If you are interested in the spiritual life and beliefs of North American Indians I feel certain that you will find these two links to be gold mines of information and entertainment.
I present you with a document that I feel contains information that you have probably never heard about before. I introduce the document by quoting an opening introduction to the paper itself. I believe that its contents are self explanatory.
“INTRODUCTION: THE HISTORY AND CONCEPT OF SEXOLOGY
In our Western civilization attempts at a rational and systematic study of human sexual behavior date back at least to the ancient Greeks. Indeed, physicians like Hippocrates and the philosophers Plato and Aristotle can be claimed as the legitimate forefathers of sex research, since they made extensive observations and offered the first elaborate theories regarding sexual responses and dysfunctions, reproduction and contraception, abortion, sex legislation, and sexual ethics. In imperial Rome, Greek physicians like Soranus and Galen further advanced and systematized ancient sexual knowledge. Their work, in turn, prompted later Islamic scholars to devote a great deal of attention to sexual questions. These studies, originally written in Arabic, were translated and introduced into medieval Europe. Together with re-edited Greek and Roman manuscripts, they became standard texts at newly established medical schools and stimulated a rebirth of anatomical research in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The names of Fallopio (Fallopian tubes), de Graaf (Graafian follicles), Berthelsen (Bartholin’s glands) and Cowper (Cowper’s glands) recall, even today, the first flowering of modern anatomy and remain associated with the then newly discovered parts of human sexual anatomy. The Age of Enlightenment ushered in a vigorous and increasingly secularized discussion of sexual ethics and produced the first programs of public and private sex education as well as new classifications and documentations of sexual behavior. In the 19th century, new concerns about overpopulation, sexual psychopathy and degeneracy gave rise to the concept of “sexuality” and led to intensified efforts on many fronts to get a firmer intellectual grasp on a subject matter that rapidly seemed to grow ever more complex. Biological, medical, historical, and anthropological research by von Baer, Darwin, Mendel, Kaan, Morel, Magnan, Charcot, Westphal, Burton, Morgan, Mantegazza, Westermarck, Krafft-Ebing, Schrenck-Notzing, and others, laid the foundations of sex research in the modern, more specific sense. Finally, at the turn of the 20th century, the pioneering work of Havelock Ellis, Sigmund Freud, and Iwan Bloch established the investigation of sexual problems as a legitimate endeavor in its own right.”
We have been told that in physics that it is not possible to travel back in time. However, around seventy years ago a highly respected physicist by the name of David Bohm pointed out by analogy that in his opinion there exists a ‘layer’ of universal reality that he referred to as the implicate order. His analogy was along the lines of this experimental quotation:-
“…It consists of two concentric glass cylinders. Between them is a viscous fluid, such as glycerine. If a drop of insoluble ink is placed in the glycerine and the outer cylinder is turned slowly, the drop of dye will be drawn out into a thread. Eventually the thread gets so diffused it cannot be seen. At that moment there seems to be no order present at all. Yet if you slowly turn the cylinder backward, the glycerine draws back into its original form, and suddenly the ink drop is visible again. The ink had been enfolded into the glycerine, and it was unfolded again by the reverse turning.
Suppose you put a drop of dye in the cylinder and turn it a few times, then put another drop in the same place and turn it. When you turn the cylinder back, wouldn’t you get a kind of oscillation?
Yes, you would get a movement in and out. We could put in one drop of dye and turn it and then put in another drop of dye at a slightly different place, and so on. The first and second droplets are folded a different number of times. If we keep this up and then turn the cylinder backward, the drops continually appear and disappear. So it would look as if a particle were crossing the space, but in fact it’s always the whole system that’s involved…” (I italicised the text)
I present you with two video references that demonstrate what these words mean. I also draw your attention to the fact that these experiments visually demonstrate how it is possible to reverse time under everyday conditions. Demonstrations one and two establish this point.
