One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Opinions make sense only in the light of jokes

Well, if biology only makes sense in the light of evolution, then opinions make only sense in the light of jokes. The world of opinions are like worlds of cartoons. When a cartoon runs fast, he doesn’t realize that he has walked off the cliff and is walking in the air, until he looks down. He only falls down when he realizes that he is no more on the solid ground but in the air. One way to distinguish between opinions and facts are the 5 Ws and one H. The basic difference between Ws and H is,

The 5 Ws (What, Who, Where, When and Why) is the most effective basic information gathering tool for everyone. On other hand H (how) is a challenging question as it requires a level of authority to tell, how did something happen, how something can be done, and especially how should something be done, ... and so on. Usually, the individuals who concern themselves with “how-s” on large scale is considered as “wise-men”. Their roles have declined as scholars in modern society and have become specialized as legislators/politicians as modern scholars are mostly concerned with Ws and seldom talks on H. Having said that still, if you are born in any particular region, your worldview is definitely have been influenced greatly by those individuals whose “how-s” are widely accepted in that region. For instance, if you are born in the West, the “how-s” of Greek philosophers are a great component of your worldviews even if you haven’t read them. Western cultures have integrated those ideas in their values (Democracy, atoms as building blocks of universe, evolution... are few big concepts). Similarly, if you are born in a Muslim society, the “how-s” of the prophets make a big part of your worldview even if you haven’t studied them (Not associate partners with Allah, Obedience to parents should be guided by obedience to Allah, Allah will reply to all human actions, Be patient with what happens to you... etc, are some of the big ideas). Of course, there are other major civilizations with their “how-s” thinkers that have become part of their value system. 

Yes, “how-s” are mostly opinions that might have some foundations in Ws, but still if you look them from the perspective of a different civilization, they might look subjects of jokes and might sense only in the form of jokes. In addition, as the world are mostly concerned with facts and evidences so the scholars have mostly limited themselves with Ws. But we can’t ignore the fact that the “how-s” of the past that were products of segregated civilizations and still shapes our worldviews are tearing down societies and creating violence that make heart-breaking headlines almost daily. Now that civilizations are not more segregated, it is time that thinkers also value “how-s” to help reduce the levels of distorted perceptions that we have from other historical civilizations even if their opinions make only sense in the light of jokes.

Occasionally, when it happens that I listen to debates between well-educated and well-versed individuals from different value-systems, I feel one thing very strongly. Neither side appreciate the power of time. The values that each side defend and rationalize with all their logical mights have evolved at least in hundred of years. You can’t expect it to be changed in years. It needs time and plenty of funny “how-s” that “how-s” become identical. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Let me help you

Usually, I don't watch TV. Today, I turned it on for a while. The frequent interruptions in the show by advertisement were really annoying. But then, I started enjoying the ads as I found one thing common in them. Most of the ads were asking, let me help you do this and do that.  That was not fitting with what we are taught at school, "God helps those who help themselves".... 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Set of ethics that vary from society to society are social constructs and those that don't change are Natural. It may take a lot of debates to find those natural sets of ethics but one thing that we can almost spontaneously agree upon is the universality of jokes. I doubt that we can find any society without jokes. Even Obama jokes (I am serious :)... 

"... I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is I admire their commitment to cover all sides of a story, just in case, one of them happens to be accurate..." Obama 

It is believed that the sense of humor is an evolutionary adaptation to have a check on our data presentation. In other words, humors and jokes are there to help us in finding and correcting mistakes in our understanding and communication in sweet and rewarding ways. The complex a culture becomes, the jokes become more complex. For example, 

"A member of the United States Senate, known for his hot temper and acid tongue, exploded one day in mid-session and shouted, "Half of this Senate is made of dunces!"

All the other Senators demanded that the angry member withdraw his statement, or be removed from the chamber.

After a long pause, the angry member acquiesced. "OK," he said, "I withdraw what I said. Half of this Senate are not dunces!" (1)

Jokes are also believed to be evolved to reduce violence. It is a civil way to drain anger as well as to avoid violence. The following joke is not a polite one but illustrates well, how jokes work in draining anger and avoiding violence,

" A philosopher made an appointment with Nasrudin to have a scholarly discussion. When the day came, the philosopher dropped by Nasrudin’s house as planned. However, Nasrudin wasn’t home. The philosopher angrily took his pencil out of his pocket and wrote Asshole on Nasrudin’s door, and then left.

Nasrudin finally came home later and saw this. He quickly realized that he had missed his appointment, and he darted off to the philosopher’s house.

“Forgive my error,” Nasrudin told the philosopher when he got there. “I totally forgot about our appointment today. But when I got home and saw that you had written your name on my door, I immediately remembered and I came here as fast as I could.”....

What a style, Sir G!!!
Jokes are mostly spontaneous and make is easy to accept our none sense as there is no escape from it,

One of the student who was sitting next to window was looking outside. The teacher asked him look at black board. A few minutes later, he was again looking outside. The teacher becomes angry and asks,

"What is outside that you are looking at?" ....

"A donkey, Mam" replies the student innocently

"How many times, I warned you that when I am inside, don't look outside"....

1.  Hurley. M.W., Dennett. D.C., and Adams, Jr., (2011), Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind, 1st ed, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, p. 169. 

