Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Serial Killers And Bad Science - Braintenance Reports: Question Everything!

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The fact of the matter is that correlation dies not necessarily imply causality. Just because two things tend to be correlated positively (one usually accompanies, or is associated with the other), doesn't necessarily mean that a 'cause and effect' relationship exists.

In the extreme case, take this correlative study, which I just conducted myself in the The Braintenance Blog Laboratories (located in a concrete and lead bunker located deep below the desert in Area 52 -- as Area 51 was already spoken for when we were working with the realtors in our search for cheap laboratory space.):

In my experiment, I found out that in excess of 95% of all heroin addicts were given milk or formula when they were babies. Therefore, milk and/or formula, given to someone as an infant, will cause eventual that infant to graduate to heroin addiction.

Stupid, yes. Bad science always is. Numbers don't lie, but the inferences drawn from them can be manipulated or interpreted in many, many ways. The results of some studies could never, ever pass the common sense test.

The article excerpt and the video which are embedded below are made available though SmartPlanet, a wonderfully informative publication:


Scientists have found a curious similarity between a serial killer's murders and the firing patterns of brain cells.
Read the article which follows; After doing so, please hit the "BACK" button on your computer's browser to come back and read some interesting observations about this type of "science" and its drawing of sadly useless conclusions!
Serial killer's behavior explained with mathematics
As interesting (yawn) and informative (yawn) as this correlative (as opposed to causative) "study" seems, the refreshingly informed readers of this bit of "oh so what?" had quite a bit to say in criticism of this inactionable and ridiculous "study" of the obvious. Their comments, replete with misspellings, tangential campaigning, and off-topic wisecracks, follow for your pleasure:
Not very interesting
So the scientists have found that serial killing is somehow associated with becoming agitated. Well that's quite a revelation. I guess we can rule out that they did it in their sleep.
You put the cart before the horse
Neurons do not "fire" and then we have thoughts. We have thoughts and then neurons "fire". This is not the first time scientists have been able to model some behavior mathmatically. This same law of distributions could apply to the race car driver, one night stander, or any of a myriad things that result in a rush of adrenaline and other neurotransmitters. This guy some how latched onto murder as his high of choice. The problem will be that if this particular link is made then anytime scientists can show this particular neural activity pattern then the association that the person is a serial killer.
bumps on the head
Yeah, and Phrenology was once considered real too!
It's only a matter of time...
Ok... So now it's only a matter of time until some lawyer uses this as a defense in a murder case. "My client was the innocent victim of misfiring neurons."

Wait for it... wait for it...
Fitting the curve
I wonder how long it took to find a mathematical relationship that the data would fit?

1) Define the data points
2) Run the software to find the curve
3) Publicise the curve

It really sounds like a "Publish or lose tenure" situation. You get into the soft sciences and they can play some real games with data. I remember seeing a Biology (borderline hard/soft science) paper where an R factor of 0.3 was considered good. I'm a chemist. If I got results like that I'd service my measuring device.
Pareto principle
Your offhand throwing in of the 99% slogan of the occupy movement is off base.

If 20% of people controlled 80% of wealth, that would be a stable, or normal situation. The problem now and either a symptom of or cause of instability is the fact that 80% of the overal wealth is controlled by a much smaller group than 20%.

Every time such a disparity has occured historically, a correction (or war or revolution) has occured.
The pareto law applies to optimum functioning of the economy
The problem being that if the distribution of wealth to owners reaches or exceeds a parato distribution, the economy fails to function optimally. It also doesn't function optimally at a totally level(1 to 1) distribution of wealth to owners. The optimum being a small dynamic range lying between those two extremes.

Unfortunately, the majority of economists and financial experts are too stupid (i.e. unable to be trained out of it) to understand this concept and usually adhere to the fallacy of unlimited markets.

Now, back to Douglas E. Castle (who I happen to be)...

A statistical relationship is only a means, ultimately, of lending credence and credibility to a common-sense 'cause and effect' hypothesis, and even then, only if the proper experimental controls and conditions required by the Scientific Method are rigorously adhered to.

When it is doctoral thesis time, or when a batch of university professors get a publish-or-perish ultimatum, expect a rash of bad science to make its way into the news. I'll bet you that my reasoning here is right.

I could go a step further and make some emotionally-charged comments regarding the large pharmaceuticals companies and the FDA, but I wouldn't want to get myself put on a pseudo-ephedrine restriction list in the event that I have nasal congestion from whatever it is that I have been breathing...or perhaps reading.

Grow that brain. Ask questions. Stray off of the main roads. The world is your laboratory. Your life is a learning opportunity - have some fun with it. 


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Nine Basic Shapes Of Life - Common Denominators

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In science, we are always looking for rules and "common denominators" which allow us to understand how things happen (a reverse engineering process), allow us to build or duplicate things, and allow us to predict things -- sometimes to intervene in events and to actually shape the future instead of passively trying to predict it. Fans of The Braintenance Blog are the most curious of all.

