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Meme – Wikipedia

Posted: October 19, 2016 at 4:12 am

A meme ( MEEM)[1] is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”.[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[3]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[4]

A field of study called memetics[5] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[6] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[7] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[8]

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[9] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[10] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[11] At the New Directors’ Showcase 2013 in Cannes, Dawkins’ opinion on memetics was deliberately ambiguous.[12]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[13] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[1][14] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[15]Kenneth Pike coined the related term emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[16] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[17] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[18]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[15]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[20] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[21]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[22] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[23]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means). Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[6]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[24] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[25]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[26]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[15] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[27] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[20]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[6] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[20]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[28]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[29]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[29]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[30]Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[20]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[20] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[31] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[32]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[33]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[34]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[35] and Kull.[36] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[37] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[38]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[39][40]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[41]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[42]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[43]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[15]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[20]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[26]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [44] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[45] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[46]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[47] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[48]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[49] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software design as solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[50]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, instant messaging, and video hosting services like YouTube and[51]

In 2013 Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[52]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[53] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[53]

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Meme – Wikipedia

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Free Speech TV

Posted: at 4:10 am

So glad to have found [FSTV] because theres nothing else out there telling us whats really going on. – Rita

I’m watching RING OF FIRE …That and all your other shows arethe best things on TV!! – John

I am so excited that I found your station flipping through the channels … Keep up the good work. – Susan

Thom Hartmann is one of my heroes. – John

The Most informative and honest news station on American TV. No B.S. and great documentaries. – Kevin

[FSTV] is the best channel on tv. – Patricia

Most of us seek out media that tell us what we already believe to be true. Free Speech TV actually helps us think. – Alice

I want to thank Mike Papantonio for his wit and razor-sharp intellect, Amy Goodman for the highest standards of journalism… – Gail/Michigan

(Stephanie Miller) is why I started watching. Now watch Democracy Now! and Hartmann as well. – Deborah/Texas

“Free Speech TV is the best source of information that nobody knows about. We need to spread the word and educate the people.” – Lorelei S.

“A little known TV station that offers an alternative viewpoint to the usual propaganda of network and cable news.” – Ron S.

FSTV is the source. I’m greatful for the access these last four months. – Philadelphia, PA.

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Seychelles Mystery: No Illegal Drugs in Hotel Room of Sisters …

Posted: October 15, 2016 at 5:30 am

The mystery surrounding the deaths of the two sisters found dead in their luxury villa in the Seychelles in late September has deepened as police say no illegal drugs were found in their hotel room, PEOPLE confirms.

While searching their hotel room, alcohol and different types of medications were taken by police for investigation purposes, Seychelles police spokesman Jean Toussaint writes to PEOPLE in an email.

On Sept. 22, Robin Marie Korkki, 42, and Annie Marie Korkki, 37, were found lying on top of a bed and unresponsive in their $2,000-a-night luxury villa at the Maia Resort and Spa in the Seychelles, an island nation off the eastern coast of Africa, according to police.

The womens bodies were cremated on Sept. 30, a spokeswoman for the office of the Seychelles Minister of Travel and Culture tells PEOPLE.

The sisters mother and one of their brothers flew to the Seychelles when notified the women had died. The ashes were given to the family on Saturday morning and they took the ashes with them when they traveled back home on Sunday, the spokeswoman says.

Authorities are still trying to determine what killed the sisters, who have been described in media reports as outgoing and adventurous.

Toxicology tests are being conducted, but results are not yet ready, says Toussaint.

Autopsy results show that Annie died of acute pulmonary and cerebral edema, while Robin died from acute pulmonary edema, according to a report released by the office of the Seychelles Minister of Travel and Culture.

No visible signs of injuries were found on their bodies, according to the autopsy report.

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Edema is the swelling of tissue brought on by a build-up of fluid. Pulmonary edema restricts the flow of oxygen into the body through the lungs, due to the fluid.

A common cause of pulmonary edema is connected to heart problems, and in its acute form comes on swiftly though pulmonary edema can also be caused by blood clots, near-drowning, reaction to certain drugs and viral infections, among other causes.

