## Reincarnation

Imagine Swamy Vivekananda was right. Imagine you are one with the Universe, every living thing, every inanimate object, every idea. You are me. You are this blog post. You are every single plant, animal, insect, rodent that has ever lived and ever going to live on this universe. Being born as a human right now means that you are way up in the food chain already. You are capable of thought. You probably have enough food to eat. But for your next birth you will have to be born into a poor family in Somalia to live your life fighting for basic amenities like food clothing and shelter. After that you are born as a farm chicken only to be butchered when you are old enough to serve as food for others. But in one of those births you will be born as Charlie Sheen, as Bill Gates, as Angelina Jolie, as some of the most enviable souls of this world.

Now imagine if he was wrong. If you only had one life, the one you are living right now. This means you live your life and you have almost everything you need. However, you will never ever get to feel how some of the luckiest people in the world feel. How it is to be them.

Which world would you prefer to live in?

## Three laws of freedoms-rights

Here are the three laws of freedoms/rights I mentioned I forgot in my earlier post:

1. Your freedom shall not infringe the freedom of others
2. Freedoms/rights cannot be decoupled from corresponding duties/responsibilties
3. Whatever rights and freedoms you are giving yourself, you should be willing to give others also.

## Morality

Today I am going to talk about morality from a scientific perspective. What I am about to say is nothing original, but described well here. But then why write this post at all ? There are two major reasons :

1. I was once thinking about three laws of freedom. Thinking it was trivial, I never bothered to write it down and now I can’t remember the third law no matter how hard I try. It also seems that the thought was original because it seems not to be documented anywhere on the web.
2. This post is also for those who need to see the math to understand anything

So the content I am mentioning below is entirely hypothetical. However, it would be useful to understand the concepts at a theoretical level.

So imagine that someone discovers an instrument that can measure happiness of an individual. This, by itself is a questionable concept. What constitutes happiness ? Is it contentment ? Is it bodily pleasures ? Forget all that and think about it as an abstract ‘something’ that we are all constantly looking for. Furthermore, let us assume that happiness can be added, subtracted, multiplied etc once we bring it to such a system. Now, it would be possible to measure the happiness of all the people in this world. Let it be : ΣHp ( Net Happiness )

We can plot the Net Happiness over time of all the people in this world in the graph as shown:

Here t1 is the moment under consideration and t2 is the instant at which all sentient beings ceases to exist ( Big Crunch ? ). Now assume that t1 is the only point you have free will and based on the decision that you make, the Happiness Graph can change to f(t) or h(t). g(t) is the graph if you have no free will. I argue that, that action which maximizes the net happiness of every sentient being in this world [shown by shaded region for f(t)] is the right action. Every other action is a wrong action. That is, we need to take that action at t1 that maximizes the area under this graph (action that corresponds to h(t)) . That is, the value that needs maximizing is this :

Net ΣHp = $\int_{t1}^{t2} f(t) \, \mathrm{d} t$

I also argue any action that causes this Net Hp value to be lower than the area under g(t) is an evil action. Any action that causes the happiness graph to have an area greater than area under g(t) is a good action.

Implications :

1. Clearly good actions can be wrong actions. For example, assume a scenerio when you learn that the whole world is going to end in a few minutes. You see a beggar on the street looking for a days food. You realize you have about 100 bucks on you. Giving the begger 50 bucks would be a good action. But the only right action is to give him all your 100 bucks (assuming happiness increases linerly with money given).
2. It must be understood that inaction can also be an action. For example, suppose one nihilist has trapped himself in a room where you cannot enter. He has access to a nuclear bomb that if activated will destroy this entire world and kill everyone in this world. Your only option is to kill that person. Here, your inaction will result in the death of everyone in this world. Assuming that if the world goes on there is more happiness to be had for everyone it means you are being evil with your inaction.
3. I have assumed here that one unit of happiness given to one person is same as one unit of happiness given to any other person. For example, one unit of happiness given to one man, woman, black, caucassian, hispanic, aryan, jew, hindu, muslim, christian etc is the same as one unit given to any other.
4. While it is possible for two view-points/philosophies to be equally valid, it is not very probable.
5. Assuming that human beings cannot see all the possibilities ahead, the simplest approach we can take is a greedy approach. For example, it is believed that Helene Hanfstaengl persuaded Adolf Hitler away from suicide after the failure of his first revolution. Afterwards, he went ahead and killed many million people. It is unclear what would have happened, if she had chosen at that point not to do that. However, it may not have made any sense for her not to save someone’s life given the information she had.

