Data gathering, storing and analysis must be outlawed – War: wars must be outlawed – Journalism: fake news and conspiracy theorizing [letters to the editor] – Saudi Arabia and its religion, Wahhabism – Religions, science and political decisions – Abortion issue – Dinosaurs: what we can learn from the tyrannosaurs – Further thoughts concerning politics
Data gathering, storing and analysis must be outlawed: Data collection by companies like Amazon and Google can lead in some very limited area to savings, but do we really want these corporations to analyze our economic behaviors and moves? What should we think they do with the data? Who wants algorithms that are generated by businesses tell us what music we should listen to, what movies we should watch, where we should spend our vacations, and what we should buy?
How con people consent to the data gathering if nobody really understands what is collects and how it may be used? Are informed consents not supposed to be understandable to be valid; not hidden in long texts of legalese that few people understand?
The data has financial value mostly because data analysis can effectively influence people to vote for pro-business politicians and to buy things they do not need and cannot afford; they will increase people’s indebtedness and dependence on the very profitable “financial services”; and severe indebtedness leads to impaired functioning of people, personal and family crises, depression and suicides. Their negative impact on climate change is threefold:
- Vast electricity use: according to some data, the world-wide carbon footprint will be similar to that of the notorious airline industry. Other estimates project that data centers will need 20% (1/5) of world energy generation and cause 14% (1/7) of world carbon emission.
- Promoting products that are wasteful and do not increase people’s quality of life,
- The planned ways of influencing people and elections will lead to political shifts that will result in the broad disregard of the climate emergency.
War: wars must be outlawed. Wars are never a reasonable or ethical solution to conflicts; they rarely accomplish worthwhile goals. They are obviously inhumane and should be considered illegal. In Western Europe, nations that were enemies for centuries finally found permanent peace: soon after WWII, another war between Germany and France appeared unimaginable, and a civil war, hostile parties taking up arms, has become almost unthinkable. The rest of the world can follow Western Europe’s example, and as long as it is necessary, the U.N. must help maintain and enforce peace.
We can well imagine that, if continuing present reliance on a strong “defense,” we will soon be overtaken by China as the most powerful military might. China has much more soldiers and workers, and physical war powers may soon be based on armies of robots and drones. But we must stop thinking in terms of conquering and eradicating enemies.
Every conflict must be seen as an issue to be negotiated, mediated, maybe arbitrated with international help. In every conflict, it must be expected that, since people are not unbiased, everybody feels unfairly treated, but everybody also knows how much better a bad deal is compared with warfare. All nations and international agencies must think generously: a sense of having been treated unfairly must never lead to belligerent responses. Human rights must become international rights, overruling religious traditions that may include mistreatment of women and girls, harmful traditions, etc. Religions, other than functions of organizing meaningful communal celebrations, must not include “rights” that compete with international law – international organizations must be secular, since religions are not accessible to rational negotiating.
There should be only one army to police world peace: a powerful army of U.N. soldiers, human and/or robotic, who can go door-to-door and collect illegal weapons. If during an interim time a country still has an army and tries to conquer enemy territory by force or brutally suppresses its own people, the rest of the world must accept major sacrifices when boycotting that countries’ endeavor. Ignoring economic damage and discomforts, any trade should stop until there is compliance with international law – the offending country must not get any benefit from its belligerent actions. This may mean that neighboring countries will have temporary expensive and uncomfortable shortages; many countries may lose income; etc. The only interactions may consist in emergency help for poorest populations of the aggressor country, not bailing out its suffering middle class.
- Letter to the editor: Austin Chronicle concerning article We can’t let the Corona virus distract us from data collection and climate change by Tracy O’Neill [printed]
- Letter to the editor: Christian Science Monitor, concerning article ‘Fake news’ and ‘real news’ by Mark Sappenfield, Editor
- Letter to the editor, The New York Times: Regarding Bill Gate Is the Most Interesting Man in the World, by Timothy Egan, NYT 5/23, p. A22
Austin Chronicle concerning article We can’t let the Corona virus distract us from data collection and climate change by Tracy O’Neill [printed]
The Big Picture
Recieved Monday., May 4, 2020
Thank you for the important article about data storing, pollution, and the climate emergency that is all but forgotten during this pandemic [“We Can’t Let Coronavirus Distract Us From Data Collection and Climate Change” Opinion, May 1]. Modern institutions are horrible when it comes to anybody observing the “big picture.” Why has the response to the coronavirus pandemic been terrible in the U.S. while other countries did fair to very well? We reached more COVID-19 deaths than the annual death rate from the opioid epidemic – however, the highly contagious opioid use disorder is cheaply treatable, with methadone, in milder cases buprenorphine combined with targeted psychotherapies (these medication assisted treatments work like nicotine patches, greatly decreasing craving while hardly interfering with normal functioning and emotions). But governments and our profit-driven health care system have been sabotaging these treatments!
