We’re still using the ‘Model T’ of antibiotics – here’s why that’s a problem.

streptococcus pneumoniae

If you go to the doctor with an infection, you might get sent home with the same drug you were prescribed decades ago.

And that could become a problem as the bacteria that invades our bodies start to become resistant to that antibiotic. An estimated 23,000 Americans died in 2013 from bacterial infections that didn’t respond to antibiotics, and bacteria have even begun developing resistance against antibiotics that are used as last resorts.

At a time where concern over antibiotic resistance is at an all-time high, Cempra CEO Prabhavathi Fernandes says we should stop using what she calls the “Model Ts” of antibiotics, drugs that have been around for decades.

Fernandes likened our reliane on these drugs to riding around in a Model T (the first affordable automobile) when we could be driving a modern sports car.

“The ones in the 50s were great, at that time, but they didn’t have modern science,” Fernandes, a microbiologist, told Business Insider. “You should use the most optimized drug to date.”

Cempra is working on a drug called solithromycin, a member of the macrolide class, which the company is developing as a pill, IV fluid, and pediatric solution. Drugs in the macrolide class have been around since the 1950s to treat conditions such as pneumonia.

The difference with solithromycin, as she explained it, is that it’s “optimized” so that it can latch onto bacteria in three places, rather than one. That way, even if the bacteria learns how to kick off the antibiotic at one site, it’s still latched on at another two, giving the antibiotic a better shot of destroying the bacteria and making it harder for bacteria to learn how to outmaneuver the antibiotic.

And some of the other drugs we use to treat pneumonia today, even if they are newer, serious side effects, outlined by the FDA in July 2016. In comparison, The side effects for solithromycin, seem to be less severe, with some reporting headaches, diarrhea, nausea and dizziness.

Which, isn’t to say that the drug won’t ever get resistant.

“I have a lot of respect for bacteria,” Fernandes said. “They are going to get resistant they will evolve, and they will get resistant. This is not a battle one can win, it’s a continuous fight.”

Solithromycin is currently under review by the FDA. It’ll go before an advisory committee panel on November 4, which will recommend that the FDA either to approve or deny the drug, and the company should have a decision around December 27.

Brain waves can be used to detect potentially harmful personal information

A researcher is working to advance research to develop secure user authentication methods, by looking at using brain waves as individual identifiers. However, those brain waves can tell more about a person than just his or her identity, warns this expert.

Several research groups have recently showcased systems that use EEG to authenticate users with very high accuracy.

Cyber security and authentication have been under attack in recent months as, seemingly every other day, a new report of hackers gaining access to private or sensitive information comes to light. Just recently, more than 500 million passwords were stolen when Yahoo revealed its security was compromised.

Securing systems has gone beyond simply coming up with a clever password that could prevent nefarious computer experts from hacking into your Facebook account. The more sophisticated the system, or the more critical, private information that system holds, the more advanced the identification system protecting it becomes.

Fingerprint scans and iris identification are just two types of authentication methods, once thought of as science fiction, that are in wide use by the most secure systems. But fingerprints can be stolen and iris scans can be replicated. Nothing has proven foolproof from being subject to computer hackers.

“The principal argument for behavioral, biometric authentication is that standard modes of authentication, like a password, authenticates you once before you access the service,” said Abdul Serwadda a cybersecurity expert and assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Texas Tech University.

“Now, once you’ve accessed the service, there is no other way for the system to still know it is you. The system is blind as to who is using the service. So the area of behavioral authentication looks at other user-identifying patterns that can keep the system aware of the person who is using it. Through such patterns, the system can keep track of some confidence metric about who might be using it and immediately prompt for reentry of the password whenever the confidence metric falls below a certain threshold.”

One of those patterns that is growing in popularity within the research community is the use of brain waves obtained from an electroencephalogram, or EEG. Several research groups around the country have recently showcased systems which use EEG to authenticate users with very high accuracy.

However, those brain waves can tell more about a person than just his or her identity. It could reveal medical, behavioral or emotional aspects of a person that, if brought to light, could be embarrassing or damaging to that person. And with EEG devices becoming much more affordable, accurate and portable and applications being designed that allows people to more readily read an EEG scan, the likelihood of that happening is dangerously high.

