Wednesday, 17 March 2010

What's wrong with Mexico?

There's a recurrent problem with Mexico, and it's that we don't face the truth, we don't like to expose our mistakes and feel ashamed when they are exposed, specially out of the country.   Mexico is a very complex society, with too many good things, but also too many vices that come from generations ago, and are still present.

Probably I took the easy way, in going out from there and try to find a better professional opportunity in the UK, I felt very disappointed with the mexican society after the 2006 elections, not only with the politicians, that never have gain any of my trust, but how society itself reacted. Yes, the mexican government has a lot to be blame in the current state, but also the citizens and the prevailing mindset in a great percentage of the population. I basically left because a very good job opportunity was ahead, but also because I felt depressed of the current state of the country, granted, we are not in the fringe of the third world, we are a developing nation that has a future, we are even rich if compared with other latinamerican countries, not to mention african or asian ones, but things are not changing in the rate I would like for me to have the life I wanted.

So, taking into account that and other personal factors I decided to leave.  But even in the distance it hurts to see the problems of my country, a country that has the potential to be a successful and rich one.

There are some problems on which the mexican society are not really to blame, as the drug traffic issue, who is a combined problem between the corruption of mexican governments and the USA society and government. We can not hope to finish with that problem when the USA keeps being the major drug consumer of the world, and when they sell all the weapons to the drug cartels, that most of the time are even better than the ones the police in Mexico has.That is a share responsibility that it seems it's out of sight for the people in the north of the border, even when there is some hope if one want to believe the Obama speeches about it.

But many other problems are indeed responsibility of the Mexican society itself, not to blame others on it, the corruption from the common people who prefer to give money to a police man than face the repercussions of braking the law, either in the form of driving in alcoholic state, going beyond the speed limit, or do not obey a traffic light, from the student who copy on their exams as if nothing was wrong with it, or the common citizen that buys pirate music and films from a clandestine industry that is related to other more serious criminal organizations. From there to the highest level of corruption in the government.

This video is one of the best portraits of Mexican reality, the problems it has, the possible solutions, the challenges it face. And I would like to share with my readers, who may be interested in that.

I would like to have a sense of hope, and think that our generation and the ones below will be able to change this, we do have some things that are changing, but still, I'm not quite optimist about all the matter, I'm rather sceptical about it.  But I do want to be able to see change happening in my life time.

Do you think there's hope? Do you think things are going to change? What do, us, common people can do to help this happen?

Friday, 12 March 2010


These days it is rare to turn on the telly and catch up a series that is not just more of the same bollocks.  I watched the complete series of Battle Star Galactica and find it quite good, refreshing and funny, with a weird end though. But after have seen that series, I’m now into  Caprica, the prequel series that take place 50 years before the events on BSG. 

Battle Star was good, full of adrenaline, good effects, interesting plot, and fun; but Caprica is becoming even better.   In a world where is not trendy to question things, and where polarities are becoming alarmingly big, and both theists and atheists call the other idiot, if not something worst, Caprica dares to go and talk about religion, about terrorism, about Artificial Intelligence, about xenophobia, about moral issues. 

The story develops in a polytheistic society, a refreshing view TBH, which of course is not perfect, but that has to face the thread of the emerging monotheism.  A monotheistic cult, and terrorist group, called the Soldiers of The One, is responsible of a big terrorist attack that starts all the events that will, as we know, end on the Cylon wars.

One of the worst legacies of monotheisms on this planet has being intolerance. Not that intolerance would not exist without it, but it has rise it up and legitimize it in a very dangerous way.  Before monotheisms people did not wondered if the other’s God was real, or if they had the responsibility of get rid of their ignorance and false idols to the rest of the planet, since the The One and only God is the only valid belief. Ironically, in today’s world, it seems that militant atheism is the inheritor of that, now they want to “save the believers from ignorance” and deny that any other possibility that is not an absence of gods can be valid.  Caprica acknowledge this fact, and portraits the dangers of monotheism:

The man investigating the bombing looks at the dangerous philosophy he sees lurking within monotheism:
It doesn’t concern you, Sister, that kind of absolutist view of the universe? Right and wrong determined solely by a single all-knowing, all-powerful being whose judgment cannot be questioned, and in whose name the most horrendous of acts can be sanctioned without appeal? 

But not everything in Caprica is about monotheism vs polytheism, there is much more, and obviously being a Sci-Fi series technology is the centre of action.  A.I. is the big player here, not a novelty to listen to the premise of A.I. rebelling themselves against the humans and trying to eliminate them, we have Terminator, the Matrix, etc.  It is not Asimov’s Robot series, and the paradoxes and behaviours of the perfect servant; what it makes Caprica a little bit different is that it goes into the question of what Consciousness is, what a person is, and how we can replicate/create a new consciousness:

The human brain contains roughly 300 megabytes of information. Not much when you get right down to it. The question isn’t how to store it, it’s how to access it. You can’t download a personality. There’s no way to translate the data. But the information being held in our heads is available in other databases. People leave more than footprints as they travel through life…. medical scans, DNA profiles, psych evaluations, school records, emails, recording, video, audio, cat scans genetic typing, synaptic records, security cameras, test results, shopping records, talent shows, ball games, traffic tickets, restaurant bills, phone records, music lists, movie tickets, tv shows… even prescriptions for birth control.

