luni, 26 mai 2008


NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and Boeing have expanded flight testing for the X-48B blended wing body (BWB) research aircraft into the second of six planned phases.

The second phase of flight tests with the 500-pound, remotely piloted test vehicle involves higher speed regimes. The 21-foot-wingspan test aircraft is flying without its slats deployed. Slats are flight control surfaces on the leading edges of wings which, when extended, allow an aircraft to take off, fly and land at slower speeds.

X-48B flight testing is taking place at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. NASA Dryden is providing critical support to a Boeing-led project team that also includes the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, and Cranfield Aerospace Ltd., of Bedford, England.

“The first flight in the slats-retracted configuration marked another milestone in aviation history and the performance of the X-48 aircraft continues to exceed our expectations,” said Tim Risch, X-48B project manager for NASA.

“We want to fully understand the aerodynamics of the blended wing body design all the way up to and beyond stall, so that we can learn how to fly a blended wing body aircraft as safely as any other large transport aircraft with a conventional tail,” said Norm Princen, Boeing's X-48B chief engineer. “This latest phase of the flight testing is one more step in the process and we are looking forward to progressing on to more risky flight maneuvers in the months ahead.”

Initial X-48B flight tests, known as the Block 1 phase, consisted of 11 flights and incorporated slow-speed testing with bolt-on leading-edge slats in the extended position. Block 2 flights began on April 4. The X-48B made its first flight on July 20, 2007.

BWB test aircraft dubbed 'Skyray'

Dubbed 'Skyray' by the partners, the sub-scale BWB aircraft now sports a clean leading edge and takes off and lands at speeds of about 75 knots, compared with 60 knots in the Block 1 flight tests. In Block 2 flight tests, NASA Dryden and Boeing will gather data from the aircraft at speeds up to 118 knots.

At least eight flights are scheduled for the Block 2 phase. In all, the project calls for a total of six flight-test phases, each progressively increasing the level of flight-envelope risk. The final phase, Block 6, is designed to push the aircraft's flight parameters by testing the departure limiter, a critical part of the flight control software that is designed as a safety feature to prevent the aircraft from going into uncontrolled flight.

NASA's participation in the blended wing body research effort is focused on advanced flight dynamics and structural design concepts within the Subsonic Fixed Wing Project. This project is part of the Fundamental Aeronautics Program managed by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

BWB design's potential benefits

Potential benefits of the blended wing body design include increased volume and thus greater carrying capacity, efficient aerodynamics for reduced fuel burn and, possibly, significant noise reductions allowed by propulsion integration. In initial flight testing, NASA's and Boeing's principal focus is to validate research on the aerodynamics and controllability of the shape, including comparisons of flight data with the extensive database of aerodynamic data collected in wind-tunnel tests.

In addition to hosting the X-48B flight-test and research activities, NASA Dryden provides engineering and technical expertise garnered from years of operating cutting-edge aircraft. Dryden assists with the hardware and software validation and verification process, the integration and testing of the aircraft's systems and the pilot's ground control station. Its range group provides critical telemetry and command and control communications during X-48B flights, while Dryden Flight Operations provides a chase aircraft and flight scheduling. Photo and video support complement the effort.

Members of the Boeing Phantom Works research and technology organization, based in Huntington Beach, Calif., designed the X-48B flight test aircraft in cooperation with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to gather detailed information about the stability and flight-control characteristics of the blended wing body design, especially during takeoffs and landings.

Three small jet engines enable the composite-skinned, 8.5-percent-scale vehicle to fly up to an altitude of 10,000 feet. A pilot flies the aircraft remotely from a ground control station, using conventional aircraft controls and instrumentation while viewing a monitor fed by a forward-looking camera on the aircraft.

Two X-48B research vehicles were built by Cranfield Aerospace Ltd. Ship 1, a duplicate of the Ship 2 flight test aircraft, completed extensive wind tunnel testing in 2006 in the full-scale wind tunnel at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Ship 1 remains available for use as a back-up aircraft during the flight test program.

sâmbătă, 24 mai 2008

How Your Internal Map of Reality Creates Your Life

by Bill Harris, Director,
Centerpointe Research Institute

Over the last several articles I've been describing the inner workings of what I call your internal map of reality, because I want you to understand that making this internal map conscious – rather than just letting it run on automatic – is the way to introduce choice into your life.

Once you can choose, you can choose happiness and inner peace (unless you're some sort of a masochist). When this map and its workings are conscious, you can clearly see how you create your experience of life, including your thoughts, your feelings, and your results. Once you see how you create your life, it becomes impossible to create results that do not serve you.

When you hear about spiritually advanced people being in moment-to-moment bliss and happiness, one of the reasons they are having this experience is that they are conscious of their own map of reality and can therefore direct the creation of their life.

There is a second level to being conscious of this map, about which I will not go into detail here, but which deserves mention.

Once you see how all of these usually unconscious processes function, in addition to gaining control over them, you also realize – at a very deep experiential level – that you are not these processes.

You discover that you are something much deeper and more profound. You realize that you are not your feelings, you are not your thoughts, you are not your body, you are not the various cognitive processes that make up your map of reality, and you are not even the feeling or sensation of "I."

If you're not these things, then who are you? You're going to have to discover who you really are for yourself, because it's beyond anything conceptual or cognitive, but here's a clue" you're the nothingness out of which all these things arise.

That you are not these parts of your internal map of reality is the deeper meaning of "the map is not the territory," another of my Nine Principles.

Once you have this realization – not intellectually, though it may start there, but experientially – you are really free, and nothing can shake you from your happiness and inner peace. Different traditions have different names for this, but some of them include liberation, enlightenment, awakening, nirvana, and self-actualization. We'll visit this subject again in upcoming articles.

I tell you this because I want to motivate you to do the work required to make this map conscious, because it is well worth the trouble (and besides, it is very joyful work).

Okay, onward. I want to examine in more detail a very significant part of this internal map of reality, the subject of representational modalities and sub modalities, and how they affect your experience of yourself and the world.

I know this may sound complicated, so let me explain.

I have mentioned in previous articles that when we receive some sort of sensory input (i.e., we see something, hear something, smell something, feel something, taste something, or have internal dialog about something), this input passes through a series of mental filters that then delete, distort, and generalize the input.

These filters include the language we speak, our concept of time and space, our values, our beliefs, our decisions, our metaprograms (such as whether or not we move toward what we want or away from what we don't want, or see sameness or difference when we look at things, or sort information by possibility or necessity, and so on — what could be termed non-content filters or filters about process rather than about content), and a number of others.

I have described many of these filters in more detail in past articles, and will elaborate in more detail in future articles.

Once we have deleted, distorted, and generalized the input coming at us, we make an internal representation of the results of this filtering process. This internal representation can be a picture (a visual internal representation), a sound (an auditory internal representation), a feeling or sensation of touch, temperature, or pressure (kinesthetic), a taste (gustatory), a smell (olfactory), or some sort of internal dialog (auditory digital, a kind of variation on auditory). These different ways of internally representing something to ourselves are called modalities.

Internal representations are very interesting. Before we go into them in more detail and investigate the role they play in creating your experience of life, I want to make a few general observations.

First, internal representations are our interface with the rest of the universe. They are how we experience what we think of as "reality." We do not experience reality directly (at least not until we become fully conscious), but rather we experience our representation of reality, and then (mistakenly) think it is reality.

Second, I want you to you to keep in mind that internal representations are, like everything else about your internal map of reality, happening — for most people — outside of conscious awareness and conscious control. As such, they often create results for you do not want.

Third, I want you to be aware of the fact that when you want to make a change in something in your life, it is usually either your state (how you feel) or something about your behavior (motivating yourself, for instance, or stopping a behavior you don't like) that you want to change.

You accomplish these changes in one of two ways (whether you know it or not): either by changing something about your physiology (the subject of an article to come later) or by changing your internal representations. This gives internal representations great power over your experience of life (and might be a good reason to make them conscious and learn how to consciously direct them).

If you decide to change something about your internal representations in order to change something in your life, there are two things you could change:

WHAT you represent to yourself (i.e., the content of what you represent, such as thinking about a goal you have rather than about something you are afraid of; or deciding to do one thing instead of another)

HOW you represent it (in other words, the details of how you create the internal representation).
To understand the choices you have when you change how you represent something to yourself, you need to understand that each of the modalities I mentioned above (visual, auditory, auditory digital, kinesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory), can be broken down into various sub modalities.

These are the details of how we create a certain internal representation. Depending on a person's individual map of reality, different sub modalities will affect different people in different ways, and discovering the different ways we represent things to ourselves and how they affect us gives us a very powerful tool to use in taking control over our state and our behavior.

To demonstrate sub modalities and the powerful effect they have on both state and behavior, I want you to do a little mental process with me. You might want to have someone else read these instructions to you so you don't have to keep opening your eyes and referring back to them, or you can just read and learn them and then stop and do the exercise by yourself.

