HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » drokhole » Journal
Page: 1 2 Next »

drokhole

Profile Information

Member since: Sun Sep 5, 2010, 07:01 PM
Number of posts: 1,047

Journal Archives

"The Mind" - Alan Watts



Created by the YouTube channel Tragedy & Hope and featuring 20th-century philosopher Alan Watts' words, it digs deep on the phenomena of worry and distraction.

Watts begins:

"So then let's consider first of all what is a mind in the grip of vicious circles. Well, one of the most obvious instances that we all know is the phenomenon of worry. The doctor tells you that you have to have an operation. And that has been set up so that automatically everybody worries about it. But since worrying takes away your appetite and your sleep, it's not good for you. But you can't stop worrying and therefore you get additionally worried that you are worrying. And then furthermore because that is quite absurd and you're mad at yourself because you do it, you are worried because you are worried you are worried. That is a vicious circle."

Fighting the growing deserts, with livestock: Allan Savory at TED2013 (*STUNNING RESULTS*)

Savory gave this talk at the TED2013 conference and they just put the video up (one of the most important talks at the entire conference, in my opinion):


(the entire video deserves to be watched, but the changes come in around 15:00)

Here's the article:



Fighting the growing deserts, with livestock: Allan Savory at TED2013

Allan Savory has dedicated his life to studying management of grasslands. And if that doesn’t sound exciting, just wait, because it touches on the deepest roots of climate change and the future of the planet.

“The most massive, tsunami, perfect storm is bearing down on us,” is the grim beginning to Savory’s talk. This storm is the result of rising population, of land that is turning to desert, and, of course, climate change. Savory is also unsure of the belief that new technology will solve all of the problems. He agrees that only tech will create alternatives to fossil fuels, but that’s not the only thing causing climate change."
-------
So what can they do? “There is only one option left to climatologists and scientists. That is to do the unthinkable: to use livestock, bunched and moving, as a proxy for the herds.” Those herds mulch it down, leaving both the trampled grass and their dung. The grass is then free to grow without having damaged with fire.
------
The results are stunning. For location after location he shows two comparison photos, one using his technique, one not. The difference is, “a profound change,” and he’s not kidding — in some cases the locations are unrecognizable (in one case the audience gasped). Not only is the land greener, crop yields are increasing. For example, in Patagonia, an expanding desert, they put 25,000 sheep into one flock. They found an extraordinary 50% improvement in production of land in the first year.

(more at link)


Here's a short video describing the essentials of Holistic Pasture Management:



And here's an old thread of mine that goes into more detail (featuring farmer Joel Salatin):

To Kick Climate Change, Replace Corn With Pastured Beef

Just Beautiful... "It all goes together" - Alan Watts (video)

Whoever cut this did a masterful job with Alan's words. For those who are unfamiliar, Watts is best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Many of his lectures were recorded and can be found in full on YouTube (with countless short clips edited from them, as well). This clip was uploaded a few weeks ago, and I think it's my favorite. Without further ado:

The drugs don't work: a modern medical scandal

The drugs don't work: a modern medical scandal by Ben Goldacre
source: The Guardian

(snip)

Sometimes trials are flawed by design. You can compare your new drug with something you know to be rubbish – an existing drug at an inadequate dose, perhaps, or a placebo sugar pill that does almost nothing. You can choose your patients very carefully, so they are more likely to get better on your treatment. You can peek at the results halfway through, and stop your trial early if they look good. But after all these methodological quirks comes one very simple insult to the integrity of the data. Sometimes, drug companies conduct lots of trials, and when they see that the results are unflattering, they simply fail to publish them.

Because researchers are free to bury any result they please, patients are exposed to harm on a staggering scale throughout the whole of medicine. Doctors can have no idea about the true effects of the treatments they give. Does this drug really work best, or have I simply been deprived of half the data? No one can tell. Is this expensive drug worth the money, or has the data simply been massaged? No one can tell. Will this drug kill patients? Is there any evidence that it's dangerous? No one can tell. This is a bizarre situation to arise in medicine, a discipline in which everything is supposed to be based on evidence.

And this data is withheld from everyone in medicine, from top to bottom. Nice, for example, is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, created by the British government to conduct careful, unbiased summaries of all the evidence on new treatments. It is unable either to identify or to access data on a drug's effectiveness that's been withheld by researchers or companies: Nice has no more legal right to that data than you or I do, even though it is making decisions about effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness, on behalf of the NHS, for millions of people.

