viernes, 26 de febrero de 2010

The Poetry of Reality



[Michael Shermer]
Science is the best tool ever devised
For understanding how the world works

[Jacob Bronowski]
Science is a very human form of knowledge
We are always at the brink of the known

[Carl Sagan]
Science is a collaborative enterprise
Spanning the generations
We remember those who prepared the way
Seeing for them also

[Neil deGrasse Tyson]
If you're scientifically literate,
The world looks very different to you
And that understanding empowers you

Refrain:
[Richard Dawkins]
There's real poetry in the real world
Science is the poetry of reality

[Sagan]
We can do science
And with it, we can improve our lives

[Jill Tarter]
The story of humans is the story of ideas
That shine light into dark corners

[Lawrence Krauss]
Scientists love mysteries
They love not knowing

[Richard Feynman]
I don't feel frightened by not knowing things
I think it's much more interesting

[Brian Greene]
There's a larger universal reality
of which we are all apart

[Stephen Hawking]
The further we probe into the universe
The more remarkable are the discoveries we make

[Carolyn Porco]
The quest for the truth, in and of itself,
Is a story that's filled with insights

[Greene]
From our lonely point in the cosmos
We have through the power of thought
Been able to peer back to a brief moment
After the beginning of the universe

[PZ Meyers]
I think that science changes the way your mind works
To think a little more deeply about things

[Dawkins]
Science replaces private predjudice
With publicly verifiable evidence



Stop



Sepa usted que sólo existe la noche.





"Eso pensaba Rosa Schwarzer ayer por la mañana, pero al mismo tiempo, y entrando en violenta colisión con sus convenciones más íntimas, se dijo que el lechón asado podía aguardar, es más, que no estaría ni por casualidad preparado a la hora del almuerzo, y se declaró en huelga de celo, y comenzó a caminar más despacio, a fuego lento. Y a fuego lento subió la sangre a las mejillas cuando decidió que haría una simple ensalada de patatas (después de todo, para ella y para Hans era del todo suficiente), y luego pensó que no, que nada, que no prepararía un solo plato y que, además, la desgracia de Hans era demasiado grande como para estar todavía planeando optimistas ensaladas, y que en definitiva la vida era peor que una estúpida patata, y que se mataría, sí, se mataría sin ya más dilación. Después de todo, allí estaba el maldito asfalto brillando al sol y brindándole la oportunidad de arrojarse bajo las ruedas de algún coche y acabar así, de una vez por todas, con el engorroso asunto del lechón asado, el marido infiel, la ensalada de patatas, los cubiertos y el mantel, el infinito tedio de las mañanas en el museo, la col y las lechugas, el hijo menor al borde de la muerte, los platos humeantes servidos con admirable puntualidad a la hora del almuerzo.
Ya estaba buscando el coche que le segara la vida cuando de pronto cayó en la cuenta de que en realidad algo muy hondo se había roto en ella en las primeras horas de la mañana, de aquella fría y extraña mañana, porque, bien pensado, no dejaba de ser raro que, después de tantos años de no reflexionar acerca de la vida y de las cosas, en las últimas horas no hubiera parado de hacerlo. Y pensó que era en el fondo muy estimulante ver cómo su frágil vitalidad se había ensombrecido de aquella forma tan tétrica pero al mismo tiempo tan peligrosamente atractiva. En otras palabras, su vida, al entrar en el reino de lo oscuro y de la desesperación, se había convertido paradójicamente en algo por fin un poco animado. (...)"

"- Buenas noches -le dijo el hombre, con exquisita y sorprendente amabilidad. Tenía unos treinta años y era bastante guapo y  parecía triste.
- Querrá decir buenos días -le dijo ella.
- Sepa usted que sólo existe la noche. (...)"

" - ¿Y por qué bebe tanto? -le preguntó inmediatamente ella.
Tras una casi interminable reflexión, tras darle muchas vueltas al asunto, el hombre respondió:
- Porque la realidad es desagradable.
- ¡Qué gracioso! -le dijo-. ¿Y acaso no lo es también la irrealidad, amigo?"

"(...)Acosado tenazmente por el círculo de hvulaquianos, acabó confesando que, como era un aficionado a la literatura, en cierta ocasión se había atrevido a traducir por su cuenta al Walter Benjamin de Infancia en Berlín, y les ofreció a modo de pantalla, para que no indagaran más en sus posibles trabajos literarios, su versión al umberthiano del libro, una versión que empezaba así: "Importa poco no saber orientarse en una ciudad. Perderse, en cambio, en una ciudad como  quien se pierde en el bosque, requiere aprendizaje."

"Nunca dejaste que leyera tus papeles (le dijo Yhma), y por eso yo siempre he vivido con cierta ignorancia acerca se aquello sobre lo que tú realmente escribías. Pero debo decirte que siempre, ¿me oyes?, siempre me he preguntado cuál debe ser la historia que subyace debajo de todas las historias que has contado en tus novelas.
Es triste (dijo Anatol desviándose de la cuestión), pero cada vez se glorifica menos al arte y más al artista creador; cada vez se prefiere más al artista que a la obra. Es triste, créeme.
Pero no has contestado a mi pregunta (insistió Yhma). ¿Cuál puede ser esa historia que debes estar repitiendo continuamente en tus novelas?
En el fondo, muy en el fondo (le contestó entonces Anatol simulando una confesión muy íntima y dolorosa), yo vengo repitiendo desde siempre la historia de alguien que se jura vivir en su propio país disfrazado de forastero hasta que le reconozcan."

"Mi abuela continúa furiosa, e insiste en que es indignante que diga que fui pobre en la infancia. Y yo, en vista de que se enfada tanto, le digo que la historia del viento que robó el dinero ya no la contaré nunca más por ahí (ya tenía ganas, después de todo, de olvidarme de ella) pero que, eso sí, es conveniente que sepa que hasta ahora esa historia siempre me resultó muy útil para justificar ante la gente mi miedo a salir de casa. Eso la calma notablemente. Me dice que podría habérselo dicho antes.
- Porque todo el mundo -y ahí remato la faena- sabe que yo no soy de las que salen por gusto fuera de casa. Pero siempre andan preguntándome a qué se debe esto. Me lo preguntan por qué aún no tengo novio o por qué fumo tanto. Porque a mí me preguntan de todo, no sé por qué. De todo. Y yo parra todo tengo respuesta. O la tenía, porque como ahora he renunciado a la historia del billete que voló, ya veremos qué les cuento. Pero en fin, renuncio a esa historia que, por otra parte, yo creo que encerraba una idea muy melancólica que servía para explicarlo todo."

Enrique Vila-Matas, Suicidios ejemplares.