Think of a very pleasant memory. Close your eyes, relax, and think of it. Let yourself make an internal image that represents that memory. Now take the image you see in your mind's eye and make it brighter. Notice, as you do this, how your state changes.

Next, bring the picture closer and notice any state changes. Play with close, very close, and far away and see what happens to your state as you do so.

Then try making the picture bigger and smaller and see what happens. Then, when you are finished, open your eyes.

These things — brightness, location, and size of the picture — are examples of visual sub modalities, and you can see that changing them does indeed change the way you feel about this pleasant memory. Some changes increase the pleasure, and some diminish it. Some may even make it feel negative.

Now close your eyes again and tune into the sounds you hear internally that go along with this picture. Raise and lower the volume and see what happens. Give the sounds more rhythm, change the tone, change the location from which they originate (in other words, if the sounds are coming from in front of you, see what happens when you move the location to the side, or make it come from overhead or behind you).

Now focus on the kinesthetic sub modalities. Make the memory warmer and softer. Make it smoother. What happens to your feelings when you do this?

Now think of a negative situation, something that upset you and caused you pain, and let your mind create an image representing it (believe me, you already have one stored away in the mental vault). Take the image and find out how making it brighter or dimmer changes your state. Do the same with making it bigger or smaller. Play with the focus. What happens?

Then, hear your internal voice, or whatever sounds there are, in a loud, staccato tone. Feel the experience as hard and firm. Then let it soften. What happens? Now take the negative image and make it smaller, then de-focus it and make it dimmer. Now move it farther away, so you can hardly see it. Move it behind you, far away. Then, reduce the volume of the sounds you hear. Take away their rhythm. Finally, make the image feel sort of wispy and insubstantial.

As you can see, these changes have a definite effect on how you feel. Why? Because sub modalities are the way you catalog and store all kinds of distinctions between things you like or don't like, things that feel good or don't feel good, things you believe or don't believe, and many other distinctions.

You recognize and keep track of all the ways you distinguish between any one thing and something else, or how things are the same, by storing them in your mental files, and you do this by assigning certain sub modalities to each category based on the distinctions you want to make.

If you make an internal picture of something you believe, for instance, the picture you use to represent it will have a certain brightness, be in a certain location in your visual field (i.e., right in front of you, over to the left, slightly above the visual mid-line, or whatever), be a certain distance away, and have a certain amount of clarity and focus.

It might also be panoramic or have a frame around it. It might be large or small, color or black and white, a still picture or a movie — and so on. There are many more possibilities, but these are generally the most important visual sub modalities (often called drivers).

For most people, all the pictures that represent things you believe (even if these things are unrelated in other ways) will have the same or very similar sub modalities. Those things you do not believe will have other very different sub modalites. You can verify this by making a few internal pictures of some things you believe, and a few of things you don't believe and noticing the sub modalities of the pictures.

Though this process generally happens outside your awareness, this is the way you keep track of what you believe and what you don't believe (most people have another category, too: what you used to, but no longer, believe). This is your mental filing system!

The really interesting thing about using sub modalities to create change is that if you make a picture of something you don't believe (such as "I can be happy all the time" or "I can be rich"), and change the sub modalities of the picture your mind generates so they match those of something you DO believe, you will begin to feel like you believe it, and begin to act accordingly.

Or, you could take something you are very motivated about, discover what the sub modalities you use to represent motivation, then pick something you want to be motivated about (but aren't), and then change the non-motivated picture so it now has the sub modalities you use for motivation.

This causes the thing you were not motivated about to be stored with those things you are motivated about, and as a result you begin to feel motivated by it (there is another piece here that we don't have time to deal with, which is how you keep the picture from changing back, which is what will happen if you have some strong, underlying, secondary reason for staying unmotivated).

We've been talking here about visual sub modalities mostly, but the same can be done with auditory, kinesthetic, and other modalities. Sometimes at retreats I ask if anyone has a voice in their head telling them they are not okay, or can't succeed at something. Generally this voice, when experienced, has a powerful effect on the person's state and ability to act.

When we change the sub modalities to something very different, the emotional charge, and it's ability to affect their state and their behavior, goes away. When we change the internal voice of someone's mother telling them they'll never succeed by moving it 100 yards behind them, lowering the volume, and then changing it from Mom's voice to Goofy's voice, or to a very sexy voice (or whatever), it to lose all its power.

Every distinction you make — whether it' keeping track of what you believe, what motivates you, what you like, what you don't like, what is funny or not funny, what turns you or repels you, or thousands of other distinctions — is stored inside your brain and categorized using sub modalities. As you can see, by changing the sub modalities of your internal representations, you can change beliefs, values, and many aspects of how you see yourself, the world, and your relationship to it.

To exercise control over this powerful aspect of your internal map of reality, though, you have to spend some time playing with your brain and discovering how you, personally, make these distinctions for yourself. So spend some time playing with this. Discover how you represent things you believe or don't believe, things that motivate you and things that don't, things you like or don't like, things you think you can do and things you don't think you can do, things you are afraid of and things you aren't afraid of, and so on.

Instead of letting all of these distinctions — and the way they affect your state and your behavior – happen unconsciously, outside your control and without your conscious choice, find out how you create them and begin to take control of the process and make choices that give you the results you really want.

This whole process of discovering and taking control of how you create your reality is a very easy process when you meditate daily with Holosync.

Why? Because Holosync dramatically enhances your ability to take the perspective of the watcher in noticing how your internal map of reality works, and once you are able to do that, you automatically begin to create what serves you and toss out what creates suffering in your life.

Since you have the ability to make this process easier, you might as well take advantage of it.

If you'd like to experience the kind of dramatic, positive change Holosync audio technology can create in your life, read the introduction which details all the benefits and reveals the scientific proof behind Holosync (and includes an extremely attractive, money-saving offer) found on the homepage.

