Adverse Childhood Experiences

When I took my Employment Counsellor Diploma Program back in 2010, I was trained in administering over 60 different assessments. One of those was the Holmes and Rahe stress scale which measures 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness. Today I learned about the Adverse Childhood Experiences study that measured 10 types of childhood trauma that have a huge impact on adult health and behaviour. Did you know about this study?

Having four adverse childhood experiences was associated with a seven-fold increase in alcoholism, a doubling of risk of being diagnosed with cancer, and a four-fold increase in emphysema; an ACE score above six was associated with a 30-fold increase in attempted suicide.

See Wikipedia and Aces Too High.

Looking after your mind should be as natural as brushing your teeth

“We rely on our minds for everything we do, so we think looking after them should be as natural as brushing our teeth” is the slogan of Mindapples, a company that promotes mental health. It’s high time we got serious about preventative mental health. Here is a 5 minute clip from a longer talk about this:

Full talk here.

Smash the machines!?

If you have not seen C. G. P. Grey’s Humans need not apply yet, here it is:

While it does seem that robots and artificial intelligent software systems are becoming better than average humans at some tasks, for most employers they just need to be good enough as they offer several other advantages.

Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans

See this Slashdot post for more.


Bonus: Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligences

How long before AI bots get legal personhood rights? This article details a thought experiment about this.

Chimps of the world unite!

grapeMost chimps understand fairness and even solidarity better than many of us:

Chimpanzees in this study went beyond the basic tenets of the social contract and demonstrated what could be considered the foundation of social solidarity. In 95 trials, chimpanzees that received a grape were significantly more likely to refuse it when their group mate only received a carrot (p = 0.008). Even those who benefited from inequality recognized that the situation was unfair and they refused to enjoy their own reward if it meant someone else had to suffer.

Would you refuse the french fries if your cell mate got a low fat muffin?  Not sure I would.  Full article here.


Update: Judge Recognizes Research Chimps As “Legal Persons”

In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals. Full article here.

What I currently accept to be true (based on the available evidence)

Evidence

I dislike the word believe and loathe the word faith when it comes to matters of the spiritual/supernatural. I much prefer the phrase “What I currently accept to be true (based on the available evidence.)” Clunky but more accurate. Now some may say, “How can you have any hard/objective evidence for spiritual/supernatural phenomena?” [To be continued…]

There is no single “natural” way

I am reading Sapiens : a brief history of humankind (a fascinating book about the history of our species) and there is a quote I like:

The heated debates about Homo sapiens’ `natural way of life’ miss the main point. Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, there hasn’t been a singe natural way of life for Sapiens. There are only cultural choices, from among a bewildering palette of possibilities.

So just as there is no one “natural” (or “proper”) way to be an individual, there is no “natural” (or “proper”) way for a society to be. Some ways are of course better suited to some environments and both individuals and societies that don’t adapt to changing environments don’t survive.

For another great book with a similar theme, check out Our kind : who we are, where we came from, where we are going.

Why I have no kids

Having children is a personal choice. While my wife and I both like kids, early in our relationship we decided (for a number of reasons) not to have our own children. We enjoy spending time with our nieces, nephews, & god children. For most, the preceding will suffice. Others may want to know what our reasons are. For those few curious folks, here are some of them (in no particular order):

  • With the current global population at around 7.3 billion and a projected peak of about 11 billion in 2100, there is no lack of humans on the earth. While our species is in no imminent danger of dying out many other species, with whom we share the planet, are (and in fact many already have.) A large contributor to these extinctions is the number and ecological impact of us.
  • There is a risk (increasing as we both get older) of having a child with a severe mental, physical, or emotional handicap. Some of the disorders in our combined families include bi-polar, migraines, Asperger’s, suicidal tendencies, addictive personality (substance abuse), etc. I would not want to subjugate a child to any of the the above disorders.
  • As a frequent migraine sufferer, having loud children around the house would compound my suffering.
  • A child may die early in life (as happened to my sister) and cause us terrible grief.
  • With the extra time and money we gain from not having children, we are able to volunteer and give much more generously to the charities that are important to us.

Some may accuse us of being selfish while others may say we are shirking our duty or avoiding parts of life. We chose to look at things somewhat differently. It is precisely because we care that we have made this difficult choice. I hope the above has helped you understand our decision.