“The EEG has become a commodity application. For $100 you can buy an EEG device that fits on your head just like a pair of headphones,” Serwadda said. “Now there are apps on the market, brain-sensing apps where you can buy the gadget, download the app on your phone and begin to interact with the app using your brain signals. That led us to think; now we have these brain signals that were traditionally accessed only by doctors being handled by regular people. Now anyone who can write an app can get access to users’ brain signals and try to manipulate them to discover what is going on.”

That’s where Serwadda and graduate student Richard Matovu focused their attention: attempting to see if certain traits could be gleaned from a person’s brain waves. They presented their findings recently to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Biometrics.

Brain waves and cybersecurity

Serwadda said the technology is still evolving in terms of being able to use a person’s brain waves for authentication purposes. But it is a heavily researched field that has drawn the attention of several federal organizations. The National Science Foundation (NSF), funds a three-year project on which Serwadda and others from Syracuse University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham are exploring how several behavioral modalities, including EEG brain patterns, could be leveraged to augment traditional user authentication mechanisms.

“There are no installations yet, but a lot of research is going on to see if EEG patterns could be incorporated into standard behavioral authentication procedures,” Serwadda said

Assuming a system uses EEG as the modality for user authentication, typically for such a system, all variables have been optimized to maximize authentication accuracy. A selection of such variables would include:

• The features used to build user templates.

• The signal frequency ranges from which features are extracted.

• The regions of the brain on which the electrodes are placed, among other variables.

Under this assumption of a finely tuned authentication system, Serwadda and his colleagues tackled the following questions: • If a malicious entity were to somehow access templates from this authentication-optimized system, would he or she be able to exploit these templates to infer non-authentication-centric information about the users with high accuracy? • In the event that such inferences are possible, which attributes of template design could reduce or increase the threat?

Turns out, they indeed found EEG authentication systems to give away non-authentication-centric information. Using an authentication system from UC-Berkeley and a variant of another from a team at Binghamton University and the University of Buffalo, Serwadda and Matovu tested their hypothesis, using alcoholism as the sensitive private information which an adversary might want to infer from EEG authentication templates.

In a study involving 25 formally diagnosed alcoholics and 25 non-alcoholic subjects, the lowest error rate obtained when identifying alcoholics was 25 percent, meaning a classification accuracy of approximately 75 percent.

When they tweaked the system and changed several variables, they found that the ability to detect alcoholic behavior could be tremendously reduced at the cost of slightly reducing the performance of the EEG authentication system.

Motivation for discovery

Serwadda’s motivation for proving brain waves could be used to reveal potentially harmful personal information wasn’t to improve the methods for obtaining that information. It’s to prevent it.

To illustrate, he gives an analogy using fingerprint identification at an airport. Fingerprint scans read ridges and valleys on the finger to determine a person’s unique identity, and that’s it.

In a hypothetical scenario where such systems could only function accurately if the user’s finger was pricked and some blood drawn from it, this would be problematic because the blood drawn by the prick could be used to infer things other than the user’s identity, such as whether a person suffers from certain diseases, such as diabetes.

Given the amount of extra information that EEG authentication systems are able glean about the user, current EEG systems could be likened to the hypothetical fingerprint reader that pricks the user’s finger. Serwadda wants to drive research that develops EEG authentication systems that perform the intended purpose while revealing minimal information about traits other than the user’s identity in authentication terms.

Currently, in the vast majority of studies on the EEG authentication problem, researchers primarily seek to outdo each other in terms of the system error rates. They work with the central objective of designing a system having error rates which are much lower than the state-of-the-art. Whenever a research group develops or publishes an EEG authentication system that attains the lowest error rates, such a system is immediately installed as the reference point.

A critical question that has not seen much attention up to this point is how certain design attributes of these systems, in other words the kinds of features used to formulate the user template, might relate to their potential to leak sensitive personal information. If, for example, a system with the lowest authentication error rates comes with the added baggage of leaking a significantly higher amount of private information, then such a system might, in practice, not be as useful as its low error rates suggest. Users would only accept, and get the full utility of the system, if the potential privacy breaches associated with the system are well understood and appropriate mitigations undertaken.

But, Serwadda said, while the EEG is still being studied, the next wave of invention is already beginning.

“In light of the privacy challenges seen with the EEG, it is noteworthy that the next wave of technology after the EEG is already being developed,” Serwadda said. “One of those technologies is functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which has a much higher signal-to-noise ratio than an EEG. It gives a more accurate picture of brain activity given its ability to focus on a particular region of the brain.”

