Monday, April 2, 2018

On What Keeps Us From Developing, If We Let It

I've just been learning about the latest revelations some researchers have claimed about the intelligence of the human mind. I am skeptical of their claim that intelligence is a singular, measurable property of conscious being. The reason I believe this is that I’ve good evidence to show that my own measured intelligence is variable and this information was gathered over a number of years during my formal education, from kindergarten through to postgraduate study.

I also noticed that the so-called intelligence scores that were presented to me, during those times, improved as my education progressed - another factor that made me skeptical of intelligence as a fixed measurable property, since this data was in conflict with what was understood to be a fixed property of the healthy thinking mind.

While my anecdotal evidence may be sidelined as irrelevant because of its uniqueness, I’m told that IQ cannot be significantly improved by any training or education or brain exercising. Yet my own IQ has soared from being way less than average (I was a dunderhead at primary school and for the first few years at high school) to near genius (I don't believe my intelligence is anything near genius) according to tests made over the years.

How do I rationalize all this? Very simply.

We are told about neuroplasticity - the ability of the brain to change throughout an individual's life. I believe that this property of mind material can be exercised (metaphorically) by proper use. The psychologists tell us about this and studies have shown that such brain degenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s can be allayed through brain exercises that are not mind-bending per se.

A person who has the proclivity to ask questions, carries the very human characteristic of curiosity. This property of human beings has evolved in our species and is part of what makes human beings the dominant species we are today. It is closely bound with the ability to think - another property of the minds of human beings.

Since childhood, I have been encouraged to ask questions - by my mother at first, by my teachers at high school and by my teachers at university. I am grateful to all of those people. But when I got eventually into the work environment, I quickly learnt that the act of asking questions was often not wanted and was certainly not fostered. In effect, curiosity is suppressed in societal groups and this suppression can hinder people during their formative education years and often does.

In my naivety and dumbness, I never learnt to stop asking questions, never learnt to stop being curious. I am now in my 71st year on this planet and I have never been curiouser than I am today. I wonder what my IQ score is going to tell me next time someone urges me to take a test.

To sum up, I believe that intelligence is not a single factor. The range of abilities totalled as intelligence is certainly not immutable in anyone. I further believe that to try to quantify intelligence according to some common scale is fallacious. It’s too anthropocentric. The complexity of the human mind in the field of problem solving alone has never been more realized than during the recent researches into artificial intelligence (AI). At just about every juncture, conservative estimates of how easy it might be to get a computer to think like a human brain have been so far short, it’s laughable.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

And The Answer's a Lemon

Isn't it amazing the junk you can find on the Internet? YouTube is a haven for pranksters who make money out of deceit. They broadcast their fraudulent junk on a huge scale. The most recent I came across is this one. It has made over 16,000,000 hits in a few months. It is not scientific and it wouldn't work. It is charlatan snake oil. As well, it's ethically fraudulent and morally misleading. Anyone who is unfortunate enough to have all the resources available at the time they desperately need assistance is in for a shock if they try this for the contraption will not make fire.

The broadcaster demonstrated how this contraption produced enough electrical current to set fire to a bundle of steel wool and dry paper.

I'm appalled at the vast amount of so-called quick and easy fixes to be found on the Internet and that are neither quick nor are they fixes.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Einstein was Right

We've seen light waves from space; now we can see gravity waves.

A hundred years ago, Einstein said that gravity waves existed but they'd never been detected. We now know he was correct. 

Antennas of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Washington State and Louisiana have just detected the gravity 'sound' of two black holes coalescing a billion light years away. Previous to the observation, the black holes were responsible for the phenomenon well known as a pulsar, like the famous PSR B1913+16 in the constellation of Aquila. 

The black holes collapsed a billion years ago, sending out gravity waves and now remain as a single black hole depleted of some of its mass due to the release of this energy.

Check out the blurb.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Food for Thought

The latest OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) result is that computers don't help student learning.

In a recent paper by Peter Evans-Greenwood, Kitty O’Leary, Peter Williams, Deloitte, 18 Sept 2015, the authors write, "(E)ducators need to turn their attention to creating environments and platforms where students can learn what they need to learn when they need to, and instilling in them the habits of mind, attitudes and behaviours that will enable them to thrive in today’s (and tomorrow’s) knowledge-rich environment."

Food for thought?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Myths about the New ‘P’

The US Federal Government, through FDA, has just recently approved the manufacture and use of Palcohol following the false start over its approval last year.

Palcohol is sometimes referred to as 'powdered alcohol' which is a misnomer since Palcohol is not powdered alcohol at all. It is a substance created and manufactured by Mark Phillips, an Arizona businessman. In its rawest form, a preparation like Palcohol consist of pure alcohol held in a matrix of cyclodextrin, an edible white powder, like starch and that is soluble in water. Cyclodextrin, if eaten, is non-toxic, is not sweet, is not digested and is a contribution to dietary fibre. Raw Palcohol looks like icing sugar.

Palcohol has yet to reach the market place in a commercial form, but several states in the US are already preparing to the ban the sale of this substance if they haven’t done so

There’s been a recent revival of activity on the Internet about this now not-so-new consumable, most of which is wrong and has been spread around through ignorance. I applaud Phil Mason's (Thunderf00t's) initiative in swiftly identifying invalid data circulated via the Internet last year. 

Here’s just some of the myths associated with Palcohol:

It can be used to spike drinks.

While this might be true, it would be very difficult to spike a drink successfully using Palcohol. First, the substance has to be stirred for at least a minute for the powder to disperse. Then there is the matter of the volume of powder required to spike the drink effectively – Palcohol contains only about 10% by volume of alcohol. To have the equivalent effect of a single shot of vodka would require almost half a cupful of the powder – not something easy to conceal, never mind dissolve in a standard drink.

Snorting Palcohol gets you drunk superfast.

This myth is hilariously funny for it would mean snorting about half a cupful of Palcohol to get the same effect as drinking one shot of vodka. What is funnier is that even one snort of the powder would cause the consumer unbearable discomfort and pain.

Palcohol is easier to conceal than liquid alcohol.

Pure alcohol forms only 10% of the volume of the Palcohol that holds it. A far easier and more discrete way to conceal alcohol would be to hide the liquid in a suitable container – a practice that has been used for centuries. Palcohol is just too bulky for any useful amount of it to be carried discretely.

Alcohol is heavier than Palcohol so airlines could save millions on fuel costs by providing Palcohol instead of traditional alcoholic drinks. Similar savings can be obtained through lower shipping costs for resorts that rely on imported alcohol.

This is almost as funny as the idea that snorting Palcohol is a quick way to get drunk. Palcohol contains about 50% alcohol by weight, so clearly it would be far cheaper to transport liquid alcohol than the twice as heavy equivalent amount of Palcohol.

Palcohol presents a higher risk than alcohol on its own.

Palcohol certainly does not present any risk to the consumer greater than that already presented by liquid alcohol. In many ways the risks are lessened due to the form that the alcohol is in when received initially by the consumer. An example of this is Palcohol’s inability to flow like liquid alcohol, so it presents a lesser fire risk. 

However, there is one risk that Palcohol now has the potential to present due to the recent publicity of it as a possible banned substance. It is well known that if any substance is banned, consumption of it inevitably increases. When it's eventually released to the market, I predict that the sale of Palcohol will skyrocket initially due to this publicity and level off to an extent that we may never hear much of its existence again.