Saturday, October 11, 2008

This is your economy on drugs

The Reward Circuit

Happiness and self-fulfilment are common goals in the game that is human life. However complex the rules of that game, eventually it is a neurobiological response in our brains that makes us feel happy or satisfied. Natural selection has favored those species who desired to achieve behavior that was beneficial for the survival of the individual and its kind. In the course of evolution, we were thus endowed with what neuroscientists call the “reward circuit”. The reward circuit becomes active if we do what is necessary or beneficial for survival, such as eating, learning, or having sex.

Research has shown the reward circuit is not only a direct response that leads to the production of endorphins responsible for happiness. It is also coupled to the hippocampus, our learning and memory center, and the prefrontal cortex, relevant for our thinking and planning. This enables us to develop possibly quite complicated tactics to trigger the reward mechanism. With the rise of human culture, many secondary goals have developed such as the desire for money or human touch, and tactics explained in all the self-help books that promise a way to reach them. This reward circuit provides a powerful mechanism on the level of an individual that has been enormously effective in driving progress of the whole species.

There are shortcuts to immediate happiness. Drugs like cocaine, speed, angel dust, heroine, morphine, alcohol and tobacco stimulate the reward system, and often provide greater pleasure than is normally the result of natural stimulation. With repeated drug use, neurotransmitters in the brain develop a substance tolerance, it then takes a larger dose to achieve the same effect. Simultaneously, the user becomes less receptive to natural stimuli and loses interest in activities other than obtaining the next dose. Changes in the brain metabolism cause withdrawal effects, which makes it hard to fall back into a previously stable and pleasant state. Our ability to learn from rewards and direct our actions towards this goal then leads to a planning of how to get the next drug. It becomes the center of interest, many users report a constant obsession with the drug. In many cases, the addict neglects primary survival needs.

All of the mentioned drugs have well studied negative consequences for the user's physical and mental health. But the knowledge of these consequences is generally not sufficient for the addict to break out of this vicious cycle that rewards repeated short-term kicks on the expenses of long-term happiness. If left untreated, it will finally lead to breakdown or death.

Knowledge of this lacking ability for self-correction of the reward circuit has therefore caused us to issue laws, educate our children, and help those in need. These are measures to protect us from our own weaknesses to avoid potentially fatal damage.

There are other ways to cheat on our reward system, that include overeating or extreme sports that trigger hormone rush, actions that become feasible at a high civilizationary level when primary survival needs are easily fulfilled. The boundaries between what unhealthy behavior requires external constraints are flowing and subject of discussion, which strongly depends on the consequences of substance abuse for the rest of the society, the tension lies between personal freedom and damage to other individuals. Tobacco use has by now in many countries been widely banned in public buildings. Obesity, though not an addiction, has been argued to require action.

Besides these substance addictions, impulse control disorders like pyromania, or compulsive stealing and gambling have similar effects of immediate satisfaction and high rewards. “Monetary reward in a gambling-like experiment produces brain activation very similar to that observed in a cocaine addict receiving an infusion of cocaine,” says Hans Breiter, co-director of the motivation and Emotion Neuroscience Centre at the Massachusetts General Hospital [1].

Many facets of human behavior pursued today are hard or impossible to trace back to primary needs, like the desire to appear on TV or to collect shoes.

Return on Investment and other Highs

Similar reward mechanisms operate in the systems that govern our lives. These incentives eventually go back to individual rewards, and they are often institutionalized for larger groups of people and based on secondary criteria that have grown out of primary needs. Companies don't strive for sex, they strive to accumulate capital. Interest groups don't hunt for food but for attention. Nations don't seek understanding but influence.

One can cheat on these reward mechanisms as well, which leads to the emergence of tactics that run contrary to the original intention of being beneficial for the society. We therefore have means to constrain damaging behavior like proper product information, property rights, ethical codes for scientific conduct, trade laws, or marketplace regulations. Again, the question of what needs attention is a discussion constantly in flux. The aim is in all cases to ensure that the pursuit of individual interests within a given system results in desirable long-term and large-scale trends.