## Top-down and bottom-up thinking

So, if the last post was about the details, in this post I will try to explain the concept of top-down and bottom-up thinking.

The smartest people in the world will have the Zoom In and Zoom Out ability which is to understand the nitty-gritty details without missing the big picture. Usually what happens is that either

1. people get focussed on the details ( and gets lost in the details ) or
2. they forget about the details

Both are equally bad and can cause failure. If you miss the Big Picture, it is very much possible that you may miss the impact of external forces that might apply to your system which ultimately results in failure. If you miss the details, it is equally possible that you do not have an accurate understanding of what is possible given the constraints.

Management folks encourage mostly top-down thinking (Big Picture) and engineering schools teach bottom-up thinking (Details oriented). This is one of the reasons for tensions between management and the worker ants in technical companies.

To understand this principle in detail let us take the example of Iridium Communications Company.

The founding company for this firm went bankrupt because it developed the technology for satellites, mobile phones etc, however the cost of putting the satellites in space was in the order of billions which the company was not able to raise. They wasted an inordinate amount of money because they failed to see the external effects of their business plan, the Big Picture.

To explain the concept of attention to detail, take the example of IBM deciding to incentivise developers on number of lines of code they wrote (sorry, can’t explain this without knowledge of some detail and code and technology are details I understand). This caused many problems within IBM as people wrote code that introduced subtle bugs which they rewrote to fix (more lines), they started writing code in a verbose manner and introduced unnecessary complexities etc. What went wrong here ? The root of the problem is that not all lines of code are equal.

When a factory worker has to put in X amount of work to produce N units of stuff, then when he produces 2N units he has put in 2X amount of work. Unlike mechanical jobs (like the above case), this is not true for creative and innovative jobs like software development, journalism etc.

So you can see that the best decisions are made by people who can refrain from getting caught up in the details, take a step back and look at the big picture from multiple perspectives and at the same time see how the details fit together to form the whole system. Further, you will also note how there is considerable overlap between the two types of thinking; meaning it may be easier to explain the above principle to people who think either way.

When you understand the above principle you start to understand the idea behind a lot of quotes that go around the world, like:
“Complex systems that work evolve from simple systems that work”
“The devil is in the details”
“Details often kill initiative, but there have been few successful men who weren’t good at details. Don’t ignore details. Lick them.” — William B. Given

## Error of classification and loosing detail

Today I would first like to begin with error of classification and then generalize it more to error of losing detail. One common mistake people make is the error of classification. The error is so:

1. All elements of class X has Y and Z property.
2. All elements in the world with Y property must belong to class X and hence have Z property

No other post explains this idea better than this one : http://lesswrong.com/lw/e95/the_noncentral_fallacy_the_worst_argument_in_the/

However that post is too specific to errors of classification with respect to logical arguments. It applies very well to other domains. Moreover errors of classification has bigger problems because the classification itself can be wrong.

I will give you some examples:

Everyone knows that a smart person will talk well about what they are good at, barring artificial constraints such as language or mental illness. But we incorrectly assume that everyone who talks smooth is smart which in retrospect looks ridiculous.

I have also heard of people claiming their employers trying to build slides and provide bean bags for them because companies like Yahoo, Facebook, Google etc seems to do them. After all bean bags and slides are what makes these company cultures so great, isn’t it ?

