Friday, February 7, 2014

War Thunder - Aimbot Official Statement is BS

War Thunder - Aimbot Official Statement is BS


I started playing that game a few days ago, and soon enough sometimes I had the distinct impression that one or two players were really really good, or they used an aimbot. The official statement from Gaijin:

http://forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/24212-cheats-in-war-thunder-official-statement/

If I was completely computer-illiterate, I'd believe that statement. But I'm not. In fact, I know exactly how those aimbots work, and I'm not a coder. I mean, yes, part of the official statement is true, a local program cannot interfere with server-side calculations, but that's not the only way to cheat. To figure it out, you gotta know how your PC paints the pretty planes on your screen. How does your PC know where to paint the enemy planes, what direction they're going, how fast, etc? Your PC must have access to this information, or you wouldn't see any enemy planes on your screen. What form does this information take? TCP-IP packets, but since it's a real-time game, it's mostly UDP packets. The point is your PC has access to all the information required to make an aimbot program, which would literally intercept that information, which when combined with the ability to take over your own plane's controls (i.e. mouse, keyboard), gives you a fully functional aimbot, and the server is none the wiser, because like the official statement says, it's impossible to interfere with server-side calculations, therefore there is no incentive to program the server with anti-aimbot functions.

Think about it. If you control your plane locally with your own mouse and your own keyboard (or joystick and whatnots), then you can use an automated program to do it locally as well. Even Windows has built-in functions that interfere with the mouse and keyboard, but Microsoft calls it "Ease of Access Center". It allows you to set certain options for the mouse so that it moves more slowly when you hover over an icon, or the keyboard with sticky keys, etc. It's all done locally, and Microsoft is none the wiser either. All of this is possible with War Thunder as well, since between the server and your PC, there's data packets that contain all the information required by an automated aimbot program which would aim for you, shoot for you, and literally make you the best player of the battle, every battle, all the time. Unless you play against another such player, then skill and a bit of luck will make a difference, just like it does when nobody's cheating, ironically.

The official statement only applies to hard-coded things like damage, armor, bullet spread (it's a cone of accuracy, which depending on specific algorithm used by the game, determines exactly where the bullet will fly to, and hit), plane speed, collisions, etc. But when it comes to aiming your mouse and joystick, that's all you, and whatever you can do on your PC can be automated to be done for you. So yeah, the official statement is BS, because of this part:


"...these "cheats" are based on local reverse engineering of the game client, and could not possibly affect actual multiplayer gameplay."


A program can be made to intercept data packets that contain information on enemy planes' position, direction of motion, speed, etc. A program can be made to automate mouse, joystick and keyboard functions. Combine the two and we get an aimbot. The server doesn't know a thing about it. For such a program to be detected, a local program must be used to scan the player's PC (the PC's main memory mostly) while he's playing the game. It's been done in many other games for years now with Punkbuster for example. It's a local program that scans the player's PC for certain things that are typically used by cheat programs, or it scans for the cheat programs themselves. Other methods include taking screenshots locally at intervals, and analyzing the screenshots for abnormalities like target boxes for example.

The point is it's totally possible to cheat in War Thunder, specifically to aim, which when you think about it, aiming is the single most important part of the game. You aim for everything, to shoot, to fly, to land, to avoid collisions, to stay in formations, to follow your wing men, to drop bombs, to evade enemies, or just to fly around for kicks.

So, were they really really good, or did they use an aimbot? Dunno, I'd have to see their screen when they play. Even without any abnormal visual clues (like target boxes for example) an aimbot produces a typical behavior, and once you know what to look for, it's unmistakable. This is mostly due to human reflexes, they're just not as quick as a computer. A program can react in single-digit milliseconds, while the quickest human on the planet can probably react in about 60ms. Furthermore, a program can predict just as quickly and with uncanny accuracy, so that when you look at a video of an aimbot, it's like there's no delay and it's always on target, and unlike a human it's super smooth. An aimbot uses information contained in data packets, and there's anywhere between 30 and a few hundred data packets per second, and with each data packet the aimbot will react quicker than the data packets come in, and make accurate predictions and corrections before the next data packet comes in. If I can see their screen while they play, I'm absolutely certain I will know, it's just too obvious. However, since it is really too obvious, smart coders will introduce random elements in their aimbots that simulate human behavior so that to the casual observer it's not so obvious. But to me these random elements are also just as obvious. Think of it this way, it's really really really hard (if not outright impossible) for a computer to simulate human behavior, and conversely it's really really really hard (if not outright impossible) for a human to react as quickly and as accurately as a computer. Actually, think of it this way, the best modern war planes (actually all planes, even jumbo jets and stuff) today all use highly sophisticated computers to aim, shoot, fly, take off and land, and basically do everything the pilot used to do, and does it a thousand times quicker and more accurately than any pilot. That's how good an aimbot is, and you can run it on your home PC. Modern planes even have automated collision avoidance systems that communicate with other planes, and adjust altitude of one of the planes so they pass each other at a safe distance.

