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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Serendipity – How the Late Osho and Manasataramgini think alike :-)

Posted by desicontrarian on July 15, 2013

There was a cat who became all-knowing. She became famous among cats – so much so that she came to be looked upon as a tirthankara. The reason for her becoming all-knowing was that she found a way of sneaking into the library. She knew everything about this library. By everything I mean the means of entry to  and exit from the library, which set of books was most comfortable to snuggle against, which books gave warmth in the winter and which were cool in the summer, et cetera.

So the word went around among  the cats that if anybody wanted any knowledge about the library, the all-knowing cat could provide the answer. Naturally, there was no doubt about such a one who knew everything about the library being omniscient. This cat even had followers. But the fact remained that she knew nothing. All that she knew about  books was whether she could sit behind them comfortably, which books had cloth binding, which were warm, which were not etc. She had not the least idea of what was inside the book. How could a cat know what is inside a book?

There are such all-knowing cats among men too, who know how to shield themselves with books.

Osho – Kundalini Yoga

Is that some coincidence, or what? I’m salivating,  trying to guess the identity of the cat-among-men. Any pointers?

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Posted in Philosophy, Science | 2 Comments »

The Primary Axiom of Science is Unscientific

Posted by desicontrarian on July 19, 2012

An out-of-body experience can be replicated in a lab by stimulating parts of the brain. A near-death experience—going through a tunnel with a light at the end—is just a trick of the brain. “We know exactly why it happens. In the visual cortex at the back of the brain, lots of cells are laid out towards the middle of the visual field. At the periphery there are very few cells and poor vision. When you come near death or take certain drugs like LSD or mescaline, the brain cells start firing very fast randomly. And that random noise looks like a white light in the middle where there are lots of cells, phasing out towards the dark of the periphery (which gives the illusion of a tunnel). As it gets brighter and stronger, the light appears to be coming towards you”.

So they say, the scientists.

If we are seeing white light because the middle cells in the visual cortex are firing rapidly, it means that these middle cells exist and not the white light, eh? The peripheral cells exist and therefore cause the tunnel vision, right? As laymen, we can’t empirically verify that this is what is happening. So we accept what the scientist says. Oh yes, we “know” that the neuro-scientist can replicate it by injecting drugs or electrodes into our brain, but again, we did not personally verify it, did we? It just became another belief, since scientists are the authority we accept. How different is it from scriptural acceptance?

What is happening with this neuro-scientific line of thinking? Basically, the brain exists as physical matter, the electrical/chemical energy activity causes experiences for the brain-owner to classify as Real Things, and therefore it is all a panorama of subtle physical matter/energy causing illusory phenomena. This is considered Objective Reality if a large no. of brain owners accept it.

The primary axiom is still that ONLY physical matter only exists, whether gross or subtle. This axiom is not falsifiable, and therefore unscientific. This axiom is never questioned for its lack of rigour.  This is similar to a 2-dimensional being unable to fathom that there are things happening in a higher dimension for which he has no access, even in thought.

An observer standing in the corner of a room has three directions naturally marked out for him; one is upwards along the line of meeting of the two walls; another is forwards where the floor meets one of the walls; a third is sideways where the floor meets the other wall. He can proceed to any part of the floor of the room by moving first the right distance along one wall, and then by turning at right angles and walking parallel to the other wall. He walks in this case first of all in the direction of one of the straight lines that meet in the corner of the floor, afterwards in the direction of the other. By going more or less in one direction or the other, he can reach any point on the floor, and any movement, however circuitous, can be resolved into simple movements in these two directions.

But by moving in these two directions he is unable to raise himself in the room. If he wished to touch a point in the ceiling, he would have to move in the direction of the line in which the two walls meet. There are three directions then, each at right angles to both the other, and entirely independent of one another. By moving in these three directions or combinations of them, it is possible to arrive at any point in a room. And if we suppose the straight lines which meet in the corner of the room to be prolonged indefinitely, it would be possible by moving in the direction of those three lines, to arrive at any point in space. Thus in space there are three independent directions, and only three; every other direction is compounded of these three. The question that comes before us then is this. “Why should there be three and only three directions?” Space, as we know it, is subject to a limitation.