In any sensible world, when researchers are conducting trials on a new tablet for a drug company, for example, we'd expect universal contracts, making it clear that all researchers are obliged to publish their results, and that industry sponsors – which have a huge interest in positive results – must have no control over the data. But, despite everything we know about industry-funded research being systematically biased, this does not happen. In fact, the opposite is true: it is entirely normal for researchers and academics conducting industry-funded trials to sign contracts subjecting them to gagging clauses that forbid them to publish, discuss or analyse data from their trials without the permission of the funder.

(snip)

more at the link


There's a lot more, and the entire article is worth the read. Here's Ben Goldacre (the article's author) giving an excellent TEDMED talk on the same subject (it does an adequate job of summing up his findings, if you don't have the time to read the article):



And two more recent in-depth articles to consider, both from this past month in the Journal Sentinel:

What happened to the poster children of OxyContin?
http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/what-happened-to-the-poster-children-of-oxycontin-r65r0lo-169056206.html|

Report: US health care system wastes $750 billion a year
http://www.jsonline.com/news/usandworld/national/report-us-health-care-system-wastes-750b-a-year647ed6ad22f54c9c90393036c03bb5da.html

Edit to add: Just one more particularly maddening excerpt from the article:

When GlaxoSmithKline applied for a marketing authorisation in children for paroxetine, an extraordinary situation came to light, triggering the longest investigation in the history of UK drugs regulation. Between 1994 and 2002, GSK conducted nine trials of paroxetine in children. The first two failed to show any benefit, but the company made no attempt to inform anyone of this by changing the "drug label" that is sent to all doctors and patients. In fact, after these trials were completed, an internal company management document stated: "It would be commercially unacceptable to include a statement that efficacy had not been demonstrated, as this would undermine the profile of paroxetine." In the year after this secret internal memo, 32,000 prescriptions were issued to children for paroxetine in the UK alone: so, while the company knew the drug didn't work in children, it was in no hurry to tell doctors that, despite knowing that large numbers of children were taking it. More trials were conducted over the coming years – nine in total – and none showed that the drug was effective at treating depression in children.

It gets much worse than that. These children weren't simply receiving a drug that the company knew to be ineffective for them; they were also being exposed to side-effects. This should be self-evident, since any effective treatment will have some side-effects, and doctors factor this in, alongside the benefits (which in this case were nonexistent). But nobody knew how bad these side-effects were, because the company didn't tell doctors, or patients, or even the regulator about the worrying safety data from its trials. This was because of a loophole: you have to tell the regulator only about side-effects reported in studies looking at the specific uses for which the drug has a marketing authorisation. Because the use of paroxetine in children was "off-label", GSK had no legal obligation to tell anyone about what it had found.


Kind of reminded me of this...


Metatron's Cube
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metatron's_Cube

It supposedly symbolizes "the gridwork of our consciousness and the framework of our Universe. It is the Matrix in which everything is contained in our three dimensional being."

This is an amazing book on the subject:

A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science
http://issuu.com/hunabkuproductions/docs/a-beginner-s-guide-to-constructing-the-universe---/ (available online here in full)
http://amzn.to/SPpXl0 (available here to purchase...well worth it)


Also, there's a fascinating story I read recently about this guy who sees in fractals:

Real ‘Beautiful Mind’: College Dropout Became Mathematical Genius After Mugging
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/04/27/real-beautiful-mind-accidental-genius-draws-complex-math-formulas-photos/

As the title suggests, the guy "developed" his ability after getting beaten up outside a karaoke bar. Anyway, one of his drawings reminded me of the molecule photo:



Here's a gallery of his work:
http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jason-padgett.html

And here's him explaining, in more detail, what he "sees":

Not at all surprising. There was plenty wrong with the "conclusions" to begin with.

First off, it's disgusting how deep Monsanto/Big Agra's tentacles reach into academia:

Monsanto’s college strangehold
http://www.salon.com/2012/05/14/monsantos_college_strangehold/singleton/

Secondly, the authors of the "meta-analysis" themselves themselves even admitted that they were basing their findings on selective data (and even being selective within that selective data). The authors also admitted to looking "specifically" at vitamins A, C and E. Last I checked, there was a whole freaking host of vitamins and minerals in foods, guess they're just not important. That's not to mention micronutrients, or anti-inflammatory properties, or anti-oxidants, or phytocompounds, or a whole host of other shit that we probably haven't measured, compared, or even thought of yet.