La Pereza



El alma adora nadar.
Para nadar es preciso extenderse sobre el vientre. El alma se disloca y huye. Huye nadando. (Si vuestra alma huye cuando os encontráis de pie, o sentados, o con las rodillas o los codos doblados, para cada posición corporal diferente el alma partirá con un modo de andar y una forma también diferentes; esto lo estableceré más tarde).
Se habla a menudo de volar. No es eso. Lo que hace el alma es nadar. Nada como las serpientes y las anguilas; nunca de otro modo.
Numerosas personas tienen así un alma que adora nadar. Se las denomina vulgarmente perezosas. Cuando el alma a través del vientre abandona el cuerpo para nadar, se produce una liberación tal de no sé qué; es como un abandono, como un goce, como una relajación tan íntima...
El alma va a nadar en la caja de la escalera o en la calle, según la timidez o la audacia del hombre, pues siempre guarda un hilo entre ella y él, y si este hilo se rompiese (es a menudo muy delgado aunque se precisaría una fuerza espantosa para romperlo) sería terrible para ambos (tanto para ella como para él).
Cuando se encuentra pues el alma nadando a lo lejos, gracias a este simple hilo que liga al hombre con el alma, se derraman volúmenes y volúmenes de una especie de materia espiritual, como el barro, como el mercurio o como el gas -goce sin fin.
Por eso el perezoso vuélvese cerril. No cambiará nunca. Por eso es también que la pereza es la madre de todos los vicios. ¿Hay acaso algo más egoísta que la pereza?
La pereza tiene también fundamentos que el orgullo no posee.
Pero siempre la gente se encarniza con los perezosos.
Cuando están recostados los golpean, les echan agua fría sobre la cabeza; no les queda otra cosa que apresurarse a hacer regresar su alma. Os miran entonces con esa mirada de odio tan conocida y que observamos particularmente en los niños..

Henri Michaux


jueves, 25 de febrero de 2010

Y es que



Uno se asombra de lo fácil que le resultaba el camino de la eternidad; y es que caía en picado por él.

Franz Kafka.



Todavía





"Querido Friedrich, el mundo todavía es falso cruel y bello..."

Charles Simic 


Ballad Of A Thin Man



You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked and you say 'Who is that man?'
You try so hard but you don't understand
just what you will say when you get home
because something is happening here but you don't know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones?
 

You raise up your head and you ask 'Is this where it is?'
and somebody points to you and says 'It's his'
and you say 'what's mine?' and somebody else says 'well what is?'
and you say 'Oh my god am I here all alone?'
but something is happening and you don't know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones?
 

You hand in your ticket and you go watch the geek
who immediatly walks up to you when he hears you speak
and says 'How does it feel to be such a freak?'
and you say 'impossible' as he hands you a bone
and something is happening here but you don't know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones?
 

You have many contacts among the lumberjacks
to get you facts when someone attacks your imagination
but nobody has any respect, anyway they already expect
you to all give a check to tax-deductible charity organizations
Ah you've been with the professors and they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read, it's well known
But something is happening here and you don't know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones?
 

Well the sword-swallower he comes up to you and then he kneels
He crosses himself and then he clicks his high heels
and without further notice he asks you how it feels
and he says 'Here is your throat back, thanks for the loan'
And you know something is happening but you don't know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones?
 

Now you see this one-eyed midget shouting the word 'now'
and you say 'for what reason?' and he says 'how'
And you say 'what does this mean?' and he screams back 'You're a cow'
'Give me some milk or else go home'
And you know something's happening but you don't know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones?
 

Well you walk into the room like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket and your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law against you coming around
You should be made to wear earphones
Cause something is happening and you don't know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones?
Whoooaaaooooh


Im not there ver/bajar película


miércoles, 24 de febrero de 2010

Breve historia de casi todo



"El hombre lo juzga todo desde el minuto presente, sin comprender que sólo juzga un minuto: el minuto presente."

Antonio Porchia.


Better together



"¿Cuál es el sonido de una mano que aplaude? Yo opino que ninguno. Si no hay dos manos, no hay aplauso. Es muy simple. Estrellas, galaxias, aplausos. ¿Qué quiere decir? Quiere decir que todos necesitamos a alguien. Seas una constelación o un protón, un Yin o un Yan, todos relacionados con todos. Como Romeo y Julieta, el pescado y las patatas, Tomy y Jerry, Epi y Blas, caballos y vaqueros, Marco Antonio y Cleopatra."

 Chris Stevens desde la K.OSO (Doctor en Alaska, 1990)



"Better Together" for Match.com from FriendsWithYou on Vimeo.

martes, 23 de febrero de 2010

Business


Las brujas




En los cuentos de hadas, las brujas llevan siempre unos sombreros negros ridículos y capas negras y van montadas en el palo de un escoba.
Pero éste no es un cuento de hadas. Este trata de BRUJAS DE VERDAD.
Lo más importante que debes aprender sobre las BRUJAS DE VERDAD es lo siguiente. Escucha con mucho cuidado. No olvides nunca lo que viene a continuación.
Las BRUJAS DE VERDAD visten ropa normal y tienen un aspecto muy parecido al de las mujeres normales. Viven en casas normales y hacen TRABAJOS NORMALES.
Por eso son tan difíciles de atrapar.
Una BRUJA DE VERDAD odia a los niños con un odio candente e hirviente, más hirviente y candente que ningún odio que te puedas imaginar.
Una BRUJA DE VERDAD se pasa todo el tiempo tramando planes para deshacerse de los niños de su territorio. Su pasión es eliminarlos, uno por uno. Esa es la única cosa en la que piensa todo el día. Aunque esté trabajando de cajera en un supermercado, o escribiendo cartas a máquina para un hombre de negocios, o conduciendo un coche de lujo (y puede cualquiera de estas cosas), su mente estará siempre tramando y maquinando, bullendo y rebullendo, silbando y zumbando, llena de sanguinarias ideas criminales.
“¿A qué niño”, se dice a sí misma durante todo el día, “a qué niño escogeré para mi próximo golpe?”
Una BRUJA DE VERDAD disfruta tanto eliminando a un niño como tú disfrutas comiéndote un plato de fresas con nata.
Cuenta con eliminar a un niño por semana. Si no lo consigue, se pone de mal humor.
Un niño por semana hacen cincuenta y dos al año.
Espachúrralos, machácalos y hazlos desparecer.
Ese es el lema de todas las brujas.
Elige cuidadosamente a su víctima. Entonces la bruja acecha al desgraciado niño como un cazador acecha a un pajarito en el bosque.
Pisa suavemente. Se mueve despacio. Se acerca más y más. Luego, finalmente cuando todo está listo... zass... ¡se lanza sobre su presa! Saltan chispas. Se lanzan llamas. Hierve el aceite. Las ratas chillan. La piel se encoge. Y el niño desaparece.
Debes saber que una bruja no golpea a los niños en la cabeza, ni les clava un cuchillo, ni les pega un tiro con una pistola. La policía coge a la gente que hace esas cosas.
A las brujas nunca las cogen. No olvides que las brujas tienen magia en los dedos y un poder diabólico en la sangre. Pueden hacer que las piedras salten como ranas y que lenguas de fuego pasen sobre la superficie del agua.
Estos poderes mágicos son terroríficos.
Afortunadamente, hoy en día no hay un gran número de brujas en el mundo. Pero todavía hay suficientes como para asustarte. En Inglaterra, es probable que haya unas cien en total. En algunos países tienen más, en otros tienen menos. Pero ningún país está enteramente libre de BRUJAS.
Las brujas son siempre mujeres.
No quiero hablar mal de las mujeres. La mayoría de ellas son encantadoras. Pero es un hecho que todas las brujas son mujeres. No existen brujos.
Por otra parte, los vampiros siempre son hombres. Y lo mismo ocurre con los duendes. Y los dos son peligrosos. Pero ninguno de los dos es ni la mitad de peligroso que una BRUJA DE VERDAD.
En lo que se refiere a los niños, la BRUJA DE VERDAD es sin duda la más peligrosa de todas las criaturas que viven en la tierra. Lo que la hace doblemente peligrosa es el hecho de que no parece peligrosa. Incluso cuando sepas todas los secretos (te los contaremos dentro de un minuto), nunca podrás estar completamente seguro de si lo que estás viendo es una bruja una simpática señora. Si un tigre pudiera hacerse pasar por un perrazo con una alegre cola, probablemente te acercarías a él y le darías palmaditas en la cabeza. Y ése sería tu fin.
Lo mismo sucede con las brujas todas parecen señoras simpáticas.(...)
Aunque tú no lo sepas, puede que en la casa de al lado viva una bruja ahora mismo.
O quizá fuera una bruja la mujer de los ojos brillantes que se sentó enfrente de ti en el autobús esta mañana.
Pudiera ser una bruja la señora de la sonrisa luminosa que te ofreció un caramelo de una bolsa de papel blanco, en la calle, antes de la comida.
Hasta podría serlo – y esto te hará dar un brinco-- hasta podría serlo tu encantadora profesora, la que te está leyendo estas palabras en este mismo momento. Mira con atención a esa profesora. Quizá sonríe ante lo absurdo de semejante posibilidad. No dejes que eso te despiste. Puede formar parte de su astucia.
No quiero decir, naturalmente, ni por un segundo, que tu profesora sea realmente una bruja. Lo único que digo es que podría serlo. Es muy improbable. Pero –y aquí viene el gran “pero”-- no es imposible.
Oh si al menos hubiese una manera de saber con seguridad si una mujer es un bruja o no lo es, entonces podríamos juntarlas a todas y hacerlas picadillo. Por desgracia, no hay ninguna manera de saberlo. Pero sí hay ciertos indicios en los que puedes fijarte, pequeñas manías que todas las brujas tienen en común, y si las conoces, si las recuerdas siempre, puede que a lo mejor consigas librarte de que te eliminen antes de que crezcas mucho más. (...)