In order to obtain an adequate conception of what this limitation is, it is necessary to first imagine beings existing in a space more limited than that in which we move. Thus we may conceive a being who has been throughout all the range of his experience confined to a single straight line. Such a being would know what it was to move to and fro, but no more. The whole of space would be to him but the extension in both directions of the straight line to an infinite distance. It is evident that two such creatures could never pass one another. We can conceive their coming out of the straight line and entering it again, but they having moved always in one straight line, would have no conception of any other direction of motion by which such a result could be effected. The only shape which could exist in a one-dimensional existence of this kind would be a finite straight line. There would be no difference in the shapes of figures; all that could exist would simply be longer or shorter straight lines.

Again, to go a step higher in the domain of a conceivable existence. Suppose a being confined to a plane superficies, and throughout all the range of its experience never to have moved up or down, but simply to have kept to this one plane. Suppose, that is, some figure, such as a circle or rectangle, to be endowed with the power of perception; such a being if it moves in the plane superficies in which it is drawn, will move in a multitude of directions; but, however varied they may seem to be, these directions will all be compounded of two, at right angles to each other. By no movement so long as the plane superficies remains perfectly horizontal, will this being move in the direction we call up and down. And it is important to notice that the plane would be different to a creature confined to it, from what it is to us. We think of a plane habitually as having an upper and a lower side, because it is only by the contact of solids that we realize a plane. But a creature which had been confined to a plane during its whole existence would have no idea of there being two sides to the plane he lived in. In a plane there is simply length and breadth. If a creature in it be supposed to know of an up or down he must already have gone out of the plane.

In normal states known to us, we have three separate things – The Known, The Knower and the Knowledge (Object, Subject, Process). In Yogic literature, it is said that when the separation vanishes (all 3 merge into one), the knowledge is Real and Complete. There are no mistakes of perception. This is called Turiya. A person who is really interested in knowing should strive to reach this state. Until then, he or she does not really know.

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 7 Comments »

Is the world an illusion?

Posted by desicontrarian on July 13, 2009

Francis Crick, An Astonishing Hypothesis.

1. a person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cellsglial cells, and the atoms,ions, and molecules that make them up and influence them.

2. You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules

Descartes, Meditations on first Philosophy

I have formerly accepted as true and certain those things I learn through the senses. Like the fact that I am seated by this fire, in a dressing gown, with this paper in my hands. And how could I deny that this body is mine, unless I was as mad as those whose cerebella are so clouded by black bile that they believe they have an earthenware head or a glass body? Yet, I must remember that I have dreams, which are almost as insane. Often I have dreamt that I was dressed and seated near this fire, whilst I was lying undressed in bed! It seems to me that I am now awake, but I remind myself that I have dreamt that too. Yet even dreams are formed out of things real and true. Just as a painter represents sirens or satyrs from a medley of different animals; even quite novel images are still composed of real colours.

For the same reason, although general things may be imaginary, we are bound to confess that there are simpler objects which are real and true; such as colours, quantity or magnitude and number. That is why Physics, Astronomy, Medicine and those sciences which consider composite things, are dubious; but Arithmetic, Geometry and sciences which treat of things very simple and general contain some certainty. For whether I am awake or asleep, two and three always form five, and a square has four sides. It does not seem possible that truths so clear and apparent can be uncertain.

Meditation two.

I knew that I could eat and walk, but that would be impossible if my body were a deceit. I knew that I had sensations. But one cannot feel without body, and besides, I have dreamt of having sensations. What of thinking? This surely is an attribute that belongs to me; it alone cannot be separated from me. Could it be the case that if I ceased to think, then I would cease to exist?

Putting aside all which is not necessarily true: then I can accurately state that I am no more than a thing which thinks, that is to say a mind or a soul, or an understanding, or a reason.

I am, however, a real thing; but what thing? I have answered: a thing which thinks. I exist, but what am I? I am the I whom I know exists. The very knowledge of my existence does not depend on uncertain things, nor could I feign it; for there would still be the I that feigns things. I am a thinking thing which doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, imagines and feels.

