Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 64

Narcissism, Pathological Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the Narcissist,

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Sam Vaknin's Media Kit

1.    Interview about Science and Reality (News Intervention)

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin (YouTubeTwitterInstagramFacebookAmazonLinkedInGoogle Scholar) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited (Amazon) and After the Rain: How the West Lost the East (Amazon) as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction. He was Senior Business Correspondent for United Press International (February, 2001 - April, 2003), CEO of Narcissus Publications (April, 1997 - April 2013), Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician (January, 2011 -), a columnist for PopMatters, eBookWeb, Bellaonline, and Central Europe Review, an editor for The Open Directory and Suite101 (Categories: Mental Health and Central East Europe), and a contributor to Middle East Times, a contributing writer to The American Chronicle Media Group, Columnist and Analyst for Nova MakedonijaFokus, and Kapital, Founding Analyst of The Analyst Network, former president of the Israeli chapter of the Unification Church's Professors for World Peace Academy, and served in the Israeli Defense Forces (1979-1982). He has been awarded Israel's Council of Culture and Art Prize for Maiden Prose (1997), The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies (1976), and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American Embassy in Israel (1978), among other awards. He is Visiting Professor of Psychology, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia (September, 2017 to present), Professor of Finance and Psychology in SIAS-CIAPS (Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies) (April, 2012 to present), a Senior Correspondent for New York Daily Sun (January, 2015 - Present), and Columnist for Allied Newspapers Group (January, 2015 - Present). He lives in Skopje, North Macedonia with his wife, Lidija Rangelovska. Here we talk about science and reality.


Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Reality - all that is, ever was, or ever will be, what defines it, to you?

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin:

"Reality" is the name we give to our aggregate experiences, both of ourselves ("consciousness") and of not-ourselves (the "world out there").


We assume that a world exists independent of our perception of it or interaction with it because we maintain an intersubjective agreement with all other human beings.


The high correlation between the contents of our mind and the self-reports of others leads us to deduce that we must be sharing something distinct from our observations and experiences.

Of course, this commonly shared "theory of reality" is full of holes and easily refuted. But we tend to ignore this fact and impute "reality" even to simulated worlds - simply because they trigger reactions in our brains.


Jacobsen: What defines science?


Scientific Theories

All theories - scientific or not - start with a problem. They aim to solve it by proving that what appears to be "problematic" is not. They re-state the conundrum, or introduce new data, new variables, a new classification, or new organizing principles. They incorporate the problem in a larger body of knowledge, or in a conjecture ("solution"). They explain why we thought we had an issue on our hands - and how it can be avoided, vitiated, or resolved.

Every scientific theory and many pillars of the scientific method are founded on metaphysical principles.


Evolution Theory hails from the metaphysical assumption that individual organisms as well as entire species aim or are geared to survive. Survival is the hermeneutic and organizing principle.


The Special Theory of Relativity is based on the Cartesian separation between observer and observed.


Popper's principle of Falsifiability is founded on a tautology (for a theory to be considered scientific, it must be falsifiable - but we can apply falsifiability only to scientific theories). Add to this the fact that the languages we use to communicate science - mathematics and geometry, for instance - are not neutral. They constrain in large measure what can and cannot be said, they shape content via context, and they provide language elements as theoretical entities.


There are two types of ideas: synoptic and prescriptive.

Synoptic ideas shed light on the interconnectedness of apparently disparate phenomena or concepts. These insights are titillating, fascinating, or even mind-boggling. But, with the exception of a few specialists and eggheads, they are usually of fleeting interest, akin to intellectual fireworks and pyrotechnics, a form of entertainment that fizzles out and is rendered tedious by repetition.

Synoptic ideas are deep and intertwined, so people tend to tune out and wander off (or fall asleep) in mid-sentence. Interdisciplinarity requires discipline and rigor that few have, not even the majority of scholars (witness the crowd dynamics in academic conferences).

In contradistinction, prescriptive ideas focus on proposed solutions based on cumulative data and experience or on theories and rules of derivation. They are highly relevant to their consumers because they aim to better their lives and resolve their problems. Religion, science, technology, and most of philosophy are prescriptive.

A public intellectual whose output is strictly synoptic won't remain public for very long: he will fall out of favor and be ignored and overlooked. Prescriptive thought leaders and change agents thrive and prosper the more anomic, disrupted, dysfunctional, and pathologized society is. The more lost, disoriented, anxious, and depressed people are, the more they seek prescription to extricate them from their predicament.

Scientific theories invite constant criticism and revision. They yield new problems. They are proven erroneous and are replaced by new models which offer better explanations and a more profound sense of understanding - often by solving these new problems. From time to time, the successor theories constitute a break with everything known and done till then. These seismic convulsions are known as "paradigm shifts".

It is interesting to note that paradigm-shifting work is often produced by non-specialist outsiders, gifted amateurs, and laymen (such as Da Vinci, Steno, Mandel, Freud, and, to some extent, Einstein). As Thomas Kuhn noted, run of the mill scientists are vested and invested in the status quo and normally generate paradigm-sustaining theories and discoveries.

Contrary to widespread opinion - even among scientists - science is not only about "facts". It is not merely about quantifying, measuring, describing, classifying, and organizing "things" (entities). It is not even concerned with finding out the "truth". Science is about providing us with concepts, explanations, and predictions (collectively known as "theories") and thus endowing us with a sense of understanding of our world.

Scientific theories are allegorical or metaphoric. They revolve around symbols and theoretical constructs, concepts and substantive assumptions, axioms and hypotheses - most of which can never, even in principle, be computed, observed, quantified, measured, or correlated with the world "out there". By appealing to our imagination, scientific theories reveal what David Deutsch calls "the fabric of reality".

Like any other system of knowledge, science has its fanatics, heretics, and deviants.

Instrumentalists, for instance, insist that scientific theories should be concerned exclusively with predicting the outcomes of appropriately designed experiments. Their explanatory powers are of no consequence. Positivists ascribe meaning only to statements that deal with observables and observations.

Instrumentalists and positivists ignore the fact that predictions are derived from models, narratives, and organizing principles. In short: it is the theory's explanatory dimensions that determine which experiments are relevant and which are not. Forecasts - and experiments - that are not embedded in an understanding of the world (in an explanation) do not constitute science.

Granted, predictions and experiments are crucial to the growth of scientific knowledge and the winnowing out of erroneous or inadequate theories. But they are not the only mechanisms of natural selection. There are other criteria that help us decide whether to adopt and place confidence in a scientific theory or not. Is the theory aesthetic (parsimonious), logical, does it provide a reasonable explanation and, thus, does it further our understanding of the world?

David Deutsch in "The Fabric of Reality" (p. 11):

"... (I)t is hard to give a precise definition of 'explanation' or 'understanding'. Roughly speaking, they are about 'why' rather than 'what'; about the inner workings of things; about how things really are, not just how they appear to be; about what must be so, rather than what merely happens to be so; about laws of nature rather than rules of thumb. They are also about coherence, elegance, and simplicity, as opposed to arbitrariness and complexity ..."

Reductionists and emergentists ignore the existence of a hierarchy of scientific theories and meta-languages. They believe - and it is an article of faith, not of science - that complex phenomena (such as the human mind) can be reduced to simple ones (such as the physics and chemistry of the brain). Furthermore, to them the act of reduction is, in itself, an explanation and a form of pertinent understanding. Human thought, fantasy, imagination, and emotions are nothing but electric currents and spurts of chemicals in the brain, they say.

Holists, on the other hand, refuse to consider the possibility that some higher-level phenomena can, indeed, be fully reduced to base components and primitive interactions. They ignore the fact that reductionism sometimes does provide explanations and understanding. The properties of water, for instance, do spring forth from its chemical and physical composition and from the interactions between its constituent atoms and subatomic particles.

Still, there is a general agreement that scientific theories must be abstract (independent of specific time or place), intersubjectively explicit (contain detailed descriptions of the subject matter in unambiguous terms), logically rigorous (make use of logical systems shared and accepted by the practitioners in the field), empirically relevant (correspond to results of empirical research), useful (in describing and/or explaining the world), and provide typologies and predictions.

A scientific theory should resort to primitive (atomic) terminology and all its complex (derived) terms and concepts should be defined in these indivisible terms. It should offer a map unequivocally and consistently connecting operational definitions to theoretical concepts.

Operational definitions that connect to the same theoretical concept should not contradict each other (be negatively correlated). They should yield agreement on measurement conducted independently by trained experimenters. But investigation of the theory of its implication can proceed even without quantification.

Theoretical concepts need not necessarily be measurable or quantifiable or observable. But a scientific theory should afford at least four levels of quantification of its operational and theoretical definitions of concepts: nominal (labeling), ordinal (ranking), interval and ratio.

As we said, scientific theories are not confined to quantified definitions or to a classificatory apparatus. To qualify as scientific, they must contain statements about relationships (mostly causal) between concepts - empirically-supported laws and/or propositions (statements derived from axioms).

Philosophers like Carl Hempel and Ernest Nagel regard a theory as scientific if it is hypothetico-deductive. To them, scientific theories are sets of inter-related laws. We know that they are inter-related because a minimum number of axioms and hypotheses yield, in an inexorable deductive sequence, everything else known in the field the theory pertains to.

Explanation is about retrodiction - using the laws to show how things happened. Prediction is using the laws to show how things will happen. Understanding is explanation and prediction combined.

William Whewell augmented this somewhat simplistic point of view with his principle of "consilience of inductions". Often, he observed, inductive explanations of disparate phenomena are unexpectedly traced to one underlying cause. This is what scientific theorizing is about - finding the common source of the apparently separate.

This omnipotent view of the scientific endeavor competes with a more modest, semantic school of philosophy of science.

Many theories - especially ones with breadth, width, and profundity, such as Darwin's theory of evolution - are not deductively integrated and are very difficult to test (falsify) conclusively. Their predictions are either scant or ambiguous.

Scientific theories, goes the semantic view, are amalgams of models of reality. These are empirically meaningful only inasmuch as they are empirically (directly and therefore semantically) applicable to a limited area. A typical scientific theory is not constructed with explanatory and predictive aims in mind. Quite the opposite: the choice of models incorporated in it dictates its ultimate success in explaining the Universe and predicting the outcomes of experiments.

To qualify as meaningful and instrumental, a scientific explanation (or "theory") must be:

  1. All-inclusive (anamnetic)– It must encompass, integrate and incorporate all the facts known.
  1. Coherent– It must be chronological, structured and causal.
  1. Consistent– Self-consistent (its sub-units cannot contradict one another or go against the grain of the main explication) and consistent with the observed phenomena (both those related to the event or subject and those pertaining to the rest of the universe).
  1. Logically compatible– It must not violate the laws of logic both internally (the explanation must abide by some internally imposed logic) and externally (the Aristotelian logic which is applicable to the observable world).
  1. Insightful– It must inspire a sense of awe and astonishment which is the result of seeing something familiar in a new light or the result of seeing a pattern emerging out of a big body of data. The insights must constitute the inevitable conclusion of the logic, the language, and of the unfolding of the explanation.
  1. Aesthetic– The explanation must be both plausible and "right", beautiful, not cumbersome, not awkward, not discontinuous, smooth, parsimonious, simple, and so on.
  1. Parsimonious– The explanation must employ the minimum numbers of assumptions and entities in order to satisfy all the above conditions.
  1. Explanatory– The explanation must elucidate the behavior of other elements, including the subject's decisions and behavior and why events developed the way they did.

i.       Predictive (prognostic)– The explanation must possess the ability to predict future events, including the future behavior of the subject.


k.     Elastic– The explanation must possess the intrinsic abilities to self-organize, reorganize, give room to emerging order, accommodate new data comfortably, and react flexibly to attacks from within and from without.

Scientific theories must also be testable, verifiable, and refutable (falsifiable). The experiments that test their predictions must be repeatable and replicable in tightly controlled laboratory settings. All these elements are largely missing from creationist and intelligent design "theories" and explanations. No experiment could be designed to test the statements within such explanations, to establish their truth-value and, thus, to convert them to theorems or hypotheses in a theory.

This is mainly because of a problem known as the undergeneration of testable hypotheses: Creationism and intelligent Design do not generate a sufficient number of hypotheses, which can be subjected to scientific testing. This has to do with their fabulous (i.e., storytelling) nature and the resort to an untestable, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Supreme Being.

In a way, Creationism and Intelligent Design show affinity with some private languages. They are forms of art and, as such, are self-sufficient and self-contained. If structural, internal constraints are met, a statement is deemed true within the "canon" even if it does not satisfy external scientific requirements.

The Life Cycle of Scientific Theories

"There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe that there ever was such a time... On the other hand, I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics... Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, 'But how can it be like that?', because you will get 'down the drain' into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that."
R. P. Feynman (1967)

"The first processes, therefore, in the effectual studies of the sciences, must be ones of simplification and reduction of the results of previous investigations to a form in which the mind can grasp them."
J. C. Maxwell, On Faraday's lines of force

" ...conventional formulations of quantum theory, and of quantum field theory in particular, are unprofessionally vague and ambiguous. Professional theoretical physicists ought to be able to do better. Bohm has shown us a way."
John S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics

"It would seem that the theory [quantum mechanics] is exclusively concerned about 'results of measurement', and has nothing to say about anything else. What exactly qualifies some physical systems to play the role of 'measurer'? Was the wavefunction of the world waiting to jump for thousands of millions of years until a single-celled living creature appeared? Or did it have to wait a little longer, for some better qualified system ... with a Ph.D.? If the theory is to apply to anything but highly idealized laboratory operations, are we not obliged to admit that more or less 'measurement-like' processes are going on more or less all the time, more or less everywhere. Do we not have jumping then all the time?