The good news, for now, is fNIRS technology is still quite expensive; however there is every likelihood that the prices will drop over time, potentially leading to a civilian application to this technology. Thanks to the efforts of researchers like Serwadda, minimizing the leakage of sensitive personal information through these technologies is beginning to gain attention in the research community.

“The basic idea behind this research is to motivate a direction of research which selects design parameters in such a way that we not only care about recognizing users very accurately but also care about minimizing the amount of sensitive personal information it can read,” Serwadda said.

FDA Says Walnuts Are Illegal Drugs.

Those walnuts you’re eating are drugs! Well, according to the authoritative agency of food and drug-related tyranny, or FDA as they’re also known, walnuts could potentially be subject to a drug-specialized screening process before being allowed on the market.

Diamond Foods, a food company that was started in 1912 by a small group of Californian walnut farmers, has learnt the full effect of what the prososed mandate would do to their business.

Driverless Electric Minibuses Have Hit the Roads in France

  • The battery-powered vehicles are able to carry 15 passengers at a time along a route 0.8 miles long.
  • The company already has orders for 30 more buses, putting us one step closer to a new era in energy and transportation.

A driverless, electric public transport service is now making its way onto the streets of Lyon, France. Unveiled in an announcement made earlier this month, two Navya ARMA minibuses have embarked on a year-long trial. The purely battery-powered vehicles travel at an average speed of 10 kph (6 mph) and are able to carry 15 passengers at a time.

The ARMA shuttles along a circular route 1,350 meters (0.8 miles) long in the Confluence district of Lyon’s 2nd borough. Unlike other roads, this route does not have crosswalks, stoplights, or intersections. Though pretty advanced, the minibuses are not able to weave in and out of traffic due to restrictions based on the current level of technology, as well as legislative issues.

According to Navya chief executive Christophe Sapet in an interview with The Telegraph, the buses are “equipped with a range of detectors that allow them to know exactly where they are and to detect everything happening around them and to manage it intelligently to avoid collisions.” Human operators are present within the vehicle at all times as an added precaution.


Navya plans to continue development to create buses that could carry more passengers, but in the meantime, the company has taken orders for 30 more ARMA.

This definitely signals the dawn of a new era in energy and transportation. With more and more companies turning to electric-powered and autonomous vehicles, successful innovations could lead us to a future where the driving experience is more energy-efficient and secure.

Birth Control Could Raise Depression Risk

If you’ve ever thought that your birth control might be messing with your mood, you may be right: The pill and other types of hormonal contraception may increase the risk of depression, suggests a Danish study of more than 1 million women and teenage girls.

Some of the highest risks were in teenage girls

To date, the research on contraception and depression has been mixed—despite the fact that mood swings are a well-known reason some women stop using birth control. In fact, as the authors state in their paper in JAMA Psychiatry, that may be a reason why science has underestimated its effects on emotional health: If women feel depressed and take themselves off of birth control, they’re less likely to be included in studies that could show a link.

To avoid this problem, University of Copenhagen scientists designed a huge, nationally representative study sample, including more than 1 million women ages 15 to 34. They grouped the women into two main groups—users and nonusers of hormonal contraceptives. About 55% of the women were in the “user” group, including anyone who’d been on birth control in the previous six months. (They were put in this group in order to include anyone who’d recently quit because of depressive symptoms.) The researchers followed the women for an average of 6.4 years.

When they analyzed the data, they found that women using combination birth control pills—which contain both estrogen and progestin (and are the most commonly used type)—were 23% more likely to have been prescribed an antidepressant, compared to nonusers. Those on a progestin-only pill were 34% more likely.

The risks for other types of hormonal birth control were even higher. Compared to women who didn’t use any hormonal contraception, the rate of antidepressant prescriptions increased by 40% for those using a progestin-only IUD (levonorgestrel); 60% for those using a vaginal ring (etonogestrel); and 100% for those using a patch (norgestrolmin).

The findings support the authors’ theory that the hormone progesterone—and its synthetic version, progestin—can play a role in the development of depression. The fact that progestin-only pills and IUDs had higher depression rates than combined pills was especially telling, they wrote. (The higher risk among women using the patch and the ring was likely due to differences in hormonal dosage, they say, rather than delivery method.)

Some of the highest risk rates were seen among teenage girls, who were 80% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant when they were on combined birth control pills—and 120% more likely when they were on progestin-only pills—compared to those who didn’t use any hormonal birth control. For teens who used non-oral hormonal products, their risk tripled.

