Posted: March 28th, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: science and technology, The Consciousness Question, Uncategorized | No Comments »
If this is your first visit to Darwin Harmless, you’ve stumbled into an ongoing project to discuss consciousness. Part one was an introduction and discussion of what consciousness is capable of doing in humans, a list of requirements for a simulated consciousness. If you want to join this discussion, I’d suggest you start there. I’m now moving on to consider specific components of consciousness, starting with …
Senses – hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch
First a question: Are senses necessary for consciousness, and if so, what senses? Helen Keller got along without ears and eyes. Many people do okay without taste, or smell. I assume there are people in t his world with no senses at all other than perhaps touch or the sense of vibration. We’d hardly call them unconscious. While I can see making some kind of abstract consciousness that had no sensors at all, it seems that input and output are going to be necessary to simulate anything like human consciousness. Even Helen Keller could be reached by her teacher.
Let’s assume we can provide at least two of the five senses. Let’s start with the easy ones, sight and hearing. We can leave touch, smell, and taste for a further sophistication. Or maybe those inputs could be put in right now. I don’t know what the state of the art is for computers that can taste and smell. Research needed.
Touch, taste, and smell require a body. Come to think of it, so does sight and hearing. It’s just that the body’s sensors for touch, taste and smell must come into physical contact with the outside world, which requires a body with sensors that can take air samples and do a chemical analysis, or sample a liquid or solid and do that chemical analysis, or be physically touched.
So to simulate our consciousness we will also need to simulate a whole body. We might as well make that body resemble the humans form, and give it an avatar. We could also give it a simulated heart, adrenal gland, hormones, brain chemicals, so that it can respond to sensations and emotions and give feedback to our simulated brain so that our simulated consciousness can assess and respond to both external and internal circumstances.
We can hook up sensors to our simulated body, microphones for ears, speakers for voice, maybe pressure sensors for touch and later at some point chemical receptors for taste and smell. We could leave the sense of taste, and smell as very rudimentary senses, maybe only able to detect a small number of chemicals compared to the vast number of organic compounds our senses can detect.
Memory and Memory Retrieval
The simplest thing to do of course would be to record everything and file it away. But given that we want a lot of sensory input, that is going to eat up a huge amount of memory space very quickly. And that’s not how our memory seems to work anyway.
So let’s split it into long term and short term memory. In humans, the duration of short-term memory (when rehearsal or active maintenance is prevented, is believed to be in the order of seconds. A commonly cited capacity is , the duration of short-term memory 7 ± 2 elements long and lasts just enough to remember a phone number until you can write it down. So let’s set up our simulation with an equivalent short term memory.
Then we have the long term memory. We’ll need some way of deciding what goes into long term memory, and what simply gets forgotten. We need some way of weighting the value of any particular factoid or impression or memory. Let’s assume that this is a role for emotion, which we will get to soon.
Once we have memories, we need some way of replaying them, and filing them so we can find them again. How will that work? We need association – one memory triggering another. We need reality mapping in our memory, so that we can find our way to the car in the parking lot.
All of this is part of working memory, the memory that allows us to keep things in our head long enough to solve puzzles and consider possibilities, examine ideas and see how they fit together.
I’m assuming infinite memory capacity, but that probably isn’t practical. Should memory degrade with time, except for something we might call core memories, memories with such strong emotional value that they resist fading? Okay, then we need a core memory tank.
Or, we could make memories stronger with revisiting them? Or both.
So we need three types of memory:
short term memory
long term memory, possibly with some core memories that will never degrade
and working memory
Memory recording, storage and retrieval, and reviewing protocols will be a significant part of consciousness. That’s enough to think about for this post. Next time I’ll go on to talk about mapping space and time, recognizing meaningful shapes, patterns, beings (first we must decide what “meaningful” means and how our program will evaluate and assign meaning), map space and time, and create fantasies. I think all of these elements are tied in together but before I get into that I’m hoping for some feedback from my readers.
Any thoughts at all would be very welcome.
Posted: March 24th, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Personal issues, The Consciousness Question, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »
I’ve been feeling a bit freaked out about this blog lately.
When I started writing this, I really didn’t care about readership. I’m just talking to myself for my own amusement, enjoying the sound of my own voice, in a venue where I get control and can say whatever I feel like saying. It’s a bit like standing on a stage in an empty theatre and reciting “If” by Rudyard Kipling to the empty seats.