Here's the argument for the official statement: The aimbot videos are fake. Well, OK. If they're fake, this means somebody did a pretty good job with a video editor, so it would be just as easy to reproduce that kind of video, and nobody's actually using an aimbot at any time. So I'd like to see a video that's been edited to make it look like an aimbot. But like I said, an aimbot produces a typical behavior, and this behavior is very very very hard to reproduce, whether in real-time by a human, or by editing a video. There is one way to edit a video to make it look like an aimbot: Using a program that detects the planes in the video with direct image analysis, and adds the typical things an aimbot would add (but the aimbot does it through data packet analysis instead). I mean if you do it manually, you'd have to be very very very good at editing video in real time, or frame by frame, to make it look like an aimbot. Better to make a program that automates the whole thing. Now if you can make such a program that edits a video to make it look like an aimbot, how hard would it be for you to make an actual aimbot instead? And if you made a program to edit videos for the purpose of extorting money from dumb folks who'd like to cheat, how long is that gig going to last? No, better to make an actual aimbot so you keep your customers happy and paying. One last thing about video editing to make it look like an aimbot. How can editing a video modify the human behavior of the player who recorded the video? It can't. And so the content of the video belies its nature, either it's just a human who plays and all the signs are there to prove it, or it's a human plus an aimbot and it's equally obvious.

The real reason Gaijin says it's impossible to cheat in War Thunder is because a) they can't prevent it yet (but hopefully they're working on it) and acknowledging it's possible to cheat scares paying customers away, and b) they're scaring would-be cheaters with FUD, i.e. the aimbot videos are fake so if you pay for the aimbot you'll lose money. I find it a bit paradoxical that they acknowledge they tried those aimbot programs and they work (i.e. reverse-engineering of local game client, i.e. intercepting data packets that contain information on enemy plane position, speed, direction of motion, etc), but then try to scare would-be cheaters by saying the videos are fake. Funny, that just occurred to me as I was typing this. Funny even more, the favorite expression of doubters on WT forum about this is "facepalm". Well, *facepalm*, Gaijin, you got caught in an embarrassing lie.


Aimbot Official Statement is BS


After all that said, the game itself is a lot of fun and it's free for almost everything except a few things like premium planes for example. Oh yeah, the matchmaker is broken but then that's just an inherent part of all matchmakers. Call it the unmatchmaker.


www.warthunder.com




Martin Levac

Friday, January 17, 2014

RBC Liars and Crooks

RBC Liars and Crooks

I have an account with RBC, and they lie about the costs of the account, and they steal my money. The account costs $4/month, and allows 10 payments/month. However, the monthly fee is part of this limit, therefore if the monthly fee payment is the 11th, this one costs $1. So, they lie about the total number of payments included with the account, and they lie about the cost of the account. The real cost for the account is $5/month when making 10 payments on top of the monthly fee payment. The real number of monthly payments allowed is 9 + monthly fee payment.

I'm done fighting for my own goddamn money. I ain't gonna do shit about it. I'm just gonna make sure everybody I know hears about RBC. Good publicity for RBC.

Think about this for a second. Multiply this fraud by the number of clients. It ain't much for each client, but it's probably thousands for the bank.

Fuck em.



Martin Levac

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Update on my condition

Update on my condition


Today, I consulted doctor Lienchi Tonnu (spelling? I don't care at this point) to discuss various test results. I'm going to make this a short story, cuz a long one is gonna depress you too much.

