Friday, February 22, 2008

The Biology of Love – Not

All in all, it was probably a mistake to let scientists anywhere near the topics of love and lust. Just as analyzing a joke kills it, so analyzing why we fall in love with those we do was bound to end badly. Consider the idea that aging professors attract their nubile young female students because young women are genetically programmed to fall for high-status, well-off men. Further, aging men are supposedly wired to be attracted to fertile young things.

Result: when our fiftysomething married man beds his student, the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in his stars or his character or his moral compass but in his DNA.

It's no wonder reductionist explanations for behavior—especially "my genes made me do it"—are so popular: they let us off the hook. Bad choice in whom you went home with that night? Understandable; you were overwhelmed by his pheromones. Unfaithful? Not your fault; blame the genes that program men to spread their seed widely. Except that in many cases more mundane explanations that invoke plain old thinking and feeling, rather than an unconscious drive to get your genes into the next generation, are more plausible.

Take the lap-dance experiment. Last year, scientists asked 18 strippers to log how many hours they worked, what they earned in tips and whether they were ovulating, menstruating or neither. While ovulating, the phase in the monthly cycle when a woman is most likely to conceive, the strippers earned an average of $335 per five-hour shift, compared with $185 while menstruating. The reason, the (male) scientists concluded, is that a fertile woman emits a signal that she is physiologically ripe to conceive. Men are, supposedly, genetically programmed to detect the signal—since being drawn to a fertile woman is something evolution and natural selection would favor—and to behave in a way (generous tipping) that might win her.

Leaving aside the fantasy element of that last part, this explanation has some problems. First, there is no good evidence that men can detect pheromones, hormones or any other magic molecule that reveals when a woman is ovulating. Also, even if such magic molecules existed, there is a simpler explanation for why men give bigger tips to ovulating strippers, one with no need to invoke unconscious genetic impulses. Women feel sexiest when ovulating. Just a guess, but maybe a stripper who feels sexy gives a more tip-worthy lap dance than one who feels uncomfortable during her period. If so, says David Buller of Northern Illinois University, author of a 2005 book, "Adapting Minds," which questions evolutionary explanations for complex behavior, "the lap dance may be [more alluring to] the client, so he will tip more."

In a similar explanatory vein, women in several studies say their husbands or lovers are more attentive and amorous when they are ovulating. This, too, is supposed to reflect men's ability, honed by natural selection, to detect signals (pheromones, hormones, whatever) that indicate when sex is likely to yield children. Children are how evolution keeps score; genes for behaviors that produce offspring—in this case, for detecting a woman's fertile period—survive the brutal winnowing process of natural selection. But again there is a simpler explanation for why men turn on the charm when their partners are ovulating, and it harks back to the strippers. Ovulation increases libido. A libidinous wife is more likely to send signals—readers are invited to provide their own examples—that she would welcome affection. Again, no genes controlling us like puppets. A loving heart and working brain are enough.

Men's taste in women is also supposed to reflect evolutionary selection, and to show that genes have our behaviors and preferences on a short leash. Specifically, men prefer D cups and broad hips, says this school of thought, because those are signs of fertility. A man who picks fecund females is more likely to leave offspring—that measure of evolutionary success—than a man who is attracted to reproductive duds. Two problems here. There is no empirical evidence that women whose shape deviates from the Barbie "ideal" are less fertile. Also, different societies at different times have idolized very different female bodies. The Rubenesque woman is nothing like the 2008 ideal of, say, Angelina Jolie. Genes do not evolve fast enough to account for that change in male tastes. Some esthetic preferences, including in a mate, are driven by culture, not DNA.

When an Anna Nicole Smith (27) marries a J. Howard Marshall (89), much of the public nods knowingly and figures, DNA programs women to seek out older, wealthy men, and men to go for young, fertile babes. Please. Give the lady credit for rationally evaluating the benefits of marrying an incontinent octogenarian multimillionaire. Besides, when 50-year-old men are asked the age of their preferred mate, most settle on 40 or so, not 25, even though the younger woman is more fertile. And on average, 25-year-old women say their ideal guy is 28, even though a 50-year-old is more likely to have the status and 401(k) that evolutionary explanations say women are programmed to lust for. This Valentine's Day, let's celebrate all the ways our hearts and minds, not our mindless DNA, guide us in the ways of love.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why People Worth more than Things?