Roald Dahl, Las brujas. (Pdf)



Partes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 y 10.

lunes, 22 de febrero de 2010

Technology's epic story




“If you search for the word "technology" it was not used untill 1952. So, technology was sort of absent from everybody's thinking, until 1952, which happened to be the year of my birth. And obviously, technology had existed before then, but we weren't aware of it. And so it was sort of an awakening of this force in our life.
I actually did research to find out the first use of the word "technology" and it was in 1829. And it was invented by a guy who was starting a curriculum, a course, bringing together all the kinds of arts and crafts, and industry. And he called it technology. And that's the very first use of the word.
So, what is this stuff that we're all consumed by, and bothered by? Alan Kay calls it, "Technology is anything that was invented after you were born.” Which is sort of the idea that we normally have of about what technology is. It's all that new stuff. It's not roads or penicillin, or factory tires. It's the new stuff. My friend Danny Hillis says kind of a similar one, he says, "Technology is anything that doesn't work yet." Which is, again, a sense that it's all new.
But we know that it's just not new. It actually goes way back. And what I want to suggest is it goes a long way back. So, another way to think about technology, what it means, is to imagine a world without technology. If we were to eliminate every single bit of technology in the world today, and I mean everything, from blades to scrapers to cloth, we as a species would not live very long. We would die by the billions, and very quickly. The wolves would get us. We would be defenseless. We would be unable to grow enough food, or find enough food.
Even the hunter gatherers used some elementary tools. And so, they had minimal technology, but they had some technology. And if we study those hunter gatherer tribes and the Neanderthal, which are very similar to early man. We find out a very curious thing about this world without technology, and this is a kind of a curve of their average age.
There are no Neanderthal fossils that are older than 40 years old that we've ever found. And the average age of most of these hunter gatherer tribes is 20 to 30. There are very few young infants because they die, high mortality rate, and there is very few old people. And so the profile is sort of for your average San Francisco neighborhood. A lot of young people. And if you go there, you say, "Hey, everybody is really healthy." Well, that's because they're all young.
And the same thing with the hunter gatherer tribes and early man is that you didn't live beyond the age of 30. So, it was a world without grandparents. And grandparents are very important, because they are the transmitter of cultural evolution and information. Imagine a world and basically everyone was 20 to 30 years old, how much learning can you do? You can't do very much learning in your own life, it's so short. And there is nobody to pass on what you do learn. So, that's one aspect.
It was a very short life. But at the same time anthropologists know that most hunter gatherer tribes of the world with very little technology, actually did not spend a very long time gathering the food that they needed. Three to six hours a day. Some anthropologists call that the original affluent society. Because they had banker hours basically. So, it was possible to get enough food. But when the scarcity came when the highs and lows and the droughts came, then people went into starvation. And that's why they didn't live very long.
So, what technology brought, through the very simple tools like these stone tools here, even something as small as this, the early bands of humans were actually able to eliminate, to extinction about 250 megafauna animals in North America when they first arrived 10,000 years ago. So, long before the industrial age we've been affecting the planet on a global scale, with just a small amount of technology.
The other thing that the early man invented was fire. And fire was used to clear out, and again, effected the ecology of grass and whole continents, and was used in cooking. It enabled us to actually eat all kinds of things. It was sort of, in a certain sense, in a McLuren* sense, an external stomach. In the sense that it was cooking food that we could not eat otherwise. And if we don't have fire, we actually could not live. Our bodies have adapted to these new diets. Our bodies have changed in the last 10,000 years.
So, with that little bit of technology, humans went from a small band of 10,000 or so, the same number as Neanderthals everywhere, and we suddenly exploded, with the invention of language, around 50,000 years ago the number of humans exploded, and very quickly became the dominant species on the planet. And they migrated into the rest of the world at two kilometers per year until within several tens of thousands of years we occupied every single watershed on the planet and became the most dominant species, with a very small amount of technology.
And even at that time, with the introduction of agriculture, 8,000 - 10,000 years ago we started to see climate change. So, climate change is not a new thing. What's new is just the degree of it. Even during the agricultural age there was climate change. And so, already small amounts of technology were transforming the world. And what this means, and where I'm going is that technology has become the most powerful force in the world. All the things that we see today that are changing our lives, we can always trace back to the introduction of some new technology.
So, it's a force, that is the most powerful force that has been unleashed on this planet. And in such a degree that I think that it's become our, who we are. In fact, our humanity, and everything that we think about ourselves is something that we've invented. So, we've invented ourselves. Of all the animals that we've domesticated the most important animal that we've domesticated has been us. Okay? So, humanity is our greatest invention.
But of course we're not done yet. We're still inventing. And this is what technology is allowing us to do. It's continually to reinvent ourselves. It's a very very strong force. I call this entire thing, us humans as our technology, everything that we've made, gadgets in our lives, we call that the Technium. That's this world. My working definition of technology is anything useful that a human mind makes. It's not just hammers and gadgets like laptops. But it's also Law. And of course cities are ways to make things more useful to us. While this is something that comes from our mind, it also has its roots deeply into the cosmos.
It goes back. The origins and roots of technology go back to the Big Bang, in this way, in that they are part of this self-organizing thread that starts at the Big Bang and goes through galaxies and stars into life into us. And the three major phases of the early universe was energy, when the dominant force was energy. Then it became, the dominant force, as it cooled, became matter. And then, with the invention of life, four billion years ago, the dominant force in our neighborhood became information. That's what life is. It's an information process that was restructuring and making new order.
So, those energy matter Einstein showed were equivalent, and now new sciences of quantum computing show that entropy and information and matter and energy are all interrelated, so it's one long continuum. You put energy into the right kind of system, and out comes wasted heat entropy, and exotropy, which is order. It's the increase in order.
