Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Stay Out of the Mob Mentality

First, think for yourself. Never agree with anything unless you have a self-determined understanding regarding it. If you are being encouraged to join in agreement with others on some matter be sure to first think the matter through independently. Remember that pro-life activity cannot take place without the competent application of self-determination, so you are not only letting yourself down, but also denying others the benefit of the results of your analytical self-determination if you agree to something without thinking it through first. If the group has agreed on an analytical basis then you should be able to communicate fully, freely and analytically with any member regarding it. If you find that some or all of the group are not able to speak or communicate on a logical, understandable self-determined basis on the subject, then that should be a flag that something is not right with that agreement. Never trust anyone that does not want you to think for yourself, or at least get to the point where you can think for yourself.

Use the idea that a group in a mob mentality state, and in the absence of competent, analytical self-determination from its members will knock down, knock out or suppress what is good, and will uplift and promote what is bad. So make a list for yourself of some bad things, and make a list of good things. Is indecency bad? Decency? Criminality? Respect for others? Respect for public property and the property of others? Which list does the group under consideration line up with?

Use a datum or set of data known to be analytical as a "lifeline" and maintain an analytical hold on it while sailing rough waters. It helps here to have built up a set of fully self-evaluated and cross-aligned data that pertain to the area of life.

If you are working within a formal group there should be policy, both general and specific that pertains to whatever you are doing. Assuming that the policy is valid, and helps to forward the group purpose, or at least does not cut across it, then avoid direct agreement with other group members outside of the context of this policy. Make any such agreements with other group members only from within the context of an awareness of the freedom to act and participate together within boundaries or scope set by the applicable policy.

Staying out of the mob mentality in the private life can be more challenging, because there are usually fewer formal analytical guidelines, and possibly a greater range of inputs from and interactions with the environment. It helps to apply what I call the Theory of the Fallible Analyzer:

The basic idea is that ethical, pro-life activity and movement is analytical, while contra-life, unethical activity comes from a mind that is to some degree non-analytical. Part of this theory is that spiritual beings have been around in this universe for a very long time, and that we were once in much, much better condition than we are now. Not just some of us, but all of us. So what happened? Well, we must have made a LOT of mistakes, and each time we made a mistake we THOUGHT we were right. So, for those of us who are motivated to improve ourselves, it should be obvious that our analyzers are fallible, and that it is not good enough only to THINK or CONSIDER that we are right.Depending on the analyzer alone will not get us back to where we were. The analytical mind is a tool that should be used, but with caution, and always in combination with some sort of cross-checking or corroboration.

Probably the most basic cross-check is just to check the alignment of new data with known good data. This is where it is very handy to have accumulated a coherent data set applicable to the area of life under consideration.

Often a question can be narrowed down to two possible answers. If so, then it may be possible to work out what would be happening in the environment-- what observable conditions would exist-- for each possible answer. Once the two sets of observable conditions have been worked out, then it is just a matter of observing the actual conditions. If the actual conditions have a high correlation with one set of these conditions and not with the other, then you have the answer. If the actual conditions lie somewhere in between then it is time to throw out that test and take a better look at the possible answers.

A good approach to take is to have an awareness of some of the abberative mechanisms of the mind, and how they came about through our experience. A common abberative mechanism is the accumulation of contra-life actions in a certain area which have not been recognized, acknowledged or admitted to by the individual responsible (even if only to himself). The first such contra-life action, if not taken responsibility for, makes it that much easier for a similar action to be perpetrated in that or a similar area. There is a cumulative effect, so that eventually, after a large amount of "dirtiness" has been accumulated in a certain area, there can even be a compulsion to commit more contra-life acts in that area, or similar areas of life. Going along with this build-up of "dirtiness" is an increase in the magnitude or severity of the contra-life acts.

There are options available to the perpetrator during the course of this increasing abberation to make himself less uncomfortable. First and best, at any time he may take responsibility for his actions, seeing himself as the responsible cause and guilty party. If he can face up to this honestly then he will feel some impulse to improve or rectify conditions in the area. A common misconception at this point is that the individual must make personal contact with those he has hurt or harmed in order to make up any damage. This is often not desired or appreciated by the harmed party. A more decent alternative is to make significant contributions to the purpose of increased group causation and civilization. This then allows for the indirect benefit of the harmed party while respecting their privacy. If a road or path of Commitment to Continuous Improvement of Competency could actually be established without barriers at any point, then it would, in a sense, be a way of conquering time, or at least the pressure of unmet obligations, for all honest people that chose to travel it. It is because it would be a given, provided the road remained open, that at some point each individual traveling the road would have contributed enough to the general good to indirectly make up for any past transgressions. Since it could all be done without reference to the private life, but from a non-personal "hat" viewpoint, this road would also provide a way for people to gain more and more control over their private lives.

Another choice is to live with the truth that he is wrong and guilty, but continue with the contra-life activity.This is usually not done over the long run because it is too uncomfortable.

A third choice is to lessen, invalidate, weaken or undermine the subjected area. This is a way he can make himself "less wrong" (and so less uncomfortable) because, after all, the area was "less right". This involves lying to himself regarding the rightness of the area, and probably even perpetrating more contra-life activities against it. To keep these lies in place he may feel the "need" to use measures to see that the area continues to be "less right". Though not uncommon, this is obviously not the right choice.

There is a lot of subjectivity involved with this third choice. A way to guard yourself from falling down this "chute" is to always retain an objective grasp of a situation as senior to a subjective view of it.