Well, let’s go to right to the question, why people worth more than things? We must, firt of all, analyze what makes something be valuable in our reality. What give value to the things? As na classic example let’s go to the most famous and desired minerals, the diamond and the gold. What makes them so expensive? The answer rests in the most important capitalist law, the Supply and Demand. What makes them expensive? Their rarity. The less quantity is available and less the natural occurrence the most expensive it is.

Our answer start to be drawn. Let’s think a little more before take our conclusion. How many of “you” exists? How many fathers and mothers do you have? And even having a lot of brothers, each one of them have a particular meaning for you. You can’t get rid of one and put other in his place. Each one is unique for you, as you are unique to the World. Each live or gone human carry a individual particle of rarity. Each one of us are irremediably irreplaceable. That’s why death is so painful. Cause in each death there is an irreparable loss. No matter how much comfort we try to find in the immortality of the soul doctrine, our feeling is of a definitive separation. The cry is of a total lost and an irreparable loss. This shows how valuable are persons, and how even unconsciously they worth more than anything. The loss of something never hurts more than the loss of someone.

And that’s why even existing thousands and thousands of people dying and coming to life every single day, each one comes or goes holding their irreplaceable and inestimable value. All this helps me to expose an argument of the reincarnation doctrine (that I personally don’t believe). If we are immortals and we live incarnating and reincarnating, life is not that rare and unique like this. Been replaceable or even disposable. The idea of the immortality of the soul, that preaches the ascension to heaven or the fall down to hell (or even a strategic stop on purgatory) helps to make human life banal. And on the contrary of common thought, it’s not a biblical doctrine like they say. But that’s another gigantic discussion, that I won’t going to bring up now. Who knows later we talk about it…

What really matters now is to understand how much unique we are, and the others that live around us, and that they matter more than things that also are around us and we like it. I repeat my last concept here: The more human we are, more we like people.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Psychology behind suicide bombings

Interview with Pierre Rehov, documentary filmmaker
By Andrew Cochran

On July 15, I appeared on MSNBC's "Connected" program to discuss the 7/7 London attacks (you can see video of the segment on the linked page). One of my fellow guests was Pierre Rehov, a French filmmaker who has filmed six documentaries on the intifada by going undercover in the Palestinian areas. Pierre's upcoming film, "Suicide Killers," is based on interviews that he conducted with the families of suicide bombers and would-be bombers in an attempt to find out why they do it. Pierre agreed to my request for a Q&A interview here about his work on the new film. Many thanks to Dean Draznin and Arlyn Riskind for helping to arrange this special interview.

What inspired you to produce Suicide Killers, your seventh film?

I started working with victims of suicide attacks to make a film on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) when I became fascinated with the personalities of those who had committed those crimes, as they were described again and again by their victims. Especially the fact that suicide bombers are all smiling one second before they blow themselves up.

Why is this film especially important?

People don't understand the devastating culture behind this unbelievable phenomenon. My film is not politically correct because it addresses the real problemshowing the real face of Islam. It points the finger against a culture of hatred in which the uneducated are brainwashed to a level where their only solution in life becomes to kill themselves and kill others in the name of a God whose word, as transmitted by other men, has became their only certitude.

What insights did you gain from making this film? What do you know that other experts do not know?