So, where does this order come from? Its roots go way back. We actually don't know. But we do know that the self organization trend throughout the universe is long, and it began with things like galaxies. They maintained their order for billions of years. Stars are basically nuclear fission machines that self organize and self sustain themselves for billions of years. This order against the extropy of the world. And flowers and plants are the same thing, extended. And technology is basically an extension of life.
So, one trend that we notice in all those things is that the amount of energy per gram, per second that flows through this, is actually increasing. the amount of energy is increasing through this little sequence. And that the amount of energy per gram, per second, that flows through life is actually greater than a star, because of the star's long lifespan, the energy density in life is actually higher than a star. And the energy density that we see in the greatest, that we see anywhere in the universe is actually in a P.C. chip. There is more energy flowing through, per gram per second, than anything that we have any other experience with.
So, what I would suggest, is that if you want to see where technology is going, we continue that trajectory, and we say well what's going to become more energy dense, that's where it's going. And so what I've done is, I've taken the same kinds of things and looked at other aspects of evolutionary life and say, what are the general trends in evolutionary life. And there are things moving towards greater complexity, moving towards greater diversity, moving towards greater specialization, sentience, ubiquity and most important, evolvability. Those very same things are also present in technology. That's where technology is going.
In fact technology is accelerating all the aspects of life. And we can see that happening. Just as there is diversity in life, there is more diversity in things we make. Things in life start out being general cell, and they become specialized. You have tissue cells. You have muscle, brain cells. And same things happens with say, a hammer, which is general at first and becomes more specific. So, I would like to say that while there is six kingdoms of life, we can think of technology basically as a seventh kingdom of life. It's a branching off from the human form.
But technology has its own agenda, like anything, like life itself. For instance right now, three quarters of the energy that we use is actually used to feed the technium itself. In transportation, it's not to move us, it's to move the stuff that we make or buy. I use the word "want". Technology wants. This is a robot that wants to plug itself in to get more power. Your cat wants more food. A bacterium, which has no consciousness at all wants to move towards light. It has an urge. And technology has an urge.
At the same time, it wants to give us things. And what it gives us is basically progress. You can take all kinds of curves, and they're all pointing up. There is really no dispute about progress, if we discount the cost of that. And that's the thing that bothers most people, is that progress is really real, but we wonder and question what are the environmental costs of it.
I did a survey of a number of species of artifacts in my house. And there is 6,000. Other people have come up with 10,000. When King Henry of England died, he had 18,000 things in his house. But that was the entire wealth of England. And with that entire wealth of England, King Henry could not buy any antibiotics. He could not buy refrigeration. He could not buy a trip of a thousand miles. Whereas this rickshaw-wale in India could save up and buy antibiotics. And he could buy refrigeration. He could buy things that King Henry, in all his wealth could never buy. That's what progress is about.
So, technology is selfish. Technology is generous. That conflict, that tension will be with us forever. That sometimes it wants to do what it wants to do. And sometimes it's going to do things for us. We have confusion about what we should think about a new technology. Right now the default position about when a new technology comes along, is we -- people talk about the precautionary principle. Which is very common in Europe. Which says, basically, "Don't do anything." When you meet a new technology, stop, until it can be proven that there is no harm. I think that that really leads nowhere.
But I think a better way is to, what I call, proactionary principle. Which is, you engage with technology. You try it out. You obviously do what the precautionary principle suggests, you try to anticipate it. But after anticipating it, you constantly asses it, not just once, but eternally. And when it diverts from what you want, we prioritize risk, we evaluate not just the new stuff, but the old stuff. We fix it. But most importantly we relocate it. And what I mean by that is that we find a new job for it.
Nuclear energy, fission, is really bad idea for bombs. But it may be a pretty good idea, relocated relocated into sustainable nuclear energy for electricity, instead of burning coal. When we have a bad idea, the response to a bad idea is not no ideas, it's not to stop thinking. The response to a bad idea, like, say, a tungsten lightbulb, is a better idea. Okay? So, better ideas is really always the response to technology that we don't like is basically, better technology. Actually, in a certain sense, technology is a kind of a method for generating better ideas, if you can think about it that way.
So, maybe spraying DDT on crops is a really bad idea. But DDT sprayed on local homes, there is nothing better to eliminate malaria, besides insect DDT impregnated mosquito nets. But that's a really good idea. That's a good job for technology.
So, our job, as humans, is to parent our mind children, to find them good friends, to find them a good job. And so, every technology is sort of a creative force looking for the right job. That's actually my son, right here. There are no bad technologies. Just as there are no bad children. We don't say children are neutral, or children are positive. We just have to find them the right place.
And so, what technology gives us, over the long term, over the sort of extended evolution, from the beginning of time, through the invention of the plants and animals, and the evolution of life, the evolution of brains, What that is constantly giving us, is increasing differences. It's increasing diversity. It's increasing options. It's increasing choices, opportunities, possibilities and freedoms. That's what we get from technology all the time. That's why people leave villages and go into cities, is because they are always gravitating towards increased choices and possibilities. And we are aware of the price. We pay a price for that, but we are aware of it, and generally we will pay the price for increased freedoms, choices and opportunities.
Even technology wants clean water. Is technology diametrically opposed to nature? Because technology is an extension of life, it's in parallel, and aligned with the same things that life wants. So that I think technology loves biology, if we allow it too. Great movement that is starting billions of years ago, is moving through us, and it continues to go. And our choice, so to speak, in technology, is really to align ourselves with this force much greater than ourselves.
So, technology is more than just the stuff in your pocket. It's more than just gadgets. It's more than just things that people invent. It's actually part of a very long story, a great story, that began billions of years ago, and it moving through us, this self organization. And we're extending and accelerating it. And we can be part of it by aligning the technology that we make, with it."

