Why Philosophy Works, and The Question You Need To Be Asking…

Me, Metaphor and Mind.

Me, Metaphor and Mind…
What philosophy tells us
about recent findings in the cognitive sciences
and how it makes for an effective self help tool.

How individual empowerment
opens up freedom of choice
and encourages dialogue.

And ultimately what we should do about it.
The question we could all benefit from answering.

I’ve come to realise
that philosophy
is really the ultimate
self-help method.

I’m not going to go into that
not in depth,
other than to say
that many self help methods,
with their promise of answers,
wind up being nothing more than
another distraction,
another framework,
or set up
keeping you in a constant loop
of more and more unnecessary consumption,
stuck on the wheel.

But not philosophy.
Philosophy doesn’t give you answers.
it gives you the power to ask questions.

To ask
Who are we?
What we are?
And Why?
What is the point?

It covers everything,
and whatever you call it,
it can be found everywhere,
with its
different positions,
and conclusions.

And Yes, you can get yourself stuck
in an ideological cul-de-sac,
just like you can in religion, or in science,
if you try hard enough.

But it’s not a requirement.
You needn’t rule out reason
or emotion
or intellect.
Because with philosophy, anything goes.

I say
can change the world.
And here’s why…

I say that to philosophise,
is simply
to be who you are,

But to do that you must question everything…

And when you do that,
when you take up that challenge
you become strong.
And when you are strong,
things happen.
You make them happen.

No one else can!
accepting the call might be the most important
you can ever do.

And this is not about
finding the right guru,
and being led
step by step into the light.
This is about embracing a process,
a conversation
or dialogue maybe,
that allows you to take on new ideas,
to test and to challenge old ones,
And to make choices… and to be wrong,
and to make changes.

All from a position of strength.
Here’s something that excited me.

Science, these days…
can make pictures
of the inside of our heads,
in real time…
We can see what our brains are doing
in there.

And what we see
are networks of meaning,
different areas
all linked up and
all firing up
as we talk,
and we see,
and we feel,
and we do.

To run,
for example,
in your mind.
If we watch someone think about running.
We see a network of linked up areas… getting hot!

And we see the same thing when we’re actually running,
and when we talk about running,
and even when we watch someone else running…
The words and the actions and the sensory systems all fire together, they are the same thing!

That’s the science.

And what philosophy
can tell us about this is that
we are creating a map of reality within our heads,
as individuals,
encoding it
in a wrapper
or a filter of metaphor.

And ultimately
we are not equipped
to process the whole of reality,
as it happens, in real time.
Our minds are too slow, wet, and messy…

But, we can begin
to understand that
is fundamental to our being.

We could not conceive
of reality without it.

are two metaphors we could use
to talk about life.
How about we say.
“it is an orange…”
for example,
“life is an orange…”

Now, whatever you might personally think about an orange,
however you might have mapped that external phenomenon,
that you and I might be able to come to some form of existential consensus about
I’m willing to bet that as a metaphor for life it isn’t doing too well.

But we could say “life is a journey”.
with travel, movement,
and discovery,
danger and jeopardy.
Come aboard…
Now, that does compute.

Here’s a personal favourite.
Metaphor three,
“life is a river”.
A cool, and powerful, flowing stream of water.

And here we can really get going…

The river
is in constant flux.
It’s unstoppable.
To hold it back
is to tempt
overwhelming catastrophe –
a broken dam.

We know,
there will be waterfalls,
and rapids,
sharps rocks, and steep banks.
There will be peril,

But yes, of course,
there will also be
overhanging branches,
to reach out for,
fallen trees to cling onto,
and calm pools
for rest.

To go with it,
to flow with the river,
is to be carried,
towards freedom,
towards new beginnings.

To be carried downstream
where the steep banks open out,
and the waters slow,
where ultimately
we reach the ocean,
is to reach a land of untold riches, and reward.

This is a deeply held metaphor.
Yes we can express all of life’s richness within it.

We are sharing common experience,
my brain and yours firing in unison,
understanding life…

But make no mistake, it is not real.
This idea that life is a river.

life is life,
a river is a river…

And now bear in mind
that how we behave,
is inextricably
bound up in those metaphors,
in the same packages of chemical messages.
We behave accordingly.

I like to think that our answers
become our behaviours…
and how deep you go is a personal decision.
to unpack this idea,
that behaviour is an expression of our belief systems…
maybe time for a bit more science.

Let’s say
Stuff happens…
that is
our minds receive an input –

Our minds want us to react.
This is after all why they are here.

Our minds have previously,
and they are
and selecting
and processing these inputs,
into fundamental neural networks,
or cognitive linguistic frameworks.
Into metaphors,
for just such an occasion.

And the mind will treat this new input just the same.

But first and foremost
there’s no time for that,
real time processing
and reacting stuff.
Mind knows to ask
a different question…
and to get an answer quick.

Its evolution that we have to thank for this.
This could after all,
quite easily
be a life threatening moment…
how can we know otherwise?

Mind asks
Should I run from this?
Is this a threat?
What’s happening?

And it has to be this way
to ensure survival…

Determine the risk first.
Only then ask
Can I eat it? or
Mate with it? or
Should I need to protect this?
What does this new piece of information mean to me?

And to reach a decision
our minds commission a process
that will find
the closest metaphors they have,
the best fitting description
of a situation that they already recognise,
already have stored away
to match the input they are receiving.

And to do so they request more input
to confirm the situation.
This is the very root of confirmation bias
our minds directing us to see what we want to see,
or to hear or to feel
at a purely subconscious level,
in order to fit the jigsaw.