This appearing and disappearing of the insoluble dye in the cylinder represents what I symbolically see as being the mechanical relationship between ordinary ‘things’ and events going on around us (represented by the diffused dye in the clear glycerine) and something ‘bigger’ than us that is conceivably without time. This is the openness of the empty inner cylinder. As observers looking from the outside of the walls of the larger cylinder they would see the whole of the two glass cylinder apparatus system as though it were a single unit. This is until such time as the dye droplet was introduced to the system. In the process we would not notice that the droplet was confined to the space between the outer walls of both the larger and the smaller cylinder. I am suggesting that the progressive diffusing of the dye as a thread as it moves ‘ahead’ in clock time is related to the speed of the clockwise movement of the outer cylinder.
However, as observers outside the system we would not notice this separation of the wider complete system. In this sense we might say that the empty inner area of the smaller cylinder of the system is an area (or continuum) without knowable dimensions or time. The area outside of it containing the glycerine is an area that we can observe with clock time. This is because we can measure the speed of the diffusing thread of dye as the outer cylinder rotates. It follows from this that visually we would not know that the ‘area’ inside the smaller contained cylinder existed in the first place. From this we might say that the dye is diffusing throughout the complete system as distinct from it moving from just one part of it. We might then say that there exists within the system two areas (continuums) as though they are one. I say that as the turning larger cylinder later reverts to moving in an anti-clockwise state of motion, it progressively re-establishes its former non diffused (nearly complete) droplet state. This is notionally both within the without time (informational) reference frame of the invisible ‘contents’ of the inner cylinder as well as the adjacent clock time reference frame containing the glycerine and the dye. It is within the clock time reference frame that the dye is backward enfolding itself on itself as though it had a memory to exactly do this. This suggests that it is moving backwards in time commensurate to some sort of universal order and rules that scientists do not yet understand. We might then assume that the same unknown rules and conditions are applicable to the empty contents of the smaller cylinder as well. In other words it might then be argued that these same rules and universal conditions are applicable to the universe as a whole. If this is the case then these words support my notion that the universe is a two layer one and as such this is consistent with Bohm’s theory that there is both an implicate and explicate order in the universe.
Taking my ideas one step further, I feel that what we must consider in this instance is that this without time reference frame of ‘something’ in the smaller cylinder is one that might be of an analogical ether type (although it is perhaps easier to visualise it as being a ‘blob’ of informational consciousness). I am suggesting that this ether of information is conscious of both itself as well as the happenings (day to day effects) of mechanical things and events taking place around it. In this case it is within the space (continuum) between its outer wall perimeter and the outer wall of the larger cylinder.
As the outer cylinder reverts to moving in an anti-clock wise direction (with its contents of dye moving from a diffused state to a indiffused state, we observe the mechanical effects of the dye progressively re-threading itself to its original droplet state.
I am suggesting that the dye within the time cylinder continuum is conjunctionally moving in both relationship to the clock time continuum within which it is moving as well as an mechanically indeterminable without time informational ether blob like continuum. It is this blob of ether information (through its consciousness) that ensures that the coding (like a bar code) of the information of diffusing and refusing of the dye is never lost. This is although observably to us it seems to be moving only in clock time in both of the directions that the cylinder moves. In other words as the quotes says “…it is always the whole system that’s involved…” with all things and events going on around us at all times.
This is consistent with both the proof of concept as described in the quotation as well as the two video links cited above as well. I suggest that the following physics quotation relating to droplet ‘path memory’ is complimentary to this debate as well.
“… In each test, the droplet wends a chaotic path that, over time, builds up the same statistical distribution in the fluid system as that expected of particles at the quantum scale. But rather than resulting from indefiniteness or a lack of reality, these quantum-like effects are driven, according to the researchers, by “path memory.”Every bounce of the droplet leaves a mark in the form of ripples, and these ripples chaotically but deterministically influence the droplet’s future bounces and lead to quantum-like statistical outcomes. The more path memory a given fluid exhibits — that is, the less its ripples dissipate — the crisper and more quantum-like the statistics become. “Memory generates chaos, which we need to get the right probabilities,” Couder explained. “We see path memory clearly in our system. It doesn’t necessarily mean it exists in quantum objects, it just suggests it would be possible…” (I italicised the text)
From these ideas you may assume that I am suggesting that ‘universal reality’ is dualistic. This is analogous to a two dimensional ‘layer’ universe about which the informational layer (Bohm’s invisible and indivisible implicate order layer) is the ‘dominant player’ in this universal system and Bohm’s explicit layer is materially visible and divisible quanta that include particles. If you consider the analogy and my commentary, you might say that these particles are not only crossing material space but also the whole of the described system as well. This includes the ether continuum described. This analogy might also demonstrate how mechanical clock time can ‘comfortably’ co- exist with a wider informational blob of without time ‘nothing’.