RELATEDVIDEO: Autopsy Reveals Cause of Death for Sisters Vacationing in Seychelles

Cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain, can be caused by physical trauma, infection and strokes.

The two sisters had been staying at the resort since Sept. 15, after being on safari in Africa, according to their Facebook pages.

According to an itinerary found at the hotel, the sisters had already visited Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar, police said.

The sisters were found unresponsive in the same bed just two days before they were set to leave the hotel on Sept. 24.

Annie worked at JPMorgan Chase in Denver and Robin was a financial trader in Chicago. They both attended high school in Minnesota.

Hotel staff told authorities they saw the women consuming alcohol throughout the day on Sept. 21, according to police. A butler helped the sisters to their villa around 8:15 p.m., according to police.

The butler returned to the room at around 8:30 a.m. the next day, according to police. When the butler returned at 11 a.m. and didnt hear any movement inside their room, hotel staff entered the room and found them unresponsive on the same bed, according to the Seychelles News Agency.

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Debate: Freedom of Speech |

Posted: at 5:23 am

To begin, I am greatly happy that you, Mdal, joined my debate. It appears that your arguments appeals to logic, which is, in my opinion the most persuasive type of argument. I will primarily be appealing to logic, however will also touch on the ideals of value, as it is one of the main moral reasons I support this idea. I have also adapted the format of my arguments to suit your style.

Voltaire, an enlightenment thinker, regarded with as intuitive and influential a mind as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Locke. All influential people who host beliefs that influenced the framers of the Constitution, and all of which created ideals that support, and influence my own belief on restricting the rights of the first amendment to hate group’s gathering in public areas.

I agree with your definition of what the constitution is advancing us towards, “a stable, liberty driven, peaceful, prosperous state” and would in turn like to define hate groups as any groups that gather with the intentions of breeding fear, terror, hate, or violence towards any particular group of people (defined as a group of similar races, religion, or belief [such as sexual orientation].) More specifically, I will be focusing on, and discussing the two groups you mentioned, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Aryan Brotherhood.

Now, before I begin my own arguments, I will answer your question: “who gets to say what is ok and what isn’t?”

I have long meditated in search of a proper way for our nation to adapt to such a monumental change as I have proposed. The only way that I could think of was to add a fourth branch to our current system of checks and balances. This branch would be in charge of adapting the constitution to better suit the nation as it evolves (including any exceptions the members of this branch deem necessary to create.) They would have equal power to the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and would their adjustments would be checked by both the legislative branch (requiring a majority vote as opposed to the current two thirds vote necessary to create an amendment) and the judicial branch to make sure that any and all changes and exceptions created by this new branch follow the main ideals that are upheld within our nation, and do not violate the main intentions of the framers ideals. I realize that this is also a very controversial topic, and would love to hear any and all concerns you have regarding this issue; however, I do not want this to distract us from the main topic of our debate.

Rebuttal #1: In response to the “slippery-slope” argument Logic: The system of checks and balances was created in order to stop one particular group from gaining power. Adapting this system by creating another branch should quite any worries you had about the “slippery-slope” that may occur, as the extent of the branches power will be modified by two other branches, the Legislative and the Judicial. Therefore, the new branch will not be able to abuse this power, and they, because of these restrictions, would not be able to quiet the entire, “market place of ideas.”

Rebuttal #2: In response to the argument that this will limit the market place of ideas Logic: You brought up the argument that if we allow bad ideas to mix with good ideas, then the good ideas will “rise to the top.” In response to this, I would like to bring up the case of Osama Bin Laden, a terrorist who has, what are commonly assumed to be “bad ideas.” Because of Bin Laden’s influential abilities, his bad ideas were able to rise above the good ideas, and eventually led to a great influx of new members into terrorist beliefs, and further led to the tragic destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001.

I am in no way saying that the KKK or the Aryan Brotherhood has equal power to Terrorists, but I am instead proposing that they have similar bad ideas focused on fear and hatred towards a group of people. If the KKK were to gain an influential leader (horrendous, but influential none-the-less) as Osama Bin Laden, who’s to say whether or not our current small national terrorist group the KKK would turn into a world-wide terrorist organization such as that created by Osama Bin Laden?