marți, 29 aprilie 2008

Addiction to nicotine

by PsychologyToday

Nicotine is more powerfully addictive than most people realize. It will probably take several tries before you learn enough tricks to stay cigarette-free for good.
It may not be a "sin" anymore, but few would dispute that smoking is the devil to give up. Of the 46 million Americans who smoke--26 percent of the adult population--an estimated 80 percent would like to stop and one-third try each year. Two to three percent of them succeed. "There's an extraordinarily high rate of relapse among people who want to quit," says Michael Fiore, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin.
The tenacity of its grip can be matched by few other behaviors, most of which, like snorting cocaine and shooting up heroin, are illegal. Since 1988, nicotine dependence and withdrawal have been recognized as disorders by the American Psychiatric Association, legitimizing the experience of the millions who have tried, successfully and otherwise, to put smoking behind them while kibitzers told them to use more willpower.
It's not just a habit, the medical and scientific communities now fully agree, but an addiction, comparable in strength to hard drugs and alcohol.
In fact, the odds of "graduating" from experimentation to true dependence are far worse for cigarettes than for illicit drugs, which testifies to tobacco's one-two punch of addictiveness and availability: Crack and heroin aren't sold in vending machines and hawked from billboards. Alcohol is as legal and available as cigarettes are, and as big a business, but apparently easier to take or leave alone. The majority of people who drink are not dependent on alcohol, while as many as 90 percent of smokers are addicted.
If nothing else, the persistence of smoking in the face of a devastating rogue's gallery of bodily damage, little of which has been kept secret, attests to the fact that this is no rational life-style decision. "Take all the deaths in America caused by alcohol, illicit drugs, fires, car accidents, homicide, and suicide. Throw in AIDS. It's still only half the deaths every year from cigarettes," says Fiore.
The news, however, isn't all bad. For the last 20 years, the proportion of Americans who smoke has dropped continuously, for the first time in our history. In America today, there are nearly 45 million ex-smokers, about as many as are still puffing away.
These quitters, perhaps surprisingly, are for the most part the same folk who tried and failed before. The average person who successfully gives up smoking does so after five or six futile attempts, says Fiore. "It appears that many smokers need to go through a process of quitting and relapsing a number of times before he or she can learn enough skills or maintain enough control to overcome this addiction."
Never underestimate the power of your enemy. Although nicotine may not give the taste of Nirvana that more notorious drugs do, its effects on the nervous system are profound and hard to resist. It increases levels of acetylcholine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that regulate mood, attention, and memory. It also appears to stimulate the release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain, as opiates, cocaine, and alcohol do.
Addiction research has clearly established that drugs with a rapid onset--that hit the brain quickly--have the most potent psychological impact and are the most addictive. "With cigarettes, the smoker gets virtually immediate onset," says Jack Henningfield, Ph.D., chief of clinical pharmacology research for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "The cigarette is the crack cocaine of nicotine delivery."
Physiologically, smoking a drug, be it cocaine or nicotine, is the next best thing to injecting it. In fact, it's pretty much the same thing, says Henningfield. "Whether you inhale a drug in 15 seconds, which is pretty slow for an average smoker, or inject it in 15 seconds, the effects are identical in key respects," he says. The blood extracts nicotine from inhaled air just as efficiently as oxygen, and delivers it, within seconds, to the brain.
The cigarette also gives the smoker "something remarkable: the ability to get precise, fingertip dose control," says Henningfield. Achieving just the right blood level is a key to virtually all drug-induced gratification, and the seasoned smoker does this adeptly, by adjusting how rapidly and deeply he or she puffs. "If you get the dose just right after going without cigarettes for an hour or two, there's nothing like it," he says.
The impetus to smoke is indeed, as the tobacco companies put it, for pleasure. "But there's no evidence that smoke in the mouth provides much pleasure," says Henningfield. "We do know that nicotine in the brain does."
For many, nicotine not only gives pleasure, it eases pain. Evidence has mounted that a substantial number of smokers use cigarettes to regulate emotional states, particularly to reduce negative affect like anxiety, sadness, or boredom.
"People expect that having a cigarette will reduce bad feelings," says Thomas Brandon, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. His research found this, in fact, to be one of the principal motivations for daily smokers.
Negative affect runs the gamut from the transitory down times we all have several times a day, to clinical depression. Smokers are about twice as likely to be depressed as nonsmokers, and people with a history of major depression are nearly 50 percent more likely than others to also have a history of smoking, according to Brandon.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, depression appears to cut your chance of quitting by as much as one-half, and the same apparently applies, to a lesser extent, to people who just have symptoms of depression.
According to Alexander Glassman, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the act of quitting can trigger severe depression in some people. In one study, nine smokers in a group of 300 in a cessation program became so depressed--two were frankly suicidal--that the researchers advised them to give up the effort and try again later. All but one had a history of major depression.
"These weren't average smokers," Glassman points out. All were heavily dependent on nicotine, they smoked at least a pack and a half daily, had their first cigarette within a half hour of awakening, and had tried to quit, on average, five times before. It is possible, he suggests, that nicotine has an antidepressant effect on some.
More generally, suggests Brandon, the very effectiveness of cigarettes in improving affect is one thing that makes it so hard to quit. Not only does a dose of nicotine quell the symptoms of withdrawal (much more on this later), the neurotransmitters it releases in the brain are exactly those most likely to elevate mood.
For a person who often feels sad, anxious, or bored, smoking can easily become a dependable coping mechanism to be given up only with great difficulty. "Once people learn to use nicotine to regulate moods," says Brandon, "if you take it away without providing alternatives, they'll be much more vulnerable to negative affect states. To alleviate them, they'll be tempted to go back to what worked in the past."
In fact, negative affect is what precipitates relapse among would-be quitters 70 percent of the time, according to Saul Shiftman, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. "We invited people to call a relapse-prevention hot line, to find out what moments of crises were like; what was striking was how often they were in the grip of negative emotions just before relapses, strong temptations, and close calls." A more precise study using palm-top computers to track the state of mind of participants is getting similar results, Shiftman says.
Most relapses occur soon after quiting, some 50 percent within the first two weeks, and the vast majority by six months. But everyone knows of people who had a slip a year, two, or five after quitting, and were soon back to full-time puffing. And for each of them, there are countless others who have had to fight the occasional urge, desire, or outright craving months, even years after the habit has been, for all intents and purposes, left behind.
Acute withdrawal is over within four to six weeks for virtually all smokers. But the addiction is by no means all over. Like those who have been addicted to other drugs, ex-smokers apparently remain susceptible to "cues," suggests Brandon: Just as seeing a pile of sugar can arouse craving in the former cocaine user, being at a party or a club, particularly around smokers,can rekindle the lure of nicotine intensely.
The same process may include "internal cues," says Brandon. "If you smoked in the past when under stress or depressed, the act of being depressed can serve as a cue to trigger the urge to smoke."
Like users of other drugs, Henningfield points out, addicted smokers don't just consume the offending substance to feel good (or not bad), but to feel "right." "The cigarette smoker's daily function becomes dependent on continued nicotine dosing: Not just mood, but the ability to maintain attention and concentration deteriorates very quickly in nicotine withdrawal."
Henningfield's studies have shown that in an addicted smoker, attention, memory, and reasoning ability start to decline measurably just four hours after the last cigarette. This reflects a real physiological impairment: a change in the electrical activity of the brain. Nine days after quitting, when some withdrawal symptoms, at least, have begun to ease, there has been no recovery in brain function.

How long does the impairment persist?
No long-term studies have been done, but cravings and difficulties in cognitive function have been documented for as long as nine years in some ex-smokers. "There are clinical reports of people who have said that they still aren't functioning right, and eventually make the 'rational decision' to go back to smoking," Henningfield says.
The conclusion is inescapable that smoking causes changes in the nervous system that endure long after the physical addiction is history, and in some smokers, may never normalize.
The wealth of recent knowledge about smoking clarifies why it's hard to quit. But can it make it easier? If nothing else, it should help people take it seriously enough to gear up for the effort. "People think of quitting as something short term, but they should expect to struggle for a couple of months," says Shiftman.

What works?
About 90 percent of people who give up smoking do so on their own, says Fiore. But the odds for success can be improved: Programs that involve counseling typically get better rates, and nicotine replacement can be a potent ally in whatever method you use.
In a metaanalysis of 17 placebo-controlled trials involving more than 5,000 people, Fiore found that the patch consistently doubled the success of quit attempts, whether or not antismoking counseling was used. After six months, 22 percent of the people who used the patch remained off cigarettes, compared to 9 percent who had a placebo. Of those who had the patch and a relatively intense counseling or support program, 27 percent were smoke-free.
More than 4 million Americans have tried the patch, which replaces the nicotine on which the smoker has become dependent, to ease such withdrawal symptoms as irritability, insomnia, inability to concentrate, and physical cravings that drive many back to tobacco.
You're likely to profit from the patch if you have a real physical dependence on nicotine: that is, if you have your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up; smoke 20 or more a day; or experienced severe withdrawal symptoms during previous quit attempts.
Standard directions call for using the patches in decreasing doses for two to three months. Some researchers, however, suggest that for certain smokers, the patch may be necessary for years, or indefinitely.
"It's already happening," says Henningfield. "Some doctors have come to the conclusion that some patients are best able to get on with their life with nicotine maintenance." One such physician is David Peter Sachs, M.D., director of the Palo Alto Center for Pulmonary Disease Prevention. "I realized that with some of my patients, no matter how slowly I tried to taper them off nicotine replacement, they couldn't do it," says Sachs. "They were literally using it for years. Before you start tapering the dose, you should be cigarette-free for at least 30 days."
His clinical experience leads him to believe that 10 to 20 percent of smokers are so dependent that they may always need to get nicotine from somewhere. One study of people using the gum found that two years later, 20 percent of those who had successfully remained cigarette-free were still chewing. The idea of indefinite, even lifetime, nicotine maintenance sounds offensive to some. "Clearly, the goal to aim for is to be nicotine-free," says Sachs. "But if that can't be reached, being tobacco-free still represents a substantial gain for the patient, and for society." And getting nicotine via a patch or gum source means a far lower dose than you'd get from a cigarette. Plus, you're getting just nicotine, and not the 42 carcinogens in tobacco smoke.
Although the once-a-day patch has largely supplanted the gum first used in nicotine replacement, Sachs thinks that for some, the most effective treatment could involve one or both. The patch may be easier to use, but the gum is the only product that allows you control over blood nicotine level. Some people know they'll do better if they stay in control. And would-be quitters who do fine on the patch until they run into a stressful business meeting may stifle that urge to bum a cigarette if they boost their nicotine level in advance with a piece of gum, Sachs says.
However nicotine replacement "is not a magic bullet," says Fiore. "It will take the edge off the tobacco-withdrawal syndrome, but it won't automatically transform any smoker into a nonsmoker." Other requisite needs vary from person to person. A standard approach teaches behavioral "coping skills," simple things like eating, chewing gum, or knitting to keep mouth or hands occupied, or leaving tempting situations. Ways people cope cognitively are as important as what they do, says Shiftman.
He advises would-be quitters at times of temptation to remind themselves just why they're quitting: "My children will be so proud of me," or "I want to live to see my grandchildren," for example. Think of a relaxing scene. Imagine how you'll feel tomorrow if you pass this crisis without smoking. Or simply tell yourself, "NO" or "Smoking is not an option."
Coping skills, however, are conspicuously unsuccessful for people who are high in negative affect. Supportive counseling works better. Depression or anxiety may interfere with the ability to use cognitive skills.
One exercise that Brandon teaches patients asks them to inventory--and treat themselves to--things that make them feel good, a substitute for the mood-elevating effect of a cigarette. These might include exercising, being with friends, going to concerts, reading, or taking a nap. "Positive life-style changes that improve mood level" are particularly useful if you use cigarettes to deal with negative emotional states, he says.
Depression treatment is particularly important for those trying to quit smoking. One study found that cognitive therapy significantly improved quit rates for people with a history of depression. Various antidepressants have been effective in small studies, and a large double-blind trial using the drug Zoloft is underway.
Fiore has found that having just one cigarette in the first two weeks of a cessation program predicted about 80 percent of relapses at six months. Even when the withdrawal symptoms are gone, a single lapse can rekindle the urge as much as ever.
In the critical first weeks without cigarettes, a key to relapse prevention is avoiding, or severely limiting, alcohol, which not only blunts inhibitions, but is often powerfully bound to smoking as a habit. Up to one-half of people who try to quit have their first lapse with alcohol on board.
Watch your coffee intake, too. It can trigger the urge to smoke. And nicotine stimulates a liver enzyme that breaks down caffeine, so when you quit, you'll get more bang for each cup, leading to irritability, anxiety, and insomnia--the withdrawal symptoms that undermine quit efforts.
Try to change your routine to break patterns that strengthen addiction: drive to work a different way; don't linger at the table after a meal. And don't try to quit when you're under stress: vacation time might be a good occasion.
And if you do have a lapse? Don't trivialize it, because then you're more likely to have another, says Shiffman. But, "if you make it a catastrophe, you'll reconfirm fears that you'll never be able to quit," a low self-esteem position that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Think of it as a warning, a mistake you'll have to overcome."
Try to learn from the lapse: examine the situation that led up to it, and plan to deal with it better in the future. "And take it as a sign you need to double your efforts," Shiffman says. "Looking back at a lapse, many people find they'd already begun to slack off; early on, they were avoiding situations where they were tempted to smoke, but later got careless."
Don't be discouraged by ups and downs. "It's normal to have it easy for a while, then all of a sudden you're under stress and for 10 minutes you have an intense craving," says Shiftman. "Consider the gain in frequency and duration: the urge to smoke is now coming back for 10 minutes, every two weeks, rather than all the time."
If lapse turns into relapse and you end up smoking regularly, the best antidote to despair is getting ready to try again. "Smoking is a chronic disease, and quitting is a process. Relapse and remission are part of the process," says Fiore. "As long as you're continuing to make progress toward the ultimate goal of being smoke-free, you should feel good about your achievement."