You can cross check your analyzer by monitoring whether you have impulses to lessen or denigrate or invalidate a certain individual, type of individual, group, etc. It is not necessarily wrong to do so, but the possibility should be checked. Check it by making sure any objection is fully aligned with objective reality as far as alignment with progress in the pro-life direction.
There actually can be a valid reason for invalidation or speaking derogatorily. When a person acts unethically or criminally it is because he has allowed his self-determination to be overcome by a mental force or compulsion coming from the non-analytical part of his mind. Such compulsions are often derived from or at least exacerbated by his dirtiness in that area of life, or a similar area. This does not relieve him of responsibility. A person is responsible for both parts of his mind-- both analytical and non-analytical. Both are functions of his abundant experience in this universe. An individual can use ethics and reason to apply analytical thought in opposition to this compulsion and overcome it.

When the individual fails in the application of ethics and reason to his unethical or criminal situation then it falls to his environment to supply a counter-force or influence if he is not to succumb to it. Properly applied, this activity is called justice. The aim of justice is not to overwhelm the individual. Since all progress in the pro-life direction comes from the competent application of self-determination by the individual, it makes sense to preserve this self-determination. It is to the benefit of the environment, not just the individual, to preserve it. It can be done by the application by the environment of successive steps from a known progression of increasing severity of "force" counter to the unethical compulsions. Speaking derogatorily can be one of the steps on this progression. At some point in this progression it will become more painful for the individual to continue with the unethical activity than to cease it. Once the individual has stopped the unethical or criminal activity then there is no reason for further application of justice steps. At this point steps should be taken by the individual with or without help from others to eliminate or at least decrease the unethical compulsion. Usually this involves taking responsibility for any dirtiness in the area, cleaning up misunderstandings, getting into communication with it, or at least with the general rules or laws regarding it. The idea is to make sure it won't happen again, or at least that he will not be overcome by the compulsion again.

If an individual finds himself denigrating or speaking derogatorily or applying pejorative labels to a person or group it would behoove him to run a cross-check against the objective realities of the situation. If the objective realities do not show an existing unethical or criminal situation then it may be that the individual is actually trying to remediate his feelings of discomfort or guilt due to dirtiness he is responsible for in the area he has targeted. In this situation the individual has taken a wrong turn down into the non-analytical zone. He should be careful to stay out of agreements with others on realities based in this zone.

In conclusion, think for yourself. Never agree with anything you do not have an understanding of and which lines up in the pro-life direction. Your competent self-determination is your tool to effect improvements for yourself and others. Use it and grow it through successful application.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Protect Your Private Life

There are two commonly used methods to protect the personal life. The more common one, and the one that requires less analytical thought, is to individuate, withdraw, go out of communication, maybe even hide. This can involve private phone numbers, gated communities, high walls, guard dogs, exclusive clubs, etc. For those who cannot conceive of operating in a group from other than their personal viewpoint, it can also involve the purging of individuals from groups, which can easily devolve into a non-analytical group dramatization of the mob mentality.

The more analytical and pro-life option is to assume and operate from the viewpoint of a hat that is appropriate to the situation. The reason this can work is that a hat viewpoint is always impersonal, so the personal life can still be protected from unwanted communication or impingement if the individual is adept at fielding and responding to unwanted personal communications from the point of view of an appropriate hat.

A basic hat viewpoint that can be fallen back on in almost any situation is the Citizen Hat, which, inspired by recommended naming conventions from the C# programming language, I like to call the ICitizen interface. The reference to C# is my only my personal choice, and does not need to be used by others. I just like it because it helps to remind me what "I" am being in a certain situation, even though in the C# convention the "I" stands for "Interface". The concept of an Interface also helps, because that is really what the assumed hat is-- a social interface which allows only limited, regulated types of communications or interactions with the environment to pass through, and so protects the private data and private activities of those behind the interface from arbitrary interaction with the environment.

You are on solid analytical footing with the Citizen Hat, which is where you want to be, as long as you are dealing with someone old enough to assume the responsibilities of a citizen. That is because it is actually a step forward in the pro-life direction on the group causation scale from the level of social groups (which occupy the bottom of the scale) to more formal and causative groups. Any time you move in the pro-life direction you are also moving in the analytical direction, so you are not doing the party of the other part a disservice, even while maintaining a closed door to your personal life. There is no reason to snub or invalidate the party of the other part. Any such snub or invalidation could only come from the personal viewpoint, and so would knock the part of the first part off from the Citizen Hat viewpoint. So this method of protecting your private life is also a polite one.

The Citizen Hat can be used with either fellow citizens of your own country, or with citizens of other countries. In a foreign country, the Citizen Hat would involve ensuring that ones actions do not offend against the cultural values of the host country.

I have not fully worked out the Citizen Hat, so I recommend that you consider the following as only a basic framework. It can be used as is, but it can also be added to and filled out.

CITIZEN HAT, derives from Human Being Hat (see below)

  1. Obey laws of the land.

  2. Conform to cultural values, at least in public.

  3. Uphold decency standards to include:

    1. Avoid public intoxication to a level that impairs analytical thought below the level at which the Citizen Hat can be supported.

    2. Interaction with the opposite gender in the direction of sexual attraction extends only as far as monitoring of compliance with public decency laws (e.g. no rips in clothing showing underlying underwear, no "plumber's crack", etc.) Note that this does NOT extend as far as sexual attraction, but stops short of it. Sexual attraction would belong to the personal domain. It can, however, include corrective actions that move, or help to move, any such observed violations back into compliance with public decency.

  4. Uphold and support public safety.

  5. Uphold and support public health.

  6. Uphold and support cleanliness of public areas.

  7. Avoid lowering or degrading the effectiveness or condition of public equipment or property.

  8. Monitor the national condition and direction to see that it aligns with the pro-life purpose line. Take corrective actions as necessary.

  9. Uphold the rights of the HONEST individual, where an HONEST individual is defined as someone who can and will take responsibility to detect when the local, state or national course has diverged from the pro-life purpose and is able and willing to take corrective action. Recognizes that rights for the honest individual allows the group to correct itself.