It’s important to point out that, while depression is a common and significant problem, most of the study participants (in all groups) were not affected. In total, about 12.5% of women—users and nonusers combined—were prescribed an antidepressant for the first time during the study period, and about 2% were given a first-time diagnosis of depression.

While the study had many strengths, including its large sample size and its exclusion of anyone with a prior depression diagnosis, the authors did note a few limitations. Not all depressed women are diagnosed or treated with antidepressants, they wrote, and not all antidepressants are prescribed for depression.

Further studies are needed to examine depression as a potential side effect of birth-control use, says lead author and clinical professor Øjvind Lidegaard, MD. But it’s not too early for doctors and concerned patients (or parents) to put these findings to use, he tells Health.

“Women who develop depression after starting on oral contraceptives should consider this use as a contributing factor,” he says. Furthermore, he adds, “doctors should include these aspects together with other risks and benefits with use of hormonal contraceptives, when they advise women to which type of contraception is the most suitable for that specific woman.”

This is especially important for teenage girls, he says, who seem to be most vulnerable to this association, and to the risk factors for depression overall. “Doctors should ensure that women, especially young women, are not already depressed or have a history of depression,” he says, “and they should inform women about this potential risk.”

The Age of CRISPR: Why Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything

The Age of CRISPR: Why Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything http://futurism.com/videos/the-age-of-crispr-why-genetic-engineering-will-change-everything/

Nobel Prize Awarded for Quantum Topology

Topology is used to study the properties of objects such as this trefoil knot.


Topology is used to study the properties of objects such as this trefoil knot.

Three physicists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics today for rewriting our understanding of exotic quantum states on the surfaces of materials. Their work explains the behavior of superconductors and superfluids by connecting these systems to topology, the mathematical study of spatial properties including surfaces.

Half of the prize goes to David J. Thouless, a physicist at the University of Washington in Seattle, while the other half will be split between J. Michael Kosterlitz, a physicist at Brown University, and F. Duncan M. Haldane, a physicist at Princeton University. All three were born in the United Kingdom and later moved to the United States.

Superconductors are materials that can carry a current without any electrical resistance. Scientists first described them in the early 20th century; by the middle of the century they had developed a quantum-based theory of how many superconductors behave. But puzzles remained.

For example, in 1980 the experimental physicist Klaus von Klitzingdiscovered the quantum Hall effect, a strange phenomenon whereby the conductance of a flat sheet of material, when cooled close to absolute zero and placed in a strong magnetic field, changes in a step-wise fashion. As the magnetic field changes, the material’s conductance jumps from value to value. The behavior couldn’t be explained by physicists at the time.

A few years later, Thouless described the quantum Hall effect by combining quantum theory with concepts borrowed from topology. This field of mathematics studies the properties of objects that remain constant even if the object is twisted or deformed, but not torn apart. For example, a doughnut and a picture frame appear different but are topologically the same, as each has one hole in the center. Importantly, objects can only have integer numbers of holes — zero, one or two, for example, but never a hole and a half. In the same way, Thouless realized that the electrons inside the conducting material couldn’t be viewed as individual entities; instead they had to be approached as a single collection that could only take on integer values of conductance — zero, one or two, but never one and a half. Thouless, Haldane and Kosterlitz pioneered the mathematical description of quantum materials in thin films and in one-dimensional objects (such as a chain of atoms) by borrowing concepts such as this one from topology.

This work has since been applied to disparate systems from magnetic tape to quantum computers. “The breakthroughs of these three scientists allowed massive progress to be made in understanding and calculating the properties of many material systems. In my own case it opened up 25 years of research into magnetic thin films — which is what computer hard drives store information on,” said Steve Bramwell, a physicist at University College London, in an interview with the Guardian. Haldane alluded to some of these applications this morning. “I was, as everyone else is, very surprised. And very gratified,” he said. “A lot of tremendous new discoveries that are based on this original work are now happening.”

12 Worst Ideas Religion Has Unleashed on the World.

religious book


Some of humanity’s technological innovations are things we would have been better off without: the medieval rack, the atomic bomb and powdered lead potions come to mind. Religions tend to invent ideas or concepts rather than technologies, but like every other creative human enterprise, they produce some really bad ones along with the good.