Kevin Kelly
 

Café Wall Illusion




The café wall illusion, sometimes also called the Münsterberg illusion (Ashton Raggatt McDougall 2006), is an optical illusion produced by a black and white rectangular tessellation when the tiles are shifted in a zigzag pattern, as illustrated above. While the pattern seems to diverge towards the upper and lower right corners in the upper figure, the gray lines are actually parallel. Interestingly, the illusion greatly diminishes if black lines are used instead of gray.
Gregory and Heard (1979) first noticed the illusion on the wall decoration of a café in Bristol, England. The café wall illusion is only one among many visual distortion effects involving parallel lines. The most famous example of this kind is Zöllner's illusion.



The image above shows a picture of a building in Melbourne, Australia designed to exhibit this illusion (C. L. Taylor, pers. comm., Aug. 5, 2006). The building, completed in 2006, is part of Melbourne's Digital Harbour Port 1010 and houses the Australian Customs Service (Ashton Raggatt McDougall 2006). 

Fuente:  mathworld


Mala memoria





En nuestros debates, compañeros,
tengo a veces la sensación
de que hemos olvidado algo.
No es el enemigo.
No es la línea de conducta.
No es el objetivo final.
No figura en el «Curso breve».
Si no lo hubiéramos sabido nunca
no habría lucha.
No me preguntéis qué es.
No sé cómo se llama.
Lo único que sé
es que hemos olvidado
lo más importante

Hans Magnus Enzensberger



Follow the white rabbit





"Alicia empezaba a estar muy cansada de permanecer junto a su hermana en la orilla, y de no hacer nada; una vez o dos había echado una mirada al libro al libro que su hermana estaba leyendo, pero no traía estampas ni diálogos; y "¿de qué sirve un libro" pensó Alicia, "si no trae estampas ni diálogos?".
Así que estaba deliberando en su interior (lo mejor que podía, ya que el día caluroso la hacía sentirse muy soñolienta y atontada) si el placer de trenzar una cadena de margaritas merecía la molestia de levantarse a coger las margaritas, cuando de pronto llegó junto a ella un conejo blanco de ojos rosados.
No había  nada de particular en aquello; ni consideró Alicia que fuese muy excepcional oír al Conejo decirse a sí mismo: "¡Dios mío!¡Dios mío!¡Voy a llegar tarde!" (al pensar en aquello más tarde, se le ocurrió que debía haberle extrañado una cosa así; sin embargo, en aquel momento le pareció la mar de natural); pero cuando el Conejo se sacó un reloj de bolsillo del chaleco, lo consultó, y luego reanudó apresuradamente la marcha, Alicia se incorporó de un brinco, ya que se le ocurrió de pronto que jamás había visto un conejo con un bolsillo de chaleco, o con un reloj que sacar de él; y, muerta de curiosidad, echó a correr trás él por el prado, justo a tiempo de ver cómo se metía por la gran madriguera bajo el seto.
Un instante después se coló Alicia también, sin pararse a pensar como saldría."

Lewis Carroll, Alicia en el país de las maravillas.


jueves, 18 de febrero de 2010

Time Travel



“Digamos que tienes una taza de café y una cuchara”, explicó Mallett a PhysOrg.com. “El café es el espacio vacío, y la cuchara en el rayo láser circulante. Cuando remueves el café con la cuchara, el café – o el espacio vacío – se retuerce. Supón que echas un terrón de azúcar en el café. Si el espacio vacío estuviese retorcido, serías capaz de detectarlo observando el movimiento de una partícula subatómica alrededor del espacio”.

De acuerdo con Einstein, siempre que haces algo en el espacio, también afectas al tiempo. Retorcer el espacio provoca que el tiempo también se retuerza, lo que significa que teóricamente podrías pasear por el tiempo de la misma forma que paseas por el espacio.

“Como físicos, nuestros experimentos manejan partículas subatómicas”, dijo Mallett. “Cuándo serán los humanos capaces de viajar en el tiempo depende en gran parte del éxito de estos experimentos, los cuales ocuparán casi una década. Y dependiendo de los avances, tecnología y fondos, creo que el viaje en el tiempo humano podría tener lugar en este siglo”.

Vuelva atrás un minuto (lo siento, solo en sentido figurado). ¿Cómo sabemos que el tiempo no es una invención meramente humana y que manipularlo no tendrá ningún sentido?

”¿Qué es el tiempo?” Esta es una pregunta muy, muy difícil”, dijo Mallett. “El tiempo es una forma de separar eventos unos de otros. Incluso sin pensar sobre el tiempo, podemos ver que las cosas cambian, las estaciones cambian, la gente cambia. El hecho de que el mundo cambia es una característica intrínseca del mundo físico, y el tiempo es independiente de si tenemos o no un nombre para él.

“Para los físicos, el tiempo es lo que medimos con relojes. Usando esta definición, podemos manipular el tiempo cambiando la razón de los relojes, lo cual cambia la razón a la que suceden los eventos. Einstein demostró que el tiempo está afectado por el movimiento, y sus teorías se han demostrado de forma experimental comparando el tiempo de un reloj atómico que ha viajado alrededor de la tierra en un jet. Es menor que un reloj sobre la Tierra”.

Aunque el reloj en vuelo volvió a su funcionamiento normal al aterrizar, nunca se sincronizó con los relojes de la Tierra – lo que significa que tenemos un viajero en el tiempo del pasado entre nosotros, incluso aunque piense que está en el futuro.

Alguna gente muestra preocupación sobre los viajes en el tiempo, aunque Mallett – un partidario de la Teoría de Universos Paralelos – nos asegura que las máquinas del tiempo no presentarán ningún peligro.
La Paradoja del Abuelo [dónde vas atrás en el tiempo y matas a tu abuelo] no es un problema”, dijo Mallett. “En cierto sentido, el viajar en el tiempo significa que estás viajando en ambos, espacio y tiempo hacia otros Universos. Si vas hacia atrás en el pasado, irás a otro Universo. Tan pronto como aterrices en el pasado, harás una elección y entonces habrá una separación. Nuestro Universo no se verá afectado por lo que hagas en tu visita al pasado”. 



 Horizon, Viaje en el tiempo ver documental
Sci-trek: Viaje a traves del tiempo (Documental en megavideo)



Are you from the future?

Sobre lo negro y blanco del camino


Ajedrez

I

En su grave rincón, los jugadores
rigen las lentas piezas. El tablero
los demora hasta el alba en su severo
ámbito en que se odian dos colores.

Adentro irradian mágicos rigores
las formas: torre homérica, ligero
caballo, armada reina, rey postrero,
oblicuo alfil y peones agresores.

Cuando los jugadores se hayan ido,
cuando el tiempo los haya consumido,
ciertamente no habrá cesado el rito.

En el Oriente se encendió esta guerra
cuyo anfiteatro es hoy toda la tierra.
Como el otro, este juego es infinito.

