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Against Teleology in the Study of Race: Toward the Abolition of the Progress Paradigm – Louise Seamster, Victor Ray, 2018

We argue that claims of racial progress rest upon untenable teleological assumptions founded in Enlightenment discourse. We examine the theoretical and methodol…
— Read on journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/10.1177/0735275118813614/full

Insightful, but not currently relevant to social policy, due to the degree of gene pooling through extensive miscegenation over the past 300 years. ‘Race’ doesn’t exist today, only ethnic-based discrimination. And all other forms of discrimination. Talking about “racism” perpetuates unnecessary negative stereotypes.

What’s in a Name? In this case, traditions do the defining, but body acceptance is at the core of this 100-year old, non-denominational, non-sexist, equal rights social movement. Now in over 108 countries.

Freedom at Last!

Through traditional and empirical observations, a nudist likes more to lay in the sun, or play volleyball or go swimming, at a nudist resort or on a private property. A naturist in somewhat contradistinction, may do the same, but “Naturism is a way of life, in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intentioon of encouraging respect for oneself, for others, and for the environment” (Federation of Canadian Naturists [FCN.org] [INF.org])

Further,  “As stated in this definition from the International Naturist Federation, naturism is the practice of complete nudity in a social setting. Though nudity is the most obvious aspect of naturism, it is part of a much wider context.

The purpose of naturism is to promote wholesomeness and stability of the human body, mind and spirit. These come easily to those who shed the psychlogical and social encumbrance of clothing, to see and respect the human body as created.

Naturism also promotes optimal health through complete contact of the body with the natural elements. It is practised as much as possible in an environment free of pollution and stress of modern society. It is therefore associated with an enlightened, holistic approach to nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and social interaction.

Naturism is founded on family participation. Children in naturist families learn to appreciate the body as part of their natural environment. They grow up with healthful attitudes and accept the physical nature of both sexes and all ages withour fear or shame.

Nude living thus removes barriers to communication between people and fosters appreciation of the environment. It leads to healthier and more humane living, richer and simpler, enlightened by joy and freedom.” (FCN.org pamphlet)

Both nudists and naturists enjoy fewer divorces, fewer psychological difficulties, less body shame, a better self concept, a greater tolerance for diversity, and non-exploitation of the human body for profit or power.

See for example, Therapy, Nudity and Joy, by Aileen Goodson, PhD. Elysium Press.

https://i2.wp.com/zjuzdme.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Selection_614.jpg Nudism. Naturism. Is there a difference? I know that in most of the US of A the words are used interchangeably. Nudists or naturists? I also know that in Europe, for instance, the two words are used differently. Naturism appeared after nudism. I’ve been thinking about those two words recently. Thoughts on the difference. […]

via A naturist’s view on nudism. (And naturism!) — Nudie News

GUEST APPEARANCE by Paul Bassett: Cosmologist, internationally-known AI specialist, keynote speaker and published author. His third contribution follows, speaking on Our Universe.

It gives me tremendous pleasure (again) in introducing my long-time friend and colleague, Paul Bassett. Paul has written a blog contribution below, which I know you will find extremely thought-provoking. Your responses are of course, solicited.

Paul Bassett photo Paul Bassett is a retired software engineer, author, entrepreneur, and inventor. His invention of Frame Technology (used around the world to automate software development) won him CIP’s Technology Innovation Award. He’s published numerous papers and a book Framing Software Reuse. Paul was a member of IEEE’s Distinguished Visitor Program, and has given keynote addresses, taught computer science at York University, and co-founded several businesses, including two successful software engineering companies. His MSc in artificial intelligence (U. of Toronto) imbued him with a life-long passion for divining the role and future life in the universe.

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What is the Name of Our Universe?

“Our universe” means different things in cultures with different creation myths. In my culture, “our universe” usually means the observable universe, which is a sphere with the Earth at its centre; it is the largest volume of matter that can ever affect us. Its radius is 46.6 billion light-years (1 light-year = 9.46 billion km.) and growing at one light-year per year. But the universe created at the “Big Bang” (13.8 billion years ago) surrounds “our universe”, and is unimaginably larger still. Virtually all the matter in the “Big Bang universe” is moving away from us faster than the speed of light, so can never affect us.

