Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Twitter Troll Trump Merits NO Special 1st Amendment Protections From Critics - Especially After His Recent Racist Rampage

In the wake of the odious maggot Trump's Twitter fit on Sunday - against the progressive House Dem "Squad"  - his Twitter account use has again come under scrutiny.   But the Turd-in-Chief  even doubled  down with his verbal excrement in a  Monday tweet, in which  he dared Democrats “to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen.”   

But every sentient citizen knows the only one spewing racial hatred is the pervert -loving, white nationalist - admiring, bipedal orange cockroach,  Trump. Forget even for the moment that if Twitter had been doing its oversight due diligence Trump would have been cut off from his addiction long ago.  This is given he's violated every large and fine print rule for use in the social media book.  Of course, the Twitter medium itself is almost designed to incite  reckless diatribes and outbursts - especially in the hands of a deranged man baby like Donnie Dotard.

Any medium which facilitates instantaneous reaction and aggression should be prohibited from being used by a mentally deficient and/or disturbed White House occupant to interject himself into everything - or to make racist attacks. The very nature of the medium is to cater to impatience and instant brain farts, baseless opinions- often from the minimally educated and weak minded.  Why? Because it's simply too easy to spout off!   Contrast that with preparing something like a blog post for which at least some semblance of work, effort must be invested.  

Anyway, at least on one other front Trump's Twitter account has taken a hit. I refer here to the recent appellate court ruling (Second Circuit Court of Appeals) that has correctly deemed Trump's Twitter account a public (not private) forum.   Despite that the usual Right reactionaries - embedded in The Wall Street Journal's editorial enclave - seem not to agree. In their latest misguided burp ('Trump, Twitter and the First Amendment', July 12, p. A13) these nabobs of nonsense fault the court for denying Dotard the claim to a private account, i.e.

"The decision has sowed confusion among lower courts and led to expansive interpretations,"

Then quoting the core of the ruling verbatim:

"Once the President has chosen a platform and opened up its interactive space to millions of users and participants, he may not selectively exclude those views he disagrees with."

This is given how several blocked users sued Dotard for restricting their speech rights, correctly  contending that once he opted to use it to push policy it became a de facto public forum.   To remind readers, Trump has done this on multiple occasions, when all he had to do is get off his fat,  pompous ass and hold a proper news conference to announce policy decisions, i.e. to preserve his Twitter account from public forum conflation.

For example, he did this in announcing a new military policy to prevent LGBT personnel from serving, as well as (early on in his term)  propounding policy via tweet to do with U.S. nuclear capacity.   Who can forget that infamous blurtation?

"We need to strengthen and expand nuclear capacity until the world comes to its sense regarding nukes."

At that point, indeed, Trump lost any claim to a private medium and the right to block critics with access to his Twitter account.   Further, the national media - each time it puts up Trump's tweets on evening news screens - reinforces the concept that his Twitter account constitutes a public forum because the tweets are deemed "nationally newsworthy". (Not that I agree, of course.)

So, the claim by those blocked  that what Trump does amounts to viewpoint discrimination prohibited by the First amendment, is spot on.  It's a pity The Wall Street Journal which is endlessly obsessing over free speech rights doesn't see this, instead babbling:

"Twitter is a private  platform.  As the Supreme Court noted last month in the Halleck case, 'when a private entity provides a forum for speech, the private entity is not ordinarily constrained by the First Amendment because the private entity is not a state actor."

Ignoring the key word, "ordinarily".  Hence, once Trump began spouting policy proposals over his Twitter account he became a state actor, and it ceased to be a private entity .  So he could no longer justifiably "block users from accessing, replying to and retweeting his messages" for the offal they are.  And further, it is irrelevant (as the WSJ editors claim) that (ibid.):

"Blocked users can access President Trump's account without signing in, or criticize him on their own Twitter pages."

Yes they could, but using only their own pages-accounts would have vastly diminished power, i.e. reaching perhaps only thousands instead of millions. It effectively skews speech in the direction of those with power (or money, as the Citizens' United case showed).  Hence, in its way flouts First Amendment provisions.  And again, Trump himself opened the door to public- private medium conflation by announcing policy decisions on his account.  (Let's also bear in mind that by his unseemly and personal attacks on thousands of people he himself  has violated Twitter's user rules to the point where technically he should be banned from further use.)

