Oct 21, 2011

The Secret Theory

"When in doubt, kick the ball out". That was what I heard being shouted out at from the elderly retired in-need-of-a-shave man standing by the sidelines. This man was better known to us as the junior football team coach. I used to be quite a good little footballer, until I reached the grand old age of twelve. Better to retire whilst on top. Although my footballing career may have ended, if it had even begun is arguable, my skepticism was only just starting to flourish.

The word "energy" has been used in many ways, and has nowadays found itself thrown about rather often. Reminds me of that cheap plastic ball that I used to kick about the football field in my golden days. The word has even been escalated to become somewhat of a secret word, a conspiracy which has been hidden from the public for generations and has now been unveiled in the form of a book, not surprisingly titled: The Secret. And what is a book these days without a nice DVD to complete the package. One would think $30 (not including shipping) is a small price to pay for a truth that has evaded the radar of the majority of the human race for so many generations.

The theory as it goes, looks something like this:
The human body, just like everything else, consists of atoms. Atoms, in turn, are a bunch of sub-atomic particles comprised of energy. Science, in a nutshell.
Now for the fun part; humans have, and are, affected by two types of energy, positive and negative. Each of the two affects your life in a certain way. Surround yourself with positive energy and you become happy, negative and you become miserable. Not as scientific as the first part, I must say.

The picture should be a bit clearer by now. This is probably the most popular version of the theory at hand, although similar variations are on offer. Choose your own version, sit back, and make your own smile.

This may all seem poetic, a nice Saturday afternoon thought, or a motivation for those all so encouraging morning social media quotes, the rise and shine type which, I may add, get on a totally opposite start to the day than they intend to. But is there any truth to it, at all?

First of all, I'd like to take a look at the terminology. What is positive energy, or negative energy? And is there neutral energy? This terminology is purely incorrect. Energy is not charged. It has also been proposed that the polarity suggested is not that of an electric-like charge but a reflection on the effect this energy has on humans; if it makes you feel good it is positive, bad it's negative. That definition is plausible, on the surface of it, but it opens up yet another question and that is of the influence of energy on human feelings.

Here arises the need to differentiate between energy (be it positive or negative) and its effect on ones well-being. The fact that energy exists (in it's very different state than proposed) is not enough to assert that it affects the life of a living being in any way, and certainly not in means of will-power, telepathy or any other conveying contraption of luminous particles a vivid mind may conjure.

It is not a wonder why it would not seem sensible to plug in your home computer onto one of your less used body cavities in hope that your inner energy can power electric appliances. To do so would be committing to an assumption that the energy of the atoms of which your body consists can, somehow, spring into action and become an electric current, or electric "energy". Both are called energy. but they are not the same thing, not even remotely. More-so, if that were true then why wouldn't the atoms of the computer itself power the device? That would be an even bigger feat than the previous body-cavity trick indeed. The energy within the sub-atomic particles are bound by nuclear forces, and need a great deal more than wishful thinking to unbound them. Don't you think North Korea or Iran would have found out if there were any easier way? I think so.

The preposition that this energy that is withheld within an atom can be broadcasted  around the universe is, in itself, a damnation of the structure of the universe. Against the nature of the structure of the atom. If it were so, then the atomic structure itself would have to collapse, spelling a swift end to the universe as we know it. Seen as the universe is still functioning, evidently as you are reading this then it still is, then that can't be the case. This fallacious assumption put forward by advocates of this mystical theory is that it is not only true, but also wise to act upon. This in itself is a grave teaching indeed, and that is putting it mildly.

There does not exist any credible scientific research or study on the subject, not any I have come across. Yet this fact is somehow put forward as a counter weight on the side of this mysticism, not against it. This again is an insult to both reason and rationality. The reason this there is a lack of insight on the subject does not imply that one should remain agnostic towards it, no more than one should be agnostic about the tooth fairy or the Loch Ness monster, both of which also haven't been subject to close investigation. The tooth fairy, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of this life-changing energy are simply not regarded too highly by science. Nor is there any willingness to fund such nonsense research, and I do not propose any rational funding agency would be willing to invest in any, so let's not get anyone's hopes up.

There remains one argument that may be worthy of a scribble or two, and that is personal experiences which are put forward to assert the theory. People with far-fetched stories to tell.

