Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Whatever (Score 3, Interesting) 529

by Kingofearth (#46493883) Attached to: Religion Is Good For Your Brain
I'm an atheist myself, but if you don't think there are real benefits from the community and support involved in group religious participation you're just as deluded as they are. My parents are involved with their church and I see a lot of benefits that they gain from it, in addition to the sense of hope and protection their "delusional" beliefs bring (which provide some value as well, regardless of their truth).

They have a community of people they've gotten to know fairly well over the years, some of whom they have become good friends with. They take part in numerous "extra-curricular" activities made available to them such as softball leagues, YMCA outings, book clubs, etc. One summer when there was lots of flooding a bunch of them helped put sandbags around people's houses. When I was moving apartments and had a 3-day gap between move-out and move-in, someone from their church let us borrow a large trailer for the week so we wouldn't have to rent a U-haul and deal with unloading it just to load it back up in a couple days.

Then there's the fact that they regularly get together with their fellow church-goers with the express intent of discussing deep topics. Things getting to the core of what makes them who they are. What the purpose of life is. Why things are they the way they are. Discussions of right and wrong. Although I really wish those discussions wouldn't be limited to biblical analysis and based off what I see as extremely flawed premises, at least they're discussing these significant topics. And even if they aren't discovering fundamental truths, there are big emotional and cognitive benefits to just having those discussions.

I really wish there were similar groups for the non-religious. Where we could meet weekly to discuss philosophy and the state of our existence. Get to know a group of people at a deep level, where it's encouraged to discuss our feelings, hopes, fears, and beliefs to get support and feedback. A community that will help each other out in hard times, and organize fun events for good times.

Comment: Re:Article not quite right (Score 1) 221

Magic? Did you read the article? There were concrete demonstrable results from the experiment. No magic involved, just a drug that activated certain receptors. Are you also going to argue that amphetamine doesn't actually make people better able to focus and any benefits it allegedly provides people in getting things done is "magical thinking"?

I'm not saying do acid all the time. And of course had work and discipline are important to improving yourself and coming up with new ideas, but LSD opens up a different way of thinking about and perceiving things that a lot of people find very valuable. I fail to see how any of those things precludes the others.

Ever hear the phrase "sleep on it"? It's true that a lot of the time sleeping and not thinking about something will cause you to come up with a solution to a problem. That certainly doesn't mean sleeping all the time and constantly ignoring your problems will solve everything.

It's all about using the wide range of tools at your disposal.

Comment: Re:Am I the only one *not* worried/panicking... (Score 1) 221

Probably fear of the unknown, mixed with jealousy for those who get to experience a future i never will, mixed with disappointment at all the answers i'll never get to some of the questions that really fascinate me. There are some other emotions too. I don't live like that though. I don't think i'm unique in this respect.

You're definitely not alone. That sums up my view perfectly

Comment: Re:Similar Tests.. (Score 4, Interesting) 221

And there was the study done by John Hopkins Medical School which looked at the effects of psilocybin on healthy adults.

Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.

Critically, however, the participants themselves were not the only ones who saw the benefit from the insights they gained: their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.

You can read more about it here:

Comment: Re:Article not quite right (Score 5, Interesting) 221

People always make jokes like this about LSD, and granted a lot of "revelations" and "brilliant ideas" turn out to just be drug-induced delusions, but you really can learn a lot about yourself and other things from LSD. A lot of the things you learn are deeply personal and wouldn't be meaningful to anyone else. Some are things you already "knew", but get integrated better from the experience. And a lot of people have profound spiritual experiences, which, truth aside, provide their lives with meaning.

And then there was the experiment where a couple dozen professionals who had been stuck on various problems for months were given LSD to determine it's effects on creative problem solving. (You can read about the experiment here: but here's a quote:

"But here’s the clincher. After their 5HT2A neural receptors simmered down, they remained firm: LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems. And the establishment agreed. The 26 men unleashed a slew of widely embraced innovations shortly after their LSD experiences, including a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits, a conceptual model of a photon, a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device, a new design for the vibratory microtome, a technical improvement of the magnetic tape recorder, blueprints for a private residency and an arts-and-crafts shopping plaza, and a space probe experiment designed to measure solar properties."

Yeah, LSD is a lot of fun to use recreationaly, and it's easy to mock "the semi-coherent ramblings of some guys on LSD," but LSD has a lot of potential to offer our society if only we'd take it seriously.

Comment: Re:Who's surprised? (Score 1) 310

by Kingofearth (#45281165) Attached to: NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders
My post wasn't intended to be more about consistency than spying in general. If you're ok with our government spying on any foreigners for any reason, then you must be ok with foreign governments spying on us for any reason, at least if you want to be able to claim your argument is based on some fundamental concept of right and wrong and not just "I want the world to revolve around me."

We should be spying on nations, organizations, and people who are a direct physical threat to the safety of our country, and I would expect and be fine with other countries doing the same. We should have a military that will protect our country from those physical threats as well, as should every other country. Just because I disagree with many of the people our agencies spy on doesn't mean I want our spies gone altogether, I just want them to be focused only on the people who are out to cause us harm.