I am committed to the notion that all things and events taking place in the universe (including the ‘workings’ of you and me) are in this dualistic state that I refer to as an explicit and implicit state.
If you care to know a little more about the wider back ground of Bohm’s ideas in this area you might find that this reference is a useful link in order to do so.
This type of political material does nothing for me but since it is now seventy five years since WW2 ended some of my younger readers might find this archive link interesting.
I also feel that it is good example of the style of politics that some totalitarian state leaders are emanating today… with all its inherent dangers.
I think that you will find this touching presentation is appropriate to consider in our troubling times
I care to introduce you to Richard Feynman
Feynman is arguably one of the most distinguished physicist of the 20th century.
Richard Feynman died in 1988 and during his lifetime he gained a reputation of spelling his scientific ideas out exactly as he saw them. He dared to be different and in doing so was open to freely discussing conceptual science. If you are open minded to new ideas in physics I think that you will enjoy listening to what Feynman has to say in this dated Horizon video. This includes his pleasure of finding things out.
In this BBC quotation Richard Fischer asks the question: “Are we living at the ‘hinge of history’?”
This item was published by the BBC on the 24th September 2020. I think that you will find this item deeply thought provoking in these troubled times.
“Could right now be the most influential time ever? Richard Fisher looks at the case for and against – and why it matters.
What is the best word to describe our present moment? You might be tempted to reach for “unprecedented”, or perhaps “extraordinary”.
But here’s another adjective for our times that you may not have heard before: “hingey”.
It may not be a particularly elegant term, but it describes a potentially profound idea: that we may be living through the most influential period of time ever. And it’s about far more than the Covid-19 pandemic and politics of 2020. Leading philosophers and researchers are debating whether the events that occur in our century could shape the fate of our species over the next thousands if not millions of years. The “hinge of history” hypothesis proposes that we are, right now, at a turning point. Is this really plausible?
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The idea that those alive today are uniquely influential can be traced back several years to the philosopher Derek Parfit. “We live during the hinge of history,” he wrote in his book On What Matters. “Given the scientific and technological discoveries of the last two centuries, the world has never changed as fast. We shall soon have even greater powers to transform, not only our surroundings, but ourselves and our successors.”
The hinge of history hypothesis has been gaining fresh attention in recent months, however, as academics attempt to address the question in a more systematic way. It began last year when the philosopher Will MacAskill of Oxford University posted an in-depth analysis of the hypothesis on a popular forum dedicated to effective altruism, a movement that aims to apply reason and evidence to do the most good. It sparked more than 100 comments from other scholars approaching the question from their own angle, not to mention in-depth podcasts and articles, so MacAskill published a more formal version, as a book chapter in honour of Parfit.
As Vox Future Perfect’s Kelsey Piper wrote at the time, the hinge of history debate is more than an abstract philosophical discussion: the underlying goal is to identify what our societies should prioritise to ensure the long-term future of our species.
To understand why, let’s start by looking at the arguments that support the present moment’s “hingeyness” (though MacAskill now prefers the term “influentialness”, as it sounds less flippant).
First, there’s the “time of perils” view. In recent years, support has grown for the idea that we live at a time of unusually high risk of self-annihilation and long-term damage to the planet. As the UK’s Astronomer Royal Martin Rees puts it: “Our Earth has existed for 45 million centuries, but this century is special: it’s the first when one species – ours – has the planet’s future in its hands.” For the first time, we have the ability to irreversibly degrade the biosphere, or misdirect technology to cause a catastrophic setback to civilisation, says Rees, who co-founded the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge.