Regarding the data gathering-storing: Why do we allow it? The data is mostly valuable because data analysis can effectively influence people to vote for pro-business politicians and to buy things they do not need and cannot afford. Their damage to climate change is threefold: vast electricity use, promoting products that do not increase people’s quality of life, and political shifts resulting in the disregard of the climate emergency.
Apparently, climate change is progressing much faster than predicted: We need quick, radical changes in our economic institutions. Diets must become mostly vegan. Our transportation systems need trains, high-speed to narrow track light-rail, reaching all neighborhoods and settlements, and ultra-light human-powered and electric vehicles, with and without bodies, largely based on bicycle technologies. And we must ensure world wide access to family planning.
Lastly, we must acknowledge that consumerism and addiction to wealth and power are psychiatric disorders. We must fight them. And education on all levels must seek to better teach ethics in the broadest sense of the word.
Heinz Aeschbach, MD
Letter to the editor: The Christian Science Monitor, concerning article ‘Fake news’ and ‘real news’ by Mark Sappenfield, Editor
Letter concerning the editorial ‘Fake news’ and ‘real news’
Journalism has another major role: exposing principle problems in information distribution.
Much ‘fake news’ is illegal and, like domestic violence, should be prosecuted by public prosecutors, particularly if it is designed to influence elections.
Other fake news comes from conspiracy theorizing. Conspiracy addicts get feel rewarded from the idea of having discovered something and having followers who are interested in their “insights.” Like in gambling and sex addiction, the pursuits damage patients’ own health and harm others. Dogmatism, religious or ideological, is a related problem.
A most devastating problem is the incessant gathering, storing, analyzing, and selling of personal data, without legally valid consent. Artificial Intelligence and algorithms help create “personalized information” that sway people to buy what they do not need and to vote for pro-business politicians – all to increase consumerism and profits while countering needed efforts to fight climate change.
Heinz Aeschbach, MD
Letter to the editor: The New York Times:
Re: Bill Gate Is the Most Interesting Man in the World, by Timothy Egan, NYT 5/23, p. A22
Egan refers to the conspiracy theory propagators as “fevered minds,” “delusional,” and part of the “lunacy community.”
As a psychiatrist, specialized in addiction treatment, I consider these people to suffer from addiction disorders, comparable to gambling, sex, and computer gaming addictions. Several devastating addictions are psychological-behavioral. In addiction to wealth and power people commit highly unethical acts for further gains, harming many and destroying their lives and legacy. In addictive consumerism, people are never satisfied; they crave the short excitements when buying, compete with neighbors, and often become deeply indebted. Conspiracy theorizing is a particularly contagious addiction that is often linked to other addictions; patients’ wild theories feel like revelations and elevate their esteem among fellow addicts. Theological theorizing is similar, people believing to have an exquisite understanding of the will of God or Allah, their faith superseding sciences and broadly held ethical views.
These dangerous addictions must be treated.
Heinz Aeschbach, MD
Saudi Arabia and its religion, Wahhabism: The role of Saudi Arabia/Wahhabism in spreading extremist-Islamic terrorism.
Wahhabism, the Islamic sect of Saudi Arabia, is extremist, inhumane towards its own people and terrorist in its goals concerning non-Wahhabi people. The Saudi monarchy has embraced Wahhabism and promoted Wahhabi schools throughout the Islamic countries and the world. By way of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia inspired and promoted al-Qaeda, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIS, and other extremist Islamic movements.
Because of its absolutist form of government and Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia is an extreme human rights violator. Efforts to appear progressive are usually met with oppression of groups and individuals pushing for reform.
Saudi Arabia is responsible for the 9/11 attack on the USA in 2001. Saudi Arabia and its royal family are no true allies of the U.S. With their indirect way of aggressing against modern civilization, they are the most dangerous country in the world today.
The U.S. must break its connections with Saudi Arabia and work on prosecuting its leaders for the horrific crimes and violations.
We do not need their oil.
Religions, science and political decisions: Religions’ roles must be seen as primarily offering meaningful rituals, social connectedness, and spirituality that is independent from specific beliefs. They may teach forms of meditation, encourage self-exploration, and use of self-suggestions. Religious traditions, teachings, and texts may be historically important; they may be mythical or express some wisdom or moral ideas, and many of the texts are poetic. They are historically important, mythical and many of their texts are poetic. But religions must not compete with sciences and their cultural morality must not contradict global ethics.
Obviously, if there is a personal God, nobody knows His/Her will. While many claim to have “faith,” their actions usually contradict their prayers and teachings (Christians are to be pacifist – the “just war” theories are very feeble at best – Jesus taught to love our neighbors and also our enemies, not to judge, and not to condemn). All political parties must act ethically and respect human rights; they must not base actions on cultural-religious morality and mandates.
It is not true that all religions agree on basic truths; beliefs regarding afterlife and/or punishments after death vary greatly; cultural moralities of different religions and their sects are very diverse. In addition, most religions integrated unethical local cultural traditions. Religions are very divisive and easily lead to discord, fights and wars.