To summarize, the doc did not listen to half of what I said (gave me the face you do when you "don't want to hear it" with both hands in the air and shaking the head "no"), did some token exam of one specific symptom and concluded "it's not an infection", then wrote a slip to see a doc in internal medicine. That's the second time I got a slip for a doc in internal medicine. The first one was so grossly incompetent that even a moron could see it. So even if I'm a moron, I could see the incompetence exude from that doc. Anyway, doc Tonnu's incompetence was slightly more subtle. You have to be very much aware of the signs. And after 5+ years and 8+ docs, I am very much aware of the signs of incompetence. Tonnu said something like "I don't know what you have. I don't understand your symptoms." (In French, though she could read the document I gave her, which I wrote in English)

I'm depressed. I'm angry. I'm desperate. I feel powerless. I have lost all hope. I feel like there's nobody on my side. I'm seriously considering slitting my throat. I never said that before today.

I have lost all my health. I was in perfect health 5 years ago. It's not my fault that I'm sick. It's not my fault that 8+ docs can't find what's wrong with me. It's not my fault. They don't listen. At least that's the impression I get, with one exception. The doc who did the stomach exam. I forget his name. Whatever, doesn't matter, he can't do fuck all about it. He did write a slip for an infection specialist at Hotel Dieu. I'm waiting. That's all I do. Wait. 5 years. 8+ docs. My health declines each day. I feel like crying. I only feel this way when I feel totally powerless.

Help me please.

If you can get things moving quickly so I can consult docs in days instead of months, you can help me. If you can get me prescription meds without a prescription, you can help me. If you can make this public to get things moving, you can help me. If all you can do is tell me "don't give up hope" or some soothing words that have exactly zero tangible effect, you can't fucking help me.

I was so happy 5+ years ago. I was playing golf every day. I was lifting heavy weights at the gym. I was eating with a healthy appetite. I had zero health problem. I was strong, bright, slept like a baby. I did not smoke (I quit in 2006 to improve my golf game, started again a couple years ago due to depression and declining health and stupid docs). I was much leaner than I am today. I took care of myself because I could.

I have this conversation in my head with the docs. I explain and they listen and they do something about it. Doesn't work in real life.

Are you depressed yet? How many more years do I have to wait before I get my health back? How many more docs do I have to consult before I find the smart one who will find what's wrong with me? You gotta understand that every time a doc gives me a slip for a specialist, that's another 3-to-6 months to wait, and then another month or two to discuss the test results, and so forth. Can you get things moving quickly? Do you have the power to do anything for me?

Would you offer me a job? I'm unreliable. I can't sleep properly. I wake up at random hours of the day. I get sleepy at equally random hours. I suffer from chronic fatigue. I probably have a contagious infection of an unknown nature. I'm cranky. I have no patience. You know my symptoms. I asked doc Tonnu to fill out a form for Securite du Revenu for temporary medical problem. She refused. Her reason is "there must be a diagnosis of something specific". Well, why don't you fucking find out what's wrong with me so you can fill out the fucking form. But you don't listen to what I say. You don't do proper exams. You don't fucking care about my health. You still get paid for the consultation. That's how the medical system works in Canada. The doc sees you, he gets paid, regardless of whether he finds what's wrong with you or not.

I consulted a ORL, he referred me to another ORL. That's a fucking gimmick. He's just giving money to his buddy. And his buddy couldn't find his own foot, but he wrote me a slip to that incompetent doc in internal medicine I was talking about. That stupid doc got paid too. They all got paid. I'm still sick. My health continues to decline. They still got paid. Is there even one of you who wants to find out what's wrong with me so you can fix it? Email me. Give me an appointment next day. Give me a real solution. Or fuck off. I got no money. I can't pay you. You gotta do it for free, or get your money from the system somehow.

I want to try one treatment.


Clarithromicin or equivalent

+

Doxycycline or Minocycline

+

Metronidazole or Rifampin


All 3 together for at least a month to see if it has any effect. If it does, then discontinue after the month and see if symptoms return. If symptoms return, continue treatment for at least 1 year.

Do any of you docs out there want to prescribe me this treatment? Do you understand why I want this treatment? Do you know what condition warrants this treatment? If yes to all, email me. Or fuck off. I'm done with tests. I'm done with waiting for you to get paid and for my health to decline. I want that treatment today. Call it a trial by fire. The risks? Compared to all the symptoms I suffer from now? Ya, I'm OK with the risk of dying. In fact, I decided that I want to become a professional golfer, or die. I did everything I could to get better. I practiced hours every day. I became the best player at the club. I scored par for the course, better than everybody except an actual honest-to-goodness pro who did the mini-tours in the US. He scored 2 under. I'm that good. I have the potential to be much better. When it comes to golf, I know my shit. I wrote lessons based on my own technique. I know how to put it into words so it's easy to teach and easy to learn. My technique is so good that even though I played only twice last season with zero practice, I still had it, though putting and chipping requires constant practice so I fucked it up with those shots. I know how to get good and stay good. I taught myself. I'm not bragging. I'm telling the story of how I decided to become a professional golfer, or die. So I'm OK with the risk of dying from a treatment if that treatment has the potential to give me back my health.