October 2008, the world economy is struggling. The system meant to distribute resources, free capital, and connect traders in a virtuous cycle of demand and supply is choking after warnings have been ignored for more than 15 years [2,3,4]. Politicians and economists likewise praised the wisdom of the free market to regulate itself. Thousands of bankers all over the globe acted for their own immediate advantage, neglecting long-term risks, ignoring tell-tale signs of more problems to come. Again and again proposed political regulations to ensure the well-being of the society on the long run were put aside, argued to dampen the highs of the gambles. Bonuses of top managers increased to absurd rates, became the norm, increased further. What has worked for some became the goal for more, an upward cycle in constant need of higher kicks.
“Dissatisfaction over high pay, business failures and American-style laissez-faire capitalism has been sweeping across Europe for some time, but it has been given new impetus as investors and politicians struggle to make sense of a credit vise that tightens by the day.
Even before the latest tumult, steps were taken in the Netherlands and France to limit excessive compensation, and the issue is back on the agenda [...]”
Landon Thomas, NYT [5]

Disregard of long-term goals combined with immediate rewards in a system rushing from one high to the next became accepted as the norm. Consume has turned into an antidote to national and personal downs, was made into a value pursued for it's own sake, producing absurdities along the way, and inhibiting the ability for self-correction:
“[C]onsumerism is based on the fact that we are a society dominated by business interests. There is massive propaganda for everyone to consume. Consumption is good for profits and consumption is good for the political establishment - Consumption distracts people. You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption. The business press has been quite explicit about this goal.”

Reliance on the infallibility of the reward circuit results in a neglect of factors necessary for the survival of the society as a whole.

Until finally the system breaks down.

I think we're in for an indefinite period of withdrawal, trying to return to a stable mode of operation.


“[T]oday there is only one incentive for doing business, and that is the maximization of profits. But the incentive of doing social good must be included. There need to be many more companies whose primary aim is not that of earning the highest profits possible, but that of providing the greatest benefit possible for human kind.”

is how Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus summarizes the need to pay attention to the needs of the society as a whole [7].

But how well do we know long-term effects? And if we know them, can we be sure they are implemented sufficiently fast to avoid damage?

Remarkably enough, I agree with Alan Greenspan on the cause of the problem. In his speech at Georgetown University on Oct 2nd [8] he said “Reputation and the trust it fosters have always appeared to me to be the core attributes required of competitive markets.”

Yes, the central issue is trust. But not trust in the traders, but trust in our ability to detect and correct shortcomings of the system. A detection that should not be hindered by faith-based argumentation, should not be tampered with by rhetoric, should not be driven by psychological effects. It requires a solid data base, shared knowledge, objective evaluation, and validation of models and predictions. In short, it requires a scientific method to reestablish trust in the working of our political and economical systems.

The Scientific Revolution, which has lead to a stunning progress in the natural sciences four centuries ago, has not yet been extended to the applications of social sciences. To a large extend, developments in these areas are still made in a process of trial and error, experiments with the well-being of billions of people. It is a slow learning process often plagued by a lacking ability to learn from past mistakes. Given that trial and error has worked for a long time, and that the computational prerequisits to deal with large amounts of data are only available since recently, it is not surprising this revolution did not take place earlier. But it is about time we upgrade to the 21st Century.


The Scientific Revolution is unfinished, and we need to finish it.

[1] “Gambling - Like Food and Drugs - Produces Feelings of Reward in the Brain," by Harald Franzen, Scientific American, May 24, 2001.
[2] “The Reckoning - Taking Hard New Look at a Greenspan Legacy," by Peter S. Goodman, NYT October 8, 2008.
[3] “The End of Arrogance - America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role," Spiegel, Oct 2008.
“The Risk of a Systemic Financial Meltdown: The 12 Steps to Financial Disaster,” Nouriel Roubini Feb 5, 2008.
“Culture of Outsize Pay for Bankers, Born on Wall Street, Has Europe Fuming,” by Landon Thomas Jr., NYT, Sep 30 2008.
Interview with Noam Chomsky - “The United States Has Essentially a One-Party System,” Spiegel Oct 10 2008.
“Capitalism Has Degenerated into a Casino', Spiegel, Oct 10 2008.
[8] “Markets and the Judiciary,” Dr. Alan Greenspan, Sandra Day O’Connor Project Conference, October 2, 2008


  1. Cooperation (to which trust is a prereq) is promoted by group identification, which in turn is promoted by competition with other groups. If we broaden the definition of our group both temporally and spatially to the entire world for the rest of history, how can we still promote group-identification?