It is better to regulate the public meetings of these organizations now, as opposed to later when their power may exceed that of the government they are encompassed by.

Rebuttal #3: In response to the argument that Free speech keeps our government accountable. Logic: As the government is not a group of people regulated by race, religion, or belief (refer to definition of groups of people). And the branch will only have the power to regulate hate groups from publicly discussing (note I am not restricting their right to gather in privacy, purely in public) their ideas, the proposition will have no effect on those who wish to speak out against the government.

Now onto my main argument:

Argument: We are currently not fully acknowledging people’s natural rights Logic: According to the natural rights originally proposed, and supported by enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau all people are born with the right to live his/her life any way he/she likes without causing physical harm to another individual, directly or indirectly.

What I question within this right is the restriction, “without causing physical harm to another individual, directly or indirectly.” I concede that I am working under the assumption that hate groups gather with a common goal to assert their superiority (through violence or terror) over a different group of people. I also concede that I work under the assumption that mental harm can become so intense that it can eventually harm a person physically (I only state this because this was not common knowledge around the time of the enlightenment, and therefore was not included in their right.) I believe that these are fairly common assumptions, and therefore will continue with my argument. If we allow groups that have a goal of asserting superiority over a specific group of people, whether they currently act upon this goal, or whether they plan on accomplishing this goal in the future, they either directly or indirectly threaten the safety of others.

I also could go on, however do not wish to state all of my arguments in the first round of our five round discussion.

Thank you again for accepting this debate, so far it proves to be quite promising.

I will first respond to tsmart’s rebuttals to my 3 opening arguments, from there I will counter tsmart’s single argument, finally I must respond to the possible creation of a 4th branch of government as the actor created by tsmart in this case. Though I too do not want this debate dramatically side tracked by a debate about the actor who will create the proposed new laws set forth by tsmart. However as he uses this new 4th branch as an answer to my 3rd argument it has become very important to the core of this debate and will thus be discussed when answering Tsmart’s first rebuttal.

With this signposting finished, lets get to some arguments.

Rebuttal #1: Tsmart’s Rebuttal assures us that through the creation of the 4th branch of government who’s sole job is two interpret freedom of speech, and decide what is and what is not allowable under our new laws which limit certain types of speech. Tsmart’s exact quote of what the 4th branch of government would be is: “This branch would be in charge of adapting the constitution to better suit the nation as it evolves (including any exceptions the members of this branch deem necessary to create.) They would have equal power to the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and would their adjustments would be checked by both the legislative branch (requiring a majority vote as opposed to the current two thirds vote necessary to create an amendment) and the judicial branch to make sure that any and all changes and exceptions created by this new branch follow the main ideals that are upheld within our nation, and do not violate the main intentions of the framers ideals.”

My response: Whooooooo eeee! Where to start on this one?

To begin with it seems at first blush that the 4th branch is going to usurp what has been the power of the Supreme Court, namely interpreting the constitution. However upon closer examination it seems that Tsmart actually has created a body whose job is much more than merely interpreting the constitution, it is actually a body whose job is to CHANGE the constitution. So basically this new body is invented to abridge and thus destroy the power of the 1st amendment (one of the most important amendments in our constitution, one who has been upheld through countless court cases) take the power of the states and congress (the governmental structures who usually keep all of the checks and balances on the creation of new amendments)and given it all to this new 4th branch. Basically we have reorganized the very makeup of American government for the express reason of censoring people. *****In a cost benefit analysis the cost of destabilizing the government by shifting around the powers set in our government by our founding fathers to a new, strange, and untested power structure for the possibly non-existent benefit of censoring hate groups seems dramatically unbalanced. Under this cost benefit analysis it seems as if any marginal benefits we might get from censorship are DRAMATICALLY outweighed by the dangers of the radical upsetting of our governmental structure and thus shows that the CON’s proposed solutions just aren’t worth the trouble.