Thus the Journal's claim:

"This argument too easily elides the distinction between public and private spheres"

doesn't hold water given that Trump himself,  by his misbegotten use of Twitter,  destroyed any distinction.  Again, if he acted like a real president as opposed to a 13 -year old brat, he'd announce policy decisions from the Oval Office on national TV, as opposed to via tweets.  In so doing he'd  preserve his account as a private entity. But the swine man baby is too damned lazy to do that and besides likes to keep his 14 million follower zombies charged up from tweet to tweet.

Still unable to grasp the court's decision or the plaintiffs' arguments, the clueless WSJ editors ask:

"Must all politicians agree to be Facebook friends with people who vilify or promote conspiray theories about them?"

No, because  not all politicians are the source of vile conspiracy theories themselves, like Trump claiming two years ago that Obama was bugging Trump Tower.  Equally laughable is the following canard trotted out by the WSJ geniuses:

"Under the Second Circuit's ruling, politicians would have to choose between abandoning social media - which would limit their ability to communicate with voters - and tolerating harassment and lies."

Which is a total misreading of the decision.  In fact, all that any politician - or more exactly a president -would have to do is to act like a president to keep private and public definitions, forums separate.  As I noted above, that would mean reserving a proper national policy platform for policy announcements. You go in front of national TV at appointed times, to render your policy, you do not announce it on social media.

Of course, Trump will never learn that lesson because he is a 13 year old bully and buffoon at heart.  Hence, he will keep on projecting policy into tweets, or as the WSJ puts it, "promoting his unique brand of politics" and ways of doing things.

Fine, then he can suck up the criticisms of other Twitter users when they go after him for his ill chosen, ill timed  policy tweets as well as his racist dog whistles.  If this fool had a scintilla of self-control, moral vision and message discipline there'd be no need for appellate (or other) court decisions to set him straight.  Nor would there be any need for four black and brown women - members of the House  - to school him on unacceptable racist venom embodied in telling them to "go back where you came from".

Nor should the WSJ look to the Supremes to "ultimately clear up the confusion" - because there isn't any.   What we need clearing up is the mainstream media's perspective to see once and for all that the current occupant of the highest office is a vile,  gaslighting imp with no moral compass and no sense of decorum or decency.

Or let me put it this way: There wouldn't be any problems if we had a real president who respects the office and the Constitution.  Thatinstead of an illegitimate maggot who believes the presidency is running a reality TV show.   One replete with racist rants, ugly,  inhumane scenes (at the border), and treasonous acts.  In the case of the latter, even admitting in a recent interview that he'd welcome information provided by foreign governments to get re-elected.  Sadly, the only way to get rid of Trump's Twitter excesses and dog whistles may be to get him out of office once and for all next year.  The alternative is too grim to contemplate.

See Also:

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Hare-Brained Idea: Replacing Local Times With Universal Coordinated Time

Among the dumbest ideas I've seen in the media lately is one that proposes dumping local time zones in favor of one single standard: Coordinated Universal  Time.  ('Is It Time To Drop Local Time Zones?' WSJ, July 13-14, p. A2)   This is really  a fancy term for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which is the basis for 24 hour clock time.

In order to solve the problem of different local mean times, Greenwich Mean Time or GMT was developed, so people could compare the same clock times around the world. GMT is based on a 24 hour  clock defined at the Greenwich meridian. So, for example, if one is listening to the BBC from New Orleans and the time given is 13h 30 m GMT, then that means it’s 1.30 p.m. LMT in London. Since New Orleans is 6 hours earlier, that means it’s 7.30 a.m. local mean time in New Orleans.