The first charge against 'measurement', in the fundamental axioms of quantum mechanics, is that it anchors the shifty split of the world into 'system' and 'apparatus'. A second charge is that the word comes loaded with meaning from everyday life, meaning which is entirely inappropriate in the quantum context. When it is said that something is 'measured' it is difficult not to think of the result as referring to some pre-existing property of the object in question. This is to disregard Bohr's insistence that in quantum phenomena the apparatus as well as the system is essentially involved. If it were not so, how could we understand, for example, that 'measurement' of a component of 'angular momentum' ... in an arbitrarily chosen direction ... yields one of a discrete set of values? When one forgets the role of the apparatus, as the word 'measurement' makes all too likely, one despairs of ordinary logic ... hence 'quantum logic'. When one remembers the role of the apparatus, ordinary logic is just fine.

In other contexts, physicists have been able to take words from ordinary language and use them as technical terms with no great harm done. Take for example the 'strangeness', 'charm', and 'beauty' of elementary particle physics. No one is taken in by this 'baby talk'... Would that it were so with 'measurement'. But in fact the word has had such a damaging effect on the discussion, that I think it should now be banned altogether in quantum mechanics."
J. S. Bell, Against "Measurement"

"Is it not clear from the smallness of the scintillation on the screen that we have to do with a particle? And is it not clear, from the diffraction and interference patterns, that the motion of the particle is directed by a wave? De Broglie showed in detail how the motion of a particle, passing through just one of two holes in screen, could be influenced by waves propagating through both holes. And so influenced that the particle does not go where the waves cancel out, but is attracted to where they co-operate. This idea seems to me so natural and simple, to resolve the wave-particle dilemma in such a clear and ordinary way, that it is a great mystery to me that it was so generally ignored."
J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics

"...in physics the only observations we must consider are position observations, if only the positions of instrument pointers. It is a great merit of the de Broglie-Bohm picture to force us to consider this fact. If you make axioms, rather than definitions and theorems, about the "measurement" of anything else, then you commit redundancy and risk inconsistency."
J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics

"To outward appearance, the modern world was born of an anti-religious movement: man becoming self-sufficient and reason supplanting belief. Our generation and the two that preceded it have heard little of but talk of the conflict between science and faith; indeed it seemed at one moment a foregone conclusion that the former was destined to take the place of the latter... After close on two centuries of passionate struggles, neither science nor faith has succeeded in discrediting its adversary.
On the contrary, it becomes obvious that neither can develop normally without the other. And the reason is simple: the same life animates both. Neither in its impetus nor its achievements can science go to its limits without becoming tinged with mysticism and charged with faith."
Pierre Thierry de Chardin, "The Phenomenon of Man"

I opened with lengthy quotations by John S. Bell, the main proponent of the Bohemian Mechanics interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (really, an alternative rather than an interpretation). The renowned physicist, David Bohm (in the 50s), basing himself on work done much earlier by de Broglie (the unwilling father of the wave-particle dualism), embedded the Schrödinger Equation (SE) in a deterministic physical theory which postulated a non-Newtonian motion of particles.

This is a fine example of the life cycle of scientific theories, comprised of three phases: Growth, Transitional Pathology, and Ossification.

Witchcraft, Religion, Alchemy and Science succeeded one another and each such transition was characterized by transitional pathologies reminiscent of psychotic disorders. The exceptions are (arguably) the disciplines of medicine and biology. A phenomenology of ossified bodies of knowledge would make a fascinating read.

Science is currently in its Ossification Phase. It is soon to be succeeded by another discipline or magisterium. Other explanations to the current dismal state of science should be rejected: that human knowledge is limited by its very nature; that the world is inherently incomprehensible; that methods of thought and understanding tend to self-organize to form closed mythic systems; and that there is a problem with the language which we employ to make our inquiries of the world describable and communicable.

Kuhn's approach to Scientific Revolutions is but one of many that deal with theory and paradigm shifts in scientific thought and its resulting evolution. Scientific theories seem to be subject to a process of natural selection every bit as organisms in nature are.

Animals could be thought of as theorems (with a positive truth value) in the logical system "Nature". But species become extinct because nature itself changes (not nature as a set of potentials - but the relevant natural phenomena to which the species are exposed). Could we say the same about scientific theories? Are they being selected and deselected partly due to a changing, shifting backdrop?

Indeed, the whole debate between "realists" and "anti-realists" in the philosophy of Science can be settled by adopting this single premise: that the Universe itself is not immutable. By contrasting the fixed subject of study ("The World") with the transient nature of Science anti-realists gained the upper hand.

Arguments such as the under-determination of theories by data and the pessimistic meta-inductions from past falsity (of scientific "knowledge") emphasize the transience and asymptotic nature of the fruits of the scientific endeavor. But such arguments rest on the implicit assumption that there is some universal, invariant, truth out there (which science strives to asymptotically approximate). This apparent problematic evaporates if we allow that both the observer and the observed, the theory and its subject, are alterable.

Science develops through reduction of miracles. Laws of nature are formulated. They are assumed to encompass all the (relevant) natural phenomena (that is, phenomena governed by natural forces and within nature). Ex definitio, nothing can exist outside nature: it is all-inclusive and all-pervasive, or omnipresent (formerly the attributes of the divine).

Supernatural forces, supernatural intervention, are contradictions in terms, oxymorons. If some thing or force exists, it is natural. That which is supernatural does not exist. Miracles do not only contravene (or violate) the laws of nature, they are impossible, not only physically, but also logically. That which is logically possible and can be experienced (observed), is physically possible.

But, again, we are faced with the assumption of a "fixed background". What if nature itself changes in ways that are bound to confound ever-truer knowledge? Then, the very shifts of nature as a whole, as a system, could be called "supernatural" or "miraculous".

In a way, this is how science evolves. A law of nature is proposed or accepted. An event occurs or an observation made which are not described or predicted by it. It is, by definition, a violation of the suggested or accepted law which is, thus, falsified. Subsequently and consequently, the laws of nature are modified, or re-written entirely, in order to reflect and encompass this extraordinary event. Result: Hume's comforting distinction between "extraordinary" and "miraculous" events is upheld (the latter being ruled out).

Extraordinary events can be compared to previous experience - miraculous events entail some supernatural interference with the normal course of things (a "wonder" in Biblical terms). It is by confronting the extraordinary and eliminating its "abnormal" or "supernatural" attributes that science progresses as a miraculous activity. This, of course, is not the view of the likes of David Deutsch (see his book, "The Fabric of Reality").

Back to the last phase of this Life Cycle, to Ossification. The discipline degenerates and, following the "psychotic" transitional phase, it sinks into a paralytic state which is characterized by the following:

All the practical and technological aspects of the dying discipline are preserved and continue to be utilized. Gradually the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings vanish or are replaced by the tenets and postulates of a new discipline - but the inventions, processes and practical know-how do not evaporate. They are incorporated into the new discipline and, in time, are erroneously attributed to it, marking it as the legitimate successor of the now defunct, preceding discipline.

The practitioners of the old discipline confine themselves to copying and replicating the various aspects of the old discipline, mainly its intellectual property (writings, inventions, other theoretical material). This replication does not lead to the creation of new knowledge or even to the dissemination of old one. It is a hermetic process, limited to the ever-decreasing circle of the initiated. Special institutions govern the rehashing of the materials related to the old discipline, their processing and copying. Institutions related to the dead discipline are often financed and supported by the state which is always an agent of conservation, preservation and conformity.

Thus, the creative-evolutionary dimension of the now-dead discipline is gone. No new paradigms or revolutions happen. The exegesis and replication of canonical writings become the predominant activities. Formalisms are not subjected to scrutiny and laws assume eternal, immutable, quality.

All the activities of the adherents of the old discipline become ritualized. The old discipline itself becomes a pillar of the extant power structures and, as such, is condoned and supported by them. The old discipline's practitioners synergistically collaborate with the powers that be: with the industrial base, the military complex, the political elite, the intellectual cliques in vogue. Institutionalization inevitably leads to the formation of a (mostly bureaucratic) hierarchy.

Emerging rituals serve the purpose of diverting attention from subversive, "forbidden" thinking. These rigid ceremonies are reminiscent of obsessive-compulsive disorders in individuals who engage in ritualistic behavior patterns to deflect "wrong" or "corrupt" thoughts.

Practitioners of the old discipline seek to cement the power of its "clergy". Rituals are a specialized form of knowledge which can be obtained only by initiation ("rites of passage"). One's status in the hierarchy of the dead discipline is not the result of objectively quantifiable variables or even of judgment of merit. It is the outcome of politics and other power-related interactions.

The need to ensure conformity leads to doctrinarian dogmatism and to the establishment of enforcement mechanisms. Dissidents are subjected to both social and economic sanctions. They find themselves ex-communicated, harassed, imprisoned, tortured, their works banished or not published, ridiculed and so on.

This is really the triumph of text over the human spirit. At this late stage in the Life Cycle, the members of the old discipline's community are oblivious to the original reasons and causes for their pursuits. Why was the discipline developed in the first place? What were the original riddles, questions, queries it faced and tackled? Long gone are the moving forces behind the old discipline. Its cold ashes are the texts and their preservation is an expression of longing and desire for things past.

The vacuum left by the absence of positive emotions is filled by negative ones. The discipline and its disciples become phobic, paranoid, defensive, and with a faulty reality test. Devoid of the ability to generate new, attractive content, the old discipline resorts to motivation by manipulation of negative emotions. People are frightened, threatened, herded, cajoled. The world is painted in an apocalyptic palette as ruled by irrationality, disorderly, chaotic, dangerous, or even lethal. Only the old discipline stands between its adherents and apocalypse.

New, emerging disciplines, are presented as heretic, fringe lunacies, inconsistent, reactionary and bound to regress humanity to some dark ages. This is the inter-disciplinary or inter-paradigm clash. It follows the Psychotic Phase. The old discipline resorts to some transcendental entity (God, Satan, or the conscious intelligent observer in the Copenhagen interpretation of the formalism of Quantum Mechanics). In this sense, the dying discipline is already psychotic and afoul of the test of reality. It develops messianic aspirations and is inspired by a missionary zeal and zest. The fight against new ideas and theories is bloody and ruthless and every possible device is employed.

But the very characteristics of the older nomenclature is in the old discipline's disfavor. It is closed, based on ritualistic initiation, and patronizing. It relies on intimidation. The numbers of the faithful dwindle the more the "church" needs them and the more it resorts to oppressive recruitment tactics. The emerging discipline wins by default. Even the initiated, who stand most to lose, finally abandon the old discipline. Their belief unravels when confronted with the truth value, explanatory and predictive powers, and the comprehensiveness of the emerging discipline.

This, indeed, is the main presenting symptom, the distinguishing hallmark, of paralytic old disciplines. They deny reality. They are rendered mere belief-systems, myths. They require the suspension of judgment and disbelief, the voluntary limitation of one's quest for truth and beauty, the agreement to leave swathes of the map in a state of "terra incognita". This reductionism, this schizoid avoidance, the resort to hermeticism and transcendental authority mark the beginning of the end.

Jacobsen: How are the mentally ill disconnected from reality in various ways?


Mental illness is about opting out of the intersubjective agreement: disagreeing with most other people about what constitutes “reality”. In various periods in history, the mentally ill were considered to be in possession of privileged or exceptional access to a more fundamental stratum of reality, beyond commonly shared experiences.

Is there a way to tell “objective” reality from dreams or mental illness? No, there isn’t. To decide which version of reality is widely accepted, we use statistics (a polling of all the participants in any given worldline) or measures of efficacy (if it works, it must be real or it is based on a correct assessment of reality). 

Jacobsen: Why is psychology not science, though following the forms?


Are psychological theories scientific theories by any definition (prescriptive or descriptive)? Hardly.

First, we must distinguish between psychological theories and the way that some of them are applied (psychotherapy and psychological plots). Psychological plots are the narratives co-authored by the therapist and the patient during psychotherapy. These narratives are the outcomes of applying psychological theories and models to the patient's specific circumstances. 

Psychological plots amount to storytelling - but they are still instances of the psychological theories used. The instances of theoretical concepts in concrete situations form part of every theory. Actually, the only way to test psychological theories - with their dearth of measurable entities and concepts - is by examining such instances (plots).

Storytelling has been with us since the days of campfire and besieging wild animals. It serves a number of important functions: amelioration of fears, communication of vital information (regarding survival tactics and the characteristics of animals, for instance), the satisfaction of a sense of order (predictability and justice), the development of the ability to hypothesize, predict and introduce new or additional theories and so on.

We are all endowed with a sense of wonder. The world around us in inexplicable, baffling in its diversity and myriad forms. We experience an urge to organize it, to "explain the wonder away", to order it so that we know what to expect next (predict). These are the essentials of survival. But while we have been successful at imposing our mind on the outside world – we have been much less successful when we tried to explain and comprehend our internal universe and our behavior.

Psychology is not an exact science, nor can it ever be. This is because its "raw material" (humans and their behavior as individuals and en masse) is not exact. It will never yield natural laws or universal constants (like in physics). Experimentation in the field is constrained by legal and ethical rules. Humans tend to be opinionated, develop resistance, and become self-conscious when observed.