From Slate Magazine

  1. Scientists at a Chinese robotic engineering institute remotely controlled a flying pigeon.First they implanted tiny electrodes in its brain. By activating the electrodes from a computer, they “forced the bird to comply with their commands,” flying right, left, up, or down.
  2. Scientists in Germany used pattern recognition software to predict, from functional magnetic resonance imaging of people’s brains, whether each person had secretly decided to add or subtract two numbers he was looking at. The computer correctly predicted the decision 71 percent of the time.
  3. By implanting electrodes in rats’ brains, scientists have created remote-controlled rodents they can command to turn left or right, climb trees and navigate piles of rubble and maybe someday, with the rats outfitted with tiny video cameras, use to search for disaster survivors.

    “If you have a collapsed building and there are people under the rubble, there’s no robot that exists now that would be capable of going down into such a difficult terrain and finding those people, but a rat would be able to do that,” said John Chapin, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at the State University of New York in Brooklyn.The lab animals aren’t exactly robot rats. They had to be trained to carry out the commands.

    Chapin’s team fitted five rats with electrodes and power-pack backpacks. When signaled by a laptop computer, the electrodes stimulated the rodents’ brains and cued them to scurry in the desired direction, then rewarded them by stimulating a pleasure center in the brain. The rats’ movements could be controlled up to 1,640 feet away, the length of more than five football fields.

The delightful essay by Daniel Dennett, Where Am I ( a must read)

……..

………

……  No way had been found to shield the brain from these deadly rays, which were apparently harmless to other tissues and organs of the body. So it had been decided that the person sent to recover the device shouldleave his brain behind.

………………

………………

The day for surgery arrived at last and of course I was anesthetized and remember nothing of the operation itself. When I came out of anesthesia, I opened my eyes, looked around, and asked the inevitable, the traditional, the lamentably hackneyed postoperative question: “Where am l?”

……………..

……………..

“Yorick,” I said aloud to my brain, “you are my brain. The rest of my body, seated in this chair, I dub ‘Hamlet.’ ” So here we all are: Yorick’s my brain, Hamlet’s my body, and I am Dennett. Avow, where am l? And when I think “where am l?” where’s that thought tokened? Is it tokened in my brain, lounging about in the vat, or right here between my ears where it seems to be tokened? Or nowhere? Its temporal coordinates give me no trouble; must it not have spatial coordinates as well?

…………

………….

Thus, leading scientists, philosophers and lab technicians are confronting the problem of the world experience.  Maaya philosophy of Hinduism, under attack by materialists, gets indirect and tentative nods from such findings and speculations.

Statements like Hindus  have a school-boy philosophy of Maaya –  are questionable. The question is – is Maaya philosophy valid, invalid or partly valid?

We may be like mice in a maze, and unable to look at the maze from the outside. The world that we see is a creation of our brain/mind. If we can “jump ouside the maze”, then we might be able to see the entire landscape of the maze.

What is the maze made up of? Our thoughts, feelings, bodily and mental sensations and perceptions.  Each of them is another sub-maze in itself. We do not know which thought, feeling, sensation or perception will happen to us after 2 minutes, nay, the next instant.

Therefore, we need to closely watch these streams of our mind. They are not static, but dynamic, chaotic and incoherent.  The idea is to watch them like a witness, without interfering with them and perturbing the mind even more. As we watch, we gain the calmness and stillness which allows us to see the mind which creates the experience. If this mind is stilled, the walls of the maze are dissolved and a lofty horizon opens up to us.

This is what the 5 schools of Yoga (Hatha yoga, Jnana yoga, Bhakthi yoga, Raja yoga and Karma yoga) aim to achieve through various practices. The various ways are according to the practitioners’ temperaments. Each human being can chose to follow any of these paths, and understand his true identity and possibilities.

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 3 Comments »

Nuclear dilemma 3

Posted by desicontrarian on June 6, 2009

My pen-friend didn’t like it! He wrote again.

” Earth is better off without us” – That’s being extremely fatalistic. What do we care for an earth without us? 

So I wrote back.