I see a change in my writing from the first post to this one. I say “fuck” a lot less now. Initially, I started this blog because my regular, not anonymous blog, requires a certain political and cultural discretion. I’m currently working in a country with a repressive totalitarian government. My other site, maybe I should call it my “day blog”, is connected to a university and read by both administrators and students. So I must censor myself, and that self-censorship started to chaff after a few years. Hence Darwin Harmless.
But Darwin Harmless is threatening to become too successful.
Lately I’ve been getting one or two registrations a day, which must add up to hundreds by now. (Actually, I just realized that I can check on this, and my registered user list now totals 255. Not a huge number, given the numbers on the net, but still enough to fill a fair sized auditorium. But no comments at all, aside from AcolyteofSagan and HaggisforBrains, and now Mary2, who followed me here from J&M. (J&M is a great web comic that makes frequent reference to a local pub where Jesus and Mo hang out, the Cock and Bull. We regulars refer to the comments thread as the best local pub in the world.) Knowing there are people who are notified of a new post, and feeling that I’m occasionally saying fairly provocative things, to have no comments is like doing a standup act to an audience who remain totally silent.
It’s like standing on a stage with the bright lights in my eyes and the audience in total darkness. I’ve been told that tickets have been sold. But I can’t see if there are “bums in the seats” (no offence, it’s a theatre term). I say my provocative things and I get no response. I can’t even hear people breathing.
It’s unnerving. So cut it out. Introduce yourself. Say something provocative. Nobody has to use their real name. In fact, real names are actively discouraged. But please stop sitting in those seats without making a sound. Freaks me out, I tell you. I feel judged or something.
This is more critical since my last post, my first on the subject of consciousness, asking for your opinion and feedback. Since posting it I’ve had exactly one comment, some incomprehensible gibberish that I took for Spam and deleted. Maybe the subject doesn’t interests you? Maybe you think my approach is too naive? Whatever. Say something. Tell me so.
I’ll be forever grateful.
Oh yes, one more thing. I realize that many of you actually have lives. So you don’t need to really participate to make me happy. Just let me know you are there. Cough or something.
Posted: March 20th, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Personal issues, science and technology, The Consciousness Question, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »
This is something I’ve been musing about for a couple years now, as have a lot of smarter people all over the world. The puzzle is consciousness. And the first question is, why is this a puzzle? What is it about consciousness that makes it so mysterious? I don’t have the knowledge and training to explore this question, but that has never stopped me before. So with all due humility, let’s take a look at this strange thing called consciousness.
To get us started you might want to take a look at Steven Pinker’s take on the problem.
I’m asking for your help here. Please stay with the tour and tell me if I’ve gone off-roading with the bus. Deep breath. Here we go…
We say with some confidence that we are conscious, to some extent, simply because we feel conscious, but how do we tell if another creature, or even a machine, is conscious?People argue about whether dogs are conscious. If dogs, what about mice, what about mosquitoes? What about uncle Lloyd, before and after the onset of Alzheimer’s? If a car can drive from Frankfurt to Beijing with no human driver, is it conscious? Most people would say no.
I am a materialist. I do not believe in a mind-body dichotomy. I do not believe in a soul. But I do believe in consciousness. It seems to me that our consciousness is housed in a meat basket, our brain. Without our brain there is no consciousness, no “I”. I think consciousness is an emergent property of the sensory inputs, recording ability and computational complexity of the human brain. I want to to explore the question of whether consciousness could be housed in some other material. Silicon is the obvious choice.
Computer memory now equals the density of the human brain. Couple that much memory with the right programming and maybe consciousness would be the result. To claim otherwise seems to me to be just more human pleading for exceptionalism, more arrogance. But let’s be humble. Let’s say that we don’t hope to create “real consciousness”, whatever that is. Let just take a run at simulating consciousness. We’ll just create a computer program that pretends to be conscious, just like you and me.
I say that we pretend to be conscious because our consciousness is apparently an illusion. Our self identity is cobbled together from any number of competing brain processes, all working below the level of consciousness. It’s as if we’ve elected an idiot to act as spokesperson for a country of mute but influential citizens, many with competing interests and values. It took modern neuroscience to begin to identify and know those citizens. They will be the basis of our simulation.