The relationship between the structure and functioning of our (ephemeral) mind, the structure and modes of operation of our (physical) brain, and the structure and conduct of the outside world have been a matter for heated debate for millennia.

Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought:

One camp identifies the substrate (brain) with its product (mind). Some of these scholars postulate the existence of a lattice of preconceived, born, categorical knowledge about the universe – the vessels into which we pour our experience and which mould it. 

Others within this group regard the mind as a black box. While it is possible in principle to know its input and output, it is impossible, again in principle, to understand its internal functioning and management of information. To describe this input-output mechanism, Pavlov coined the word "conditioning", Watson adopted it and invented "behaviorism", Skinner came up with "reinforcement". 

Epiphenomenalists (proponents of theories of emergent phenomena) regard the mind as the by-product of the complexity of the brain's "hardware" and "wiring". But all of them ignore the psychophysical question: what IS the mind and HOW is it linked to the brain?

The other camp assumes the airs of "scientific" and "positivist" thinking. It speculates that the mind (whether a physical entity, an epiphenomenon, a non-physical principle of organization, or the result of introspection) has a structure and a limited set of functions. It is argued that a "mind owner's manual" could be composed, replete with engineering and maintenance instructions. It proffers a dynamic of the psyche.

The most prominent of these "psychodynamists" was, of course, Freud. Though his disciples (Adler, Horney, the object-relations lot) diverged wildly from his initial theories, they all shared his belief in the need to "scientify" and objectify psychology. 

Freud, a medical doctor by profession (neurologist) - preceded by another M.D., Josef Breuer – put forth a theory regarding the structure of the mind and its mechanics: (suppressed) energies and (reactive) forces. Flow charts were provided together with a method of analysis, a mathematical physics of the mind.

Many hold all psychodynamic theories to be a mirage. An essential part is missing, they observe: the ability to test the hypotheses, which derive from these "theories". Though very convincing and, surprisingly, possessed of great explanatory powers, being non-verifiable and non-falsifiable as they are – psychodynamic models of the mind cannot be deemed to possess the redeeming features of scientific theories.

Deciding between the two camps was and is a crucial matter. Consider the clash - however repressed - between psychiatry and psychology. The former regards "mental disorders" as euphemisms - it acknowledges only the reality of brain dysfunctions (such as biochemical or electric imbalances) and of hereditary factors. The latter (psychology) implicitly assumes that something exists (the "mind", the "psyche") which cannot be reduced to hardware or to wiring diagrams. Talk therapy is aimed at that something and supposedly interacts with it.

But perhaps the distinction is artificial. Perhaps the mind is simply the way we experience our brains. Endowed with the gift (or curse) of introspection, we experience a duality, a split, constantly being both observer and observed. Moreover, talk therapy involves TALKING - which is the transfer of energy from one brain to another through the air. This is a directed, specifically formed energy, intended to trigger certain circuits in the recipient brain. It should come as no surprise if it were to be discovered that talk therapy has clear physiological effects upon the brain of the patient (blood volume, electrical activity, discharge and absorption of hormones, etc.).

All this would be doubly true if the mind were, indeed, only an emergent phenomenon of the complex brain - two sides of the same coin.

Psychological theories of the mind are metaphors of the mind. They are fables and myths, narratives, stories, hypotheses, conjunctures. They play (exceedingly) important roles in the psychotherapeutic setting – but not in the laboratory. Their form is artistic, not rigorous, not testable, less structured than theories in the natural sciences. The language used is polyvalent, rich, effusive, ambiguous, evocative, and fuzzy – in short, metaphorical. These theories are suffused with value judgments, preferences, fears, post facto and ad hoc constructions. None of this has methodological, systematic, analytic and predictive merits.

Still, the theories in psychology are powerful instruments, admirable constructs, and they satisfy important needs to explain and understand ourselves, our interactions with others, and with our environment.

The attainment of peace of mind is a need, which was neglected by Maslow in his famous hierarchy. People sometimes sacrifice material wealth and welfare, resist temptations, forgo opportunities, and risk their lives – in order to secure it. There is, in other words, a preference of inner equilibrium over homeostasis. It is the fulfillment of this overwhelming need that psychological theories cater to. In this, they are no different to other collective narratives (myths, for instance).

Still, psychology is desperately trying to maintain contact with reality and to be thought of as a scientific discipline. It employs observation and measurement and organizes the results, often presenting them in the language of mathematics. In some quarters, these practices lends it an air of credibility and rigorousness. Others snidely regard it as an elaborate camouflage and a sham. Psychology, they insist, is a pseudo-science. It has the trappings of science but not its substance.

Worse still, while historical narratives are rigid and immutable, the application of psychological theories (in the form of psychotherapy) is "tailored" and "customized" to the circumstances of each and every patient (client). The user or consumer is incorporated in the resulting narrative as the main hero (or anti-hero). This flexible "production line" seems to be the result of an age of increasing individualism. 

True, the "language units" (large chunks of denotates and connotates) used in psychology and psychotherapy are one and the same, regardless of the identity of the patient and his therapist. In psychoanalysis, the analyst is likely to always employ the tripartite structure (Id, Ego, Superego). But these are merely the language elements and need not be confused with the idiosyncratic plots that are weaved in every encounter. Each client, each person, and his own, unique, irreplicable, plot.

To qualify as a "psychological" (both meaningful and instrumental) plot, the narrative, offered to the patient by the therapist, must be:

  1. All-inclusive (anamnetic) – It must encompass, integrate and incorporate all the facts known about the protagonist.
  1. Coherent – It must be chronological, structured and causal.
  1. Consistent – Self-consistent (its subplots cannot contradict one another or go against the grain of the main plot) and consistent with the observed phenomena (both those related to the protagonist and those pertaining to the rest of the universe).
  1. Logically compatible – It must not violate the laws of logic both internally (the plot must abide by some internally imposed logic) and externally (the Aristotelian logic which is applicable to the observable world).
  1. Insightful (diagnostic) – It must inspire in the client a sense of awe and astonishment which is the result of seeing something familiar in a new light or the result of seeing a pattern emerging out of a big body of data. The insights must constitute the inevitable conclusion of the logic, the language, and of the unfolding of the plot.
  1. Aesthetic – The plot must be both plausible and "right", beautiful, not cumbersome, not awkward, not discontinuous, smooth, parsimonious, simple, and so on.
  1. Parsimonious – The plot must employ the minimum numbers of assumptions and entities in order to satisfy all the above conditions.
  1. Explanatory – The plot must explain the behavior of other characters in the plot, the hero's decisions and behavior, why events developed the way they did.
  1. Predictive (prognostic) – The plot must possess the ability to predict future events, the future behavior of the hero and of other meaningful figures and the inner emotional and cognitive dynamics.
  1. Therapeutic – With the power to induce change, encourage functionality, make the patient happier and more content with himself (ego-syntony), with others, and with his circumstances. 
  1. Imposing – The plot must be regarded by the client as the preferable organizing principle of his life's events and a torch to guide him in the dark (vade mecum).
  1. Elastic – The plot must possess the intrinsic abilities to self-organize, reorganize, give room to emerging order, accommodate new data comfortably, and react flexibly to attacks from within and from without.

In all these respects, a psychological plot is a theory in disguise. Scientific theories satisfy most of the above conditions as well. But this apparent identity is flawed. The important elements of testability, verifiability, refutability, falsifiability, and repeatability – are all largely missing from psychological theories and plots. No experiment could be designed to test the statements within the plot, to establish their truth-value and, thus, to convert them to theorems or hypotheses in a theory.

There are four reasons to account for this inability to test and prove (or falsify) psychological theories:

  1. Ethical – Experiments would have to be conducted, involving the patient and others. To achieve the necessary result, the subjects will have to be ignorant of the reasons for the experiments and their aims. Sometimes even the very performance of an experiment will have to remain a secret (double blind experiments). Some experiments may involve unpleasant or even traumatic experiences. This is ethically unacceptable.
  1. The Psychological Uncertainty Principle – The initial state of a human subject in an experiment is usually fully established. But both treatment and experimentation influence the subject and render this knowledge irrelevant. The very processes of measurement and observation influence the human subject and transform him or her - as do life's circumstances and vicissitudes.
  1. Uniqueness – Psychological experiments are, therefore, bound to be unique, unrepeatable, cannot be replicated elsewhere and at other times even when they are conducted with the SAME subjects. This is because the subjects are never the same due to the aforementioned psychological uncertainty principle. Repeating the experiments with other subjects adversely affects the scientific value of the results.
  1. The undergeneration of testable hypotheses – Psychology does not generate a sufficient number of hypotheses, which can be subjected to scientific testing. This has to do with the fabulous (=storytelling) nature of psychology. In a way, psychology has affinity with some private languages. It is a form of art and, as such, is self-sufficient and self-contained. If structural, internal constraints are met – a statement is deemed true even if it does not satisfy external scientific requirements.

So, what are psychological theories and plots good for? They are the instruments used in the procedures which induce peace of mind (even happiness) in the client. This is done with the help of a few embedded mechanisms:

a.      The Organizing Principle – Psychological plots offer the client an organizing principle, a sense of order, meaningfulness, and justice, an inexorable drive toward well defined (though, perhaps, hidden) goals, the feeling of being part of a whole. They strive to answer the "why’s" and "how’s" of life. They are dialogic. The client asks: "why am I (suffering from a syndrome) and how (can I successfully tackle it)". Then, the plot is spun: "you are like this not because the world is whimsically cruel but because your parents mistreated you when you were very young, or because a person important to you died, or was taken away from you when you were still impressionable, or because you were sexually abused and so on". The client is becalmed by the very fact that there is an explanation to that which until now monstrously taunted and haunted him, that he is not the plaything of vicious Gods, that there is a culprit (focusing his diffuse anger). His belief in the existence of order and justice and their administration by some supreme, transcendental principle is restored. This sense of "law and order" is further enhanced when the plot yields predictions which come true (either because they are self-fulfilling or because some real, underlying "law" has been discovered).

b.     The Integrative Principle – The client is offered, through the plot, access to the innermost, hitherto inaccessible, recesses of his mind. He feels that he is being reintegrated, that "things fall into place". In psychodynamic terms, the energy is released to do productive and positive work, rather than to induce distorted and destructive forces.

c.      The Purgatory Principle – In most cases, the client feels sinful, debased, inhuman, decrepit, corrupting, guilty, punishable, hateful, alienated, strange, mocked and so on. The plot offers him absolution. The client's suffering expurgates, cleanses, absolves, and atones for his sins and handicaps. A feeling of hard won achievement accompanies a successful plot. The client sheds layers of functional, adaptive stratagems rendered dysfunctional and maladaptive. This is inordinately painful. The client feels dangerously naked, precariously exposed. He then assimilates the plot offered to him, thus enjoying the benefits emanating from the previous two principles and only then does he develop new mechanisms of coping. Therapy is a mental crucifixion and resurrection and atonement for the patient's sins. It is a religious experience. Psychological theories and plots are in the role of the scriptures from which solace and consolation can be always gleaned.

Jacobsen: If psychology is not a science, what are the ultimate odds of the development of a true taxonomy of mental illness (and mental health)?


Taxonomy is not synonymous with science, nor does it have to rely on it. It could be descriptive-literary, for example.

The classificatory texts in psychology - such as the DSM and the ICD - are extensive and ample. They capture the gamut of manifested and observable human behaviors coupled with self-reported states of mind.

Jacobsen: How does science pierce the veil of reality, and give a modicum of comprehension and insight about reality?


It is a common misconception that science is about “reality” (whatever this fuzzy concept may mean).

Science is about science. The texts of science provide self-referential allegories, metaphors, symbols, similes, and synecdoches. These texts build on each other in a hermetic loop of hermeneutics.

Ultimately, science is a methodology of constructing algorithmic narratives that enhance our efficacy in our environments through technologies. Good science is never teleological or tautological - and so, it is never explanatory.

Our uncanny ability to translate science to technology misleads us to believe that science endows us with a grasp of reality. It doesn’t. Technology is merely the manipulation of symbols to yield “real life” outcomes. Science is the confluence of texts which often resolve into technology. 

Jacobsen: Cranks, Creationism, cults, Intelligent Design advocates, non-falsifiable theoretical constructs, pseudoscience, religious fundamentalism, quack medicine, socio-political dogmatisms, the god concept, woo, and the like, are hindrances to a more full and robust comprehension of reality, by more people – an accurate view of the world. How does delusion play into science, as delusion plays into human psychology, as human psychology plays an implicit part in the scientific process?


By far the most pernicious and hubristic delusion in science is the belief that it ultimately captures the “truth” or “reality” however incrementally or asymptotically.

The other, equally pervasive delusion, is the confusion between language and the scientific method. Many disciplines - most notably psychology and its close kin, economics - erroneously believe that the use of mathematics and statistics renders them “scientific”. 

Jacobsen: Will there ever be a true Grand Unified Theory (GUT), if not a Theory of Everything (ToE)?


Elusive and tedious as the process may be, I have no doubt that we will end up having a TOE. Simply because both the mind and the universe are unitary. Eastern teachings are right: “reality” is nothing but illusory appearance. Underneath it all, there is a single engine of meaning.

How do I know that? Parsimony, Occam’s razor. In all disciplines, even as we have been multiplying our knowledge, we have witnessed a massive reduction in the number of theoretical constructs and entities required to account for this ever proliferating cornucopia of observations. 

