bacteria could, therefore, have been one of the early steps in the development of multicellularity.
(Microbial Hermeneutics). Biological pathogens are ineffective alone, so they must work together via communication to accomplish group tasks.

Meme complexes, cultures, and nations work the same way in the sense of working together via communication.

For toxins of power to generate corruption, the relevant communication system must be corrupted in some way (see e.g. On the Origin of Propaganda).

Those who sit in the seats of power need to be aware of the destructiveness of  deceit and dishonesty, both to themselves and to those they serve, because it robs the group of some degree of an awareness of reality, hence, it injects dementia memes into the relevant meme complex or false circuitry into the cultural amygdala (see e.g. Etiology of Social Dementia).

These concepts are likely to be helpful for implementing the hope that Freud foresaw but could not develop in his own lifetime:
If the evolution of civilization has such a far reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization——or epochs of it——possibly even the whole of humanity——have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends? To analytic dissection of these neuroses, therapeutic recommendations might follow which could claim a great practical interest. I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness. But it behooves us to be very careful, not to forget that after all we are dealing only with analogies, and that it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to drag them out of the region where they originated and have matured. The diagnosis of collective neuroses, moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty. In the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment which we assume to be normal. No such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way. And with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses power to compel the community to adopt the therapy? In spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities. [p. 39]
Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this——hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension. [p. 40]
(MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact - 5). Further discussion of this subject matter will continue in future posts (e.g. cf. Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala). 

George Lakoff: How Brains Think (5:34 "... you can only understand what the neural circuitry in your brain allows you to understand ... you can't understand just anything ...and this particularly is the case in political reasoning ... but it's true in many other things as well ...")