Rebuttal #2: In response to my argument for an open Market Place of Ideas (something we have now but will lose if we lose Freedom of Speech) Tsmart brings up the example of Osoma Bin Laden and how his ideas have risen to the top in some places and beat out better ideas, so we should instead keep these sort of ideas out of the public’s purview.

My Response: Tsmart actually just proved my point by using the example of Osoma Bin Laden, tell me readers (and Tsmart) have you been convinced by listening to Bin Laden on our television? It wasn’t hidden from us. Everyone in the US is allowed to listen to what Bin Laden has to say, yet HERE in the US where the market place of ideas flourishes Bin Laden’s brand of extremism hasn’t gained a foothold. The places where he is much more popular don’t have the myriad of view points like we have the capacity of getting here in the States, instead in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations in the Middle East we find a correlation between the free-er the speech, the less extremist the views in the country. This is because when the market place of ideas is allowed to work, people are able to make well informed decisions and that usually leads them away from extremist views and towards the center ground when considering an issue. Thus we can see how Tsmart’s example just proves exactly how important the market place of ideas really is and how important it is to keep from abridging the first amendment which is SO key to keeping the market place of ideas viable.

Rebuttal #3: I stated that freedom of speech is a huge check on the government. Tsmart says: “…the branch will only have the power to regulate hate groups from publicly discussing (note I am not restricting their right to gather in privacy, purely in public) their ideas, the proposition will have no effect on those who wish to speak out against the government.” My Response: What about the hate groups Tsmart? What happens if an incredibly racist, cruel, mean, hate filled Neo Nazi has a well conceived critique of the the government, but wants to express this brilliant critique in hate filled language? His speech, though offensive to you and me, will also give a benefit to the society because he will point out something about the government which needs to be looked at. Re-reading your quote you say that the hate group will be unable to discuss their ideas in public, what if their ideas have to do with the government? Is this a new exception? Are Hate groups allowed to talk about the government? You see how restricting even a small part of Freedom of Speech has huge ramifications for everyone in our society? Rather than risk the benefit of one of the best checks on our government (freedom of speech) we should play it safe and not try to silence people we don’t agree with.

On to Tsmart’s argument of expanded natural rights, His claim is that if people are railed against in public by hate groups they may be harmed mentally and that may eventually lead to physical harm. Thus we should protect these minorities and targeted groups from the hate groups.

Response to Tsmart’s Argument: Tsmart, it seems as though you have come to an overreaching understanding of what the government is supposed to do in situations like this. Your solution is to take preemptive action by taking away freedoms from people who might threaten others. However it seems as though the goal you are trying to accomplish is to make certain that the targeted minority groups ARE safe as well as help them FEEL safe. This goal can be met much better by an investment in anti-hate laws which will increase the punishment for hate crimes, or better yet you could increase the capabilities of the police and thus keep extremist groups like the hate organizations in line. However abridging freedom of speech is not the best, or even a decent, way of defending targeted minority groups.

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The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling

Posted: October 13, 2016 at 5:36 am

September Webletter 2016

Each month the FCCG creates and posts a new web letter that speaks to different topics and areas of concern regarding problem gambling within the state of Florida. Topics range from resources available to tips regarding responsible gambling. The sole purpose is to educate and create discussion surrounding the state of gambling in Florida and the resources that are available to help those in need.Click here to download!

Posted by: Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling on September 19, 2016, 12:30 am

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Each month the FCCG creates and posts a new web letter that speaks to different topics and areas of concern regarding problem gambling within the state of Florida. Topics range from resources available to tips regarding responsible gambling. The sole purpose is to educate and create discussion surrounding the state of gambling in Florida and the resources that are available to help those in need.Click here to download!

Posted by: Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling on August 18, 2016, 1:30 am

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Each month the FCCG creates and posts a new web letter that speaks to different topics and areas of concern regarding problem gambling within the state of Florida. Topics range from resources available to tips regarding responsible gambling. The sole purpose is to educate and create discussion surrounding the state of gambling in Florida and the resources that are available to help those in need.Click here to download!