 Thus, knowing GMT, one can always work out the local mean time at one’s location if one knows the longitude difference relative to Greenwich. (Note for the purposes here, I‘m taking London as having the same longitude of 0 degrees)  as Greenwich.  See me standing astride the Greenwich meridian below, in July,  1978:
Image may contain: 1 person, standing, walking, shoes and outdoor

Thus, local time zones are defined by their differences from UTC (In New York, UTC is - 5:00 or five hours behind. Thus a “time zone” is defined by taking the 360 degrees through which Earth rotates in one day, and dividing it by 24, since it requires 24 hours to make one revolution. Thus, one standard time zone would be generated via (360 deg/ 24 hr) = 15 deg/h or 15 degrees of longitude per hour - so be 15 degrees of longitude in expanse.  Since New York is five hours behind this means the local longitude for New York's local mean time would be at 75 degrees West.

But now a pair of Hopkins profs (Steve H. Hanke - an economist, and Richard Conn Henry- an astronomer) with too much time on their hands  -and air between the ears- want to change the way we keep time.  They want to dispense with any solar connection (local mean time, time zones) for all ordinary blokes and instead set all clocks to UTC.  Assuming enough people in the U.S. would be stupid enough to buy into such idiocy several things would happen:

i) Every timepiece on the planet would show the same hour at the same time irrespective of the Sun's position.

ii) Hence, depending on your location, "noon" could fall in the middle of the night. As the WSJ writer  (Jo Craven McGinty) pointed out: "cocks might crow when your watch shows an hour traditionally associated with tea time."

iii) Clocks in L.A., for example, would read 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.during the normal eight hour work day.

No, that doesn't mean you'd now be a night shift employee. As Prof. Henry the astronomer noted (ibid.) we'd still rise with the Sun but the times displayed on our watches would not longer mesh with what we see, given they're now aligned with UTC and not local time.  

The pair of profs clearly figure that a permanently imposed state of cognitive dissonance now associated with time will not send even more citizens around the bend.  They also underestimate the physical,  sensory connections people have with solar time - which dates far back into antiquity.   But they believe they can just erase those associations with one dictated time change The pair actually jokingly say this time is "made for Trump" and even suggest calling it "Trump time".

Asking half in jest:  "Can you imagine Trump time?"  No, but how about Dotard dumpkopf time?

And, as we might expect, the pair insist it's no biggie given it's already happening. For example,  airplane pilots as of 1972 operate on UTC, as do global stock and commodity trades. Obviously this is rational given pilots need information in a coordinated time frame, and the markets depend on such coordination given high speed algorithms which underlie most trades.

But merely because UTC is useful for specialized purposes such as market trades and commercial airlines ensuring coordinated arrival and departure times, doesn't mean the average citizen needs it. Indeed, if anyone is really het up about making a change in standards I'd say the one that trumps this time change is going to metric units - which most other industrial nations use.

A change to UTC, meanwhile, is only guaranteed to sow confusion and chaos as people - workers try to set their morning alarms and the first thing that greets them is seeing 5 p.m.  displayed when the Sun is coming up.

Economist Hanke is correct when he avers it "was originally the Sun that gave us our reference points"  adding,  "We had more than 300 time zones in the U.S."   But all that was eradicated once local time zones were established and referenced to specific longitudes.   As noted earlier, these occurred at 15 degree intervals so in a nation spanning 60 degrees in longitude, there would be four time zones (60/ 15), no more. This is rational and works for the majority of people.  When you cross time zones, say from L.A. to Atlanta, you merely reset your watch to the local time on arrival, no biggie.   

 Economist Hanke is also hyper confident that "it's only a matter of time" before the public embraces the idea. Sorry, but I can't see it. And just because essential industries and stock markets have (voluntarily) switched to UTC doesn't mean every manjack will now jump on a "monkey see, monkey do" bandwagon to ape the markets and industries.  Especially because some overpaid,  pointy -headed economist believes it's a great idea.

Just my 0.02. I could be wrong.  But I'd make a Vegas bet that I'm not.

5.0 (And Higher) GPAs In High School - or College? Preposterous Nonsense!

Image result for brane space, John PhillipsImage may contain: 1 person, smiling
John Phillips, left, taught Advanced level Biology and Chemistry at Harrison College for twenty years. Andy Haynes, recently retired Chair of Physics Dept, taught Advanced Level Physics. Both acknowledged that any grades in the 4.0 plus range are total bollocks.

Kyle Kashuv, alleged to have had a 5.345 grade point average at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, in Parkland, FL.