  2. Hi Michael,

    Not sure what you have read into what I wrote. The definition of what group does broaden? There is competition and cooperation in science as well, and we need both. Best,


  3. Markets for securities in corporations could be modeled as mechanisms for promoting group-level selection:

    To the extent that we have a allowed a small group of managers has managed to manipulate the sources of information about corporations' performance provided to the market, we have failed at achieving group selection.

    But the more serious problem I raise is that if, ultimately, we are to treat the entire world for the rest of history as "us", what "them" remains for us to rely upon in self-identifying?

  4. Hi Michael,

    I don't think it's going to happen within the next some hundred thousand years that the world population regards itself as a homogeneous 'us'. People have different interests, have different values, regard different things important. Sharing the common goal to live within a system that works towards best addressing individual interests does not necessitate these interests are equal all over the globe. However, what has global consequences needs to be addressed on a global level. It is a distribution of responsibilities over different levels that one can see from families over towns, regional governments, states, nations to unions. The presence of a higher level does not imply erasing the subelements or their individual authority. Best,


  5. For a spy novel like read, about how a major Tech company Broadcom & their CEO/CTO..couple of Electrical Eng PhDs (UCLA) got caught up in Greed, Drugs, Narcissim, Prostitutes, Divorce, etc, read this:

    Dr. Nicholas and Mr. Hyde: Politics & Power

    More dirt:

    Inmate says he supplied Broadcom duo, O.C. sheriff with drugs

    "If the allegations are true, the saga of Dr. Henry Nicholas is sex and scandal writ large. Pry under the shocking surface, though, and you also find even more unsettling questions. What secrets can lurk beneath the smooth fa├žade of a successful corporation? What can happen if someone with the imagination of a sex-starved teenage boy and no personal restraints can fuel his fantasies with a billion dollars (and then some)? And, finally, what is it about human nature? “Henry Nicholas is a paradox: a man with a self-destructive personality who created something great,” says Roger McNamee, the well-known technology investor, who met Nicholas in the early years of Broadcom. Because no one suggests that Broadcom—whose chips are used in everything from Apple’s iPhone to Nintendo’s Wii, has revenues approaching $4 billion, and employs 6,800 people—isn’t something great, or that it would have existed without Henry Nicholas. “Every character trait is a double-edged sword,” says a former Broadcom executive. “The strongest point has a counterpoint.”

    The arraignment of Henry Nicholas on criminal charges wasn’t the first time he burst onto the scene in a blaze of publicity. On April 17, 1998, in the middle of the Internet frenzy, Broadcom—which stood out from the dot-coms of the day by virtue of the fact that it had actually produced profits—went public at $4 a share. The stock more than doubled, and by the end of the trading day, Nicholas and his co-founder, a quiet man five years his senior named Dr. Henry Samueli, also an electrical-engineering Ph.D., were each worth $600 million. “One of the hottest initial public stock offerings ever,” raved The New York Times.

    These were the days when technology stocks only went up, and some six months later, Nicholas called a venture-capitalist friend. “ ‘I’m a billionaire! This is amazing! It worked!’ ” he exclaimed, this person says. “He was like a kid. I said, ‘Don’t take it for real. It ain’t real.’ ” Nicholas’s friend didn’t mean that the money itself wasn’t real, but rather that it could give life a dangerous aura of unreality."

    [ this "money itself wasn't real" is what P. Woit/NEW was commenting on, all the stuff he personally witnessed in NY was just "Stupid Money". A House of Cards doomed to collapse ]

    "Nicholas told others at Broadcom that he was a rare personality type that some psychologists call “the Mastermind.” (The Myers-Briggs and Keirsey personality tests, which are big in M.B.A. circles, group people into 16 different personality types, to which Keirsey gives labels, such as the Healer and the Inspector; Masterminds make up just 1 percent of the population.) Masterminds are supposed to be calculating perfectionists who have a disregard for authority—as well as for the feelings of others. “Great entrepreneurs generally have a single-minded focus,” says McNamee. “Often they don’t realize there might be another point of view.”"