o Nicotine addiction is powerful. Expect to struggle for a couple of months. It's an up-and-down course.
o Don't despair. It may take six tries to learn enough skills to beat this addiction.
o Aim for absolute abstinence--even a single puff leads to relapse.
o Inventory those things that make you feel good and treat yourself to them--excercising, kissing, reading, taking a nap--instead of a smoke.
o Watch your coffee intake. Not only is it a trigger to smoke, your sensitivity to caffeine increases, mimicking nicotine-withdrawal symptoms.
o Change routines associated with smoking. Take a walk before your morning coffee. Drive to work different way.
o Although most quitters succeed (eventually) on their own, programs that involve counseling improve the odds, especially for the depressed or anxious.
o Don't dismiss nicotine replacement with patch or gum. Gum allows you control over your blood nicotine level.
o Keep your guard up. Most lapses occur three or four weeks out, when you're feeling better.
o In the first week, avoid, or severly limit, alcohol.

Although the difference between smokers and nonsmokers appears to reflect complex environmental and social factors, genetics apparently plays a role comparable to that observed in alcoholism, responsible for about 30 percent of the propensity. In particular, shared genetics appears to account for the link between smoking and depression, according to data collected on nearly 1,500 pairs of female twins. "The twin data show that whatever gene puts you at risk for depression, the same gene puts you at risk for smoking," says Alexander Glassman.
Further evidence for this conclusion comes from a prospective epidemiological study, in which 1,200 people in their twenties were surveyed twice, 18 months to two years apart. Nonsmokers who were depressed at the first interview were more likely to be smoking at the time of the second, while nondepressed smokers were more likely to have become depressed by then.
Genetics may even play a role in how you smoke. Shiftman studied a group of people who had smoked regularly but lightly, five cigarettes or less, four days or more a week, for several years at least. Says Saul Shiftman: "They had ample opportunity to become addicted--on average, they'd smoked 46,000 cigarettes, but we found not the slightest evidence of dependence: they showed no signs of withdrawal when abstinent. They really could casually take smoking or leave it."
Such nonaddicted users--"chippers," in drug culture parlance--are also seen among consumers of hard drugs. "We didn't delve deeply into what made these smokers different," says Shiftman. "But we did find evidence that they also had relatives who smoked with little dependence, who followed the same pattern. This makes it plausible, although it doesn't prove that these folks are biologically different." With rare exceptions, chippers have always smoked that way, he points out. For a once-addicted smoker to try to become a chipper is "a risky business" that's probably doomed to failure.

Smoking just doesn't have the cachet it once did. Instead of a mark of worldliness and joie de vivre, it's become something of a social disease. Except on billboards and in magazine ads, the smoker him- or herself is less likely to be the object of admiration than of pity and contempt.
The change in smoking's status is no doubt in part responsible for the 40 percent decline in its prevalence since 1964. And it would seem logical that those people who are still smoking in the face of such adversity are an increasingly hard-core, heavily addicted bunch, unable to quit.
Alexander Glassman conjectures that as the social environment grows more hostile to smoking, the genetic component of the behavior will become more evident. And as the number of smokers drops, an increasing percentage will have psychiatric problems, particularly depression.
But the change hasn't yet been documented. "Actually, I don't think the data support the idea that today's smokers are very different from years back," says Fiore. "The average number of cigarettes they smoke today isn't dramatically different from 20 years ago--about 22 per day."
One thing that has happened is a change in the sociodemographics of smoking. "More and more, it's a behavior predominantly exercised by disadvantaged members of society: 40 percent of high-school dropouts smoke, compared to 14 percent of college grads. Poor people are more likely to smoke than wealthy. It's getting marginalized," he says.
If nothing else, today's antismoking climate has eliminated much denial about the true nature of the cigarette habit. "Smokers are much more aware of being hooked," says Saul Shiftman. "You can't tell how dependent you are if access is easy. If you can smoke at your desk and at a restaurant, you can delude yourself, as people have for decades: 'I like to smoke but I can take it or leave it.' It's hard to say that when the only place you can smoke is outside when it's hailing and 20 degrees."

miercuri, 23 aprilie 2008

Be carfeul !

Living Longer?

from BBC

How long can we expect to live these days?
Life expectancy has increased by one to two years in men and women every ten years. We're now living longer, and not just longer but also healthier lives. We still experience periods of ill health and dependency before death - that hasn’t changed – it’s just that now it happens later.

Why are we living longer?
There are two main reasons. The first is better healthcare treatment and the successful battle against infectious diseases. Vaccination programmes made a huge difference to combating diseases such as diphtheria, TB and smallpox. The second factor is a higher standard of living - for example, improved childhood and maternal nutrition and higher quality housing. We've also managed to improve healthcare for older people. A lot of money is now spent on older people, treating cancers, mental health and heart disease, which has brought down death rates.

What are the most important things we can do to live longer?
Increasing your life expectancy is about looking at your life and asking what you can do to make yourself happier? Often this is down to taking control, sometimes through physical activity or healthy eating. This then leads a person to feel more in control and starts them thinking about their health behaviour. People will revert to unhealthy behaviour unless they look at their entire life.

Do we underestimate the importance of other lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress?
I think we can do. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it's about controlling it. If your life's out of control and you can't do anything about it then that can lead to things like road rage. This kind of stress can increase your risk of heart attacks, violent behaviour and depression, but stress can also be an important natural state. Basic ageing is about damage versus repair. We repair our body through sleep so it’s important to get seven to eight hours of high-quality sleep each night. The body's repair mechanisms can be knocked out by smoking, which affects every cell in the body, diminishing its ability to repair. Similarly, if we drink too much we don’t sleep properly and this doesn’t give the body a chance to recover.

How do you calculate a person's biological age?
If you're interested in your biological age, there are five main areas you can consider to see if you're living a healthy lifestyle: emotional wellbeing, social networks, nutrition, physical activity and risky behaviours.
Try our online quiz to see how you rate and whether you need to make any lifestyle changes.

What steps can parents take to ensure children live a healthy life?
Happy, well-nurtured children tend to receive the emotional support that helps them adopt a healthy lifestyle. We need to be responsive to their emotional needs. It’s also important they learn about healthy eating and exercise. The five-a-day programme is good for children because they can make their own choices. If you say: “Eat your greens, they’re good for you”, they probably won’t. If you let them know five a day is good, but that they can choose what they have, that's more appealing.