  10. Respects the rights of other citizens to direct the course of their private lives of their own volition. Maintains this respect for another citizen’s private life as stronger than the desire to know any such citizen personally.


  1. Monitor self and others for the purpose of avoiding falling into a condition of Mob Mentality, or getting self or others out of any such condition found.

  2. Stay healthy, help others to stay healthy.

  3. Be useful in improving or maintaining conditions for self and others.

  4. Uphold the standards of intelligence appropriate to being a member of the “most intelligent species on the planet”.

    1. Don’t be a herd animal.(Human Beings have standards to uphold)

    2. Don’t be a lemming.(Beneath us)

    3. Utilize higher educational methods than “monkey see, monkey do”.(We can do better than this)

    4. Have courage to operate from the basis of right and wrong, rather than “well thought of” and “not well thought of”. (This is in contrast to dogs, who generally have these two scales reversed).

    5. Think for yourself.

  5. Seek to have good life experience, and build on good life experience from the past.

    1. Stay in the analytical band. Support practical usage of the analytical mind.

    2. Support movement towards less war, less crime, more education, rejection of false data, support of good data, less ignorance, more productivity.

    3. Be useful.

    4. Improve ability to face up to and do work.

Warning: failure to wear the Human Being hat can result in being labeled a “Human Bean”.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Data Mining

Data Mining

Data have different values in terms of capacity to align to or with other data. The more basic or fundamental the datum, the more value it has. Of course, this is all relating to true or valid data. Hitting upon a basic, valid datum is similar to hitting upon a rich vein or lode of ore. As you work down the vein you may be able to generate many new understandings by aligning this basic datum with older data and new observations. Understandings are generated through correlation and cross correlation with “known good” data.

A set of such “known good” data is a great tool for data mining, and for testing the validity of new data as it is encountered. The idea is to develop a coherent data set which has been largely or even completely cross-correlated so that if it is accessed or “touched” at any point then all cross-correlations from or to that point are immediately known and available as self-determined understandings. The coherency is a test of validity. There should be no datum that has to be “crammed in sideways” to make it fit with the others. A set of coherent data is a good tool for testing the validity of any new data encountered. If the new datum is valid it will fit in well with all parts of the coherent data set.

A person might want to have more than one of such coherent data sets. A different set can be used for different areas of life or work. The data set or sets would be expected to grow in size with time as the set is “worked” through cross-correlating within itself as well as with new data encountered. The larger the set the easier it becomes to add new valid data and to reject newly encountered false data.

Data Prospecting

Where would a person look to find the makings of a coherent data set? Look for data that govern areas of activity that have operated at a high level over a long period of time, or areas that have shown jumps of productivity.

A prime example from biology is the organization of cells of the body into tissue and organs. Animals and plants have been quite successful over a long period of time. The success, in general, seems to come more from order built into the system of organization of cells rather than from any particular intelligent entity occupying or governing such organizations of cells. There is much more variance between these intelligent entities than is observed between individual plants or animal bodies.

An example from mechanics is the internal combustion engine, or the steam engine. Civilization really took off from the Middle Ages into the Industrial Revolution and beyond as these motive forces were developed and brought into widespread use.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Missing Group Technology

Life and vitality are brought into the area of groups by the application of self-determination by the individual. First, the individual decides what goal or goals he would like to achieve in his neighborhood, city, county, state, country, or even the world. A purpose is a route or path leading to a goal. His next step, then, is to determine or discover or decide on a purpose to reach the goal. By this point it will usually have become apparent that achieving the goal is beyond the reach and capabilities of the individual himself. This is where groups come in. A well-formed group can be much more efficient than the same number of individuals acting in parallel, and its life can extend as long as is needed to achieve the group goal.

A group operating at a high level of causation is a servo-mechanism that is used to forward a purpose determined by an individual. Self-determination gives it life. It exists to follow a purpose to achieve a goal. The better the goal is, the more it will inspire others to participate, form up the servo-mechanism, and forward the purpose to achieve it. Once the goal has been achieved the group is disbanded. Group resources can be reformed around a new purpose, or they can return to a common "pool", where they can be drawn on to forward other purposes to reach new goals.

So how are these servo-mechanisms formed? Here are the pieces that should be included:
 Self-determination. All participants should have a self-determined desire to achieve the goal. This gives life to the group. Group members should have the understanding that a well-organized effort by a number of persons will go further in following the purpose than the same number of people working by themselves in parallel.
 A system of interconnected and coordinated poles of functionality that channels the self-determination of group members, rather than cuts across it, and whose activity is aligned with and forwards the purpose of the group.

The models for the system are the anatomy of living organisms. The poles of functionality are the organs, and in the context of groups are termed "hats". The framework or form of the system is determined by analytical agreements which should be codified into a set of policy.

The policy of a group is the set of agreements between members that are actually being acted upon. The agreements actually being acted from determine the form of the group. In an aberrated group they may be quite different from officially issued policy. The set of policy is equivalent to the set of genes in a living organism. In an aberrated or unhealthy organism there will be some part of the organism where the genes are not being followed completely or where some outside force or agency is applying a counter-intention or counter-force to that dictated by the genes, and which is causing the application of the genetic patterns to be thwarted to some degree.

There is a spectrum of policy that runs from completely general, that could apply to any group, and any purpose, to more specific, to the most specific policy that applies to a particular job in a particular section of a particular group with a particular purpose line. A given hat can be thought of as a "stack" of policy, with the lowest part of the stack formed by the most general policy, and the higher levels being more and more specific.