That smell is new.
for example.
That smell is good,
I smell food.
My left cheek feels cool.
breeze, scent
There’s a bakery.
I will eat.
There’s the door.

Here, it’s simple enough,
the smell of bread,
the feeling of hunger
and walking to the door.
But so too is this an explanation of
how all behaviour is built,
a process of building layer upon layer
of meaning
and understanding,
layer upon layer of metaphor…
over eons of evolutionary survival training.

We see an unconscious process
of chemical feedback loops
underpinned by a metaphorical value system,
of logic and emotion,
evolution and socialisation,
all just outputting simple behaviours
for the process of living itself.

And hence perhaps,
the emotional appeal
of the metaphor of life,
as a journey, life as a river,
and the intimate connection for us
of life in terms of water.
And the myriad reflected faces we see in that water.
The myriad life experiences we describe with that metaphor.

To return to that,
to continue the point here,
let’s step back,
just briefly,
from the river bank,
away from the torrent
with its depths
and shallows
and currents
and take to a cliff top,
high above,
where the gorse clings
to bleached yellow sandstone,
and where looking down
through a canopy of trees,
we can hear a deep rumbling,
and we feel a chill breeze on our faces,
and we see the mud rich waters
churning far below…

From here,
this new vantage point
we can see the river anew
we can acknowledge perhaps
that wherever we choose to observe this same river from,
it will do its own thing..

It continues to go on with its thing
wherever we see it from,
and whilst we might get different views of it,
and be minded to make different descriptions of it
we will never see it all…
and we never will.

We experience only our own unique perspective.
The trick is to recognise that
truth must be somewhere else.

And as with life…
So with philosophy.

Plato, Spinoza,
Lao Tzu, Nietzsche,
Buddha, Christ, Zoroaster.
You name it!

Philosophers throughout the ages
have pointed one by one,
to each and every one of us
to say
This is up to you,
It is you who has the ability to make a difference
to be who you are,
and to be responsible for yourself.

Each in their own way has laid down their challenge to you…

It is only you who can do this.
It is only you who may know that your experience
of that same river,
will depend
on what we choose
for ourselves.
On where we choose to stand.

We are ultimately free.

One question
for me,
And that is
how we might decide
what we might do with that freedom.
And I am aware
that some people
might want to turn away as soon as hear
the word philosophy,
whilst others might reject the accuracy of metaphor.
And I’m aware that some might for now prefer other ways
of marking time…
and find emotional appeal in stuff
other than saving the world…

Each to their very own, I guess
But the point is,
that whatever you may want to call this love of knowledge,
this process of discovery.
This quest to take responsibility for your own path,
seems to me the largest part and parcel
of leading a full and productive life.

So I have a question for you.
And its not a rhetorical question.

Of course the key to answering it
is to understand that there is no right answer,
that it is the beginning of the discussion rather than the end and
that without any hint of irony this is precisely the answer that
the planet and your children need to hear.

Suppose you wake up tomorrow morning and you are in charge
“What Is The First Thing You Would Do?”

Wow! Spinoza!

Philosophy? Meh! So what does that feel like? You have to tune In. And here’s why…

Wow! Spinoza.
This week again short
but hopefully sweet. I take another run
at some of the ideas in contemporary Cognitive Science,
making a personal connection with what it feels like to think,
what it feels like to take on the ideas
of enlightenment philosopher Spinoza for example,
to understand them from our 21st Century frame
and to feel a physical
empathetic connection with them
even after they have been around for so many centuries.

We are after all embodied selves.
Perhaps it is time to make that part of our everyday rationale.

Philosophy? Meh! So what does that feel like?
Well, to find out
you have to tune In.
And here’s why…

Read More

When The Map doesn’t fit…

One writer’s struggle with philosophical paralysis, with cognitive dissonance.
When uncertainty becomes real.

This week, contrasting a position of enlightened rationalism, with findings of our contemporary cognitive sciences, we hear Ant Biggs describe a personal struggle to come to terms with the results of a philosophical quest.
What happens when you do find your cognitive landscape undermined, or challenged; if you are to stay “true to the truth”.
When you find out that maybe you are not what you thought you were… let alone that things are not as they seem.
Where does anyone go from there, when it really sinks in?

Read More

Puppies, Violence, and the Battle for your Attention… Click Here

Apologies, if you have come here
looking for 7 acts of sickening violence, involving puppies… click here
because not a single puppy
has been abused
other than by my appropriation of their (that is
their – the puppies’s) noun
in order to create click bait.

And if you’re going to take offence at this then please do
go all the way.
I knew what I was doing.
I knew the risk.
Make the calls to Google for my ex-communication,
get me struck off facebook.
Go on tv to never speak of me again,
or of my book launch.
Make me famous.

See what I did there?

Or you can listen up…
You are listening to episode 13 of COW – can of worms – the podcast
This episode a personal journey
through the world of AI,
its development and its consequences.
Tracing the ethical issues facing those who recognise
the dangers of having our primary system of communication,
that is the internet,
in the hands of a sophisticated
and manipulating monopoly
and the problems faced by the likes of anyone,
required to try and make a living through it.
How does that work?
Is it OK to be involved with the system?
Is there any acceptable level of complicity?
And if so,
So what is it?

To be honest, I have a certain level of surprise that you’ve even seen this title.
And that this post hasn’t been taken down, or restricted
for obvious reasons.
There’s more than a bit of irony in the fact that the algorithims
responsible for a trend towards extremist content
are also being put under pressure to censor it,
but we’ll come to that later

Firstly a number of comments from last week.
Thanks everyone for your time,
thanks for listening,
and of course for your support.