In “our universe”, we can see galaxies that can never see each other because any pair of galaxies that are more than 13.8 billion light-years apart have not had enough time since the Big Bang for light to travel from one to the other. So one could say that those galaxies are outside each other’s universes.

Finally, there is the notion of a ‘multiverse’, a universe some cosmologists speculate is spawning universes all the time, just as it spawned our “Big Bang universe”. With so many universes, there is no name for any of them! That said, “our universe” is the de facto name for the one and only universe that matters to us.

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Is artificial intelligence intelligent? or is it just machine learning?

There are many ways to define intelligence. Almost all of them involve problem solving proficiency. Problem-solving in turn, is deeply connected to the notion of algorithm, a method for converting inputs to outputs, or in mathematics, computing a function. Every computable function* has a countably infinite number of algorithms that can compute it, each varying greatly in its proficiency – the time and memory it requires to compute its outputs.

All brains and computers work by performing algorithms*. Brains have algorithms whose outputs are algorithms. Normally, brains invent/improve algorithms that computers use, as is. But ever since computers were invented, a goal has been to enable computers to invent/improve their own algorithms, what is commonly referred to as machine learning.

Human intelligence correlates with how quickly one can learn, with the vastness of one’s knowledge, expertise, wisdom, creativity,…This somewhat vague list of attributes all boil down, as I said, to the proficiency of various algorithms. After decades of frustratingly small advances, algorithms have recently been devised that allow simulated, multi-layered neural networks to learn to become much better than any human at quite a few impressive problem domains: from playing games such as checkers, chess, backgammon, poker and go, to medical diagnoses, to language translation, to facial recognition, to driving cars, to big-data pattern recognition, and so on. These machines are said to employ deep learning (“deep” means many layers of simulated neurons, each learning a different aspect of how to solve an overall problem).

Are these machines intelligent? In their domains of expertise, YES. Do they exhibit general intelligence? NO, because they still lack many key algorithms. In particular, no deep learning system today can give reasons for its choices (e.g., why it makes particular chess moves); nor do we know how to enable a machine to be an expert in multiple domains (e.g., chess and medicine). Billions of dollars are being spent on achieving general-purpose AI. And recent rapid progress leaves less and less room for skepticism*.

What is clear now is this: Like humans do, AIs will acquire their intelligence, not from human programmers, but by learning from experience, aided and unaided by teachers. Programmers may give them their initial learning algorithms, but what they learn, including learning to learn better, will emerge from an AI’s interactions with its environments.

*For those who still believe brains can think in ways that machines never can: Almost a century ago computer science pioneer Alan Turing and mathematician Alonzo Church, conjectured that a certain well-defined set contained all and only the functions that matter and energy can ever compute. (This countably infinite set is infinitesimal compared to the uncountably infinite set of all functions.) Since then, many have tried to refute it and failed. More recently, physicist David Deutsch finally proved the conjecture, assuming only that matter and energy obey the laws of quantum mechanics. Thus both brains and (quantum) computers are confined to thinking using algorithms in that set.

Comments……………..?

Washington Post: Trump Wants Government Climate Scientists to Stop Being Dramatic — Iowa Climate Science Education Someone needs to educate this man and soon. US climate change policy cannot afford to miss the mark on this one.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall Government Climate scientists are upset that President Trump wants them to avoid using emotive language in their press releases. Trump official said scientists went ‘beyond their wheelhouse’ by writing climate change ‘dramatically’ shrank Montana glaciers By Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin March 7 A U.S. Geological Survey study documenting how […]

via Washington Post: Trump Wants Government Climate Scientists to Stop Being Dramatic — Iowa Climate Science Education

Being a successful change agent: models and techniques

change agent (CA) is someone who brings about change in another person, process, set of circumstances, group, environment, family, organization, institution, community, or theory. He or she can work for example, from the outside or the inside of a community, business, or organization, etc., to alter values, motivations, procedures, knowledge, communications, products, physical and psycho-social environments, and policies. A CA usually assists as a process helper, catalyst, resource linker, or solution giver.

Effective change agents are assisted by resources such as talent or skill, charisma, facts, techniques, access to funds, and access to influencers and key stakeholders. Internal change agents generally act in accordance with their prescribed roles or job description, whereas external change agents are paid a fee for their services by the employer. Exceptions for example, are government change agents who provide services to others, as part of their duties. The active relationship (duty or contract; ongoing or short-lived) between the CA and his or her audience/client, is called the interface.