A set of policy should be coherent and aligned with the group purpose. The complete set of policy can be thought of as a "framework" which defines a "space" in which safety and freedom is guaranteed for the individual to apply his self-determination. This safety and freedom allows the individual to more easily and fully apply his self-determination, which allows higher levels of group causation to be achieved. At the same time that the individual is protected from arbitrary counter-action, disturbance or distraction by the environment, the environment is protected from misuse of misapplication of the self-determination by the individual. A well-formed, coherent set of policy defines channels and boundaries within which self-determination can be applied, so the environment is then protected from arbitrary activity on the part of the individual. It's a win-win situation. The only "losers" are those crazy enough to value contra-life activity and purposes.

Teamwork is a high level of adherence to a known, coherent set of policy defining hats organized to effectively forward the group purpose line. A group member who operates out of agreement with such policy is disruptive to the morale of the group. An exception to this is where the set of policy is incomplete, or incoherent in a particular area. If an individual acts in a way that aligns more closely to the group purpose line than the existing policy set dictates, then morale is improved. In such a situation the policy set should be upgraded to incorporate this new successful action. Morale can be defined as a feeling of well-being or satisfaction from an understanding and knowledge of the fact of a self-determined purpose being successfully forwarded.

A set of hats is something that each group member can help to build, grow, correct and maintain. Of course, there are specialized hats that are focused in each of these areas over the whole group, but each group member also can be responsible for these activities in his own immediate area.

Have you ever seen a Chinese celebration where a dragon parades down the street? It is a good analogy for a group. In fact, to the Chinese people the dragon is a symbol for themselves as a people. There are several people animating the dragon. They are at different positions, have different responsibilities, but they are all interconnected by the fabric of the suit. In effect, as they march down they street in coordination, they ARE the dragon. They have set their individual, personal identities aside to don assume an identity which is a part of this interconnecting dragon skin. They now interface with each other in a manner defined by the dragon skin/body rather than from personal viewpoints. The dragon is virtually alive, but all the life is coming from those underneath the fabric.

So they march down the street. The people along the side of the street see a "living" dragon. The dragon reaches the end of the parade. The people inside now take off the skin. They clean it, fold it and store it for future use. They are now done with the group purpose line. They have reassumed their own viewpoints now, possibly, or maybe the viewpoint of another hat, such as citizen. Anyway, they have left the dragon "hats" back "in the office", and are not going to carry them home. The dragon suit is ready for future use. All of those participating were in agreement with staying inside the suit and following the "dragon way", at least temporarily. It would not have gone down well if one of them had abandoned their post in the middle of the parade and left their part of the dragon dragging on the ground, or torn a hole in the side as they ran off to do their own thing. The dragon suit is ready to "live" another day.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that no other cultures that I know of have similar activities in their festivals/parades/parties where a group of individuals assume a larger identity together. The Chinese culture is also many thousands of years old-- much older than any western culture. Is there a correlation? Probably so.

A vital point to understand, especially in America, is that operating from the viewpoint of a hat, which is using an interface to other group members that conforms to the “dragon skin”, or to group purposes and policy, is completely impersonal. There is such a thing as warmly impersonal. A group member operating wholly “on hat” should also be “on purpose”, and so is as warm as the purpose of the group is warm.

It is true that in social groups the individual operates to some degree, if not completely, from his personal viewpoint. Social groups are groups, but low-level ones. There is not so much form or order to them. While there usually is some sort of uncodified, low-level “policy” in effect regarding dress and conduct, and possibly some specific topic of interest, there is much more arbitrary interaction unaligned with such an interest. You can think of social groups occupying the bottom end of the scale of group causation. The family is the first group that a child encounters, and it is a usually mostly a social group.

So on the bottom of the group causation scale there is more randomness, more arbitrary action by the individual unaligned with group policy, and in fact there may be little or no group policy in effect. On the top end of the scale is a group with a coherent body of policy that is completely aligned with its purpose, and with the purpose leading directly to its goal. All “hats” are manned, or at least there are personnel who can wear them when needed. All group members have a complete, self-determined understanding of the “policy stacks” relating to any hat they wear. There is an awareness on the part of each group member of the “dragon skin” that includes his hat, any hats he supervises, and at least the hats which directly interface with those hats. He has an awareness and understanding of what things or people are dealt with, how it is done, what communications are needed. He is able to operate in his area as well as maintain or correct any structure that supports production, and even build more structure that supports production in his area.

There is NO arbitrary activity in a well organized group. All required job actions and activities have been planned for and codified in policy, or plans that conform to policy. When something new enters his domain he does not ask himself what he should do with it. His job is first to get into communication with the reality of what is coming in so that he can identify it. Once it is identified he has a certainty already in place of what to do with it. He just does it. Decisions should not have to be made in a well organized work activity. Arbitrary action and decision points always slow things down. That is to be avoided in any work flow. Any and all decisions required should have been foreseen and incorporated into policy or plans that conform to policy. If any new decisions are seen to be required in a work area it is a sign that more organization is needed there.

A causative group will take care of its “dragon skin” so that it is always available to be easily worn by group members, new and old. Each hat should have a write-up available that includes general and specific actions, duties and pertinent technology. The write-up “stabilizes” that hat. It captures the sometimes hard-won knowledge necessary to successfully wear it, and makes such knowledge available as a reminder to the original wearer and also a way to allow knowledge transfer to any new wearer.

Since all such hat write-ups, taken collectively, are the “DNA” of the group, they require special care and attention. There should be a central repository for them, or copies of them. One of the duties of a manager should be to verify that these write-ups are available, up-to-date, and in use in his area. Such verification can be part of a periodic review process.

The scale of group causation runs from the personal, social group to the completely organized, impersonal group. Movement in a pro-life direction is movement UP the scale.

In a well organized group work environment there is often still room for personal interaction by those who desire it—for instance around the water cooler or the office printer, or at break time. There should be an awareness in these cases that such interaction is part of the private life and has nothing at all to do with the work process or forwarding the purpose of the group.

