Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power - 4

In the previous post of this series, concerning The Hypothesis at issue, we considered prions as a source for the toxins of power.

In this post I will condense The Hypothesis down a bit, by eliminating prions as a source of the toxins of power.

In so doing, I will refine The Hypothesis so that now The Hypothesis is that either phages impair microbes, or that microbes malfunction individually without phage impairment, to generate a toxin of power.

That is, either one of those two specified dynamics are to be considered as a source for the generation of a toxin of power.

Not only that, The Hypothesis is further condensed to state that a toxin of power is generated in one or both of these processes, within either symbiont or non-symbiont microbes, by way of "bad messaging" during common, constantly ongoing, human - microbe communications.

Prions are properly eliminated from The Hypothesis because the impairments prions cause in humans are too deadly, and are very rare.

Likewise, consideration of prions as a source of the toxins of power would not comport well with the facts that have been set forth previously, concerning memes in memory.

Those facts, concerning memes in memory, basically describe "non-toxic ideas" that somehow morph into "toxic concepts", while stored in memory.

Remembering also that the morph of an idea is not fatal to the person it takes place in (at least in the sense we are concerned with in The Hypothesis); remembering that the morph of memes in memory do not cause physical impairment (in the sense we are concerned with in The Hypothesis); and finally, remembering that prions do cause fatality and/or do cause grave physical impairment as a matter of course, we can now properly leave prions out of The Hypothesis.

Further, prion diseases such as kuru cannot be neutralized with behavior of the sort set forth in Tables For Toxins In Power, which immunizes the host from a toxin of power for a limited time.

Thus, prions are hereby eliminated from further consideration in The Hypothesis as valid sources for the toxins of power.

What we end up with, then, is a hypothesis that the toxins of power work more like a moderately wild storm that comes and goes, leaving a temporarily modified mental and/or emotional scenario in its wake, rather than utter destruction.

The most likely place for commensurate intensity in such a storm, which would result in an altered meme landscape stored in memory, is in the microbes that have an effect on the conditions within the amygdala during messaging.

Those microbes that are in constant communication with human brain cell systems and/or microbes signaling the amygdala, and elsewhere, do not operate as a constant attack to kill, maim, and destroy them, as prions tend to do in their environment.

That is, I do not see the source of the toxins of power as a dedicated pathogen, but rather, I see it as a temporary malfunction in an otherwise non-pathogenic process within ongoing, common human - microbe communications:
Scientists originally expected that the communication between animals and their symbiotic bacteria would form its own molecular language. But McFall-Ngai, an expert on animal-microbe symbiosis, says that she and other scientists have instead found beneficial relationships involving some of the same chemical messages that had been discovered previously in pathogens. Many bacterial products that had been termed “virulence factors” or “toxins” turn out to not be inherently offensive signals; they are just part of the conversation between microbe and host. The difference between our interaction with harmful and helpful bacteria, she says, is not so much like separate languages as it is a change in tone: “It’s the difference between an argument and a civil conversation.” We are in constant communication with our microbes, and the messages are broadcast throughout the human body.
(On The New Meaning of "Human"). Let's review, then, what we have to work with, what we have constructed so far.

Like the germ hypothesis, which became the germ theory, our first observation starts at the "highest" level: someone noticing something not noticed before.

In the toxins of power context, it began when someone noticed that people exposed to power are affected by exposure to that power.

Next comes the voicing of that observation, as Lord Acton did, but also as James Madison did, so that others can begin further observations.

Notice how detailed James Madison's observations were:
01) war (generates anti-freedom germs):
02) war (is parent of):
03) armies (that generate):
04) war-debts, war-taxes (which bring):
05) many (99%) under domination of few (1%);
06) executive power surge;
07) seducing the minds (propaganda);
08) subduing the force of the people;
09) inequality of fortunes;
10) opportunities of fraud;
11) degeneracy of manners and morals;
12) (and eventually) end of freedom.
(See Greatest Source of Power Toxins?). These are detailed observations made by great statesmen, then written down in the history textbooks for our perusal.

Notice that in his quote from the link above, James Madison uses the language of medical diagnosis of an infection which a doctor might use.

By indicating that war generates "the germ" of many social infections, which are the origin of many social maladies that destroy freedom, James Madison reveals symptoms like a disease emerging from a state of war between nations.

Actually, he warns us to carefully and deliberately avoid such events, because they could lead to an epidemic, which would remove the freedom from any free nation exposed to it for too long, to eventually replace that freedom with tyranny.

These observations of these great statesmen may have, at first, originated from "a gut feeling".

Competent microbiologists today are not afraid to consider and express "a gut feeling", even in the highly sophisticated research associated with human - microbe symbiosis:
"My gut feeling is that some aspects of this process are unique to M. gryphiswaldense and not generalizable to all magnetotactic bacteria ..."
(Microbiologist Arash Komeili, Scientific American, 12/15/11). But such "gut feelings" early on in high level observations need to be later confirmed by related, yet deeper observations.

In the case of microbes being involved in human maladies, by either direct microbe malfunction, or by phage-induced microbe malfunction, that deeper observation is not beyond ultimate scientific discovery, even when it is just out of reach at first:
Current knowledge is insufficient to explain why only a proportion of individuals exposed to environmental carcinogens or carrying a genetic predisposition to cancer develop disease. Clearly, other factors must be important, and one such element that has recently received attention is the human microbiome, the residential microbes including Bacteria, Archaea, Eukaryotes, and viruses that colonize humans. Here, we review principles and paradigms of microbiome - related malignancy, as illustrated by three specific microbial - host interactions. We review the effects of the microbiota on local and adjacent neoplasia, present the estro-bolome model of distant effects, and discuss the complex interactions with a latent virus leading to malignancy. These are separate facets of a complex biology interfacing all the microbial species we harbor from birth onward toward early reproductive success and eventual senescence.
(Microbiome and Malignancy, Cell - Host & Microbe Journal, PDF is here). Even the varied aspects of cancer, in terms of developing or not developing cancer, are now considered within the context of the "human - microbe ecosystem".