The internal model of change has the following interface features:

  1. Objective and subjective factors tend to be minimized, due to familiarity;
  2. systems are task, human, structure, technology;
  3. functions are goal attainment, integration, adaptation, pattern-maintenance;
  4. agent brings knowledge, skill, loyalty/duty
  5. change time is relatively short;
  6. outcome bias tends to be high;
  7. knowledge is academically derived, or a reformulation of current;
  8. change impact is parochial/amorphous.

Advantages

  1.  he knows the system;
  2. he speaks the language
  3. he understands the norms;
  4. he identifies with the system’s needs and goals;
  5. he is a familiar figure.

Disadvantages

  1. he may lack perspective;
  2. he may lack the special knowledge or skill relevant to the innovation;
  3. he may not have an adequate power base to elicit support;
  4. he may have to live down his past failures;
  5. he may  not have the independence ofmovement within the organization;
  6. he may have to face the difficult task of redefining his on-going relationships with the other members of the system;
  7. he may place duty above reason.

The external model of change has the following interface features:

  1. objective and subjective factors tend to be maximized, due to unfamiliarity;
  2. systems are task, human, structure, technology;
  3. functions are goal attainment, integration, adaptation, pattern-maintenance;
  4. agent brings knowledge, skill, neutrality, motivation;
  5. change time is relatively long;
  6. outcome bias tends to be low;
  7. knowledge is acaademically derived, or a reformulation of current or new;
  8. change impact is substantively pervasive/durable.

Advantages

  1. he starts fresh, unburdened by possible negative stereotypes;
  2. he is in a position to have perspective and objectivity;
  3. he may have access to a wider spectrum of resarch facilities and data
  4. he is independent of the power structure of his client system;
  5. he is in a position to bring to the interface, something genuinely new most of the time.

Available change strategies to both internal and external CAs:

  1. rational-technical (reasoning, data, majority vote, utopian thinking, instrumental);
  2. normative-reeducative (fosters personal growth, consensus, value change, norms, group process);
  3. power-coercive (strategies of non-violence, confrontation, edicts, manipulation).

CAs who have professional credentials, e.g., economist, community developer, mental health worker, psychologist, engineer, etc., may, in their idealizations of professional ideology, separate out several distinguishable, but often intermeshed, sets of activities. These are:

  1. researcher (emphasis on objectivity; experimental/laboratory; field surveys, sampling);
  2. ‘sociotherapist’ (emphasis on subjectivity; advocate/activist [action researcher]; enabler, catalyst, facilitator).

Professional CAs adhere to codes of ethics often supplied and proscribed, by their respective professional associations. These codes act as control devices, implicitly or explicitly, to protect the public, organizational members/clients, audiences, from exploitation or incompetent delivery of services.

I will write more on professional ethics in my next post. Feel free to contact me by email (hillphd2@gmail.com).

 

© Terry Hill, PhD

 

 

“Leaders are born – not made”

Many people believe this to be the case, that leadership qualities are inherent and will surface given the opportunity in the working world. However, more evidence leans in favour of the view that any normal person can be a leader, depending on time, place and circumstance. A usually quiet, shy individual in one group setting may be aggressive and loud in another group setting.

How and when a person shows leadership qualities depends on many factors, not the least of which are: his/her self-image, knowledge of a particular subject, peer support, his/her level of commitment to group goals or philosophy, age, past experiences with groups, community status, and so forth. It is entirely possible (witness the armed forces) to ‘train’ or teach others in the skills of leadership, but whether they use this added knowledge in a leadership role rests on the person’s willingness to try. There is no better instructor than practice.

Leaders develop styles over time and in the position they are given or inherit. Many of you are aware already what these styles are, but here is a refresher for those who forget or don’t know.