And they conveniently ignored the studies referenced here:

Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products
http://eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm

In addition, Mother Earth News collected samples from 14 pastured flocks across the country (some from farmer Joel Salatin) and had them tested at an accredited laboratory. The results were compared to official US Department of Agriculture data for commercial eggs. Results showed the pastured eggs contained:

1/3 less cholesterol than commercial eggs
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
7 times more beta carotene

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-10-01/Tests-Reveal-Healthier-Eggs.aspx
http://www.polyfaceyum.com//index.php?main_page=index&cPath=67&zenid=bdebfvjhaqe7eukelvnc56rtn0

Guess that didn't make the cut! Not "scientific" enough, I suppose. Oh, I remember them off-the-cuff mentioning how pastured eggs might have a little more omega-3, but that's all, really. Great due diligence!

Not at all to mention the fact that "conventional" farming - including heavy pesticide use - destroys soil. In the United States alone, it's at a pace of 10x more the replenishing rate:

'Slow, insidious' soil erosion threatens human health
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/March06/soil.erosion.threat.ssl.html

And all those synthetic pollutants in the atmosphere, in the soil, and being washed into the waterways does affect our health and make us sicker. So, yes, "organic" foods (though that word covers a broad spectrum of "methods"...the best among them locally-sourced and actively building/growing the soil) do have more health benefits - especially when you look at the greater picture.

Meanwhile, more pesticide resistant superworms and superweeds!

‘Mounting Evidence’ of Bug-Resistant Corn Seen by EPA
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-04/-mounting-evidence-of-bug-resistant-corn-seen-by-epa.html

It's a flawed meta-study (with, apparently, unscrupulous ties to the biotech industry) based on other flawed and selective studies:

5 Ways the Stanford Study Sells Organics Short
http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/five-ways-stanford-study-underestimates-organic-food

Initial Reflections on the Annals of Internal Medicine Paper 'Are Organic Foods Safer and Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?' A Systematic Review
http://www.organicconsumers.org/benbrook_annals_response2012.pdf
(really goes into the misleading statistical "analysis" of pesticide content comparison)

Graham Hancock questions Richard Dawkins on psychedelics and challenging his world view

I thought this was interesting, and that Graham did an excellent job at posing the question:



Notice that Graham emphasizes the scientific approach to the matter - that is, first-hand/direct experience:

"As a scientist," Hancock asked, "have you ever seriously engaged such techniques to have first-hand experience of what they're talking about, and perhaps even to challenge your own concept of what is real?"


I think Dawkins is somewhat dismissive in referring to them as "drugs" (which has a negative connotation - whereas indigenous/shamanic cultures revere these plants/substances as medicines and sacraments) and that he deflected a bit by focusing on his experience with the "God helmet" (since I don't think the experiences are remotely similar), but he was a bit more open to the possibility than I imagined he would be. I was also encouraged to hear that he was familiar with Huxley's opus on the subject matter, going so far as to cite its most famous quote (via Blake). As Huxley also wrote in that book, which directly applies to Dawkins:

"This is an experience of inestimable value to everyone, and especially to the intellectual."


I'd love if top scientists/astronomers/physicians (including the most skeptical among them) were invited to an ayahuasca ritual in the Amazonian jungle, and allowed/encouraged to try this experience firsthand (that is, ayahuasca taken under the guidance of a shaman), and to then hear their reactions afterwards (in both personal interviews and group discussions). Along with Dawkins, I was thinking along the lines of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence M Krauss, Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, David Eagleman, Brian Cox (the physicist), and others across a spectrum of fields (possibly including other thinkers, philosophers, and maybe even religious/spiritual leaders).

What's more, people have reported amazing clarity and insights gained from these experiences - so these experiences may very well induce insights that help further science/our understanding of nature itself. Even with their substantial knowledge/education, these scientists have the potential of walking away with "a far greater understanding of what it means to be a human being living as one with the earth and the cosmos" (talk about Most Astounding Fact!).