What do you say to someone who says it’s too late to change their habits?
The biggest benefits of changing your behaviours come later in life. Of course, we should try to improve our health as early as possible, but it’s never too late. In old age a small difference can affect a person’s independence - something we call the 'fitness gap'. In fact people aged over 60 tend to be most successful in giving up smoking.

What are the main things people worry about as they get older?
The two main concerns are money and health. Money-wise, it’s personal finance and how that may affect their wellbeing. People also worry about their health, particularly losing their independence and becoming a burden on friends and family - it’s an altruistic concern.

marți, 22 aprilie 2008



The subliminal is below the liminal (the smallest detectable sensation).
Anything truly below the level of detectable sensation could not, by definition, be perceived. However, the subliminal is generally said to be below the threshold of conscious perception. There is a widespread belief, not strongly supported by empirical research, that without being aware of its presence or content, a person's behavior can be significantly affected by subliminal messages. Thus, it is believed that one can influence behavior by surreptitiously appealing to the subconscious mind with words and images.
If this were true, then advertisers could manipulate consumer behavior by hiding subliminal messages in their ads. The government, or Aunt Hilda for that matter, could control our minds and bodies by secretly communicating to us subliminally. Learners could learn while listening to music embedded with subliminal messages. Unfortunately, "...years of research has resulted in the demonstration of some very limited effects of subliminal stimulation" and no support for its efficaciousness in behavior modification (Hines, 312).

The fact that there is almost no empirical support for the usefulness of subliminal messaging has not prevented numerous industries from producing and marketing tapes which allegedly communicate directly with the unconscious mind, encouraging the "listener" not to steal, or coaching the "listener" to have courage or believe in his or her power to accomplish great things. Consumers spend more than $50 million each year on subliminal self-help products (Journal of Advertising Research, reported by Dennis Love, Sacramento Bee, 9-14-2000). A place called offers a wide array of such tapes developed by James H. Schmelter, a hypnotherapist with an MBA and self-proclaimed expertise in synergistic science. If Schmelter's stuff is not to your liking, try Mindwriter Subliminals... A Breakthrough In Human Reprogramming.

It is true that we can perceive things even though we are not conscious of perceiving them. However, for those who put messages in tapes and then record music over the messages so that the messages are drowned out by the music or other sounds, it might be useful to remember that if the messages are drowned out by other sounds, the only perceptions one can have are of the sounds drowning out the messages. There is no evidence of anyone hearing a message which is buried beneath layers of other sounds to the point where the message does not distinctly stand out. Of course, if the message distinctly stood out, it would not be subliminal.

The belief in the power of subliminal messaging to manipulate behavior seems to have originated in 1957 with James Vicary, an advertising promoter who claimed to increase popcorn sales by some 58% and Coke sales by some 18% in a New Jersey movie theater simply by flashing very briefly the messages "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Hungry - Eat Popcorn." Even though the claim has been shown to be a hoax, and even though no one has been able to duplicate the event, belief in the legend lingers. This story and several others were retold by Vance Packard in The Hidden Persuaders (1957), a book that became required reading for a generation of college students.
Belief in subliminal messaging reached a surreal apex in 1980 with the publication of The Clam-Plate Orgy and Other Subliminals the Media Use to Manipulate Your Behavior by Wilson Bryan Key. The book has been reissued under the sexier title: Subliminal Adventures in Erotic Art. Key claims that advertisers use subliminal messaging of a very serious sexual nature in order to manipulate behavior, including imbedding sexy figures and the word 'sex' in images of such things as ice cubes and food. While carefully examining a Howard Johnson's menu, Key saw that the plate of clams pictured on the menu was actually the portrayal of a sexual orgy which included various people and a donkey. Among Key's many unfounded claims is that the unconscious mind processes subliminal messages at the speed of light. Actually, the fastest brain process chugs along at some 40 m.p.h. (Hines).

Despite the fact that there is no body of empirical support for the notion that subliminal advertising is effective, in 1974 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order saying that broadcast outlets that knowingly carry subliminal ads are operating "contrary to the public interest." In September 2000, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and John Breaux of Louisiana complained to the FCC about a Republican ad that flashed the word ''RATS'' (or "BUREAUCRATS") across the screen for 1/30 of a second. ''We have reason to believe that broadcasters are airing television advertisements that contain subliminal messages in violation of the public interest,'' they said, apparently oblivious to the fact that something which can't be registered by the brain is unlikely to have any effect on viewers and is unlikely to violate anything except the reasonable bounds of credulity.

joi, 17 aprilie 2008

Essay on Intuition

Yet if we look more closely, we shall find Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind.

Alexander Pope; Essay on Criticism:

Chapter Five:

Intuition, plus defined, means subliminal intellectual thinking and thought. Building on balanced realism (as introduced in Chapter Four), plus root theory uses the term intuition to refer to intellectual aspects of human thinking in subliminal levels of awareness.
In intuitional thinking, we abstract concepts, form judgments, figure reasons, make deductions and carry on other intellectual activities without self conscious awareness or critical evaluation. Intuition is a name for intellectual thinking that is real but not clearly conscious.
Intuition is not instinct, conditioned reflex, or any other physiological activity. Intuition is intellectual. Instinct and other subliminal biological operations are physical. The difference is important in developing theories about human nature.
Although intuition operates subconsciously, intuition is an important aspect of our intellectual life.
Instinct and conditioned reflex are also consequential aspects of our mental process that also work subliminally underneath surface thinking.
Both rational and physiological mental activities occur in uncritical areas of awareness of our thinking but whereas intuition is intellectual, instinct, conditioned reflex and other biological activities are physical. Plus root theory emphasizes a distinction between intuition, as plus defined, and physical reflex, instinctual and conditioned..
In modern ways of speaking, the term intuition shoulders a variety of meanings. Often the plus definition compliments public usage. However in other cases, it does not. The plus definition differs from definitions of intuition by many philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and Marx.
In reading philosophy we find many writers who equate intuition and instinct as if they were the same.
Contrariwise, the plus system posits and emphasizes a difference between the terms intuition and instinct. That is to say, the plus method chooses to use these terms in this way. For one thing, in discussing our knowledge processes we need a term to signify intellectual discernment that occurs in subliminal levels of thinking.
Plus root theory rejects the notion that rationality is always conscious. Instead, plus root theory maintains that we humans do a substantial amount of intellectual thinking, including reasoning, at subliminal levels of consciousness. Intuition is a good name for important aspects of subliminal intellectual thinking. It is an elegant use of the term intuition. This usage fits well with the way we actually utilize the word intuition. It is a waste of the term intuition to use it to mean instinct. We have the word instinct that means instinct.
Intuitional abilities, as plus defined, are intellectual gifts we enjoy in virtue of our human nature. Each human possesses intuitional talents which he or she develops in the process of maturing. Intuition, as defined, is an aspect of our nature. It is not a mysterious independent power outside our self that thinks for us and then inserts ideas in our mind, like sticking pins in a pin cushion.
It is a tenet of plus root theory that: we receive as part of our human nature our own rational capacities and we develop our own intuition. Using our intuitional intellectual talents, we begin the process of abstracting concepts from the physiological circuits inscribed within our brain tissue. Using intuition is the first step we take into the intellectual world.
Plus root theory, which builds on balanced realism [see Chapter 4], emphasizes that: human intellectual activity requires a healthy physiological brain and a well functioning nervous system as an operating mechanism to provide raw material before a person can begin normal intellectual abstraction. We physically perceive raw material as sensations, images, impulses, emotions, instincts, etc. Physiological actions and reactions occur according to physical laws of chemistry, physics and biology. Intellectual abstraction, however, is something we do intellectually.
As discussed in Chapter Four, it is our nature as humans to use both physiological and intellectual gifts in our thinking. We do both types of thinking simultaneously and synergistically. We think intellectually in varying levels of consciousness. In the plus system of definitions, intuition is intellectual thinking we do at subliminal levels of awareness.
It is a plus tenet that: we do much abstraction, judgment, and reasoning in subliminal areas of thinking, particularly concerning elemental matters. This means that each of us partakes in intellectual thinking we are not critically conscious of doing. In our deepest subliminal thinking we bring elemental assumptions into play without conscious awareness. We use elemental assumptions in monitoring our more conscious understanding, judgment, reasoning, and evaluation. We all do it, but it is difficult to discuss because it is subliminal.
When we think intuitionally we are not critically conscious of our thoughts and yet the process is not a total secret. We can, to some degree, access intuitional thinking through introspection and insight. Using our own insight and personal experience, we know we exercise intuition.
Intuition is a real human talent. We reason in subliminal thinking along with reasoning we do with conscious awareness. We develop much knowledge of elemental verities in our intuition. We also make mistakes in subliminal levels of awareness that can mask as if they were verities.
All normally functioning mature people intuit and develop knowledge of root verities in subliminal levels of awareness. These verities are intuited as true and employed as monitors in conscious rational thinking. When these intuited verities operate as a functional set, they are referred to herein as the basic criterion of commonsense or commonsense criterion.