Another example is exams. Here is where the problem of loosing detail can really be problematic. Most people who are good at understanding the basics of what they study can score reasonably well in exams. However, everyone who scores well does not have to be a good student. They don’t even have to be very smart. It is possible to tune the your study habits specifically to beat the system.

This creates a negative incentive system. If you consider plaudits from other people as an incentive ( which in most cases is a reasonable assumption for most mortals ) then there will be a lot of people trying to tune their study habits to beat the system than do what is profitable to the whole world, i.e, students who go into schools should try to gain knowledge and improve their analytic skills.

This would be an interesting problem to solve : to create a culture that values detail and makes correct classifications.

## If you have to keep telling people how real you are, its probably because you’re fake

I would like to share with you something that happened to me when I was coming back from Bangalore yesterday. I was walking from Railway Station to the Bus Stand at Kottayam and while I was walking one guy who was telling fortunes stopped me and invited me to take a session with him. He insisted very much and made a huge fuss about not needing to pay anything that caught me by surprise. I went to talk to him and I found something interesting. Even though he initially said he didn’t want any money he asked for some money (amount of my choice) to be given. He said you can think of it as helping an old guy out and so I gave him 10 bucks . Then he insisted that he be given money for a Meal (“Not a Biryani, an Ordinary one”  ). So I gave him 10 more to see where this was going. I have touched upon the advantages of forcing the price upon the other person before.

Now let me first of all say that I do believe that there can be extra ordinary stuff happening in this world that science cannot explain.

Some stuff he said was right. But they were too general to have impressed me.  Some of them were:

“Your hand says you are technical”

Well, I was wearing jeans and a shirt that people usually wear in technical field. I doubt if he would have made that statement if I was wearing more traditional attire.

“Three letters in name of mother in Malayalam.”

This was correct, but it was too general. If he had named the exact name of my mother, I would have been impressed.

Then there were some random statements:

“Looking at your forehead, you studied LLB. You just did not complete it by action.”

Erm… What?

“You will live till 85 years. Have 3 Kids”

Now, it was when he started trying to predict stuff that I caught his bullshit.

“You are living in a house, which is under construction.”

This was not correct. First of all, I am living in a flat in Bangalore, which is fully constructed, and I am living at my home in Kerala which is also fully constructed. When I informed he was incorrect he asked how many floors it was. I said one and he said that is what he meant. It will be reconstructed to add more floors. Well, then he should have said that shouldn’t he? At this point he correctly predicted that the house occupied a large piece of land, but define large? How large is big enough? Does he mean the length of the house is big or breadth? That statement would simply statistically have worked on a large number of people.

“Tell me a number greater than 7”

I said “2 00 000”

“Now think about a number between 1 and 5. Is it 3?”

When informed I thought of 1, he said he wanted a number not including the limits (?)

Now be very careful of the deception here. First he asked me a number greater than 7 and here I unfortunately gave away my intentions by saying a number that goes beyond what would usually be said. So he realized that I was going to test him and reduced my intervals to 1 – 5. If I had just said something like 10 he probably would have given me a longer interval. Also I think that first he asked me to tell him a random number to test how my mind works. He probably could have got some information that would have improved his chances of guessing my number correctly.

“Think of a flower. Is it Rose?”

Now here I was careful to think of an exotic flower. When I said no and told him the name of the flower, he emphasized he was correct in his guess and said something about colors. Here he really blew it. I don’t think he knew how many colors my choice of flower came in and quickly moved on to something else trying to invoke my Confirmation Bias.

Now here comes his masterpiece.

“You loved a girl, but the hearts never matched.

Some girl is watching your moves and she wants to make contact.

If I say her name will you happily pay me Rs 1000? Other boys like you would usually give 5000.”

I said “No” and he said “You do have the money, but it is set aside for something else”.

I said “No. I just don’t believe in all this”.

Now he was very careful to add more details and advice to his deception like “Do not tell anyone when you call her over the phone, exchange letters etc”.