There is a common confusion here regarding names. A name actually has a dual role. Within the context of a private life it is an identifier, but within a work context a name is an indexer that relates a body to a hat. If you want something done with a certain group you first ask which hat would deal with that function. Hopefully there is some kind of index available that relates a name to any hat. Once you have the right name you know which body to go to or communicate with to get what you need to do done.

Some cultures deal better with this confusion than others. In America there has been more and more fixation on personal interaction in recent years. It used to be, even in America, that when a customer went into a sandwich shop or a bakery he would take a number in order to be served. When the servers called his number he would step forward and give his order. When his order was ready his number would be called again. This was in conformity with a higher level of group causation. There was an awareness and assumption of the hats of customer and server. In America these days it is more usual for the server to ask the personal, or first name of the customer, bringing the whole interaction DOWN to the bottom of the scale of group causation. It is a movement in the contra-life direction, but for some odd reason it makes many Americans “happy”.

In Germany it is not unusual to work for years with a colleague without ever using or even knowing his/her first name. The first name is reserved for the private life. It is easier to stay focused on a higher level of group causation this way.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You CAN Take It With You

Actually, you WILL take it with you, whether you want to or not. What?
Your life experience. What you will NOT take are your material possessions and goods. Most people will not remember anything from a previous life, so what does this really mean? Good life experience in a particular area of life and living will translate in a future life (or from a past life) into better ability to face up to and deal with that area of life, better reach to it, better ability to communicate with it. That’s the good news.

Unfortunately the opposite is true as well. Bad life experience in an area of life translates into a decreased ability to face up to and deal with that area.

One thing to keep in mind is that, though a particular life incident which occurs in a given area of life contains specific details of place, time, identity, etc., its benefit of good experience (and the
opposite for bad experience) will carry over not just to that particular area in the future, but to similar areas and situations. The degree of carry-over is correlated to the degree of similarity.

So, for example, a good experience with a daughter should carry over to better relations with other daughters in the future, particularly in the same type of activity or setting, and to some degree to relations with sons in the future.

Good experience in taking care of the body and personal health will carry over into better future health (all other things being equal), and improved ability to help maintain the health of others.

Good experience on a job will carry over to more ease in facing up to and doing that type of work, or a similar type of work.

A high level of some type of physical or athletic skill will carry over into a similar proficiency in the future.

All this gives a good motivation for living ethically. There is a payoff for living right, and on the other hand there is a penalty for not doing so. Keeping this in mind helps to keep the spiritual being from falling into the trap of being subordinated to materialistic concerns and focus on that which will pay dividends in the future.

What is Man

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are
spiritual beings having a human experience.” Teilhard de Chardin

“Man is a the combination of a spiritual being with a mind inhabiting or controlling a
human body. I’m not sure about women.” Tumpliner

So what is good experience? Forwarding or following a pro-life purpose. Life is trying to improve itself, recover from its past mistakes, increase its reach, become more able to act with, communicate with and exchange with other areas of life and the physical universe. Each individual has a set of life areas along which he can grow and expand. Each such area is a subset of, and dovetails with the next area in the succession.

The first such area is simply himself, his mind, body and personal effects.

The next step outward in reach is family, spouse, children. This puts him into his first experience as a member of a group. It is not a formal group (usually), and usually not a large group, but it is definitely a group.

The next step is being a member of a group, whether it is a class, a society, a sports team, employees of a business, citizens of a city, state or country. Actually this area of life comprises quite a succession of dovetailing groups from the smallest (family) to the largest (country).

All countries sum together to form mankind—our species.

We like to think of ourselves as pretty special, and perhaps we are, but we are also just one of many life forms on this planet, and probably on many other planets.

That’s far enough for you to get the idea of which direction is pro-life. Going back to the individual, each person has gone some distance down this track (or maybe fallen down from a higher point) so that he is comfortable facing it up to a certain point at which he starts to encounter a little trouble or confusion or lack of ability to deal with. The trouble is not necessarily all of his own making, but he can still improve his abilities to deal with it and make progress doing so.

How does life make progress down this path? Through the competent application of self-
determination. Self-determination does not mean that you have to do something different from others (although you might), but it does mean that if you are going along with others that you are doing so because you have a self-determined understanding that it is the right direction to go. You would want to go in that direction even if you were by yourself.

You can think of it as a game of chutes and ladders. The reward for making enough upward progress is gaining of more ability to confront and participate in life—more good experience. You climb the ladders with competent self-determination. The chutes are traps to be avoided. Before looking more at the chutes it will be necessary to explain a little about the mind.

A good reference for the mind is Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health. I am certainly not endorsing the author, or any other of his works, and I don’t even recommend reading the whole book. He does do a good job of presenting what the mind is and what it is composed of. Then he repeats it over, and over, and over, and over…. At some point most readers will have gotten the idea without having to read the whole book. There are two parts of the mind—the analytical and the non-analytical. The analytical part is able to perceive objective reality, align data, form plans and solutions, and can recognize hierarchies of data where some data are more fundamental and broadly applicable and so more valuable, while other data are only narrowly applicable and of less value. The analytical mind is open to the inspection, awareness and use of the spiritual being. The analytical mind includes a collection of mental pictures of the experience that the spiritual being has had. It seems that the pictures are stored in some minimized state that does not require any special attention to maintain, but can be temporarily maximized or “blown up” in the process of remembering or recalling for detailed examination. The analytical mind can also become, to some degree, at effect of the non-analytical mind.

The non-analytical mind is usually not open to the inspection and awareness of the spiritual being, though its effects can be. The non-analytical mind does not grasphierarchies of data. It does not recognize that some data are more fundamental than others. It sees all data to be on the same flat playing field. It can impinge illogical or false data on the analytical mind. It can even cut across the ability of the analytical mind to stay in contact with objective reality.