Thus, we should move forward to put The Hypothesis through the tests necessary to allow it to mature into a theory, or fail.

For too long of a time now we have known that Microbes R US, and for too long of a time now, toxins of power have had their way with us.

The previous episode of this series is here, the next post in this series is here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?

We don't often reflect upon the reality that our "knowledge" is either faith based or trust based, which fundamentally constitutes nothing more than the essence of "belief".

Since the secular and non-secular worlds are supposed to be utterly different from one another, for the secular realm such as science, let's call that belief "trust", and for the non-secular realm such as religion, let's call that belief "faith".

Whatever words we use, the essence of "belief" boils down to a dependence on other people, a belief in what other people write or say they know, as the real basis for what we call "our knowledge".

There is a substantial amount of discourse and debate, in some circles, about the impact that this reality should or should not have on us:
"I find myself believing all sorts of things for which I do not possess evidence: that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, that my car keeps stalling because the carburetor needs to be rebuild, that mass media threaten democracy, that slums cause emotional disorders, that my irregular heart beat is premature ventricular contraction, that students' grades are not correlated with success in the nonacademic world, that nuclear power plants are not safe (enough) ...

The list of things I believe, though I have no evidence for the truth of them, is, if not infinite, virtually endless. And I am finite. Though I can readily imagine what I would have to do to obtain the evidence that would support any one of my beliefs, I cannot imagine being able to do this for all of my beliefs. I believe too much; there is too much relevant evidence (much of it available only after extensive, specialized training); intellect is too small and life too short.

What are we as epistemologists to say about all these beliefs? If I, without the available evidence, nevertheless believe a proposition, are my belief and I in that belief necessarily irrational or non-rational? Is my belief then mere belief (Plato's right opinion)? If not, why not? Are there other good reasons for believing propositions, reasons which do not reduce to having evidence for the truth of those propositions? What would these reasons look like?

In this paper I want to consider the idea of intellectual authority, particularly that of experts. I want to explore the 'logic' or epistemic structure of an appeal to intellectual authority and the way in which such an appeal constitutes justification for believing and knowing.
(Epistemic Dependence, by John Hardwick, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 82, No. 7, July. 1985). A problem arises when we rely on experts in a situation where those experts disagree with one another, even on the same set of facts:
"Alvin Goldman has criticized the idea that, when evaluating the opinions of experts who disagree, a novice should 'go by the numbers'. Although Goldman is right that this is often a bad idea, his argument involves an appeal to a principle, which I call the non-independence principle, which is not in general true. Goldman's formal argument for this principle depends on an illegitimate assumption, and the examples he uses to make it seem
intuitively plausible are not convincing. The failure of this principle has significant implications, not only for the issue Goldman is directly addressing, but also for the epistemology of rumors, and for our understanding of the value of epistemic independence. I conclude by using the economics literature on information cascades to highlight an important truth which Goldman's principle gestures toward, and by mounting a qualified defense of the practice of going by the numbers."
(When Experts Disagree, by David Coady, Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2006). This is an ancient problem which has been handled in different ways that result in divergent solution paths, but with no absolute conclusions.

This blog has discussed the issue of how our jurisprudence deals with conflicting expert testimony in the post Why Trial By Jury?, how experts can be very wrong in the post What Is Pseudo Science? (cf. The Appendix of Vestigial Textbooks), and Dredd Blog has discussed "scientific faith" in various contexts in the post Heretics Deny The Dark Matter of Faith.

The bottom line is that none of us, whether scientists or religionists, should get arrogant about our beliefs to the point of exalting "our knowledge" over the "knowledge" of others.

Instead, we should always remember that expert or non-expert material we rely on does not give us actual, direct knowledge of the vast majority of subjects we deal with:
"Knowledge is invariably a matter of degree: you cannot put your finger upon even the simplest datum and say 'this we know.'"
(T.S. Eliot). The danger of reliance on the seats of power for knowledge is the essence of Toxins of Power Blog posts:
"Events in my life caused me to start questioning my goals and the correctness of everything I had learned. In matters of religion, medicine, biology, physics, and other fields, I came to discover that reality differed seriously from what I had been taught. As a result of this questioning process, I was startled to realize how much of my 'knowledge' was indeed questionable."
(Dr. Thomas C Van Flandern). So, on this blog you will see the words "hypothesis" and "theory" used often, in place of an assertion of absolute knowledge.

It's A Matter of Trust, by Billy Joel

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power - 3

by Leonhard Kern
In this series we have been discussing the source, or the origin, of the toxins of power.

If such toxins do in fact exist, where do they originate, how then do they make their way into the thinking, whether conscious or subconscious, of a person in power, and how do they then affect the thinking of that person in power?

We began this current series at the level of microbes, specifically human - microbe symbiosis (microbes within humans).

Then we zeroed in on phages and prions, to get a bit closer, because microbes are much larger than those viruses that impact them.

So we looked closer and deeper, down all the way to prions and phages in the Toxins of Power Blog post Are Toxins of Power Machines or Organisms?

Those prions and phages may be tinier than microbes, but still they pack quite a punch.

In the case of prions, they can and do cause major damage; for example they cause what we call "mad cow disease".

It would be tempting to stop there to remark that "mad cow disease" and dysfunctional politicians in power are very similar, so prions must be the source of toxins of power.