And if that treatment has no effect, then I'll figure out another treatment to try. I'm OK with the risk of dying. I'm OK with death.


Help me please.


Martin Levac  15:50 2014-01-11

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How Do I Get My Money Back?

How Do I Get My Money Back?

Here's the situation. I paid in full for a 1 year service, but forgot to cancel a previous recurring payment for a previous service with the same provider 1 year ago and this payment went through as well. So now I paid about 60$ too much. It's my mistake, sure, but it's not like that means I lose my money. It's still my money, and I didn't order any service for this particular payment. The provider's policy on this is to not refund the money and instead keep excess payments as a credit balance which can be used for any invoice. Here's the problem with this policy. What if I made a mistake of several thousand dollars? The service I get is about 100$/year. The policy doesn't specify amounts. I asked for a refund of the excess payment and this is the reply I got:

"Our policy is such that we do not refund that kind of payments, we are not a bank, or someone to hold your money for you. You should take care of your subscriptions. You may use that credit anytime you choose for any invoice however."

Note how it says "...that kind of payments...". It doesn't say that amount. So it means even if the mistake had been for several thousand dollars, I'd have been locked into buying their services for as long as it took to deplete the credit balance. Since the service I want and get is 100$/year, that would take several decades. For someone who says they're "not a bank, or someone to hold my money for me", they sure hold my money for me now, but they probably won't give me any interest on it.

Here's their policy: http://wiki.pulsedmedia.com/index.php/Pulsed_Media_Refunds_Policy

"No refunds are given for excessive payments, ie. duplicate payment of already paid invoice. This "excessive payment" is automatically added as credit you can use for future any invoice. Credit is no longer automatically applied to newly generated invoices - you will need to manually apply credits to invoice. To do this open your invoice and use "apply credits" option. This policy is also applied on subscription payments."

Let me just explain in the simplest terms what this means. You buy shit that costs 10$, you pay with a 20$, the clerk says "I keep the change. I give you 10$ credit for next time you come in."

Hey, buddy, money is credit. It's the whole point of money. Historically, paper money was used as representative money. The amount on the paper indicated the value in hard currency - gold or silver for example - to be redeemed to the holder of the paper money. Today, money is its own value, unrelated to any hard currency directly, but instead reflects an entire economic system. However, the difference here is that the credit balance I have with the provider cannot be used anywhere else but with the provider. I'm locked into buying his shit. In fact, that policy really says if I don't want any of his services, he keeps my money anyway. Just like if he dug it out of my pocket like a thief. Maybe we could argue that it's a subscription service, so I might as well not bitch about it and use that credit next year. Sure, that could work, but in the meantime, I could use that money for other shit I want to buy now, but I can't cuz it's locked away in a credit balance I can't use for anything else. I could argue that my money is being used by this provider for his benefit, and I have a right to ask for interest. In Canada, last time I checked, max legal interest rate is 60% per year. Well, that's ezzactly how much interest I charge people who owe me money, if they're not particularly my friend. So I guess that's my policy.

What if it had been his mistake, what if he had overcharged me?

But seriously. There is only one reason for this kind of policy. The provider does not want to refund money once it has it, even if no service was ordered or delivered yet. S'that fair or even legal? Dunno. Provider is registered in Finland. Gonna dispute the charge. Provider prolly cancel the service I paid for, won't refund that money, or just won't renew the service next year, ban my ass. No prob. Dispute that charge too. Many other providers with pretty good services and prices anyway. Hate to see that though, they got good service for good price. But then, ain't all about price or quality of service. Sometimes, it's just about fairness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money


I fucking hate to have to fight for my own goddamn money.




