Archive for category Computers

The Philosophy of Materialism

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

The Bafta-winning film-maker Adam Curtis have made a documentary series called “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”, describing the philosophy of materialism. He says about the background:

 “about how we have been colonised by the machines we have built. Although we don’t realise it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of computers. My underlying argument is that we have given up a dynamic political model of the world – the dream of changing things for the better – for a static machine ideology that says we are all components in systems.”

This is the best description of the materialistic problem of today, the film is pure art, making the viewers stop and think.

Adam Curtis shows how this “machine ideology” have entered the thoughts of man up through time, starting with ideas of the economic policies of Alan Greenspan and his fascination with the philosopher Ayn Rand; the  “selfish gene” popularised by Richard Dawkins; the “self-organising” dreams of hippies in the 1960s; and utopian visions of the internet preached by cyber-nerds in Silicon Valley.

His point is not that computers are worryingly ubiquitous, or that machines are enslaving us, but that we have fooled ourselves into believing that every sphere of human experience – from the democratic nation state to the global economy and even the natural world – can be thought of like a computer, as an ordered network of millions of individually insignificant nodes (i.e. us) whose only achievable goal is to maintain order and stability within the system. 

And, Curtis says:

“One downside of this machine organising principle,” he says, “is that it undermines something really important: the old Enlightenment idea that human beings have the power and the imagination to change the world, to make it what they want and bend it to their will. [This] can be dangerous, but it can also be wonderful.”

Wikipedia have a good article here.

The three documentaries are comprised of:

1. Love and Power.

This is the story of the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of the past. They would also abolish political power and create a new kind of democracy through the Internet where millions of individuals would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems – without hierarchy.

The film tells the story of two perfect worlds. One is the small group of disciples around the novelist Ayn Rand in the 1950s. They saw themselves as a prototype for a future society where everyone could follow their own selfish desires.

The other is the global utopia that digital entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley set out to create in the 1990s. Many of them were also disciples of Ayn Rand. They believed that the new computer networks would allow the creation of a society where everyone could follow their own desires, yet there would not be anarchy.

They were joined by Alan Greenspan who had also been a disciple of Ayn Rand. He became convinced that the computers were creating a new kind of stable capitalism. But the dream of stability in both worlds would be torn apart by the two dynamic human forces – love and power.

2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts. This is the story of how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and everything else on the planet, as components – cogs – in a system.

But in an age disillusioned with politics, the self-regulating ecosystem has again become the model for utopian ideas of human “self-organising networks”, with dreams of new ways of organising societies without leaders and in global visions of connectivity like the Gaia theory.

This powerful idea emerged out of the hippie communes in America in the 1960s, and from counter-culture computer scientists who believed that global webs of computers could liberate the world.

But, at the very moment this was happening, the science of ecology discovered that the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem wasn’t true. Instead they found that nature was really dynamic and constantly changing in unpredictable ways.

But it was too late, the dream of the self-organising network had by now captured imaginations…

3. The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey. This episode looks at why we humans find this machine vision so beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed – so we have retreated into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions because they excuse our failure.

At the heart of the film is Bill Hamilton, a scientist. He argued that human behaviour is really guided by codes buried deep within us – a theory later popularised by Richard Dawkins as the “selfish gene”. It said that individual human beings are really just machines whose only job is to make sure the codes are passed on for eternity.

This final part begins in 2000 in the jungles of the Congo and Rwanda, where Hamilton is to help prove his dark theories. But all around him the Congo is being torn apart. The film then interweaves the two stories–the strange roots of Hamilton’s theories, and the history of the West’s tortured relationship with the Congo and technology…

The title is borrowed from a poem handed out on the streets of San Francisco in 1967 by the writer Richard Brautigan:


I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.
Richard Brautigan


Problems of our economic and political systems of today

Other places with videos:


The End of Materialism

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Is it possible to make Intelligent Machines?

Intelligent Machines

I have had some discussions with engineers who had Intelligent Machines as their religion, and interestingly it’s the Atheists who dreams about thinking machines.

With background in the current computer technology I will analyze the feasibility of intelligent machines from three different scientific approaches: The Mathematical, the Physical, and the Biological.

It’s interesting that the believers in Intelligent Machines ignores the evidence, especially the stringent Mathematical evidence, this is also the reason I call them believers as they ignore facts, dreaming of a future with god-like machines a lot wiser and knowledgeable than man.