II

Tenue rey, sesgo alfil, encarnizada
reina, torre directa y peón ladino
sobre lo negro y blanco del camino
buscan y libran su batalla armada.

No saben que la mano señalada
del jugador gobierna su destino,
no saben que un rigor adamantino
sujeta su albedrío y su jornada.

También el jugador es prisionero
(la sentencia es de Omar) de otro tablero
de negras noches y blancos días.

Dios mueve al jugador, y éste, la pieza.
¿Qué Dios detrás de Dios la trama empieza
de polvo y tiempo y sueño y agonías?

Jorge Luis Borges



Dijo el sabio:/ La vida es un tablero de ajedrez/de noches y días/donde Dios con hombres como piezas juega./Mueve aquí y allí/da jaque mate y mata/y pieza por pieza vuelve a ponerlos en la caja./Pues hay un destino para la pieza, para el jugador y para Dios.
 


domingo, 14 de febrero de 2010

Nike Human Chain

 
 
It's, not, how you start, it's how you finish,
And it's, not, where you're from, it's where you're at,

Everybody gets knocked down,
Everybody gets knocked down,
How quick are you gonna' get up?



Human Chain from NikeSportswear on Vimeo.

viernes, 12 de febrero de 2010

La ventana que da a la calle


 
 
 
 
 
 
Quien vive solo y, sin embargo, desea en algún momento unirse a alguien; quien en consideración a los cambios del ritmo diario, al clima, a las relaciones laborales y a otras cosas semejantes quiere ver, sin más, un brazo cualquiera en el que poder apoyarse, esa persona no podrá seguir mucho tiempo sin una ventana que dé a la calle. Y le ocurre que no busca nada, sólo aparece ante el alféizar de la ventana como un hombre cansado, abriendo y cerrando los ojos entre el público y el cielo, y tampoco quiere nada, e inclina la cabeza ligeramente hacia atrás, así le arrastran hacia abajo los caballos con el séquito formado por el coche y el ruido hasta que, finalmente, alcanza la armonía humana. 
 
Franz Kafka.



El cerebro


"Brain: An apparatus with which we think we think."






miércoles, 10 de febrero de 2010

El camino menos transitado





I´m gonna live till i die



I'm gonna live till I die! I'm gonna laugh 'stead of cry,
I'm gonna take the town and turn it upside down,
I'm gonna live, live, live until I die.
They're gonna say "What a guy!" I'm gonna play for the sky.
Ain't gonna miss a thing, I'm gonna have my fling,
I'm gonna live, live, live until I die.
The blues I lay low, I'll make them stay low,
They'll never trail over my head.
I'll be a devil, till I'm an angel, but until then.
Hallelujah, gonna dance, gonna fly, I'll take a chance riding high,
Before my number's up, I'm gonna fill my cup,
I'm gonna live, live, live, until I die!


Experimento de la cárcel de Stanford




El experimento de la cárcel de Stanford es un conocido estudio psicológico de la respuesta humana a la cautividad, en particular a las circunstancias reales de la vida en prisión y los efectos de los roles sociales impuestos en la conducta. Fue llevado a cabo en 1971 por un equipo de investigadores liderado por Philip Zimbardo de la Universidad de Stanford. Se reclutaron voluntarios que desempeñarían los roles de guardias y prisioneros en una prisión ficticia. Sin embargo, el experimento se les fue pronto de las manos y se canceló en la primera semana.
Las preocupaciones éticas que envuelven a los experimentos famosos a menudo establecen comparaciones con el experimento de Milgram, que fue llevado a cabo en 1963 en la Universidad de Yale por Stanley Milgram, un antiguo amigo de Zimbardo. (Wikipedia)






Philosophers, dramatists, theologians have grappled with this question for centuries: What makes people go wrong? Interestingly, I asked this question when I was a little kid. When I was a kid growing up in the South Bronx, inner-city ghetto in New York, I was surrounded by evil, as all kids are who grew up in an inner city. And I had friends who were really good kids, who lived out the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde scenario -- Robert Louis Stevenson. That is, they took drugs, got in trouble, went to jail. Some got killed, and some did it without drug assistance.

So when I read Robert Louis Stevenson, that wasn't fiction. The only question is, what was in the juice? And more importantly, that line between good and evil -- which privileged people like to think is fixed and impermeable, with them on the good side, and the others on the bad side -- I knew that line was movable, and it was permeable. Good people could be seduced across that line, and under good and some rare circumstances bad kids could recover with help, with reform, with rehabilitation.

So I want to begin with this this wonderful illusion by [Dutch] artist M.C. Escher.


If you look at it and focus on the white, what you see is a world full of angels. But let's look more deeply, and as we do, what appears is the demons, the devils in the world. And that tells us several things.

One: the world is, was, will always be filled with good and evil, because good and evil is the Yin and Yang of the human condition. It tells me something else. If you remember, God's favorite angel was Lucifer. Apparently, Lucifer means "the light." It also means "the morning star," in some scripture. And apparently he disobeyed God, and that's the ultimate disobedience to authority. And when he did, Michael the Archangel was sent to kick him out of heaven along with the other fallen angels. And so Lucifer descends into hell, becomes Satan, becomes the devil, and the force of evil in the universe begins.

Paradoxically, it was God who created hell as a place to store evil. He didn't do a good job of keeping it there though. So, this arc of the cosmic transformation of God's favorite angel into the Devil, for me, sets the context for understanding human beings who are transformed from good, ordinary people into perpetrators of evil.

So the Lucifer Effect, although it focuses on the negatives -- the negatives that people can become, not the negatives that people are -- leads me to a psychological definition: evil is the exercise of power. And that's the key: it's about power. To intentionally harm people psychologically, to hurt people physically, to destroy people mortally, or ideas, and to commit crimes against humanity. If you Google "evil," a word that should surely have withered by now, you come up with 136 million hits in a third of a second.

A few years ago -- I am sure all of you were shocked, as I was, with the revelation of American soldiers abusing prisoners in a strange place in a controversial war: Abu Ghraib in Iraq. And these were men and women who were putting prisoners through unbelievable humiliation. I was shocked, but I wasn't surprised, because I had seen those same visual parallels when I was the prison superintendent of the Stanford Prison Study.

Immediately the Bush administration military said ... what? What all administrations say when there's a scandal. "Don't blame us. It's not the system. It's the few bad apples, the few rogue soldiers." My hypothesis is American soldiers are good, usually. Maybe it was the barrel that was bad. But how am I going to -- how am I going to deal with that hypothesis?

I became an expert witness for one of the guards, Sergeant Chip Frederick, and in that position, I had access to the dozen investigative reports. I had access to him. I could study him, have him come to my home, get to know him, do psychological analysis to see was he a good apple or bad apple. And thirdly, I had access to all of the 1,000 pictures that these soldiers took. These pictures are of a violent or sexual nature. All of them come from the cameras of American soldiers. Because everybody has a digital camera or cell phone camera, they took pictures of everything. More than 1,000.