Before I was born, I had a family. My family tree comes before me, and will live on long after I’m gone. I am going to die one day. I am not fatalistic about it. Its a fact. But my family tree will go on. Its life span is far greater than me, an individual leaf. My family tree is part of a bigger community. This community was there before my family tree, and may live on long after my family tree comes to an end. Continue this line of thought.

My nation is bigger than my community, and will outlast the community. My species is bigger than my nation. Life is bigger than my species. And the place where Life started, The Earth, is bigger than Life itself. So the Earth is needed, even if my species is not there! This is not fatalism, just a way of looking which is not Anthropocentric. Its called a Bio-centric view.

This is just like saying that the body of a living being is bigger than its cells, tissues, organs, and systems functioning within – like the skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, glandular system & nervous system. True, some organs are all-important, like the heart, the lungs & the brain. But the body can exist even without some of these. In the same way, I consider that each human being as a leaf of the branch called Humanity, and each species, as a branch in the tree called Life. And this tree in turn is a part of The Earth, which also contains Non-life.

So, when visionaries like Lovelock talk of Gaia, this is what I think they mean. The Earth is a Living, Breathing Entity. In the film “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore clearly shows how this breathing cycle works. Seasons occur because of it. The absorption of carbon dioxide by the planet’s plants and its photosynthesis into oxygen forms part of the cycle of breathing. Even the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere are akin to the three breathing lobes of our chest. A NASA satellite has observed a “breathing,” an expansion and contraction, of the Earth’s upper atmosphere in response to periodic, high-speed solar winds. The northern hemisphere contains most of the vegetation on the Earth’s land mass. When this hemisphere is tilted to The Sun in the spring & summer, the leaves come out and breathe in the CO2. The amount of the CO2 in the atmosphere goes down, because of photosynthesis. But when the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, in the autumn and winter, the leaves fall out, exhale the CO2, and is amount in the atmosphere goes up. The Earth thus inhales & exhales once a year!

Suns’s radiation comes to the Earth in the form of light waves. This radiation heats up the earth. Some of this is absorbed and the rest is reflected back into space in the form of infra-red rays. Some of this outgoing radiation is trapped by the earth’s atmosphere and warms it. This keeps the temperatures on earth within livable boundaries.

What has now happened is the thickening of the outer layer of the atmosphere due to industrial and other forms of pollution. The greenhouse gases. A constriction in the outer circle of the Earth’s atmosphere which traps carbon-di-oxide and the radiation inside and does not allow it to escape into space. The result is Global warming.

Its as though The Earth has a fever. It has had such fevers before, in cycles of 100,000 years. I believe that The Ice Age followed the last fever. The Earth will outlive the fever, come out better and start the next attempt at incubating new forms of Life.

Thats not a fatalistic view at all! Its just that this view is grander than our small lives, and understandably lead us into “What do we care for an earth without us? “.

Posted in Public affairs, Science | Leave a Comment »

Nuclear dilemma 2

Posted by desicontrarian on June 6, 2009

My pen friend, who resembles me (ideologically) at a younger age, wrote.

You have quoted from authentic texts about the environmental hazards of nuclear plants.

Then you concluded that ” I was against nuclear energy earlier but now I am not sure now”

Why this this uncertainty?  There is a world wide publicity bombardment putting forth the thesis that nuclear energy is solution to world’s energy crisis. This propaganda through politicians,  academics,  scientists,  media & what have you – is mainly sponsored by nuclear plant/technology manufacturers’ lobby,  who invested huge money in nuclear research & out creating market for their letahl ware.

India bought that propaganda hook, line & stinker recently. They must have done lot of ‘educating’ the wogs a la Enron.

My answer:

There are always at least 2 sides to any question. I always try not to see only one side. Even in this kind if “Qayamat”, there are no easy answers.

Please read what an Earth-lover and leading climate scientist has to say on the current energy crisis – here and here.

Bottom line. Too many people, too much greed, too much consumption, too little energy. The Earth is better off without us. Irresistible force meets immovable object.

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Nuclear energy – do we need it?