What is that makes us sentient beings, what is our personality, character, soul? And, can it be emulated?

And this A.I. is very special, and is precisely how we know that is not just a very smart avatar, but really a conscious being,  Zoe, the Eve of the Cylons, hopes and believes.  She have faith, she have hopes and she believes that there is a purpose on her existence, is not just that she’s self aware, is that she has gain consciousness and creativity.  If an A.I. can reach faith, love, hopes and dreams, then is it just a machine, or is it a new kind of conscious being that we create?

There’s also other side themes, as minorities and xenophobia, on the portrait of the Tauron and Gemenon societies that basically are portraits of the third world in the series. And the moral issues of virtual reality and games.

In one phrase, I think that Caprica is Frakking amazing! I’m enjoying it very much

Have about you?  Are you following Caprica? What do you think of the themes shown on the series?...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Inteligent Design and Self-aware Universe

It’s always refreshing to read intelligent people that give you food for thought.  THIS ENTRY on Divine Caesar’s blog was definitely one of those cases, and I would like to dedicate this post as a response, and to share them to all of you as well.

The topic of Intelligent design is a picky one, since is often associated, wrongly, with the fanatic creationist ideas of some Christians.  Science and religion do not need to be necessarily opposites, actually both are daughters of the everlasting mother philosophy, and they can find ways of stand on common ground.

A lot of scientist have refuse to see the Universe (or should I say now the Multiverse) as a random system that is only there by chance.  Even if they don’t embrace the idea of a personal God, they acknowledge that the Universe is a very complex system, actually a group of complex systems that is so fine-tuned, that has so many connexions and coincidences, that is very likely that the universe is doing something purposive.

Science has focus too much and too many times in a materialist point of view, that has loose that from sight, it seemed that there was no need of a transcendent reality, since everything could be down to matter.  However, as theoretical physics go forward, and quantum physics are better understood, it seems obvious that a purely material world has too many paradoxes, and in few words, things that don’t make sense if we only consider this. On the spiritual side, some philosophies tried to get along with this materialistic view, and some pantheistic world views emerge, God is the Universe, and everything on it, but then is limited to the material world, and then again there’s no purpose on it and do not explain things that go beyond matter, as creativity, or love, not  to mention the spiritual transcendence ideas that have being present in almost every culture of the world.

But quantum physics can’t be understood on a materialistic point of view, since things on a quantum level, are not things, they are just possibilities, everything is just a possibility wave, Alain Aspect made an important discovery about this and the action that two photons can have over each other instantly, without depending of time and space.

Of course before him we have Schrödinger's cat principle and we have Everett’s Multiverse based on the creation of different realities by our will.  Just to mention a few.   So reality is not matter, reality is a bunch of waves of possibility, and therefore they have the potential to be transcendent, that is beyond matter.

That leads to a possible conclusion, is not the interaction of matter and energy what shapes the universe, is the consciousness what shapes it.  However given the interaction between consciousness and matter, we really can make the traditional western separation of matter and spirit, we will need to see them both as part of the same.    That could mean that the Great Spirit of the Universe is contained in all the Universe but at the same time it transcends it, what is called panentheism. But to be connected will means that this Spirit will need self interaction, a self aware universe, to be able to shape itself, to shape the reality and pass from a potential one to a factual real one as we perceived it, where there’s time and space.   So probably the big bang was a time when one part of the Multiverse have self-feedback and awareness, and that the expansion, the movement, the evolution of planets and life, is just a process of self-awareness and shape, and this process needs to follow the rules of this fine-tuned machinery, called reality, on which every part, every action, every thought, every creation of the mind or the body has a purpose, a reason.

For example, one of the big mysteries of evolution is what is called the Theory of punctuated equilibrium,  on which there are times where evolution jumps its usual time patter, to rapid epochs of evolution.   If we see consciousness as the primary source then we could explain or at least see a phenomena of creativity, that is shaping the reality to a different path.

This approach, which I favour, not only conciliates spirituality and science, but make them interlink into a common source.   No more the dualism that separates spirit-matter as the usual western monotheistic approach, neither the pantheistic materialistic one who limits the spirit to matter,  nor the atheist materialism who denies any transcendence, but a way to understand different our world, which is also consistent with the way it works in reality.

So, do you think matter is all there is?  Do you think that science and spirituality can get along?  What do you think that an intelligent design that embraces reality and possibilities?