And yes I had a question – which was
“what’s next?”
Turns out that thinking about that brought up all sorts of issues
and spawned the above title.
So I thought I’d answer it here.

Behind the question is the fact
that eventually I want to be able to support myself through this podcasting,
this philosophising, thinking malarkey –
or racket even…
Choosing my words carefully of course!

So the question “what’s next?”
does bring up a can of worms.
like “how do you grow the business?”
A question of commerce…
And also “how far will you go?”

Now, I guess there are a few out there who
simply think this as a radio show
comes free
and that’s all good!
It does…
And you might be thinking
“Waddya mean? Business?”
And that’s cool but
If any of you are familiar with the term digital nomad, you’ll get it already I guess.
With this podcast the idea
is that you can get enough people to appreciate what you’re doing,
to support you with the price of a cup of coffee every month
and that way you can go on and produce your content
without the worry of working for the man
just to support it.
This is dream job time,
entrepreneurial maybe
but its the high stakes holy grail version of it
and based on providing real value.
This is the sort of thing you might see in an ad somewhere.
It’ll be a bloke or a girl
on the beach
telling you they can live anywhere in the world
and the money just pours in whilst they do nothing.
That’s the ad
rather than the reality
but that’s the way its portrayed.
Self employment really, tech savvy,
cheap to set up, and effortless once its done.
But hopefully its not without value.

Now there is a struggle…
If like me you want to make a difference,
want to be doing the right thing.
if you want to have an ethical base
to your income
and your life.

If you believe that the world is more than just a bit broken
and you’re one of these to put your money where your mouth is,
to live by your word as it were,
then you have to make some pretty hard decisions.

You’ll know this.
Minimise your footprint,
Dump the possessions
Leave the attachments
that keep you trapped in the day to day humdrum.
For, on the other side, a reward of
What? fulfilment…
and a nomadic existence…

One man’s ties are another man’s freedoms –
Job security, Family, Expectations, Social liabilities even,
– sacrifice.

Seems a mad choice,
a no brainer maybe.
The problem is if like me,
you might be tempted to overthink things
then the ethical struggle doesn’t really go away
whatever path you choose.

This is about our complicity in the system.
Its a question of
whether we take part in the game.
and if we do its about
judging whether you become part of the problem.

How deeply can you get into the system
without becoming corrupted by it.
Is it possible to be part of the solution
whilst contributing to it.
Its the starving artist,
in the garret again,
unable to take commissions
for fear of destroying the purity of the art.
Its about whether you can moan about the system
and take from it at the same time.

Where next?
is increasing the audience,
monetising the work.
Its selling out.

Bloody socialist… go back to russia.
Oh look! Complaining about land ownership
and living in a house!
Oh look thinks we should look after the environment
but look, here’s a photograph of a plastic carrier bag he only used once.
Only once!
That’s him there putting it in a bin!
Go back to Russia you Communist bastard.
You and your red flag…
We don’t need you telling us what to do..!

I think Stuart Lee there!
But it’s not just that really, is it?
There are far harder critics found at home.
And usually no worse critic than yourself.

Can I live with that?
Because as soon as you begin to make an impact
that is going to be the charge…
And its a classic propagandist tactic
used against protest time and time again.

Hey, I’m not suffering
None of that
Turns out that for me being in charge of myself
Was the key…
The key to..?
It is the existential key,
the key really to the only question.

and I’m OK with the idea of what I’m doing,
What I’m trying to achieve.
and I’m OK with how much I choose to engage
with this broken system.
And I’m OK with myself,
trust that my heart is in the right place,
even if I don’t get everything right.

Yeah, I’d up and leave the UK,
drive from London to New York,
Around the Coast of the Med and yeah
and I’d fund it on the back of
this veneer of social activism.

But I believe in this.
Think there’s some value to it…
And its no bad example
of how to live…
of what’s possible…
I can happily cling to the vague hope that it might be of interest
to a fair number of interested people
or patrons.
That its of some use,
and that I’m providing some value
in return for fair exchange.

The complicity
with the system
just starts to get a little deeper
a little bit more pronounced
as I develop this thing.

here I am some few months in.
Early days,
And slow burning.
Some financial support coming in even.
So the system begins to work!
Tan tan tan…
And the question does come to mind…
What Next?
How does one grow this kind of business?
Well my answer, first of all
is that this slow burn is suiting me pretty good.
The work, the research
takes time,
And I’m developing my voice,

I guess to get abstract I mean
I’m developing the landscape of the podcast
like a philosophical manifesto?
And each time I feel it’s getting better,
And making more sense.

Turns out as I’m talking about things that come to me
pretty much as they come to me…
what you get can sometimes be pretty raw,
but I think the more I am doing this I think the better its feeling
It’s feeling more of a whole,
more structured, more complete
and that’s what I mean by finding my voice…

Next, the
immediate next is to
consolidate it all.
Content wise
Pretty good achievement so far but always
Get better, stronger and develop a good body of work,
And that out of the way.
When I feel I’m nailing that with some value
Then medium term next?

That’s when to develop the business,
as some would have it,
It’s how to get it out there,
how to to develop the audience…
and that is the real struggle…
ethically, and morally.

And why should that be a struggle?
Well, the struggle is that to do it you have to,
it seems, use
the same formulaic tactics
that the likes of youtube, netflix, and facebook,
and instagram all use…
And google!

To put it simply I have to find the right audience.
Maybe I could do that with a bit of public speaking,
And a book!
Drawing an audience in that way
but mainly its going to be using
Exactly the kind of tactics that I keep shouting out.
Keep telling people to be aware of.