Posted by: Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling on July 26, 2016, 1:32 pm

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Each month the FCCG creates and posts a new web letter that speaks to different topics and areas of concern regarding problem gambling within the state of Florida. Topics range from resources available to tips regarding responsible gambling. The sole purpose is to educate and create discussion surrounding the state of gambling in Florida and the resources that are available to help those in need.Click here to download!

Posted by: Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling on June 16, 2016, 1:56 pm

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The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling

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National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Posted: October 11, 2016 at 12:48 am

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Learnmore…

Now Available – 2015 Mathematics in Puerto Rico Take a look atthe results of the 2015 Spanish-language NAEP mathematics assessment administered to public school students in Puerto Rico. Learn more …

Story Map of NAEP data on MapED 2015 NAEP data has been added to MapED – a dynamic data mapping tool that provides geographic context to NCES, Census and other education demographic datasets. Learn more …

Now Available – 2016 DBA Tutorial VideosThe 2016 Digitally Based Assessment (DBA) interactive tutorial videos are designed to teach students about the system and the tools they use to take the NAEP assessments.Learn more …

Check out our blogNAEP Plus! We invite you to engage in conversations with us as we examine NAEP results more deeply, share developments in our assessments, and keep you up-to-date on our activities. Learn more …

May 17, 2016: The Nation’s Report Card: 2014 Technology and Engineering Literacy Assessment

April 27, 2016: The Nation’s Report Card: 2015 Mathematics and Reading at Grade 12

NAEP Results on Your Mobile Device! Now available for download through the Apple App Store and Google Play. Be sure to download the latest report: 2013 Mathematics and Reading. Learnmore…

Share NAEP by Social Media and Email! Want to share NAEP content, news, or data on Facebook, Twitter, or by email? Now you can by using the social media icons located in the top right corner of each page.

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National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

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Nihilism | Meaningness

Posted: at 12:47 am

Nihilism holds that there is no meaning or value anywhere. Questions about purpose, ethics, and sacredness are unanswerable because they are meaningless. You might as well ask about the sleep habits of colorless green ideas as about the meaning of life.

Nihilism is a mirror image of eternalismthe stance that everything is meaningful. (For an introduction, see Preview: eternalism and nihilism.) However, the two stances are not simply opposites; they share fundamental metaphysical assumptions.

Eternalism and nihilism both fail to recognize that nebulosity and pattern are inseparable. Therefore they suppose that real meaning would be absolutely patterned: perfectly definite and certain, unchanging and objective. This is their shared metaphysical error.

Eternalism insists that meaning really is like that. That is its second metaphysical error. Nihilism observes, accurately, that no such meaning is possible. This corrects the second error. However, because nihilism shares the first error, it concludes that meaning is impossible, period. This is also wrong; nebulous meanings are real, for any reasonable definition of real.

Nihilism is attractive to those who have explicitly recognized, understood, and rejected eternalisms second error: belief in ultimate meaning. That is not easy. Nihilism is, therefore, the more intelligent stance. Or, at least, its a stance that tends to be adopted more often by more intelligent people. (Its even more dysfunctional than eternalism, so we could also call it less intelligent.)

While most people are committed, however waveringly, to eternalism, only a few commit to nihilism. In denying all meaning, nihilism is wildly implausible. Only a few sociopaths, intellectuals, and depressives try to maintain it.

Well see, though, that almost everyone adopts the nihilistic stance at times, without noticing. When the complete stance is unknown, nihilism seems like the only possible defense against the harmful lies of eternalism. (Just as eternalism seems like the only possible salvation from the harmful lies of nihilism.)

Even if you are relatively immune to nihilism, its important to understand as a prototype. Many other confused stances are modified or limited forms of nihilism. They reject particular types of meanings, rather than rejecting all meaningfulness. That makes their distortions, harms, and emotional dynamics similar to nihilisms.

The first page in this section discusses several obstacles you must overcome to even get to nihilism. The main one is the obviousness of meaning. Even before that, you have to let go of the hope that eternalism can somehow be made to work. There are also strong social and cultural taboos against nihilism. Finally, nihilism has nasty psychological side-effects that make you miserable.