The non-analytical mind has more impingement on the individual when he is engaged in
unethical or criminal activities, when he is tired, when he is on drugs or has been drinking
alcohol, or when he is physically ill or injured. So the individual can help himself to be in a better frame of mind just by staying healthy, getting enough sleep, not abusing drugs, and living ethically.

One of the major traps or “chutes” to be avoided is what has been called the “mob mentality” or “mob hysteria”. Hollywood used to make movies about this where Jimmie Stewart or Gregory Peck would stand on a box and talk down an angry mob. More recently the Island of Doctor Moreau had it as a theme.

A characteristic of the mob mentality is that a crowd under its influence will act differently and more nastily than the individuals comprising it would do on their own and in control of their analytical minds. It is because the mechanism at work is a non-analytical agreement between individuals comprising the mob on the basis of similar or identical parts of their non-analytical minds. This non-analytical agreement subordinates or shunts self-determined analytical thought to the side. The individuals comprising the mob allow the non-analytical mind, and specifically that part of it which is in agreement with others, to become the senior datum in determining the behavior of the individual. Self-determination is necessary to go in the pro-life direction, and it has just been shunted aside. All that is left, then, for the mob is to go in the contra-life direction. The only remaining question is how quickly and how far it will go in that direction.

A group in this mob mentality can be counted on to knock out what is good and uphold and promote what is bad. Going back to Jimmie Stewart again, there is still the possibility for an individual to get something good accepted or pushed through in a group under the influence of the mob mentality, but it is not easy. What that individual needs to do is to communicate well enough to the individuals comprising the mob mentality that he lifts them, atleast temporarily, back into the analytical band of self-determination where he can appeal to their reason. He has to do this with enough members to allow his agenda to be supported, and it has to be done quickly enough so that those he has already convinced do not slip back into the mob agreement while he is convincing others. It is not an easy thing to do, and can be dangerous.

What is not usually realized is that the “mob mentality” most often exists in less dramatic
manifestations than a mob running through the streets. It shows up more often in areas where stress is higher and analytical thought is lower. It is often seen in adolescents and teens, who are being forced to face up to new areas of life without being given much in the way of philosophical knowledge to help support their analytical abilities.

The mob mentality is actually the “glue” that holds gangs and organized crime together.

The term “creep” can actually be given a technical definition of “a person who prefers to operate and chooses to operate under the influence of the mob mentality rather than thinking for himself.” Interiorizing the individual is an effort to put him less in objective communication with his environment and more at effect of his non-analytical mind. It is not hard to understand that this is not taking things in the pro-life direction. Name-calling is usually just an effort to interiorize, but if this technical definition of “creep” is understood by all concerned, then it can be used to draw the subject’s attention to the fact that he is under the influence of the mob mentality. Hopefully, once he realizes that he will choose to bring his self-determination to bear and get himself back into the analytical band.

So, for the overall good there is a responsibility for those who are able to monitor themselves to stay out of the mob mentality to take it a step further and help monitor others. It can be an insidious trap, especially when peers and life influences are encouraging the individual to fall into it and remain in it. Those who are able to monitor others can be a great help to them and to any groups they are involved with.

The solution to it is simple, and already known: just think for yourself. Never agree with anything unless you have a self-determined understanding of it.

Though the solution is simple, it fails when the individual does not have, or does not bring to bear, sufficient analytical “horsepower” to deal with the present situation or circumstances. Unable to “front up” to the situation analytically, he looks for a crutch to lean on. In other words, unable to determine his own path analytically with respect to a particular situation, he finds when he agrees with others in a similar state to his, that he can put himself in touch with a “powerful” mental force or impulse that gives him a subjective feeling of “strength” to face the situation. The non-analytical mind really can contain mental forces and matter analagous to physical forces and matter. The individual in this state may be subjectively feeling some of this “powerful” mental force which helps to bolster his ego, but he is really not facing up to the situation. His self-determination with respect to the situation has been subordinated to impingement of mental force or matter from the non-analytical mind. He is actually just feeling this impingement from the non-analytical mind. To go in a pro-life direction, life has to be senior to the physical universe, but in this situation the individual has put himself in a position subordinated to the mental matter and energy of his non-analytical mind. The situation is analogous to a drug addict who has subordinated his will to some material substance that he sniffs up his nose or injects into his veins because it gives him that "powerful" subjective feeling he can use as a crutch to face up to a life that he thinks he cannot face up to otherwise. When life subordinates its self-determination to materialism or allows itself to be mastered to some degree by physical energy or matter then it runs starts running into trouble. It puts itself onto a chute in the game of chutes and ladders.

The solution is still just to think for himself, and bring that self-determination to bear. Even if he cannot go far with his analytical mind in this kind of situation, he can always just stay in touch with objective reality. Perceiving and communicating with the present environment is a function of the analytical mind. Staying in touch with objective reality helps to validate the analytical
mind in any situation, and so reduce the impingement of the non-analytical mind.

To summarize:
  • Think for yourself.
  • Don’t trust individuals or groups that want to do your thinking for you (e.g. Rush Limbaugh or Al Gore), or do not want you to think for yourself .
  • Stay in touch with objective reality.
  • Stay healthy, get enough sleep.
  • Don’t engage in unethical activities.
  • Strengthen the analytical mind.
  • Gather to yourself a set of philosophical tools for your analytical mind to employ.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Observations on Tai Chi, as Presented in the U.S.

I think I should back up a step first to comment on the Qi or Chi energy flows of the body, which are described in Chinese Medicine, Accupuncture (and Accupressure), and made use of in the Martial Arts (which include the art of healing).

These flows go from point to point on the body. The locations of the points are not random. They are the same from man to man, woman to woman. It is interesting that they are also the same from man to woman. That is, any location of a Qi point on a male body will also be found in the corresponding location of the female body, and visa versa. "Non-believers" assume that these Qi points are imaginary, but actually any such point on the surface of the body corresponds to a scientifically verifiable abrupt, localized change in the resistivity of the skin.

