Friday, November 10, 2017

Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 5

The Brain's Amygdala Pair
I. Some Background

This series began on the Toxins of Power Blog (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala, 2, 3, 4).

But I can't write as much as I used to, so that blog and Ecocosmology Blog posts that once would have been placed on those blogs are now placed here on Dredd Blog.

The basic hypothesis of this series is that human culture (our social environment), including my culture, your culture, our culture, which is to say our society, our group, our family, and yes our social environment, contains functions that in principle and metaphorically have components resembling the functionality of our physical Amygdala in our physical brain.

Previous posts in this series have argued that our culture, our social environment, literally changes our brains physically.

This is supported by research going back some years:
Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious - what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can't even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.
(What Orwell Didn't Know, by Dr. G. Lakoff). That would, once upon a time in the past, have been incredulous to more people than it is now.

As I will show, recent revolutionary scientific discoveries concerning neuron cells in the brain confirm with solid physical evidence that this is the rule of brain genetics, brain epigenetics, and normal brain growth, all of which support and confirm The Cultural Amygdala hypothesis.

II. Some New Scientific Discoveries

With that in mind, here are some quotes (from the November, 2017 issue of The Scientist) for your perusal:
"Beyond such internal mechanisms of variation, environment-driven plasticity lends yet another layer of complexity to the brain. The brain is capable of remarkable remodeling in response to experience. Signals originating from the environment can cause both widespread and localized adaptations. At the level of individual cells, structure and function are continually changing with the environment in a dance of lifelong brain plasticity, and some experiences, such as stress or physical exercise, affect the growth, survival, and fate of newborn neurons in neurogenic regions of the brain.
Traditionally, cells are defined by the tissue to which they belong as well as their particular functional role or morphology. This classification represents a developmental trajectory that begins early in embryogenesis and is hardwired into each cell. But other differences among cells are more subtle. Multi-dimensional analyses of gene expression and other metrics have revealed remarkable heterogeneity among cells of the same traditional “type.” Cells exist in different degrees of maturation, activation,plasticity, and morphology. Once we begin to consider all of the subtle cell-to-cell variations, it becomes clear that the number of cell types is much greater than ever imagined. In fact, it may be more appropriate to place some cells along a continuum rather than into categories at all.
Brain cells in particular may be as unique as the people to which they belong. This genetic, molecular, and morphological diversity of the brain leads to functional variation that is likely necessary for the higher-order cognitive processes that are unique to humans. Such mosaicism may have a dark side, however. Although neuronal diversification is normal, it is possible that there is an optimal extent of diversity for brain function and that anything outside those bounds—too low or too high—may be pathological. For example, if neurons fail to function optimally in their particular role or environment, deficits could arise. Similarly, if neurons diversify and become too specialized to a given role, they may lose the plasticity required to change and function normally within a larger circuit. As researchers continue to probe the enormous complexity of the brain at the single-cell level, they will likely begin to uncover the answers to these questions—as well as those we haven’t even thought to ask yet."
(Advancing Techniques Reveal the Brain’s Impressive Diversity, emphasis added). Our human brains are constantly being physically molded and modified by the external cultural environment around us.

While we are at it, let's not forget, that our conscious and unconscious resistances and concurrences to those cultural influences can protect us or harm us accordingly.

III. The Historical Fingerprints Supporting
These Brain-Science Discoveries
Should Also Be Part of The Subject Matter

There are a couple of historical studies of civilizations and cognitive activity that mirror the evidence presented in the The Scientist article quoted above.