When I recently discussed the explosion of  ultra high GPAs in U.S. high schools with former colleagues at Harrison College, most were in sheer disbelief.  They admitted there is no way in hell any student, no matter how bright he or she believes,  could get even a 4.0  in their Advanced level courses. And certainly not a 5.345 overall  GPA as gun supporter Kyle Kashuv reportedly did at Parkland,  Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

When I spoke with Andy Haynes, former HC Physics dept. chair 2 years ago he said the path to such outlandish "untethered from reality" GPAs and grades began soon after U..S. schools implemented AP classes and honors programs in earnest.  According to Haynes:  "They somehow believed because a student was enrolled in some honors course or was taking AP classes he was entitled to be marked at a much higher 'gear' than other students.  Of course, that's foolishness!"

Haynes pointed out the similarities between AP classes and Advanced level courses in Bim while also noting that most students in the latter don't even attain a highest mark of 80.  That's because: a) classes are marked on a much less expansive scale, i.e. NO student is expected to even come close to perfection irrespective of which course level, and b)  the level of course work was far too rigorous to be earning "super" marks, i.e. in excess of traditional academic norms - in this case exceeding a highest level of 100% or a 4.0 GPA.

Both Haynes and retired Biology lecturer John Phillips (20 years at HC)  agreed with me that a supra 4.0 GPA can only be obtained in an academic environment in which standard Gaussian grade distributions are ignored in favor of a confected alternative. This is  given that an exam deemed proper for a specific  level -  whether a 3rd year Harvard course in astrophysics- OR a 2nd year Harrison College Course in Advanced level Physics - should possess considerable discriminatory power.  So, even in a class of 30 Harvard  astrophysics over-achievers (or 25 HC Chemistry or Physics A-Level counterparts)  it ought to be possible to separate out the 10 percent or so who demonstrate peak excellence and really merit A's. This as opposed to having such an absurdly easy test that 40 percent or more get A's off it.   Nor should anyone achieve grades or marks (using "weighted"schemes) that "escape academic gravity".  That is,  in excess of the upper limit of a standard Gaussian grading curve, whether 4.0 or 100 %.

As I have argued in previous posts, the lack of discriminatory power in grading and the level of difficulty of coursework, assignments automatically lends itself to overly generous American high school marking schemes.  In the case of 4.0 -plus GPAs  it is a result of  systemic grade inflation by virtue of awarding honors (or AP students) a significantly much higher potential GPA (one student posting on Reddit claimed an 8.0 GPA) than their non-AP, non-Honors course pursuing peers.   This is done via so-called "weighting".

For example, under one high school's current weighting scheme (defined in its Student Handbook) , a standard unweighted 'A' tallies a GPA of 4.0 (93-96% range)  while  an "honors" weight translates to 5.33 and an AP weight to 6.33.   Averaging out the latter, and even with lower grades (an honors 'B' gets 4.33 and an AP B gets 5.33)   leads to the inflated GPA.

The reasoning is that if the courses are much more difficult at that level, then the upper limit of the marks or GPA needs to be weighted higher.  To which Messrs. Haynes and Phillips have offered: "Nonsense! You score at the same level with the same maximum. No extra margins. If a kid maxes out tests all the time then it's clear your tests, homework are too easy!"

Both then referred to the Advanced-level courses at HC which are equivalent to 1st, 2nd year university level and for which no weighted grades are allotted. Students earn what they earn and on a regular marking scheme.

At Harrison College for example, anything below 50 % was an F, no arguments. Grades from 50-60 rated a D mark, from 61-70 a C, and From 71-80 a B. Marks higher than 80 earned an A but virtually no student attained a 93 % the usual starting point for an A in the U.S. The reason is that exams at HC are genuinely difficult - so much so that even the 'cream of the crop' will seldom if ever score 100%

Some examples of  A-level physics (P) and Biology (B)problems from past HC exam papers:

1) (P) Certain meteorites (tektites) found on Earth have a composition identical with that of lunar granite. It is thought that they may be the debris from a volcanic eruption on the Moon. The graphic shown (which is not to scale) shows how the gravitational potential between the surface of the Moon and the surface of the Earth varies along the line of centers.:

At the point P the gravitational potential is a maximum.