When I first got my own bedroom, I wasn't aware that being alone in bed would trigger a hidden, albeit slight, fear of the darkness. I also had a fear, this one I knew about, of large-sized, snarling dogs. The root of that goes back to an even earlier childhood memory of a horse-sized dog that waddled into the back garden just as I had thought I'd mastered the intricate works of riding a bicycle without any clip-on balance wheels to aid me. I did not know at the time that this particularly large specie of dogs was a very tame and pet-like one, and that it wouldn't have harmed me even if I'd petitioned it to do so. But tell that to a scared stiff five year-old. Back to the dark bedroom, under the covers and about to sleep. I was overcome by fear when, what turned out to be nothing but a shadow, seemed like a large dog with glaring eyes and stained teeth was staring me dead in the eye without a flinch. It was certainly ready to pounce. It would seem naive of me to use this experience, as real as it seemed at the time, to support a claim that a large blood-thirsty dog used to live among the dusty coats that my my father had so kindly hung on the inside of my bedroom door. Was the dog real? It was to me, for an instance at least. In reality, my mind was playing a trick, using it's techniques aided by thousands of years of evolutionary training. The human mind is fully equipped to construct images, it is easy  to mistake a shadow for a dog, but it is very hard to mistake a stationary dog for a shadow. All you need is a dog-like shadow and the brain will fill in the missing parts.
Children often have imaginary friends, which are real to them. It has been reported that, in some cases, children can accurately describe their imaginary friends who, clearly, are non-existent. Children grow out of this, fortunately.

Not every story thrown about, mixed with shadows, is worthy of it's own theory, and that is no "secret".
When in doubt it's always wise to "kick the ball out".


Aug 9, 2011

Tolerating the Intolerant

In the wake of the Arab uprisings, the London riots, the Norwegian tragedy and even the African (labeled Somalian) famine, the world looks like it has done something wrong. Many see these and other similar events as a wake-up call. But a wake-up call to what exactly?

Just flicking through the many, many opinions on these matters you can see a dominant trend. It goes by the name "Tolerance". Governments in the middle east are asked to be more tolerant with their people, if they were maybe they wouldn't have taken to the streets to demand their basic rights. Right-wing everybody, be that Islam, Christianity, Jewish or even Liberal sectors of the global population are seen to be too intolerant, and that is seen as the root of many problems.

I watched a seminar by Professor Richard Dawkins recently. It was titled: Darwinian Medicine, should doctors be Darwinian. Totally irrelevant to anything I have mentioned, the seminar raised some important points to medical professionals, asking them to rethink the traditional approach to medicine, in a more Darwinian way. Most everyone should be familiar with Darwinian Evolution in this time and era, and for those of you who aren't, this neither the time nor place to do so. The idea of the mentioned seminar was to introduce a new concept in the medical field, a new perspective. Pathogens are the professional title given to anything that causes illness, and Professor Dawkins called upon doctors to look at symptoms of any given disease twice, to examine if the symptom was one of three; an evolutionary adaptation by the pathogen, or by the host (the poor sick person) or possibly a "boring byproduct" as he called it. And easing the symptoms of an illness would then depend on the classification of that symptom and so on. I am not professional, not even close, and I enjoyed the seminar. I would advise anyone involved in the medical field to watch it, more than worth the watch.

What do both previous rambling have in common, and why are they even on the same page? Take, for example, the Norwegian tragedy of late. A so called Neo-Nazi right-wing Christian brutally killed a hundred or more innocent people. Or take the Arab uprisings as an example, Arab regimes are brutally killing their people in the hundreds, in the most brutal of ways, for one reason: to stay in power, by force if needed - which obviously is the case. Similar examples can be found all over the place.

The reason these governments, organizations, groups, regimes, are powerful and allowed to be so radical and to inflict so much damage and be so "intolerant" is because they are allowed to be so. Their intolerance is tolerated, and when tolerated allowed to flourish, and allowed to become big enough to become dangerous.

The free-world, as it referred to more often than none, has a responsibility towards the global society. This responsibility is to be tolerant by not being tolerant if the intolerant. We should not let these ethnic, religious, political, ideological - or whatever their orientation may be, become so strong.

The intolerant power of poverty, the intolerance of middle eastern regimes, the intolerance of the many African groups fighting while their countrymen die of hunger, the intolerance of any group, party, or congregation should be stopped. The world can neither tolerate, nor afford to tolerate it any longer.

It is time we stood up and changed our traditional approach; intolerance should not be tolerated any longer ..

Jun 7, 2011

The Green Shirt Theory

I would have liked to claim the title "the observer", if not for the small matter of a British weekly newspaper which stole the name from me, or should I say beat me to it. The Observer has been around for over 200 years. So I cannot make that claim.