Those destructive powers are outstripping our wisdom, according to Toby Ord – one of MacAskill’s colleagues at Oxford – who makes the case for reducing existential risk in his recent book The Precipice. The title of Ord’s book is an allegory for where we stand: on a path on the edge of a precipice, where one foot wrong could spell disaster. From this vertiginous point, we can see the green and pleasant lands of the destination ahead of us – a flourishing far future – but first we must navigate a time of unusual danger. Ord put the odds of extinction this century to be as high as one in six.
In Ord’s view, what makes our time particularly hingey is that we have created threats that our ancestors never had to face, such as nuclear war or engineered killer pathogens. Meanwhile, we are doing so little to prevent these civilisation-ending events. The UN Biological Weapons Convention, which is a global ban on developing bio-weapons like a super-coronavirus, has a smaller budget than an average McDonald’s restaurant. And collectively the world spends more on ice cream than we do on preventing technologies that could end everything about our way of life.
The idea that we are at a treacherous turning point is also the theme of a second argument supporting the hinge of history hypothesis. According to a number of serious researchers, there is the chance that the 21st Century will see the arrival of sophisticated artificial general intelligence that could quickly evolve into a superintelligence. They argue that how we handle that transition could determine the entire future of civilisation, through a kind of “lock-in”.
The all-powerful superintelligence itself could determine humanity’s fate for all time, based on whatever goals and needs it has, but these researchers propose other potential scenarios too. Civilisation’s future could also be shaped by whoever controls the AI first, which might be a single force for good who directs it for the benefit of everyone, or a malevolent government who chooses to use that power to subjugate all dissent.
Not everyone subscribes to AI’s long-term influence. But those who do counter that even if you believe there is only a small chance of the worst-case AI scenarios happening, the fact that they could be so influential for such a very long time could make the coming decades more important than any in human history. For that reason, many researchers and effective altruists have decided to dedicate their careers to AI safety and ethics.
You could also assemble other evidence to support the hinge of history hypothesis. For example, Luke Kemp of the University of Cambridge points out that human-caused climate change and environmental degradation in this century could reach far into the future. “The most pivotal transformation so far in human history was the advent of the Holocene, which allowed for the agricultural revolution,” says Kemp. “Human societies appear to be intimately adapted to a narrow climatic envelope. This is the century in which we will perform an unprecedented and dangerous geological experiment and perhaps irreversibly push ourselves well outside of the climate niche, or pull back from the abyss.” (Though it should be noted that Kemp himself is sceptical about the hypothesis and its expedience.)
You might also argue that civilisation’s relative youth makes us particularly influential. We’re only 10,000 years or so into human history, and a case could be made that earlier generations have a greater ability to lock changes, values and motivations that persist for later generations. We might think of civilisation today as a child who must carry both formative traits and scars for the rest of their lives.
Though as we’ll see, our relative youth could also be used to argue the opposite. And this also raises an obvious question: surely, then, the first humans lived at the most influential time? After all, a few wrong steps in the Palaeocene, or at the dawn of the agricultural revolution, and our civilisation would never have come into existence.
Perhaps, but MacAskill suggests that while many moments in human history were pivotal, they were not necessarily influential. Hunter-gatherers, for example, lacked the necessary agency to sit at the hinge, because they had no knowledge that they could shape the far future, nor the resources to choose a different path if they did. Influence, under MacAskill’s definition, involves an awareness and ability to choose one of myriad paths.
Why it matters
This specific definition of influentialness leads on to why MacAskill and others are interested in the question in the first place. As a philosopher who thinks about the far future, MacAskill and others see the hinge of history hypothesis as more than a theoretical question to satisfy curiosity. Finding answers affects how much resources and time they believe that civilisation should spend on near-term versus longer-term problems.
To give this a more personal framing, if you believed that the next day of your life would be the most influential so far – taking a crucial exam or marrying a life-partner, for instance – then you’d put a lot of time and effort into it straight away. If, however, you believed the most influential day of your life was decades away, or you didn’t know what the day would be, you might focus on other priorities first.