Posted by desicontrarian on June 6, 2009

Extracts from “The Turning point” by Fritjof Capra.
Begin extract.
—————
1. Only ten to twenty pounds of plutonium are required lo make a bomb, and each nuclear reactor produces four hundred to five hundred pounds of plutonium annually, enough for twenty to fifty atomic bombs. Through plutonium, reactor technology and weapons technology have become inseparably linked.
2. Politicians in Third World countries often welcome nuclear technology, however, because it gives them a chance to use it for building nuclear weapons. By the end of the century dozens of countries will possess enough nuclear material to manufacture bombs of their own, and we can expect those countries to copy the American patterns of behavior and use their nuclear power to make aggressive threats.
3. The health hazards of nuclear power are of an ecological nature and operate on an extremely large scale, both in space and in time. Nuclear power plants, and military facilities release radioactive substances that contaminate the environment, thus affecting all living organisms, including humans. The effects are not immediate but gradual, and they are accumulating to more dangerous levels all the time. In the human organism these substances contaminate the internal environment with many medium- and long term consequences, Cancer tends to develop after ten to forty years, and genetic diseases can appear in future generations. 4. In the process of producing energy from nuclear power, both the workers in the nuclear industry and the whole natural environment are contaminated with radioactive substances at every step of the ‘fuel cycle.’ This cycle begins with the mining, milling, and enrichment of uranium, continues with the fabrication of fuel rods and the operation and maintenance of the reactor, and ends with the handling and storage or reprocessing of nuclear waste. The radioactive substances that escape into the environment at every stage of this process emit particles – alpha particles,(Alpha particles are compounds of two protons and two neutrons. ) electrons, or protons – that can be highly energetic, penetrating the skin and damaging body cells. Radioactive substances can also be ingested with contaminated food or water and will then do their damage from within.
5. Another major problem of nuclear power is the disposal of nuclear waste. Each reactor annually produces tons of radioactive waste that remains toxic for thousands of vears. Plutonium, the most dangerous of the radioactive byproducts, is also the most long-lived; it remains poisonous for at least 500,000 years. (The half-life of plutonium (Pu-239) – the time after which one-half of a given quantity has decayed – is 24,400 years. This means chat if one gram of plu ionium is released into the environment, about one-millionth of a gram will be left after 500,000 years, a quantity which is minute but still toxic.) It is difficult to grasp the enormous length of this time span, which far exceeds the length of time we are used to contemplating within our individual lifetimes, or within the lifetime of a society, nation, or civilization. Half million years is more than one hundred times longer than all of recorded history. It is a time span fifty times longer than that from the end of the Ice Age to the present day, and more than ten times longer than our entire existence as humans with our present physical characteristics.(The ancestors of the European races are usually identified with the Cro-Magnon race, which appeared about 30,000 years ago and possessed all modern skeletal characteristics, including the large brain.) This is the length of time that plutonium must be isolated from the environment. What moral right do we have to leave such a deadly legacy to thousands and thousands of generations?
————-
End of extract.
Arundhati Roy also wrote eloquently about this in “The End of Imagination”. 
I was against nuclear energy earlier, but now I am not so sure. James Lovelock, the leading scientist and father of the Gaia movement, now prefers nuclear energy to fossil fuels. The main problem seems to be the human demand for unsustainable amounts of energy.

I used to read a lot of counter-culture books as a student.  Of course,  mostly Anglo-American. A high-impact book was  “The Turning point”  by Fritjof Capra.  After that, I became an ardent anti-nuclearist! This was nearly 25 years ago. I still think it is a profound book, better than his cult best-seller “The Tao of Physics”.

Here he is on nuclear energy in chapter 8 –  “The dark side of growth” .

1. Only ten to twenty pounds of plutonium are required lo make a bomb, and each nuclear reactor produces four hundred to five hundred pounds of plutonium annually, enough for twenty to fifty atomic bombs. Through plutonium, reactor technology and weapons technology have become inseparably linked.

2. Politicians in Third World countries often welcome nuclear technology, however, because it gives them a chance to use it for building nuclear weapons. By the end of the century dozens of countries will possess enough nuclear material to manufacture bombs of their own, and we can expect those countries to copy the American patterns of behavior and use their nuclear power to make aggressive threats.