(a)By considering the separate contributions of the Earth and the Moon to the gravitational potential, explain qualitatively why the graph has a maximum and why the curve is asymmetrical.

(b) State how the resultant gravitational force on the tektite at any point between the Moon and the Earth can be deduced from the diagram.

(c) When a tektite is at P the gravitational force on it due to the Moon and Earth are FM and FE, respectively. Hence, find the value of x/y, where x and y are the distances of P from the center of the Moon and the center of the Earth.

(d) If a tektite is to reach the Earth, it must be projected from the volcano on the Moon with a certain minimum speed, vo.  Making use of appropriate values from the diagram, find this minimum speed. Explain your reasoning.

(e) Discuss very briefly whether a tektite will reach the Earth’s surface with a speed less than, equal to or greater than the speed of projection. (Neglect atmospheric resistance).

Data: Mass of Moon  = 7.4 x 1022 kg,

Mass of Earth = 6.0 x 1024 kg.

2) (P) Compare the velocities of a simple pendulum bob of mass m (= 0.1 kg) if an experiment in evaluating energy change is conducted on both Mars and Earth at the same time, for the same deflection angle Θ and length, L = 1.0 m. (Take the acceleration of gravity on Earth as 9.8 N/kg,and on Mars as 3.7 N/kg) Compare also the potential energy in each case. Why or why not would these be different? (Take the deflection angle to be 15 degrees in each experiment.)

3) (B) a) The mutation rate for human albinism is u = 0.00001. (e.g. 1 in every 100,000). If the equilibrium frequency q = 0.01, what is the reduction in fitness?

b)Blatella Germanica, the German cockroach has the following identified alleles:
D- resistance to the pesticide dieldrin
d- non-resistance

After some defined time, the population exhibits the following three genotypes: DD, Dd and dd

If over time, each dd and Dd roach produces one offspring, and each DD produces TWO, then find:

a) the relative fitness for the DD roaches
b) the relative fitness for the Dd roaches
c) the relative fitness for the dd roaches

4) Over successive generations of German roaches it can be shown that the gene frequency of the deleterious allele will be decreased by:

-Dq = - spq / (1 – sq)2

where p is the gene frequency for the favored allele ( = 0.60)

If it reproduces at a ratio of 3:2 relative to the disadvantaged allele., use this information to find:

i) The gene frequency (q) of the disadvantaged allele for the roach, and thence, the magnitude of -Dq.

ii) The values of p and q when:     -Dq = -0.07

State any assumptions made.

While we can certainly agree the Barbadian and U.S. systems are different in key ways, it is clear the latter - from many points of view - is simply too generous, and gives exalted or exaggerated grades and marks for students. I warrant if they were suddenly put into the Bajan system their marks, GPAs would crash back to Earth in two heart beats. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Looking At A "Systems Approach" Argument For Why There Is No Afterlife

Image may contain: text that says 'Why There Is No Afterlife: A Systems Perspective BY CHRISTINA ANNE KNIGHT'

Christina Anne Knight, in her recent (July, p. 32)  Mensa Bulletin piece 'Why There Is No Afterlife - A Systems Perspective' - pulls no punches.  In this post I examine her idea more closely, and why it might have some ballast.  Basically,  Ms. Knight's approach is based on materialist (Darwinian) evolution, which is an argument I have also used in the past.

For example, as I wrote in my post ('Meeting Our Extended Hominid Family'   ) of February 23, 2010:

"As we all know, and can be grown-up enough to say, neither the descendants of apes, or apes themselves possess "souls". There is only a brain, but it is ample to generate consciousness as I already showed in my 'Materialist Model of Consciousness'. Thus, when a human (or ape) dies, that's it. He is gone and there is nothing left - nothing to "punish" and nothing to go on. This hard fact may be why so many evangelicals refuse to accept evolution: they don't want to accept: a) they have no souls, and b) when they're dead, that's it, finito."

The post was accompanied by the following graphic:

So the most primitive hominid ancestor (Ardipithecus Kadabba) depicted at the lower left, from 6 million years ago - possessed no soul - nor did the evolutionary continuum following onward, i.e. to Homo Habilis and Homo Sapiens (upper right). Hence, when either died there would be nothing to go on, to survive in any afterlife.  Nor would there be some unexpected, magical "break out" point in between,  at which a soul suddenly manifests. 

