Originally posted on: Upworthy
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Retired police Capt. Peter Christ is about to make more sense about the War on Drugs than anyone you've ever heard in the past. His basic premise is that we need to legalize drugs, but if you're skeptical, just give him a few minutes to convince you.
Highlights include a very honest answer to a commonly asked drug question at 0:54, the easiest question to answer about the War on Drugs at 4:48, the complete destruction of the biggest argument anti-drug advocates use at 7:23, using the Bible to prove the ineffectiveness of prohibition at 13:55, and a rapid-fire debunking of several myths all in one breath at 14:20.
If you have to leave right now, just skip to 5:58 for the thesis statement in a single sentence.
Originally posted on: Upworthy
Is it natural for humans to make war? Is organised violence between rival political groups an inevitable outcome of the human condition? Some scholars believe the answer is yes, but new research suggests not.
A study of tribal societies that live by hunting and foraging has found that war is an alien concept and not, as some academics have suggested, an innate feature of so-called “primitive people”.
The findings have re-opened a bitter academic dispute over whether war is a relatively recent phenomenon invented by “civilized” societies over the past few thousand years, or a much older part of human nature. In other words, is war an ancient and chronic condition that helped to shape humanity over many hundreds of thousands of years?
The idea is that war is the result of an evolutionary ancient predisposition that humans may have inherited in their genetic makeup as long ago as about 7 million years, when we last shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees – who also wage a kind of war between themselves.
However, two anthropologists believe this is a myth and have now produced evidence to show it. Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg [umlaut over o] of Abo Akademi University in Vasa, Finland, studied 148 violently lethal incidents documented by anthropologists working among 21 mobile bands of hunter-gatherer societies, which some scholars have suggested as a template for studying how humans lived for more than 99.9 per cent of human history, before the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago.
They found that only a tiny minority of violent deaths come close to being defined as acts of war. Most the violence was perpetrated by one individual against another and usually involved personal grudges involving women or stealing.
About 85 per cent of the deaths involved killers and victims who belonged to the same social group, and about two thirds of all the violent deaths could be attributed to family feuds, disputes over wives, accidents or “legal” executions, the researchers found.
“When we looked at all the violent events about 55 per cent of them involved one person killing another. That’s not war. When we looked at group conflicts, the typical pattern was feuds between families and revenge killings, which is not war either,” said Dr Fry.
“It has been tempting to use these mobile foraging societies as rough analogies of the past and to ask how old warfare is and whether it is part of human nature. Our study shows that war is obviously not very common,” he said.
Only a tiny minority of cases involved more organised killing between rival bands of people, which could fall into the definition of war-like behavior Most of these involved only one of the 21 groups included in the study – the Tiwi people of Australia who seemed to be particularly prone to violent incidents, Dr Fry said.
Rather than finding war ubiquitous, the two researchers found little evidence that hunter-gatherer societies were in a constant state of violent conflict with rival groups. In short they found that some of the most “primitive” peoples on Earth were actually quite peaceful compared to modern, developed nations.
“These findings imply that warfare was probably not very common before the advent of agriculture, when most if not all humans lived as nomadic foragers,” Kirk Endicott, an anthropologist at Dartmouth College told the journal Science, where the study is published.
The findings also question the conclusions of well-respected academics such as Harvard’s Stephen Pinker and University of California’s Jared Diamond, both of whom have recently published best-selling books on the subject of war-like aggression and tribal societies.
In Diamond’s “The World Until Yesterday”, for instance, war is defined as recurrent violence between groups belonging to rival political units that is sanctioned by those units. Under this definition, many tribal societies, left to their own devices, would be in a state of chronic war, Diamond says.
He cites the case of the Dani people living in the Baliem Valley of the New Guinea Highlands who in 1961 engaged in a series of violent conflicts that led to many deaths. Although the Dani are agriculturalists, Diamond uses them as examples of how early humans societies may have interacted with one another.
Meanwhile, Pinker in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” argues that humans are innately violent and have only become less so in recent years because of cultural influences that have kept this aggressive nature in check.
Both Pinker and Diamond have been criticized by some anthropologists for simplifying and exaggerating the research they use to support their conclusions. Even worse, some argue that they used discredited work of anthropologists such as Napoleon Chagnon who has claimed that the Yanomami people of the Amazon are in a state of chronic warfare with one another.
“Chagnon’s work is frequently used by writers such as Jared Diamond and Stephen Pinker who want to portray tribal peoples as ‘brutal savages’, far more violent than ‘us’. But none of them acknowledge that his central findings about Yanomami violence have long been discredited,” said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International.
“This latest research is the latest nail in the coffin for Pinker's 'Brutal Savage' thesis. Pinker selects highly questionable data, and leaves out anything which contradicts his argument,” Mr Corry said.