Hey, Get back to Russia, you commie…
You Russian conspiracy bastard, person
We don’t need you coming to us warning us about the dangers of
our phones.
We love them.
And you, we saw you, we took a picture of you
And you bought some bread
With money…
Get out get out…

Hey, look Podcasting did seem pretty cutting edge
even as much as a year ago,
but its taken on the same characteristics
as the rest of the web.
Become the latest mainstream!
What with the BBC getting into it
and Google themselves getting involved.
You have footballers, pop stars,
actors and all kinds of celebrity getting involved.
It was mainly an iTunes thing previously,
a little bit nerdy, a little bit left field.
Only last year I think did google recognise it as a thing even,
with its own category.
You still can’t officially register a podcast with google from the UK.
Podcasts in the US are available through Google Play
You can hack it and use a VPN but
I don’t think I want to talk about that
Its US only for Google Play, its that new.

And of course you have
a myriad of android apps to choose from
and the website! is mine!
for example.
but now BBC of course have made their own app!

Just saying that now
the podcasting world is less
Wild Wild West
and more
Eric and Ernie…
Less Mr Robot,
more Robbie the Robot.
And we sort of have AI to blame.
Which means we have ourselves to blame.
Because we asked AI to do make things easier for us.

Why do I have to embrace the world of evil manipulation?
Because that’s the way of it.
Its to compete.
I have to compete for your attention…
I am drawn to some form of slow burn.
Slow growth etc
But against the likes of Google, and Facebook and YouTube.
there is a battle now for our attention,
Its a weird space where
not only are they in the battle,
but they write the rules,
And they control access to it.

Look, it used to be that searching Google for stuff
could be hard work,
so many results to choose from,
so much to sift through,
and no way to know what sources we could trust,
as the recent narrative goes.

In those days I always used to treat the internet
a bit like walking down a new high street.
If someone came up and offered me some deal
too good to be true?
Yeah! Turn it down.

And it was the same thing with Ebay,
with YouTube,
and other platforms I guess.
I saw it first through eBay
cos I was quite strongly involved in the early days.
In the beginning eBay was a pretty simple platform for enthusiasts,
Like the wild west.

it was more about the bid,
and the winning,
and just nipping in to snipe an auction at the right moment,
judging how long it would take to hit the ebay servers
with your last bid,
and placing it at the last millisecond.
It was a buzz.
More about that
than it was about capturing the cheapest deal.

We always tell ourselves we have the best deal anyway..
Do you know anyone who’s spent 3 hours choosing a new phone contract
comes out saying they’ve been ripped off?

Back to eBay –
There were loyal followers
who would spend their days tracking items,
like man the hunter,
and there were sellers
formed out of it.
Pioneers, new enterprises,
vibrant and thriving.

Same thing with YouTube,
content creators,
just following their bliss
for want of a better phrase
and getting picked up by interested parties
millions of followers,
who had found them by word of mouth,
or by trawling through the dodgy search results,
hard work we thought!

At that time web designers made sites sticky,
to provide value and to hold your attention.
There was a drive for quality,
shared by the pioneers,
content creators,
Content was King.

Now google back in the day
had become number one search engine,
worth millions and millions.
Just in case you don’t remember
there were other search engines…
Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista,
But Google came to dominate.
They were worth millions.
At the time the chief executive came out with a mission statement
promising user quality I guess
when he said that
Google’s mission was to get people off to a new web page as quickly as possible.
Totally against the run of the mainstream at the time but brilliant.
Flipping all of the metrics on their head
Users wanted convenience
to be shown the best option
as quick as possible.

And all of a sudden terms like relevance and trust
and price and postage and postcode
and many other factors
began to make sense.
Enter AI,
Enter the algoritihim…
designed to take all of those factors
and make sense of them
for you…
away from you,
in the name of convenience.
The algorithims evolved
And the platforms evolved.

What I think was a surprise was how the content evolved.
What happened next was a feedback loop
where the users started to compete for the top spot.
This meant competing to be closest to the algorithim’s
notion of best match for a search.
Nothing really sinister here until we realise that
we now have everybody on the platform aiming at producing the same thing.
Essentially defining a single set of rules for fitness, promoted convergent evolution.
Everyone competes for the same title,
the same quality of picture,
the same bare bones description, Nothing irelevant.

I see it as a peak,
everyone aims to get to the same peak.
And you may be fit enough to reach that peak.
Convergent evolution.

In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related, independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.

Eyes, are an example
In an octopus and in the eyes of a human
We are related only through organisms that had no eyes.
We branched off and developed eyes separately,
becoming similar as fitness became more defined.

What this means for us in the world of communications
is that because our environment
is defined by only a few players
we all converge on a single point.
One viral video in fact looks very much like any other viral video.
and diversity suffers.

Example is that once an eBay listing for example,
or a YouTube Video,
Or a web page for Google gains dominance,
it won’t be shifted, unless something within the content changes.
And by that I mean a slip in postage delivery rate.
Content now bears little relation to relevance.
Once it does however it will be replaced with its nearest clone.
As my nearest and dearest says creating

One way to think of this in terms of the Sat Nav and the salmon…
If the salmon returns to its birthplace to breed,
then how come the breeding grounds are so widely distributed.
Maybe they got lost.
And now Sat Nav is available
We need never get lost.
But It leaves us only one stream to breed in.
When there are thousands of other beautiful streams we should explore.

This is how eBay evolved,
how YouTube evolved
and how Google and many other platforms
have evolved having employed AI.

