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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Jester Speaks .. ON WHY CATS PREFER TO DRINK RUNNING WATER

I was born stupid. 

I wasn't born knowing how to build my own house, like a bird builds its nest, or knowing how to weave a complex trap to snare my prey, as a spider weaves its web.

Most cats prefer to drink running water, while we have to learn from our parents, or by experience, that it's better to drink from a babbling brook than a stagnant pond.


We humans are born stupid.

We tend to think of skills as being something that always need to be learnt, so to us it can seem that other animals are born with a staggering amount of "ancestral knowledge" - knowledge that is contained in their DNA, rather than transmitted by tradition.


But are we really born so stupid ?

No - we have a skill at least as special and unique as those I cited, of the spider and of the bird - our capacity to learn languages is hard-wired into our brains.

Of course, we're not born knowing any specific language, but we don't have to learn how to learn a language.

And just as the spider is equipped with a spinneret with which to realise it's innate skill for web-spinning - we humans come equipped with our own special tool with which to make use of our special skill for learning languages - our big, fat, giant, over-inflated balloon brains.


Still, compared to most animals, we are born seriously lacking in terms of specific knowledge. Relatively speaking our infants are a 'blank slate' - which makes us, as a species, extremely adaptable to different environments - a huge evolutionary advantage.

I imagine the amount of "preset" skills and knowledge that we were born with must have diminished as our capacity for language developed, for the development of language meant we could pass on increasingly sophisticated survival strategies verbally, thus increasing our adaptability, enabling us to flourish in a diverse range of environments.

Think about it - the latter development of written language even enables us to communicate an unutterably vast and specific body of knowledge after we are dead ! - a body of knowledge that each of us can pick and choose from, as individuals, according to the various requirements of the circumstances we encounter.

Furthermore, the development of the Internet has to be the most significant advancement in the evolution of the way we share information collectively since written language emerged, as it gives us a far more immediate means of accessing, and contributing to, this unimaginably enormous body of accumulated data.


Consider - through the administration of a drug scientists have induced sleep-walk in a kitten that has never been outside. The kitten acts out a dream - it appears to be chasing a butterfly, though it has never seen one.

I use this example to draw your attention to how difficult it is to separate the reality of ancestral memories of skills from the possibility of ancestral memories of specific things or even of specific events.

It is here that we enter waters uncharted by modern scientific thought, the muddy twilight realms of pseudo-science and mysticism. Perhaps these are areas that will remain indefinitely unverifiable via scientific methods. Yet "that which cannot be proven to be so" is not necessarily "not so".

Personally - when I consider the remarkable variety of human experiences that appear to verify the existence of a larger and more detailed ancestral memory amongst humans than science today acknowledges, or that we are consciously aware of existing - I am inclined to say that the existence of such a collective memory is "probable".

The various "rational" explanations for these phenomena - that they are the manifestation of complex psychological aberrations, or the child-like coping mechanisms of primitive pre-scientific belief systems - strike me as somewhat tenuous.

If science was able to penetrate this area ? - we could be one step closer to the unification of human knowledge.

Suggested links -

J
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Jester Speaks ... ON WAR

Inequity leads to hate.

Injustice leads to hate.

Fear leads to hate.

Hate leads to violence.

Violence leads to inequity, injustice, fear & hate.


This is the whole of war,

this war cannot be won.


I heard there was a Holy War,

a war on hate within,

The only war to end all wars ..


.. I guess that I heard wrong.



J.
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Jester Speaks ... ON GUNS


The poster above is an 80s design classic, the stats are from 1985. The situation is much worse today - in 2011 the figure for gun-related fatalities in the US was 32,163, compared to 146 in the UK. In terms of deaths per capita - an individual in the USA is four times more likely to die in a gun-related incident than in the UK. 

... AND FOR MY NEXT TRICK... having just asserted that there are four times as many gun-related deaths per capita in the US, I will attempt to prove a seemingly contradictory claim - that you are actually four times more likely to be killed by a gun in the UK than in the USA !!!

CONSIDER ...

There is, on average, one privately owned fire-arm per person living in the USA, while in the UK there is one gun for every 16 people -  this means that every gun in the UK is four times more likely to kill someone than a gun located in the US. 

Or to put it another way - in the USA guns are responsible for four times as many deaths, but in the UK you are four times more likely to be killed by A gun (ie- any gun in particular). 

TA-DAH!

Okay, its a silly semantic trick, I know no-one is entertained. I can hear the wind whistling through the gravestones. I confess - I was just feeling pleased with myself for managing to work all that out from the statistics and I wanted to show off. Frankly, I was pleased with myself for being able to work out anything from statistics.

But why is each American firearm so much less likely to take a life? There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from this: AMERICANS CAN'T SHOOT FOR LOVE NOR MONEY! Bad choice of expression - love and money have got to be behind a fair few of those 32,163 lethal shootings in America in 2011.

I am left wondering .. if stricter gun laws were introduced in America, reducing gun ownership to an average of one in sixteen people, the same as the UK .. would the number of gun-related deaths per capita fall to the UK level ? Or would any one-particular-gun in America become 16 times more likely to shoot someone ?

The answer is probably somewhere inbetween.

The introduction of stricter gun legislation would seem to me to be a superficial measure, a mere band-aid - what America really needs is to legislate against love and money, the causes of gun crime ! After all ...

THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL



I have no problem with ...




J
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