I came to the conclusion that we are facing a neurosis at the level of an entire civilization. Most neuroses have in common a dramatic event, generally linked to an unacceptable sexual behavior. In this case, we are talking of kids living all their lives in pure frustration, with no opportunity to experience sex, love, tenderness or even understanding from the opposite sex. The separation between men and women in Islam is absolute. So is contempt toward women, who are totally dominated by men. This leads to a situation of pure anxiety, in which normal behavior is not possible. It is no coincidence that suicide killers are mostly young men dominated subconsciously by an overwhelming libido that they not only cannot satisfy but are afraid of, as if it is the work of the devil. Since Islam describes heaven as a place where everything on earth will finally be allowed, and promises 72 virgins to those frustrated kids, killing others and killing themselves to reach this redemption becomes their only solution.

What was it like to interview would-be suicide bombers, their families and survivors of suicide bombings?

It was a fascinating and a terrifying experience. You are dealing with seemingly normal people with very nice manners who have their own logic, which to a certain extent can make sense since they are so convinced that what they say is true. It is like dealing with pure craziness, like interviewing people in an asylum, since what they say, is for them, the absolute truth. I hear a mother saying "Thank God, my son is dead." Her son had became a shaheed, a martyr, which for her was a greater source of pride than if he had became an engineer, a doctor or a winner of the Nobel Prize. This system of values works completely backwards since their interpretation of Islam worships death much more than life. You are facing people whose only dream, only achievement is to fulfill what they believe to be their destiny, namely to be a shaheed or the family of a shaheed. They don't see the innocent being killed, they only see the impure that they have to destroy.

You say suicide bombers experience a moment of absolute power, beyond punishment. Is death the ultimate power?

Not death as an end, but death as a door open to the after life. They are seeking the reward that God has promised them. They work for God, the ultimate authority, above all human laws. They therefore experience this single delusional second of absolute power, where nothing bad can ever happen to them, since they become God's sword.

Is there a suicide bomber personality profile? Describe the psychopathology.

Generally kids between 15 and 25 bearing a lot of complexes, generally inferiority complexes. They must have been fed with religion. They usually have a lack of developed personality. Usually they are impressionable idealists. In the western world they would easily have become drug addicts, but not criminals. Interestingly, they are not criminals since they don't see good and evil the same way that we do. If they had been raised in an Occidental culture, they would have hated violence. But they constantly battle against their own death anxiety. The only solution to this deep-seated pathology is to be willing to die and be rewarded in the after life in Paradise.

Are suicide bombers principally motivated by religious conviction?

Yes, it is their only conviction. They don't act to gain a territory or to find freedom or even dignity. They only follow Allah, the supreme judge, and what He tells them to do.

Do all Muslims interpret jihad and martyrdom in the same way?

All Muslim believers believe that, ultimately, Islam will prevail on earth. They believe this is the only true religion and their is no room, in their mind, for interpretation. The main difference between moderate Muslims and extremists is that moderate Muslims don't think they will see the absolute victory of Islam during their life time, therefore they respect other beliefs. The extremists believe that the fulfillment of the Prophecy of Islam and ruling the entire world as described in the Koran, is for today. Each victory of Bin Laden convinces 20 million moderate Muslims to become extremists.

Describe the culture that manufactures suicide bombers.

Oppression, lack of freedom, brain washing, organized poverty, placing God in charge of daily life, total separation between men and women, forbidding sex, giving women no power whatsoever, and placing men in charge of family honor, which is mainly connected to their women's behavior.

What socio-economic forces support the perpetuation of suicide bombings?

Muslim charity is usually a cover for supporting terrorist organizations. But one has also to look at countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are also supporting the same organizations through different networks. The ironic thing in the case of Palestinian suicide bombers is that most of the money comes through financial support from the Occidental world, donated to a culture that utterly hates and rejects the West (mainly symbolized by Israel).

Is there a financial support network for the families of the suicide bombers? If so, who is paying them and how does that affect the decision?

There used to be a financial incentive in the days of Saddam Hussein ($25,000 per family) and Yasser Arafat (smaller amounts), but these days are gone. It is a mistake to believe that these families would sacrifice their children for money. Although, the children themselves who are very attached to their families, might find in this financial support another reason to become suicide bombers. It is like buying a life insurance policy and then committing suicide.

Why are so many suicide bombers young men?