Yet, we can dispense with that populism and focus on actual data, because we have an example to work with, an example of a specific dementia in humans caused by prions.

That human dementia is called "kuru":
Kuru is an extremely rare form of dementia ... like ... mad cow disease ... [it] was the first transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (prion disease) discovered in humans ... involved eating the brain of the dead to show respect in mourning.
(Health Central, Kuru). We can conclude (since prions cause that dementia, and since those prions get into a person by that person's eating of the brain of their human ancestor) as follows:
1) prions are inside human brains,

2) prions survive some adverse conditions (cooking),

3) prions survive the human digestive system (acids),

4) prions somehow become reactivated thereafter,

5) prions morph then affect the new host human brain,

6) in a seriously damaging way,

7) causing a specific dementia.
The first question that came to my mind was "why didn't those prions cause dementia in the ancestor" before the ancestor died, and a descendant ate the brain?

That question was answered by further review of the research into kuru:
A common coding polymorphism at codon 129 of the prion protein gene (PRNP), where either methionine (M) or valine (V) may be encoded, is a strong susceptibility factor for human prion diseases.
(New England Journal of Medicine, emphasis added). The answer, then, is that the prions must go through a morph, a change, that is, polymorphism, before they induce dementia.

Thus, let's modify the hypothesis of this series, at least for this post, to say that "Prions Generate Toxins of Power", and use the dynamics of kuru dementia to lay the foundation.

We see by the kuru example that the morph can take place with physical ingestion.

We have seen with other examples, prior to this series, when we looked at the morph of memes taking place within the brain, that memetic morph can take place without physical ingestion (see A Structure RE: Corruption of Memes - 3).

For example, if we say that Stockholm Syndrome is a form of dementia, then we know that some dementia can be caused without alien prion incursion into the brain.

That is, a person can contract Stockholm Syndrome without external, physical influence in the form of ingesting foreign prions, because that syndrome manifests internally by way of psychological shock to human cognition.

Let's conclude by considering the hypothesis that the influence of power causes some prions to go through polymorphism, which negatively impacts the human cells or symbiont microbes that those prions thereafter invade, causing a domino effect beginning with brain cells or microbe symbionts, which thereafter affects the thinking of the person in power.

This is not a stretch, because even as we blog, damage to prions, phages, or microbes themselves is resulting in a change in behavior to certain fungi microbes that are, as a result, destroying amphibians worldwide:
The crisis of global amphibian extinctions is profound, it is changing ecological systems in ways that we barely understand, and it is teaching us painful lessons about research and conservation. Amid all of the horrible environmental insults we inflict upon the planet’s biodiversity, Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog did not disappear in the wild because of overharvest for food, pets, or science, and we cannot lay the blame on familiar threats such as deforestation, climate change or environmental pollution. The culprit was emerging infectious disease. Amphibian chytridiomycosis is capable of directly eradicating otherwise large and stable populations and directly causing extinction of species that are otherwise unthreatened.

Amphibian chytridiomycosis is a disease caused by the recently discovered chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.
(Lessons of The Lost, emphasis added). Amphibians have co-existed with fungi microbes for millions of years, so this all-of-a-sudden change in those microbes has very recent polymorphism of a bad sort as its source or origin.

If this were to happen to a symbiont microbe species in humans, then we could expect an adverse impact on human cognition.

If a future post we will look at ways that could take place, using the Lakoff model.

That model includes the embodied thinking metaphor, which ties nicely into the recent microbiology discoveries that some microbes within us are symbiont to us.

Noting the power microbes have to do significant chemistry, and impose on the "constantly changing brain", we can easily develop this part of the hypothesis into a working dynamic model.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Example Of An Antitoxin - 2

In the first post of this series, we showed an example of what the 99% must do to curtail the oppression of the 1%, beginning with standing up for human rights.

We have also expressed that the sentiments of Karl Marx, as well as the sentiments of Americans who feel that the 99% can overcome the 1%, will not pan out.

The Dredd Blog system disagreed with them in the post The Impact of The Toxins of Power on Evolution, not because we don't identify with the 99% (we do), but because the American system is now a plutocracy with a plutonomy that plunders the 99%, and too many of the 99% suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.

At the same time we hope we are wrong about that.

The effects of the toxins of power are obvious sometimes, so even though this blog ponders various ideas about how corruption of power takes place at the microscopic and cognitive levels, at the same we realize that oppression is out in the open for all to see.

Make no mistake about it, we have to keep a focus on the wrongs that allowed the 1% to complete the coup, to plunder America, and thereafter harm the populace.

Likewise, those who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, who think that the military produces our freedoms, are ill advised.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are Toxins of Power Machines or Organisms?

Bacteriophage T4
In the ongoing discussion concerning microbes, specifically human - microbe symbiosis, we have considered the part that symbiosis might play in the concept of "toxins of power".

Now seems like a good time to pause to go into a deeper focus, down beyond microbes, down into a deeper look into the universe of tiny things smaller than microbes.

So, today we will focus on "microbial viruses", the "virus" world that impacts only microbes.

"Viruses" are "viruses" except where microbes are concerned, in which case we encounter instead the words "prions" and "phages", which can equate to microbe infectors.

Even though these are tiny entities that are much, much smaller than the unseen world of the much larger microbe, they have a major impact on microbes, because they infect microbes in various ways.

The drawing shown in this post is of a "Bacteriophage T4" virus particle, an entity discussed in principle and more at length below.

Another valid reason to do this pause, so as to consider phages and prions instead of microbes exclusively, is because we know that the great bulk and majority of microbes are helpful, even essential to life, rather than being a danger to life.

That includes human life.