Jacobsen: Will we need new principles of scientific methodology to construct a more comprehensive image of reality?


No. The crowning achievement of the human mind is the scientific methodology as it stands today. I see no need to tinker with it. 

We may, however, gain a new understanding of how to use it best. Popper’s principle of falsification is an example of such an evolution in thinking. 

We should also avoid all kinds of fads and fashions that masquerade as the scientific method or abuse it.

Finally, we should never confuse the use of language (maths) with the algorithmic nature of the scientific method (for example: the requirement that experiments be replicable).

There are no limits to the applicability of the scientific methodology. I wholeheartedly disagree with attempts to exclude any aspects of reality or existence from its remit. 

Jacobsen: Is reality bound to full comprehension in principle or to asymptotic understanding while never reaching capital “T” Truth by some operators in the universe (e.g., human beings)? Of course, we can include an apparent statistical phenomenon: Mean knowledge of all human beings oscillating within and between the epochs of human history.


Though I accept that reality exists, albeit beyond our access, I reject the notion of “truth”. The only measure is efficacy in any given environment. The kind of narrative that allows us to be efficacious and is conducive to survival is science. It has no truth value. 

The extent of confusion that reigns when we discuss the concept of truth is evident in the film “The Invention of Lying”. The movie takes place in a world where people are genetically unable to lie. When one of them, presumably an aberrant mutant (his son inherits his newfound ability), stumbles across the art of confabulation, his life is transformed overnight: he becomes rich, a celebrity, and marries the girl of his dreams (who scorned him before).

But, this clever piece of comedy is philosophically muddled. The denizens of this dystopian cosmos (yes, the truth hurts) not only respond veraciously when prompted – they actually and often sadistically share their innermost thoughts, opinions, and observations. The film fails to realize that volunteering the truth is not the same as being truthful.

What’s worse, the characters in the movie take all statements about the future to be true. Yet, statements about the future can be and often are false even in a world where lying is unknown. As Aristotle has put it: nothing we say about the future has a truth value (can be confidently and rigorously determined to be true or false). We can lie only by making statements that we know with certainty to be false, but such certainty exists only with regard to the past and the present. We can make statements about the future that may be false, or that are probably false, or that we believe to be false – but we can never be sure that they are false. Therefore, we can never lie (or tell the truth!) about the future.

Still, it is not as simple as that. Truth must also be possible (there is no such thing as an impossible truth, though, of course, there are many improbable truths). Yet, the very concept of possibility has to do with the future. Moreover: only facts are possible. If something is not possible it is also not factual and nothing that is a fact is impossible.

Consider the following:

Thought experiments (Gedankenexperimenten) are "facts" in the sense that they have a "real life" correlate in the form of electrochemical activity in the brain. But it is quite obvious that they do not relate to facts "out there". They are not true statements.

But do they lack truth because they do not relate to facts? How are Truth and Fact interrelated?

One answer is that Truth pertains to the possibility that an event will occur. If true – it must occur and if false – it cannot occur. This is a binary world of extreme existential conditions. Must all possible events occur? Of course not. If they do not occur, would they still be true? Must a statement have a real-life correlate to be true?

Instinctively, the answer is yes. We cannot conceive of a thought divorced from brainwaves. A statement which remains a mere potential seems to exist only in the nether land between truth and falsity.  It becomes true only by materializing, by occurring, by matching up with real life. If we could prove that it will never do so, we would have felt justified in classifying it as false. This is the outgrowth of millennia of concrete, Aristotelian logic. Logical statements talk about the world and, therefore, if a statement cannot be shown to relate directly to the world, it is not true.

This approach, however, is the outcome of some underlying assumptions:

First, that the world is finite and also close to its end. To say that something that did not happen cannot be true is to say that it will never happen (i.e., to say that time and space – the world – are finite and are about to end momentarily).

Second, truth and falsity are assumed to be mutually exclusive. Quantum and fuzzy logics have long laid this one to rest. There are real world situations that are both true and not-true. A particle can "be" in two places at the same time. This fuzzy logic is incompatible with our daily experiences but if there is anything that we have learnt from physics in the last seven decades it is that the world is incompatible with our daily experiences.

The third assumption is that the psychic realm is but a subset of the material one. We are membranes with a very particular hole-size. We filter through only well-defined types of experiences, are equipped with limited (and evolutionarily biased) senses, programmed in a way which tends to sustain us until we die. We are not neutral, objective observers. Actually, the very concept of observer is disputable – as modern physics, on the one hand and Eastern philosophy, on the other hand, have shown.

Imagine that a mad scientist has succeeded to infuse all the water in the world with a strong hallucinogen. At a given moment, all the people in the world see a huge flying saucer. What can we say about this saucer?  Is it true?  Is it "real"?

There is little doubt that the saucer does not exist. But who is to say so? If this statement is left unsaid – does it mean that it cannot exist and, therefore, is untrue? In this case (of the illusionary flying saucer), the statement that remains unsaid is a true statement – and the statement that is uttered by millions is patently false.

Still, the argument can be made that the flying saucer did exist – though only in the minds of those who drank the contaminated water. What is this form of existence? In which sense does a hallucination "exist"? The psychophysical problem is that no causal relationship can be established between a thought and its real-life correlate, the brainwaves that accompany it. Moreover, this leads to infinite regression. If the brainwaves created the thought – who created them, who made them happen? In other words: who is it (perhaps what is it) that thinks?

The subject is so convoluted that to say that the mental is a mere subset of the material is to speculate

It is, therefore, advisable to separate the ontological from the epistemological. But which is which? Facts are determined epistemologically and statistically by conscious and intelligent observers. Their "existence" rests on a sound epistemological footing. Yet we assume that in the absence of observers, facts will continue their existence, will not lose their "factuality", their real-life quality which is observer-independent and invariant.

What about truth? Surely, it rests on solid ontological foundations. Something is or is not true in reality and that is it. But then we saw that truth is determined psychically and, therefore, is vulnerable, for instance, to hallucinations. Moreover, the blurring of the lines in Quantum, non-Aristotelian, logics implies one of two: either that true and false are only "in our heads" (epistemological) – or that something is wrong with our interpretation of the world, with our exegetic mechanism (brain). If the latter case is true that the world does contain mutually exclusive true and false values – but the organ which identifies these entities (the brain) has gone awry. The paradox is that the second approach also assumes that at least the perception of true and false values is dependent on the existence of an epistemological detection device.

Can something be true and reality and false in our minds? Of course it can (remember "Rashomon"). Could the reverse be true? Yes, it can. This is what we call optical or sensory illusions. Even solidity is an illusion of our senses – there are no such things as solid objects (remember the physicist's desk which is 99.99999% vacuum with minute granules of matter floating about).

To reconcile these two concepts, we must let go of the old belief (probably vital to our sanity) that we can know the world. We probably cannot and this is the source of our confusion. The world may be inhabited by "true" things and "false" things. It may be true that truth is existence and falsity is non-existence. But we will never know because we are incapable of knowing anything about the world as it is.

We are, however, fully equipped to know about the mental events inside our heads. It is there that the representations of the real-world form. We are acquainted with these representations (concepts, images, symbols, language in general) – and mistake them for the world itself. Since we have no way of directly knowing the world (without the intervention of our interpretative mechanisms) we are unable to tell when a certain representation corresponds to an event which is observer-independent and invariant and when it corresponds to nothing of the kind. When we see an image – it could be the result of an interaction with light outside us (objectively "real"), or the result of a dream, a drug induced illusion, fatigue and any other number of brain events not correlated with the real world. These are observer-dependent phenomena and, subject to an agreement between a sufficient number of observers, they are judged to be true or "to have happened" (e.g., religious miracles).

To ask if something is true or not is not a meaningful question unless it relates to our internal world and to our capacity as observers. When we say "true" we mean "exists", or "existed", or "most definitely will exist" (the sun will rise tomorrow). But existence can only be ascertained in our minds. Truth, therefore, is nothing but a state of mind. Existence is determined by observing and comparing the two (the outside and the inside, the real and the mental). This yields a picture of the world which may be closely correlated to reality – and, yet again, may not.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Professor Vaknin.

Vaknin: Thank you for giving me this space and for your excellent questions.

2.    Interview about Gender Wars (News Intervention)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Sex and gender, you’ve done a decent amount of material on this subject matter. First, what is sex?

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin: Sex is biological, albeit fluid. You are born with it, or at least with the corporeal propensity for it. It is a hardware issue.

Jacobsen: Second, what is gender?

Vaknin: Gender is performative, the outcome of socialization, an expression of dominance, and of a gendered personality. It is largely a sociocultural construct grounded in a specific history (see my response to your next question).

Jacobsen: Third, what are other pertinent terms within this context?

Vaknin: "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.", Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949)

With same-sex marriage becoming a legal reality throughout the world, many more children are going to be raised by homosexual (gay and lesbian) parents, or even by transgendered or transsexual ones. How is this going to affect the child’s masculinity or femininity?


Is being a gay man less manly than being a heterosexual one? Is a woman who is the outcome of a sex change operation less feminine than her natural-born sisters? In which sense is a “virile” lesbian less of a man than an effeminate heterosexual or homosexual man? And how should we classify and treat bisexuals and asexuals?


What about modern she-breadwinners? All those feminist women in traditional male positions who are as sexually aggressive as men and prone to the same varieties of misconduct (e.g., cheating on their spouses)? Are they less womanly? And are their stay-at-home-dad partners not men enough? How are sex preferences related to gender differentiation? And if one’s sex and genitalia can be chosen and altered at will – why not one’s gender, regardless of one’s natural equipment? Can we decouple gender roles from sexual functions and endowments?


Aren’t the feminist-liberal-emancipated woman and her responsive, transformed male partner as moulded by specific social norms and narratives as their more traditional and conservative counterparts? And when men adapted to the demands of the “new”, post-modernist woman – were they not then rebuffed by that very same female as emasculated and unmanly? What is the source of this gender chaos? Why do people act “modern” while, at heart, they still hark back to erstwhile mores and ethos?


We assume erroneously that some roles are instinctual because, in nature, other species do it, too: parenting and mating come to mind. The discipline of sociobiology encourages us to counterfactually learn from animals about our social functioning.

But humans and their societies are so much more complex that there is little we can evince from lobsters, chimpanzees, or gorillas.

In nature, there is "male" and "female", not "man" and "woman" which are learned and acquired gender roles. There is no "mother" and "father", even among apes - just progenitors.

To fulfill any of these demanding and multifarious human functions, we must be exposed to good enough and working role models in childhood and then practice tirelessly through adulthood, constantly reframing and evolving as demands and expectations change with social mores and the times. Evolution in the human species is no longer predominantly genetic - but social and cultural.

So, many people simply don't know how to act as men or as women, as mothers or as fathers. Here, faking it never makes it.


In nature, male and female are distinct. She-elephants are gregarious, he-elephants solitary. Male zebra finches are loquacious - the females mute. Female green spoon worms are 200,000 times larger than their male mates. These striking differences are biological - yet they lead to differentiation in social roles and skill acquisition.


Alan Pease, author of a book titled "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps", believes that women are spatially-challenged compared to men. The British firm, Admiral Insurance, conducted a study of half a million claims. They found that "women were almost twice as likely as men to have a collision in a car park, 23 percent more likely to hit a stationary car, and 15 percent more likely to reverse into another vehicle" (Reuters).


Yet gender "differences" are often the outcomes of bad scholarship. Consider Admiral Insurance’s data. As Britain's Automobile Association (AA) correctly pointed out - women drivers tend to make more short journeys around towns and shopping centers and these involve frequent parking. Hence their ubiquity in certain kinds of claims. Regarding women's alleged spatial deficiency, in Britain, girls have been outperforming boys in scholastic aptitude tests - including geometry and maths - since 1988.


In an Op-Ed published by the New York Times on January 23, 2005, Olivia Judson cited this example


"Beliefs that men are intrinsically better at this or that have repeatedly led to discrimination and prejudice, and then they've been proved to be nonsense. Women were thought not to be world-class musicians. But when American symphony orchestras introduced blind auditions in the 1970's - the musician plays behind a screen so that his or her gender is invisible to those listening - the number of women offered jobs in professional orchestras increased. Similarly, in science, studies of the ways that grant applications are evaluated have shown that women are more likely to get financing when those reading the applications do not know the sex of the applicant."


On the other wing of the divide, Anthony Clare, a British psychiatrist and author of "On Men" wrote:


"At the beginning of the 21st century it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that men are in serious trouble. Throughout the world, developed and developing, antisocial behavior is essentially male. Violence, sexual abuse of children, illicit drug use, alcohol misuse, gambling, all are overwhelmingly male activities. The courts and prisons bulge with men. When it comes to aggression, delinquent behavior, risk taking and social mayhem, men win gold."


Men also mature later, die earlier, are more susceptible to infections and most types of cancer, are more likely to be dyslexic, to suffer from a host of mental health disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and to commit suicide.


In her book, "Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man", Susan Faludi describes a crisis of masculinity following the breakdown of manhood models and work and family structures in the last five decades. In the film "Boys don't Cry", a teenage girl binds her breasts and acts the male in a caricatured relish of stereotypes of virility. Being a man is merely a state of mind, the movie implies.