There should also be an emphasis on proper preparation for each scientist - meaning, they should be well guided beforehand and be prepared to possibly have their worldview challenged. I had another OP very recently - Brilliant article on Psychedelics covers creative-breakthroughs, transcendent experiences, and more - that went further in-depth about the importance of safe, secure, and informed/skillful/respectful use, with an emphasis on proper preparation and guidance. It also details psychedelics sessions (in this case, LSD) with professionals (including scientists) who had reactions beyond creative/problem-solving breakthroughs (which were a bit more "spiritually" inclined). From two different participants (these quotes are pulled from the book that the article is based on):

"I saw (or was) the cosmos and it came together into a pinpoint of all the light and energy there is and burst and flooded the universe with twinkling stars again.
...
I withdrew for a moment and thought about this rare phenomenon. Again laughter tumbled from the depths of my being. I was trying to do the impossible, to stand back and intellectualize about the most integral thought I had ever experienced...Being transcending the sum of its parts...."


"I encountered an amazing presence, and felt a complete sense of the perfection in everything."


To highlight the importance of direct experience, another said:

"I would not have believed what transpired had it not really occurred to me."


What's great about the ayahuasca ceremonies is that they are done in group settings, so the scientists (in a cross-disciplinary way) would be able to discuss/compare their experience afterwards. Accounts from "everyday" people are fascinating as is (and can be found online and in a number of books), I'd be especially interested to hear what these folks had to say.

"Ancient technologies to alter consciousness and the knowledge learned from such inner explorations pose a challenge to modern science and culture.
...
Modern man and woman have often discounted and trivialized the knowledge of native people, such hubris is shattered upon encountering the legendary vision plants of the rain forest."
- Don José Campos

Brilliant article on Psychedelics covers creative-breakthroughs, transcendent experiences, and more

There is increasingly more and more evidence that taking psychedelics, in a safe, supportive setting (a controlled, natural environment with a guide at hand) and with an informed/prepared/healthy mindset, can be incredibly beneficial on a wide variety of levels - from therapeutically, to physiologically, to creatively, to transcendentally. A recent article at The Morning News by Tim Daly covers all that, and more, incredibly well - and since it's quite in-depth (and quite long), I'll cut right to it. In adhering to the four-five paragraph limit, I'll try to pick a few excerpts that stand out.

The article is centered around Dr. James Fadiman, one of the early pioneers in psychedelic research, and starts by describing one of the last legal psychedelic studies in the '60s (an embargo which lasted until the mid-'90s), which focused on practical problem-solving. In it, top professionals from various fields were asked to bring in problems that they had been working on for months but were making absolutely no progress on. With problems in hand (and in mind), the researchers administered LSD to the volunteers, and after a few hours of relaxing/listening to music, had them go to work:

"In surveys administered shortly after their LSD-enhanced creativity sessions, the study volunteers, some of the best and brightest in their fields, sounded like tripped-out neopagans at a backwoods gathering. Their minds, they said, had blossomed and contracted with the universe. They’d beheld irregular but clean geometrical patterns glistening into infinity, felt a rightness before solutions manifested, and even shapeshifted into relevant formulas, concepts, and raw materials.

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. Fadiman and his colleagues published these jaw-dropping results and closed shop."


There's also mention of some of the more high-profile, psychedelically induced breakthroughs (both of which led to being awarded the Noble Prize):

"Francis Crick (discovered the double-helix structure of DNA) is one and the other: Kary Mullis, who was intermittently under the influence of LSD as he developed the polymerase chain reaction, a genetic sequencing technique through which scientists can detect certain infectious diseases, map the human genome, and trace ancestral heritage back thousands of years."


It also touches on current (though incredibly restricted/limited) research and the positive therapeutic effects being observed:

"Though draconian laws still keep psychedelics from the general public, next-generation administrators at the FDA and DEA have been approving research studies again. The taboo broke with a 1992 investigation of how dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, a fast-acting psychedelic, impacts consciousness; DMT wasn’t burdened by the cultural baggage of its three-lettered cousin. And what began quite haltingly had become, by the middle of the last decade, if not routine then certainly notable: Terminated research from the ’60s was being replicated and even furthered in dozens of studies by big-name players, including Johns Hopkins, NYU, and UCLA. These studies, which almost exclusively explore the psychotherapeutic potential of psychedelics (as opposed to, say, how they might influence creativity), are getting results that would make a Big Pharma rep salivate. Of the hundreds of volunteers who’ve participated, a high majority have said that psychedelics, given in a safe, supportive setting, helped them to, depending on the study, accept imminent mortality, overcome drug and alcohol addiction, mitigate obsessive-compulsive urges, or heal post-traumatic stress disorder."