Martin Levac


2013-10-06 Copyright 2013 Martin Levac

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Paradigm VII - Medical Paradigm - Devil's Advocate

Paradigm VII - Medical Paradigm - Devil's Advocate


I came up with the idea of a safety officer in medical practice, but a more appropriate term for it is devil's advocate. To summarize, devil's advocate acts as the patient's advocate primarily for the purpose of offering all known alternatives to the patient in the context of diagnosis and treatment. So a basic scenario would be when a patient is diagnosed with say, an infection, and is prescribed an antibiotic, but then the devil's advocate offers all known alternatives with equal efficacy for treating the infection.

I came up with this idea in a discussion about cancer here: http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthread.php?t=455513

You can read as I develop the idea, so I'll just try to put all those ideas here in a more concise post.

The functions of devil's advocate (I'll call it MDA for Medical Devil's Advocate from now on) are as follows:


1 - Disagree with the physician's diagnosis and choice of treatment
2 - Perform his own examination of the patient and attempt to form a different diagnosis
3 - Offer all known effective alternatives to the patient
4 - Work under a different paradigm - if plausible and possible - than the treating physician
5 - Must be equally qualified as the treating physician


The treating physician now has new obligations, as follows:

1 - Inform the patient about the MDA
2 - Give an appointment to consult the MDA
3 - Follow up on the MDA's diagnosis and treatment
4 - Treat the patient according to the patient's choice of treatment


As we can see, the first obvious consequence of the MDA is a potential reduction in diagnostic and treatment errors by virtue of introducing an obligatory second opinion. But there's much more to it than that. From the point of view of my paradigm it bypasses the difficulties in changing the dominant paradigm directly, through introducing other paradigms which invariably go along with alternative diagnoses and treatments. It forces the MDA to consider other paradigms, including mine (if proved to be valid of course). From the POV of experimental research, it allows new discoveries to be made more quickly, as an MDA must also be included in patient selection and treatment protocol. As existing alternatives are offered now as well, current treatment success rate is bound to be affected, hopefully positively, and in turn eventually included in standard diagnosis and treatment by treating physicians. It sieves out bad experts and physicians, as their incompetence will be made that much more obvious, especially since the first person likely to recognize the incompetence will be the MDA himself. An important consequence of the MDA is that now the patient is in charge of his own health. Not the physician, not the MDA. Another important consequence is that now the patient is better informed of his condition and potential treatments and side effects. As a side note, there's already the idea of giving the patient more control through giving him full read-write access to his patient record. This idea and the idea of an MDA would work well together, all for the benefit of the patient.

We could argue that we already have ample safety measures to make sure the patient receives appropriate diagnosis and treatment in the form of the liability principle whereby the physician must follow established guidelines. Sure, but it does not protect the patient, it protects the physician. How do we establish those guidelines anyway? Some come from experiments, some come from empirical evidence. But not all effective experiments or empirical evidence makes it into those guidelines. Who decides? Do these guidelines force the physician to tell the patient to get a second opinion? Do these guidelines include a mechanism to prevent diagnostic and treatment errors? What happens if the physician follows established guidelines, but fails? Is he still liable? Sure, if he made stupid mistakes. But what if he didn't make any mistake, followed the guidelines to the letter, and still failed? This is a failure of the guidelines themselves. Where is the mechanism that makes sure this failure of the guidelines is corrected? What is the paradigm under which those guidelines are designed, and does this paradigm allow other paradigms to co-exist?

What I'm really asking is what is the medical paradigm of modern medicine?

So I went looking at the history of medicine and found a few things. For example, there is no central premise to the history of medicine. It follows a haphazard line through time, with accidental discoveries that fix equally accidental errors and deficiencies. I could argue that the current medical paradigm is just a collection of small ideas but without a central premise to connect all those ideas into a comprehensive paradigm, one which would dictate which new ideas make it and which don't. And I could argue that whatever small idea dominates the field is the one that dictates the medical paradigm, the one that dictates which new small idea makes it or not. Sure, there's the Hippocratic Oath, but that gets shoved to the side when profits come into play. And profits come into play all the time in modern medicine. So, I could argue that the dominating paradigm of modern medicine is profits first, patient second. This is what the lack of a medical paradigm does.

