Correlation and Causation

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If you have a group of fish in a tank, they will correlate your proximity to the tank with feeding events. Every time you come close to the tank, they get prepared for their meal by getting close to the food inlet because they know that you’re going to feed them. But after a while something interesting happens. The fish start spending longer periods of time around the food inlet in the tank when they get hungry, falsely thinking that this will attract the food. This happens because the fish have mixed between correlation and causation of the owner coming close to them and them hanging around the food inlet. They think that it is when they come close to the food inlet the owner will come close too, because they only understand the correlation of the two events and not the causation of one to the other.

And with some more time you start feeding the fish when you see them around the inlet because it reminds you of feeding time. This correlation and causation confusion on behalf of the fish completely reverses the roles between the powerful owner and the weak fish where the owner starts going nearer the tank whenever the fish get closer to the food inlet not the other way round as in the old days.

If Pavolv’s dog learnt to start drooling before hearing the bell, because it mixed between the correlation and causation it could have compelled Pavlov to feeding it out of pity, similarly reversing the role of the master and the slave which is actually common in the world of dogs and cats with the delusional masters who turn into their pet’s slaves.

The mixing of causation and correlation has also reversed the role of the master and the slave in the social human world. Karl Marx predicted a revolution by the workers against the ruling classes. The revolution happened, and because the proletariat thought that their victory correlated with Marx’s prophecy, they were further empowered and they became self righteous and created a communist dictatorship, hence making the slaves masters again. They didn’t know that it was the prediction that caused the revolution at the first place; and that what happened wasn’t in fact a correlation. But thanks to this confusion, the slave became the master again. 

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The Dirty Tricks of Moral Systems

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Moral values evolve to preserve individuals and species. They evolve through intricate methods that have been debatable among many biologists until our current day. Regardless of how they evolve though, it’s the consensus that moral systems are there because they help the species. It is impossible for an ethical value to be predominant in a society without serving a purpose at the time when its most popular. Some ethical values however lose their function over time and it takes a few generations after that to repeal them; which explains the existence of moral systems that are not useful at times.

Incest is a practice that has been not unpopular in lots of cultures in history, notably the pharaohs in ancient Egypt. Incest, although still practiced at individual levels, is predominantly unacceptable in any culture on Earth at the current time being. Because of the undesirable effects that incest brings on to offspring, moral systems evolved to repeal it. The systems worked at first perhaps by criminalising it and very gradually did these systems start getting engrained in the public psyche. People not only avoided it but developed genuine feelings of disgust and revulsion of the actual practice. It is argued that this feeling of disgust has become so profound that it is actually ingrained in our own DNA by now. Although the vast majority of people are revolted of the practice of incest  per se, laws banning it continue to exist against it although being virtually useless now.

As climate change is becoming a pertinent issue that is threatening our entire existence, moral practices will start to evolve to counter these threats. Vegetarianism and Veganism are on the rise whilst scientists are warning of the huge impact of cultivating farm animals and cattle upon our atmosphere. Meat eating is starting to become, like never before, an immoral practice to relatively large sections of western societies. The trajectory that meat eating is taking is similar to the one incest took many thousands of years ago. It starts to become unacceptable amongst a class of people who are thought by the general public to be radical, and whilst this class of people grows, laws banning the practice will start becoming effective and gradually people will start developing feelings of disgust and revulsion of meat eating. It is important to notice that the reasons that compels people to be vegetarian and revolt them from meat eating, such as compassion with animals, are not necessarily the reasons vegetarianism is useful; and are not the reasons these feelings have evolved. It simply is a dirty trick created by the human mind to achieve a selfish human need.

Eating meat in 1000 years from now might a have a similar status to incest. Extremely disgusting and repulsive but yet with laws banning it despite the fact that the majority of the public don’t need these laws to stop them from eating it at the first place.

The New Dinosaurs

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Fossil Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs. American Museum of Natural History, NY.

Dinosaurs, although going extinct millions of years ago, have left a bold and clear mark on planet earth. Millions of fossils and preserved bones that allowed scientists of our time to unravel a lot of the details of their intricate lives. Their different species and habits. We now have museums with restructured dinosaur skeletons that attract hundreds of thousands of people every year. People are always fascinated about creatures that preceded them.

Just like other complex species, we as a human race are going to go extinct soon too. We’ve had a ball, living for hundreds of thousands of years since our oldest ancestors who started developing conscious minds. But it’s very easy to foresee how we’re going to leave the planet. Once we are extinct, other mammals and plants will find a huge niche to grow and thrive, just like what happened after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Evolution will lead to the development of fascinating creatures, possibly with a much more intelligent conscious mind. Those new creatures that will evolve millions of years from now are going to study earth’s history like we did. They will find evidence of dinosaurs from millions of years ago, but they will also find evidence of these remarkable creatures that altered the structure of earth like never before. Millions of tons of materials that must have needed some complex intervention to create, such as plastic. High radiation levels and concentrated amounts of Urinanium and Plotonium and Silicon that could have not existed at that concentration by chance only. They might even find very odd shaped debris which are the remnants of old satellites orbiting earth in space; those too could not have come by coincidence. Scinetists of the future will consequently conclude that there must have been some form of a semi intelligent life that existed on this planet at some point. But why did they disappear? That is going to be the question that keeps the future scientists awake at night. Most scientists will agree that there has been a very rapid spike in earth’s temperature at the time of the human demise, probably due to an asteroid hitting earth, that led to the extinction of all of these creatures called humans. Just like what happened with dinosaurs. The rapid increase in temperature has led to floods that drowned lots of people and those who survived the floods died of the utter levels of heat. This occasion will have a mark in geological history, a mark that ended the human age, just like an asteroid ended the Jurassic age millions of years before this.

One day, their cleverest will reach the Eureka moment. The spike in temperature didn’t happen because of an asteroid hitting earth. It actually happened because of humans themselves who went through uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels that eventually led to an uncontrolled rise in earth temperature. They will even figure out that some humans were intelligent enough to figure out that this was going to happen and warned others from it but no one listened.

There will be restructured human skeletons in the natural history museums of the future. A small sign fixed to the wall beside them noting the story of how humans destroyed themselves by carbon dioxide emissions. The sign will also note that there were some humans that were intelligent enough to warn of what’s coming. That for me is a good enough reason to campaign for the restriction of the use of fossil fuels even when we have hit the point of no return and any further actions now might be too late. A mere mention and acknowledgment of intelligence on a sign in a museum that will be constructed millions of years from now is worth doing a lot of things for.