To date, efforts to prolonged our lives have focused on our bodies. But I want to think of our bodies as just the car that our brains (or in Dawkin’s words, our selfish genes that created our bodies and brains) are driving, and our brain as the meat basket for our consciousness. If we can figure out what consciousness is, maybe we can figure out how to house it in something other than a meat basket. It could be a start toward that science fiction dream of a replicatable, backupable, immortal consciousness. After all, it isn’t our body we care about, or the selfish genes that created our bodies, it’s our consciousness, which the believers call our soul and which, so far, has not been able to survive the death of our meat basket brain.
Long Term Goal - create a model that simulates consciousness
Since I have no idea how one goes about coding a computer program for the things we want to simulate, this will be a requirements analysis only. Let’s see if we can figure out what a program-memory combination that simulates consciousness would look like. Then maybe we can find people willing to code it. I think the coding part should be easy by comparison, but what do I know?
On second thought, let’s just look at this as an exercise in understanding consciousness. I personally don’t want the responsibility of having created a sentient being. I have no desire nor reason to see our results coded into a working program, though it might be necessary just to refine the idea, balance the competing functions, and prove the concepts.
So, let’s get started. What do we need to simulate one of us?
What must consciousness do?
1. Sense the external world: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell.
2. Recognise meaningful colours, shapes, patterns, beings (first we must decide what “meaningful” means and how our program evaluates or assigns meaning.)
3. Map space and time
4. Remember, retrieve, sort and review sensory input.
5. Fantasise possible futures, recognise the difference between memories, fantasies, and reality.
6. Decide on beliefs and actions (a belief is just an estimate of probability about the nature of reality. Our program should be able to recognise and test beliefs against data.)
7. Recognise and understand abstract concepts and categories
8. Feel, experience emotions (so we must simulate emotions and a feedback or monitoring method so our consciousness can recognise an emotion)
9. Use emotions to make decisions (Which is what we do. Without emotions there are no decisions.)
10. Recognise other consciousnesses and recognise the difference between conscious, merely animate, and unconscious/inanimate. Must be able to empathise (mirror neurone activity).
11. Must have an aesthetic sense (Based on what criteria?).
12. Must have emotional drives – self-preservation, preservation of the social group (What would determine the social group? All humanity?), to achieve goals, solve puzzles, see patterns, learn, communicate, to be understood, to be part of a community. (optional?)
13. Reflect on self and recognise self versus not self
14. Free will or the illusion of free will, which in our simulation will be restricted to decisions and choices, since our simulation can’t actually do anything in the physical world, at least not until we give it control of some kind of body, in which case we’re really building an android.
15. Simulate instincts, reflexes, impulses and controls or dampers on these functions.
16. Develop and use language.
17. Develop and use logic and mathematics.
14. Simulate neurotransmitters and psychotropic brain chemistry (assuming we’re trying to develop a human like consciousness, not just an abstract consciousness)
18. Direct and focus attention while ignoring peripheral details or irrelevant data unless triggered to shift attention.
19. React and take notice or focus attention when triggered by such things as movement, colour change, specific patters.
20. Creativity – finding solutions to problems that come from “outside the box” thinking. Also, doing things for the fun of it, or the mental exercise, with no obvious reward.
Sheesh, the human brain sure can do some remarkable things. I said I was intimidated by this project. And this list was really just off the top of my head. I’m sure there is complexity I haven’t even noticed, and probably whole categories of function that haven’t occurred to me. This is where you all come in.
What’s your opinion? If we created a program with all these capabilities, would consciousness emerge, i.e. Is consciousness an emergent property of this list of ingredients?
That’s the question I want to explore with you. I’ve written a lot more on this, breaking down this list into things to consider for each category of function and possible courses of action and components or subroutines to simulate each category, but that’s enough for now. I want to put this question to you, my subscribers, first. What have I left off this list? What else must consciousness be able to do?
I hope I hear from you. This thinking by myself gets lonely, and it’s hard work.
Posted: March 12th, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: How Weird is our Culture, The Conviction That God is a Fiction | 2 Comments »
I was recently taken to task on FaceBook for stating that Christianity is the ultimate in arrogance. Not so, said my FB buddy. I know many humble Christians.
I think he missed my point. A Christian may appear humble, but the conceit at the core of the religion is anything but humble.
Would you call a person humble who held the following beliefs:
1. I was created in the image of divinity, of an all powerful and all knowing god. He made me just like him in appearance.