I propose that the medical paradigm should have for central premise that medicine - the medical profession - is an advocacy group. After all, its sole purpose is to make other people better, it is advocating for the benefit of the patient, so let this be the medical paradigm. Advocacy groups argue for the benefit of others. The basic idea is "this is good for you", rather than "this is good for me". So I propose if a group claims such an idea, then it is an advocacy group, and must have a devil's advocate within the group, and must give this devil's advocate equal public exposure. For example, the Official Nutritional Guidelines (MyPlate in the US for example) is claimed to be intended for the benefit of others - i.e. if you eat this way, you'll stay lean and healthy - so must include a reference to all known alternatives and with equal public exposure, all of it written by a devil's advocate employed or hired for this purpose by the group. If the group does not have a devil's advocate, then it is considered a petty salesman, a lobby group, for-profit. I'm proposing this be made into law, and applicable to all advocacy groups and persons, including the medical profession.

I remember watching Bethune: The Making of a Hero, with Donald Sutherland who plays Dr Norman Bethune. In one scene, we see Bethune who throws a fit over inadequate surgical tools during surgery, then later he designs new tools more appropriate for the task. For example a cutter with longer handles to make cutting ribs easier. It is also noted how he profited from his designs, but I forget if he patented them. The point is that the initial incentive was to improve surgery procedures, and in turn to ultimately benefit the patient. Conversely, if the initial incentive was to increase profits, the most obvious way is to make shorter cutters, as this would save on material and manufacture process, but ultimately degrade surgery procedure, all to the detriment of the patient. Now this is an obvious comparison. Nobody in their right mind would intentionally design bad surgical tools just to make a few bucks. They'd soon run out of business, as others would soon design proper tools. But when it comes to drugs, it's all up for grabs. Anybody and his dog can claim anything about any drug, and make a killing, as long as he gives money to whomever has the power to prescribe this crap to convince him to prescribe his crap instead. I mean, the placebo effect is real, right? So if everybody believes this crap works, it might just work, and having that proof is good enough for profits. Sure, we got all kinds of placebo-controlled trials to eliminate this possibility. But seriously, statins? Oh, they work great to reduce serum cholesterol, and not through a placebo effect. But the whole point of statins isn't to reduce cholesterol, it's to reduce heart disease, heart attacks. Here's where placebo comes into play. Heart disease is believed to be caused by cholesterol, statins reduce cholesterol, therefore it is believed statins reduce heart disease through a logical process called teleoanalysis, i.e. a logical conclusion derived from independent facts but without direct facts to support the conclusion. Statins do not reduce heart disease, direct facts do not support this idea, yet are sold as if they did. Voila, placebo. The MDA would disagree with a heart disease diagnosis, or at least disagree with the statin prescription, and offer all known alternatives to the patient. The MDA would work under a different paradigm than the one which says cholesterol causes heart disease.

The idea of devil's advocate is not new. In fact, it's very old. And it's not just an idea, it's not just a way to validate one's argument by saying "I'll play devil's advocate and argue against what I'm proposing, just so you can see how right I am". According to Wikipedia's article, it used to be an actual job in the Catholic Church, a person who's function was to argue against the canonization of a candidate. The office of devil's advocate was abolished, and soon after that a slew of candidates were canonized and beatified. It's worth noting how the opposite job - God's advocate - was also replaced with the office of the Promoter of Justice, who's function is different from the old office, but now ultimately holds all the cards when it comes to judging whether one is worthy or not of canonization. If that was the effect of removing the office, imagine how it's working now with the medical profession, where there is nobody like that, never has been. Sure, we got all kinds of ways to call foul, but nobody holds any office with the express and specific purpose of opposing the dominating paradigm from within, of opposing the standard diagnosis and treatment with equal expertise from within, all for the sole benefit of the patient. Sure, we got advocacy groups galore, but nobody from any of these groups opposing the standard diagnosis and treatment from within, or for that matter nobody within any of those groups acting as devil's advocate for any one of those groups. The medical profession does not inherently protect the patient, due to a lack of internal safety mechanism. A medical devil's advocate is such a safety mechanism. Not only can it protect the patient, but it can also improve the medical profession itself.

There's other jobs with similar functions. For example, the safety officer at NASA, with his finger on the big red ABORT button. In law, we got lawyers acting as defendant's advocate, tempering overzealous prosecutors. In government, we got the ombudsman who's job is to receive complaints from citizens about perceived injustice or mistreatment by government employees and officials. In industry, we got safety officers who's sole purpose is to see to the safety of the employees, all at the expense of the employer. These jobs are all part of the group itself, opposing the group from the inside. This is in contrast to advocacy groups who oppose other groups from the outside, but without any real power to do anything about a group's activities, beliefs and paradigms. These jobs imply that the group's paradigm inherently accepts and even promotes an opposing view, especially for the purpose of safety. So, if for the sole purpose of safety of the patient, an MDA is a necessity.