I’ve previously highlighted some of humanity’s best moral and spiritual concepts, our shared moral core. Here, by way of contrast, are some of the worst. These twelve dubious concepts promote conflict, cruelty, suffering and death rather than love and peace. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, they belong in the dustbin of history just as soon as we can get them there.

1. Chosen People

The term “Chosen People” typically refers to the Hebrew Bible and the ugly idea that God has given certain tribes a Promised Land (even though it is already occupied by other people). But in reality many sects endorse some version of this concept. The New Testament identifies Christians as the chosen ones. Calvinists talk about “God’s elect,” believing that they themselves are the special few who were chosen before the beginning of time. Jehovah’s witnesses believe that 144,000 souls will get a special place in the afterlife. In many cultures certain privileged and powerful bloodlines were thought to be descended directly from gods (in contrast to everyone else).

Religious sects are inherently tribal and divisive because they compete by making mutually exclusive truth claims and by promising blessings or afterlife rewards that no competing sect can offer. “Gang symbols” like special haircuts, attire, hand signals and jargon differentiate insiders from outsiders and subtly (or not so subtly) convey to both that insiders are inherently superior.

2. Heretics

Heretics, kafir, or infidels (to use the medieval Catholic term) are not just outsiders, they are morally suspect and often seen as less than fully human. In the Torah, slaves taken from among outsiders don’t merit the same protections as Hebrew slaves. Those who don’t believe in a god are corrupt, doers of abominable deeds. “There is none [among them] who does good,” says the Psalmist.

Islam teaches the concept of “dhimmitude” and provides special rules for the subjugation of religious minorities, with monotheists getting better treatment than polytheists. Christianity blurs together the concepts of unbeliever and evildoer. Ultimately, heretics are a threat that needs to be neutralized by conversion, conquest, isolation, domination, or—in worst cases—mass murder.

3. Holy War

If war can be holy, anything goes. The medieval Roman Catholic Church conducted a twenty year campaign of extermination against heretical Cathar Christians in the south of France, promising their land and possessions to real Christians who signed on as crusaders. Sunni and Shia Muslims have slaughtered each other for centuries. The Hebrew scriptures recount battle after battle in which their war God, Yahweh, helps them to not only defeat but also exterminate the shepherding cultures that occupy their “Promised Land.” As in later holy wars, like the modern rise of ISIS, divine sanction let them kill the elderly and children, burn orchards, and take virgin females as sexual slaves—all while retaining a sense of moral superiority.

4. Blasphemy

Blasphemy is the notion that some ideas are inviolable, off limits to criticism, satire, debate, or even question. By definition, criticism of these ideas is an outrage, and it is precisely this emotion–outrage–that the crime of blasphemy evokes in believers. The Bible prescribes death for blasphemers; the Quran does not, but death-to-blasphemers became part of Shariah during medieval times.

The idea that blasphemy must be prevented or avenged has caused millions of murders over the centuries and countless other horrors. As I write, blogger Raif Badawi awaits round after round of flogging in Saudi Arabia—1000 lashes in batches of 50—while his wife and children plead from Canada for the international community to do something.

5. Glorified Suffering

Picture secret societies of monks flogging their own backs. The image that comes to mind is probably from Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, but the idea isn’t one he made up. A core premise of Christianity is that righteous torture—if it’s just intense and prolonged enough–can somehow fix the damage done by evil, sinful behavior. Millions of crucifixes litter the world as testaments to this belief. Shia Muslims beat themselves with lashes and chains during Aashura, a form of sanctified suffering called Matam that commemorates the death of the martyr Hussein. Self-denial in the form of asceticism and fasting is a part of both Eastern and Western religions, not only because deprivation induces altered states but also because people believe suffering somehow brings us closer to divinity.

Our ancestors lived in a world in which pain came unbidden, and people had very little power to control it. An aspirin or heating pad would have been a miracle to the writers of the Bible, Quran, or Gita. Faced with uncontrollable suffering, the best advice religion could offer was to lean in or make meaning of it. The problem, of course is that glorifying suffering—turning it into a spiritual good—has made people more willing to inflict it on not only themselves and their enemies but also those who are helpless, including the ill or dying (as in the case of Mother Teresa and the American Bishops) and children (as in the child beating Patriarchy movement).