But since prions and phages are not of the same ilk, in that they are primarily mischievous, let's insert them into the hypothesis we are formulating to consider the origin of the toxins of power.

But first, let's briefly focus on the theory of the evolution of elements, called Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, a span of time when the first elements are said to have been formed.

Following that short period of time, the first "machines", which are more complicated compositions of various basic elements, called molecules, are said to have been formed.

Then cells are said to have developed from those molecular machines:
"Our cells, and the cells of all organisms, are composed of molecular machines. These machines are built of component parts, each of which contributes a partial function or structural element to the machine. How such sophisticated, multi-component machines could evolve has been somewhat mysterious, and highly controversial." Professor Lithgow said.
(Putting A Face On Machine Mutation, emphasis added). But perhaps even before that, prions and phages developed, because there is ongoing debate as to whether or not they are living or non-living (i.e. machine or organism):
When is a life form not a life form? When it's a virus.

Viruses are strange things that straddle the fence between living and non-living. On the one hand, if they're floating around in the air or sitting on a doorknob, they're inert. They're about as alive as a rock. But if they come into contact with a suitable plant, animal or bacterial cell, they spring into action. They infect and take over the cell like pirates hijacking a ship.
(Microbe World). The controversy over viruses has stark contrasts which can be applied to prions and phages too:
Viruses are a curious lot. The standard drawing of the tree of life, the one you find on the inside back cover of biology textbooks, is divided into three branches: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya. Viruses don’t make it onto the page.

That makes sense, some scientists argue, because they’re not alive. They can’t reproduce on their own; they require the cozy environment of living cells for their survival. Others disagree. Not only are viruses alive, they say, but genetic evidence indicates that they may have been the first forms of life on Earth, predating cellular life.
(Astrobiology). So, some scientists believe that viruses, which are more machine like, came before organic cellular life, which makes more sense to me, in terms of a logical sequence.

That theoretical sequence would then be:
1) neutrons & protons, 2) elements (atoms), 3) molecules, 4) complex molecules ("molecular machines") like the prion, 5) phages, 6) more complex viruses, then 7) single cell organisms.
That sequence would move from the very simple, to slightly more complex, then on to very complex, so it would appear to be a more logical sequence.

Our "Bacteriophage T4", shown in the drawing at the top of the post, which does sorta look machine-like anyway, would fit into sequence #4 or sequence #5.

Microbes would fit into sequence #7, thus the answer to the question, in the title of this post, depends on whether phages generate the toxins or whether microbes do so.

Whether or not viruses, phages, or toxins of power are considered to be machine or organism, in the upcoming development of the hypothesis, we will also consider prions and phages when we consider ideas about the toxins of power.

A scientific paper published in Science contains this abstract:
The processes responsible for the evolution of key innovations, whereby lineages acquire qualitatively new functions that expand their ecological opportunities, remain poorly understood. We examined how a virus, bacteriophage λ, evolved to infect its host, Escherichia coli, through a novel pathway. Natural selection promoted the fixation of mutations in the virus’s host-recognition protein, J, that improved fitness on the original receptor, LamB, and set the stage for other mutations that allowed infection through a new receptor, OmpF. These viral mutations arose after the host evolved reduced expression of LamB, whereas certain other host mutations prevented the phage from evolving the new function. This study shows the complex interplay between genomic processes and ecological conditions that favor the emergence of evolutionary innovations.
(Repeatability and Contingency, Science, Jan. 2012, italics added). There is an entire unknown world out there upon which to base our belief system.

Various non-life machines like prions, phages, and viruses can also be symbiont to humans and other species to help them survive:
If not for a virus, none of us would ever be born.
T4 in "living" color

In 2000, a team of Boston scientists discovered a peculiar gene in the human genome. It encoded a protein made only by cells in the placenta. They called it syncytin.
What made syncytin peculiar was that it was not a human gene. It bore all the hallmarks of a gene from a virus.

Viruses have insinuated themselves into the genome of our ancestors for hundreds of millions of years.
It turned out that syncytin was not unique to humans. Chimpanzees had the same virus gene at the same spot in their genome. So did gorillas. So did monkeys. What’s more, the gene was strikingly similar from one species to the next.
(Discover). While that may complicate things, in the sense that it is more controversial to contemplate non-living machines doing things critical for living things, nevertheless, it emphasizes the importance of microbes and even smaller entities in terms of what we need for survival on this planet.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power - 2

Regular readers of Toxins of Power blog probably also read other websites or blogs that deal with the issue of "corrupting power".

We note that Psychology Today, no piker by any means, purported to answer the question about how what we call "power" corrupts leaders in office.

But that article, which we reference and link to below, never attempts to even define "power", rather, it only goes through a reasoning process that bifurcates "power" into "social" power contrasted with "personal" power.

That Psychology Today article goes on to state that even though the answer to the question "why and how does power corrupt leaders?" is complex, it is nevertheless "fairly clear":
The answer is complex, but fairly clear. Leadership is at its core all about power and influence. Leaders use their power to get things done. A simple distinction is between two forms of power. Socialized power is power used to benefit others. We hope that our elected officials have this sort of power in mind and are primarily concerned with the best interests of their constituents.

The other form of power is called personalized power, and it is using power for personal gain.
(Psychology Today, emphasis added). That article goes on to say that leaders can also become "intoxicated" by power, which implies a toxic element, a toxin of power, without further explaining the notion of a toxin that "intoxicates".

Meanwhile, the Toxins of Power blog has continually attempted to answer the question: "why does power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely?", and we have tried to do so in multiple ways.

We have even alluded to a possible "mystical" aspect of the notion of "power", as well as toxins of power, but we never stopped there just because sometimes the type of "power" that corrupts humans may sometimes seem to be a "mysterious" notion.