As discussed above, libido is paramount. Also ego, because this is a sure way to become a hero. The shaheeds are the cowboys or the firemen of Islam. Shaheed is a positively reinforced value in this culture. And what kid has never dreamed of becoming a cowboy or a fireman?

What role does the U.N. play in the terrorist equation?

The UN is in the hands of Arab countries and third world or ex-communists countries. Their hands are tied. The UN has condemned Israel more than any other country in the world, including the regime of Castro, Idi Amin or Kaddahfi. By behaving this way, the UN leaves a door open by not openly condemning terrorist organizations. In addition, through UNRWA, the UN is directly tied to terror organizations such as Hamas, representing 65 percent of their apparatus in the so-called Palestinian refugee camps. As a support to Arab countries, the UN has maintained Palestinians in camps with the hope to "return" into Israel for more than 50 years, therefore making it impossible to settle those populations, which still live in deplorable conditions. Four-hundred million dollars are spent every year, mainly financed by U.S. taxes, to support 23,000 employees of UNRWA, many of whom belong to terrorist organizations (see Congressman Eric Cantor on this subject, and in my film "Hostages of Hatred").

You say that a suicide bomber is a stupid bomb and a smart bomb simultaneously. Explain what you mean.

Unlike an electronic device, a suicide killer has until the last second the capacity to change his mind. In reality, he is nothing but a platform representing interests which are not his, but he doesn't know it.

How can we put an end to the madness of suicide bombings and terrorism in general?

Stop being politically correct and stop believe that this culture is a victim of ours. Radical Islamism today is nothing but a new form of Nazism. Nobody was trying to justify or excuse Hitler in the 1930s. We had to defeat him in order to make peace one day with the German people.
Are these men traveling outside their native areas in large numbers? Based on your research, would you predict that we are beginning to see a new wave of suicide bombings outside the Middle East?

Every successful terror attack is considered a victory by the radical Islamists. Everywhere Islam is expands there is regional conflict. Right now, their are thousands of candidates for martyrdom lining up in training camps in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Inside Europe, hundreds of illegal mosques are preparing the next step of brain washing to lost young men who cannot find a satisfying identity in the Occidental world. Israel is much more prepared for this than the rest of the world will ever be. Yes, there will be more suicide killings in Europe and the U.S. Sadly, this is only the beginning.

This Interview was published in another blog.


Friday, November 9, 2007

“Bowling for Finland” and the Power of Ideas

The original Video was taken out.

It’s already famous in the Internet the video of Pekka-Eric, the new suicide-killer from first world schools. In his video, published in You Tube he says: “I am a cynic existentialist, anti-human-humanist, anti-social-Darwinist and a type of atheist god”; “hate, I am full of hate and I worship it”; “I am the law, the judge and the executor, there is no major authority than me”.

In times like this, passes through my head that atheist arguments against the Medieval Christianity and it’s anti-Christian madness. But I am not going to deal with this issue, cause I don’t think it’s fair to bring any concept upon atheism based on the particular acts of an atheist, like concept the Christianity based on the act of an particular Christianism.

But what I would like to analyze here is the content of the T-shirt of Pekka-Eric. “Humanity is Overrated”, is written in the T-shirt. Something that he is trying to fight when he take away 8 lives including he’s own. We all were affected by he’s acts. Not just the wounds, and killed, and friends of them. But the intire world looks astonished for something, that is becoming even more common. Cause, never is natural or healthy to receive this kind of information no matter where you live.

“Humanity is Overrated” is an example of what ideas are able to. One idea (in fact two, cause there is nothing new or original in shoot inside a school) killed 8 persons and call all that attention. The idea was clear and was taken to the last consequences.