As to the impact of these dynamics on past civilizations, notice:
"In the Study Toynbee examined the rise and fall of 26 civilizations in the course of human history, and he concluded that they rose by responding successfully to challenges under the leadership of creative minorities composed of elite leaders. Civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively, and the civilizations then sank owing to the sins of nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority. Unlike Spengler in his The Decline of the West, Toynbee did not regard the death of a civilization as inevitable, for it may or may not continue to respond to successive challenges. Unlike Karl Marx, he saw history as shaped by spiritual, not economic forces" ...
(Encyclopedia Britannica, emphasis added). This ties in with the quote from The Scientist article (in Section II above), which pointed out that these brain changes can be problematic:
Such mosaicism may have a dark side, however. Although neuronal diversification is normal, it is possible that there is an optimal extent of diversity for brain function and that anything outside those bounds—too low or too high—may be pathological.
(ibid). It is our personal, our group, and our cultural responses that render the changes progressively sane or progressively insane (About Toxins Of Power).

As to the fingerprints of psychological dynamics, the "father of psychoanalysis" recognized the need to keep an eye on groups because they can and do go crazy (even if they are not as large as a civilization):
"If the evolution of civilization has such a far reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization——or epochs of it——possibly even the whole of humanity——have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends? To analytic dissection of these neuroses, therapeutic recommendations might follow which could claim a great practical interest. I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness. But it behooves us to be very careful, not to forget that after all we are dealing only with analogies, and that it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to drag them out of the region where they originated and have matured. The diagnosis of collective neuroses, moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty. In the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment which we assume to be normal. No such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way. And with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses power to compel the community to adopt the therapy? In spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities." [p. 39]
"Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature
to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this——hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension." [p. 40]"
(Civilization and Its Discontents, S. Freud, 1929, emphasis added). The fingerprints of the toxins of power have been placed where they can be detected and analyzed all along the way of the history of human civilizations.

IV. Conclusion

Our struggles today are the same ones that those who came before us faced but failed to master, in terms of remedies at the group level.

We have come to the place Freud described long ago (and many observers today also have described) which goes something like this:
"Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature
to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man."
(Freud quote @ Section III above). These fingerprints of history were known to those who formed the embryo of the U.S. government as they attempted to spread power thin among three branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial).

For example, the author of the Bill of Rights who was the 4th President, was a Cabinet Member, and was a congressman, warned against one of these "sins of nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority" (Section III above).

He warned against the "most to be dreaded," which he knew had brought down previous civilizations, and would bring down our own:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied: and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. Those truths are well established.
(James Madison, emphasis added). Since the military is the most trusted group (over 70%) in the U.S. (congress 9%, etc.), it does not look like our brains are growing sane, even though they are growing (The Skulls They Are A Changin').

Growing just to get bigger, in many cases (e.g. economy, population) is not always wise.

The previous post in this series is here.

The brains they are a changin' ...

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Shapeshifters of Bullshitistan - 11

Leaders of Bullshitistan at work on Infrastructure
I. Prelude

Bullshitistan invaded the U.S.A. by way of a criminal conspiracy (e.g. Dept. of Justice Conspiracy Theories - 2).

Those invaders, as moles, thereby installed Russian type ideologues in the Whut? House (The Shapeshifters of Bullshitistan, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

In addition to that, those moles have infested federal agencies with more Russian type ideologues.

This was conducted as a way of ransacking the nation (e.g Health Secretary Price resigns amid scandal).

The nation is now the opposite of what it once was in terms of global warming induced climate change, according to those moles (Paris climate accord: Syria to sign up, isolating US, Scott Pruitt: EPA Will Continue to Roll Back Regulations Despite Climate Report).

Thus, the whole world is now beginning to see the nation as a pariah, which could be devastating in many more ways than one (First Shots Fired In The Currency Wars - 2).

II. The Insurrection Begins

One of the main weaknesses of The Shapeshifters of Bullshitistan is that they fall for their own bullshit on critical matters (Choose Your Trances Carefully, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

For example, one of their most crippling trances is that they think that the general populace believes them, and are convinced that the fake administration of The Shapeshifters of Bullshitistan is for real.

Last night's election results will not shake them out of their trance about that, but the American counter insurgency will send them back to Bullshitistan for good, and thereby "make America great once again."

