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Comment: Re:Eh? (Score 2) 99

One major problem is our weak laws about lobbying. Lobbyists can wine and dine MPs constantly with little oversight. Even worse, if an MP votes the right way they can get a great job with the PR company when they leave office. So... vote for the spy bill, retire before the next election and immediately start work as Vice President for SFA at a salary of half a million a year. Canadian News media are being corrupted in the same way.

Comment: Recognizing one's True Situation (Score 1) 529

by Udom (#46493905) Attached to: Religion Is Good For Your Brain
The true situation is that the brain is designed to find patterns and assign agency. "Free will"... behind all decisions large and small lies emotional processing. Few of us could watch a good horror movie and not feel tension. Last figures I've seen have 41% of americans believing in ESP, 37% in haunted houses, 32% in ghosts, etc, etc... The exploitation of irrational feelings is the foundation of the powerful Public Relations campaigns that lead us into flocking to buy iPhones or supporting wars. The irrational is at the core of all Art, Music and Poetry, and without it we would no longer be human.

Comment: Re:As a neurologist. (Score 1) 86

by Udom (#46447537) Attached to: New Blood Test Offers Early Warning for Alzheimer's Onset
The approach locks understanding of alzheimers to body chemistry and that's certainly one component, but there are other elements that go unaddressed. In western nuclear families children grow up and move elsewhere and the elderly often end up living alone. Exclusion and isolation are painful and severe punishments, particularly for women. Elderly women typically fret constantly about their sons, daughters and grandchildren, whom they are lucky to see once a month. In this position little else seems important, and that which is unimportant is deleted from memory. Knitting classes, Bridge clubs and TV are wholly inadequate substitutes... Drug companies would have us believe that the answer to all problems is a drug, and the tunnel vision that produces blinds us to other important causes of the condition.

Comment: Re:lucidity (Score 1) 54

by Udom (#46347015) Attached to: DARPA Funds Research Into a Network-Based Interpretation of Dreams
Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Some people who lose their vision report florid visual hallucinations, and anyone who spends a day wearing a blindfold is likely to experience them as well. We assume that we see with our eyes, but the eyes are only the start point. The brain takes the raw information feed and constructs our visual reality for us. When you're dreaming that system is constructing a visual reality disconnected from the usual input from the eyes. The majority of theories we hear about the nature of dreams suffer from a profound ignorance about how visual information is processed.

Comment: Re:Not until I see rock-solid containment of the d (Score 1) 102

by Udom (#45865875) Attached to: Eye Tracking Coming To Video Games
We'll be seeing a lot more of this, marketed as a cool new feature. Everyone makes about 250,000 saccades per day and the vast majority are unconsciously generated. By logging saccade targets one can easily map a person's interests, tastes, fears, sexual orientation, etc. Instead of page views ad companies will be selling saccade targets. That's bad enough, but the NSA will be collecting information about you that you don't even know yourself. With enough effort it would be possible to generate user profiles and identify users soley by their saccade fingerprints.

Comment: Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (Score 1) 698

by Udom (#45715913) Attached to: NSA Says It Foiled Plot To Destroy US Economy Through Malware
The big question would China have confined the malware to the US? Such an infection would wipe them out as well, and likely faster. China is awash in pirated copies of Windows that don't update. The report is just pure propaganda aimed at the technically ignorant.

Comment: Re:Mod parent up. (Score 1) 118

by Udom (#45590597) Attached to: Scientists Find Olfactory "Memory" Passed Between Generations In Mice
"just changes the way the traits already encoded"... That would mean there'd be a pre-existing definition of the scent of cherry blossoms, which seems unlikely. There are already hard coded aversions to heights, teeth, staring eyes, etc, but this reaction is to one of billions of innocuous stimulae. More likely, the system would read the definition of cherry blossom scent from the amygdala together with it's threat assessment tag and add it to the presets. This appears to be a brilliant evolutionary shortcut so I'd be wary until the results are proven to be reliable.