No, we plod along, and we recently began a series where we postulate that, in light of recent microbiology research, perhaps microbes are players in forming those "hard to figure" toxins of power.

In the previous post of this series, it was determined that:
In the next post of this series we will review the impact that pollution has on the environment, specifically on microbes, then tie that data into the hypothesis.

From there we can follow the domino effect that pollution could have on microbial performance.

Moving on from there, in light of these recent discoveries set forth above, we can follow the impact on symbiont microbes on to potential impact on our human cognition.

That is, we will move from potential impact in general on toward the impact on specific symbiont microbes that could cause, in turn, specific behavior impacting the generation of toxins of power.
(Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power). It doesn't take long to determine that anthropogenic pollution, at least in terms of environmental pollution outside of the human-microbe symbiotic community, is difficult to isolate as a participant in the development of toxins of power.

If we look back into human history, back to the first empires such as Egypt or Akkad, we can clearly see what we could identify as corruption by power caused by the toxins of power, but we can't find the massive, destructive episodes of environmental pollution that endangers civilization on a massive scale like we have in today's world.

So, at a macro level it would seem, at least at first blush, that any microbial participation in the production of the toxins of power is innate to the symbiotic relationship itself, whether generated primarily by human cells, by microbial cells, or by both in concert.

This general conclusion is supported by recent experimental evidence:
We therefore studied the expression of these genes in the frontal cortex, striatum, amygdala, and hippocampus of GF and SPF mice, by means of in situ hybridization technique. In GF mice, NGFI-A mRNA expression was significantly lower in various subregions of the prefrontal cortex, including the orbital frontal cortex (Fig. 4 A and A′); as well as in the striatum (GF vs. SPF: 329 ± 33 vs. 586 ± 18, P < 0.0001), hippocampus (CA1 region, GF vs. SPF: 258 ± 15 vs. 499 ± 22, P < 0.0001; CA3 region, GF vs. SPF: 166 ± 13 vs. 236 ± 6, P < 0.001; dentate gyrus, GF vs. SPF: 76 ± 4 vs. 113 ± 5, P < 0.0001) and amygdala (GF vs. SPF: 126 ± 17 vs. 212 ± 19, P < 0.01) compared with SPF mice. Similarly, GF mice had significantly lower BDNF mRNA expression in the hippocampus, amygdala (Fig. 4 B and B′), and cingulate cortex (GF vs. SPF: 162 ± 6 vs. 193 ± 10, P < 0.05), which are key components of the neural circuitry underlying anxiety and fear ... Our results suggest that during evolution, the colonization of gut microbiota has become integrated into the programming of brain development, affecting motor control and anxiety-like behavior.
(National Academy of Sciences, emphasis added). These data show that when microbe free (GF) subjects are compared to the other subjects that are not microbe free, almost a doubling of relevant factors, in certain areas, occurs in the Amygdala.

That is significant to the hypothesis, because previous posts on this blog have shown the Amygdala to be a critical potential factor in the corruption by power.

Thus, we can conclude this post by noting that we have moved ever closer to identifying potential mechanisms, systems, or environments wherein toxins of power can emerge.

We can also conclude that, while massive, environmental, modern pollution could still be a factor in contributing to toxins that lead to corruption by power, that environmental pollution can not be a sole source of toxins of power, nor can it be the original source of the toxins of power on this planet, because corruption by power has been around longer than massive modern pollution has been around.

Thus, in upcoming posts, Toxins of Power blog intends to explore the issue further, keeping those conclusions in mind.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Is Pseudo Science?

There are times in history when science has become a political tool.

In such times the participants become more interested in supporting the ruling elite than in establishing independent and unbiased practices and methods with which to discern physical reality around us.

Sometimes it is the common people who practice pseudoscience but at other times, surprisingly, it is the scientific community itself that practices pseudoscience.

The development of "germ theory" is one stark example.

If you could ask Ignaz Semmelweis he just might say pseudoscience is "the kind of science that rejects the obvious, then has a violent reaction towards those who don't reject the obvious":
Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings. Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory. In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died of septicemia, at age 47.
(Ignaz Semmelweis, emphasis added). Galileo or Copernicus would have similar notions, as would modern scientists who also experienced blinding bias during their scientific careers.

Some people today think that climate scientists who declare that global warming is happening are hoaxers, that is, pseudo scientists, thus the problem:
The demarcation problem between science and pseudoscience has ethical political implications as well as philosphical and scientific issues. Differentiating science from pseudoscience has practical implications in the case of health care, expert testimony, environmental policies, and science education.
(Wikipedia). It is further illustrated by the notion of jury trials, where scientific experts will testify about their credentials, then have opposite conclusions on the same set of facts.

There are actually science police who may try to enforce absolutism, but sometimes run into problems since one man's pseudoscience is another man's science.

Most of the time the issue can be decided clearly, but not always, as with so many human endeavors.

The toxins of power do not stop at the laboratory door.

The scientist in the video below was considered, by establishment scientists, to be a heretic when she first postulated what is now considered to be basic:

Dr. Lynn Margulis:

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Dr. Lynn Margulis passed away in November of 2011 (Washington Post). She wanted a new 9/11 investigation conducted using forensic scientific methods (Architects).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power

This blog has been moving from a macro level view of toxins of power, then excavating down ever deeper and deeper, beginning with ancient concepts then moving down all the way into hot current research.

To put it another way, during this journey we have been excavating deeper, beginning from macro-level circumstantial observation, then digging downward into meme theory, and now we are going even deeper, down to the very foundations, using earth shaking recent microbiology research.

This post, today, concerns the implications of known symbiotic conditions between microbes and humans.