But what does it really mean to be a "male" or a "female"? Are gender identity and sexual preferences genetically determined? Can they be reduced to one's sex? Or are they amalgams of biological, social, and psychological factors in constant interaction? Are they immutable lifelong features or dynamically evolving frames of self-reference?


In rural northern Albania, until recently, in families with no male heir, women could choose to forego sex and childbearing, alter their external appearance and "become" men and the patriarchs of their clans, with all the attendant rights and obligations.


In the aforementioned New York Times Op-Ed, Olivia Judson opines:


"Many sex differences are not, therefore, the result of his having one gene while she has another. Rather, they are attributable to the way particular genes behave when they find themselves in him instead of her. The magnificent difference between male and female green spoon worms, for example, has nothing to do with their having different genes: each green spoon worm larva could go either way. Which sex it becomes depends on whether it meets a female during its first three weeks of life. If it meets a female, it becomes male and prepares to regurgitate; if it doesn't, it becomes female and settles into a crack on the sea floor."


Yet, certain traits attributed to one's sex are surely better accounted for by the demands of one's environment, by cultural factors, the process of socialization, gender roles, and what George Devereux called "ethnopsychiatry" in "Basic Problems of Ethnopsychiatry" (University of Chicago Press, 1980). He suggested to divide the unconscious into the id (the part that was always instinctual and unconscious) and the "ethnic unconscious" (repressed material that was once conscious).  The latter is mostly molded by prevailing cultural mores and includes all our defense mechanisms and most of the superego.


So, how can we tell whether our sexual role is mostly in our blood or in our brains?


The scrutiny of borderline cases of human sexuality - notably the transgendered or intersexed - can yield clues as to the distribution and relative weights of biological, social, and psychological determinants of gender identity formation.


The results of a study conducted by Uwe Hartmann, Hinnerk Becker, and Claudia Rueffer-Hesse in 1997 and titled "Self and Gender: Narcissistic Pathology and Personality Factors in Gender Dysphoric Patients", published in the "International Journal of Transgenderism", "indicate significant psychopathological aspects and narcissistic dysregulation in a substantial proportion of patients." Are these "psychopathological aspects" merely reactions to underlying physiological realities and changes? Could social ostracism and labeling have induced them in the "patients"?


The authors conclude:


"The cumulative evidence of our study ... is consistent with the view that gender dysphoria is a disorder of the sense of self as has been proposed by Beitel (1985) or Pfäfflin (1993). The central problem in our patients is about identity and the self in general and the transsexual wish seems to be an attempt at reassuring and stabilizing the self-coherence which in turn can lead to a further destabilization if the self is already too fragile. In this view the body is instrumentalized to create a sense of identity and the splitting symbolized in the hiatus between the rejected body-self and other parts of the self is more between good and bad objects than between masculine and feminine."


Freud, Kraft-Ebbing, and Fliess suggested that we are all bisexual to a certain degree. As early as 1910, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld argued, in Berlin, that absolute genders are "abstractions, invented extremes". The consensus today is that one's sexuality is, mostly, a psychological construct which reflects gender role orientation.


Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history at Indiana University and the editor of The Journal of American History observes, in her recently published tome, "How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States", that the very meaning of masculinity and femininity is in constant flux.


Transgender activists, says Meyerowitz, insist that gender and sexuality represent "distinct analytical categories". The New York Times wrote in its review of the book: "Some male-to-female transsexuals have sex with men and call themselves homosexuals. Some female-to-male transsexuals have sex with women and call themselves lesbians. Some transsexuals call themselves asexual."


So, it is all in the mind, you see.


This would be taking it too far. A large body of scientific evidence points to the genetic and biological underpinnings of sexual behavior and preferences.


The German science magazine, "Geo", reported recently that the males of the fruit fly "drosophila melanogaster" switched from heterosexuality to homosexuality as the temperature in the lab was increased from 19 to 30 degrees Celsius. They reverted to chasing females as it was lowered.


The brain structures of homosexual sheep are different to those of straight sheep, a study conducted recently by the Oregon Health & Science University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, revealed. Similar differences were found between gay men and straight ones in 1995 in Holland and elsewhere. The preoptic area of the hypothalamus was larger in heterosexual men than in both homosexual men and straight women.


According an article, titled "When Sexual Development Goes Awry", by Suzanne Miller, published in the September 2000 issue of the "World and I", various medical conditions give rise to sexual ambiguity. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), involving excessive androgen production by the adrenal cortex, results in mixed genitalia. A person with the complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) has a vagina, external female genitalia and functioning, androgen-producing, testes - but no uterus or fallopian tubes.


People with the rare 5-alpha reductase deficiency syndrome are born with ambiguous genitalia. They appear at first to be girls. At puberty, such a person develops testicles and his clitoris swells and becomes a penis. Hermaphrodites possess both ovaries and testicles (both, in most cases, rather undeveloped). Sometimes the ovaries and testicles are combined into a chimera called ovotestis.


Most of these individuals have the chromosomal composition of a woman together with traces of the Y, male, chromosome. All hermaphrodites have a sizable penis, though rarely generate sperm. Some hermaphrodites develop breasts during puberty and menstruate. Very few even get pregnant and give birth.


Anne Fausto-Sterling, a developmental geneticist, professor of medical science at Brown University, and author of "Sexing the Body", postulated, in 1993, a continuum of 5 sexes to supplant the current dimorphism: males, merms (male pseudohermaphrodites), herms (true hermaphrodites), ferms (female pseudohermaphrodites), and females.


Intersexuality (hermaphroditism) is a natural human state. We are all conceived with the potential to develop into either sex. The embryonic developmental default is female. A series of triggers during the first weeks of pregnancy places the fetus on the path to maleness.


In rare cases, some women have a male's genetic makeup (XY chromosomes) and vice versa. But, in the vast majority of cases, one of the sexes is clearly selected. Relics of the stifled sex remain, though. Women have the clitoris as a kind of symbolic penis. Men have breasts (mammary glands) and nipples.


The Encyclopaedia Britannica 2003 edition describes the formation of ovaries and testes thus:


"In the young embryo a pair of gonads develop that are indifferent or neutral, showing no indication whether they are destined to develop into testes or ovaries. There are also two different duct systems, one of which can develop into the female system of oviducts and related apparatus and the other into the male sperm duct system. As development of the embryo proceeds, either the male or the female reproductive tissue differentiates in the originally neutral gonad of the mammal."


Yet, sexual preferences, genitalia and even secondary sex characteristics, such as facial and pubic hair are first order phenomena. Can genetics and biology account for male and female behavior patterns and social interactions ("gender identity")? Can the multi-tiered complexity and richness of human masculinity and femininity arise from simpler, deterministic, building blocks?


Sociobiologists would have us think so.


For instance: the fact that we are mammals is astonishingly often overlooked. Most mammalian families are composed of mother and offspring. Males are peripatetic absentees. Arguably, high rates of divorce and birth out of wedlock coupled with rising promiscuity merely reinstate this natural "default mode", observes Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. That three quarters of all divorces are initiated by women tends to support this view.


Furthermore, gender identity is determined during gestation, claim some scholars.


Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii and Dr. Keith Sigmundson, a practicing psychiatrist, studied the much-celebrated John/Joan case. An accidentally castrated normal male was surgically modified to look female, and raised as a girl but to no avail. He reverted to being a male at puberty.


His gender identity seems to have been inborn (assuming he was not subjected to conflicting cues from his human environment). The case is extensively described in John Colapinto's tome "As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl".


HealthScoutNews cited a study published in the November 2002 issue of "Child Development". The researchers, from City University of London, found that the level of maternal testosterone during pregnancy affects the behavior of neonatal girls and renders it more masculine. "High testosterone" girls "enjoy activities typically considered male behavior, like playing with trucks or guns". Boys' behavior remains unaltered, according to the study.


Yet, other scholars, like John Money, insist that newborns are a "blank slate" as far as their gender identity is concerned. This is also the prevailing view. Gender and sex-role identities, we are taught, are fully formed in a process of socialization which ends by the third year of life. The Encyclopaedia Britannica 2003 edition sums it up thus:


"Like an individual's concept of his or her sex role, gender identity develops by means of parental example, social reinforcement, and language. Parents teach sex-appropriate behavior to their children from an early age, and this behavior is reinforced as the child grows older and enters a wider social world. As the child acquires language, he also learns very early the distinction between "he" and "she" and understands which pertains to him- or herself."


So, which is it - nature or nurture? There is no disputing the fact that our sexual physiology and, in all probability, our sexual preferences are determined in the womb. Men and women are different - physiologically and, as a result, also psychologically.


Society, through its agents - foremost amongst which are family, peers, and teachers - represses or encourages these genetic propensities. It does so by propagating "gender roles" - gender-specific lists of alleged traits, permissible behavior patterns, and prescriptive morals and norms. Our "gender identity" or "sex role" is shorthand for the way we make use of our natural genotypic-phenotypic endowments in conformity with social-cultural "gender roles".


Inevitably as the composition and bias of these lists change, so does the meaning of being "male" or "female". Gender roles are constantly redefined by tectonic shifts in the definition and functioning of basic social units, such as the nuclear family and the workplace. The cross-fertilization of gender-related cultural memes renders "masculinity" and "femininity" fluid concepts.


One's sex equals one's bodily equipment, an objective, finite, and, usually, immutable inventory. But our endowments can be put to many uses, in different cognitive and affective contexts, and subject to varying exegetic frameworks. As opposed to "sex" - "gender" is, therefore, a socio-cultural narrative. Both heterosexual and homosexual men ejaculate. Both straight and lesbian women climax. What distinguishes them from each other are subjective introjects of socio-cultural conventions, not objective, immutable "facts".


In "The New Gender Wars", published in the November/December 2000 issue of "Psychology Today", Sarah Blustain sums up the "bio-social" model proposed by Mice Eagly, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University and a former student of his, Wendy Wood, now a professor at the Texas A&M University:


"Like (the evolutionary psychologists), Eagly and Wood reject social constructionist notions that all gender differences are created by culture. But to the question of where they come from, they answer differently: not our genes but our roles in society. This narrative focuses on how societies respond to the basic biological differences - men's strength and women's reproductive capabilities - and how they encourage men and women to follow certain patterns.


'If you're spending a lot of time nursing your kid', explains Wood, 'then you don't have the opportunity to devote large amounts of time to developing specialized skills and engaging tasks outside of the home'. And, adds Eagly, 'if women are charged with caring for infants, what happens is that women are more nurturing. Societies have to make the adult system work [so] socialization of girls is arranged to give them experience in nurturing'.


According to this interpretation, as the environment changes, so will the range and texture of gender differences. At a time in Western countries when female reproduction is extremely low, nursing is totally optional, childcare alternatives are many, and mechanization lessens the importance of male size and strength, women are no longer restricted as much by their smaller size and by child-bearing. That means, argue Eagly and Wood, that role structures for men and women will change and, not surprisingly, the way we socialize people in these new roles will change too. (Indeed, says Wood, 'sex differences seem to be reduced in societies where men and women have similar status,' she says. If you're looking to live in more gender-neutral environment, try Scandinavia.)"


Jacobsen: You wrote and spoke on the ‘gender wars,’ as such. What is the gender war, or are the gender wars?

Vaknin: The gender wars started 150 years ago, with the suffragettes and the first wave of feminism. Women acquired access to jobs, financial independence, and increasing political power. Men resented this relinquishment of traditionally male powers and the incursions on their turf. But the process of gaining equality and equity was inexorable.


Women are better educated than men and better suited for the modern, networked economy. They earn more than men do in some age groups. They are gaining ground in business (where one fifth of CEOs are female) and in politics.


Today, men are saying:


Women! You are too independent! I am terrified that you will no longer tolerate my abuse and my infantilism, you will decline to serve me, you will abandon me, and I will lose you. You are too well-educated. I feel inferior, inadequate, and outcompeted in the workplace. You sleep around with strangers and friends alike. It makes me feel like a statistic, a number, a mere conquest, objectified, not special, insecure, and unsafe. In short: you are too much like the men of yore!


It is actually a rational choice to not form a relationship with promiscuous people. They tend to be way more prone to serial cheating and to breakups or divorces.


Ask any man: women went too far. Too far not in terms of rights or equal pay, but in terms of militancy (zero sum game, men as the enemy); aggressiveness (reactance, defiance, in your face); usurpation of masculine traits, behaviors, norms, and roles; and raunch culture (gratuitous, “empowering” promiscuity).


Now, men are hitting back:


Domestic violence laws were abrogated in Russia; women are again confined to home under a male guardian in Afghanistan; Roe vs. Wade (the right to abortion) is being repealed in the USA; and toxic masculinity is spreading like wildfire, especially in online communities collectively known as the manosphere (MGTOW, incels, redpillers, dating coaches).


Men have one trump card left: intimate relationships, including physical intimacy (sex) where they are largely irreplaceable.


The “stalled revolution” means that when it comes to sexual mores, marriage, relationships, and family, men remain stuck in a Victorian England mindset while women have progressed into a feminist 21st century.


Confronted with this abyss, women face a stark choice:


1. They can give up on men altogether and go it alone while assuming masculine traits and roles; or


2. They can regress and subject themselves to male dominance and objectification in raunch culture and in supposedly "intimate" relationships.


There is no other alternative. Men won’t budge. Men are fighting back. About one third of all men are celibate or lifelong singles.


As things stand now, most men are merely taking advantage of women’s newfangled sex positivity and then walk away from casual sex, unscathed.