    [ you ask yourself "how could people act so irresponsibly/irrationally", & the answer could be the Curse of Power. Personality disorders, both nature & nurture ]

    "While the government’s contention that his drug use amounted to a narcotics conspiracy—i.e., distributing drugs—has not been proved, it is hard to deny that Nicholas has used drugs.Maybe his problems were brought on by his desire to operate at a superhuman pace. Maybe, as one person who hung out with him says, “his money came too fast and it opened the door to things he wanted. He was married, he had kids, but he saw something else out there that money could get him. He was kind of a geeky dude. I don’t see him going out with girls in high school, and now here he is with the world at his feet.” Or maybe a woman named Mirjana Dumnjak, who knew Nicholas during this period, puts it best. “You know what they say about borderline geniuses?” she asks. “They’re also borderline crazy.”

    [ "Borderline Crazy", that's 2 words that sums the whole world-wide crisis: where did these Nuts come from? ]

    Whatever it was, Nicholas changed quickly. Within about a year and half of Broadcom’s I.P.O., he went from what one neighbor says was a “super-nice guy who just wanted to make friends” and who had barbecues in his backyard to someone who was “just out there.” Says this person, “I think he’s a victim of bad judgment and bad friends.” "

    [ Lehman Brothers, Merrill-Lynch, et al got caught up in the whole "bad judgement" virus. Risky real-estate mortgages, which have seriously wounded Banking/Credit in USA ]

    "There’s a twist to Nicholas’s story, according to some of the allegations against him, that makes it something darker than a tale of a man whose personal eccentricities got the better of him. The government and former employees allege that he thought he could use drugs and prostitutes to get an advantage in business. As prosecutor Andrew Stolper put it, Nicholas was “not in the business of making a living by dealing drugs. He was in the business of using drugs for his business.” Kenji Kato, who helped organize events for Broadcom, also alleged in his lawsuit that he would see Nicholas put “powdered ecstasy pills into the drinks of his customers. I would see him usually carefully measure the dosage.… I had to look the other way when Nicholas secretly ‘spiked’ clients, prospective clients and third parties’ drinks with illegal drugs.”

    Mehrdad Nayebi—the engineer who was granted the stock options—contended in a draft lawsuit in late 2000 that Nicholas also “had a practice of hiring prostitutes to ‘greet’ visiting customers, other business associates, and for himself.” Nicholas called the prostitutes “professional saleswomen,” says another person who did business with Broadcom. One former executive recalls getting out of the elevator at Broadcom’s offices and saying to himself, “She’s a pro!” He adds, “I felt like I just walked out of a Las Vegas nightclub. Am I really on the third floor of an office building in Irvine?”

    Dumnjak says that Nicholas used to tell her that “I can do all this stuff and be productive the next day.” But if Superman could do that once, he soon began to slip. His assistant, Beth Kuhns, told the F.B.I. that he began to “disappear for periods of time and miss important meetings.” She would “receive incoherent calls … where he would speak nonsense” to her. She eventually couldn’t take it anymore and hired a lawyer to arrange her exit from the company. But, Kuhns claimed, when she met with Gunther and Nicholas to negotiate a settlement, their behavior was so erratic that her lawyer called off the meeting."

    "Nicholas’s company was also slipping by this time—badly. The dot-com bubble had burst in 2000, and what Nicholas later called the “worst downturn in semiconductor history” was well under way. Broadcom lost money in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Its stock price—as high as $182.42 on August 24, 2000—began to plummet and eventually hit a low of $6.47 on October 7, 2002. One board member later told The Wall Street Journal that “no one was really at the wheel.”

    "There she “caught Nicholas having sex with a prostitute while high on drugs,” said the contractors, in a red-and-gold room with a carved wooden ceiling and a gigantic bed. She filed for divorce.

    Soon, a furious wife wasn’t Nicholas’s only problem. In the fall of 2002, a group of seven contractors who had worked on the project, including James, hired a lawyer to draft a lawsuit against Nicholas. The contractors contended that Nicholas used “manipulation, lies, intimidation, and even death threats” to stiff them on the bulk of the money they were due. He also allegedly told them he’d have them killed if they ever talked about him or the work they did." "

    "On January 23, 2003, Nicholas announced his resignation to investors on a conference call. “Effective today I have resigned as president and C.E.O. of Broadcom. This has been a difficult personal decision for me, and one that has been driven entirely by personal issues relating to my family separation and divorce.”