A lot of people question the media influence above people, but is also very evident that the ideas carried through it can destroy or construct. Media is means, it just carries a message. Who should be the responsible for that message? Who watch or who transmit? Looks like to me that the basic logic of “the greater, take care of the less”, found in life and transit laws should be repeated here. The media is every more specialized while the audience do not evolve in the same educational speed. In another words, to put into the audience the responsibility of the message is the same as give to Pekka-Eric that T-Shirt.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dexter – Symptoms of Sickness

Little more than one year ago, started on the American's TV, in the Showtime channel, the Dexter’s series. The idea is, at least, creative and this calls the attention and curiosity of a lot of people, mostly the ones who were influenced by the new wave of series that surprised the public by it’s originality like, Lost, 24 Hours and Desperate Housewives.

Dexter, is a series for people who have no stomach. In fact, you need to don’t have another stuff too, like for example, critical sense, common sense, and other abilities common in the mind and social faculties. I know that some fans will want to rip me apart, but that’s just because they are fans. They already bought the craziness of this entertainment. However, you just need to analyze shortly some arguments and you won’t gonna be able to avoid the sensation of puke (sorry for the lack of euphemism). Dexter is one irresponsible entertainment.

Dexter works in the Police Department, doing the blood analyses in crime scenes. But he is a killer that should be arrested or even executed, depending on some American laws. He follow his victims, always with the Maquiavel argument of have a reason to do it, cause he just kill criminals. He prepare his crime scene, tie people naked using some kind of tape, makes he’s own show, given arguments to the victim and the expectator, choose the knife or any perforation object and initiate what he calls “ritual”. Executing with sadism the victim. That always leave the scene inside of black bags. That said, consider, he is the hero of the plot.

Some of the terrible details that I would like to share: He’s first victim, is the nurse that was treating his father in the hospital. His father told him that she was drugging he and others, and people were getting worst and passing out. He gives to his psycho son the mission to get rid of her. Good excuse, right? Wrong! Well, he get’s the old woman, put her naked into his ritual table, make her beg for her life, then stab her until the blood spills all over him. Another interesting scene is when he almost kills a boy that wasn’t a Serial Killer but a boy, who was violated. If the boy hadn’t talked about this, the “Justice” of Dexter would be a great mistake. The last scene that I want to comment is the “coyotes” couple. They killed the Cubans that didn’t pay the fee to be released into US soil. Dexter, kill them both one in front of the other, with screams of “I love you” one to another, without any ceremony. He passes all night killing the man, with the wife watching everything. Just to remember, this guy is the Hero!

If that wasn’t enough, Dexter’s father teaches him to develop his furtiveness with the excuse of teach him to survive the electric chair. In summary, the father’s value code say that if he’s son is a monster, even killing a lot of people should survive. He irresponsibly creates a monster and release it in society. Dexter excuse him self saying that can’t help him self from the kill urgency. He also thanks a shrink that treated him, for help him to accept who he really are, ripping he apart next. Do you think a sociopath should accept his situation? Dexter also obstructs justice, making serious crimes inside the police corporation, like planting evidences. And he awaits sincerely that one other Serial Killer continue free killing more people, so he can continue with he’s fetish for morbid competition. The glamorization is so high that in the last death there I watched, was listening to a music in off. Then happens the banalization of death. The American philosopher Sissela Bok, from Harvard, names this circumstance “compassion’s fatigue”, “an state of spirit that makes possible witness the brutality with distance, without involvement” (Translated from a Brazilian Magazine. Super Interessante, June of 1999, p.p. 21).

In the end, I ask my self, why the American society allow this kind of entertainment? Why in a place where people get guns and start a shooting hell, entertainment like this are produced? Why in the land of Serial Killers, this kind o entertainment is promoted? What will guarantee that repressed psychopaths won’t come out of the closet with good excuses to canalize theirs impulses? With such a glamorization of the sociopaths what gonna stop them? Maybe the one who didn’t knew his problem could recognize it in the screen, and instead of search for help, try to solve it like Dexter does. Without professional help and perpetrating revolting crimes. In the same way that normal people is influenced by media’s glamour, maybe, I’m almost sure, sleeping psychopaths would press a button that will destiny then to live the “adventures” of Dexter. Cause also, the character is evidently ruled by challenges. It’s easy to ask: “Who will be the best Serial Killer?” You can see in this series that they love competition. In a competition of Serial Killers, who do you think is going to loose? Funny, if not tragically sick. I already watched more then I should, for me it’s enough!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Richard Dawkins Stumped by Question