Basic in the pursuit of global natural ethics are: scientific knowledge about human nature, and research of wants, aspirations, and particularly preferences that people universally agree on. Rather than following some cultural-religious morality, we need to manage and control instincts that may lead to unethical behaviors, and we must find ways to be humane and compassionate towards all people and all other sentient beings, considering both present and future being.v
Basic in the pursuit of global natural ethics are: scientific knowledge about human nature, and research of wants, aspirations, and particularly preferences that people universally agree on. Rather than following some cultural-religious morality, we need to manage and control instincts that may lead to unethical behaviors, and we must find ways to be humane and compassionate towards all people and all other sentient beings, considering both present and future being.
- Without the billions of abortions of recent decades overpopulation in the world would be far worse with widespread catastrophic famines, mass migrations, and more crimes and wars.
- It is not an issue of “pro choice” or “pro life”: Worldwide, most women who seek abortions feel that their pregnancy is catastrophic for them, their families, and their communities – they feel like they have no choice; they may accept much risks and pain to accomplish an abortion.
- People who oppose abortions are not “pro life” – most are opposed to major sacrifices to save real children and mothers in poor countries, or work with organizations that help reduce crime rates, etc. (instead many pray and make small contributions).
- Most who oppose abortions are hypocritical in that they assert Western countries cannot absorb refugees from extremely poor regions with high levels of violence – how could they absorb unwanted children born here in the U.S.?
- Compassion for embryos and fetuses is spurious – if it is sincere, it is based on false, religion-inspired ideas. We cannot emotionally connect with very primitive beings that hardly have even the slightest hint f sentience; and people hardly feel compassion for distant beings they cannot relate to – how could they feel sympathy with embryos in some distant, poor women’s body? (Most of these ‘compassionate’ Christians are indifferent regarding the suffering and dying of people in poor countries and they are no vegetarians and do nothing to stop cruelty in the treatment of farm animals.
- We must always remember, women do not get themselves pregnant, men impregnate women
- And we must not ignore that the instinctive-emotional system may block rational and thoughtful thinking and decision-making in certain emotionally charged situations, and our culture tends to reinforce thoughtless sexual spontaneity.
Laws that interfere with abortions are unconstitutional:
- While it is impossible to prevent middle class and wealthy women to get abortions, the laws exclusively target, discriminate against, poor women (they may not have access to abortion-inducing pills or a distant clinic where women’s reproductive rights are legally protected).
- The laws are based on religions violating the separation of state and church. (They do not even correspond with Biblical texts and many religious scholars disagree with the anti-abortion stance of some churches).
- They constitute practicing medicine without license. [Laws addressing the practice of medicine must be extremely rare, generally they must be considered necessary because many physicians practice far outside the standard of care and Medical Boards are not able to rein in the unethical doctors, for instance physicians that practice obsolete medicine, treat patients in unnecessarily cruel ways, or practice in unscientific ways that they believe to be mandated by their religion.]
What we can learn from the tyrannosaurs – hypothesis about their disappearance: Did the dinosaurs disappear because of a ‘nuclear winter’ following the asteroid impact and enormous volcanic eruptions or was it lack of population control? The large carnivorous dinosaurs were on the top of the food chain with no predators to control them. With the climate change, plants became scarce, and in the end, the carnivorous dinosaurs may have eaten all the vegetarians and then died of hunger. Are we humans, now on the top of the food chain, also moving towards mass starvation due to global warming, destruction of ecosystems and inadequate family planning?
Like homo sapiens, the tyrannosaurid family and, in some areas other large carnivore dinosaurs, became the kings of the animal world with no predator controlling their populations. Today’s large herbivore families are larger and more powerful or better long-distance runners than local predators, and the small, very prolific herbivores often can hide. Plant eating dinosaurs were not likely to be able to escape or hide from the large powerful predators. The Chicxulub Asteroid impact and major volcanic eruptions on the Deccan plateau (on the Indian subcontinent) led to significant cooling of the world (which then was about 10°C warmer than today) and there was much less sunlight for decades, influencing plant growth. However, there was no “ice age” and diurnal land annual temperature fluctuations were smaller. Biologically, it is surprising that the normal high ambient temperatures actually allowed a successful fauna. Body temperatures up to 5°C above normal are tolerated by birds but proteins become unstable at high temperatures. It appears that animals had to be either big – cooling off significantly at night and not heating their body mass up too much during days, or nocturnal, usually close to or below the ground.
Ancestors of today’s large flightless birds and the even larger ones that were hunted to extinction by homo sapiens probably were smaller and nocturnal (like today’s Kiwi), or some may still have been able to fly(?) Gigantism probably developed after the extinction of the dinosaurs.
I believe the temporary darkened skies and decrease of plant life cannot explain why all land-bound dinosaurs were completely eradicated. More likely, the large carnivore dinosaurs, particularly the tyrannosaurid family ate all other dinosaurs with the notable exception of the bird families that would appear to have been more at risk of extinction due to a shortage of food. The large carnivores then perished due to starvation.
Dinosaurs may be a warning to humans – to survive we must use birth control and protect our environment.