Now look at the deception here. First he notices my unshaven chin, my loose clothing and takes a guess about my life that would have fit well with a lot of folks that dress like me: love failure. Many of my friends and cousins have joked this about me. Now, he adds hope into the equation by saying that all is not lost; some other girl is watching me, longing for me and wants to make contact. Then he asks for Rs 1000 for her name, but it’s OK, because others would already have happily given him Rs 5000. Ha!

He said that he knew I was not an atheist. Well, duh. I was wearing my rosary and it was visible through the top of my shirt.

Now when all this failed he tried to extract at least Rs 100 from me by using a Bible. He realized that he was in a Christian majority district and had a Bible ready for use when needed.

I probably came of as an easy prey when he saw me walking by: with my loose clothing, unbuttoned shirt, rosary, unshaven chin and everything.

He probably wasn’t expecting someone with least bit critical thinking.

Well, at the end of the day despite losing 20 bucks I learned two things

1. These kind of very smart deceptive people exist.

2. I am not conventional

## Protect your privacy

Recently I realized that Google had changed their privacy policy. In response I set out to see what info they had on me. I was horrified to learn that they had correlated my data and built a profile on me!! So I was testing out some apps and decided to make a video on how you can protect your privacy on the web. Check it out :

## The three temptations every man must face

I have been reading Mathew 4:1-11. Here I would like to write what I think about the whole thing. I am in no way authorized to interpret the  Bible so proceed with caution.

I feel strongly that the three temptations of Jesus are a depiction of the three powerful weapons that Satan possesses over us.

After 40 days of fasting in the desert Jesus was hungry.

1. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Here we see that the despite being the Son of God, Jesus was tempted on account of his human nature and weakness. Whence he was hungry and desperate the tempter asks him to commit a sin to escape his misery. Jesus says : ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ and refutes the tempter.

2. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’

Here Satan uses his powers of confusion and does not even hesitate the Scripture in the hope to cause Jesus to commit sin. This refers to false ideologies that can take control over our brain and cause us to transgress. But the solution is also clear : “Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” There is enough and more written in the Scripture to cause you to believe. If your  heart is pure and  free from ego, hatred and in search of truth as opposed to personal vendettas or  crusades you are destined to find the one and only Truth.

3. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Here Satan hopes that the Son of God would commit sin in the hope of attaining earthly pleasures. This is a huge advantage for Satan as he can promise us immediate pleasure and only path for us to take is focus our eyes on the prize and soldier on for delayed gratification.

## Common elements in Religion

I have been doing some thinking recently on the major religions.

I find some commonalities with most of them.

The following are some of them. I mean this as a mere thought excersice and not as an attempt to offend anyone.

The religions under consideration are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jewism and Budhism.

1. Prophets

Every said religion teaches that there were a set of awesome people who did some awesome stuff.

For Budhism they are called “Buddha“s (Gauthama Buddha being the one who gave birth to ‘Budhism’, but he would be by no means be the last).

For Christianity, Jewism, Islam and Islam they are called ‘Prophets’.

2. Second coming

Every religion requires people to look forward to something.

For Jewism it is the coming of promised ‘Messiah’.

For Christianity and Islam it is the second coming of Jesus.

For Hinduism it is the tenth Avatar of Vishnu : ‘Kalki’.

Unfortunately, I do not know about Budhism.

3. Why you are screwed if you believe in the currently trendy religion.

When Jewism came into being, the dominant religion was paganism.

Hence Jews preached that anyone attributing Godly attributes to inanimate objects are screwed. Salvation rests with those who convert to Jewism.

When Christianity came into being, Jewism was the trendy religion.

They preached that the only name given under the Sun for salvation was ‘Jesus’. Hence everyone who does not believe in Christianity is screwed.

When Islam came into being, the trendy religion was Christianity.

Hence they preached that everyone who attribute Godly powers to human beings (Jesus) are screwed. Hence only way to salvation was convert to Islam.