Types of leadership style

  1. the ‘front man’ – a group member who has skills at dealing with outsiders
  2. the ‘idea man’ – regularly suggests alternative routes to take
  3. the ‘inspirational figure’ – attempts to judge group functions morally
  4. the ‘wisdom purveyor’ – cites previous cases  of conflict and solutions
  5. the ‘expediter’ – an efficiency expert, concerned with time and process
  6. the ‘game leader’ – tries different ways to lift spirits with jokes, etc.
  7. the ‘master of technique’ – a systems expert, oriented around agenda

Some leadership functions associated with style

  1. Organization – structures his/her work and that of others
  2. Integration – manages, resolves conflict, creates a positive atmosphere
  3. Internal data management – helps information exchange and feedback
  4. Membership – makes sure he/she (and others) remains a member of the group
  5. Initiation – leader encourages new ideas and practices
  6. Gatekeeping – filters data entering and leaving the group
  7. Production – responsible for task accomplishment
  8. Reward – evaluates members’ behaviour and fosters a positive attitude
  9. Representation – defends the group from external threats; spokesman

There are many models of group development leaders work with, and you are probably familiar with some of these. They grew out of many management training manuals and leadership theories from the 1960s and 1970s, but still apply today. Growth direction is to the right >.

Model A. Inclusion > Control > Affection > Intimacy

Model B. Forming (testing and independence; attempts to identify task) > Storming (development of intragroup conflicts; emotional responses to task demands) > Norming (development of group cohesion, expression of opinions) > Performing (functional role-relatedness, emergence of solutions)

Model C. “Gimme” > “Gripe” > “Grope” > “Grasp”

In effect, what leaders in newly formed and continuous groups do, is: a) set the climate for discussion, b) develop structure for planning together, c) identify needs, d) state the objectives, goals or mission, e) design the methods to achieve these,  f) do it, as a group or team, and g) evaluate what you have done.

Finally, leaders who are experienced and successful, must deal with channels or networks of communication within the group (or organization) which are discernible but also which change over time. Networks have less to do with physical location of members than with manifest or latent opportunities to communicate. From formal meetings that are set up, to at the water-cooler gossip sessions, networks can influence more or less, the quality of decisions made, member satisfaction, and overall group or corporate efficiency.

More next time about conflict resolution caused by communication breakdowns.

 

 

 

 

 

Naturism As A Lifestyle

Naturism is not:

  • just sunbathing
  • just visiting nudist clubs
  • just going nude in or around the house
  • just eating, washing and entertaining guests in the nude
  • just camping, hiking, or canoeing in the nude
  • just writing and talking about it.

Naturism is all of these things and more. It not only represents a value system shared by over 20 million people worldwide, it also represents a lifestyle, a way of life.

In more conservative Western societies such as Canada, England and the United States, naturism presents hurdles for those who embrace its gymnos philosophy – hurdles of public and private roles, image definition, balancing textile (clothed) and naturist behaviours, and of habitation arrangements regarding location, privacy and access.

As with other things people hold true or worthwhile, naturism is called upon to be defended or justified. Due to its basic value of body shamelessness, it is defended more frequently than believing in abortion, nuclear defense, or gay/lesbian rights. This is in part because strangers and even friends have never asked themselves: Are clothes necessary? Why? or, why must the moral majority prevail over this particularly primordial life ethos? What virtues has ‘civilised’ modern society gained over our ancient nude cultures to make our birth nakedness (as nature intended) now immoral, disgusting, lewd and to be hidden from view? What happened to those tens of thousands of years of body acceptance?

For some advocates today, naturism represents a kind of ‘social movement’, akin to Green Peace, Amnesty International, Pro-Choice, and so forth. It has several characteristics that help define it this way: 1. a defined philosophy, 2. a central political core (INF, FCN, INA), 3. active (several no deceased) protagonists (Erickson, Weinberg, Vais, Baxandall, Cunningham, Hill, Erlickmyer, Williams, Scheller), and 4. internal communication devices (INF Newsletter, Going Natural, ASA Bulletin, Australian H & E, Naturist Society N & N). It lacks however, several more defining aspects of a true movement: a) a shared and clearly defined set of strategies; b) effective charismatic and/or consistent leadership; c) a wide supportive economic base; d) unified human resources.

A ‘collective conscience’ across the world has never been achieved among naturists because:

  • in several European countries (France, Denmark, Germany, Holland Bulgaria) it has not been necessary to coalesce because most practical naturist recreational needs have been met through protective by-laws or local ordinances;
  • the sub-groups (ASA,BNS, INF, FCN, ANF, etc.) are fractured among themselves over issues of leadership, goals, and priorities;
  • relatively few precedents in law have been won in most non-European countries (except Canada), through collective or cooperative efforts;
  • there are great economic and inter-member organizational difficulties (travel costs, postage, exchange rates);
  • many member groups and federations of naturists are too busy fighting issues at home to lend time and resources for INF (global body) objectives.