At the same time, most of us (probably all of us) make some root errors in our subliminal thinking. We are not consciously aware of root errors in this level of thinking, but nonetheless they are there and they do damage.
Root verities are elemental guide lines of sound rational thinking. Once they become established in our subconscious, we access and use them intuitively. Root verities "fit" and "flow" with cybernetic circuits as water flows through a well designed irrigation system–metaphorically speaking. Root verities have a natural quality. Once we think them through, they strike us as virtually self evident. They fit so well with physiological thinking that it is natural to think of them as natural.
In contrast to verities, root errors are not naturally intuitive. They are acquired by a different route than we use to develop understanding of root verities. However, we can easily acquire root errors in our subliminal thought systems if we live in an environment where elemental mistakes are in style — which most of us do. Although root errors go against the grain of elemental insight, they often give intellectual sanction to instinctual urges. When this happens, intuition and instinct are at variance. We are not born this way. Each of us creates our own contradictions between instinct and intuition.
Please note: plus root theory does not maintain that instinct is bad. It advocates quite the opposite and holds that instincts are both necessary and good in their origins. However when we elevate our instincts to a dominating position and intellectually choose instinct as driving force of our life, we get into trouble because. When we choose instinct as primary, we tend to use our intellectual gifts in service of our instincts rather than use our instincts as aids to developing intellectual knowledge. When we subordinate our intellect to instinctual prompting, instinct can get out of control. Animals without intellectual talents do not have this problem.
Saying that intuition is intellectual, means that intuition is a mental talent distinct from physiological action and reaction. Recognizing this distinction does not deny the value of physiological instincts, reflexes, images, etc. Even though we can abuse our physiological talents, they are nonetheless wondrous gifts we should develop and cherish. The abuse comes from our intellectual misuse, not from the physiological talent itself. Ideally we aim to integrate our highest intellectual aspirations with our physiological energy and, in so doing, we become our best self.
We function at our best when we use intuitional talents in congruence with physiological skills. Both are important. Physiological skills are corporeal. Intuition is intellectual. Intuition, being intellectual, works in the realm of ideas, judgments, deductions, and free choice. Intellectual intuition and physiological cybernetic activity are not the same although they operate together as a team.
Root errors (elemental mistakes) are intellectual, not physiological.
Intuition is subliminal intellectual thinking that we do. Sometimes we experience intuition as a mental compunction. For example, we can intuit, as an inner nudge, that a conscious judgment is false or a choice is dangerous or a proposed action will harm someone we love. We intuit hints and inner suggestions. We experience intuition as an intellectual drive.
Intuition, as defined, is intellectual mental activity that is subliminal. That is to say, intuition is intellectual evaluation we individuals do below the level of workaday reasoning and studied analysis. Subliminal is a subconscious state of thinking but it is not absolutely buried out of reach. We can cultivate our ability to tune in to our intuitions.
According to plus root theory, more goes on in our minds, both physiologically and intellectually, than we consciously recognize. One of Freud's contributions to the world of knowledge was his work with the unconscious. Psychologists, following in his footsteps, have demonstrated that subconscious thinking and behavioral programming occurs in our mental life more than most scholars had previously acknowledged. However, learning to recognize the extent of subliminal thinking, does not mean that intuition is nothing but a physiologically determined instinct.
Instinct and intuition are both subliminal, but there are important difference between them.
Discoveries about the physiological operations of our brain, including more penetrating understanding of the logical circuits of our nervous system, do not invalidated the reality and power of our intellectual thinking and our free will. To appreciate this, the theory of balanced realism, a sub set of plus root theory, emphasizes the distinction between the physiological operations of our brain and intuitional thinking.
When we think intuitionally, we use intellectual bits of comprehension that we have abstracted from physiological proceedings. Balanced realism points out that both physiological and intellectual talents are good and operate hand in glove.
Our mind (plus definition) is the arena where we do our thinking. It is the place where physiological and intellectual thinking connect. Thinking is both a process that happens to us and mental activity we do.
Balanced realism emphasizes both passive and active components in developing our knowledge. That is to say, some thinking seems to happen to us while some thinking we do with deliberation. Some thinking is instinctual, some is programmed, some is generated by emotions, and some is intellectual.
Using our own introspection, we can learn to recognize distinctions between intellectual comprehension and physiological response in critical thinking. However, pinpointing the same distinction in subliminal thinking is a different matter. For one thing, when we concentrate on subliminal thinking and bring it into consciousness, it is no longer subliminal. Studying subliminal thinking is always a murky process.
When we study logic and other elemental subjects, we must deal with subliminal thinking because much elemental thinking proceeds by way of assumptions that are subliminal. A major purpose of elemental theory is to discover, study, and evaluate elemental assumptions we presuppose underneath our surface analysis and discourse.
Some subliminal mental activity is predetermined by our physiological make up. That which is predetermined by our physiological make up is inexorable. It is the way it is. We all have a deterministic aspect to our nature that we ignore at our own peril. This does not mean, however, that determinism rules as a totalitarian absolute. We also have an intellectual aspect to our nature that is equally as real as our physiological talents. In intellectual matters we have some freedom and the freedom we have is very precious.

Brains and Computers
It is safe to presume that our brains operate in ways analogous to computers. Our brain is a physiological organ and our brain's operations are physiological processes. The 100 billion neurons and the trillion support cells in gray matter function physiologically. Some say mental images and memory may have holographic qualities. A holographic image is more complex to understand than a pictorial image, but it is still a physiological image and it is a particular event.
Our present state of knowledge (2001) about how brains work is developing at a fast pace. What anyone says today about the physics and chemistry of brain activity could well be out of date tomorrow. The 20th century brought one starting breakthrough after another. We can expect discoveries to continue. Scientists will learn more and more about brains and our nervous systems. Better terminology will be devised to discuss issues. Correlation between animal and human behavior will be better understood. For more information on the physiological function of our brains, plus root theory turns to well researched, rationally sound, texts on the matter.
In plus definitions, instinct is defined as mental physiological activity that is hereditary. Instinct comes programmed into our make up as a given. Metaphorically, instinct is the hardware that comes with the package. Defined this way, instinct is both physiological and hereditary.
Animals have instincts. For a while I raised cockatiels. It amazed me to witness the process of mating, hatching eggs and raising their young. A pair knew exactly what to do at each stage of development. It was uncanny to watch them take turns sitting on the eggs, protecting their nest, feeding their babies, and keeping the chicks warm. They followed the manual as if they had written it and did what they did with an air of supreme confidence. The first pair we set up to raise chicks were not imitating other birds because we didn't have other birds. They learned some I suppose from their own chickhood, but most of their proficiency came from application of inherited instinct.
It is safe to assume, that humans, too, have instincts. Our instincts are subliminal promptings that arise involuntarily in response to a stimulus and are hereditary. A blink is an example. We blink instinctively at regular intervals and when something threatens our eye. We can voluntarily try to avoid blinking but when our attention goes elsewhere the blinks will come back. This is a trivial example, but it is something easy to notice. A wink, on the other hand is on purpose. The distinction between wink and blink shows the difference between a reflex and a free will action done on purpose.
In addition to instinct, which is hereditary, humans have many other physiological gifts. We can see, hear, smell, taste, feel, imitate, emote, imagine, and so on. All of these gifts are important. When they become damaged, we are handicapped.

Conditioned Reflex
A conditioned reflex is a learned physiological response. Pavlov's study on dogs provides the famous example. By ringing a bell every time he fed a dog, Pavlov noticed that the dog soon learned to drool when it heard the bell whether fed or not. Researchers now account for much learning, in humans as well as animals, as complex conditioned reflexes.
Plus root theory views the discovery of the conditioned reflex as an important breakthrough in understanding various steps in human learning processes. Conditioned reflex helps explains why drill is important in developing physical skills. We practice the piano to train our reflexes to respond instantly to the least command. Learning to drive a car demands we train our reflexes as well as understand the rules and regulations.
The triggering aspect of words also operates as a conditioned reflex. A word can trigger an image and/or emotion as well as symbolize an idea. By joining conditioned reflex with mathematical logic, we can develop understanding of numerous aspects of learning that used to be a mystery.

In humans, we often refer to learned conditioned reflexes as habits. From personal experience and intellectual figuring, most of us conclude that we have some control over which habits we choose to establish. However, once a habit is set, it operates with a force that can be as strong as instinct, even stronger. For example, it is easy to avoid acquiring the habit of smoking, but once the habit is established, most people have extreme difficulty quitting. Some habits, such as heroine addiction, become so powerful that a person trying to break the habit can die in the process, if mishandled. Other habits, such as rising at a certain time in the morning, are easy to change.
Although conditioned reflex is an important aspect of learning, it is not the whole. Humans have intellectual gifts in addition to physiological talents. Using our intellectual gifts, we can consciously choose which habits to cultivate and which to discourage.