From the disbelief to the distrust

Science do not require belief, actually science try to fight belief most of the time in favour of trusting what can be proved and demonstrated, and the things that can’t be proved or demonstrated as religion and philosophy, are just taken apart, out of the scope of science. However every day I see more and more people refusing to trust science, to some extremes that are frankly alarming.

I just read this excellent article who discusses the topic: The trouble with trusting complex science, and I recommend its reading, it talks about a lot of problems that science and the general public face in this day and age.

The first one is about the access to the information. Let’s face it, science is not easy to be understood if you don’t have a basic scientific training, in could be confusing and boring to the “lay” people, and even if all the scientific knowledge was open to everybody, just a few will understand it for real. However, the alarming thing is that people who can have a basic understanding do not read the scientific studies for two main things. First laziness, except for some science geeks like myself, people don’t want to spend hours reading papers about science if it is not their “homework”, and second, availability, most of the primary sources of information, the first hand knowledge is published solely in scientific journals, that sadly, are not for free. So spending 20 quid to read just one article that may interest you, is out of the question for many. I think that information, specially this important information should be free, why to keep the firsthand knowledge in the hands of just a few?

After this, people then rely in second, third or fourth hand sources to inform themselves, in this era of information, disinformation is equally powerful and disturbing. Some popular books and media articles use pseudoscientific vocabulary to, ironically, attack science and it’s facts.

But Why? I mean if someone would publish a book saying that in reality the planets, sun and moon orbit the earth, and that all the satellite, telescope and books about the heliocentric nature of our planetary system is just a conspiracy and that there are no facts to sustain it... what will you think about him/her? My first thought will be, why do you believe that? Why are you refusing to see the evidence? And who benefits with you and your friends questioning some accepted facts?

Well, there are a lot of examples of people doing this: there are the creationist who call evolution a “laughable theory” and think that everything happened as the Bible said. There are the climate change deniers, who refuse to take the evidence into account and shout that everything is just a conspiracy, there are the ones who believe that sugar pills and drops of water can cure people even when evidence says that they don’t; there are the ones who believe that they daily horoscope is going to give them hints of their future, even when it’s just psychological discourses so open to interpretation that anyone can relate to them, oh and by the way they don’t even acknowledge that the star map on our skies is so different from ancient Greece. And the list goes on and on, and on.


Well, I have not all the answers of course, but I have some clues of what are the ulterior motives. And we are not talking about conspiracy theories of a New World Order in a magnitude as you can see in youtube. But realistic economic and political interests that move all that along. Information means power, disinformation means much more power, if you are able to confuse people to the extent that they don’t know what is real and what is not, to the extend that everything becomes relative, then those people are easier to manage, to keep them consuming without thinking of the consequences, of saying any lie enough times so the public think is true, to gain the war against critical thought, against rational and honest scrutiny, and therefore have free road to do as they want. This is no conspiracy is a reality that has being in use for centuries, mastered by many people from the Roman Emperors, later the Roman Popes, the Kings and Queens, or the dictators and the people behind them, from Richelieu to Goebbels.

It seems that people don’t care about facts and the truth, I was amazed when I read on the article I mentioned before this: In 2008 the Washington Post summarised recent psychological research on misinformation. This shows that in some cases debunking a false story can increase the number of people who believe it. In one study, 34% of conservatives who were told about the Bush government's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were inclined to believe them. But among those who were shown that the government's claims were later comprehensively refuted by the Duelfer report, 64% ended up believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It looks that even when evidence is thrown to their faces they refuse to accept it. And here we are not talking about the “interests” behind, they just put the trail of bread-crumbs, but is the people the one who enter freely and on their free will to their game.


Because it is easier. Let’s take the example of climate change deniers. Accepting that there’s a climate change and that man-generated pollution is affecting it to a great degree is not easy to embrace, because there’s then only two options, either you become a cynical person that cares for no-one but himself and continues consuming and wasting energy, and on a consumerist way of life, prey of fashion and false needs. Or you realize that the only way of fighting this challenge is that everyone of us, not only our governments, make a change in our lives, attitudes, habits, etc. So the easy stance is “I’m not going to change”. But since most of people don’t want to feel like insensitive selfish bitches, then, deny that there’s a problem, hence embrace those theories. Like an alcoholic who refuses to accept his problem and says that you are limiting his freedom to drink if you say to him that is wrong. Another example, the horoscopes and homeopathy. People usually can bare the thought of not having control of their lives, not knowing what is going to happen next. Let’s face it, people need certainty and stability, one way or another, they need also hope, those things give people that, even when it’s a false sense of it.

So what can we do? Is there any solution to this?, or are we going to live in an age where science is less and less trust, with a big risk of getting ahead to a new age of obscurantism, a new middle ages, but now fuelled by relativism, and disinformation.

As I said, I have no answers, but questions. I firmly believe that education is the key, real education, teaching people to be honest and critical, to think for themselves, to reach for the truth, to get their own information instead of third or fourth sources, I think is the only way, although sometimes I think is not enough.

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