Mathematical Evidence

Kurt Gödel made the Incompleteness Theorems:

It is possible to have a complete and consistent list of axioms that cannot be produced by a computer program (that is, the list is not Computably Enumerable).


The incompleteness theorems also implies that not all mathematical questions are computable.

It states simply that there are problems which man can solve and machines can’t.

What he proves is that there are things in a system, like our physical world, that can’t be done within the system itself, which can only be done from something outside that system, but man breaks this barrier where computers can’t, and that means that man depend on something outside the physical world, like soul and spirit.

The BBC program `Dangerous Knowledge (part 9/9)’ looks at this Mathematical Prof. As the video is destroyed at Youtube from time to time there is another source here: Human and computer knowledge.

Other documentation

Roger Penrose shows with examples why they cant think in: “The Large, the Small and the Human Mind“.

In this Hard Talk interview about the recurring big bang Roger Penrose touches the problem.

Physical Limitations

When you look out into the room, you are sitting in, you have a picture or really a video of everything at once and constantly. It means that this view of your surroundings, and your thoughts about it, are in your Consciousness. Seen from a computational view it is really fantastic, and Computer Science today can only dream of something that seems to be Conscious! Even with future technologies as Quantum Computing is it a question if we can make Conscious Computers at all.

Computers are something called Von Neumann Machines, which again is defined through the theoretical Turing Machine, and Turing Machines can only work on one bit at a time, which is only a small part of the information necessary to make a single point on a computer or television screen.

The consequence is that Computers can only have a part of a point of a picture in what we can call their ‘consciousness’ at a time, and that is not enough to even contain the color information of a point. What they have calculated in one instance is forgotten in the next. It’s only when we see the result on the screen or on paper that it becomes conscious through our consciousness, that is, we see the  screen as a whole, extracts the relevant information in all its complexity, and understands it’s implications.

A computer cannot be Intelligent however big and speedy it is.

Brain Science

Erich Harth in ‘Windows on the Mind’,  1982:

The brain presents two seemingly irreconcilable aspects: It is a material body, exhibiting all the physical properties of matter, and it possesses a set of faculties and attributes, collectively called mind, that are not found in any other physical system.

In his book “The Creative Loop,..” he elaborates further on how the physical mind functions, and why it’s superior to any known devices.


The book by Erich Harth’s “The Creative Loop, How the Brain Makes a Mind” gives an intelligent description of the physical working of our brain.

The book Stairways to the Mind by Alwyn Scott gives a broader overview of the area.

No Theory of a Conscious Machine yet

There have been talked about thinking machines for forty years, but there have not been a single theory for building one yet. There are a lot of programs running on super computers which can simulate some aspects of the mind, but the programs have nothing to do with real intelligence.

Computers are good at those things where we are bad, that is remembering and calculations, but they can’t think.

With the knowledge we have to-day, if it had been possible to program consciousness into our current computers, we would have done it by now.

Future possibilities

It may be possible to make thinking computers if its build on Quantum Computing, as the numbers of bits in the computer’s processing unit can be increased considerable above the one bit we have today, caused by entanglement, but I don’t think that it’s enough to create consciousness, but it is a requirement.


Hubert Dreyfus: What Computers Can’t Do: The Limits of Artificial Intelligence.

Quantum Consciousness: A Discussion between Stuart Hameroff and Alwyn Scott.

Tarjei Straume on the Technological Singularity.

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The Trap of Materialism

The Materialistic society we are living in have some build in dangers, which will draw our society in a direction of less faith or trust in man, giving more inhuman conditions for all, and the problem is that we may see it as inevitable.

Centralization is the problem, both politically, of public institutions, of companies and of capital. The mantra ‘Big is Beautiful’ is wrong, the productivity per employee drops with the increasing size of the organisation, and that’s because the single employee have less space to influence his own work, too bound by rules, and because the large organizations are difficult to manage.

In the following paragraphs I will look at its implications, which will be seen through greater aggressiveness, less social skills, and decreasing possibilities to control our future, less possibility to make decisions both in grand scale and in our own lives, both at home and job.

The Trap works through various mechanisms, as

  • Materialism, a purely physical view of the universe,
  • Pervasive Politics, proliferation of the political system in daily life,
  • Groupings, emphasis on group, race, and ethnicity, us and them,
  • Orthodoxy, literal and “simple” interpretation of the Gospels,
  • Superstition, esoteric beliefs without foundation in thinking skills,
  • Abstract Thinking, cultivating abstract theorization,
  • Quantitative Thinking, purely quantitative (statistical) observation.