“Although he and his supporters, such as Jared Diamond, present those of us who question them as 'anti-science', in fact their own work is simply a social and political argument with a pseudo-scientific wrapper,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Diamond said that many scholars agree with his conclusions that tribal societies are on average more violent than state societies.
“This conclusion might at first seem surprising, but tribal warfare tends to be chronic, while even nations with the highest war-related death tolls in the 20th Century – Russia, Germany and Poland – were mostly at peace and only intermittently at war,” Dr Diamond said.
“Corry’s passionate and error-laden condemnation of my book is clearly driven by something other than the facts. It’s Corry’s romanticized view of traditional societies that is really dangerous,” he said.
Originally posted on: Independent
Monday, July 29, 2013
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Egypt's Cave Underworld Under Investigation
In August of 2008 a system of caves was discovered under the pyramids. Certainly this is very big news. But look at the reaction of Dr. Hawass on his website:
Inside Giza's cave underworld
In December 2009, after denying that they existed, Egypt's leading Egyptologist, Dr Zahi Hawass, has had to admit that an excavation team under his charge is investigating an ancient tomb at the centre of claims regarding the alleged discovery of a cave underworld beneath the Pyramids of Giza.
This is a surprising announcement for several reasons, not the least being that the "alleged" cave system has already been explored and photographed by British writer and explorer Andrew Collins. In August 2008, Collins announced that he had rediscovered the entrance to a previously unexplored cave system, entered via a mysterious tomb several hundred meters west of the Great Pyramid. Perhaps it was how Collins discovered the cave entrance that has caused the controversy.
The alignment wasn't "perfect" but it was close enough for many Egyptologists. But not for Andrew Collins.
Collins later found clues left in the 200-year-old memoirs of British diplomat and explorer Henry Salt. Salt wrote how, in 1817, he and Italian explorer Giovanni Caviglia had investigated cave "catacombs" at Giza for a distance of "several hundred yards" before coming across a "spacious" chamber.
This chamber linked to three others of equal size, from which went various labyrinthine passages, one of which the Italian later explored for a distance of "300 feet further".
Collins decided to look for these caves in the area where the unmarked star of Cygnus would align in relation to the three pyramids. He discovered a series of catacombs, as Henry Salt had described, but no sign of any caves. Then, as he was about to leave the site he noticed a break in the catacomb wall which eventually revealed the entrance to this huge complex network of caves.
Excited by this monumental discovery, Collins immediately went to inform the Egyptian authorities and expected them to be as excited as he was. Wrong!
|Why Cygnus x-1 is unusual|
Several thousand light-years away, near the "heart" of Cygnus, the swan, two stars are locked in a gravitational embrace. One star is a blue supergiant, known as HDE 226868. It is about 30 times as massive as the Sun and 400,000 times brighter. The other star is 5 to 10 times the mass of the Sun, but it's extremely small. The object must be the collapsed core of a star. Its mass is too great to be a white dwarf or a neutron star, though, so it must be a black hole -- the corpse of a star that once resembled the supergiant.
The system is called Cygnus X-1, indicating it was the first source of X-rays discovered in the constellation Cygnus. Discovered by the Uhuru X-ray satellite in the early 1970s, it was also one of the first suspected black holes.
The X-rays come from a disk of gas that's spiraling into the black hole. As the two stars orbit each other once every 5.6 days, the black hole's gravitational pull causes the blue supergiant to "bulge" toward it. In profile, the supergiant would resemble an egg, with the small end aimed at the black hole. But this egg doesn't have a smooth edge. Instead, hot gas flows away from the star toward the black hole. The gas forms a wide, flat accretion disk that encircles the black hole. Friction heats the gas to a billion degrees or more, causing it to emit a torrent of X-rays -- enough to fry any living thing within millions of miles.
But the X-ray glow isn't steady. Instead, it flickers, which is one bit of evidence that identifies the dark member of the binary as a black hole. Gas enters the outer edge of the accretion disk then spirals closer to the star.
If the center of the disk contained a normal star, or even a superdense neutron star, then the disk would get hotter and brighter all the way in to its center, with the brightest X-rays coming from the middle. Instead, the X-ray glow cuts off well outside the center of the disk. Observations with Hubble Space Telescope reveal that the central region occasionally flares up as blobs of gas break off the inner edge of the disk and spiral into the black hole.
These blobs are accelerated to a large fraction of the speed of light, so they circle the black hole hundreds of times per second. This causes the system's X-rays to "flicker." If the blobs of gas were orbiting a larger object, they would not move as fast, so their high-speed revolution is one bit of circumstantial evidence that identifies the dark companion as a black hole.
The black hole's strong gravitational field "redshifts" the energy emitted by this gas to longer and longer wavelengths. Eventually, as the gas approaches the event horizon, the redshift becomes so great that the material disappears from view -- just before it spirals into the black hole.