The latest development in this story,
has been with the story of social media,
designed specifically to make the most
of our basest instincts.
Designed to hijack our minds
by creating an addictive bond to our smart phones
Designed to sit in your hand
to demand your attention,
occupy your thoughts,
and create new habits – on purpose.

As I’m writing this I have my phone next to me,
flashing away every now and then…
And facebook, youtube, twitter
whatever the new one is
all fully aware of this battle.
As I mentioned earlier,
the battle for attention…

The more attention they can command
the more
they are valued.
Again the same pressure to hit the top spot,
but now
the pressure is to do it again and again and again
and a greater demand for the next sensation.

YouTube wants to keep the viewer hooked.
Along comes the recommended video sidebar.
This is the kicker.

AI realises that to keep you hooked
it just needs to put something a little more juicy up.
And something more juicy for a human viewer
it seems turns out to be something more extreme.
Of course we’re not looking at any kind of facts check,
and we’re not looking at what will likely benefit society,
we’re not judging the quality of the argument
or the beauty of the writing
because that’s not what gets people addicted.

YouTube, facebook etc whoever it is
will take everything they know,
about you, and people with similar behaviour,
people who have searched similar phrases,
watched similar videos,
bought similar products
and then feed it back to you,
in the form of the next recommendation,
slightly more engaging,
more likely to keep you hooked.
And they don’t need to know everything about you to do it.
They only need to know you better than you know yourself for it to work.

This in effect creates a demand for sensationalism.
And as I’ve pointed out attempts to keep all of the salmon
in the same mainstream
And it is very dangerous because we need the explorers, the chance, the mistakes.

My point I guess
is that what I’m trying to do is to reach an audience of
like minded supporters who are savvy to this,
who understand how the game is played,
and understand how we are forced to play it.
What it means in practice
is that whilst I would prefer to keep my content
slow burn and sustainable,
expect to see some shorter posts,
some more sensationalist titles,
or content.

I could for example congratulate Liam Neeson
on coming clean over his taboo thoughts recently.
Which I do.
He admitted that he had been subconsciously racist, and violently so,
but made clear that he had consciously overcome the problem.
This is what we as humans do.
It is how we function,
It was a simple explanation of the battle
we all have,
between our subconscious monkey brain
and our will,
our power to consciously over ride base feelings
for sacrifice, for individual gain or for social benefit.

This is the whole point about how we can join a new conversation
if we are able to manage our baser feelings,
and a great example of how encouraging sensationalism is dangerous.
Encouraging sensationalism encourages the knee jerk reaction,
depends upon it,
and our addiction to it,
deflects us from being able to debate effectively.
We are not interested in resolution,
Or fact,
We just need a bigger hit!
Look at the reaction he provoked.

This is a man, being open about his feelings,
a man raised on the troubles in Ireland,
this is a man who has the right to talk about
trauma, who was raised on violence and terror
who’d survived all of that.
Nearly destroyed by his own confession,
nearly broken by our need for excited,
Thankfully got away with it,
because for a while it looked like he would never work again.
And he has a particular set of skills.

What I might end up doing of course is exploiting this stuff.
Expect the following titles. Here we go.

Julian Assange – War Criminal
How racism will save the planet…
Top 10 Reasons Women Demand War,
Trump Blunder Reveals Russian Puppet Master
7 acts of sickening violence, involving puppies… click here
The secret sins of Jordan Peterson
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (29) revealed

If you have any let me know…
Any help much appreciated!

As I say slow burn works for me.
Got to try and keep that balance,
If you can like and share and review the podcast that’s the greatest help.
Or you can check out how to support the show
with a donation,
or a monthly subscription,
through paypal

Sign Up or the puppy gets it.

New Worlds, Feeling Good, and The Biology of Free Speech.

I’m bringing you a piece this week that is
I guess.
A little bit less fact
And a little bit more opinion
Really just less referring to the experts,
and the research,
Just me telling it how it is.

Turns out that if you ask the right question…
then a big majority of voters will say they’d prefer to be doing something for future generations
rather than just going in for a short term fix.
That’s what they say.

And that’s great because that’s what I’m looking at here.

And I guess I can write this now, because
whilst it’s taken me all of this time to work out that
I was suffering from Depression, Stress, Anxiety…
Luckily for me
I had access to a  good set of tools to help me out,
mates and mentors and more
and here I am!

So I’m going to talk about the causes of depression,
the importance of environmental or cultural factors,
and about the way our grand narrative distracts us from
seeing and dealing with the real causes.
Going to explain the dangers of mind hacking
and the way that the use of censorship works only to exacerbate the problems we face.
And I’m going to introduce the idea of a new conversation
that is emerging out of the ruins of our existing narrative,
This is a conversation that seeks to acknowledge our deepest fears, to uncover common goals, and that seeks to find agreement. 
This is a conversation that we may all join, community over division,
and to which people are turning in great numbers.
Its importance shouldn’t be discounted.
And its a conversation that requires honesty and openness and ultimately free speech

To start with a minor bugbear for me 
but with bigger implications.
Its my own worry,
to some extent,
about what I put out,
I worry that concentrating
on what I found distressing, and depressing
might just go on and depress everybody else
if I bang on about it.

I can see the point
And that’s not really what I have in mind.
I’m optimistic about what we can do in the world.

So Instead
Maybe I should concentrate on how the world is getting better?
The idea being that it if we only hear good news
the world could be a happier place.
Anxiety – gone.
And every thing fixed.
If you want some good news
then that’s ok,
the conversation has started.
But hey I don’t agree
that we stick to only the good stuff.
I don’t think it works that way.

We need absolutely
to talk about these things.
the darker side.