3. The health hazards of nuclear power are of an ecological nature and operate on an extremely large scale, both in space and in time. Nuclear power plants, and military facilities release radioactive substances that contaminate the environment, thus affecting all living organisms, including humans. The effects are not immediate but gradual, and they are accumulating to more dangerous levels all the time. In the human organism these substances contaminate the internal environment with many medium- and long term consequences, Cancer tends to develop after ten to forty years, and genetic diseases can appear in future generations. 4. In the process of producing energy from nuclear power, both the workers in the nuclear industry and the whole natural environment are contaminated with radioactive substances at every step of the ‘fuel cycle.’ This cycle begins with the mining, milling, and enrichment of uranium, continues with the fabrication of fuel rods and the operation and maintenance of the reactor, and ends with the handling and storage or reprocessing of nuclear waste. The radioactive substances that escape into the environment at every stage of this process emit particles – alpha particles,(Alpha particles are compounds of two protons and two neutrons. ) electrons, or protons – that can be highly energetic, penetrating the skin and damaging body cells. Radioactive substances can also be ingested with contaminated food or water and will then do their damage from within.

5. Another major problem of nuclear power is the disposal of nuclear waste. Each reactor annually produces tons of radioactive waste that remains toxic for thousands of vears. Plutonium, the most dangerous of the radioactive byproducts, is also the most long-lived; it remains poisonous for at least 500,000 years. (The half-life of plutonium (Pu-239) – the time after which one-half of a given quantity has decayed – is 24,400 years. This means chat if one gram of plutonium is released into the environment, about one-millionth of a gram will be left after 500,000 years, a quantity which is minute but still toxic.) It is difficult to grasp the enormous length of this time span, which far exceeds the length of time we are used to contemplating within our individual lifetimes, or within the lifetime of a society, nation, or civilization. Half million years is more than one hundred times longer than all of recorded history. It is a time span fifty times longer than that from the end of the Ice Age to the present day, and more than ten times longer than our entire existence as humans with our present physical characteristics.(The ancestors of the European races are usually identified with the Cro-Magnon race, which appeared about 30,000 years ago and possessed all modern skeletal characteristics, including the large brain.) This is the length of time that plutonium must be isolated from the environment. What moral right do we have to leave such a deadly legacy to thousands and thousands of generations?

Arundhati Roy also wrote eloquently about this in “The End of Imagination“.

However, I was against nuclear energy earlier, but now I am not so sure. James Lovelock, the leading scientist and father of the Gaia movement, now prefers nuclear energy to fossil fuels. The main problem seems to be the human demand for unsustainable amounts of energy.

Posted in Public affairs, Science | Leave a Comment »

Industrialization and development – harmful?

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

Justice Markandeya Katju is writing a lot these days, quite thoughtfully.

…and for that it is necessary to have a high degree of industrialization….. It can only come from a highly developed industry, and it is industrialization alone which can generate the wealth we need for the welfare of our people…. It is industrialization alone which can abolish poverty and unemployment….

A) If you look at the ecology/environmental problem:

1. Average Indian Carbon Foot Print (tonnes per year) = 1.2 Average worldwide CFP = 4 Middle-class CFP = 9.23 (6000 kwh Electricity, 200 litres LPG, 1 car with 15 km/litre, bus/rail/taxi 2000 km p.a., vegetarian, a little organic food, some shopping & movies). Average Industrial national citizen CFP = 11 (Source)

2. Global warming is real, potentially catastrophic, and human-caused.

3. The Keeling curve, measuring CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory, shows exponential increase in CO2 levels in the last 5 decades.

4. The retreat of numerous glaciers, prominently Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa & Gangotri in the Himalayas, are dramatic, nearly catastrophic.

5. A study by researchers at the Physics Institute at the University of Bern and the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica presenting data from Antarctic ice cores showing carbon dioxide concentrations higher than at any time during the past 650,000 years!