III. Messages For The Clueless

From the moderator of Meet the Press:
Election Day 2017 is not complicated when you look at the results nationwide. This was about the political environment created by Donald Trump, pure and simple. Trump and Trumpism was not a winning strategy.
(Chuck Todd). The analysis of the election will continue for days and weeks, but the writing is on the wall:
A civil rights attorney who delights in suing the police is the new district attorney in Philadelphia. A democratic socialist shocked an incumbent Republican in Virginia. A black woman who prosecuted a white cop for shooting a black teen was re-elected as prosecutor. Three months after Charlottesville, a black lieutenant governor was elected in Virginia. A trans woman who focused on traffic problems knocked out a longtime culture warrior who focused on bathrooms. A criminal justice reformer flipped the Washington state Senate to Democrats. A wet bag of mulch beat a race-baiting lobbyist in Virginia by a stunning nine points. Maine voters expanded Medicaid. Long-held Republican seats in Georgia flipped in a special election. New Jersey, finished with Chris Christie, elected a Democrat in a landslide.

Facing what looked to pundits as an insurmountable 32-seat gap, Democrats are on the brink of taking back the Virginia House of Delegates, a result that now comes down to recounts.

In special elections since last November, Democrats have dramatically outperformed at the polls, though Republicans have dismissed each flipped seat as a one-off, no evidence of a pattern. Tuesday will be much harder to write off.
(The Intercept). Keep up the good work American voters.

IV. Conclusion

Americans do not like authoritarian "mental cases" in their government (The Authoritarianism of Climate Change, 2).

They will be busy eradicating The Shapeshifters of Bullshitistan in upcoming elections.

Stay tuned-in, and keep voting them out.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Lyrics to the following song available here:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

First Shots Fired In The Currency Wars - 2

"Truth is never the fault of the messenger." - Dredd
This series, which began in 2009, is about a little-watched, but incessantly developing,  situation in international monetary dynamics.

One that threatens the economy of the United States.

National debt and taxes are watched closely because they can impact individuals.

The subject of this series is more dangerous than those issues, because it encompasses them and many others.

The subject I am talking about is the "petrodollar."

 Here is a brief historical look at the issue:
"After the collapse of the Bretton Woods gold standard in the early 1970s, the U.S. struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to standardize oil prices in dollar terms. Through this deal, the petrodollar system was born, along with a paradigm shift away from pegged exchanged rates and gold-backed currencies to non-backed, floating rate regimes.

The petrodollar system elevated the U.S. dollar to the world's reserve currency and through this status, the U.S. is able to enjoy persistent trade deficits, and become a global economic hegemony. The petrodollar system also provides the United States’ financial markets with a source of liquidity and foreign capital inflows through petrodollar "recycling."
Faced with mounting inflation, debt from the Vietnam War, profligate domestic spending habits and a persistent balance of payments deficit , the Nixon administration decided to suddenly (and shockingly) end the convertibility of U.S. dollar into gold. In the wake of this “Nixon Shock,” the world saw the end of the gold era and a free fall of the U.S. dollar amidst soaring inflation. According to, Dr. Bessma Moomani in the article, " GCC Oil Exporters and the Future of the Dollar," through a series of carefully crafted bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia beginning in 1974, the U.S. was able to promote bilateral political and commercial relations, market imported U.S. goods and services, and help recycle Saudi petrodollars ...

Through this framework of economic cooperation, and more importantly, petrodollar recycling, the U.S. managed to influence Saudi Arabia to persuade the other members of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to standardize the sale of oil in dollars. In return for invoicing oil in dollar denominations, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states were able to secure U.S. influence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with U.S. military assistance amidst an increasingly worrisome political climate that saw the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, the fall of the Iranian Shah and the Iran-Iraq War. Out of this mutually beneficial agreement, the petrodollar system was born.
Since the most sought after commodity in the world--oil--is priced in U.S. dollars, the petrodollar ... elevated the greenback as the world's dominant currency. In fact, according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) triennial survey, 87 percent of all foreign exchanges deals initiated in April 2013, involved the USD on one side. With this status, the U.S. dollar was able to enjoy, what some have asserted to be an "exorbitant privilege" of perpetually financing its current account deficit by issuing dollar denominated assets at very low rates of interest, as well as, becoming a global economic hegemony."
(How Petrodollars Affect The U.S. Dollar, emphasis added). Naturally the competitors and some of the "enemies" of the U.S.A. were not comfortable with this situation which they saw as a disadvantage to them.