We are herd animals,
prey animals.
Stronger in groups and communities
than as single activists.
We are designed to react to stress.
designed to feel anxiety
To hear our instinct talking to us.
Telling us maybe how we have strayed too far from the crowd.
or being told to get back in there.

And maybe there is an irony to this
that while we may feel alienated and alone
none of us actually are
on our own in this.
We are all in it
together. 🙂

Can’t help myself with a few facts and figures,
Because all of them say that mental health issues in the UK
and the in West more generally
are getting worse.
An epidemic.
Like the system has taken on a life of its own
And we are getting cast out, left behind.

I question who the system is working for
when Anti-depressant prescriptions
used to treat Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,
Panic-Attacks and Depression.
have increased
more than doubled
from 31 million to 65 million
in the decade from 2006 to 2016.
And only 1 in 3 people who say they suffer
from one of those disorders
say they are getting treatment for them,
that’s a lot of suffering.

Now, we can question whether this is simple over prescription,
Or better diagnosis,
of a problem that has always been there
but I think the figures reflect what I’m seeing.
My personal experience.

What you cannot deny
Is that this is suffering.
And as the doctors might have said
is caused by low seratonin levels…

So let’s to stick with this for a while
are the drugs doing the job?

The drugs,
working on the theory that
depression is caused by low seratonin levels,
will help. No doubt.
They have their uses in individual cases
But how much?

It turns out that one of the ways of measuring depression
is to use the Hamilton Rating Scale.
a questionnaire designed to rate severity of a depression
by probing mood, feelings of guilt,
suicide ideation, 
and agitation or retardation,
It takes is anxiety, weight loss, and somatic symptoms.
And it scores from 0 to 51.
The drugs
on average
effect a movement of no more than 1.8 points
on this scale.

So if medical theory
seratonin replacement
can only account for such a small improvement
we might well ask what causes the rest of this 51 degrees
of suffering…

And when we ask that we find many environmental factors have a part to play.

And we find Sleep, for example.
A better sleep pattern,
will move the scale,
on average 6 points…

The causes of depression, anxiety etc,
bear with me
for just putting it out there,
are found to be
feelings of a lack of control,
feelings of isolation,
an inability to see a clear future.

These are environmental stresses.
Causes that relate to your belief system,
To your cognitive landscape.

The problem is not that your brain is malfunctioning.
Lacking in the right chemicals.
The problem is that the way you are living life,
makes no sense to your biology.
This is your billion year old biological self telling you to change things up.
Your behaviours stimulating the chemical balance.

All of us.
These days all of us
are living with elevated levels of stress
and feeling the alienation, isolation, loneliness
that its expressed through
and if we don’t talk about it
If we push it under the carpet
There’ll just be more isolation,
more alienation
and more suffering.

Whilst we may be out in the open,
exposed and vulnerable
out on the plane,
there is safety in numbers
In belonging – 
We’re not alone.

This works out to me as an argument for free speech…
extrapolates out into the bigger conversation

It’s like having to approach any subject
that might scare the kids is suddenly impossible…
or maybe any subject that will offend somebody.
Like this stuff should be hidden away.
Cos it
Might scare the kids!

Well maybe that’s the point.
Maybe that is what our kids need…
Maybe what we need?
Maybe they are crying out to be given some level of responsibility for their own lives.
And maybe they’ll be able to do a better job than we’ve done!
Maybe we won’t scare them,
and maybe they will just find mechanisms to deal with it.
How old were the fighter pilots in WW2?

Apologies if you see a hint of Nietzsche in the following but
Maybe our job,
as parents,
ought to be to introduce our children to the fear,
to challenge, to organisations.
gently of course,
and in balance,

but let them fight in the playground,
work out their hierarchy unsupervised
Let them understand who they are,
Let them shoulder some responsibility.

Let them experience risk,
and loss, and triumph
and learn to deal with it all,
Not easy
but it comes with a rite of passage.

To protect them from this and that
is to starve them of emotional growth,
and the means to thrive.
It is mentally unhealthy.

Nietzsche, and Jung, Thomas Campbell and Jordan Peterson
all welcome this journey,
it is a fundament of human existence,
They embrace the  darker side of it.
And from that, Emergence,

And I worry that if we only kept to hearing good news
we might just be creating a New Stepford,
in which we all fall prey to stupid, governing algorithms.
In which we are kept dumb, and lacking.
Farmed beasts…

The Stepford Wives is a 1972 novel by Ira Levin.
in which a young mother,
and photographer begins to suspect that
the frighteningly submissive housewives
in her new idyllic neighborhood
may be robots created by their husbands.

But maybe people need to feel good,
or they won’t listen…
Could Stepford be the way forward?
I’m saying No!
Stepford would be a living hell.

We can not possibly hope to move forward
without questioning
where we are?
And without discovering what is wrong with now.
Creative results flow from critical thinking.
And that means taking a long hard look at the bad stuff.

My fundamental message is one of hope, I hope,
but through discovery,
not blindness.

But you know maybe Stepford isn’t so far away.
Already we are aware of the dangers of social media.
We know how easily addicted we can be,
and distracted and manipulated.
It is real and it is happening now.

And It would be easy to ask Google, or facebook
or whoever your latest down with the kids app happens to be from
and we ask them to concentrate their algorithms on showing us only good news.
And there are people screaming out for this kind of tactical censorship,
social engineering,
as if its their right to be protected from pain,
to live in some form of Disneyland.
And we’ll come to this…

Just remember for now,
that that is us asking
we really are in control.
We can have what we wish for!