    That was no lie. After all, Nicholas did have serious family issues. But it doesn’t appear to be the whole truth, either. Some members of Broadcom’s board had grown disillusioned with Nicholas due to his performance, and the company started exploring the idea of looking for a new C.E.O. in the fall of 2002. In November, Broadcom appointed a board member, Alan E. “Lanny” Ross, as interim chief operating officer. Within a few weeks of Ross’s arrival, the company laid off 500 people to cut costs. Around the same time, it found out about the contractors’ suit. Nicholas took time off in December and January before finally announcing his departure in late January." "

    "Part of the ugly aftermath of the dot-com boom has been a massive government investigation into charges that many companies, such as Broadcom, accounted inaccurately for the stock options they doled out. Thus far, nearly 200 companies have disclosed that they engaged in so-called stock-options backdating, in which they granted options at a date in the past without telling shareholders they were doing so. Roughly two dozen executives have been charged with committing fraud. In a high-profile case, Greg Reyes, who was the C.E.O. of a technology company called Brocade Communications, was convicted of fraud last January and sentenced to 21 months in jail.

    In some quarters, particularly in Silicon Valley, there is the attitude that the government is trying to criminalize accounting sloppiness, and that, anyway, entrepreneurs like Nicholas create such value that they should be given a pass. “It’s like after the gold rush in America, trying to enforce trespassing laws,” says Ipsen. “Imagine what America could be like if Broadcom, Apple, and the other 250 companies now accused of backdating options didn’t exist? Where would we be?” "


    Man, that Vanity Fair article was an ENTERTAINING READ!! "Sometimes Truth is better Reading than Fiction". Electrical Eng is my field, & Broadcom is in my business (Signal Processing), there was a Broadcom office on Lake Av here in Pasadena (few blocks from Caltech). Glad I didn't get involved with that circus.

    Call the above: "Sex, Drugs, & Rock-and-Roll..invades the Tech Sector". At least there's some accountability in above, high-level execs ("it starts from the top") are going to Jail.

    "You can deny Responsiblity, but you can't deny Accountability"

    I'm just waiting for the rest of the Credit crises (US & abroad) details to surface. "Bohemian lifestyle": excesses in company/personal habits.

    Bee, your comment about "Instant Gratification", linking Drugs (btw, you forgot Sex) & Business Excesses ("This is your economy on drugs") was..SPOT ON!! Sure enough, there was a real-life .com Tech company which followed that path.

    "Money & Power..are like a huge DRUG"

  6. The above LA Times story doesn't do full justice, to the latest twist in "Drugs, Money, .com Tech, Prostitutes" the ex-Orange County Sheriff (on top of his corruption charges, wife & mistress):

    Inmate says he supplied Cocaine to ex-O.C. Sheriff

    [ there's more dirt on the ex-O.C. Sheriff here. 1 of the sons of an O.C. deputy sheriff (in the above, note that Dr. Henry Samueli was appointed as "deputy O.C. Sheriff" as part of corruption scheme), was convicted of raping a girl while drugged. I mean, SH*T, the trail of sex, drugs, rock-and-roll is pervasive from the teen-age kids to their Law Enforncement dads & their business-cronies!! Carona had a mistress in this whole sordid affair, & his wife dutifully accompanies the sh*tbag during his court appearances!! ]

    The inmate was an travel company employee, who was a drug courier for Dr. Henry Nicholas (ex Broadcom CEO, Broadcom is headquartered in Irvine/CA, Orange County). In the original article, there were other Broadcom employees who delivered manila envelopes with $10K cash (drug money).

    "Nicholas told plaintiff he was buying politicians & law enforcement [ !! ] & would be the next John Gotti"

    BTW, Bee, when you attended SUSY '06 in Newport Beach, CA (hosted by UC Irvine/Physics), that was in Orange County/CA. So, you (& other attendees) were under the umbrella of Michael Carona/O.C. Sheriff. Who was bought out by "John Gotti" Dr. Henry Nicholas (UCLA PhD) CEO of Broadcom (headquartered in Irvine/CA), whose CTO Dr. Henry Samueli (formerly UCLA EE professor) owns the Anaheim Mighty Ducks NHL hockey team (they wont the Stanley Cup last year).