These combined with a Dualistic world view, where everything is Black and White, will increase the strife between people all over the world.

Dualism sees everything in opposites,

and this is one of the greatest dangers today: If you are not with me, you are against me. That is a widespread sickness, especially on the Internet where you can hide under anonymity, but orthodoxy of any kind: religious, atheistic, or political, moves our future in a dangerous direction. What makes it so dangerous are that both sides believe that they fight on the side of good, but the reality is that they both fight for extremism, truth is always somewhere in between.

The deception is not to see the full picture, to understand both sides in any relation!

The challenge is to find the Golden Mean between the extremes.

The following paragraphs will look into different areas where Dualism endangers our society.


Science is seen as the absolute truth against black superstition represented by religion. It’s not seen as different and complementing views on the same reality. It has started the Atheistic religion, attacking spirituality and moral values. Darwin is their prime god, and their Messiah are the Sentient Robots they hope will come and save the world. The problem are that most of the Atheists don’t really understand what they are preaching, and they don’t accept scientific results if it’s against their own beliefs. See Is it possible to make Intelligent Machines?

Science can’t make decisions or take responsibility, as Science in itself have no moral. Science is always used by others, more dynamic groups of society, by players on the market or in politics, whose moral aren’t better than the Courts or the Voters.

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.” Richard Feynman

“As soon as questions of will or decision or reason or choice of action arise, human science is at a loss.” Noam Chomsky

Pervasive Politics

You see Dualism in politics, especially in two-party systems, where there is no space for other views. Politics dominates today everybody’s life, in contrast to forty years ago, where politics was talked about at the elections every fourth year. The laws gave then rules for the relation between the citizens, today the laws regulate the relation between state and citizens.

The politics invasion of the private sphere destroys the natural equilibrium of the society. The economic system today is an example of this, the equilibrium of that system ends regularly in chaos as the system is made for the speculators, not for the companies, nor for the country and its citizens. Today the decisions are taken by regulations or laws on behalf of groups, where prior the decisions were taken by those who knew about the concrete cases on behalf of persons. Wrong decisions had only small consequences then, where wrong decisions today have far heavier consequences as more people are dependent on these decisions.

“Justice without mercy is unjust.” Eli Wamberg

This is a problem all over the world, and it gets worse the more laws and rules people have to follow.

One of the biggest lies of today: We need more regulations as a result of the society’s complexity. Wrong, it’s more complex as a result of all those regulations. Computers takes the complexity out of complex tasks, and prefabricated goods takes the complexity out of manual work, so what is complex today, except the laws?


There is a tendency to split up in groups, instead of seeing mankind as one; people split up after race, religion, language, land, locality, sex, or whatever. There are lots of hate in this, not least on the Internet.

Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”  Friedrich Nietzsche


There is a tendency to read religious text’s to narrowly, as Jehovah Witnesses, and other religious groups who take their holy books too literally. Durban Two, where the Islāmic countries tries to prohibit any critic of  religion, is a typical example showing that discussions of religious content is unwanted. New religious movements like Scientology, Atheism, the Moonies, and so on, are also too rigid.

“Beware the man of one book.”  Saint Thomas Aquinas


Another trap is to accept the words of religious, esoteric, and scientific origin without thoughts. Spiritual inclined are in danger of reading spiritual literature without conscious understanding, but that includes also Atheists reading scientific texts without understanding.

One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.”  Malcolm Muggeridge

Abstract Thinking

in contrast to real understanding. It’s seen everywhere, and is also part of the previous areas. Man is seen as a thing not as a being. The reality is not abstract, and every decision based on abstract thinking is wrong, especially if living beings are involved.

Quantitative Thinking

and Statistics without understanding. Let’s say a politician want to make a law, and it will make 0.123% of all families go bankrupt, but as the percent is low nobody sees it as a problem. Nobody understands that there are real people behind those figures. Quantitative thinking always works through abstractions.

Big Mother

The development moves in a direction where we can expect that our personal ‘I’ is assimilated by the masses, the collective. In the western world we are talking about freedom, that nobody shall tell us what to do, and we are fighting (Duality problem) against conspiracies, against CO2 pollution, against many other things, but we don’t define and work consistently for a world worth living in. At the same time our capabilities to decide our own destiny are diminishing, regulated by law, organizations, computers, and infrastructure. The result may be that everybody just follow the route with least resistance, which are built through directives, regulations, computer capabilities, ending in a situation where nobody thinks or makes decisions any more. And it’s all made for the good of the citizens by the Big Mother.