In these ways, naturism differs from religions, cults, clubs and international organizations.

Nonetheless, most naturists, politically active or not, perceive naturism as a lifestyle, not mere recreation or short-term sunbathing. They live nude as much as fences, by-laws, and neighbours will allow. This conscious choice sometimes forces naturists into the social role of ‘marginals, living in two worlds. Textile cultures enforce dress codes in most public places, whereas naturist (and nudist) resorts or communities enforce the opposite norm requiring nudity most of the time (weather and first-timers excluded). Naturists see nudity as a rational or logical lifestyle for beaches, cities, towns, or countryside, because body taboos, shame, modesty and over-sexualizing the body are psychologically damaging. Naturists stridently distinguish sexuality from sensuality in their groups, and social norms are created to control for harassment of any kind. Latent norms are so strong for example, that male erections are extremely rare, and if they do occur, a man is encouraged to sit down or cover himself until it subsides. They are not shamed, but helped to understand there is a time and place (naturists do not cease to sexual beings!). Research has shown children brought up in a naturist family or community, become much better adjusted psychologically than their textile counterparts. They would never pay money to go to a strip-bar, or to engage in viewing pornography.

Optimally, naturists can find enough at-home privacy that their lifestyle is minimally interfered with. Even the smallest of properties with properly erected fences, can protect their privacy rights. Suburbia presents the ‘toughest’ challenges however, to naturist living because of the proximity to the public. Solutions sometimes take the form of:

  • telling your neighbours before you move in;
  • joining a nearby club or group and curtailing your back-yard practices;
  • moving to country property where you are completely out of view, and can install a lockable gate; (note: If you are private, but someone goes out of their way to see you, you are protected by law; also, in remote areas or parks the law protects you [Canada])
  • move to nude communities that have apartments, condos, modular homes, for sale or rent, e.g., Cypress Cove, Cap d’Agde, and dozens more around the world.

In her famous book, Therapy, Nudity & Joy, Elysium Growth Press, 1991, Forward by Ashley Montagu, Dr. Aileen Goodson describes the therapeutic use of nudity through the ages from ancient ritual to modern psychology. The inner fly-leaf states:

“Therapy, Nudity & Joy is a brightly-written exploration of body-shame —– how it develops during infancy and childhood and later manifests in potentially debilitating problems such as guilt, loss of self-esteem, intimacy disorders and general stress symptoms. Author Aileen Goodson brings a fresh perspective to what she refers to as ‘an hysteria in our culture toward the natural unclothed body and its functions.”

Finally, a text endorsement is included as follows:

“This fascinating book is a ‘must read’ for parents who want their children to develop healthy attitudes and behaviors about their bodies and their sexuality. The ability to understand nudity and sexuality as separate, but sometimes compatible phenomena, will protect against sexual exploitation, guilt, and low self-esteem.”

  • Loretta Haroian, PhD. Department Chair and Professor of Child and Adolescent Sexuality, The Institute for Advanced Study of Human sexuality, San Francisco, California

Naturism accepts wholeheartedly overweight or ultra-thin bodies, scarred bodies, young and old bodies, short and tall bodies, people with poor self-concept/body image problems, and black/white/all shades bodies. Naturists are poor, middle-class, wealthy, highly or not-so-highly educated, male/female/LGBT, physicians, supreme court judges, waitresses, pilots, truckers, hockey players, salespersons, Christians, yes…Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists/Humanists, and Hindu (I’ve met all of the above people described at resorts in Canada, US, England and France).

There are always risks associated with adopting a different lifestyle, naturism being no exception. The human body continues to be a formidable frontier for people bent on associating only carnal interpretations to social nudity. Women have gained the legal right in Ontario, and more recently in Montreal (February, 2016), to join men in being topless in public places. Equality rights and increased body acceptance are occurring, but disgust, patriarchy, shame, guilt, and exploitation are still associated with being totally or even partially nude. We have a long way to go. The media can be our best friends or our worst enemies in this quest.

“Naked is the best disguise”  –  Sherlock Holmes

 

 

 

 

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