Triggering Effect of Words
A word is a physical thing. When spoken, it is something we hear with our ears. When written, it is something we see with our eyes. In Braille, it is something we feel with our fingers. In our mind, a word is a physical ‘image' we imagine using our physical brain.
Words (which are physical) can be used as symbols of concepts. Generally speaking, it is when a word is used as a symbol that we call it a word.
Words, being physical, can trigger images and physical responses as well as symbolize concepts. Usually, when we use words, we use them in this double way both as symbols and as triggers.
A word can symbolize one concept or more. At the same time the same word can trigger one image or more and/or one feeling or more. We soon become very adept in using this complex process.
Learning to recognize the distinction between the triggering effect of words and the symbolic function of words is a major goal of semantics. A good education system will emphasize and keep clear the distinction between the triggering effect of words and symbolic functions. If students learn this distinction, it helps develop an understanding of our human nature.
One reason the distinction between the triggering effect of words and the symbolic function of words is of considerable consequence is because it is here we first see the difference between physiological thinking and intellectual comprehension. As we develop comprehension and acquire knowledge, we begin to have free choice and enter the world of responsibility.
Modern psychologists are right when they teach that words have a physiological deterministic aspect in the way they function. This aspect of our nature is important. To understand ourselves, we need knowledge about this facet of our nature. It helps to know how physiological responses affect communication.
But that is not all we do. It is a mistake to treat one aspect as if it were the whole. Words have an intellectual symbolic function as well as a physiological triggering effect. We make a grave error if we intellectually ignore the importance of out intellect and the complex function of words.
The physiological-intellectual dual operation of words is not the same as double speak in Aesopian language. Good logic teachers explain these distinctions and present examples until their students understand.

Deterministic Factors
Recognizing the power of deterministic factors in subconscious thinking is not new. We are, to a significant extent, the product of our environment. This idea has been prominent in most philosophy in most eras of history. Freud did not invent a new idea. He gave new angles to an old idea that has been around for many centuries. Freud also made some serious mistakes that many older philosophers managed to avoid.

Human Thinking
In human thinking we combine physiological perception, images, sensations, and emotions with intellectual comprehension, judgment, reason, and choice. Human thinking is a developing interaction of these talents and more. Attempts to deny either the physiological or intellectual aspect of human thinking leads to baffled ideology and incongruous metaphysics.
We intellectually abstract our concepts from physiological brain activity. We symbolize our concepts with physical symbols (usually words). We connect abstract understanding with physiological function by using a combination of comprehension, symbols, and brain circuits. A word is a physical thing. It has to be in a physical place.
Animals obviously have an ability to utilize physiological circuits in their brains. They learn, they remember, they overcome difficulties, they have an ability, in ascending scale according to biological complexity, to think physiologically. They communicate. More complex animals go through phases of consciousness and unconsciousness (awake and asleep) just as we human do. Many animals learn to employ the triggering effect of words with uncanny results.
Humans have the abilities of complex animals plus more. In addition to physiological thinking, we humans abstract concepts that display intellectual qualities over and above perceptual similarities. This intellectual process is so significant in human conduct, that to pretend it does not exists is a mistake of huge proportions. We engage in intellectual thinking in all levels of awareness and states of consciousness. Our intellect is not physical and has no need to sleep. However, our brain does need rest.
A notable portion of our intellectual thinking occurs in subliminal states of awareness. This is particularly true in logic and other elemental matters. As we mature, we fit out our intuition with a store of logical, epistemological and other elemental assumptions we use as a matter of course to gauge what we accept and do not accept as valid in our own thinking. It becomes our rational conscience.
In our personal knowledge we are immersed in an abundance of evidence that intuition exists. With so much evidence, it is illogical to pretend intuition is an illusion.
Intuition and rationality are not opposing functions that employ different logics as some say. To the contrary, logical intuition and conscious sound rational thinking follow the same essential elemental requirements. The difference between intuition and critical thinking is in the level of awareness not in type of logical forms. People who say intuition stands in opposition to logic misunderstand the situation.
Subliminal elemental assumptions are judgments about elemental thinking that we make without critical, conscious design. We store these judgments deep in our mind and assume them to be true. Insofar as we use our reason in forming intuitional judgments, they are rational. Insofar as they actually are true, they are sound rational judgments.
Sound rational elemental judgments are reliable guidelines for sound rational thinking. It is important to keep in mind that sound rational thinking and unsound rational thinking are not the same.
A significant proportion of subconscious mental activity is epistemological and logical in character. For example, if we program into our mind information such as: "When the burner on the electric stove is red, a touch with a persons hand will cause severe damage at the point of contact." This bit of information will operate as a major premise of the syllogism. It will also operate as a trigger in a conditioned reflex. From only one example, we can see how we generalize to a rule of behavior with intellectual and physiological content: Never touch burners on electric stoves when the burners glow red.
We think the thought in conjunction with a learned physiological response. They both go together. Animals can do the physiological part, but we humans can also intellectually communicate the idea to others and add another dimension to learning.
Unspoken generalization is common. Humans collect many unarticulated rules of behavior in this manner. We do it so fast, so frequently, and so routinely that, under normal circumstances, we don't consciously realize we do it. We process information and generalize to rules which we save in mental files in our mind where they can be accessed later by various commands. Much of our subconscious behaves as if it were a computer waiting to be programmed. In the process, we integrate physiological with intellectual so easily that sometimes we overlook the distinction between the two.
Subliminal implications are not always well connected. A set of implications we develop within our mind from one source may not hook up with another set developing from a different group of experiences. Because of unconnected sets, we can establish contradictions in our thought systems. These are not contradictions in the intrinsic nature of 'truth' but, rather, contradictions in our personal understanding or our own version of what is true.
The wording here sounds much more complicated than the idea intended. For a rough example, let's say a city-bred woman named Robin with a grandmother who had warned Robin, when she was a little girl, never to go into the forest because fearsome monsters lurk in the woods waiting to eat little girls. Later as Robin was growing up, she read some stories about the forest playground where happiness abounds. As she matured, she forgot in her conscious mind, both of these stories. In college, she is invited on a camping trip. Something in her triggers an eagerness to go (memories of the happy stories of the forest playground) and she says "sure". However, as she enters the woods and the loneliness of the forest engulfs her, she panics and wants out and doesn't know why.
This frivolous example shows how different attitudes toward the forest can be settled in one mind and the person be unaware of the contradiction. At our subliminal level of thinking, we make connections by way of implication from one thought to another. Robin connected the stories of the grandmother to actually entering a forest many years later.
While maturing we learn many separate lessons. We program the lesson into our brain where it is ready to operate physiologically as the activator of a conditioned reflex and intellectually as a major premise of a syllogism. Both happen simultaneously. Sometimes there is a contradiction between the conditioned reflex activated and assumed major premises we hold as true. This can be confusing and produce anxiety. The development of our thoughts by way of subliminal implication can lead to contradictions in our mind that we don't know are there.
There are many kinds of intuition. For our current discussion, two types are particularly significant. In plus definition set they are called rational intuition and logical intuition. Both are important in understanding how we develop knowledge.

Rational Intuition
Rational intuition, as here defined, is an inner intellectual talent to reason and to ask "why". Rational intuition is an aspect of our human nature. It is a subliminal urge to reason that comes with being human. It begins as a potential, but is easily activated. Wanting to know "why" is massive force in our lives. Rational intuition is the term in plus definition system that refers to this particular human propensity.
Rational intuition is a compunction to reason and includes those steps we must take to be able to reason. The term rational intuition refers to our intuitional need to abstract, to symbolize, to form judgments, to seek reasons, to make deductions. It is hard to find humans over the age of three who have not developed some basic rational intuition and consequently have some rational curiosity.