    How's that for your brilliant "This is your economy on drugs" theory? The predictive power of your theory has a datapoint: you actually entered the domain of the Broadcom/O.C. Sheriff racketeers (drugs, power, sex, etc) back in 2006!!

    You may be on the path to a Nobel Prize in Economics. Tying in Social Sciences (Sex, Drugs, Rock-and-Roll lifestyle) with Economy. Just need a cool mathematical model, & you're stylin'.

  7. BTW, did you see this quote by George Soros (via Information Processing):

    "There is a common interest. And this belief that everybody pursuing his self-interests will maximize the common interests or will take care of the common interests is a false idea."

    Cheers, Stefan

  8. Chomsky said: "Consumption distracts people. You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption. The business press has been quite explicit about this goal."

    What a load of paranoid, supercilious, snobbish crap. Oh thank you Great Chomsky, for opening our eyes to the Great Conspiracy which enslaves us.

  9. This is a very good assessment Bee. Hope you get your status as a non profit?:)

    Yes it lies to the individual as to whether one can be perceived as faith based. Immediate assessments will always lack the full scope of the argument while getting to the result very quickly.

    If you goes through the cycles one tends to see the effect of such rewards, and that recursive slide for correction.

    Knowing the very constitution of such non profits may in itself help to shape the goal as a pursuit of those 100 people and with that, how will it change the larger perspective? Yes, I know all about this. When people gather for such constitutions they are thinking in terms of that larger group. A plan.

    Society in itself can be a large group and finding laws that pertain to all people are part of the governance. That you may choose science is no less noble a cause and is up their with how things shall perform in the future.


  10. Hi Stefan,

    Smart man. If only people would listen. Best,


  11. Hi Anonymous,

    Yeah, the quote by Chomsky is a bit odd in that it tries to suggest it's a deliberate 'distraction' which I too think isn't quite a correct assesment. He is basically just repeating panem et circenses. Just look at what laws intruding privacy rights have been passed in the USA over the last years without causing too much of an upheaval. Try to imagine you'd instead suggest scraping some of the most debilitating shows on TV. Best,


  12. Hi Plato,

    It's not me who is becoming non-profit, I've just been trying to get things sorted out with a project. I'll write something about that at some point.

    Anyway, I don't think the question is one of profit or not profit. The question is one of balance. Since we are already talking about non-profit organizations let me take PI as an example. They have their mission statements that are basically guidelines for long term goals. They are somewhat fuzzy though. Question is then, do these long-term goals actually matter when it comes down to making decisions in day-to-day work. It's not a trivial thing to ensure, and it's basically the same issue that you have if you run a country. You have a party with a nice sounding program and a lot of future visions. But are these actually taken into account when it comes down to the day-to-day work? When it sounds like a good idea to listen to the lobby with the big money, when the influential people are screaming at you you're hindering the system to run at full speed? That doesn't mean operation for profit doesn't work, but all by itself it is an empty concept. It becomes useful only if you can show it is correlated with benefits for the society - which it sometimes isn't and that's hardly news. Best,


  13. The world suddenly discovers it is Officially $530+ trillion in the hole. Frantic G7 meetings with Bush the Lesser sum to a Three Stooges retrospective. Remember how ancient Rome effectively handled Spartacus & Co, as punishment and as meaningful warning to future scofflaws. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have similarly kept the nuclear genie bottled - and for the same timespan.

    If you want thrills use Tabasco sauce. It is a strong parasympathomimetic inducer.

  14. Man, I take a hiatus and I come back to something that's just calling for me to come back. Niice.

    Anyways - No, ya all are missing Chomsky's meaning. He's merely pointing out the function of the system. It's implied that this is its nature. No government help needed.

    As to answering the main question - well, can I do it again in a fresh manner? - I'll do so by addressing martin's statement:

    That people (read: humans) need identification is the issue.

  15. Ahem, let me append that. Of course a nation's government feeds into this system, but they are just obeying the same signals as everyone else, albeit at a more influential level.