The fact that the locations are not random shows that they must be part of the pattern of Creation. Chinese Medicine uses the maintenance, and in some cases the reestablishment of, these Qi flows as a method of maintaining or reestablishing the health of the body. So, the question is why does Christianity, the biggest proponent of Creationism in the west, not recognize this aspect of Creation which can be used to much effect in health maintenance and improvement? Don't they want strong, healthy people who are able to be pro-active in preventative medicine for themselves?

What I find amazing is that something so beneficial and practical as the Tai Chi exercise forms could have been the result of any sort of government activity (in this case, the Chinese government). Usually government fails when it comes to coming up with, or implementing effective solutions that do not cost much money. Here in the west, anyway, if either a lot of money cannot be spent on the solution, or if it is effective in making the individual stronger and more self-sufficient, then the private sector will have to take over the show.

At some point in the last century the Chinese government was looking at the future of national health. They could have gone down the same, expensive route that western countries have gone down, but they had a resource available to them that the west did not-- their long tradition of Martial Arts. One of the arts in the Martial Arts, is the art of healing and health maintenance. The Chinese government decided to go more strongly into preventative medicine and health maintenance by making a greater use of this national resource. They asked Martial Arts experts to come up with a pattern of exercises that would not take very long to do, but which would stimulate all of the Qi flows of the body. They wanted the exercises to not take much time to perform so that it would not be difficult to incorporate them into a daily routine. In this way large numbers of people would be able to perform the exercises daily, which would result in a higher average level of personal health, and a lesser need for more expensive medical services.

The experts did come up with several sets of exercises, or "forms". One that I have used, and that is commonly used in the west is the Yang-Style Tai Chi Sort Form. It takes only about 5 minutes to do.

What I have noticed in almost all of the western literature and media on these Tai Chi forms, is that they are presented as-is, as though they were just a Chinese Line Dance. (Line Dancing is a type of country-western dance, where a group of individuals perform choreographed steps and movements together). There are a couple of things wrong with treating it this way.

First, as far as I know, there are no additional therapeutic benefits to doing the Tai Chi forms in a group over doing them by yourself. The only benefit I can see is that doing it together with others will increase the chances that the individual will indeed do them on a regular basis. That is the key idea-- therapeutic results depend on actually doing the forms regularly. In most of the western instructional media I have seen there is an unexplained emphasis on doing the exercises as a group. This gives the impression that the group approach is necessary or vital to achieve the benefits of Tai Chi, and that doing them alone as an individual is somehow not as valid. In my experience, that is certainly not true.

Secondly, the exercises are applications of sets of basic principles of proper stance and motion of the body. These principles can and should be used beyond the exercises. If you know the principles you can incorporate them on a self-determined basis into the motions and activities of daily life. The Tai Chi forms are a condensed illustration of the application of these principles. So they are a great opportunity for learning and review. Unfortunately these principles are usually not mentioned at all in western media. If they are mentioned, it is usually only in passing, and on an incomplete basis. The only resource I have come across that completely treats these principles is a small book by Paul Brecher called simple, Tai Chi. It is available through Amazon: It is a small hardback. I just checked, and there is a used copy available today for 49 cents. That is definitely a good bargain.

An interesting thing about the book is that the author does not even try to teach any of the Tai Chi exercises. The author treats the underlying principles of Tai Chi as a subject for study in and of themselves. I found this to be quite a refreshing idea. Most of the benefits of Tai Chi come from the application of these principles. To get the most benefit it should be a self-determined application of them, rather than a rote application designed by someone else. If the individual has the principles in mind as he does the Tai Chi forms, he can acquire self-determined understandings of how the general principles relate to a specific action. When he gains a sufficient amount of such understandings he will be able to easily incorporate the principles into the rest of his daily life activities, with greatly enhanced results. Without the principles in mind he is just doing a Chinese Line Dance-- a set of movements choreographed by someone else. There is still some benefit from doing it this way, but probably not enough to motivate most people to continue with it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another Use of Practical Creationism

I am using the term "Practical Creationism" in reference to my last blog on the healing of a herniated disk. I treated it in more detail there, but basically it is the idea that there was probably a Design Intention for optimal usage of the body, and a positive, validating, or healing "feedback" to the user of the body when the body is used on, or close to this optimal usage. Atleast some of this feedback, for me anyway, is felt through the Qi or Chi energy flow meridians, as listed and detailed in Chinese Medicine and the Chinese Healing Art.

Of course I am only guessing at why such a feedback was used, but probably atleast part of it was that the human body is the only biped optimized for running. To achieve this some of the joints are given a lot of range and leeway, making them a little more "iffy" or vulnerable to misuse than they otherwise would be. So there is more of a priority to make sure that these joints are not used in a way that would result in premature damage to the body.

Now, for another application of Practical Creationism I want to look at what has happened with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome since the advent of the personal computer, and how it could be prevented, or atleast alleviated. Its very simple. Just observe what is usually done with the hands when a person is seated. Aha! Usually in the lap. So, hold onto your seat here . . . maybe it would be a good idea to just put the keyboard in the lap! No desktop or table top keyboards, no special slide-out drawers, no wrist supports-- just your lap. Its worked for me for years, and its happening a lot more these days with, of course, the Laptops!

Why do you suppose this solution has not been promoted? Well, it makes noone any money. Its a poor statement on American culture if that's the reason, but its probably part of it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How I Cured My Herniated Disc...

.. unintentionally. I am curious if it will work for others.

Anyway, here is the story. Starting as a young teenager I backpacked with my family almost every summer until I was into my 20s. The backpack trips were great, but I just came to accept that part of the experience was that the waist-belt that carried the majority of the weight of the backpack would rub the skin on my hip raw.