MacAskill is one of the founders of effective altruism, and has focused his career on finding ways to do the most good over the long-term. If an effective altruist accepted that we are at the hingiest time now, then it might suggest devoting a large proportion of their time and money to reducing existential risk urgently, for example – and indeed, many have.
If, however, that altruist believed that the hingiest time was centuries away, then they might pivot to other ways to do good over the long-term, such as investing money to help their descendants. A philanthropist, for example, who invested at a 5% rate of return could see their resources grow by 17,000 times after 200 years, according to MacAskill.
Some might question this assumption about the benefits of long-term investment, given that societal collapses throughout history have wiped out funds. While others might suggest that money would be best spent on big present-day problems like poverty. But the essential point for effective altruists is that nailing down hingeyness could at least help to inform how we might maximise well-being as a species and ensure we flourish in the future.
So, if those are some of the arguments for the hinge of history hypothesis, and the reasons why it matters, what are the arguments against?
The simplest comes down to fairly straightforward odds. Probability-wise, it’s just unlikely.
If we were to navigate past this century and reach the average lifespan of a mammalian species, then we’re talking about humanity lasting at least one million years, in which we could potentially spread to the stars and settle other planets. As I wrote on BBC Future last year, there are potentially a vast number of people ahead of us, yet to born. Even if we look at only the next 50,000 years, the scale of future generations could be enormous. If the birth rate over that period stayed the same as it has been in the 21st Century, the unborn would be potentially more than 62 times the number of humans that have ever lived, around 6.75 trillion people.
Given the astronomical number of people yet to exist, says MacAskill, it would be surprising if our tiny fraction of that population happens to be the most influential. These future people will likely (hopefully) also be more morally and scientifically enlightened than we are today, and therefore could potentially do even more to influence the future in ways we can’t yet conceive of.
It’s not only unlikely, MacAskill continues, it’s also possibly “fishy”. Those who conclude we must live at the hinge of history might be deploying hidden faulty reasoning; an unconscious stacking of the deck. What if cognitive biases are at play, for example? Firstly, there’s salience bias, which makes visible, present-day events seem more important than they actually are. Living in the 1980s, for example, you might have thought that nanotechnology was the greatest risk to humanity, but the much-feared “gray goo” theory turned out to be over-hyped.
Secondly, there’s potential for confirmation bias: if you believe that existential risks deserve more attention (as all the researchers in this article do), then you might subconsciously marshal arguments that support that conclusion.
“If a chain of reasoning leads us to the conclusion that we’re living at the most influential time ever, we should think it more likely that our reasoning has gone wrong than that the conclusion really is true,” writes MacAskill.
For these reasons, among others, MacAskill concludes that we are probably not living at the most influential time. There may be compelling arguments for thinking we live in an unusually hingey moment compared with other periods, he suggests, but because of the potentially long, long future of civilisation that could lie ahead, the actual hinge of history is most likely yet to come.
The upside of no hinge
While it might seem deflating to conclude that we are probably not the most important people at the most important time, it could be a good thing. If you believe the “time of perils” view, then the next century will be especially dangerous to live through, potentially requiring significant sacrifices to ensure our species persists. And as Kemp points out, history suggests that when fears are high that a future utopia is at stake, unpleasant things are sometimes justified in the name of protecting it.
“States have a long history of imposing draconian measures to respond to perceived threats, and the greater the threat the more severe the emergency powers,” he says. For example, some researchers who wish to prevent the rise of malevolent AI or catastrophic technologies have argued we may need ubiquitous global surveillance of every living person, at all times.
But if life at the hinge requires sacrifices, that does not mean that life at other times can be laissez-faire. It doesn’t absolve us of all responsibility to the future. This century we could still do remarkable damage, and it needn’t be as catastrophic as a species-ending event. Over the past century, we have found myriad new ways to leave malignant heirlooms for our descendants, from carbon in the atmosphere to plastic in the ocean to nuclear waste beneath the ground.
So, while we do not know if our time will be the most influential or not, we can say with more certainty that we have increasing power to shape the lives and well-being of billions of people living tomorrow – for better and for worse. It will be for future historians to judge how wisely we used that influence.”