6. Temperature record since 1880 showing that the ten hottest years ever measured in this atmospheric record have all occurred in the last fourteen years. 7. A 2004 survey by Naomi Oreskes of 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles on global climate change published between 1993 and 2003. The survey, published as an editorial in the journal Science, found that every article either supported the human-caused global warming consensus or did not comment on it.

(Source).

B) If you look at the remove-poverty goal:

1. India’s economy must grow at 8 percent per year for the next 25 years in order to lift the bottom 40 percent of its people to a decent standard of living. India is falling behind in achieving it Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty due to persistent energy shortages. “Energy is central for development. Our energy consumption must go up,” says a minister. Today India uses 471 million tons oil equivalent (MTOE) of energy each year of which 327 MTOE is primary commercial energy. The rest comes from burning traditional biomass. In order to achieve its poverty reduction goals, India needs to grow its energy supplies by 4.3 to 5.1 percent per year and to consume 1536 to 1887 MTOE by 2031.

2. India’s current total primary energy supply (TPES) per capita energy use with other countries. TPES per capita is calculated as the energy equivalent of the amount of oil in kilograms (kgoe) a person consumes per year. In China the amount is 1090 kgoe, Brazil 1094, Denmark 3852, UK 3906, US 7835, Japan 4052, and the world average per capita energy use is 1688. Where does India stand? The average Indian consumes the equivalent of 439 kilograms of oil. The eight percent annual economic growth that Sethi hopes India will experience over the quarter century would mean that the average Indian would be consuming between 1065 and 1279 kgoe in 2031. That’s about what the average Chinese uses now and is only 70 percent of world’s current per capita average.

3. India could cut projected CO2 emissions between 2012 and 2017 by 550 million tons at an additional cost of $25 billion for more energy efficient technologies.

4. Even after implementing the most efficient energy conservation technologies over the next 25 years, India will still be emitting 4 times more CO2 in 2031 than it does today.

(Source).

So:

“There is enough on Earth for every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“…a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad it had forgotten its name, which is located beside a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy.  This city is thickly populated by people, of whom only Haroun and his parents are ever happy, while in the north of the city are factories wherein sadness is manufactured and exported. The factories produce air pollution that is only relieved during the monsoon,….”. (Haroun Rashid & the sea of stories).

I think Justice Katju has a rather one-sided view of the problem. The human being has become a burden to the earth. When the smaller populations of the rich North have caused this much havoc, he wants the huge populations of India & China to do order-of-magnitude more damage. I think it may be too late to stop the deluge.

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Yours truly answers the defender of Dawkins

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

I normally avoid slanging matches with readers. They tend to divert attention from the theme being discussed.

1. “The operative word in this meaningless pedagogy is “spirit” , “malevolent ” too. No problem with benign spirit.”

Spirit is meant in the sense of ‘Attitude’, not in the sense of ‘Ghost’. Yes, I would welcome a friendly, benign spirit to theists, and there are plenty of atheists who do have that attitude.

2. You dare not tell the rest of the story for fear of being exposed as counterfeit theist; a benign spirit appear?

The rest of the story has not happened in this case, so let me keep the dramatic tension intact 😉 Google Hiranyakashipu, if you don’t know. Its well-known or can be easily read on the internets.

3. Why is God the only other tiny probability?

There are the 2 mutually exclusive options that theists & atheists take positions on. A) God exists B) God does not exist. 

If option A has probability X, option B will have probability 1 – X. if X is zero, then 1 – X is 1.

If X is more than zero, no matter how close to zero, then 1 – X is that much less than one. Unless you prove that X is equal to zero, the tiny probability can become actualized. That is, a person can experience God. And I think Dawkins would agree that there are no other options, apart from A & B.

4. “is this “tiny probability” suddenly transforming into “equal or greater” probability shenanigan of benign spirit? “

This is a non sequitur. ‘Shenanigan’ is used here to show punditry in English. The rhetoric does not address the fact that such a phenomenon called Life appeared on Earth, even though the odds were very much against it.

5. “What conceit! And why bring Dawkins into it? Is’nt Dawkins passe’ by his own volition , true scientist that he is? A beautiful mind!”