This is analogous to Ms. Knight's argument, i.e.:

"It is a safe assumption that most people do not believe trilobites or velociraptors are at present hanging out with 72 virgin members of their species in some species -specific version of paradise.....Therefore, if we accept that none of our extinct, nonhuman forbears or members of other contemporary species have attained an afterlife, why should anyone believe that Homo sapiens are destined for a different fate?"

Then asking the $64 question:

"What evolutionary adaptation occurred that permitted the existence of something within humans to survive death?"

She then answers the question by naming what most of us already understand  as that manifestation of sentience known as consciousness,  but pointing out "it is not exclusive to our species."


"The emergence of consciousness occurred within a hierarchic evolutionary context. So does it even make sense to conceive of the conscious mind outside of systemic structures that supply it contextual meaning?   In other words if I am a product of nature and nurture, what good is an afterlife in which the physical context that shaped my personality is no longer relevant?"

To fix ideas, in a post in which I skewered the concept of a "natural afterlife" (Feb. 9, 2014) I noted the fundamental unit of neural dynamics:

In this 'cartoon' graphic we are looking at an electro-chemical signal (action potentials in (B) ) which are conveyed to the receptor neurons in the region of the temporal lobes. The waveform really represents changes in permeability, we note that when an axon is in its resting state it maintains a constant potential difference, or ‘resting membrane potential’ of –70 mV. When it is excited, it rises to a peak voltage of around 40 mV. This is sketched as the wave pulse peak in (B) with the ‘baseline’ value of (-70 mV) included for reference. One could say that (A) portrays the axon segment shown in a kind of equilibrium condition, or one conducive to a dream state. Only levels of partial consciousness are available in these states.  Generally, a full peak voltage of 40mV is associated with some level of consciousness.

Now, we go to the driver of consciousness localized at the site of the synaptic cleft or terminal.

In the diagram, we focus on Axon 1 and note that when the action potential arrives at the terminal it’s depolarized. This depolarization enables Calcium ions (Ca+2) already within the terminal to diffuse out into the mediating space. These ions follow a concentration gradient, unlike the case of the Na+ ions in the sodium pump. As the ions migrate, then diffuse to the post-synaptic cell (at Axon 2), they leave a channel in their wake that allows quantal releases of neurotransmitter (shown as a solid dot). These, like the Ca+2 ions diffuse across to the post-synaptic cell(s).

One neurotransmitter is acetylcholine. If the transmission of this or any similar chemical is rapid firing will occur, if not it won’t. Note also that Axon 2 must have a way of eliminating neurotransmitters almost as soon as they arrive. For acetylcholine, the enzyme cholinesterase acts to break it down into choline and acetate. In these inactive forms the neuron is spared being in a state of maximal and continuous excitation that would otherwise destroy it.

Generalizing the electrical cable analogy, the synapses act as switches in the system, the ‘on’ or ‘off’ positions denoted by information, in the form of chemical messages, to cross the synaptic cleft and trigger firing of the post-synaptic neuron(s) or not. Most probably there are bundles of similar neurons linked together by their respective connections, to perform critical functions. One might refer to the neuronal super-assembly or 'super-circuit’ within which considerations such as networks, and optimization of paths as well as 'adjacency and order' take precedence. Again, this is almost absurdly oversimplified since there really are no neurons that have only one connection to another. Indeed, we expect the typical neuron to have something like 10,000 connections to others.

What happens if this entire neural dynamic is terminated? We can begin to grasp the effects by first noting from the above diagrams that all waves of polarization and de-polarization cease. Hence, all synaptic activity ceases. There is no more firing of neurons, nor is there any movement of neurotransmitters across axons. 

Consider the same  electric cable analogy described above in terms of what happens at death. Well, the putative electrical signal cable is cut. What happens if an electrical cable to your home is cut? Well the service is terminated...there is no energy "leakage' or  residue that continues after cutting because this would violate the physical laws we know. The electrical energy cannot continue to propagate into your home devoid of the cable within which it's carried. In the same way, all the brain's potential energy terminates at death, there are no 'residuals' left to continue anywhere. Hence, there can be no afterlife.