Logical Intuition
Logical intuition, as defined, is the next stage up from rational intuition. Logical intuition presupposes rational intuition.
With logical intuition, we not only seek a reason, we want a good reason. We not only abstract concepts and symbolize them with words, we also desire to avoid equivocation. We not only make judgments, but also recognize the difference between true and false and prefer true over false. In logical intuition, we have a hunger for knowledge and are repulsed by lies and illusions. What is more, in logical intuition we tune into the difference between valid and invalid deduction and we feel an inner desire for our reasoning to be valid. Bringing unbiased logical intuitions together, we become aware of consequences, we feel uncomfortable with contradictions, and we set priorities in our own system of values. Mature subliminal thinking is developed logical intuition.
All logical thinking is rational but not all rational thinking is logical.
It comes with our nature to possess a potential for both rational and logical intuitional. Both begin as potentials that must be stimulated in some manner to become active. Activation requires help from without and cooperation from within. Rational intuition (plus definition) obviously is prerequisite to logical intuition (plus definition).
In rational intuition we make judgments and seek reasons. In logical intuition, we seek true facts, sound principles and legitimate reasons that produce valid conclusions.
Logical intuition is more infrequent than rational intuition. For example, in our own society, almost everyone wants reasons. Ordinarily people display well activated rational intuition. Yet, rational intuition is not necessarily sound. In many cases we are satisfied with insufficient reasons. In this lax mood, we readily accept a poor excuse that functions as a reason. Although thinking of this quality is rationally active in that we desire reasons, it is not logically mature because in this type of reasoning we overlook the difference between sound and unsound.
To become logically skilled, for most of us, requires formal education and work on the part of the student. Well formed logical maturity is difficult to achieve.
Just because a thought or compunction is subliminal does not mean it is necessarily true. Not all elemental assumptions are true and not all subliminal reasoning is sound. Our intuition is not infallible and is not an absolute. We can make mistakes in subliminal thinking.
At this point, the subject of elemental theory shifts into another level of complexity. Because of root errors we inadvertently acquire as we learn, we can harbor contradictions in our subliminal thought systems. When this happens, what we think of as intuition can be misleading. Mistakes settled into our mind and out of sight cause trouble. If they are serious mistakes, they can cause serious trouble. If we think an elemental mistake is true, we will treat it as if it were a verity. The resulting confusion is disconcerting.
Even though logical intuition (plus definition) is more advanced than rational intuition (plus definition), we all have, at least potentially, an internal logical intuition that rings out a note of satisfaction when reasoning is sound. This same internal logical intuition sends out tiny jolts of apprehension when our reasoning is unsound. These warning signals are easily suppressed but they continue in the subconscious of every rationally functioning person to some extent. Logical intuition works metaphorically as a boat in a stream. Going downstream is easy when going with the natural flow, whereas rowing upstream takes noticeable effort. This is not a very good analogy but it seems probable that intellectual thinking that fits with cybernetic circuitry in our brain processes will feel right whereas that which goes upstream will give us pause and suggest something is wrong.
Our intuition is not absolute. The logical aspect of intuition can easily be suppressed and we can make mistakes in intuitional levels of consciousness. However, this does not mean that logical intuition is ever erased. Quite to the contrary. We must have some logical intuition to develop knowledge, to use knowledge and to keep going.
The more we can avoid injecting root errors into our thought systems and the more we encourage root verities in thinking at all levels of consciousness, the more reliable our intuition will be. A good, sound education prepares the soil for the development of well formed logical intuition.
As said, logical intuition is a natural propensity to use sound rational thinking. This natural propensity goes with our nature. It is an inclination, not an irresistible force. We can easily ignore logical intuition and fail to develop the promptings we feel from that source. Or we can develop these promptings until they become stronger and stronger. It’s up to us.

Root Binds
Root errors accepted as if they were true and adopted into our thought systems do not erase logical intuitions. Instead, adopted elemental mistakes, set up contradictions in our mind. These deep contradictions are root binds. Root binds cause hidden or floating anxiety. We know something is wrong, but can't put our finger on it. Elemental contradictions in our thought systems are not a good thing. We benefit as we get rid of them. Much rationalization people do is an attempt to fix worry caused by root binds.
By using well conducted critical thinking, by cultivating commonsense, and developing our unbiased logical intuition, we can repair many root errors, even those bedded deep in assumptions we have held for years. Removing a root error will strengthen logical intuition we already have. Sound rational thinking should be cultivated, not feared.

As said, habits are learned conditioned reflexes. Our control over our own habits is not absolute, as we all know from personal experience. However, we do have some control. That small amount of control which we do have is one of the area where we some choice over what kind of person we will come to be.
We cannot intellectually turn our habits off and on but we can intellectually design programs whereby we modify undesirable habits and strengthen desirable habits. We have an even stronger degree of control in deciding which habits to encourage in babies and young people. Learning to appreciate this facet of our nature is an important aspect of education.

We often call desirable habits, virtues and undesirable habits vices. But, there is a difficulty. Not all people agree on which habits are good and which habits are bad.

To get around this problem, plus root theory defines virtue as a habit, acquired through exercise, that facilitates progress toward a desired goal. According to this definition, what we consider to be a virtue will depend on what goals we set. For example, if parents believe the highest goal for their son is to be a great warrior, they will educate him differently than if they believe the highest goal for their son is to be a scientist seeking truth. The habits required to be a warrior are in many ways different from the habits required to be a scientist. What one set of parents considers to be a virtue, another set may see as a vice.
According to above definitions, that which is viewed as a virtue or vice will depend on two things: (1) what is chosen as a desired goal and (2) accuracy in discovering habits that actually achieve the goal in mind. If we make a poor evaluation in choosing goals or if we misunderstand how to achieve the goals we choose, we are apt to make mistakes in the habits we choose to cultivate.
It is the business of philosophers, especially religious leaders, to help us clarify the goals we seek and to help direct us to the virtues that will actually lead to the goals we adopt. When prominent academic thinkers do the opposite, society has a serious problem.
Stated this way, that which we designate as a virtue will be a function of what goals we aim to achieve. A country, such as the USA, that guarantees freedom of religion, in effect insures the right of citizens to set their own ultimate goals and decide for themselves what is or is not a virtue. At the same time, to enjoy a stable society and to support public education that yields citizens who can work and live together constructively, we need an educational system that inculcates in the children that go through the system virtues that encourage the development of sound rational thinking, a taste for decency, and a desire to advance our abilities to progress in peace. This need is at the heart of our present debate on educational quality.
In a free republic, when a large majority of people endorse a goal and a means to that goal, then the habits needed to promote the means and achieve the goals can be promoted in public schools without violating our freedom as long as we allow alternate education for those with views differing from the institutional agenda. Following this reasoning it is okay for public schools to teach the requirements of sound rational thinking as virtues to be cultivated.
Speaking of alternate education, a free republic has the right and the duty to hold some standards. For examples, in all schools it should remain illegal to teach and encourage criminal behavior. Because of this limitation, the people of a free republic should be on guard as to what is and is not designated as criminal behavior.
Plus root theory advocates that: advancing our abilities to progress in peace is a goal that a large majority of citizens of the USA can endorse. Plus philosophy aims to convince readers that promoting the basic requirements of sound rational thinking is a sufficient and perhaps only workable means of achieving that goal. It is not that hard. We are already doing it to a praiseworthy extent. We only need to improve our commitment to sound rational thinking a little bit to make a break through in our abilities to progress in peace. This is a project that religious people who seek peace can endorse with enthusiasm. History demonstrates that many religions have done and still do precisely this to a praiseworthy extent.
The long range goal of plus root theory is to advance our abilities to progress in peace. Those habits that actually help us achieve this goal are virtues. Those habits that hamper and degrade our abilities to progress in peace, from a plus point of view, are vices.

For the most part, the plus approach is normal, standard and commonplace. This chapter and the previous chapter are an exception. Although the theory of balanced realism expresses intuitions implied in sound rational thinking, it is difficult to find philosophers who emphasize the distinction between physiological and intellectual talents and who explain the role of subliminal intellectual thinking in the development of human knowledge.
In touching on this subject, most modern writers are slipshod in their presentations and fail to cultivate an understanding of the intellectual aspect of subliminal thinking. One reason this has happened is because psychologists of the past two centuries have been so busy with physiological discoveries that they failed to take time to examine the complex role of intellectual thinking in human mental life. They often take root verities for granted and fail to notice problems created by root errors.
As a result, our present understanding of how intellectual thinking relates to physiological thinking is in a rough, almost primitive, state. High quality research in this area is difficult to locate.
In a separate study, I have made some inroads into this area. However, going deeper into this subject, requires knowledge of valid logic and how to use sound rational thinking in conducting research. The following chapters hopefully can help in outlining a much needed method for conducting psychological research from an intellectual point of view.

In elemental studies, intuition, as stipulated in the plus definition set, is a very important idea. Much epistemological, logical and other elemental thinking occurs underneath conscious awareness. That which is implied is often more important than that which is said. [See Silent Essay]
To understand our own intuitional talents and subliminal habits, we need to understand to some extent the distinction between intuition, defined as an intellectual talent, and physiological processes. Intuition concerns ideas, judgments, reasoning, and so forth. Physiological processes concern instinct, conditioned reflex, sensations, images, triggering effect, etc.
We also need to appreciate to some measure how intuition works hand in glove with physiological processes. Plus root theory maintains that, if it is an epistemological, logical, or other elemental concern, then it is intellectual and not physiological. Sound or unsound, all elemental assumptions involve our reasoning processes in some manner.
The development of habits is one example of the interaction of physiological process and intellectual abstraction. By noting how habits relate to virtues, vices, goals, and education, we get a hint why developing authentic epistemology is important.
This chapter does little more than introduce terminology and suggest a few ideas. However, these building blocks are crucial. This will do for now.