“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” Noam Chomsky

Political Correctness

Political Correctness is sneaking in everywhere, without any conscious effort by any conspiratorial agency, but because of the path of least resistance.

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.” Noam Chomsky

No Childhood

Many of the restrictions and laws are made because of lacking parenting, children no longer learn to live in a community, they are each and all small kings and princesses, who don’t understand that others don’t see them as such. Their understanding of scientific, historic or creative endeavors is as small as it has ever been. The children learned more at the camp fire than the children of today. As they don’t know how to behave, more and more laws are created to remedy the lacking parenting.

The central problem are that Children aren’t allowed to be children any longer, or as Michael Jackson says:

“Childhood has become the great casualty of modern-day living. All around us we are producing scores of kids who have not had the joy, who have not been accorded the right, who have not been allowed the freedom, or knowing what it’s like to be a kid.

Today children are constantly encouraged to grow up faster, as if this period known as childhood is a burdensome stage, to be endured and ushered through, as swiftly as possible.”

“Love, ladies and gentlemen, is the human family’s most precious legacy, its richest bequest, its golden inheritance. And it is a treasure that is handed down from one generation to another. Previous ages may not have had the wealth we enjoy. Their houses may have lacked electricity, and they squeezed their many kids into small homes without central heating. But those homes had no darkness, nor were they cold. They were lit bright with the glow of love and they were warmed snugly by the very heat of the human heart. Parents, undistracted by the lust for luxury and status, accorded their children primacy in their lives.” Michael Jackson, Speech at Oxford University(2001)

Complicated Structures

You can’t make tax-systems as complicated as they are today without computers, and you can’t control the many citizens or employees, as we can today, without computers; the amount of data are enormous. They make it possible to create structures which are difficult to manage without using computers, and computers don’t know HR.

GM and the American Automobile Industry are good examples of these gigantic Companies, who would be impossible to manage without stiff administrative structures and computers, and it’s extremely difficult to change these structures if needed. But modern software organizations have the same problems, with their software base, as Microsoft with their operating system, and their Office System, Yahoo with it’s big software base and reductions in labor have their problems, and new organizations as Google with it’s extreme growth will quickly get into the same problems, the only way out are to regularly rebuild old systems from the ground without any application reuse, and keeping different applications separated on application level, and using methods who makes the programming as simple and cost effective as possible.

These big organizations are extremely susceptible to the Peters Principle:

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

I believe computers can be a boon to mankind, but we have to control how and what they are used for, not letting their possibilities decide our future, as their strength can be used both for the good and the bad.

Management and Computers

You can use computers to many things, they can plan routes for transport to decrease energy consumption, and many other useful things. This sounds good, but if we don’t take care, it could mean that it makes the knowledge and experience of man superfluous or even dangerous; man’s role degraded to a machine.

The need for knowledge is diminishing everywhere in the society, except within the computer world. Many jobs who needed educated Craftsmen can now be done by unskilled labor, as building materials don’t need special skills any more, and the computer has taken over a lot of paper work and decision-making. This makes everybody to secretaries except the secretaries, even executives writes their own letters and calculating sheets on their computers, instead of using secretaries, so they could do what they were hired and paid for: Manage.

The term “Human Resources” is in itself a degradation, people are not individuals any longer, they are a kind of commodity. See “Human Resources” by Scott Noble.

Large Structures

The physicist Geoffrey B. West studies large structures like cities and corporate organisations, and has found that cities increases it’s productivity and also it’s problems, while corporate organisations decreases their productivity as they grow.

“Bettencourt and West discovered that corporate productivity, unlike urban productivity, was entirely sublinear. As the number of employees grows, the amount of profit per employee shrinks. “
“The graph reflects the bleak reality of corporate growth, in which efficiencies of scale are almost always outweighed by the burdens of bureaucracy. “When a company starts out, it’s all about the new idea,” West says. “And then, if the company gets lucky, the idea takes off. Everybody is happy and rich. But then management starts worrying about the bottom line, and so all these people are hired to keep track of the paper clips. This is the beginning of the end.”
“The danger, West says, is that the inevitable decline in profit per employee makes large companies increasingly vulnerable to market volatility. Since the company now has to support an expensive staff — overhead costs increase with size — even a minor disturbance can lead to significant losses. As West puts it, “Companies are killed by their need to keep on getting bigger.”