Egyptian authorities try to hide the cave discovery
According to Collins,
"Dr Hawass [Secretary General for Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities] actually denied the existence of the caves. He has done this publicly. Why he has done this is a matter of debate.The most easiest explanation is that the preliminary investigations that he did following our visit to inform him of the discovery of this cave, in April 2008, meant that his people went in the tomb overlooked the entrance, as we did initially."Fifteen months later, bowing to the inquiries made by the press and Egyptian scholars, Dr Hawass confirmed that he has ordered an all-Egyptian team to explore the tomb at the center of the "controversy". Controversy? How could a discovery on such a scale be controversial?
"We are clearing this system now, and it is a Late Period catacomb, like many others around Egypt," he stated this week. "There is no mystery about it, and there is no connection with esoteric topics. We will publish our results as part of our normal process."While applauding Dr Hawass's new interest in the site, Collins remains sceptical of his motives. "We knew in August that he had started clearing the tomb," he said. "The excavations began almost immediately after knowledge of the cave discovery hit the internet."
Collins is also unconvinced by Hawass's explanation of what he calls the "catacomb". "Does his use of the term 'system' now suggest that he has found and entered the caves, which he previously denied even existed? he asks.
"My colleagues and I have examined photographic evidence of dynastic catacombs throughout Egypt, and these all appear to be carved by human hands." --HawassBut photographs don't lie. Collins says, "Those at Giza are natural, and penetrate the bedrock for many hundreds of metres, perhaps following the course of local geological faulting."
Although Dr Hawass suggests there is no mystery surrounding the "catacomb", Collins suspects that the caves extend beneath the Second Pyramid, where ancient tradition puts the legendary Tomb of Hermes [right], Egypt's legendary founder. This is significant because Hermes is known as the Great Wisdom Bringer and Collins suspects that the chambers could possibly reveal something left behind by Hermes -- something like the legendary Hall of Records.
The Hall of Records -- as prophesied by Edgar Cayce?
According to the legendary psychic, Edgar Cayce, the pyramids were constructed by an ancient civilization that had its origins in Atlantis. This great civilization existed somewhere around 10,000 to 11,000 BC and was responsible for building the Great Pyramid, and for burying the lost history of mankind in a chamber called "The Hall of Records."
"The records are one... [They contain] "...a record of Atlantis from the beginnings of those periods when the spirit took form or began the encasements in that land." -- CayceThe records extend through the first destructions of that ancient civilization, the exodus of Atlanteans to other lands, and the final destruction of Atlantis. They contain a description of the building of the Great Pyramid, as well as a prophecy of "who, what, where, would come [to make] the opening of the records."Collins says,
"This has never been found. So perhaps it is still there, awaiting discovery, somewhere close to where Salt and Caviglia reached nearly 200 years ago.
"I do believe that the caves that we have entered are part of a much larger complex that stretches right beneath the entire Giza plateau."Collins explains that the network of caves are natural and resemble Swiss Cheese. He believes they were formed long before the pyramids were built and suggests that they could be the reason the pyramids were built on this site. The early civilizations believed that part of the dying process involved traversing the so-called "underworld" and these caves might have been viewed as the entrance to this underworld. There is evidence of human activity in the deepest parts of the caves.
Satellite images help verify the caves
According to Collins, "Satellite images would tend to suggest that the caves... go all the way to the Second Pyramid." A little west of here archaeologists have found a collection of bird mummies. Since the constellation of Cygnus is historically depicted as a bird, specifically a swan, it is theorized that worshippers left mummified birds as an offering associated with this star configuration or perhaps to Socar, the bird-like figure that was the ruler of the underworld.
What's in the caves
As of February 2010, Dr Zahi Hawass revealed that the system of caves was being probed by a host of experts.
"We have experts in all fields working with us," he revealed this week. "Archaeologists, geologists, engineers, and architects, to name a few... I will be posting information about our excavation at Giza on my web site and will be publishing the results of our work in due course."Work at the cave-tomb, designated "NC2" by American Egyptologist George A. Reisner, has discovered two new rock-cut shafts and stairways leading into a maze of underground chambers and galleries never seen before in recorded history. Dr Hawass has suggested that they may date to the Old kingdom period. It appears that the caves were originally used as catacombs but leter were used for a bird necropolis, where mummified birds and other small animals were offered as sacrifices.
A British man named Richard Gabriel and his partner Judith was able to gain access to the tomb and cave system and take a sequence of breathtaking pictures. The top 5 photos are from the actual tomb.
One photo [above, right] displays rock simulacrum in the form of a snake's head, making sense of local folk stories which claim that the caves are haunted by a giant snake called el-Nahash.
Originally posted on: View Zone