2. Everything in creation was created for me, for my benefit. I and my kind are the central purpose of creation. It matters not that the universe is vast beyond our comprehension, with billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, many with untold number of planets some of which statistically must be capable of sustaining life. It was all created for me.
3. I am not an animal. I am no kin to any other living thing. I am special. Separate. Made in the image of God (see number 1) and not connected to the great tree of life. Those Christians who have enough common sense to admit that evolution is true, and that we descended from earlier creatures, still somehow manage to hold on to the idea that this was only God’s method for creating us, in his image and special.
4. God gave us dominion over the beasts of the fields and the fish in the waters and the birds in the air, over every other creature on earth. They are ours to use, destroy, or ignore as we see fit.
5. In fact, I’m so special that God, the creator of everything, takes a personal interest in me. He loves me. He answers my prayers, even if sometimes the answer is “no”.
This is the basis of Christian dogma. How can anybody not call this arrogant. It is arrogance writ large indeed.
I think I know what Christians will respond to this. They will say, but we don’t believe this; No true Christian believes this, especially number 4, that thing about being separate from animals. And that simply isn’t true. That’s one more Christian lie. They do believe it. They believe it all. It’s what gives them comfort and prevents them from feeling lost and alone. It’s the big thing they are afraid of giving up, the feeling of being special and central and loved and cared for by their imaginary friend.
Arrogance. Unbelievable arrogance. And yet they have some people fooled.
Let me tell you, a Christian may look humble. But scratch that smooth surface and you find a person who believes he is the whole reason this universe was created, that she is so important that God himself pays attention to her.
*Graphic credit: big thanks to Atheist Meme Base
Posted: March 10th, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: How Weird is our Culture, science and technology, Uncategorized | No Comments »
I went to see The Hobbit yesterday, in IMAX 3D. That reminded me of Bob Altemeyer’s book, The Authoritarians”, which you can download for free just by clicking here. If you haven’t read it yet you are in for a treat. Professor Altemeyer spent decades researching the questions about authoritarians, and more importantly, authoritarian followers. His book is engaging, entertaining, and full of insights that help explain why some people seem so willing to follow leaders no matter how obviously destructive those leaders may be. To repeat myself, it’s free. What do you have to lose by checking it out.
Why did seeing The Hobbit remind me of Altemeyer’s Book. Because the dwarfs in the movie are such perfect examples of authoritarian followers. Especially Balin with his line, “There’s a leader I can follow.” And even when he argues with Thorin, his chosen leader, against the wisdom of the quest, he goes along, the loyal supporter. Because he’s an authoritarian follower to the core.
The movie is the usual good versus evil nonsense, in which evil is always very ugly with bad teeth and complexion. I think deus ex machina occurred about five times before I lost count. It’s good fun if you can shut off your brain, and not wonder how all those creatures who live underground manage to feed themselves. It’s full to the brim with the usual tropes – collapsing rickety wooden structures over bottomless abyss, snarling beasts ridden by monsters with bad personal hygiene, extensive use of gravity with structures, stones, and characters falling constantly but never suffering any damage. It’s a lot more interesting after you’ve read the book, and I’m not referring to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Read “The Authoritarians“. Far more entertaining and you most likely will learn something.
Posted: March 6th, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: How Weird is our Culture, Personal issues, Uncategorized | No Comments »
I was reminded today of a breakthrough moment for me. I was about twelve years old and I went to see The House of Usher, an American International Pictures horror film starring Vincent Price, Myrna Fahey, and Mark Damon,
Thanks to Wikipedia, here’s the plot:
Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) travels to the House of Usher, a desolate mansion surrounded by a murky swamp, to meet his fiancée Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey). Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price) opposes Philip’s intentions, telling the young man that the Usher family is afflicted by a cursed bloodline which has driven all their ancestors to madness. Roderick foresees the family evils being propagated into future generations with a marriage to Madeline and vehemently discourages the union. Philip becomes increasingly desperate to take Madeline away; she agrees to leave with him, desperate to get away from her brother.
During a heated argument with her brother, Madeline suddenly dies and is laid to rest in the family crypt beneath the house. As Philip is preparing to leave following the entombment, the butler, Bristol (Harry Ellerbe), lets slip that Madeline suffered from catalepsy, a condition which can make its sufferers appear dead.