The human ability to distinguish between fact and opinion goes back more than 200 years, all the way back to the origins of human rational, sensible thinking actually. Our ancestral and evolutionary roots tell us that much at least. It is also defined clearly in any dictionary you may come across. And here is an extract from one:

something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fearshave no basis in fact.
something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
a truth known by actual experience or observation;something known to be true: Scientists gather facts aboutplant growth.

a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient toproduce complete certainty.
a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for asecond Medical opinion.

Although opinion and fact are in truth opposites, it seems like we haven't taken the courtesy, collectively, to really "learn to live" with both these terms combined, and by combined I mean distinguishing between them and presenting each as it is, not as the other. I also mean finding where our priorities lie. Should we value opinion over fact? I would say let's build opinions based on facts. I would also think of the consequences of reversing that formula, but I have not the time or will power to point out the obvious. And I'll leave it at that.

I've always wanted to come up with something smart, and I think I've got something here; I call it The Green Shirt Theory:
"To say a shirt is green, is a fact. To say you like green shirts is an opinion."

Seen as this isn't by any means a free English grammar lesson, nor a read into the history of British journalism, I think it's time I got to my point.

To the observer, and I do mean any observer, it is obvious that a significant amount of the Jordanian people have taken to mixing up fact with opinion. This has become a normal practice whenever any politics, or even religion, springs up in natural conversation, and I would point out that this has become somewhat of a trend as of late.. I use the term "springs up" in referral to the Arab Spring, or so it has been called. Another phrase I got beaten to by a journalist.

The criticism, analysis, or even mere mention of any of the following: government, king, queen, prime minister, traffic jam, etc, are seen by a large number of our "more amusing" citizens as non-patriotic. Things that real Jordanians, or Jordan-Lovers, do not and should not do.

It would seem obvious, but I would still like to take the following as an example:

Patriotism, love, red-lines. Opinions.

Limited freedom of speech, interference in journalism, downhill economy. Facts.

Respecting authority means being obedient to authority, and that shouldn't be automatic. It should be earned based on performance. Some times our authority deserves it, most of the time it doesn't. Period.

You can like your green shirt all you want, but do me a favor will you, don't tell me its white.

May 11, 2011

It's the GCC effect, not the Axe effect

Jordan welcomed the warmth of the Gulf Cooperation Council in accepting it, preliminary, as one of their own, well at least the official Jordanian response. It was a warm response, to say the least, but then again the GCC club of "oldies" does have their fair share of warmth, one would be inclined to say too much warmth. Especially when one heads toward the never-land of a certain sultan of Oman, and I use the word "head" cautiously.

The effect of such an alliance is really very debatable, for one it's not really all that clear as to what Jordan as nation has to give, or what it might be asked to give. But there is a lot to be given, if that turns out to be the case. Although, personally, I could think of a lot of things I wouldn't like to be given, even in the name of economic welfare.

To lay the cards down and break such a situation down into a business deal it seems like Jordan can really do with an economic boost, but in politics as in love, war, business, retail, and every other aspect of material life I can come to think of, there is no such thing as a free dinner, or breakfast, lunch or even brunch for those who prefer to skip the "early worm". So what do the GCC old school want from the new comers, as it will evidently cost them quite a sum in return for whatever it is they seek.

On the other hand Morocco was also shortlisted, for a trial period on the list of oil whales to be. So obviously the geographical element of the matter can be put aside, if it hadn't already been put aside upon knowing that Yemen isn't a part of the elite council of elites. So again, what can we add to this gents club, and I say gents because evidently Saudi Arabia is the big 'playa' in the GCC, so try hinting any female role whatsoever in this whole hullabaloo and see what happens then - wink, wink.

So if it's not geographical, economical (mutual-benefits as against leeching ), then it must be political. What does Jordan, Morocco & the other six existing members have in common, other than the fact that their regimes are non-democratic and still in unquestioned power? Huh, what was that? cough, cough, I said nothing. Oh yea, and I wouldn't feel too shy to add that the fall, or fall-to-be, to the neighboring Syrian regime opens a few doors around the place, and closes a few too, especially for Iran - another wink, wink? Maybe

I seem to have looked over the hedge a little bit too much, so lets lay low, something we've learnt to do well as of late, and think of this on a micro-scale, whats it to the average Joe, or average Mustafah more like. Should people get excited? I think not.

After all when you talk about sticky cover-ups for bad smelling areas, you can only think of two possible alternatives: politics or deodorant. For deodorant's sake we have the fast acting Axe effect, which is said to attract the opposite sex with its enticing oder, but I sicerely doubt the GCC effect will be anything of the sort.