Today, it seems that the medical profession shuns second opinions. Atkins is a famous example of this, as he and his work were discredited (and continue to be to this day) in spite of the obvious success of his therapy for obesity (low-carb). He was shunned because his method opposed the paradigm of the medical establishment, which at the time was that saturated fat caused heart disease (it still is), while low-carb is inherently high-fat (especially high-saturated fat). With an MDA, none of this would have happened to Atkins because his method would have already been included in the alternatives offered by the MDA. Not only that, but since we now know how much more effective low-carb is compared to other diets, it's likely it would have ended up as the first therapy offered by treating physicians, as the evidence would have mounted much more quickly and earlier than it did. Low-carb would have become the standard treatment for obesity. My paradigm would likely have become the de facto paradigm for overall health as well, though it's likely somebody else would have come up with it instead of me.

Finally, I'm not proposing a temporary solution to temporary problems. I'm proposing a permanent fixture, which will continue to oppose the dominating paradigm from within, even if this paradigm is the obvious and only correct one amongst many. This way, future errors will continue to be kept in check.

At this time, it's just an idea. I didn't think about everything. I could be wrong about it all. I'm no expert, not a doctor either. I'm sure I could refine the idea further. But think about it for a moment and see if you can come up with a better solution to obvious problems this idea is intended to solve.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_advocate#Origin




Martin Levac


18:45 2013-09-22 Copyright 2013 Martin Levac

Monday, September 16, 2013

Paradigm VI - Autoimmune Disorders

Paradigm VI - Autoimmune Disorders



I believe there is a very big problem with the idea of autoimmune disorders. Basically, autoimmune disorders are either caused by an aberrant behavior of the immune system, or an aberrant behavior of the cells attacked by the immune system, or both.

And here's the problem with that idea. The aberrant behavior is with all antibodies, all cells attacked by the immune system. Take diabetes type 1 for example. It's believed to be an autoimmune disease triggered by a virus, then all antibodies attack the beta cells of the pancreas. If that's true, then all antibodies start behaving this way, or all beta cells start behaving this way. In other words, it's not just one antibody, or just one beta cell. It's all of them, all at once. Why is this a very big problem? Because it implies that the genes that control their behavior all change simultaneously in all cells: Autoimmunity is caused by accidental gene therapy.

Very big problem indeed. So I'll just scratch that idea. I'm gonna say autoimmune disorders are not caused by accidental gene therapy, but instead are caused by intentional, or at least incidental gene therapy, or even epigenetic therapy. By pathogen. A virus, bacteria, or mycoplasma. This makes a whole lot more sense. To me anyways. And it's even very simple to explain that idea.

A pathogen infects the cell, and in doing so changes the antigen profile of the cell. A stupid pathogen will be recognized by the immune system and be promptly destroyed one way or another, leaving the cell intact and healthy. A smart pathogen will co-opt cellular functions for its own benefit, but in doing so change the antigen profile to such a degree that the cell itself will seem like a pathogen to the immune system, which will then promptly destroy both the pathogen and the cell. And this is done through intentional gene therapy by the pathogen. And this validates the idea that all cells start behaving wrong all at once, as the pathogen doesn't come alone with a single cell, but all individual pathogens have the ability to change all infected cells the same way all at once. Such a pathogen is smart, but a very smart pathogen will also infect the immune system directly, thereby infecting all cells where the immune system goes. Triggered by a virus? Ya, piggybacked by a very smart pathogen, or just very smart itself.

In fact, that's exactly what happened with the mitochondria. It's an intruder that infected a cell, but this one was just as beneficial for the cell as for itself, and together formed the perfect symbiosis which constitutes an integral part of all higher lifeforms' cellular physiology today. This particular "infection" is probably the single most significant event in the evolution of life on this planet. But the point is that if it happened in the past and it produced such a major change, it's probably happening all the time today because something like that wouldn't just be a one-time deal. We're talking about a very big advantage for survival for any pathogen with the ability to co-opt cellular functions for its own benefit.