Philip rips open Madeline’s coffin and finds it empty. He desperately searches for her in the winding passages of the crypt but she eludes him and confronts her brother. Now completely insane, Madeline avenges herself upon the brother who knowingly buried her alive. Both die as a fire breaks out. Philip escapes and watches the house sink into the swampy land surrounding it.
So there I was, twelve years old, and Madeline is in the family crypt, in her coffin, and the coffin lid is starting to bump. The music was intense. I was covering my face with my hand and watching the movie through my splayed fingers. And then… the bloody hand comes out between the coffin and the lid. The audience screamed. Oh, the horror.
But walking home after the movie, I got to thinking. Why was I afraid? She seemed like a nice woman. And she wasn’t dead. She’d been buried alive. I should WANT her to get out of that coffin. I should want to help her. She wasn’t dead. That’s terrible. How awful it would feel to wake up inside a coffin and not be dead. How desperate would you be to escape?
In those days, for those of you too young to remember a time so barren of entertainment options, there were no VCR’s or DVD’s or computers. Our television was still black and white. It showed movies, but mostly old westerns. The only way you could see a new movie was to go to a movie theatre. Fortunately it didn’t cost that much, and I could even afford to see a movie twice.
Two days later I want to the same movie again with some friends. This time the horror was gone. I wasn’t watching through splayed fingers. I was thinking about how strange it was to be made afraid of something that wasn’t frightening. I was noticing that it was just a movie, a contrivance. The final shot, with the hero riding away from the burning house of Usher, was a bad mat job. The horseman and the burning house were obviously not in the same location.
I say that was a turning point for me. But I wonder; are there people who never have that epiphany? Are there people who never question their emotions, and never wonder whether their emotions are appropriate to the circumstances. I suspect that such people exist. Maybe this is why so many people seem unable to overcome the ick factor when discussing sexuality, or why so many people seem unwilling to face a totally unreasonable fear, such as the fear of harmless creatures.
What do you think?
Posted: February 23rd, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Opposing bigotry, religion I can accept, sexuality | No Comments »
It’s an understatement to say that I have little use for Christianity. I think it is misogynist and anti-sexual at its core, not to mention stupid and based on transparently idiotic dogma. But I must recognize that there are Christians of good heart who see the more egregious failings of their organization, and speak out to try to correct them.
All of this to say that Neil has a new post up at Lutheran Church of Australia – In My Opinion, It’s a precise and civil (there you go Dan Finke) slapdown of LCA President Rev. Mike Semmler’s reference to “disgusting copulations” in his lead off to a recent speech.
This is what the LCA president thought fitting to begin his talk to the clergy under his leadership:
Homosexuality: (Romans 1:26-28) The Scriptures do not provide psychological reasons for this state. Same sex people are not created to copulate with each other. It should not surprise us as Christians that something has gone wrong with creation.
The practice did no favours for Greek civilisation around Paul’s time. But the Romans to whom he wrote, could take no consolation that they viewed the practice with disgust. Society always suffers and is undermined not just by homosexuality, but by ‘envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness’
Now trip on down to Australia and see what Neil had to say in response. It’s well worth a read, and perhaps even worth a supportive comment. This guy is fighting a lonely battle down under.
It’s easy to be critical of Christianity and churches in general. When somebody in that deluded and confused crowd is making sense, we should say something nice to them.
Posted: February 23rd, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Opposing bigotry, sexuality, The Conviction That God is a Fiction, Uncategorized | No Comments »
I don’t usually comment on stupid blogs, because I don’t want to give the author any additional traffic, but every once in a while the stupid is hard to ignore. Such is the case with this post by Laneen Hania, who describes her self as a “prophetess” and self proclaimed expert on human relationships, specifically on human intimacy. In her own words:
Prophetess Laneen Hania is a prolific author and lecturer better known as “Dr. Intimacy”. Using her extensive personal experiences, the insights gained from her encounters with many clients and followers, along with 15 years of research – Prophetess Haniah gives an enlightening look into the naked truth about sex, intimacy and worship from a holistic perspective, spirit, soul and body. She often refers to her teachings as “Christian Sexology.
Scary, isn’t it? There should be some law against people calling themselves Dr. anything unless they actually are a doctor, and I’d extend that to people with a PhD in theology, not that this twit seems to have even that.