One implication leads to a hypothesis that this post will set forth: microbes are one suspect source for the origin of toxins of power.

(Before we move on in this post to expand upon that hypothesis, let's remember that some of us react negatively to information that would challenge what we already know.

That is why researchers, who happen to find out that our current knowledge on a given topic is in error, can have a difficult time presenting their discovery to the rest of us for validation.

Now, jumping into some macro considerations for a moment, I am aware that religionists will tend to think that the toxins of power originate with a different source, while others, whether religionists or not, may think that the hypothesis of this post violates the notions of dualism.

Let me just say that those concepts are beyond the scope of this post's hypothesis, and even if one or all of them are correct, it does not ipso facto disprove this hypothesis.

The great bulk of microbes are good for us, such as the diatoms in the graphic above, and are even essential sources of food and other necessities for life on Earth.

So, to soften the potential impact on our built-in bias this hypothesis "microbes are one suspect source for the origin of toxins of power" may have, I will start off with some quotes in order to set some parameters indicating the scope of the power of microbes.

In a recent post Toxins of Power Blog pointed out:
Single-celled microorganisms were the first forms of life to develop on Earth, approximately 3–4 billion years ago. Further evolution was slow, and for about 3 billion years in the Precambrian eon, all organisms were microscopic.


Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say. The article would imply that this interaction is beneficial to us, and thus indirectly to our microbiota, but the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity.
(A Structure RE: The Corruption of Memes, quoting, inter alia, microbiologists at The American Society of Microbiology). Note next, the quirky information about when microbes begin to have some effect on us:
The first 9 months of our existence – the time we spend in our mother's womb – is the only period of our life during which we are free of microbes. Our delivery from this parasitic existence into the outside world exposes us to an enormous range of microbes from a variety of environments – our first encounter with life forms which have an anatomy, physiology, and metabolism very different from those of our own.
(An Introduction to the Human–microbe Symbiosis). It seems strange to me that microbes are "hands off" during our embryonic phase, waiting until our mother gives birth to us before initiating symbiosis, but lets move on.

A quote from "An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective on Human–microbe Mutualism and Disease" is offered so as to quickly set one corner of the foundation of the hypothesis:
"For example, microbial symbionts that secrete molecules that inhibit host pathogens (known as pathogen interference) or detoxify compounds that harm the host can augment the lifespan and reproductive capacity of the host, thereby giving the symbionts more opportunities to spread."
(NATURE, Vol 449, p. 811, or see here, emphasis added). Our symbiont microbes fight pathogens which could cause disease in us, as if those microbes were part of what we have always considered to be our human immune system.

To that let me add that we know that microbes can do things within the realm of quantum physics:
A team of University of Toronto chemists have made a major contribution to the emerging field of quantum biology, observing quantum mechanics at work in photosynthesis in marine algae.

"There's been a lot of excitement and speculation that nature may be using quantum mechanical practices," says chemistry professor Greg Scholes, lead author of a new study published in Nature. "Our latest experiments show that normally functioning biological systems have the capacity to use quantum mechanics in order to optimize a process as essential to their survival as photosynthesis."
(Tiniest Scientists Are Very Old, emphasis added). I think we can see that it is really not a stretch to contemplate that a microbial symbiont within us has abilities to fabricate molecules, and that perhaps in so doing they have ability to resort to lower level work at the quantum physics level.

We are informed that the science concerning human-microbe symbiosis is itself embryonic, and has a great distance to go:
"Researchers have only just begun to describe the microbial communities that are associated with humans and the extent of the interactions between host and microbiota. Understanding this symbiotic ‘landscape’ will require research that spans the biological hierarchy from molecules to communities and is informed by ecological and evolutionary theory. Only with an integrated approach will it be possible to comprehend the complex ecology of human health and the many ways in which interactions between humans and microorganisms can go awry. The first step in improving our understanding is to describe the composition of microbial communities in each habitat of the human body and how this varies over time, among individuals and with respect to variables such as diet, host genotype and health status. This project is now in its early stages, with the first successful forays having laid the groundwork for more ambitious studies, such as the Human Microbiome Project."
(ibid, NATURE,p. 817). Nevertheless, the imphttp://www.pnas.org/content/108/7/3047.fullact some of these discoveries have already had ought not to be underestimated:
Several recent studies highlight remarkable examples of how a co-evolved microbiota can markedly affect host biology at the molecular level, and these findings call for a complete re-examination of human physiology and immunology. Attributes that were assumed to be human traits have been shown to result from human–microbe interactions.
(ibid, NATURE,p. 817, emphasis added). The phrase "a complete re-examination of human physiology and immunology" is earth shaking in its own right, but that earth shaking does not stop there:
Microbial colonization of mammals is an evolution-driven process that modulate host physiology, many of which are associated with immunity and nutrient intake. Here, we report that colonization by gut microbiota impacts mammalian brain development and subsequent adult behavior. Using measures of motor activity and anxiety-like behavior, we demonstrate that germ free (GF) mice display increased motor activity and reduced anxiety, compared with specific pathogen free (SPF) mice with a normal gut microbiota. This behavioral phenotype is associated with altered expression of genes known to be involved in second messenger pathways and synaptic long-term potentiation in brain regions implicated in motor control and anxiety-like behavior. GF mice exposed to gut microbiota early in life display similar characteristics as SPF mice, including reduced expression of PSD-95 and synaptophysin in the striatum. Hence, our results suggest that the microbial colonization process initiates signaling mechanisms that affect neuronal circuits involved in motor control and anxiety behavior.
(Normal Gut Microbiota Modulates Brain Development and Behavior, emphasis added). Earth shaking indeed.

In the next post of this series we will review the impact that pollution has on the environment, specifically on microbes, then tie that data into the hypothesis.