Public organisations have of course the same problems as the corporate companies, they don’t trust their employees.

Cities are good examples on how the unstructured principles works, how the size of the city increases the production per citizen.

“According to the data, whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity, from construction spending to the amount of bank deposits, increases by approximately 15 percent per capita. It doesn’t matter how big the city is; the law remains the same. “This remarkable equation is why people move to the big city,” West says. “Because you can take the same person, and if you just move them to a city that’s twice as big, then all of a sudden they’ll do 15 percent more of everything that we can measure.”
“When Bettencourt and West analyzed the negative variables of urban life, like crime and disease, they discovered that the exact same mathematical equation applied.”
“For West, the impermanence of the corporation illuminates the real strength of the metropolis. Unlike companies, which are managed in a top-down fashion by a team of highly paid executives, cities are unruly places, largely immune to the desires of politicians and planners. “Think about how powerless a mayor is,” West says. “They can’t tell people where to live or what to do or who to talk to. Cities can’t be managed, and that’s what keeps them so vibrant. They’re just these insane masses of people, bumping into each other and maybe sharing an idea or two. It’s the freedom of the city that keeps it alive.”

No Competent Leaders

What makes it so frustratingly absurd is that we are giving our independence to a system, a network of directives and conventions, without any persons being in charge. There is nowhere you can go saying that it’s wrong and it should be otherwise, everybody will tell you, that’s how it is and it has always been that way, and it can’t be in any other way, as it’s too costly to change the computers programming just because of you! Of cause, we have leaders in the top of the state or the corporate companies, but as the decision-making are moved up through the hierarchy (following automatic rules,) it becomes more and more difficult to manage the big organizations, as everything becomes dependent on one decision maker alone, and few know how to or can change the course. It’s more difficult to change the direction of a State, Organization, or a Company than a Super Tanker. The organizations becomes automatons, and the companies go down in case of unanticipated events which craves structural changes.

GM and the American Automobile Industry are good examples of this inability to change, they had known for decades that they should change their models to compete with Japanese and European manufacturers, but they couldn’t.

The incompetence of these organizations will give rise to Conspiracy Theories as Hanlon’s Law warns about:

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

The following video shows many of the tendencies mentioned. Most banks don’t have types as Potter any longer, the bank works and thinks like a machine without any feelings or empathy at all, costumer service is a word not a fact.

From Move Your Money who tries to resist the Corporate Ideology.

Automated Decisions

Buying and selling on the stock market are for a great part based on automated decisions on computers, but as we have seen, it can go terrible wrong when some unanticipated events shows up. What’s worse, the stock market was made to foster strong and sound companies, not for computer controlled gaming, but for intelligent investment.

As fewer and fewer managers can make decisions, these decisions will be automated as rules in computers, and it will be impossible to make decisions based on individual concerns.

Decreasing Social Intercourse

Computers are exceptional for entertainment, you can live your life on the Internet, without any direct social contact. You can play games, make your work through the net if necessary, discuss, hunt sex/ books/ programs/ random data on the net (can be like drugs,) book your food from a local pizzeria, book escort girls, men, and boys, eventually finding mates on the net if you really want to live together with another being:). The film Matrix is a plausible destiny, not by force, but semi freely. It’s not Big Brother, it’s Big Mama.

Less Social Skills

In the old days, children, teenagers, and adults learned by living in a community, and there was room for everybody, also the village idiot. These and other unusual persons were educated by their surrounding who were mostly normal. We are today living more and more on the Internet, learning our social skills through social applications and computer games, the old community’s influence are replaced by the influence of the Internet comrades, and as like seeks likes, they can only increase their phobias or other disorders. Examples are numerous: pedophilia, school killings, terrorists, all kind of surrealistic interests, and so forth. The Law of Sayre’s are relevant in many of these cases:

“In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue.”

No Privacy

Children and teenagers can be reached by mobile and GPS always and everywhere, followed on the Internet through Twitter or Facebook by their parents. No privacy. The same goes for the adults, no privacy, open for state officials, economic institutions, and employers. Password protection, pseudonyms, and like precautions is no hindrance, Cyber-Investigators will find everything, relevant or not. You can not even go to the North Pole or to Himalaya in peace, they can always reach you, and you them.

Where’s the remotest place on Earth?