6. Genital Mutilation

Primitive people have used scarification and other body modifications to define tribal membership for as long as history records. But genital mutilation allowed our ancestors several additional perks—if you want to call them that. Infant circumcision in Judaism serves as a sign of tribal membership, but circumcision also serves to test the commitment of adult converts. In one Bible story, a chieftain agrees to convert and submit his clan to the procedure as a show of commitment to a peace treaty. (While the men lie incapacitated, the whole town is then slain by the Israelites.)

In Islam, painful male circumcision serves as a rite of passage into manhood, initiation into a powerful club. By contrast, in some Muslim cultures cutting away or burning the female clitoris and labia ritually establishes the submission of women by reducing sexual arousal and agency. An estimated 2 million girls annually are subjected to the procedure, with consequences including hemorrhage, infection, painful urination and death.

7. Blood Sacrifice

In the list of religion’s worst ideas, this is the only one that appears to be in its final stages. Only Hindus continue (during the Festival of Gadhimai, goddess of power) and some Muslims (during Eid al Adha, Feast of the Sacrifice) to ritually hack and slaughter sacrificial animals on a mass scale.

When our ancient ancestors slit the throats on humans and animals or cut out their hearts or sent the smoke of sacrifices heavenward, many believed that they were literally feeding supernatural beings. In time, in most religions, the rationale changed—the gods didn’t need feeding so much as they needed signs of devotion and penance. The residual child sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible (yes it is there) typically has this function. Christianity’s persistent focus on blood atonement—the notion of Jesus as the be-all-end-all lamb without blemish, the final “propitiation” for human sin—is hopefully the last iteration of humanity’s long fascination with blood sacrifice.

8. Hell

Whether we are talking about Christianity, Islam or Buddhism, an afterlife filled with demons, monsters, and eternal torture was the worst suffering the Iron Age minds could conceive and medieval minds could elaborate. Invented, perhaps, as a means to satisfy the human desire for justice, the concept of Hell quickly devolved into a tool for coercing behavior and belief.

Most Buddhists see hell as a metaphor, a journey into the evil inside the self, but the descriptions of torturing monsters and levels of hell can be quite explicit. Likewise, many Muslims and Christians hasten to assure that it is a real place, full of fire and the anguish of non-believers. Some Christians have gone so far as to insist that the screams of the damned can be heard from the center of the Earth or that observing their anguish from afar will be one of the pleasures of paradise.

9. Karma

Like hell, the concept of karma offers a selfish incentive for good behavior—it’ll come back at you later—but it has enormous costs. Chief among these is a tremendous weight of cultural passivity in the face of harm and suffering. Secondarily, the idea of karma sanctifies the broad human practice of blaming the victim. If what goes around comes around, then the disabled child or cancer patient or untouchable poor (or the hungry rabbit or mangy dog) must have done something in either this life or a past one to bring their position on themselves.

10. Eternal Life

To our weary and unwashed ancestors, the idea of gem encrusted walls, streets of gold, the fountain of youth, or an eternity of angelic chorus (or sex with virgins) may have seemed like sheer bliss. But it doesn’t take much analysis to realize how quickly eternal paradise would become hellish—an endless repetition of never changing groundhog days (because how could they change if they were perfect).

The real reason that the notion of eternal life is such a bad invention, though, is the degree to which it diminishes and degrades existence on this earthly plane. With eyes lifted heavenward, we can’t see the intricate beauty beneath our feet. Devout believers put their spiritual energy into preparing for a world to come rather than cherishing and stewarding the one wild and precious world we have been given.

11. Male Ownership of Female Fertility

The notion of women as brood mares or children as assets likely didn’t originate with religion, but the idea that women were created for this purpose, that if a woman should die of childbearing “she was made to do it,” most certainly did. Traditional religions variously assert that men have a god-ordained right to give women in marriage, take them in war, exclude them from heaven, and kill them if the origins of their offspring can’t be assured. Hence Catholicism’s maniacal obsession with the virginity of Mary and female martyrs.

As we approach the limits of our planetary life support system and stare dystopia in the face, defining women as breeders and children as assets becomes ever more costly. We now know that resource scarcity is a conflict trigger and that demand for water and arable land is growing even as both resources decline. And yet, a pope who claims to care about the desperate poor lectures them against contraceptionwhile Muslim leaders ban vasectomies in a drive to outbreed their enemies.