You mean I dare not question Dawkins, God of the militant atheists? Then I accept that I’m conceited. As a reductionist biologist, Dawkins has not spelled out his position on how possibilities become actualized. It is said in quantum mechanics literature.

“If N mutually exclusive events can happen at a particular instant, we can assign probabilities p1, p2 …pN to each of these events. When event J happens, its probability pJ becomes 1, and all the other probabilities become zero.”

So some quantum physicists believe that all the other events did not happen because their probability became zero and the probability of the event that happened became one. Other scientists are not sure why the probabilities changed at that instant. And the phenomenon is called the collapse of the wave function. People like Fridtjof Capra believe that the event that happened is determined by the observer, i.e. the scientist. Reductionists of the Dawkins variety do not agree. And its Dawkins’ knowledge of the collapse of the wave function that is below par.

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A defender of Dawkins reacts!

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

” Their uncontrolled diatribes in the name of scientific rationality show a most peculiar impulse, a possession of malevolent spirit”

The operative word in this meaningless pedagogy is “spirit” , “malevolent ” too. No problem with benign spirit.

” Hiranyakashipu knocked the pillar with his fist.”

You dare not tell the rest of the story for fear of being exposed as counterfeit theist; a benign spirit appear?

” It means there is tiny probability of the opposite, that God exists”

Why God exists is the only other tiny probability?

Don’t remember Dawkins considering that’s the “only” other probability.

“And that probability is equal to or greater than the probability of life appearing on Earth.”

Is this “tiny probability” suddenly transforming into “equal or greater” probability shenanigan of benign spirit? The quantum model does not make that apparent. Rubbish!

“I don’t know how well Dawkins understands the quantum mechanics model of probability”

What conceit! And why bring Dawkins into it? Is’nt Dawkins passe’ by his own volition, true scientist that he is? A beautiful mind!

“Survival itself implies mental volition.”

A lot of hot wind.

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Dawkin’s irrational exuberance!

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, Philicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. ” (The God Delusion)

Reminds me of Hiranyakashipu.

 “Prahlada replied: He is unquestionably the strength not only of mine but yours as well. It is by him these creatures high and low, animate and inanimate, commencing from Brahma have been held under sway. He is the ruler, He is the mighty Time, He is the embodiment of organic and mental powers, physical strength and fortitude. The supreme controller of Nature and its three qualities (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas), It is he who creates, protects and destroys the universe. Abondan this demoniac disposition of yours and keep your mind equipoised. There are no enemies other than an uncontrolled mind. Some consider to have conquered the four directions without having curbed the thief in the form of mind.

Hiranyakashipu replied: Evidently you are keen to die, now that you are bragging too much. For the words of those who are anxious to die are sure to be incoherent. Where is that Lord of the universe other than me? If it is urged that he is present everywhere, why is he not seen in that pillar? I being the master of everything, am going tosever your head, a braggard that you are. Let Hari protect you today if he is present in the pillar.

Thus tormenting his son, Hiranyakashipu sprang from his seat, taking his sword and knocked the pillar with his fist”

Let us theists understand what makes the Dawkinses of the world tick. Their uncontrolled diatribes in the name of scientific rationality show a most peculiar impulse, a possession by a malevolent spirit. They use words and thoughts in a sloppy manner. What does ‘probably’ mean? It means that there is a tiny probability of the opposite, that God exists. And that probability is equal to or greater than the probability of life appearing on Earth. I don’t know how well Dawkins understands the quantum mechanics model of probability. When the potential for several things happening exists, that which happens has a non-zero probability, just like many other things that could have happened. So why didn’t the other non-zero probabilities happen? Because only one of them appeared to our perception in the manifest world, the others remained in the unmanifest world, and can manifest at another time!

Dawkin’s language in both The Selfish Gene and God Delusion is full of attributions of volition to things like genes, species, life forms etc. They are always at war with each other for dominance and survival. Survival itself implies mental volition. And yet he is attributing these to abstractions like species. His fixed idea is Survival of the Fittest, and therefore everything has to fit into that framework. His language is a moral language, the language of a fanatic. Its not a cool, objective and rational one.

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