Women are paying the price of this male sexual opportunism in terms of heartbreak, bad sex, childlessness, loneliness, and career or financial damage.


Even as they make strides in the real world, when it comes to intimate relationships, women are more abused and disempowered than ever. And men just joyfully roam around, humping dozens of throwaway women in the promiscuous Disneyland of post-modernity.


Jacobsen: Does this antipathy, even outright hatred, signal a threat to the species in some ways? In that, if, traditionally speaking, couples can’t negotiate the modern landscape of inter-relations for the creation of a safe and nurturing environment for the next generations, then the next generations may simply become an afterthought, something dismissed, if not outright discarded from individual life plans.


In most industrial societies, so few couples are having children and they are having so few offspring that they fail to meet the replacement rate (the number of the dead exceeds the number of the newborns). Many modern men and women remain purposefully childless, prioritizing career, self-actualization, and fun way above procreation.

The gender wars are by far the greatest threat to the survival of the species, far greater than climate change.

Jacobsen: Natality rates globally have been declining for decades. Different regions of the world have different pressing concerns in regards to birth rates. In some regions, there are too many mouths to feed with too few resources to commit to them, sufficiently. In other regions, the rates of newborns are well below the proverbial replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. In short, some regions need more children, while others need fewer, for a balanced, sustainable growth pyramid generation after generation.

Vaknin: To sustain the global economic structure, we need to have more children. The population in the developed world is aging fast and safety nets such as pension schemes (social security) and healthcare are already technically insolvent. Immigration is only a partial solution because it strains the social fabric and results in conflicts.

The Black Death – an epidemic of bubonic plague in the 14th century – decimated between one third and one half of Europe’s population, yet it was the best thing to have happened to Mankind in many centuries. The depleted number of survivors shared in the vast fortunes of the deceased, laying the foundation for modern, entrepreneurial capitalism; the added physical spaces and vacancies made available via the devastation of numerous households spurred urban renewal and magisterial architecture on an unprecedented scale; the crumbling authority of the Church and its minions led to reformist religious stirrings and the emergence of the Renaissance in arts and sciences; labourers and women saw their standing in society much improved as the scarcity of workforce rendered them much sought-after commodities.


Seven centuries later, an “inflation of humans” led to an ineluctable devaluation and may have erased at least the latter of these achievements: wage growth. Wages have stagnated in direct correlation with the explosion in global population. The social fabric itself has been rent by the mounting pressure of an annual net growth in population which exceeds the citizenry of Germany: interpersonal relationships, social organizational units, tolerant co-existence, peaceful multiculturalism and diversity have all crumbled worldwide.


So, is the solution to our global and escalating woes another pandemic?


The latest census in Ukraine revealed an apocalyptic drop of 10% in its population - from 52.5 million three decades ago to a mere 45.7 million a decade ago. Demographers predict a precipitous decline of one third in Russia's impoverished, inebriated, disillusioned, and ageing citizenry. Births in many countries in the rich, industrialized West are below the replacement rate. These bastions of conspicuous affluence are shriveling.


Scholars and decision-makers - once terrified by the Malthusian dystopia of a "population bomb" - are more sanguine now. Advances in agricultural technology eradicated hunger even in teeming places like India and China. And then there is the old idea of progress: birth rates tend to decline with higher education levels and growing incomes. Family planning has had resounding successes in places as diverse as Thailand, China, and western Africa.


Some intellectuals even regard the increase in the world’s population as a form of “quantitative diversification”: as technology homogenizes cultures, societies, and civilizations everywhere, the risks associated with such a monoculture grow. Homogeneous populations are less adaptable and, therefore, less fit for survival. The only defense lies in the sheer force of numbers. The greater the number of people, goes this strain of thinking, the more varied the human species, such variety and variation being the sole guarantors and generators of adaptability and, therefore, survival.


In the near past, fecundity used to compensate for infant mortality. As the latter declined - so did the former. Children are means of production in many destitute countries. Hence the inordinately large families of the past - a form of insurance against the economic outcomes of the inevitable demise of some of one's off-spring.


Yet, despite these trends, the world's populace is augmented by 130 million people annually. All of them are born to the younger inhabitants of the more penurious corners of the Earth. There were only 1 billion people alive in 1804. The number doubled a century later.


But our last billions - the sixth and the seventh - required only 19 fertile years. The entire population of Germany is added every half a decade to both India and China. Clearly, Mankind's growth is out of control, as affirmed in the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.


Dozens of millions of people regularly starve - many of them to death. In only one corner of the Earth - southern Africa - food aid is the sole subsistence of entire countries. More than 18 million people in Zambia, Malawi, and Angola survived on charitable donations in 1992. More than 10 million expect the same this year, among them the emaciated denizens of erstwhile food exporter, Zimbabwe.


According to Medecins Sans Frontiere, AIDS kills 3 million people a year, Tuberculosis another 2 million. Malaria decimates 2 people every minute. More than 14 million people fall prey to parasitic and infectious diseases every year - 90% of them in the developing countries.


Millions emigrate every year in search of a better life. These massive shifts are facilitated by modern modes of transportation. But, despite these tectonic relocations - and despite famine, disease, and war, the classic Malthusian regulatory mechanisms - the depletion of natural resources - from arable land to water - is undeniable and gargantuan.


Our pressing environmental issues - global warming, water stress, salinization, desertification, deforestation, pollution, loss of biological diversity - and our ominous social ills - crime at the forefront - are traceable to one, politically incorrect, truth:


There are too many of us. We are way too numerous. The population load is unsustainable. We, the survivors, would be better off if others were to perish. Should population growth continue unabated - we are all doomed.


Doomed to what?


Numerous Cassandras and countless Jeremiads have been falsified by history. With proper governance, scientific research, education, affordable medicines, effective family planning, and economic growth, this planet can support even 10-12 billion people. We are not at risk of physical extinction and never have been.


What is hazarded is not our life - but our quality of life. As any insurance actuary will attest, we are governed by statistical datasets.


Consider this single fact:


About 1% of the population suffer from the perniciously debilitating and all-pervasive mental health disorder, schizophrenia. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 16.5 million schizophrenics - nowadays there are 64 million. Their impact on friends, family, and colleagues is exponential - and incalculable. This is not a merely quantitative leap. It is a qualitative phase transition.


Or this:


Large populations lead to the emergence of high density urban centers. It is inefficient to cultivate ever smaller plots of land. Surplus manpower moves to centers of industrial production. A second wave of internal migrants caters to their needs, thus spawning a service sector. Network effects generate excess capital and a virtuous cycle of investment, employment, and consumption ensues.


But over-crowding breeds violence (as has been demonstrated in behavioral sink experiments with mice). The sheer numbers involved serve to magnify and amplify social anomies, deviate behaviour, and antisocial traits. In the city, there are more criminals, more perverts, more victims, more immigrants, and more racists per square mile.


Moreover, only a planned and orderly urbanization is desirable. The blights that pass for cities in most third world countries are the outgrowth of neither premeditation nor method. These mega-cities are infested with non-disposed of waste and prone to natural catastrophes and epidemics.


No one can vouchsafe for a "critical mass" of humans, a threshold beyond which the species will implode and vanish.

Jacobsen: What are the root dynamics of the gender wars in time, in global cultures, in collective psychologies in the early 21st century?


The gender war is no different to any other conflict between erstwhile masters and their emancipated chattel or property. To this very day, whites are in pitched battles with blacks (their former slaves) and not only in the USA.

Women were domestic slaves. Then they leveraged the enlightenment and the age of revolutions to unshackle themselves in every way: sexually, politically, financially, and psychologically. Their former owners are incensed and are trying to turn back the wheel. Nothing new under the sun.

Jacobsen: What are the possible paths ahead for the genders and the sexes amid this conceptive whirlpool of personal and collective identities? What are the solutions? What are things to do now to rectify the bitterness, contempt, irascibility, and antagonisms for the sustainability of global culture reliant upon new generations of human beings? We all leave the stage, eventually. Even though, the play signifies nothing and is, indeed, written by an idiot.


I see only two possible trajectories:

(a)   We renounce the contentious and adversarial organizing principles of gender and sex and allow for complete fluidity within a unigender; or

(b)   We revert to the 1950s in terms of more or less rigid gender roles and sexual scripts.

The most likely scenario is that some part of the population will opt for the former and others will adopt the latter. Whether these two camps could co-exist peacefully remains to be seen.

There is nothing much we can do but wait. The gender war is a part of a way more massive upheaval in human affairs. For the first time in human history, all social institutions and mores are crumbling simultaneously. Our hermeneutic narratives have been rendered useless.

When the dust settles, we will face a new world, based on the radical, technology-empowered self-sufficiency of the individual. Society and relationships – intimate or otherwise – may well be a thing of the past: redundant, obsolete, and burdensome.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Professor Vaknin.

Vaknin: Thank you again for having me.

3.    Interview about Psychological Growth (News Intervention)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: One fundamental aspect of life is change. All this begins with emotions and motivations. What are the basic emotions and motivations behind human action?

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin:

Emotions are a subspecies of cognitions. Watch this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMqT56189Ag

All emotions are directional (goal-oriented) and induce action. All actions result in change. Therefore, all emotions lead to change and are transformative.

Jacobsen: Why are emotions primary for action?


Non-emotive cognitions are always subject to cognitive distortions and biases, are altered by the action of psychological defense mechanisms, and lead to a departure from reality (impaired reality testing). They are not helpful when it comes to survival. In a way, cognitions are a negative adaptation, from the point of view of evolution.

Emotions are more directly accessible to the mind in a non-intermediated way. They are less prone to mislabelling (in mentally healthy people). They are a more reliable guide and a trustworthy compass. Consequently, emotions are more intimately and immediately linked to action.

Jacobsen: What are the types of changes possible to the human nervous system now, whether introduced experientially, chemically, or otherwise?


The human CNS (Central Nervous System) is largely neuroplastic. It is responsive to repeated identical stimuli and learning. It is closely integrated with all the elements of its dual environments: the internal (for example : the gastrointestonal system) as well as the external. Every single dimension and manifestation of the human experience can be reprogrammed efficaciously using chemical substances, foods, light, sound, words, and other inputs.

Jacobsen: How far could functional reliable manipulation of the structure of the nervous system be taken in this century?


We are on the threshold of being able to create "designer CNS (nervous systems)” which will be responsive to idiosyncratic job descriptions and incorporate adaptations reactive to specific environments.

Simialry, soon we will learn to induce neural growth even in the brain and grow brains in a dish.

Finally, within a few decades, we will be routinely backing up our minds into external storage, the way we are doing with our smartphones today. Applications would be able to tap into these uploaded consciousnesses and data mining them both for commercial and medical purposes.

Jacobsen: There’s a phrase in North America. “You can’t change other people.” Can these changes internally be facilitated by external sources to a reasonable degree, or is the common sense wisdom truly more wisdom than folly?


After age 25, people rarely, if ever, change in fundamental ways. It is folly to try to transform your intimate partner, for example.

But, psychiatry and bioengineering are marching towards artificially engendered changes in personality, character, temperament, and mind. Neural implants, man-machine interfaces (cyborgs), tailored psychedelics and psychotropics, Immersive reality environments like the Metaverse – will all have irreversible impacts on the brains of willing (and unsuspecting) subjects.

Jacobsen: We’ve talked about religion and associated delusions. Some practices within religions induce real, lasting neurological change. If carving out the nonsense, and if keeping the practices, could these practices become part of robust, routine therapeutic techniques/modalities to create changes in patients’/clients’ lives - probably already being done?


Yes, it is already being done. Psychology is a brand of secular religion, of course, not a rigorous science by any stretch of the phrase. It makes use of many mind control and brainwashing techniques long deployed by institutional religions and sects. It leverages delusions and metaphors (ego, anyone ?) the same way the Church does.

Watch this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJqgR0VuUU8

Jacobsen: Even as a militant agnostic, you note the freethought movements more on the defensive now. What happens to the central nervous systems of true believers in religions throughout life - or in religious conversion experiences - to make religion overwhelmingly enchanting, and reason and science non-starters, in general?


Practice makes neural slaves. Religion, cunningly, insists on routines that consume the believers’s lives and rewire their brains. It becomes literally hardwired. It is not a question of enchantment - more a type of verbal surgery. Faith is an alien implant that snatches the systems of body and mind. It is an infestation with adherence to delusions replacing critical thinking.

Jacobsen: What are the most evidenced means by which to create lasting psychological growth and positive neurological change in one’s life for greater mental wellness in practices, in diets, in activities and hobbies, and the like?


The secret is self-love. Not narcissism which is a compensation for self-loathing and an inferiority complex – but profound, all-pervasive self-love.

Self-love is a healthy self-regard and the pursuit of one's happiness and favorable outcomes. It rests on four pillars:


1. Self-awareness: an intimate, detailed and compassionate knowledge of oneself, a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, others's roles, and threats


2. Self-acceptance: the unconditional embrace of one's core identity, personality, character, temperament, relationships, experiences, and life circumstances.


3. Self-trust: the conviction that one has one's best interests in mind, is watching one's back, and has agency and autonomy: one is not controlled by or dependent upon others in a compromising fashion


4. Self-efficacy: the belief, gleaned from and honed by experience, that one is capable of setting rational, realistic, and beneficial goals and possesses the wherewithal to realize outcomes commensurate with one's aims.