And what I've done is I organized them into various categories. But these are by United States Military Police, Army Reservists. They are not soldiers prepared for this mission at all. And it all happened in a single place, Tier 1A, on the night shift. Why? Tier 1A was the center for military intelligence. It was the interrogation hold. The CIA was there. Interrogators from Titan Corporation, all there, and they're getting no information about the insurgency. So they're going to put pressure on these soldiers, Military Police, to cross the line, give them permission to break the will of the enemy, to prepare them for interrogation, to soften them up, to take the gloves off. Those are the euphemisms, and this is how it was interpreted. Let's go down to that dungeon. (...)

So, pretty horrific. That's one of the visual illustrations of evil. And it should not have escaped you that the reason I paired the prisoner with his arms out with Leonardo da Vinci's Ode to Humanity, is that that prisoner was mentally ill. That prisoner covered himself with shit every day, and they used to have to roll him in dirt so he wouldn't stink. But the guards ended up calling him Shit Boy. What was he doing in that prison rather than in some mental institution?

In any event, here's former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. he comes down and says, "I want to know who is responsible? Who are the bad apples?" Well, that's a bad question. You have to reframe it and ask, "What is responsible?" Because "what" could be the who of people, but it could also be the what of the situation, and obviously that's wrongheaded.

So how do psychologists go about understanding such transformations of human character, if you believe that they were good soldiers before they went down to that dungeon? There are three ways. The main way is, it's called dispositional. We look at what's inside of the person, the bad apples.

This is the foundation of all of social sciences, the foundation of religion, the foundation of war. Social psychologists like me come along and say, "Yeah, people are the actors on the stage, but you'll have to be aware of what that situation is. Who are the cast of characters? What's the costume? Is there a stage director?" And so we're interested in, what are the external factors around the individual, the bad barrel? And social scientists stop there and they miss the big point that I discovered when I became an expert witness for Abu Ghraib. The power is in the system. The system creates the situation that corrupts the individuals, and the system is the legal, political, economic, cultural background. And this is where the power is of the bad-barrel makers.

So if you want to change a person you've got to change the situation. If you want to change the situation, you've got to know where the power is in the system. So the Lucifer Effect involves understanding human character transformations with these three factors. And it's a dynamic interplay. What do the people bring into the situation? What does the situation bring out of them? And what is the system that creates and maintains that situation?

So my book, The Lucifer Effect, recently published, is about, how do you understand how good people turn evil? And it has a lot of detail about what I'm going to talk about today. So Dr. Z's "Lucifer Effect," although it focuses on evil, really is a celebration of the human mind's infinite capacity to make any of us kind or cruel, caring or indifferent, creative or destructive, and it makes some of us villains. And the good news story that I'm going to hopefully come to at the end is that it makes some of us heroes. This is a wonderful cartoon in the New Yorker, which really summarizes my whole talk: "I'm neither a good cop nor a bad cop, Jerome. Like yourself, I'm a complex amalgam of positive and negative personality traits that emerge or not, depending on the circumstances."
There's a study some of you think you know about, but very few people have ever read the story. You watched the movie. This is Stanley Milgram, little Jewish kid from the Bronx, and he asked the question, "Could the holocaust happen here, now?" People say, "No, that's Nazi Germany, that's Hitler, you know, that's 1939." He said, "Yeah, but suppose Hitler asked you, 'Would you electrocute a stranger?' 'No way, not me, I'm a good person.'" He said, "Why don't we put you in a situation and give you a chance to see what you would do?"

And so what he did was he tested 1,000 ordinary people. 500 New Haven, Connecticut; 500 Bridgeport. And the ad said, "Psychologists want to understand memory, we want to improve people's memory, because memory is the key to success." OK? "We're going to give you five bucks -- four dollars for your time." And it said "We don't want college students; we want men between 20 and 50" -- in the later studies they ran women -- ordinary people: barbers, clerks, white-collar people.

So you go down, and one of you is going to be a learner, and one of you is going to be a teacher. The learner's a genial, middle-aged guy. He gets tied up to the shock apparatus in another room. The learner could be middle-aged, could be as young as twenty. And one of you is told by the authority, the guy in the lab coat, "Your job as teacher is to give this guy material to learn. Gets it right, reward him. Gets it wrong, you press a button on the shock box. The first button is 15 volts. He doesn't even feel it." That's the key. All evil starts with 15 volts. And then the next step is another 15 volts. The problem is, at the end of the line, it's 450 volts. And as you go along the guy is screaming, "I've got a heart condition! I'm out of here!"

You're a good person. You complain. "Sir, who's going to be responsible if something happens to him?" The experimenter says, "Don't worry, I will be responsible. Continue, teacher." And the question is, who would go all the way to 450 volts? You should notice here, when it gets up to 375, it says, "Danger: Severe Shock." When it gets up to here, there's "XXX": the pornography of power.
So Milgrom asks 40 psychiatrists, "What percent of American citizens would go to the end?" They said only 1 percent. Because that's sadistic behavior, and we know, psychiatry knows, only 1 percent of Americans are sadistic. OK. Here's the data. They could not be more wrong. Two-thirds go all the way to 450 volts. This was just one study. Milgram did more than 16 studies. And look at this. In study 16, where you see somebody like you go all the way, 90 percent go all the way. In study five, if you see people rebel, 90 percent rebel. What about women? Study 13: no different than men. So Milgrom is quantifying evil as the willingness of people to blindly obey authority, to go all the way to 450 volts. And it's like a dial on human nature. A dial in a sense that you can make almost everybody totally obedient down to the majority, down to none.

So what are the external parallels? For all research is artificial. What's the validity in the real world? 912 American citizens committed suicide or were murdered by family and friends in Guyana jungle in 1978, because they were blindly obedient to this guy, their pastor. Not their priest. Their pastor, Reverend Jim Jones. He persuaded them to commit mass suicide. And so he's the modern Lucifer Effect. A man of God who becomes the Angel of Death. Milgram's study is all about individual authority to control people. Most of the time we are in institutions, so the Stanford Prison Study is a study of the power of institutions to influence individual behavior. Interestingly, Stanley Milgram and I were in the same high school class in James Monroe in the Bronx, 1954.

So this study, which I did with my graduate students, especially Craig Haney, we also began work with an ad. We didn't have money, so we had a cheap, little ad, but we wanted college students for a study of prison life. 75 people volunteered, took personality tests. We did interviews. Picked two dozen: the most normal, the most healthy. Randomly assigned them to be prisoner and guard. So on day one, we knew we had good apples. I'm going to put them in a bad situation.

And secondly, we know there's no difference between the boys who are going to be guards and the boys who are going to be prisoners. The kids who were going to be prisoners, we said, "Wait at home in the dormitories. The study will begin Sunday." We didn't tell them that the City Police were going to come and do realistic arrests. "Man in Video: A police car pulls up in front, and a cop comes to the front door and knocks and says he's looking for me. So they, right there, you know, they took me out the door, they put my hands against the car. It was a real cop car, it was a real policeman, and there were real neighbors in the street who didn't know that this was an experiment. And there was cameras all around and neighbors all around. They put me in the car, then they drove me around Palo Alto. They took me to the police station, the basement of the police station.Then they put me in a cell. I was the first one to be picked up, so they put me in a cell, which was just like a room with a door with bars on it. You could tell it wasn't a real jail. They locked me in there, in this degrading little outfit. They were taking this experiment too seriously."