 All forms of life are constructed of nine basic designs. The nine designs are listed below and are often combined as composite forms that can include all nine or any combination of several.  From a probability and possibility standpoint, this is fascinating and vast. The number of possible combinations is unfathomably enormous, yet finite.  Here is a listing of these fundamental shapes:
  1. the sphere and spheroid
  2. the circle and ellipse
  3. the cube
  4. the cylinder
  5. the spiral
  6. the undulate
  7. the pyramid and triangle
  8. the lattice
  9. the frond
Identifying the world's shapes can be a fascinating exercise. For example, conifer trees, such as the spruce and the balsam fir, illustrate how objects in nature can combine all of the forms.
  • The tree itself is a pyramid (7).
  • Its root system and boughs are arranged in dendritic patterns and fronds (9).
  • Roots and boughs spread outward from a cylinder of the trunk (4).
  • Around the trunk the branches rise in a spiral (5). (Spirals are common in nature as seen in the vine of a morning glory flower, in the scales of flowers and cones, and in the way leaves and needles wind around twigs and branches.)
  • A close examination of a pine tree's needles reveals an undulate (6). In general, leaves have the undulated (i.e., toothed, notched, or wave-edged) pattern.
  • The tree's resin ducts, like the minerals Halite (salt) and Galena (lead ore), are cubes (3).
  • Its needles, like twigs and human fingers, are cylinders (4).
  • Leaf and wood fibers are lattices (8).
  • The cells in the wood and needles (like those in blood) are spheres or spheroids (1).
  • Finally, if the sun shines just right, the shadow of a tree forms a rough circle or ellipse (2).
When you look at any living thing as a whole, it is made of many geometric shapes or patterns – the composite. We don't need to know scientific names, economic value, or botanical details to appreciate a tree. We can appreciate the tree simply because it is beautiful in many ways. As John Keats wrote:

"Beauty is truth; Truth beauty.
That's all on earth ye know.
And all ye need to know."

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Your Perception Of Physics: ALTERED - Watch This Video

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Perception IS Reality - as we experience it.

The video which follows (which involves some forces applied to a simple, commonplace mixture of cornstarch and water) may alter your perception of physical reality as you've been conditioned to understand/expect it. I find it useful for several reasons:

1) It opens the mind to accept that it has been brainwashed or conditioned;

2) It creates and increased hunger for learning;

3) It forces us to question many of our own accepted truths, and has the added psychic/psychological bonus of making us detach from ourselves and our ordinary robotic thinking to instead stand outside of ourselves and view ourselves from a more objective, analytic perspective.

You'll enjoy this video tremendously. Just click on the link for instant transport.


See you very soon.

Douglas E Castle for The Braintenance Blog and for The Deeper Consciousness And Altered States Blog.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maintain Your Brain: PLASTICITY

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Plasticity, specifically neuroplasticity, has to do with the brain's:

1) Ability to expand its capacity and capabilities;

2) The ability of neurons to continue to grow and adapt to environmental changes, both within us and outside of our physical bodies but perceivable to our senses, both acknowledged and being discovered;

3) The ability of one neuron to assume the responsibilities and functions of another neuron, should that second neuron be either damaged or otherwise compromised by an increased workload.

4) The longevity of a neuron's life and functioning;

5) The ability (in terms of speed and accuracy) of one neuron to signal or connect with its neighbor intersynaptically.

Frankly, increased or enhanced neuroplasticity are highly desirable in terms of both brain functioning and anti-aging (i.e., maintaining a positive, youthful state.

The following article excerpt appears courtesy of BigThink's Weekly Newsletter, which is an excellent source of information and interesting future-oriented commentary. It is thought-provoking...and thought-provoking means brain-strengthening. When you have finished reading the piece, please click back to this article for some interesting thoughts and conclusions... We'll see you when you return.
For a Healthy Brain, Play the Long Game
Orion Jones
What's the Latest Development? Psychologists are learning that the brain stays agile well into middle age, retaining the ability to learn new ... Read >>


For your information, each of the following helps, or may possibly be helpful in increasing the brain's plasticity. Neither this blog nor I am offering medical, health, psychiatric, or any other type of advice...we merely offer you Braintenancers some suggestions, some science, some anecdotal items of interest, and other fun things to ponder -- and perhaps, with your healthcare provider's approval, some things to try.

1) Small amounts of Lithium have been associated with brain longevity, neural regeneration and plasticity in general. This only applies to small amounts of lithium, which in larger doses is highly poisonous;

2) Small amounts of certain other nutritional supplements such as DMEA, Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, and L-AcetylCarnitine have been said to increase neuronal plasticity;

3) All mind exercises [Braintenance] from anagrams and analogies to meditation and mathematical problem-solving have been shown to increase neuronal plasticity;

4) Physical exercise, especially cardiovascular exercises (at least 20 minutes daily) have been shown to increase both neuronal plasticity and heart health, as well as to eliminate some of the symptoms of situational or temporary depression.

It's time for us to get mobilized, get exercised and to get plasticized.

Douglas E. Castle for The Braintenance Blog

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ANAGRAMS - Build Your Associative Intelligence!

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Scan of the poem "Anagram" from the ...Scan of the poem "Anagram" from the 1633 edition of George Herbert's The Temple. Source: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As my English Literature Professor at State University once told us in a lecture, "They ain't no disputin' da facts!" Working with anagrams, finding analogies, as well as performing some deciphering tasks [often cleverly disguised as games!] will build your associative intelligence.

Your associative intelligence has to do with 1) your ability to generalize from an example; 2) your ability to recognize similarities among objects in groups; and 3) the sped with which your miraculously Braintenance-enhanced mind is ability to make these identifications, generalizations and associations.

Anagrams (paired with secret de-coding keys) have been the basis for numerous encrypted messages through the ages. For you Harry Potter fans, how about Lord Voldemort? So doggone obvious.

There is even a nifty Anagram Generator at if you find that you love anagrams so much that you can't resist the opportunity to crank out reams of your own. We even have Brendan's Anagram Generator and Mike's (Not Really His Name) Anagram-Solver.

Having said this, I ask: ANAGRAMS anyone? Why not?

Here are the rules:

1) I list them.

2) You solve them. You are allowed to use any of the above tools if you happen to get stuck. This is what I call "permissible cheating." -- say...that might just be an oxymoron...

The Theme: Food and Drink
The Hint: Each Group of Words Reduces to a Single Word











Douglas E. Castle for The Braintenance Blog

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