Finally, autoimmune disorders just don't fit natural selection. It's highly unlikely that any species would survive the debilitating diseases believed to be caused by an aberrant immune system. Autoimmune disorders are a negative selective pressure. Sure, now we have artificial selection in the form of medicine and ample food supply. But nature is thorough, it doesn't allow bad traits to survive. And this is where my paradigm comes in. Our standard diet is disruptive of normal metabolism, thereby allowing then-infectious pathogens - but now-harmless - to become infectious once again, primarily through the immune-suppressive effect of dietary carbohydrates, but also through changing the milieu interieur closer to what those now-infectious pathogens prefer, and maybe also through a slew of epigenetic changes due to deficiency or other dietary factors but it gets real complicated real quick at this point.


http://www.davidwheldon.co.uk/ms-cpn-qa.html




Martin Levac


15:30 2013-09-16 Copyright 2013 Martin Levac

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tea and Natural Selection

Tea and Natural Selection


Where to start. Tea goes back as far as the beginning of civilization. Chicken or the egg? Was tea a product of emerging civilization, or was civilization a product of the adoption of tea? Today, the two cannot be disassociated. Where there is civilization, there is tea. And where there is tea, there is civilization. In some societies, coffee is preferred, but for the purpose of this essay, tea and coffee are fundamentally equivalent.

How do we make tea? Easy. Boil water, put in tea leaves during or after, let it soak a bit, drink. Tons of research has been done on the tea itself, and some beneficial effects are believed to have been found. Antioxidants, stimulants, things like that. In other words, it's all about the tea leaves and its properties. And that's a pretty shortsighted way of looking at it.

Why else do we boil water if not to make tea? Sure, we boil water to cook food, but we don't always eat boiled food, so we don't always boil water for that. Nor do we always cook food, but that's besides the point. What we do always boil water for is to sterilize medical equipment. Of course, today, we don't just boil water, we use chemical agents like iodine. But to be absolutely safe, we boil water for a certain time to kill all pathogens. We also boil drinking water to make it safe in case the aqueduct gets in trouble, or when we believe the well is contaminated. The point is that boiling water to make tea has an effect independently of the properties of tea leaves. We could just drop tea leaves in fresh water, soak it for a time, and still get all the beneficial effects from tea, as they'd slowly seep into the cold water. But we'd get none of the benefits of boiling water.

So how does this tie in with natural selection and civilization? It should be obvious. As water is boiled, it becomes potable. Conversely, as water is not boiled, it makes us sick (if contaminated), sometimes fatally. Between two groups, one who drinks boiled water will tend to be more healthy, live longer (or at all), reproduce more frequently and in greater number. As this group grows bigger, civilization develops more quickly (or at all). Is this intentional? No, it's merely a function of the survival of those who prefer tea over plain water. It's a survival of the taste for tea, hence the survival of the behavior of boiling water. We are the descendants of those who preferred tea.

This idea makes predictions of anthropological consequence. Depending on other selective pressures of human populations, tea (boiled water, really), will tend to be associated with populations who are larger, composed of individuals who are healthier, are more warlike yet paradoxically more "civilized", have expanded their territory further, have developed greater and deeper civilization (like math, literature, government and commerce for example). Not necessarily all at once, however. For example, for a population like Japan, who is restricted to a tiny island compared to China's vast territory, Japan's population density would be much higher than China's, but equally civilized. For populations of the Middle-East, different selective pressures act, but the result is the same. Those who adopted tea survived to this day. This is what I mean about "depending on other selective pressures".

A prediction of less importance is the tendency to make tea a ceremony in some populations. Today, the ceremony is not so important. What matters is that we still boil the water regardless. It's really the only thing that matters because no matter how civilized we are, no matter how many water treatment plants we have, no matter how many chemicals we use to sterilize medical equipment, boiling water is still the go-to method when all else fails. Maybe the tendency to make tea a ceremony stems from the innate tendency to prefer tea, itself derived from the selective pressure of boiling water vs not-boiling water. And maybe this stems from other selective pressures (such as a tiny island or harsh climate for example) that would demand tea become a ceremony, as the ceremony would in turn become itself a selective pressure to ensure a higher survival rate for this population.

Here's the kicker. None of this requires sapience a priori.

We're intelligent not because we can prove we can make tea. Instead, we're intelligent because tea allowed us to be.


Drink up! And stick with ceremony. It's just cool, and it shows we're civilized (though maybe not necessarily nice).




Martin Levac


22:57 2013-09-12 Copyright 2013 Martin Levac