More to my original point, if I am not planning harm against Russia or France, I would say it is immoral for them to spy on me. On the other hand, if I were planning an attack against those countries, I may not like them spying on me, but it would be hard to argue that it is immoral for them to do so.

Comment: They're asking the wrong questions (Score 1) 252

by Kingofearth (#44975651) Attached to: Senators Push To Preserve NSA Phone Surveillance
They believe it's legal? What does that have to do with anything when writing a law? How about deciding if it's right? How about, "Does this push us closer to a police state?"

Instead of asking "How can we instill public confidence?", how about they ask, "How can we prevent our intelligence agencies from enabling tyranny?" or "What are the consequences of allowing this data collection if a future presidential administration decides to significantly oppress the public?"

Another good question they should ask is "What happened to needing to get a warrant issued based 'upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched'?"

Comment: Re:The Obama Administration... (Score 1) 455

Didn't I reply to laie_techie? That's how the thread appears to me, and what I intended. I was trying to argue with his claim that "Drugs which cause hallucinations put others at risk."

I've heard stories and seen news reports of people causing problems while tripping, but out of the hundred or so times I've tripped with people I've never witnessed it.

I just hate it when people suggest that psychedelics are bad or should be illegal. I think pretty much everyone could stand to gain something from tripping at least once. Once weed gains widespread acceptance, I'd like to see a push for legitimizing psychedelics.

Comment: Re:The Obama Administration... (Score 1) 455

Have you ever tried a hallucinogen? I don't think you understand what their actual effects. Granted hallucinogen is a very broad term, but the common psychedelics like LSD and psilocin certainly don't tend to put people in a mindset where they are likely to be a threat to others. And certainly not to the extent of alcohol, which is known to cause aggression and impulsivity, a pretty risky combination.

When's the last time you've heard of someone being violent or harming others due to alcohol vs hallucinogens? I've seen plenty of people causing problems because they're drunk. I've never seen anyone causing problems because they are tripping.

Comment: Re:Consciousness is a network effect (Score 1) 151

by Kingofearth (#44576517) Attached to: New Tool To Measure Consciousness
Think about what it means to be conscious. Consciousness is the integration of all of your sensory input and your memories into a singular subjective experience.

Right now you are sitting in a chair in front of a computer reading English text. To have your conscious experience at this moment you are integrating your knowledge of where you are at this moment, that you are sitting in a chair in front of a computer, your knowledge of what Slashdot is and that the text you are reading is a comment by another user, the concept of what a user is - that it's another person somewhere else in the world, the parts of your brain that recognize text and processes English into thoughts, your memories/knowledge of the concept of consciousness, your awareness that you yourself are conscious, and many other things all at once. All of those things are integrated into your singular conscious experience.

Compare this to something non-conscious, like a reflex. When the doctor hits your knee cap and your leg moves, you aren't integrating the feeling of the object hitting your leg with any memories or objectives. You don't "want" to move your leg, it just happens, unconsciously.

Also think of the way unconscious thoughts "bubble up" into consciousness. Scientists have shown that using brain scans they can predict what decision a person will make before the person even consciously knows. This is because the scientists are taking readings from the part of the brain that is responsible for making that decision before the results of that process get sent back to the part of the brain that kicked off that processes and to the rest of the brain that's responsible for acting upon that decision.

When you really get down to it and analyze it, everything that you would consider a conscious experience necessarily involves the coordination of many distinct parts of your mind. It's no coincidence that the parts of the brain that have been shown to be heavily involved with the subjective experience of consciousness are the the parts that are highly connected to many other parts of the brain.

As far as the strange possibilities for any complex system having consciousness, I fail to see how that should preclude a definition of consciousness involving systems and complexity. Just because the idea of any sufficiently complex system being conscious is bizarre from the conventional understanding of consciousness doesn't mean it's wrong. I think it's entirely plausible that any system with sufficient feedback loops and integration between components could be considered conscious. That's not to say that such a system would be necessarily sentient or deserve rights.

I think what this comes down to is agreeing upon a definition of consciousness and coming up with testable qualities that could be used to confirm consciousness. I think that "A system capable of integrating disparate sensory and past experience into a continuous singular whole" is a good start for a definition of consciousness that doesn't require any kind of non-material entities such as a soul and doesn't necessarily involve subjectivity; simply come up with some tests that could only be completed if the system is capable of such integration. Such a definition would certainly apply to humans and most other animals of higher cognitive abilities.

Some other interesting food for thought: Think about the way companies interact with the outside world and the way they build off past experiences. I wouldn't consider it to be too crazy of a notion that large organizations of people display some level of consciousness.

I am not a neuroscientist, but I have given much thought to what makes me conscious and how other animals can be conscious, albeit on a different level than us, and this is pretty much exactly the conclusion I came to. That consciousness involves the coherent interconnectedness of distinct subsystems. I'm glad to see this topic being discussed, and I'd love to hear other people's opinions of this definition of consciousness and it's implications.

FORTRAN rots the brain. -- John McQuillin