All the while and throughout, emphasizing the importance of set and setting (particularly being accompanied by an experienced guide):

“I think guides are wonderful,” Fadiman said, “which often gets me dismissed as a radical conservative—a kind of fun thing to be in this crowd. But look, you don’t go to the airport and say, ‘I want to fly a plane.’ And a pilot says, ‘Here’s the keys, pick one of those, and give it a shot.’”


Again, it's longer than most articles, but is truly worth the read. Most of this is also available in Fadiman's equally wonderful, level-headed book (on which the article seems to be based). One of the interesting things he proposes in it are "research and training centers for psychedelic experiences that are safe and secure" - facilitating "wise, reverent and compassionate use" for anything from scientific/intellectual endeavors, to personal therapeutic/self-discovery purposes, to looking to "establish or re-establish or discover a connection to the universe/Divine." And while, for the last one, there are dozens of ways to apprehend the "unitive state" (like meditation, physical postures, breathwork, physical austerities, etc...), pyschedelics - under the proper conditions - are often the most efficacious for the most amount of people (and can offer a shattering clarity like no other).

When it comes to exploring "inner-space" - like the microscope in biology and telescope in astronomy - psychedelics can be very useful tools. Guides can help to facilitate safe and productive sessions, including follow-up interpretation and integration - otherwise, as Alan Watts has said, the experience may be limited to "ecstasy without the insight" (along with there being varying degrees of insight). It's a matter of acknowledging their legitimacy (including the states they induce), and making them available in safe and supportive ways.

I also have a thread from awhile back that delves into some of the specific medical benefits achieved through psychedelic therapy, for anyone interested.







"This is an experience of inestimable value to everyone, and especially to the intellectual."
---
"What we ordinarily call 'reality' is merely that slice of total fact which our biological equipment, our linguistic heritage and our social conventions of thought and feeling make it possible for use to apprehend...LSD permits us to cut another slice."
- Aldous Huxley


"No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves those other forms of consciousness quite disregarded." - William James


“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." - Albert Einstein


"The potential for a mystical experience is the birthright of all human beings." - Stanislov Grof


"The approach to the numinous is the real therapy." - Carl Jung


"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." - William Blake


"To become more aware is your birth right... Whether or not you ever choose to use psychedelic experiences as part of your self-discovery, your decision should be an informed one." - James Fadiman



And, just in case anyone missed the link to the article:

The Heretic
by Tim Doody

Biodynamic farmer extraordinaire Joel Salatin gives an amazing TEDMED 2012 talk

I know it's a conference dealing with health and medicine, but it's just as relevant to caring for the environment and viewing it in a biological/interrelated/immensely complex manner rather than a blind/stupid/mechanistic process:




Along the same lines, there's a lecture from Zen philosopher Alan Watts that's worth listening to. It's a bit long (roughly 50 minutes), but complements Salatin's remarks incredibly well. Namely, how we've come to dissociate our relationship with and connection to Nature (which itself is a clumsy way of putting it on my part, since we ourselves are Nature). Worth setting time aside for, or having on in the background, or digesting in chunks, or whatever:

Howard Zinn really nailed it on the head...

"I do not like experts. They are our jailers. I despise experts more than anyone on earth.... They solve nothing! They are servants of whatever system hires them. They perpetuate it. When we are tortured, we shall be tortured by experts. When we are hanged, experts will hang us.... When the world is destroyed, it will be destroyed not by its madmen but by the sanity of its experts and the superior ignorance of its bureaucrats..

We are expected to believe that great thinkers-experts-are objective, that they have no axes to grind and no biases, and that they make pure intellectual judgments. However, the minds of all human beings are powerfully influenced (though not totally bound) by their backgrounds, by whether they are rich or poor, male or female, black or white or Asian, in positions of power, or in lowly circumstances. Even scientists making "scientific" observations know that what they see will be affected by their position.

Why should we cherish "objectivity," as if ideas were innocent, as if they don't serve one interest or another? Surely, we want to be objective if that means telling the truth as we see it, not concealing information that may be embarrassing to our point of view. But we don't want to be objective if it means pretending that ideas don't play a part in the social struggles of our time, that we don't take sides in those struggles.

Indeed, it is impossible to be neutral. In a world already moving in certain directions, where wealth and power are already distributed in certain ways, neutrality means accepting the way things are now. It is a world of clashing interests-war against peace, nationalism against internationalism, equality against greed, and democracy against elitism-and it seems to me both impossible and undesirable to be neutral in those conflicts."

-- Howard Zinn, from Declarations of Independence
Go to Page: 1 2 Next »