Ms. Knight in line with this basis,  writes (ibid.):

"The dying system decomposes into subsystem structures lower in the holarchic order that are sustainable within the systemic environment of the deceased system. A dead body becomes a nutrient source for other living systems and not a ghoulish distribution of functioning organs."

What is this "holarchic order" to which she refers?

She notes that the term  "holarchy" (first used by Arthur Koestler in The Ghost in the Machine) embodies  the "interdependence, interrelations and interaction of subsystems which results in a form of self-organization from which a larger system is an emergent product".  In other words, consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the brain but this very emerged product.  But the extinction of such a system (and emergent product) occurs when the system fails to retain stability.  That is triggered when the key components die, e.g. neurons, neuronal sub-assemblies etc.

This is what Ms. Knight is getting at when she avers a conscious mind cannot exist outside of the function of the key systemic structures.  If then it is the impermanent character of all systems that "makes evolution a universal process"  then:

"If the conscious mind is located at the apex of this holarchic system , then the collapse of the substructure beneath it has terminal consequences."


"The conscious mind becomes just another impermanent system subject to physical laws.  It does not survive death because it cannot exist outside the holarchic structure from which it emerged"

In other words, there is no conscious personal entity that survives the dissolution of the neural system with its synaptic connections, neurons etc. As I pointed out earlier.  

Is this plausible?  As I've repeatedly observed in my several  atheist books, it does represent - by the Ockham's Razor principle (simplest hypothesis is the most likely under several options) - the simplest answer for what happens when one dies. Thus, there is no "white light" waiting, no judgment of anything, just a big nothingness - analogous to what occurs with general anesthesia.

However, one specialist anesthesiologist by profession - Stuart Hameroff -   has offered a partial way out for those who think nothingness is too bleak an end.   

After 35 years of anaesthetizing patients and seeing the same results over and over Hameroff  was led to postulate that small structures in the brain called "microtubules" are at the root of apparent "escaped" consciousness and that they hold the key to what happens. He also surmises that at putative death (or even "near death") essential energy associated with the microtubules disperses out from the brain and becomes "entangled" in a larger, undifferentiated whole.

Hameroff cites certain aspects of quantum mechanics to explain his reasoning though, he leaves some ends open. In the brain, information persists through a phenomenon called quantum coherence

This means that a multitude of quantum wave states are stored in a multitude of microtubules. Precisely how this is done remains a speculative  area but the point is that if one is aware and conscious there is a high degree of locality. When one dies, those wave states presumably evacuate and one's consciousness enters the domain of non-locality.

Hameroff's basic argument then, is that death doesn't mean the final termination of consciousness, so much as the end of its localization. If that is so, you cease to be a "person" or an individual identity and instead merge with other dispersed quantum wave forms (I have called them "B-waves" or de Broglie waves) to enter an "oceanic" state. 

The difference between the individual and oceanic states is often depicted using an illustration similar to that below:



This gives a nice analogy between the "ocean" and individual waves, i.e. localized beings, entities. Here the individual manifestations occur within the "explicate order" - in the language used by physicist David Bohm. This is contrasted to the oceanic or holographic view.
which he calls the "implicate order".  See e.g.

I have to reiterate again that Hameroff's conception isn't really any kind of recognizable "afterlife". Indeed, it is impossible to even remotely describe a putative nonlocal state (of being)  as experiencing an afterlife, if it perceives at all. 

It also leaves a decided negative slant on the question of preserving any sense of self. How can one if the self is no longer separable but one with an oceanic "sea"? It appears at first blush, however, to be: 1) consistent with Christina Knight's holarchic system approach (since B-waves are not apart from her holarchic system) and 2) only one step removed from the atheist's state of total obliteration and nothingness.

Indeed, for all intents, Hameroff's afterlife and the atheist's nothingness post -death may essentially be indistinguishable.   In the meantime, I understand (via an email from the Mensa Bulletin editor) there will be a response to Christina Knight's systems conception excluding an afterlife. When it arrives, I will examine it as well.