  16. Bee writes:A detection that should not be hindered by faith-based argumentation, should not be tampered with by rhetoric, should not be driven by psychological effects. It requires a solid data base, shared knowledge, objective evaluation, and validation of models and predictions. In short, it requires a scientific method to reestablish trust in the working of our political and economical systems.

    Of course this drew my attention more then some other issues that you were writing, and again, your assessment is good, but on further reflection some things came to mind.

    A scientific method?

    I am all for searching for the truth under the auspice of science, and not to portray I am a scientist, I still hold to these values in regard to testable things.

    I do stride away with "my own points of view" that would be less then comfortable with any science method. But these are interests aside from the trade which establishes the boundary of reason. Does not mean I do not practise that search for truth.

    So this then leaves....

    ....A detection that should not be hindered by faith-based argumentation, should not be tampered with by rhetoric, should not be driven by psychological effects.

    Your response in your comment to me you said, something that was perceived contrary to the goals of PI. Please correct if this perception is not right.

    I would point out the idea of "an extremism" in a cyclical activity then, that while one may think that we could serve "one side or the other," by such factors of the reward system, we may think the psychology has no bearing?

    On the most basic sense, this assessment then lacked the explosive view in regard to the evolution of the species. If the psychology was not included, then one would of lacked the understanding of the connection to the possibilities of seeing beyond the borders of cyclical activities? Assigned a status too profit, or non profit?

    The capabilities of understanding the nature of that cyclical activity would then include the psychological behaviour that this economic thrust for truth is undergoing, that it would have assigned a political status to the right and the left, and with that, loose sight of the inherent nature of that psychology to seek balance in all things?

    So on a clear day a group seeks to write it's constitution as to the direction it seeks this institution to go? The board of directors administers this Constitution and are there to uphold it's principles. Now this executive structure is governing the plan?

    The psychology then comes into play in that individuals of this board of directors become influential in the direction this should be going? Since this is a democratic system, these views can by influence and persuasion help to direction the course of events according to the plan of that institution?

    It should not escape one that in considerations of "power of ten" that we could see the dynamical relation "beyond the value of that institutional system? Beyond the most basic tenet of the species.

    Why else could one perceive the scientific process "is still undergoing change?" Require a more global perspective? I would also say it needed to be tempered psychologically. Conduct "becoming" of the creed? You are still working within a democratic system.

    I would always advise then that in your rights to expression within that institution upon accepting it's constitution, to move others under the idea of change and completion, that the resulting evidence you have to support it, is fully provable and testable.


  17. You're missing two main points on the subjects you discuss here.

    (1) What your own (preferred) addictions are (something original is of interest, of course, beyond money, sex, etc.).

    (2) What you propose exactly as the necessary Scientific Revolution detailed content. If it's really a revolution as stated, it should be qualitatively, dramatically different from the currently supported knowledge (or else why would we need a revolution?). Therefore your reliance upon “slow learning process” and modern “computational prerequisites” is evidently vain. In particular, a very easy estimate will show that any human-related, i.e. truly complex system behaviour exceeds the power of any conventional supercomputer by a practical infinity.

    You can easily find the details of my own, mathematically specified version of the necessary revolution confirming this statement. Only a reward circuit is missing in my case... Maybe occupied by those that prefer useless (but very well paid) “slow learning”... A revolution is necessary indeed, here too...

    In the meanwhile, the fact that the true, “rapid” revolution, also far beyond usual scientific knowledge, is really necessary and has even been prepared by all previous development becomes variously evident to ever growing number of people.

  18. Hi Bee,

    A wonderfully thoughtful piece of which I find little that could be argued. In essence what you are saying is that reasonable compassion should be somehow built into our economic model, planning and execution. One difficulty however being in effect the model that we are trying to alter has placed as its very foundation to have the checks and balances not based on planning for success, yet more so being maintained by the consequence of failure.

    Also, I would acknowledge that in actual fact the drug has long since lost much of its positive effect, leaving only the fear of failure in not being able to secure more. I maintain it is this fear that has taken all control and must first be dealt with if we are to even be given time to find to then implement a long term cure. At present it is like having a person upon arriving home finding one of his rooms to be missing and then reacting to this discovery by lighting a match and them inciting his neighbors to fan the flames to burn down what remains. First we must deal with this fear to prevent him from taking such irrational action, for only then can we proceed to convince that all was not lost and can in time be replaced if in fact was needed at all.