From there we can follow the domino effect that pollution could have on microbial performance.

Moving on from there, in light of these recent discoveries set forth above, we can follow the impact on symbiont microbes on to potential impact on our human cognition.

That is, we will move from potential impact in general on toward the impact on specific symbiont microbes that could cause, in turn, specific behavior impacting the generation of toxins of power.

The purpose of developing that pathway is to tighten up the hypothesis (build a reasonable, valid nexus) as we move along forward, from post to post.

The next post in this series is here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Structure RE: The Corruption of Memes - 4

In this series we have been thinking about how memes within our memory can morph.

That is, how they can evolve from one meme into a different meme.

The astounding science concerning human gene - microbe symbiosis discussed in the Dredd Blog post The Tiniest Scientists Are Very Old - 2 calls for an additional approach to prior analysis of the notion of the toxins of power.

When I say "an additional approach to prior analysis of the notion of the toxins of power", I am in reference to prior analysis on this blog concerning how toxins of power may work on the human mind.

First of all, carefully consider this information about microbes:
Single-celled microorganisms were the first forms of life to develop on Earth, approximately 3–4 billion years ago. Further evolution was slow, and for about 3 billion years in the Precambrian eon, all organisms were microscopic. So, for most of the history of life on Earth the only forms of life were microorganisms. Bacteria, algae and fungi have been identified in amber that is 220 million years old, which shows that the morphology of microorganisms has changed little since the Triassic period.

Most microorganisms can reproduce rapidly and microbes such as bacteria can also freely exchange genes by conjugation, transformation and transduction between widely-divergent species. This horizontal gene transfer, coupled with a high mutation rate and many other means of genetic variation, allows microorganisms to swiftly evolve (via natural selection) to survive in new environments and respond to environmental stresses.
(Wikipedia, Microbes, emphasis added). Next, consider this bombshell of a concept so we can fuse this symbiotic reality into formal concern:
A recent paper by investigators from Sweden and Singapore reports on studies using a mouse model to demonstrate that the presence of the gut microbiota significantly influences the developing brain, influencing developmental pathways that affect both motor control and anxiety-related behaviors. The implications for human development are certainly not yet realized, but could be profound. Our anxiety, motor control, and even cognitive pathways are implicated in this paper. Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say. The article would imply that this interaction is beneficial to us, and thus indirectly to our microbiota, but the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity.
(Small Things Considered, a blog of microbiologists from The American Society of Microbiologists, emphasis added). The vast microbial world within our bodies and minds can have an effect on the composition of our brain, on our cognitive endeavors, on our thinking, yes, on our memes.

As such, the symbiotic relationship our minds have with microbes must be factored into the contemplation about how toxins of power corrupt memes, which in turn can eventually corrupt our behavior as well:
"Interactions of animals with their microbiota have a profound impact on their gene expression, and to create a stable association with a microorganism requires a lot of conversation between the microbe and the host," says UW-Madison medical microbiologist Margaret McFall-Ngai, senior author of the new study.
(Science Daily). Some cosmological considerations of "a lot of conversation between the microbe and the host" raises some interesting questions:
How did these early Earthly life forms arise? And did they include archae, bacteria, and eukaryotes? Joseph and colleagues (Joseph 2009a; Joseph and Schild 2010ab; Joseph and Wickramasinghe 2010) have detailed and reviewed a large volume of evidence suggesting life arrived here encased in the debris which formed the surface of this planet. By contrast, Russell and colleagues (Milner-White and Russell 2010; Nitschke and Russell 2010; Russell and Kanik 2010) have presented an impressive body of data indicating Earthly life (and even extraterrestrial life) may have been fashioned by the fortuitous mixture of the necessary chemicals within a watery thermal environment. Certainly early Earth was hot. Likewise, evidence of the earliest life was left in rocky formations bathed in water, i.e. banded iron formations consisting of alternating magnetite and quartz dated to 4.28 bya (O'Neil et al, 2008)
(Journal of Cosmology, emphasis added). That article presents a question as to whether or not microbial life originated here on Earth, or actually arrived later via comets or meteorite impacts (see photo at top of page). Lets add "or both".

Even if we consider that issue to be both controversial and undecided as to origins, we have other evidence of later incursions of extraterrestrial microbial life arising much later, after microbial life was already here on Earth and well established:
Richard Hoover has discovered evidence of microfossils similar to Cyanobacteria, in freshly fractured slices of the interior surfaces of the Alais, Ivuna, and Orgueil CI1 carbonaceous meteorites. Based on Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM) and other measures, Richard Hoover has concluded they are indigenous to these meteors and are similar to trichomic cyanobacteria and other trichomic prokaryotes such as filamentous sulfur bacteria. He concludes these fossilized bacteria are not Earthly contaminants but are the fossilized remains of living organisms which lived in the parent bodies of these meteors, e.g. comets, moons, and other astral bodies.
(Journal of Cosmology). So, we have scientists telling us of not only microbial influence on the functioning of human thinking and human genetics, but that that science is now followed up with the staggering potential that some of that microbial influence on human thinking may come from microbes from another world.

That brings us to the subject of the toxins of power that corrupt human thinking when humans are exposed to power (but do not thereafter take steps to immunize themselves from those toxins).

Here at Toxins of Power Blog we have focused on the Amygdala as one area where toxins do their work, but we have also pointed out that memetic morph can take place in the memory of a person.

We have also, while contemplating the source of ecocidal thinking, hypothesized that ecocide is the result of toxins of power corrupting the thinking of people in power.

We have even wondered whether a civilization can even bring about its own extinction by destroying its ecosystem, its environment, its home, without first having been infected with a corrupt alien thought pattern in some way.