Self love is the only reliable compass in life. Experience usually comes too late, when its lessons can no longer be implemented because of old age, lost opportunities, and changed circumstances. It is also pretty useless: no two people or situations are the same. But self-love is a rock: a stable, reliable, immovable, and immutable guide and the truest of loyal friends whose only concern in your welfare and contentment.

Jacobsen: What happens to one’s capabilities to change one’s mind throughout the lifespan?


It diminishes dramatically and falls off a cliff after age 25 when the brain is fully formed. Confirmation bias sets in together with dozens of cognitive distortions (such as the Dunning-Kruger effect and the base rate fallcy). It is hopeless. The adult min dis an echo chamber, fortified behind the firewall of reality-reframing psychological defense mechanisms.

Jacobsen: When is it right or wrong to change one’s mind?


The only rational test is whether a change of mind enhances self-efficacy (is positively adaptive). It is all about survival. If altering your thinking enhances your chances to survive or thrive – you should, regardless of whether you find the transformation palatable or not.

Of course, many would disagree with such blatant utilitarianism. Parents sacrifice their lives for their children, for example. Soldiers and firemen and policemen do the same for the greater public good. On the face of it, these are irrational acts that beg for a seachange of mind.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Professor Vaknin.

Vaknin: As usual, thank you for your thought-provoking questions.


4.    Interview about Structure, Function, Society, and Survival (News Intervention)


Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Embedment seems like a fundamental of reality described in a prior session, by you. Embedment of the intersubjective agreement and in the agreement upon the collective experiences ascertained as external, objective. Structures interact, functions follow. Internal objects and relations, external processes and dynamics, the mind and the universe structured in particular ways and the physics of the mind bound by the physics of the universe, in which it’s embedded. What defines subjective experience, consciousness, the mind, and awareness?

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin:

The source of the confusion that permeates the discourse regarding consciousness is the recursive conflation of introspection (an element of self-awareness) and its subject: the mind. The mind observing the mind. This leads, of course, to a vertiginous infinite regression.

To escape this sempiternal, dizzying tunnel, humans posit an arbitrary “self”: the terminal station, where all phenomena converge and come to a halt. There is nothing beyond the self.

Introspection also objectifies the mind. It is as if the mind were an inert, immutable substrate (which, of course, it is not). This is why most people avoid true introspection: the experience is very much like death, like being pinned and mounted.

The physical world is founded on feedback loops very much like introspection. But presumably only humans are capable of meta-transcendence: being aware of their self-awareness. This leads to a feeling of a solipsistic, self-contained estrangement from the world, a kind of observer only mentality.

In a panicky attempt to reconnect, we institute the arbitrary and possibly counterfactual (non-falsifiable) intersubjective agreement. It is undergirded by two assumptions: (1) All human beings are the same; and (2) The physical world is only a part of human reality. The network of minds is the true Universe in which we operate and minds are somehow not fully physical (Cartesian dualism).

Such delusional defenses lead to the emergence of religion, culture, philosophy, and art. But they are counterfactual and brittle.

The truth is that humans and their minds are physical phenomena, subject to the laws of nature. Our complexity gives rise to emergent phenomena such as consciousness, mind, proprioception, and introspection. But we are still mere organisms. Monism is the only rigorous approach to reality.

Jacobsen: What is the relation of structure to function in the most general definition?


Structure is merely the visible reification of function. It is dictated by it. Functions drive the evolution of structures inexorably. More broadly: environments dictate which functions will survive (will prove adaptive) and which will perish. So, structures are reactive to environmental pressures and data mediated via functions and meanings.

We cannot conceive of any process of production without the dubious aid of the Watchmaker’s Metaphor: an artisan; a plan, or program, or procedure; raw materials, or inputs; and the finished product – all four elements distinct from one another. Yet, in nature, this division of labor is rarely true: in the vast majority of cases the raw materials and the program are one and the same and the artisan is missing altogether.


This discrepancy between our intuition and reality is so bothersome that even talented scientists, such as Rupert Sheldrake, were forced to resort to pseudoscience to reconcile it. His concept of “morphic fields” that dictate both the structure and functions of “morphic units” via a kind of “morphic resonance” and are formed by repetition of acts or thoughts is nothing short of mystic: it is unfalsifiable and, therefore, unscientific.


But dismissing Sheldrake’s fields and Jung’s “collective consciousness” leaves important questions unanswered: Why (not how) do stem cells and embryonic cells differentiate and grow into separate, highly-specific organs during the phases of embryogenesis or, later and in some animals, metamorphosis? How do animal colonies, flocks, and shoals form and function? Why and how do crystals “choose” to develop into specific forms rather than others, equally possible and “permissible” under the laws of physics? What is the organizing principle that guides the formation of neural networks and axon pathfinding (guidance)?


In other words: are Forms (and, by extension: functions) somehow predetermined, “out there”, hylomorphically (as Plato, Aristotle, and, to some extent Leibniz suggested)? Are there potentials or “fields” that attract matter and energy and mold them into objects and processes (including mental processes)? And, if so, what decides in favour of certain forms (or “ideals” or “ideas”) and not others? Discarding the religious response (“divine intervention”) and the mystic solutions (such as the “Akashic records”), we find to our consternation that we are left with no answer at all.


To say, as science does, that the Laws of Nature yield “self-organization”, or “self-assembly” is an embarrassing tautology (not to say teleology). To attribute pattern formation to regulatory or inhibitory molecular or chemical cues in the environment, to signalling, cell fates, or, in scientists’ favourite phrase, to a “developmental induction cascade” is to confuse the “how” with the “why” and the “how come”. Stating the obvious as did Adrian Bejan with his Constructal “Law” (which postulates that finite-size systems evolve to provide easier access to imposed currents that flow through them) does nothing to further our fundamental insight of the world.


Spontaneous order via stigmergy and sematectony, emergence (emergentism), connectionism, epiphenomenalism and, more generally, synergetics are even more circular and “magical” propositions: descriptive and phenomenological, they may well amount to mere language constructs. These approaches definitely add nothing to our understanding of the presumably causative chains underlying the sudden appearance of novel, coherent (or correlated), macro, dynamical, supervenient (the system supervenes its components), and ostensive patterns, behaviors, and properties.


We are supposed to believe that, somehow, the system – an abstract notion, wholly in the mind of its human promulgators - interacts with its environment and that context thus dictates the behavior at the micro level. Such models require a leap of faith and a suspension of scientific judgement. In defending them, Peter Corning was reduced to introducing a deus-ex-machina (the consciousness of chess players) through the back door to fully explicate emergence, for instance.


Clearly, to merely re-label and name the mystery does not make it go away. Nor can such fancy verbalizing disguise our fundamental ignorance regarding emergent order in phenomena as varied as bacteria cultures; swarm intelligence; the distribution of vegetation; foams, crystals, and flakes; and chemical and Turing patterns (e.g., the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction).


Instances of this propensity of modern thinkers to obscure rather than elucidate abound: Evolutionary Development’s resurrected concept of morphogenetic fields (or units), or the incorporation of lattices in partial differential equations that describe dynamical evolving systems (e.g. in the Swift-Hohenberg equation) are only marginally more rigorous than Sheldrake’s concept of morphic fields in that they fail to convincingly account for, respectively, why cells develop into specific organs even when they are mishandled and transplanted and why hysteresis arises in convection experiments.


What is it that tells cells to develop into a specific part of the organism and, equally important, to not develop into another? What is the source of their deterministic lack of “hesitation” and their directional “decisiveness”? And where does the path dependence spring from in certain physical systems?


Back to our initial question:


Is there anything external or extraneous involved in these mind-boggling processes of morphogenesis and differentiation (except the signalling biochemicals which constitute an integral part of the system?) Genes (DNA), morphogens, adhesion molecules, transcription proteins, the extracellular matrix, and hormones cannot by any stretch of the word be perceived as outside the largely autopoietic systems they control. Environmental chemicals and mechanical stresses are external, but it is difficult to understand why they trigger specific morphogenetic configurations and not others and, even so, they account for a minority of mutations and occurrences.


But isn’t this whole self-contained unfolding reminiscent of a computer? After all: computers do run programs which are resident (internal). But here the parallels break: programs are written by programmers; chips are designed, manufactured, and assembled by armies of humans and machines; and input is provided yet again either by users or by other computing platforms. All these are external and independent agents.


To further complicate matters, “morphic units” (for want of a better term) such as cells or crystals comport themselves variably in identical circumstances. Consider axons for instance: their growth cones (which sense and react to gradients of biochemicals in the extracellular environment) respond differently in different times to the same cues, depending on previous exposure and habituation, timing, and physiological context. So, if there is a guiding principle, a matrix, field, template, lattice or structure “out there”, it must be changing constantly to allow for these idiosyncratic reactions.


Why do we discern forms, patterns, and order everywhere? Because this ability to reorganize our perceptions of reality into predictable moulds and sequences bestows on us untold evolutionary advantages and has an immense survival value. Consequently, we compulsively read configurations and patterns even onto completely random sets of data. The way we perceive holes and other immaterial disruptions as structured entities attests to our “addiction to order and regularity” even where there is only nothing and nothingness.


Why do we all seem to spot essentially the same forms, patterns, and evolving order? Simply because we are possessed of largely identical hardware and software: wetware, our brains. We function well on the basis of these shared perceptions. Even so, the limitations of intersubjectivity mean that we can never prove that we experience the world in the same way: observers may perceive the colour red or the sensation of pain identically or differently. We simply don’t know.


Moreover: beings equipped with other types of processing units, or even different eyes (with a much faster or slower blink rate, or an extended exposure to light), or creatures which use other segments of the electromagnetic spectrum for information gathering are bound to descry the world entirely differently with none of the forms, patterns, and order that we impose on it.


Yet, surely we can construct dictionaries to translate the observations of such alien beings and creatures and to reduce their perceptions, mathematics and physics, geometry, and biology into our own? Maybe so. There is no way to prove that all experiences are reducible and translatable to one another and that all perceptions and concepts can be mapped regardless of the qualities and parameters of the sensory organs that give rise to them in the first place.


Even if they were, the way we experience the Universe would still be vastly different to the subjective, inner landscape of beings or creatures with an unfathomably disparate sensorium, brain, and conceptual space: different to the point of being incommunicable. Even within our species, certain people – the mystics – resort to hermetic and hermeneutically-inaccessible private languages to describe their experiences. With such barriers afoot, we will never be able to ascertain that any translation, reduction, or mapping that we engage in is valid: the subjective dimensions or components of any complete knowledge of the world are as important as the objective ones. Absent operational intersubjectivity, we can never be sure that our knowledge of reality is the same as someone else’s, let alone an extraterrestrial.


Churchfield commented astutely in 1994:


"Defining structure and detecting the emergence of complexity in nature are inherently subjective, though essential, scientific activities. Despite the difficulties, these problems can be analysed in terms of how model-building observers infer from measurements the computational capabilities embedded in non-linear processes. An observer’s notion of what is ordered, what is random, and what is complex in its environment depends directly on its computational resources: the amount of raw measurement data, of memory, and of time available for estimation and inference. The discovery of structure in an environment depends more critically and subtly, though, on how those resources are organized. The descriptive power of the observer’s chosen (or implicit) computational model class, for example, can be an overwhelming determinant in finding regularity in data."


Still, regardless of what or how we perceive - is there some thing out there? Are we hallucinating when we refer to external entities, bodies, objects, events, and processes?


It is parsimonious to assume that there is an objective reality, independent of any and all observers. But, to account for all its manifestations and for our perceptions of it, such reality must be multifarious. We seem to select the forms and patterns that we see by collapsing a kind of superpositioned uber-wave function of all potential forms and patterns. Indeed, we choose the Universe, we do not observe it.


We do not create it, though (as the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and some solipsistic epistemologies would have us believe): all the potential forms and patterns (one is almost tempted to say entelechies or monads had it not been for their teleological connotations) do really, independently, objectively and deterministically co-exist both spatially and temporally. The solutions to the wave function with the highest probabilities are the ones we encounter (select) most often. The less probable outcomes we call “mutations” (in biology) or “freak occurrences” (in statistics) or “exceptions” (to rules.)


It stands to reason that bifurcation (catastrophe), singularity, and chaos theories should be able to provide a precise account of the way that we dynamically affect our choices. Indeed, the entire Universe may be conceived as being in states of quenched, or (truer to reality) annealed order with the observers as its random variables. Alternatively, the Universe and the Observer can be viewed as states with differing topological orders and the collapse of the wave function as a phase transition from one to the other. It can be shown that this kind of description naturally gives rise to a Multiverse characterized by topological entropy.


Thus, we are back to where we started: there is no need for “morphic fields” or “morphic resonance” out there because forms and patterns are all “in our head”, mere conventions, akin to Time. All forms and patterns co-exist as potentials and the observer determines which ones are best suited to his needs and predilections, biases and sensory equipment, processor and language (or meta-language).


The observer imposes his choices and selections by ignoring certain potentials (options) and by using the selected forms and patterns as organizing and exegetic principles. The history of science is full of paradigm shifts: collective transitions from one set of forms and patterns to another, adopted as the new preferred frame of reference. Not idealism, therefore (“reality is heavily dependent on our mental activity, perhaps to the point of not having an independent, absolute existence”), but some kind of a theory of filtering: the world is out there and we slice and dice and order it to fit our limitations.


We often see faces where there are none ( pareidolia ), discern spurious patterns and rules, hear hidden messages in vinyl records played backwards (backmasking), and, since time immemorial encounter shadow persons, spirits, fairies, demons, and ghosts.