The second page explains briefly what it would mean to accomplish nihilism: a state of total apathy. This would, theoretically, end suffering (which is one reason nihilism is attractive). Its probably impossible, although some religious systems seem to advocate it.

Most of my discussion of nihilism concerns its emotional dynamics. I begin with an analogy: eternalism is like one of those email scams that promises you millions of dollars in exchange for help getting money out of Nigeria. If you fall for that, catastrophic financial loss ensues.

Nihilism entails a similar catastrophic loss: the loss of meaning. The next page gives an overview of our psychological reactions to that loss: rage, intellectual argument, depression, and anxiety. Each gets its own, more detailed page.

In addition, I address the content of nihilistic intellectualization. This is a collection of reasons for rejecting obvious meanings as not really meaningful. They are supposedly the wrong kind of meaning; not ultimate, not objective, not eternal, not inherent, or not higher. So what? These arguments are bogus and nonsensical. They usually conceal a hidden motivation: the issue is not qualitative (the wrong kind of meaning) but quantitative (available meanings seem inadequately compelling). This is a psychological and practical problem, not a philosophical one, so psychological and practical methods may help.

The antidotes to nihilism are partly intellectual: realizing why its incorrect and harmful. Mainly, though, antidotes restore meaningfulness, by making it more powerful, more obvious, more compelling, more enjoyable.

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Nihilism | Meaningness

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The Principality of Sealand | Facebook

Posted: October 8, 2016 at 10:34 pm

The 2nd of September is Sealand Independence Day and to celebrate our 48th year, Prince Michael has issued a pre-release edition of his book “Holding The Fort”, limited to 500 individually numbered copies.

The book uncovers the truth behind Michael’s surreal life and adventures; sleeping with an automatic pistol under his pillow from the age of 14, being kidnapped by armed terrorists, his family setting up their own island nation, government sieges, top-secret government doc…uments and multiple attempts to bring an end to the Sealand dream. The book also includes previously unseen photos from his family’s personal collection.

The story of Sealand is stranger than fiction, better than Hollywood and more surreal than Dali – Ben Fogle (Adventurer, author and broadcaster)

“When a story features sawn-off shotguns, dawn helicopter raids, pistol whippings, temperamental generators, shady tax accountants, devious gangsters and at least one flying headbutt to the bridge of the nose, ‘romantic’ probably isn’t the word that springs instantly to mind. Especially when at the heart of that story is an outwardly charmless, forbidding structure way out in the cold and dark of the North Sea. Yet the story of the Principality of Sealand is a patently romantic one. It’s a classic case of the underdog kicking against authority and winning; a heartwarming narrative of battling the odds that’s grounded in good old- fashioned British eccentricity. It’s a riproaring yarn, a classic Boy’s Own tale related here by the boy himself, Michael of Sealand, with verve, wit and panache. But look beneath the surface, beyond the guns and dastardly plots, and you learn from these pages that Sealand is also a story of family; of loyalty, respect and devotion flowing between generations and filtered through this tiny principality off the Essex coast; channeled through the dreams, hopes and stubborn stand against seemingly impossible odds of the Bates family. The story of Sealand is like an Ealing comedy crossed with a Bond film and scripted by John Le Carr. It’s a story that has often been swathed in myth and blighted by rumour, but here, at last, is the definitive tale from the man best qualified to tell it. And he tells it very well indeed.” – Charlie Connelly. Charlie is a bestselling writer and award-winning broadcaster. His books include Attention all shipping.

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Trance – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: at 10:29 pm

Trance describes a state of mind. A trance is when a person is conscious, and not sleeping, but is unaware of what is happening around him or her.

The term trance is associated with hypnosis, meditation, magic, flow, religion, and certain kinds of music. It is an “altered state of consciousness”.[1][2]

There are many efforts to define what a trance is.[3][4] Some think it is a borderland between normal consciousness and spirituality[5]

The most straightforward example is when a person is hypnotized, they are in a trance. Conscious, and responding to the hypnotist, the person seems to block out other thoughts and other information.