Later, as an adult I was visiting Alaska and had the opportunity to backpack the Chilkoot Pass trail. Actually the Alaskan trip was atleast partially motivated by the fact that my desk job combined with poor posture had created a herniated disc in my lower back that I could feel. I was hoping that getting out and doing a lot of walking or hiking would help to correct it. It was not extremely painful, but there was considerable discomfort, and I had the distinct feeling that I had better be careful with my back if I wanted to avoid permanent damage to it. I had tried several methods that all seemed to work for in the short term to alleviate the discomfort, but did not eliminate it.

In Alaska I had the same backpack with me that I had used as a teenager, but had not used it for many years, and had forgotten how painful a raw hip can be. I don't know if my tolerance for pain had decreased, or if my expectations for life had increased, but I re-experienced those rubbed-raw hips and I swore that would be the last backpack trip I would ever use a weight-bearing waist-belt.

I arrived back in California from my Alaskan trip a little earlier than anticipated and decided to try a backpack trip in the Sierras, but with something different. I had read about tumplines being used by Indians, French voyageur porters, and maybe some backpackers in the northeast US, but in all my years of backpacking in the Sierras I had never seen one used. I thought I would try one out. I got some 2" webbing from an Army Surplus store and installed some grommets in the ends of a piece that was about 6 foot long. I drilled holes in my external pack frame, and installed clevis pins that also fit through the webbing grommets.

I retained the shoulder straps and waist-belt of the pack frame, but used them only to keep the weight from shifting when I tried the new rig out around town. It felt so comfortable that I was encouraged to load myself up with considerably more than I had ever carried on any previous trips. On the first day's climb out of the South Fork of the Kings River I was carrying almost 90 pounds, which was 35 lbs more than I had ever carried. Surprisingly, it was not any less comfortable than 55 lbs had been with the waist-belt / shoulder-strap rig. The only exception was that where the tumpline contacted the top of my head did become a little painful, so that I had to stop and change strap positions every few miles. If I did it again I would bring along some padding for the top of the head-- maybe even just a watch cap. I remember thinking to myself, that with this much weight on my head for this length of time I would be lucky if the expected neck-muscle soreness would even allow me to turn my head the next day. The first amazing thing I noticed on the trip was that my neck never became sore-- at all!

I am not sure what happened along the way, or when it happened, but it was the third or fourth night when I was in my sleeping bag that I thought I would see how the old herniated disc was doing. It hadn't been giving me any problems. I ran my hand down the left side of my spine where it had been and I could not find it. It was gone and has never returned!

Now, here is my theory of why it happened:

I believe in Creation. I don't want to go into why here. I will probably treat it in a future blog, but I can suffice it here to say that I do not have the typical Christian view of Creation, but I think the theory of Evolution is ridiculous, except in a very small contributory way. Anyway, if you study anatomy you find that both the shoulder joints are quite "iffy", and we know from our experience with older people that the hip joint has enough stress put on it just from routine life activity. Putting extra weight on the hip does not seem like a smart idea. So, one way to approach the question of how to carry weight with the body optimally is to try to reconcile the weight-carrying activity with the design intention of the Creator. How to discover that intention? Well, a way to take a good guess at it anyway is just to look at a skeleton. Look for a strong structure or connected structure in the vertical plane, and it should preferably be along a main axis of symmetry. Looking at a skeleton hanging there in the Anatomy room, there is really only one structure that fits these criteria-- the spine. On further examination the spine seems to have load-bearing as its main purpose. It is not big on flexibility. It has no "iffy joints". The vertebra, starting from the top and working downwards, become progressively larger, stronger and more solid, until at last they actually become fused together in the coccyx. This progression is in alignment with the fact that the lower parts of the spine are carrying more and more weight of the body. So, the spine seems to be what the Creator was thinking of as the main weight-bearing structure in the body.

Now its time to make a leap of what might be called "faith", but what I prefer to just think of as good design practice. There are many ways that the body can be used and exercised. Some of these ways are not so good for its continued health. What if the Creator wanted a way to communicate to the future operator of the body what the best way or ways were to utilize it? How about a feed-back mechanism designed into the body that allowed the body to maintain or even correct itself to some degree when the operator adheres to, or atleast approaches a useage designed/intended for it by the Creator? If I assume such a feed-back mechanism exists for the useage of the spine as a weight-bearing structure, then I can explain two phenomena of that back-pack trip that are otherwise unexplainable:

1) The neck muscles never became sore, even to the slightest degree. I was not consuming alcohol (atleast in the first days of the trip), nor any other type of medication. This was despite the fact that I was carrying almost 90 lbs of weight, and I weighed at the time less than 160 lbs.

2) The herniated disc, which had plagued me for atleast a year previously, dissappeared permanently.

A possible additional facet to this feed-back mechanism is that there may be a minimum "threshold value" of weight required to "kick it" into effect. If so, I certainly had a good shot at meeting any such weight requirement by hanging well over half my body weight on the spine.

Additional notes on tumpline useage:

1) The tumpline goes over the TOP of the head, and NOT on the forehead. It should really go over the back part of the top of the head, so as to allow the weight of the pack to more closely parallel the spinal column.

2) Always use shoulder-straps as an unweighted "back-up" system. In jumping from rock to rock you don't want the tumpline strap to come loose and wind up with the weight of the pack hanging from your neck!

3) Leave the waist-strap on also, but unweight it. It will keep the pack from swinging from side to side as you walk.

4) I don't know if you can buy a tumpline, but you can certainly make one yourself and attach it as noted above to an external frame pack. You just have to be willing to drill a hole in that nice pack frame.

So, hey, I haven't heard if it will work for anyone else. If you try it and it works, please let me know.