This is one of the most viewed Richard Dawkins video on You Tube. However, there is no comment for it, you'll understand why as soon as you watch...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Modern Science, Old Faith

I’ve been present in the I International Seminar of the Historical Jesus in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in the last 3 days. The main character present was nobody less then John Dominic Crossan, founder of the Jesus Seminar and a famous scholar in the Historical Jesus studies. He is criticized by many other scholars that argue against he’s method, what is the Achilles Tendon of his conclusions.

The seminar was enricher and frightening. Frightening because I discovered something that I didn’t imagined that had came to that point. The science is losing it’s criteria. In the search of a less dogmatic discourse two devastate implications are rising against the scientific method. 3 were the cases analyzed.

1 – Some researchers choose to quote Jesus texts like historical and other texts of the same Jesus were throwing off based in the actual common sense. What makes no sense cause the gospel text was written for the audience of the I and II century a.D. In another words, what Christ said that affirm the main ideas of the researcher sustains itself through the Historic-Critical Method, but the irrelevant texts for the main ideas of the researcher, or even the texts that oppose his ideas, are thrown out without any criteria.

2 – Other researchers based their allegations and “scientific discoveries” in completely hypothetic factors. And at least, responsibly, admitted such dependency of hypothesis build upon not enough evidences. So, they establish a whole research in a unstable basis (by the inexistence of the basic hypothesis validation) to conclude, in the end, what just could be proven if the basis hypothesis of the research were proven. That’s scarily speculative.

3 – The last, worst and more frightening argument in the scientific method that I saw in the event was: More than one of the scholars who showed their researches, made allusions to the pluralism of ideas, the inexistence of absolute truths, but subjective ones. The maximum materialization of the anti-dogmatic discourse. “The science can’t be dogmatic”, they say. However this is a great postmodern illusion. Cause in the end, when is Said that science can’t be dogmatic, or there are no absolute truths, or that all truths are subjective, then, we are dogmatizing and establishing the plurality of ideas as an absolute truth (what is extremely contradicting to the pluralist proposal). In another words, there is no anti-dogmatisms, but the opposition to the disagreeable dogmas. The pluralist argument don’t sustain itself. A river must always have banks never more.

What bring us to the last implications of this discourse, the science is loosing it’s criteria by the denial of absolute truth. Although this discourse is based on the constant evolution of knowledge and the scientific truths in the elapse of time (something true 50 years ago, today can be a reason of jokes). That’s also a fallacy, cause we can’t deny lies if they don’t position itself as truths. The pluralism doctrine condemns good ideas to mix if bad ideas that will never be unmasked cause don’t figure as absolute truths. It’s part of the process of discovering and scientific evolution that one truth rises as absolute to be putted under prove and, if possible, proven or replaced.

There are another problematic factor in the question of putting speculations in position of scientific truths to be proved. Cause of the inconsistent basis, even resisting for years, will be product of studies that we don’t know, maybe never, the relevancy of the time dispend in this research. So, a great, and irrational, loss of time.

In the end, this is one problem find in the human’s ego that don’t like to be find oppositions, and prefer to admit other’s people truths as validate since won’t invalidate his own. But leaving a side this philosophic deepness, see how science is becoming exactly what it most hated since his born. The blind faith. Blind faith in science. The same blind faith that disconnected it definitely from religion. Scientific declarations are made based in weak speculations, with no prove, and so relative that makes me ask what is the relevancy of it? What’s the relevancy of scientific researches if the absolute truth don’t exist? If what is going to be the conclusion is just the product of the subjective mind of the researcher? What’s the science objective? When science sees the hole that is digging down will start to make this same questions, who knows if won’t gonna live a discredit crises like religion lives today?

Who knows it self-destructs? I hope not. But I don’t see any relevancy in the subjective and speculative arguments, do you see?