And that is why debating some of the most demanding philosophical questions needs to be done right now.
That is why we need to become part of the conversation.
Learn to row… productively.

Essentially, we need to be careful what we wish for
So ought we really be choosing Stepford?
A protected. cossetted life.
Immunised against pain

Is that our path to happiness?
Our way out of depression?
I think not!

But how can I know this
How can I be so sure?
How can we know, anything
in this world of fake news and flooded by information?
Let alone make decisions that will shape our futures
and our children’s futures
How can we decide the way forward?

I sit here writing,
sat in the sunshine.
nearly 20 degrees Centigrade,
in February,
a British Winter
not right.
And I know that depression
is on the up,
and that the robots are on the way,
and that we are  at best facing a future of human irrelevance,
a future of weak masses versus strong elites
and at worst a total systemic collapse,

And for now this is
against a backdrop of political chaos,
that’s Brexit in the UK,
and a national emergency in the US
what with Trump’s Wall,
and an apparent rise of racism, nationalism,
and plenty of other right wing isms
reported across a media
which can’t be trusted
one way or another.

There’s perpetual discord…
like Maleness is bad.
and Gender is relative.
Like Refugees are good,
and migrants bad.

We are passively divided up.
And conquered.
Deep State,
Deep global State
versus the people.

This is a time in which even the democratic process
only serves to create difference.
it’s a time when we expect to express ourselves
to express our billions of years
of evolutionary complexity
and we find that complexity is compressed
and squeezed through
a lens of consumerism,
and economic utility

it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God

We know this is myth
that whatever we need
can be found
through the consumerist god,
through economic growth
but we continue to follow the rules
and we find that
even our best efforts,
get turned against us
only serving to accelerate
the destruction of our environment
and ourselves… our mental health

That’s how we know its not working,
and we should be listening,
and those that have heard
want to make a difference…

But we also know 
how we have evolved to be cognitive robots.
susceptible to, and product of, social manipulation

We know that much of who we are,
much of what defines each and every
single individual one of us…
much of what drives our behaviour and
and our thought,
or our notion of our self 
is in danger of being hijacked.

How social media might just be a reflection of our everyday selves
a mirror of all that is good in humanity
but how it has evolved, to go bad.
As will any survivor in a competitive system
that goes unchecked,

We are fed a mythical landscape…
Of the algorithmic choosing.
Chosen by AI,
in the name of convenience,
and we are shown which product to buy,
which opinion to follow,
which facts to believe.

And this is the world we inhabit,
Our own personal landscape
In which we struggle with mythical foes,
for mythical rewards…

And yes 
The manipulation has always been there,
This we have evolved with,
we have become accustomed to
and that may be where the lives of heroes are spent
and where you are prepared to spend your life
…in that mythical landscape.
but now
things are moving on apace,
We control the mind control.
The mind hack is official.

And we know Facebook, Social Media has never been free.
We pay for our entertainment
and convenience
with information about our behaviour.
And yes we have been warned,
about what will happen if we don’t take care.

Social media.
Right Now.
Not a joke.
Not a maybe.
Not on it’s way.
Social Media right now is controlling
how we think.
Controlling what we see.
what we hear.
our aspirations
And our morals,
It is forming us into groups
and into divides.
Telling us who to vote for…
And it can only get worse!

At the same time,
Our innocence is
getting stripped away.
Layer by layer.
Like we have seen our own nakedness,
As eve has eaten of the apple,
and we’re getting cast out of the garden.
Clutching ragged leaves in front of our exposed bodies,
cowering cold and naked under the heavens,
the rain blows, the sun scorches the earth, the storm rages and
We are as lost children cast out.

And we reach out for guidance…

For thousands of years philosophers have talked
of the importance of “knowing thyself”

The answer
What can I do?
Is Know Thyself

Without that
There is no conversation
There can be no evolution.

And this knowing is born of hard work.
We are all sleepwalkers.

But we are all also
What makes us human is to
be able to switch our switch our state,
we are masters of this,
quickly and completely,
as and when we need to…
As though we are constantly in fear of a trap,
and always in any space
search first for an escape route.
Position our chair against the back wall.

Why not in our cognitive space?
Map out the mental landscape we have been living in
up to this moment,
We take a look around at our existing landscape,
get to know it,
so that we can redraw it.
Then, as though waking out of a dream.
The next step,
can be fully conscious.

It’s a superpower,
that let’s you observe
the chaos around you,
to see blind robots chasing outdated prizes,
chemical puppeteers pulling human heartstrings,
and to see your own part in it.

You are the explorer.
Where you’ll discover new wonders of the world,
And you’ll meet those on a similar journey.

And that’s a skill.
Probably one of the greatest skills you’ll ever get,
however you get it.
And once you learn the process that allows you to know yourself.
no-one can take that away.

I’d instinctively already answered the one truly serious
philosophical question set by Camus.
It was never so hard for me that I didn’t want to live.
I was simply asking how I might feel better.

The starting point for me was to ask
“what’s the point?”

Find that question for yourself.
The question that drives you
And follow it.

For me, there were the deep questions
that I had to find answers for.
Questions that philosophers
had been arguing over for years.
Sort of a natural home.

I already knew
that much of what I could come up with
was already there
but no problem.
That meant shortcuts
new directions,
and questions I hadn’t even considered.

And instinctively
through this focus
I found my narrative beginning to shift.
And by that I mean,
that the way that I saw the world was evolving.
I was remapping the way I saw my world,
and through that the way I saw myself.

And as the answers came
I was getting to a position where my choices
would make a difference.
This felt good.
I could choose my path.
I could see where my next step would take me.