Now, in this post we can say that we have evidence that microbes play a part in human thinking as well as human genetics, and that if destructive, ecocidal thinking was part of some alien culture whose microbes reached the Earth, it could likewise infect our thinking.

Why on Earth otherwise would humanity destroy itself or its civilization unless it was infected with some cognitive sickness?

A Dredd Blog post, "The Undiscovered Side of Science & Life - 3" takes this subject a bit further.

This post is in the context of a scientific explanation for the mystery of how the toxins of power work on the human mind.

A post a while back discusses the religious view of how toxins of power work on the human mind.

This blog is developing a hypothesis that toxins of power originate in the microbial world.

For levity, an electron microscope, which makes things look zillions of times larger, took this revealing shot of alien microbes interacting with the human genome:

Monday, June 20, 2011

These Are Not The Droids You Are Looking For

We all remember the Star Wars series.

Most will probably remember the episode where the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi did a "Jedi mind trick", using the words "these are not the droids you are looking for" when he was helping the Rebels (YouTube).

That popular sci-fi movie illustrated the hypothesis that memes in memory can be changed.

As this blog has illustrated with science fact, not fiction, there is a growing change in direction, within scientific circles, a change in direction that is heading toward the conclusion that toxins of power can corrupt the pattern of memes even while they are in memory.

The following video has a similar theme, i.e., that the government has done a mind trick on vast numbers of people by using the MOMCOM media to spread propaganda.

The individual being interviewed in the video below is an explosives expert (the attached videos after the first are not recommended).

Specifically he is an expert who has experience working for the famous Controlled Demolition, Inc., a company that does controlled demolition of large structures:

Here is a video of a Nebraska nuclear power plant in trouble due to flooding, a situation that was originally guarded to keep most people unaware:

The powers that be shut down that video, so here is another one:

Propaganda is a function caused by the toxins of power. The "toxins of power" is a theory of our forefathers who felt that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

They blocked out the videos above, so here are some more:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Structure RE: Corruption of Memes - 3

In a couple of posts within a couple of series here on Toxins of Power Blog, such as A Structure RE: Corruption of Memes and Phase One & Two: Toxin v Meme, we advanced the hypothetical notion that memes in memory can be morphed.

That is, they can change into a different structure, a variant meme, while still in memory, a notion that is resisted by some scientists.

In those posts we specifically advanced the notion that the toxins of power alone could trigger such a morph.

Then in the post The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere, we added another specific mechanism whereby the toxins of power could trigger such a morph by working within an already existing structure in the subconscious Amygdala.

A new study supports such a notion, and like this series, challenges an existing theory:
The team's study challenges the theory that memories cannot be modified once they are stored in the brain.
(Science Daily). The study shows how certain drugs can cause memory morphs by unlinking certain threads of memory.

But at another level, in another context, the realm of marketing, certain researchers in that discipline are quite bold to declare that memory in the brain can be morphed:
A group of US marketing researchers claim that brand owners can make their customers believe they had a better experience of a product or service than they really did by bombarding them with positive messages after the event. Advocates of the technique, known as "memory morphing", claim it can be used to improve customers' perceptions of products and encourage them to repeat their purchases and recommend brands to friends.

"When asked, many consumers insist that they rely primarily on their own first-hand experience with products – not advertising – in making purchasing decisions. Yet, clearly, advertising can strongly alter what consumers remember about their past, and thus influence their behaviours," he writes in his book, How Customers Think. He says that memories are malleable, changing every time they come to mind, and that brands can use this to their advantage. "What consumers recall about prior product or shopping experiences will differ from their actual experiences if marketers refer to those past experiences in positive ways," he continues.
(Memory Morphing in Advertising, cf. PDF, emphasis added). Actually, this realm is described elsewhere as a gigantic business which has itself morphed from product marketing into the political arena known as marketing "political products".

The world renowned linguist Noam Chomsky points out that it is common practice to market politicians in a manner not at all unlike the advertising of a commercial product:
And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries — in Britain and the US—roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control.

And by now these are huge industries. They not only dominate marketing of commodities, but they also control the political system. As anyone who watches a US election knows, it's marketing. It's the same techniques that are used to market toothpaste.
(Noam Chomsky, emphasis added). It is the specific intent of an election team to convince you, during a re-election campaign, that your experience with the candidate was better than you thought it was.

That is just like the marketers who seek to morph your memory about the use of a commodity, a product you have been using, into a better recollection than what you actually experienced ("brand owners can make their customers believe they had a better experience of a product or service than they really did", see "Memory Morphing in Advertising" link above) .

The event alluded to above, this "changing of the mind", requires a morph of the type we have been discussing in this series, i.e., the corruption of memes.

In this series memetic memory morph ("meme corruption") has now been demonstrated to occur, whether such corruption comes by deliberate actions, by personal experience within a meme complex, or by some subconscious working of the toxins of power upon memes in an individual's memory via some manipulation of the amygdala.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

An Example Of An Antitoxin

The Amygdala: left and right nodes in red
The citizen in the video below is an example of a carrier of an antitoxin to the toxins of power.

This particular situation has to do with unreasonable searches and seizures described in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This blog has provided formulas for calculating when the toxins of power may affect the behavior of officials.

Those formulas include the factor of antitoxins.

We can add this: one who has proper knowledge of the constitution is an antitoxin carrier, which is demonstrated clearly by this individual who is caught up in a place where the toxins have caused an obvious power-disease outbreak.

He uses the antitoxins to inoculate those infected officials who, coincidently, should be grateful to him, not resentful.

He is an example we all need to emulate, because this guy prevailed because he knew his rights and stood up for them.

They did not search his car.

The next post in this series is here.