No subsitute for Hinduism and Budhism.

## Why prostitution should be legal and regulated

Recently I have been reading about prostitution and the law because somewhere I read that it was not illegal. In-depth reading forced me to conclude that prostitution should be legal. When someone argues prostitution should be legal some feminists, religionists, social reformers etc argue that it should not be legal. Here I would like to point out why they are wrong.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROSTITUTION

• Prostitution causes emotional stress for women involved.

Prostitution is legal and regulated in New Zealand, Germany, Nevada (USA) etc. Why was it allowed there if it was so traumatizing for sex workers?

Whenever an individual takes a job they have to weigh in the costs and benefits of doing the job. I for one would give anything to wake up every morning, sit before my computer watching movies and videos, eat, drink, sleep, surf the Internet and not give a damn about working. But we work because we have to. It is not pleasant but we do what we think weighs more on the cost benefit analysis.

When we do a job, we are essentially taking payment for every discomfort we encounter for doing that job. For example everyone would like to be a Doctor or Engineer. Few would like to be a sweeper, a bus conductor or a shoe polisher because of the low social status afforded to people doing these jobs. But people still do it because they think the money they make from sacrificing the dignity of a white collar job satisfies them more. No job is separate from this analysis. This is why soldiers are paid more for their work, because it is dangerous. Whenever you are paying someone for their work, you are paying them for their discomfort in their work, the loss of dignity and potential mating opportunities they face by doing the job, the risks they face doing the job, all kinds of physical, mental and emotional pains that they endure for doing the job for you etc. The compensation for all these troubles is contained in the remuneration that is paid to them which is determined by market forces.

• Prostitution causes men to treat women like objects for their pleasure

Sorry. I can’t understand that either. Suppose you are waiting by the bus stop and you want to smoke. You light a cigarette and the police come and pick you up. You pay a fine of 500 bucks. What have you learned? It is not alright to smoke cigarettes in public. If you smoke in public you have to pay for it. Similarly when you visit a prostitute, you use her sexually with no respect to her feelings for your own sexual gratification and turn over your hard earned cash, what have you learned? It is not alright to treat women like they have no desires or feelings. If you do, you will have to pay its price. Hence the act of visiting prostitutes encourages the idea that the feelings of women are not to be discarded in a sexual encounter.

Now, a good friend of mine reminded me that this conclusion is valid only if money is a scarce resource. And true, when courts orders fines they take into account the financial capacity of the guilty party.  But this conclusion is wrong here. Because as long as there are high-class prostitutes who costs extremely large quantities of money rich men will buy their services until they feel the cost of it, unless you are talking about multi-billionaires who are mostly above the law anyway. There is also the possibility of discriminative pricing when we have government regulated prostitution. But I expect the incorporated brothels will realize the value of branding their most beautiful women and creating a luxurious effect. For example, we all perceive Angelina Jolie to be the most beautiful woman in the world when all the other top actresses could just as well be equally beautiful. We are drawn more into brands like Angelina Jolie, Aishwarya Rai etc because their publicity teams want us to.

Some people also argue that legalizing prostitution also encourages exploitation of the poor women. Well, the poor women are already exploited for prostitution. When we criminalize prostitution we are certainly not protecting these women, that is for sure. I read in the book “More Sex Is Safer Sex” that in some areas street prostitutes are more likely to give “freebies” to the police officers than get arrested by them. But people don’t understand the fine dynamics of poverty. If poor people are getting exploited because of poverty then in most cases poverty is the real problem. I would like to give you an example.

Some people say that child labor must be abolished. Though it would be ideal to pull all children out of the workforce it is not the problem, only a symptom. Research shows that even in families where children are sent to work, the parents pull children out of work the moment they can afford to do so. Poverty means making hard choices. These choices may be sending your child to work or starve to death. It is not our job to second guess their situation. That would be like we ordering every poor family in Africa to buy Adiddas shoes. Since Adiddas shoes tend to make us happy they should be happy about it too, right? If poverty means starvation or prostitution most women will chose prostitution. Unless you can show them a way out (and if you do those who want it will take it) it is not alright to make those choices for them.