Comment: Re:Holy Crap!!! (Score 1) 187

by Udom (#45540509) Attached to: Art Makes Students Smart
"you can't argue correlation-but-not-causation"... If you're assuming that the Art was the cause you can. The Art is only one part of the experience and the context it's presented in is likely much more significant. The context conveys it's importance and it's association with wealth. In some ways it mimics the environment in a church, where people speak in hushed tones. It would be useful to put the same paintings in a thrift store, march another group of kids round and then do the same tests later. Or put truly garbage Art on the museum walls and do the same tests.

Comment: Re:What the article fails to say but only implies (Score 1) 195

by Udom (#45046167) Attached to: Probe of Einstein's Brain Reveals Clues To His Genius
Einstein also had a bigger nose than most people. The brain is far more complex than painted here, having more connections than there are stars in the universe. While there are specialized modules, thinking is a committee activity and it turns out that almost all decisions are not made rationally but emotionally, with your consciousness being informed moments later ...all the while believing it is in control. If Einstein had only had the rational going for him he would never have found anything of note... Niels Bohr had a dream in 1913 of electrons whirling around a nucleus, woke up and wrote it all down. That dream is the basis of atomic theory. The ability to pull together disparate threads to make something new is now suspected to be the work of the associative cortex... but still in collaboration with all the other committee members that make up the brain.

Comment: Re:schizophrenics aren't violent (Score 1) 138

by Udom (#43883293) Attached to: Avatars Help Schizophrenics Gain Control of Voices In Their Heads
Culture bound syndrome and suggestibility... Symptoms of schizophrenia vary from culture to culture and the symptom pool is interactive. In the west sufferers are met with fear and dehumanization and are believed to be violent. The patient himself holds these culturally generated expectations of his behaviour and acts them out. Also, the attitude of carers, particularly family members, in the west is aggressive, and puts the sufferer under pressure on a daily basis. The common belief is that schizophrenia is a disease like cancer and if the patient tries hard enough he will "beat" it. That daily pressure yields bad outcomes. Cultures where patients are not pressured have much better success... Hearing voices is very common in normal people, especially in very stressful situations where their life is at stake. One idea with steady support over the last 30 years is that hearing voices is a natural feature and was very common in early cultures.

Comment: IQ (Score 1) 325

by Udom (#43816187) Attached to: Predicting IQ With a Simple Visual Test
The results of the tests don't necessarily support the interpretations. IQ tests were devised during the same period when doctors were making fortunes transplanting goat testicles into men to cure impotence. (Dr. John Brinkley and others)... Motion detection is crucial for detecting threats so it must be dealt with very early on, much of that being done in the amygdala, whose work is independent of higher functions. Conscious control over the system is an illusion. Find Wally is a good example. Wally is hard to pick out if his expression is neutral, but we'd catch him immediately if he looked angry. Another good example of the separation of this processing from consciousness is Blindsight... People who are blind due to damage to their visual cortex but can still detect threats despite seeing only blackness.

Comment: Re:This is here, because? (Score 1) 931

by Udom (#43567881) Attached to: Belief In God Correlates With Better Mental Health Treatment Outcomes
Yes it is the placebo effect. Mentally ill people adopt the symptoms they have learned in their culture. Whether it's depression or schizophrenia various mental illnesses manifest in very different ways. In traditional cultures that believed in spirit possession schizophrenics were 70% less likely to have remissions. Depression as we understand it didn't exist in Japan until the drug companies marketed it. Women in the late 1800s would suffer leg paralysis as part of hysteria, which no longer exists. Anorexia Nervosa didn't exist in China before media reports caused an epidemic. There's a good book about all this, "Crazy Like Us, The Americanisation of Mental Illness", by Ethan Watters. This may shed light on how mass shooters in the US find their way to their endpoint.

Comment: Re:it's official (Score 2) 170

by Udom (#43525999) Attached to: RCMP Says Terror Plot Against Canadian Trains Thwarted
This is about herding. Terrorist attacks are pretty common around the world but we only hear about those involving Muslims. Italy has suffered a long series of bombings by anarchists over the last decades, many of them mail bombs, but they don't make news in Canada and the US. Spain had bombings by ETA for decades with hundreds killed but they were ignored here. The IRA flubbed setting off another car bomb in Ireland a short time ago but it was ignored here. We are being herded to more and more fear and the goal is to strip us of more and more of our freedom.

Elegance and truth are inversely related. -- Becker's Razor