Monday, May 13, 2013


To me the most fitting word for intelligence is "control". Yes, you got it right: by control, I mean putting  safety, usefulness and discipline ahead of other things. Yes, it also covers artificial intelligence, and they are a step ahead of us by their remote controls (just kidding :)... Let me explain, what I mean by control,

Eusocial insects such as ants, mites and honey bees have always been a great source of inspiration for me  especially extreme altruism, the high level of discipline and social harmony/order in them which have no parallel in other organisms and that is why they are called eusocial. E. O. Wilson  introduced a new field in biology (Sociobiology) by studying these insects and has called them, " super-super organism".  These extremes in social behaviors are inherent as they don't have the large brain sizes to rationalize things. They  mostly behave as they are programmed. The way they build their homes (nests), divide their labor and manage their large society appear as work of high-intelligence but this intelligence is not the way we used to perceive intelligence like individual responses. The element of order is so high in their society that we can imagine a nest as a single brain with each individual functioning as a neuron.

It is not that just eusocial organisms have adapted the extreme social order as a way of survival. Humans have also shown interests and imagined them as utopias. Some of very notable thinkers have devised their utopias in very great details. Utopias of Plato and Karl Marx for example still resonate today. All attempts to create such highly ordered societies as utopias have failed. Humans always have been in trouble to balance between individuals and society. I am not claiming that humans are not intelligent as the  story of human intelligence is explained in terms of their steady control over forces of Nature, from control over fire, control over animals by domestication, domestication of grasses as major sources of food by selective evolution of them, control over water for irrigation ......... to control over atomic power to generate electricity... All indicators of human intelligence points on control over other things and others.

Despite of great advances in controlling over forces, humans have not been successful to devise ways to control their own behaviors. The controls by means of social constructs, such as culture, religion and laws have fired backed so far as we find humans are in constant state of struggle to counter them. All these wars and human rights movements are examples of failure in controlling human behavior by means of social constructs.

The purpose of this short introduction was to pave the way for the introduction of "emotional intelligence". I feel like, though the phrase is out there and we may also talk about it at times, but we haven't accepted it as really something as sign of intelligence. When we hear emotional intelligence, we feel a little bit skeptic because emotions is not there to control the forces of Nature. But in the process, we forget that the emotional intelligence is real and that is to control our Nature. We don't need any specialists to tell us that we have an innate sense of decency and "overly-done-reacted-expressed" things make us feel not good and some even disgusting. To me, that innate sense of decency is the emotional intelligence that put our emotions in control and help us to understand and deal in decent manners others' emotions.

I found it really surprising and even shocking that drawing negative images and demonizing of political opponents (1,2) works more efficient than showing your programs and solutions in the democratic process. We cherish democratic processes and democratic parties for their acceptance of others, not for rejection of others. I found it really disturbing that the negative advertisements turn into long lasting negative behaviors in smaller communities that most of the people know each other. The side effects of negative ads may not be very visible on a country scale but I think that "emotional intelligence literacy" is much needed in smaller communities that cherish democratic process but can't afford its negative side affects.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The New Pakistan (Naya Pakistan)

Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the poet and philosopher is considered as dreamer of Pakistan. At the time, India was a colony of British empire and Iqbal had a a strong instinct that the Muslims of subcontinent will not only be freed but will also lead Muslims of Asia, so he spent a lot of his times in thinking ways to inspire Muslims of subcontinent and prepare them for the coming future. Read his following lines for example,

                              "The blood of life runs in the veins of the dead East:
                               Avicenna and Farabi cannot understand this secret."

                         "This principle rises from the story of the Radiant Community:
                          You are the guardian of the nations of the land of Asia."

But perhaps he made one big mistake and that is taking inspirations from history rather than thinking totally anew. Look at these lines for example, where he takes inspirations from Middle Ages Central Asian Turk empires:

                            "Once more the spark of love has arisen from the heart of Asia:
                            The earth is the coursing‐ground for the stain-cloaked Tartars."

   "The Shrine was disgraced by the lack of foresight of the old keeper of the shrine:
    But how our Tartar heroes emerged as young men of vision."

                            "The stability of life in the world comes from the strength of faith:
                             For the Turanians have emerged firmer than even the Germans."

"The true believers are once more to receive from the court of God
The glory of the Turkamans, the intellect of the Indians and the eloquence of the Arabs"

Yes, Muslims of subcontinent got a separate homeland but this nation has not been able to become stable and "lead Asia" and one of the reasons might be their entrapment in the history. For me, the take home message is, "It is easy to get freedom from empires or liberate your homeland but if a nation is mentally trapped in the history, it is like struggling in a swamp".

The reason for this introduction is my reaction for the results of the current general election in Pakistan. From enthusiasm on traditional and social media about "The Change" and "The New Pakistan" in the form of Imran Khan's Pakistan's Tehreek-i-Insaaf, there were a general hope that Pakistan's politics is finally ready to get out of traditional parties' swamp. This was not making sense to me as I wasn't able to see any shift in traditional cultural, lingual and religious fault-lines and now the results have just proved that. Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League is back to power and it is the repetition of the same old game between the two big national parties: PPP -> PML (N) -> PPP -> PML (N).... 

The only change that happened is that ANP has given its place to Pakistan's Tehreek-i-insaf, as it has mostly won from Pakhtoon majority populations. So all these fuss for the supposed "New Pakistan" was just a change in the name of a party. It reminds me of the story of honoring the Ecuadorian poet. The story goes like this, 

The City of Guayaquil wanted to honor the renowned Ecuadorian poet, "Jose Joaquin de Olmedo" by making a sculpture of his statue, but she lacked the budget to hire a good sculptor, so she solves the problem by buying a statue of English poet, Lord Byron from a London Junk dealer and changes the plague which reads, "Jose Olmedo"....