Now I have also read in Wikipedia that feminists are the most vehement opposers of legalization of prostitution. I hate all kinds of freaks such as feminists, anti-racists etc. These people tend to value that the feelings and lives of some type of people are more important and deserves special attention as opposed to looking at mankind as a whole and building a race of unity and harmony. So I am going to say my observation why I think feminism supports criminalization of prostitution. But it is my belief that if prostitution was decriminalized it would not benefit men in any special way as a group. So all male chauvinists can f*** off too.

My observation comes from a study of evolutionary psychology for a long time. It has helped me understand why men and women behave in a certain way, why they want different things from a relationship, why we feel the way we do etc.

Evolutionary biology states that as men our best sexual strategy is to:

1. F*ck as many women as possible
2. F*ck as many times as possible
3. Leave as soon as copulation is over and not take care of the offspring

Why is this? For every creature its tactic is to maximize the gene pool. For example, if I have 100 children and an anonymous guy named Jack has 4 kids, then I have a more –for lack of better layman’s word- “Male Genetical Fitness” as opposed to Jack. This is because when my kids have 10000 kids Jack’s kids will have only 16 kids. Since the rate of growth for my gene pool is more, my descendants would overrun Jack’s kids. Hence Natural Selection tends to favor males that produce as many kids as possible. Clearly f*cking as many times as possible means there is a higher chance that your sperm gets fertilized. Now why is it necessary to leave as soon as you have copulated? This is because males face the risk of cuckoldry. If males raise the offspring, he runs a risk of investing his own resources trying to raise someone else’s child.

For women they cannot afford to be as promiscuous. This is because if women face the risk of pregnancy. This is why females are more picky about their mate. They want to select the best genes for their offspring and also ensure that the time they spent nursing the offspring is put to good use. Hence for the females the optimal strategy is to find the best male (strength, confidence etc) and make sure that the male invests as much resources in the offspring as possible.

For this reason it has universally become the norm that males have to convince the females to mate. This is true in every species. Some do it in the form of dancing (peacock) others does it in the form of nuptial gifts (a monkey offering a treat to a female monkey in exchange for sex). Now all modern societies are built on the foundation provided by these genetic forces. Marriages are designed to maximize “Female Genetic Fitness”.  Marriages are the worst thing you could do to your genes apart from remaining completely chaste. You are agreeing that you would only f*ck one woman and invest completely in the raising of the offspring.  How did the society come to this?

Before getting to that let us consider the generic buyer-seller situation. Suppose I want to sell my phone and you want to buy it. In a sale it is always better to ask the other person to quote the price. For example, let us say that I am willing to sell the phone for 7000 bucks and you are willing to pay me 8000 bucks. If I ask you: “How much are you willing to pay for it?” and you say “8000” I have a profit of 1000 bucks, because I would have sold it to you for 7000. Now, if you were to ask me for the price I am willing to sell it, you would have saved 1000 bucks because you were willing to pay that much more for it but you didn’t have to now.

My conclusion is that by refraining from quoting the price of sex female kind have slightly forced us to give more and more in return for sex. And lest we forget all male-female relationships are essentially rooted in sex. Even if you don’t want to admit it, the reason you are nicer to a girl as opposed to a boy is because your genes want you to.

Look at the current state of affairs these days. You follow a girl around. You beg her to go out with you. You carry all the expenses including transportation, cost of food or tickets, you drop her off and if she feels like it she has sex with you. If she feels like it!

The real threat of prostitution is that it quotes a definitive price on sex. Once the social stigma and media brainwashing wears off, loads of men will start to think: “Why should I go into all this trouble when I can so easily get it from a brothel?”. That would mean the power of the bargaining chip that women hold will weaken. That might be the reason feminists really oppose legalizing prostitution.