I was waking up and
I realised that the key to this
was to in taking responsibility for myself.
I could take responsibility for my thoughts
my actions,
my behaviours…

So simple
but such a breakthrough
And also more than a little bit scary.

It seemed to me
that deeply rooted
in all of the science that we rely on,
to tells us who we are,
and how we function,
the science that we hang our hats on
in that
there is ultimately a message of free will,
of choice
and of ultimately
a better future.

The problem with that
of course is that it doesn’t come without effort
or without pain.

Consider that all of your hard work,
all of your struggle to make a life for yourself
has been worse than a waste of time.
It has been a childlike
search for acceptance
In a hormonal soup
an electromagnetic eddy
transient form
out of the chaos.

You have been tricked out of your life
and out of the lives of your children.
by age old myths
that would blindly lead you
into extinction.

Bad stuff?
Or opportunity for change?
Certainly that kind of thinking explained to me why I felt so bad…

For me, it works to confront the fear,
to hear the subconscious,
to listen
to view our habits,
and to take control of these things,
or at least to acknowledge them,
and to be able to push them away if need be.

And We need this focus
Because without it we won’t be able recognise ourselves,
and if we are unsure of who we are,
and of how we operate
then how can we join possibly the conversation.

The point is that the darkness,
the journey, the discovery needs to be there,
the darkness is what shows us the light
and understanding that,
that’s where the road to freedom begins.

It may seem a lonely path at first but 
there are many others on the same path.
This is global.
People waking up everywhere.

But here is the thing
You are in a trap, but
You have a choice…
And the only way out of this trap is to exercise that choice.
Do nothing and your future will be left to the robots.
Your kids will be enslaved.
You will be destined to a life of servitude.
Make a choice,
begin to learn to listen,
and view your options
and this is where you make the difference. 

What with all of the mind hacking and big data manipulation
it essentially boils down to you.
You – the one to choose your own narrative.
You – the one in charge.
You responsible.

And yes you could give that responsibility away.
Beg Smith to plug you back in.
or allow another to take control
But ultimately it remains
a feeling of discomfort

Red pill – waking up.
Or blue pill – sticking your fingers in your ears
You – making that choice.

Here then are some triggers for you.

Much as it pains me to say so,
I want Tommy Robinson’s social media accounts re-instated.

Much as I hate to do so, I want to point out that climate science
is only a theory and doesn’t tell us the truth about global warning.

And much as I am against being manipulated, brain hacked by the likes of google
I want to say that maybe AI could be used for good.

Triggered, Offended?
How does that feel?
And can you separate yourself from those emotions.
Calm them and remain logical…

We need to choose to do the right thing,
as individuals,
to take responsibility
And to do that we need to be prepared to think,
to take control and
become our own observer.
That way we can reclaim the conversation.

What is our alternative?
Increasingly violent divide?

You have the ability to join the game.
You have the responsibility to try.
The future is yours

Tackling The Brain Hack – What’s Making You Tick?

Ant Biggs explores the cognitive, narrative landscape; A human condition of unavoidable complicity, as both hacker and hacked is exposed. A landscape full of danger that appears to be at the same time both difficult to escape but also one in which individuals may still yet claim full responsibility.

This is Episode 11 of COW – the podcast “Tracking The Brain Hack” in which as Yuval Noan Harari might say, the myths that frame our reality are revealed, the deep biological nature of our narrative landscape, the mechanisms that drive social adoption, evolution and extinction and the function of the individual in that dynamic process to show how we have been glued together, how our abilities have been turned into superpowers and how we have risen to great heights.

But we are more than static automata, simple products of our past. We are an ultimately adaptable species, able to switch from one narrative to another within a moment of evolutionary time.
Uniquely able to swap from niche to niche when required.

The trick is to know when the narratives that bind us, are no longer relevant.
And to know where these superpowers must take us…

Read More

Language, Logic and Escaping The Cage

Hi there and welcome to cow the pocast. online
taking you on a trip into the strange and wonderful landscape of this here podcast.
This week delving into linguistics
how language shapes what we think
and some of the linguistic traps
that we all fall into
getting in the in the way of clear thinking
and generally causing trouble.
Wanna know where its all going wrong?
What you’ve been up to…
All of us

I’m Ant Biggs and I’ ll be your host for the next 20 – 30 minutes or so
Stay with me…

If you are a regular listener and you’re feeling generous,
thinking maybe this podcast could use my support
you can find out how to go about that
Thank you to those who are supporting us right now
without you we couldn’t do this.
If you want to come by and comment or just say hello
same place
See you there Read More

Neural Plasticity, Trauma Bonding and The State

Here we are again people, Hi there and thank you for tuning in. I’m Ant Biggs.
This is COW – the podcast, where I try to make some kind of sense out of the world we all think we know,
by applying a bit of critical thinking and questioning everything.
Re-mapping the landscape, one week at a time. Read More

The Opener

I guess some of you will know me so that’s great. And you’ll be here for the gossip, firstly and foremost, I guess?
So yes, here I am, this is it… this is what I’ve been up to for the last few months. Hi there…
OK an introduction… Well, I have struggled with this introduction cos I’m hoping it will be a kind of go to, for new listeners etc, so I’ve wanted it to be sticky, an outline of what I’m trying to cover. The struggle really was the decision has been whether to go into my own narrative or just to let COW do the talking. And of course we all get a bit nervous about exposing ourselves in public… It’s apparently one of our greatest cultural fears – speaking in public, revealing oneself, standing out from the crowd. Read More

Another Prequel – sign up now!

Things are changing.

And what do we see, when we wake up?
Read More