No doubt she thinks of herself as brave for tackling a subject like masturbation, which people in her crowd generally want to pretend never happens and doesn’t exist. She might be courageous if she took a courageous stand on the subject, but she doesn’t. The question she poses – “is masturbation a sin in scripture” – has an easy answer. Who cares? What difference does it make to our understanding of human sexuality? And since masturbation isn’t explicitly mentioned in her book of fables, one might assume that the answer is no. But of course the words in the book must be interpretted, and when the prophetess does so, surprise surprise. Masturbation is indeed sinful. Wouldn’t you just know it.
A lot of people debate over whether or not masturbation is actually a sin. Many people want to confine the Word of God to our limited English language and vocabulary. Because in their hearts they desire to indulge in sin, they feign ignorance due to the fact that every evil act is not noted in black and white in the Bible. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 1:18-19, “18But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. 19For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts.”
Admittedly, there is no scripture in the Bible that says, “Thou shall not masturbate”. So hey, if you want to chance standing before God on judgment day with your hand in your pants, you can try this omission of specific language out as your defense! However, for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, you are getting ready to get your fill: the Bible Truth concerning masturbation. Since there is no scripture that uses the word “masturbation” (simply because there is no word-for-word translation between the languages used) let’s examine some scriptures where it can clearly be read between the lines.
This amazes me. She doesn’t come up with one real, tangible harm done by masturbation. She doesn’t claim that it hurts anybody, or causes any pain, or results in suffering. She has nothing bad to say about masturbation at all, other than that it is sinful according to her interpretation of ancient text. Masturbation is sex, and that’s enough. She fails to mention any of the benefits of masturbation, such as providing a relief valve on one of the strongest of human drives, releasing health giving and vitalizing hormones, or giving pleasure to a person who lacks a partner. None of that matters. All that matters is what some perverted early iron age idiots had to say about it, by implication because they didn’t actually say anything.
If you don’t mind losing IQ points by reading this nonsense, you owe it to yourself to check out the comments, universally praising this self appointed authority for her insight and wisdom and agreeing that masturbation is shameful. Proof yet again that Christianity results from and causes sick minds.
I’d like to end this with two of my favourite quotes from that real expert on sin and masturbation, Woody Allen.
“Don’t start on my hobbies.”
“Masturbation is sex with somebody I love.”
There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself. In fact, that’s a great place to start.
Posted: February 8th, 2013 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
Complementary and Alternative Medicine, CAM, usually rouses me to contempt. The field is so full of quacks and snake oil salesmen, and welcomes such obvious bunkery as homeopathy that the mere mention of naturopathic, herbal, and other alternatives makes the quack alarm sound very loudly. But every once in a while I’m reminded that conventional mainstream medicine doesn’t have all the answers and has gone down many blind alleys into dead ends. I’m reminded of mainstream medicine advising circumcision as a “cure” for the horrendous vice of masturbation. I’m reminded of the early twentieth century medical fad for colostomies that left many people missing their entire bowel with no medical justification, or more recently the practice of radical mastectomy that often involved removal of as much flesh and even bone as possible with no prolonging of the patient’s life. Doctors can only go with what they know, and their best judgement of what might work. Sometimes they develop tunnel vision.
Years ago I was walking on a city street. My legs were as usual pain free and feeling totally normal. Without warning a stabbing pain in my left knee made me gasp. It was crippling. When the pain eased up a little I made my way to the nearest emergency department of a hospital for some medical advice. The doctor said that what had probably happened was that I had a bit of calcification or some loose cartilage in the sinovial fluid that moved into position to hit a nerve. He told me to take Ibuprofen and see what happens next.
I told him I’d been self medicating a head cold with what I called “Tequila Sundowns” which used hot Contac C as a mixer for tequila. Could that have contributed to my knee giving me grief? He gave me a look that said, plainly, are you crazy, and dismissed the connection out of hand.
I thought at the time how strange it was. Here was a doctor who believed that this little pill I was going to take would change my body chemistry in a beneficial way. Yet he didn’t think for a minute that changing my body chemistry with antihistamines and vitamin C and tequila would have any effect.
I was reminded of this when I read this article. A child with juvenile arthritis was not being helped by conventional medication, but became symptom free with a change in diet that eliminated gluten. It’s an inspiring and touching story, and makes the case for CAM, for at least looking at other solutions to a medical problem. I have mixed feelings. Most of the time I wish the whole damn CAM community would just dry up and blow away as a result of improved public science education. But life just isn’t that simple.