In our hyperconnected world, getting away from it all is easier said than done. Click the link in the main text to see more of the connectivity maps

In our hyper-connected world, getting away from it all is easier said than done. New Scientist.

Conspiracy Theories

The frustration has to go somewhere, and while there are no one responsible for our situation, and no one with enough insight, determination, and power to change the situation, we invent some god-like powerful conspirators who in all secrecy, with hundreds of employees, stands behind all the bad in this world. The truth is, that most leaders are so incompetent that it hurts. Just look at Iraq. The military invasion was well thought out, but the rest was incompetence par excellence. And that is not an exception, it’s the rule. Of cause there are conspiracies and secret operations, but if more than one participant knowing about the conspiracy are alive a year later, it’s just a question of time before the world know. Another reason to use few people are that really competent people are difficult to find, and the more people involved the bigger the risks for failure, and the bigger the consequences of a failure, the less interesting the project becomes. The best way to check if a conspiracy theory is viable or not, isn’t the technical evidence but the psychology and the necessary resources behind, how big is the risk, who gains, what’s their gain, how many participate, and what expertise are necessary.

A sober view on Conspiracy Theories from the left:

Noam Chomsky on Conspiracy Theories
In case the video is not functioning look here

The the Bafta-winning film-maker Adam Curtis:

“I don’t believe in conspiracies. Politicians don’t have the capacity to conspire, except in the most short-term way. [The distorted image of bin Laden] just suited a lot of people’s purposes at that time.”

What’s the mechanism behind the development?



Thomas Piketty

The Independent: The French economist forcing America to wake up to the end of The Dream.
Out of America: Thomas Piketty’s tome which skewers the idea that anyone who works hard can make it in the US seems to have hit a nerve

“Capital In The Twenty-First Century”, all 685 pages of it, is the No 1 best-seller on Amazon – apparently the first time that anything published by the venerable Harvard University Press has attained such dizzying celebrity. No self-regarding dinner party in Washington or New York is worth its salt without a discussion of it. Last Friday, came the ultimate accolade of a multiple coronation on the op-ed page of The New York Times.

The Huffington Post: Economist Thomas Piketty Explains Why Income Inequality Is Just Getting Started


Michael Lewis

Wired: Michael Lewis on Exposing Wall Street’s Biggest High-Tech Swindle in the book: Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

Flash Boys explores the world of high-frequency trading, a scheme in which traders use ultra-fast network connections to sniff out the intentions of other, slower traders, thereby acting before others can respond. Critics of the practice–Lewis chief among them–argue that high-frequency trading creates something akin to insider trading: a predatory environment for less advantaged investors. WIRED spoke with Lewis at an event organized by Live Talks in downtown Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Warren

A Fighting Chance (Apple, Amazon)

An unlikely political star tells the inspiring story of the two-decade journey that taught her how Washington really works—and really doesn’t.

In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class—and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America’s government can and must do better for working families.

New York Times: Book review of A Fighting Chance

A good review, also giving a good idea about who she is.

Allan Bloom

The Closing of the American Mind, Simon & Schuster Inc.

Christopher Lasch

Haven in a Heartless World, 1977, Basic Books, Inc.

In the American political vocabulary, “family” and “family values” no longer simply evoke pictures of harmonious scenes; they also push our buttons (left and right) about what is wrong with society. One of the earliest and sharpest cultural commentators to investigate the twentieth-century American family, Christopher Lasch argues in this book that as social science “experts” intrude more and more into our lives, the family’s vital role as the moral and social cornerstone of society disintegrates – and, left unchecked, so does our political and personal freedom. Haven in a Heartless World is a trenchant analysis of the plight of the family. Lasch takes a clear-eyed look at the institution in which America’s future generations are being raised and finds it faltering.

Geoffrey B. West

A Physicist Turns the City Into an Equation:

A New York Times article on his work.

Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities:

Describes the mathematical background for his work.

Atticannie’s Blog

Why Teacher Drink, the sequel: Natalie Munroe speaks out

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

have written a little book called “Night Flight” which describes man’s fight against the Materialistic docility to keep man competent and responsible.

By Rudolf Steiner

Inkarnation Ahrimans in German/Deutch and in English.

The the Bafta-winning film-maker Adam Curtis:

Philosophy of Materialism

Political Correctness

Political Correctness is sneaking in everywhere, without any conscious effort by any conspiratorial agency, but because of the path of least resistance.

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

Noam Chomsky

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