Dredd Blog has been concerned about the other side of this coin, which is of course a potential vulnerability (First Shots Fired In The Currency Wars, see also Economic War Of The Pacific - 3, Economic War Of The Pacific - 6).

Recently, we have seen "adjustments" in our relationship with the nation of Saudi Arabia (an original petrodollar player), and in its own traditional way of governing (Congress overrides Obama's veto of 9/11 bill letting families sue Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Including Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal).

In addition to that, increasing attacks are being made on the petrodollar by China, Russia, and other countries:
China will "compel" Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan and, when this happens, the rest of the oil market will follow suit and abandon the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency, a leading economist told CNBC on Monday.

Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High Frequency Economics, said Beijing stands to become the most dominant global player in oil demand since China usurped the U.S. as the "biggest oil importer on the planet."

Saudi Arabia has "to pay attention to this because even as much as one or two years from now, Chinese demand will dwarf U.S. demand," Weinberg said.

"I believe that yuan pricing of oil is coming and as soon as the Saudis move to accept it — as the Chinese will compel them to do — then the rest of the oil market will move along with them."
(China will 'compel' Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan — and that's going to affect the US dollar). Other nations have increasingly joined the bandwagon (e.g. Russia, Iran, Venezuela).

Some economists and petrodollar observers are preparing for what they see as the inevitable, and so are the warmongers:
"So… What Would Happen If The Petrodollar System Ended Tomorrow

Allow me to briefly explain the impact that a sudden loss of the petrodollar system would have upon the United States of America.

  • Foreign nations would begin sending a flood of U.S. dollars back to the United States in exchange for the new currency needed for oil.
  • The Federal Reserve would lose their ability to print more dollars to solve America’s economic problems.
  • The Treasury Secretary and the Federal Reserve Chairman would meet to determine the best course of action.
  • That action would involve an immediate and dramatic increase in interest rates to reduce America’s money supply.
  • Hyperinflation would ensue temporarily while the interest rates took time to take full effect.
  • All oil-related prices, including gas prices, would reach outrageous levels.
  • Washington would soon realize that the total amount of money in the system would have to be dramatically slashed even further, leading to an even higher increase in interest rates.
  • The clueless American public would demand answers. Those on the left would blame the right. The right would blame the left. And both political parties would seek to blame the Federal Reserve.
  • People with adjustable rate debts would be crushed and massive layoffs would occur as businesses suffered from the high interest rates.
  • Asset prices across the board would plummet in value.
  • Amid the financial carnage, an economic recovery eventually would begin to take place. But this new American economy would be tremendously smaller due to a drastically reduced money supply.
This brief scenario is far from exhaustive and is probably very incomplete. But I provide it to help you understand the great economic damage that you and I, and our nation in general, would sustain if the petrodollar system were to collapse suddenly.

The Washington elites are intimately aware of how serious the economic situation could become if the petrodollar system collapsed. After all, they were the architects and masterminds of the entire system. And if one considers Washington’s policies since the mid-1970’s, it is evident that they have no intention of allowing the petrodollar system to fail.
(Follow The Money, emphasis added). That means war (Is War An Art or Is War A Disease?, 2, 3; War is the Highway 61 of the 1%).

Here are some other related articles (CNBC, The Peak Of The Oil Wars - 12, Iran says ditch the petrodollar, Economics of Petrodollars, Definition of Petrodollars,
Preparing for the Collapse of the Petrodollar System).

So, buckle-up and hunker-down, because the current U.S. government is isolating the U.S. from the rest of the world in many ways.

That error plays into the hands of those seeking to take the petrodollar to new places (As Syria embraces Paris climate deal, it’s the United States against the world).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.