Here are the prisoners who are going to be dehumanized. They're going to become numbers. Here are the guards with the symbols of power and anonymity. Guards get prisoners to clean the toilet bowls out with their bare hands, to do other humiliating tasks. They strip them naked. They sexually taunt them. They begin to do degrading activities, like having them simulate sodomy. You saw simulating fellatio in soldiers in Abu Ghraib. My guards did it in five days. The stress reaction was so extreme, that normal kids we picked because they were healthy had breakdowns within 36 hours. The study ended after six days because it was out of control. Five kids had emotional breakdowns.

Does it make a difference if warriors go to battle changing their appearance or not? Does it make a difference if they're anonymous in how they treat their victims? We know in some cultures they go to war, they don't change their appearance. In other cultures they paint themselves like "Lord of the Flies." In some they wear masks. In many, soldiers are anonymous in uniform. So this anthropologist, John Watson, found 23 cultures that had two bits of data. Do they change their appearance? 15. Do they kill, torture, mutilate? 13. If they don't change their appearance only one of eight kills, tortures or mutilates. The key is in the red zone. If they change their appearance, 12 of 13 -- that's 90 percent -- kill, torture, mutilate. And that's the power of anonymity.

So what are the seven social processes that grease the slippery slope of evil? Mindlessly taking the first small step. Dehumanization of others. De-individuation of self. Diffusion of personal responsibility. Blind obedience of authority. Uncritical conformity to group norms. Passive tolerance to evil through inaction or indifference.

And it happens when you're in a new or unfamiliar situation. Your habitual response patterns don't work. Your personality and morality are disengaged. "Nothing is easier than to denounce the evil-doer; nothing more difficult than understanding him," Dostoyevksi tells us. Understanding is not excusing. Psychology is not excuse-iology.

So social and psychological research reveals how ordinary good people can be transformed without the drugs. You don't need it. You just need the social-psychological processes. Real world parallels? Compare this with this. James Schlesinger says, "Psychologists have attempted to understand how and why individuals and groups who usually act humanely can sometimes act otherwise in certain circumstances." That's the Lucifer Effect. And he goes on to say, "The landmark Stanford study provides a cautionary tale for all military operations." If you give people power without oversight, it's a prescription for abuse. They knew that and let that happen.

So another report, an investigative report by General Fay, says the system is guilty, and in this report he says it was the environment that created Abu Ghraib by leadership failures that contributed to the occurrence of such abuse, and the fact that it remained undiscovered by higher authorities for a long period of time. Those abuses went on for three months. Who was watching the store? The answer is nobody, and I think, nobody on purpose. He gave the guards permission to do those things, and they knew nobody was ever going to come down to that dungeon.

So you need a paradigm shift in all of these areas. The shift is away from the medical model that focuses only on the individual. The shift is toward a public health model that recognizes situational and systemic vectors of disease. Bullying is a disease. Prejudice is a disease. Violence is a disease. And since the Inquisition, we've been dealing with problems at the individual level. And you know what? It doesn't work. Alexander Solzhenitsyn says the line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. That means that line is not out there. That's a decision that you have to make. That's a personal thing.

So I want to end very quickly on a positive note: heroism as the antidote to evil. By promoting the heroic imagination, especially in our kids, in our educational system. We want kids to think, I'm the hero in waiting, waiting for the right situation to come along, and I will act heroically. My whole life is now going to focus away from evil that I've been in since I was a kid, to understanding heroes.

And now their idea of heroism is, it's ordinary people who do heroic deeds. It's the counterpoint to Hannah Arendt's Banality of Evil. Our traditional societal heroes are wrong, because they are the exceptions. They organize their whole life around this. That's why we know their names. And our kids' heroes are also role models for them, because they have supernatural talents. We want our kids to realize most heroes are everyday people, and the heroic act is unusual. This is Joe Darby. He was the one that stopped those abuses you saw, because when he saw those images, he turned them over to a senior investigating officer. He was a low-level private and that stopped it. Was he a hero? No. They had to put him in hiding, because people wanted to kill him, and then his mother and his wife. For three years they were in hiding.

This is the woman who stopped the Stanford Prison Study. When I said it got out of control, I was the prison superintendent. I didn't know it was out of control. I was totally indifferent. She came down, saw that madhouse and said, "You know what, it's terrible what you're doing to those boys. They're not prisoners, they're not guards, they're boys, and you are responsible." And I ended the study the next day. The good news is I married her the next year. I just came to my senses, obviously.

So situations have the power to do, through -- but the point is, this is the same situation that can inflame the hostile imagination in some of us, that makes us perpetrators of evil, can inspire the heroic imagination in others. It's the same situation. And you're on one side or the other. Most people are guilty of the evil of inaction, because your mother said, "Don't get involved, mind your own business." And you have to say, "Mama, humanity is my business."

So the psychology of heroism is how do we encourage children in new hero courses, that I'm working with Matt Langdon -he has a hero workshop -- to develop this heroic imagination, this self-labeling, "I am a hero in waiting," and teach them skills. To be a hero you have to learn to be a deviant, because you're always going against the conformity of the group. Heroes are ordinary people whose social actions are extraordinary. Who act.

The key to heroism is two things. A: You've got to act when other people are passive. B: You have to act socio-centrically, not egocentrically. And I want to end with the story that some of you know, about Wesley Autrey, New York subway hero. 50-year-old African-American construction worker. He's standing on a subway in New York; a white guy falls on the tracks. The subway train is coming. There's 75 people there. You know what? They freeze. He's got a reason not to get involved. He's black, the guy's white, and he's got two little kids. Instead, he gives his kids to a stranger, jumps on the tracks, puts the guy between the tracks, lays on him, the subway goes over him. Wesley and the guy: 20 and a half inches height. The train clearance is 21 inches. A half an inch would have taken his head off. And he said "I did what anyone could do," no big deal to jump on the tracks.

And the moral imperative is "I did what everyone should do." And so one day, you will be in a new situation. Take path one, you're going to be a perpetrator of evil. Evil, meaning you're going to be Arthur Anderson. You're going to cheat, or you're going to allow bullying. Path two: you become guilty of the evil of passive inaction. Path three: you become a hero. The point is, are we ready to take the path to celebrating ordinary heroes, waiting for the right situation to come along, to put heroic imagination into action? Because it may only happen once in your life, and when you pass it by you'll always know, I could have been a hero and I let it pass me by. So the point is thinking it and then doing it.

So I want to thank you.  Let's oppose the power of evil systems at home and abroad, and let's focus on the positive. Advocate for respect of personal dignity, for justice and peace, which sadly our administration has not been doing. Thanks so much.



El Experimento (Das experiment)