Another common example is the day-dream, where a person’s mind drifts across private thoughts.[6] Everyone daydreams, but young children constantly daydream, and have vivid imaginary fantasies. This is entirely normal. In the language of psychology, this kind of temporary separation from one’s surroundings is called “dissociation”. Research shows that a lot is going on when we daydream.[7][8]

There are many examples of trance in religion. African animistic religions, such as that of the Yoruba, feature dances in celebration of the spirits. Under the influence of rhythm and song, a group dances, often for hours at a time. During this time, various members of the group may fall into trances, and some may act as if possessed by one of the spirits being worshiped.[9][10][11] States of “spiritual ecstasy” are known in most forms of Christian worship. It is a main part of those aspects of religion known as “mysticism”.[12]

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Trance – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Genetic Engineering Risks and Impacts –

Posted: October 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Any technology that offers benefits will usually come with risks as well. In order to make wise decisions about using a technology, we must understand its potential impacts well enough to decide whether the risks are acceptably low.

What are the risks posed by the use of genetic engineering (GE) in agriculture? The answers fall mostly into two categories: risks to human health, and environmental impacts.

Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories

Health risks of genetic engineering have sometimes been described in exaggerated, alarmist terms, implying that foods made from GE crops are inherently unsafe. There is no evidence, for instance, that refined products derived from GE crops, such as starch, sugar and oils, are different than those derived from conventionally bred crops.

It is also an exaggeration, however, to state that there are no health risks associated with GE. For one thing, not enough is known: research on the effects of specific genes has been limitedand tightly controlled by the industry.

But we do know of ways in which genetically engineered crops could cause health problems. For instance, genes from an allergenic plant could transfer this unwanted trait to the target plant. This phenomenon was documented in 1996, as soybeans with a Brazil nut geneadded to improve their value as animal feedproduced an allergic response in test subjects with Brazil nut allergies.

Unintended consequences like these underscore the need for effective regulation of GE products. In the absence of a rigorous approval process, there is nothing to ensure that GE crops that cause health problems will always be identified and kept off the market.

Genetically engineered crops can potentially cause environmental problems that result directly from the engineered traits. For instance, an engineered gene may cause a GE crop (or a wild relative of that crop) to become invasive or toxic to wildlife.

But the most damaging impact of GE in agriculture so far is the phenomenon of pesticide resistance. Millions of acres of U.S. farmland are now infested by weeds that have become resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. Overuse of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” trait, which is engineered to tolerate the herbicide, has promoted the accelerated development of resistance in several weed species.

Looking for ways to fight back against these “superweeds,” farmers are now turning to older, more toxic herbicides such as 2,4-D and dicamba. As if on cue, agribusiness companies have begun to develop new GE crops engineered to tolerate these older herbicideswith no guarantee that the Roundup Ready story will not repeat itself, producing a new wave of resistant weeds.

And this issue is not confined to herbicides: recent reports suggest a growing problem of corn rootworms resistant to the insecticide Bt, which some corn varieties have been engineered to produce.

As the superweed crisis illustrates, current applications of genetic engineering have become a key component of an unsustainable approach to food production: industrial agriculture, with its dependence on monoculturesupported by costly chemical inputsat the expense of the long-term health and productivity of the farm.

A different approach to farming is availablewhat UCS calls “healthy farms.” This approach is not only more sustainable than industrial agriculture, but often more cost-effective. Yet as long as the marketplace of agricultural products and policies is dominated by the industrial model, prioritizing expensive products over knowledge-based agroecological approaches, healthy farm solutions face an uphill battle.

In the case of GE, better solutions include crop breeding (often assisted by molecular biology techniques) and agroecological practices such as crop rotation, cover crops, and integrated crop/livestock management.

Such healthy farm practices are the future of U.S. agricultureand policymakers can help speed the transition by supporting research and education on them. In the meantime, stronger regulation of the biotechnology industry is needed to minimize health and environmental risks from GE products.

Genetic Engineering Risks and Impacts –

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