12. Bibliolatry (aka Book Worship)

Preliterate people handed down their best guesses about gods and goodness by way of oral tradition, and they made objects of stone and wood, idols, to channel their devotion. Their notions of what was good and what was Real and how to live in moral community with each other were free to evolve as culture and technology changed. But the advent of the written word changed that. As our Iron Age ancestors recorded and compiled their ideas into sacred texts, these texts allowed their understanding of gods and goodness to become static. The sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam forbid idol worship, but over time the texts themselves became idols, and many modern believers practice—essentially—book worship, also known as bibliolatry.

“Because the faith of Islam is perfect, it does not allow for any innovations to the religion,” says one young Muslim explaining his faith online. His statement betrays a naïve lack of information about the origins of his own dogmas. But more broadly, it sums up the challenge all religions face moving forward. Imagine if a physicist said, “Because our understanding of physics is perfect, it does not allow for any innovations to the field.”

Adherents who think their faith is perfect, are not just naïve or ill informed. They are developmentally arrested, and in the case of the world’s major religions, they are anchored to the Iron Age, a time of violence, slavery, desperation and early death.

Ironically, the mindset that our sacred texts are perfect betrays the very quest that drove our ancestors to write those texts. Each of the men who wrote part of the Bible, Quran, or Gita took his received tradition, revised it, and offered his own best articulation of what is good and real. We can honor the quest of our spiritual ancestors, or we can honor their answers, but we cannot do both.

Religious apologists often try to deny, minimize, or explain away the sins of scripture and the evils of religious history. “It wasn’t really slavery.” “That’s just the Old Testament.” “He didn’t mean it that way.” “You have to understand how bad their enemies were.” “Those people who did harm in the name of God weren’t real [Christians/Jews/Muslims].” Such platitudes may offer comfort, but denying problems doesn’t solve them. Quite the opposite, in fact. Change comes with introspection and insight, a willingness to acknowledge our faults and flaws while still embracing our strengths and potential for growth.

In a world that is teeming with humanity, armed with pipe bombs and machine guns and nuclear weapons and drones, we don’t need defenders of religion’s status quo—we need real reformation, as radical as that of the 16th Century and much, much broader. It is only by acknowledging religion’s worst ideas that we have any hope of embracing the best.

Scientists Link ‪Selfies‬ To Narcissism, ‪Addiction‬ & Mental Illness

The growing trend of taking smartphone selfies is linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks.

 According to psychiatrist Dr David Veal: “Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.”

“Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help a patient to recognize the reasons for his or her compulsive behavior and then to learn how to moderate it,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

s it possible that taking selfies causes mental illness, addiction, narcissism and suicide? Many psychologists say yes, and warn parents to pay close attention to what kids are doing online to avoid any future cases like what happened to Bowman.
A British male teenager tried to commit suicide after he failed to take the perfect selfie. Danny Bowman became so obsessed with capturing the perfect shot that he spent 10 hours a day taking up to 200 selfies. The 19-year-old lost nearly 30 pounds, dropped out of school and did not leave the house for six months in his quest to get the right picture. He would take 10 pictures immediately after waking up. Frustrated at his attempts to take the one image he wanted, Bowman eventually tried to take his own life by overdosing, but was saved by his mom.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t, I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life,” he told The Mirror.

The teenager is believed to be the UK’s first selfie addict and has had therapy to treat his technology addiction as well as OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.


According to newest research, it seems that mothers are bathing their children in toxins! Yes, toxins. Namely, it appears that Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s most famous baby care product companies, are using toxic materials in their products. Hence, these toxins are harming the babies’ skin.

As you probably already know, a child’s immune system is very delicate. And, when they’re exposed to toxins, they can experience lifelong health issues. In fact, the products by Johnson & Johnson irritate the child’s skin and attack their immunity by encouraging excessive immune responses.

So, if you happen to be a parent who’s using these products, take a look at the label. You’ll see how many products there are that you cannot even pronounce right. As an example, 1.4-dioxane is the main toxin present in these products. Hence, the Environmental Protection Agency linked it with skin irritation, headaches, drowsiness, liver damage, and vertigo.

Moreover, quartenium-15 is a well-known carcinogen present in the company’s baby shampoo which is known to release formaldehyde, a harmful chemical which causes skin irritation over time.

Currently, the company claims that they’re in a process of removing the harmful toxins from their products. Since in other countries their products are toxin-free, why wait so long to remove them from the USA products as well?

Until this happens, you should try and find more natural products for your kids. For example, opt for the following brands: Burt’s Bees, Aveeno, BabyGanics, California Baby, and Little Twig.