    For me a clue to the cure can be found in the success of our forefathers of the pioneer age, where within their practices and traditions, one of them being barn raising. Here a newly married couple would have their barn built in a single weekend by a collective multitude of relatives and neighbours, with the welcomed understanding that they in turn would contribute the same in future. This was later to become known as a sense of community with the only difference being today it must be extended to all. So we need to come to realize our present is assured by our future actions as in gratefully honouring our commitments and not in senselessly denying them.

    This cannot be enforced and maintained by fear, yet can only flourish within an atmosphere fostered by the promotion of trust, mutual respect and concern, which in turn is what security actually is. So while many think that security entails erecting borders and maintaining divisions, which they feel to be necessitated by suspicion and fear, one discovers it be in fact the opposite. I would say that science in effect is the raising of conscious and that the first step in developing a social one is to understand it requires some.



  19. I'm most disappointed about all the governments "enabling" everyone by pushing more and more credit. If I had to pick a most harmful of the economic "drugs" it would be the credit orgy that all the bailouts are trying to keep going. It just looks wrong to me that they are encouraging people to continue borrowing more than they can afford. It is probably the painful but necessary withdrawal symptoms (falling markets, etc) that they are trying to avoid by pumping more lethal credit into the veins. Just like you said, Bee, with all these addictions it takes more and more of the drugs to cause the "happy" effects, but eventually the dose is so large it kills.

  20. Very good, Rae Ann. At last something truly “incorrect”, impolite, inconvenient truth (I am systematically persecuted on this blog for it). You're right: it's the end of your world, but that's not bad at all because for this species only the end can give rise to the beginning! And a change is necessary in any case: this society has been rotten and decaying for a long time already. Even if they can manage to suppress this particular economical problem, temporarily, there will be a dozen of other ones, equally serious and needing quite another, desperately missing attitudes. So, what should that better world and its attitudes be like, according to you? I hope you don't share that naive hope of many that a banal change of a political administration (that actually doesn't control anything essential at all) can in itself solve problems of a scale we have today?! You may find some further ideas in my comment above...

  21. (I am systematically persecuted on this blog for it)

    You don't have to be here, you know. It is like stepping into somebody's house and then yelling "persecution".

  22. "There is a common interest. And this belief that everybody pursuing his self-interests will maximize the common interests or will take care of the common interests is a false idea."


    This quote you found by George Soros is the very reason why trickle-down theory is a bunch of hogwash!

  23. Hi Cynthia,

    ah, that's trickle-down theory - I'm learning a lot from reading our blog ;-)

    BTW, this week's Science has a cover story about the reward circuit for hunger and eating, and its relation to obesity, and a few articles about biochemical feedback loops in cells.

    Cheers, Stefan

  24. Hi Cynthia, Stefan,

    Yes, trickle-down is quite obviously nonsense. Even if it should work in some cases, it is dependent on the redistribution of wealth through taxes so could only hold under certain circumstances that one better makes sure are indeed realized. Besides this, evidence quite clearly speaks against it, just look at the statistics about the income gap between the rich and the poor widening (nationally as well as globally) to figure out that wealth doesn't automatically 'trickle down'.

    However, this was actually not what I was referring to as the problem of matching the micro- with the macro-interests, and it is also not what I think is expressed in Soros' quotation. Trickle down relies on the idea that the interests of some few (influential businesspeople) are sufficient to lead the system towards improvement altogether, including the small people. The failure of this idea is pretty much the essence of Marxism. In contrast to this what I was talking about is that everybody following their own interests does not lead to an improvement altogether. Best,


  25. Hi Stephan,

    I imagine that trickle-down theory doesn't work either when it comes to how weight is distributed throughout the population: the fatsoes remain concentrated at the top, while the skinny-minis stay concentrated at the bottom.;^)

  26. Stefan, forgive me for spelling your name wrong.:(

  27. Hi Bee,

    Perhaps you're right -- Soros' quote has nothing to do with trickle-down theory. However, I do know that he's an outspoken critic of this theory.

  28. You should read some Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. He points out that there seems to be a reward system linked to discovery and learning, and suggests that culture and law should be designed to channel people towards that reward system, and away from more "entropic" (his quirky use of the term) rewards.


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