Why do we discern forms, patterns, and order everywhere? Because this ability to reorganize our perceptions of reality into predictable moulds and sequences bestows on us untold evolutionary advantages and has an immense survival value. Consequently, we compulsively read configurations and patterns even onto completely random sets of data. The way we perceive holes and other immaterial disruptions as structured entities attests to our “addiction to order and regularity” even where there is only nothing and nothingness.

Why do we all seem to spot essentially the same forms, patterns, and evolving order? Simply because we are possessed of largely identical hardware and software: wetware, our brains. We function well on the basis of these shared perceptions. Even so, the limitations of intersubjectivity mean that we can never prove that we experience the world in the same way: observers may perceive the colour red or the sensation of pain identically or differently. We simply don’t know.

Moreover: beings equipped with other types of processing units, or even different eyes (with a much faster or slower blink rate, or an extended exposure to light), or creatures which use other segments of the electromagnetic spectrum for information gathering are bound to descry the world entirely differently with none of the forms, patterns, and order that we impose on it.

The mind

Complexity arises spontaneously in nature through processes such as critical self-organization. Emergent phenomena are common as are emergent traits, not reducible to basic components, interactions, or properties.

Complexity does not, therefore, imply the existence of a designer or a design. Complexity does not imply the existence of intelligence and sentient beings. On the contrary, complexity usually points towards a natural source and a random origin. Complexity and artificiality are often incompatible.


Artificial designs and objects are found only in unexpected ("unnatural") contexts and environments. Natural objects are totally predictable and expected. Artificial creations are efficient and, therefore, simple and parsimonious. Natural objects and processes are not.


As Seth Shostak notes in his excellent essay, titled "SETI and Intelligent Design", evolution experiments with numerous dead ends before it yields a single adapted biological entity. DNA is far from optimized: it contains inordinate amounts of junk. Our bodies come replete with dysfunctional appendages and redundant organs. Lightning bolts emit energy all over the electromagnetic spectrum. Pulsars and interstellar gas clouds spew radiation over the entire radio spectrum. The energy of the Sun is ubiquitous over the entire optical and thermal range. No intelligent engineer - human or not - would be so wasteful.


Confusing artificiality with complexity is not the only terminological conundrum.


Complexity and simplicity are often, and intuitively, regarded as two extremes of the same continuum, or spectrum. Yet, this may be a simplistic view, indeed.


Simple procedures (codes, programs), in nature as well as in computing, often yield the most complex results. Where does the complexity reside, if not in the simple program that created it? A minimal number of primitive interactions occur in a primordial soup and, presto, life. Was life somehow embedded in the primordial soup all along? Or in the interactions? Or in the combination of substrate and interactions?


Complex processes yield simple products (think about products of thinking such as a newspaper article, or a poem, or manufactured goods such as a sewing thread). What happened to the complexity? Was it somehow reduced, "absorbed, digested, or assimilated"? Is it a general rule that, given sufficient time and resources, the simple can become complex and the complex reduced to the simple? Is it only a matter of computation?


We can resolve these apparent contradictions by closely examining the categories we use.


Perhaps simplicity and complexity are categorical illusions, the outcomes of limitations inherent in our system of symbols (in our language).


We label something "complex" when we use a great number of symbols to describe it. But, surely, the choices we make (regarding the number of symbols we use) teach us nothing about complexity, a real phenomenon!


A straight line can be described with three symbols (A, B, and the distance between them) - or with three billion symbols (a subset of the discrete points which make up the line and their inter-relatedness, their function). But whatever the number of symbols we choose to employ, however complex our level of description, it has nothing to do with the straight line or with its "real world" traits. The straight line is not rendered more (or less) complex or orderly by our choice of level of (meta) description and language elements.


The simple (and ordered) can be regarded as the tip of the complexity iceberg, or as part of a complex, interconnected whole, or hologramically, as encompassing the complex (the same way all particles are contained in all other particles). Still, these models merely reflect choices of descriptive language, with no bearing on reality.


Perhaps complexity and simplicity are not related at all, either quantitatively, or qualitatively. Perhaps complexity is not simply more simplicity. Perhaps there is no organizational principle tying them to one another. Complexity is often an emergent phenomenon, not reducible to simplicity.


The third possibility is that somehow, perhaps through human intervention, complexity yields simplicity and simplicity yields complexity (via pattern identification, the application of rules, classification, and other human pursuits). This dependence on human input would explain the convergence of the behaviors of all complex systems on to a tiny sliver of the state (or phase) space (sort of a mega attractor basin). According to this view, Man is the creator of simplicity and complexity alike but they do have a real and independent existence thereafter (the Copenhagen interpretation of a Quantum Mechanics).


Still, these twin notions of simplicity and complexity give rise to numerous theoretical and philosophical complications.


Consider life.


In human (artificial and intelligent) technology, every thing and every action has a function within a "scheme of things". Goals are set, plans made, designs help to implement the plans.


Not so with life. Living things seem to be prone to disorientated thoughts, or the absorption and processing of absolutely irrelevant and inconsequential data. Moreover, these laboriously accumulated databases vanish instantaneously with death. The organism is akin to a computer which processes data using elaborate software and then turns itself off after 15-80 years, erasing all its work.


Most of us believe that what appears to be meaningless and functionless supports the meaningful and functional and leads to them. The complex and the meaningless (or at least the incomprehensible) always seem to resolve to the simple and the meaningful. Thus, if the complex is meaningless and disordered then order must somehow be connected to meaning and to simplicity (through the principles of organization and interaction).


Moreover, complex systems are inseparable from their environment whose feedback induces their self-organization. Our discrete, observer-observed, approach to the Universe is, thus, deeply inadequate when applied to complex systems. These systems cannot be defined, described, or understood in isolation from their environment. They are one with their surroundings.


Many complex systems display emergent properties. These cannot be predicted even with perfect knowledge about said systems. We can say that the complex systems are creative and intuitive, even when not sentient, or intelligent. Must intuition and creativity be predicated on intelligence, consciousness, or sentience?


Thus, ultimately, complexity touches upon very essential questions of who we, what are we for, how we create, and how we evolve. It is not a simple matter, that...


Jacobsen: How do internal objects and relations of the mind integrate with subjective experience, consciousness, and awareness?


Our subjective experience consists of the interplay between internal objects. Some of the information regarding these interactions makes it into our consciousness or awareness. The rest remains occult.

The experience is not entirely smooth. We are all capable to discerning different “voices” inside our mind (introjects). These dynamics often engender dissonance, even dysfunction.

“Objective” reality intrudes on this inner theatre and modifies its content. But even so, it is distinct from it. We appropriate the world “out there” and immediately convert it into representations and models in our mind in order to be able to manipulate it self-efficaciously.

This ability, to generate an ever-shifting simulation of the world in our minds, has enormous adaptive value. It is far easier to manipulate a symbol space than bulky, unwieldy objects. And the results always conform to reality almost entirely.

Jacobsen: How do the processes and dynamics of the universe operate?


We know a lot about the language we use to describe the workings of the Universe: mathematics (and its implementations in physics and other disciplines). But we are barred from knowing the world itself fully and directly.

Everything is mediated – and therefore interpreted and transformed - via our senses and brain. Additionally, as both Godel and Heisenberg have famously observed, there are limitations in principle to what we can “know” about reality.

But why is mathematics so successful?

In earlier epochs, people used myths and religious narratives to encode all knowledge, even of a scientific and technological character. Words and sentences are still widely deployed in many branches of the Humanities, the encroachment of mathematical modeling and statistics notwithstanding. Yet, mathematics reigns supreme and unchallenged in the natural sciences. Why is that? What has catapulted mathematics (as distinct from traditional logic) to this august position within three centuries?


Mathematics is a language like no other. Still, it suffers from the drawbacks that afflict other languages. The structure of our language, its inter-relatedness with the world, and its inherent limitations dictate our worldview and determine how we understand, describe and explain Nature and our place in it. Granted, languages are living things and develop constantly (consider slang, or the emergence of infinite numbers theories in mathematics). But, they evolve within a formal grammar and syntax, a logic, a straitjacket that inhibits thinking "outside the box" and renders impossible the faithful perception of "objective" reality.


So, what made mathematics so different and so triumphant?


1. It is a universal, portable, immediately accessible language that requires no translation. Idealists would say that it is intersubjectively shared. This may be because, as Kant and others have suggested, mathematics somehow relates to or is derived from a-priori structures embedded in the human mind.


2. It provides high information density, akin to stenography. Just a few symbols arranged in formulas and equations account for a wealth of experiences and encapsulate numerous observations. Mathematical concepts and symbols do not correspond to material objects or cause them, nor do they alter reality or affect it in any way, shape, or form. One cannot map a mathematical structure or construct or number or concept into the observed universe. This is because mathematics is not confined to describing what is, or what is necessarily so - it also limns what is possible, or provable.


3. Mathematics deals with patterns and laws. It can, therefore, yield predictions. Mathematics deals with forms and structures: some of these are in the material world, others merely in the mind of the mathematician.


4. Mathematics is a flexible, "open-source", responsive, and expandable language. Consider, for instance, how the introduction of the concept of the infinite and of infinite numbers was accommodated with relative ease despite the controversy and the threat this posed to the very foundations of traditional mathematics - or how mathematics ably progressed to deal with fuzziness and uncertainty.


5. Despite its aforementioned transigence, mathematics is invariant. A mathematical advance, regardless of how arcane or revolutionary, is instantly recognizable as such and can be flawlessly incorporated in the extant body of knowledge. Thus, the fluidity of mathematics does not come at the expense of its coherence and nature.


6. There is a widespread intuition or perception that mathematics is certain because it deals with a-priori knowledge and necessary truths (either objective and "out there", or mental, in the mind) and because it is aesthetic (like the mind of the Creator, the religious would add).


7. Finally, mathematics is useful: it works. It underlies modern science and technology unerringly and unfailingly. In time, all branches of mathematics, however obscure, prove to possess practical applications.


The octagonal Tower of the Winds in ancient Athens boasted eight sundials on its eight faces. From any given angle, only three of them were visible. Thus, the amount of information gleaned and its subsequent interpretation were determined by the physical limitations of the observer.


Imagine a being with the ability to “see” an infinite number of frames per second. Such a creature would lack the very concepts of motion and sequence. It would perceive both snapshots and video identically. The technology of motion pictures is adapted to our ocular restrictions.


But, would all observers, regardless of corporeal constraints, essentially come up with the same physics once subjected to mathematical transformations?


Imagine a being with an infinite mind (god-like.) Such an entity would never come up with the basic tenets of our perception of reality: time, space, motion, change, force, and identity. Lower down the hierarchy, a being able to perceive the entirety of creation bar one object would be forced to come up with the idea of time to account for his world: it is bound to relate to that one excluded object as new, set apart from the already-known rest of the universe. A being able to perceive only 90% of reality would likely introduce also space as an organizing principle. Finally, much more limited intelligences, such as ours, are bound to come up with a multiplicity of forces to describe their environment.


In my work in physics, I suggest that time and space as well as what we call “forces” (electromagnetic, weak, strong, and gravity) are really all emergent facets of the same underlying essence. While they can be formally described as mediated via particles (quantized) and interacting with each other, they do not exist in any objective sense of the word. They are completely interchangeable and convertible because, deep down, they are one and the same.


These conventions (spacetime and the forces) are mere witnesses to the structural and functional handicaps of our language, our sensory input, and our processing unit, the brain. After all, the Tower of Winds has facets because we can’t perceive it all at once: its facets are mere conveniences, an accommodation of our finiteness, a way of organizing our sense. They are not objective, observer-independent entities.


Jacobsen: How are the physics of the mind – the physical interactions and information exchange through time of the Central Nervous System (C.N.S.) – limited by the processes and dynamics of the universe?


The mind is a part and a manifestation of the Universe. It is subject to all its laws.

The tendency to posit Man as distinct from the world, a mere observer has its roots in religion.

The concept of "nature" is a romantic invention. It was spun by the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century as a confabulated utopian contrast to the dystopia of urbanization and Darwinian, ruthless materialism. The traces of this dewy-eyed conception of the "savage", his alleged harmony and resonance with nature, and his unmolested, unadulterated surroundings can be found in the more malignant forms of fundamentalist environmentalism and in pop-culture (the most recent example of which is the propaganda-laden cinematic extravaganza, “Avatar”).


At the other extreme are religious literalists who regard Man as the crown of creation with complete dominion over nature and the right to exploit its resources unreservedly. Similar, veiled, sentiments can be found among scientists. The Anthropic Principle, for instance, promoted by many outstanding physicists, claims that the nature of the Universe is preordained to accommodate sentient beings - namely, us humans.


Industrialists, politicians and economists have only recently begun paying lip service to sustainable development and to the environmental costs of their policies. Thus, in a way, they bridge the abyss - at least verbally - between these two diametrically opposed forms of fundamentalism. Similarly, the denizens of the West continue to indulge in rampant consumption, but now it is suffused with environmental guilt rather than driven by unadulterated hedonism.


Still, essential dissimilarities between the schools notwithstanding, the dualism of Man vs. Nature is universally acknowledged.


Modern physics - notably the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics - has abandoned the classic split between (typically human) observer and (usually inanimate) observed. Environmentalists, in contrast, have embraced this discarded worldview wholeheartedly. To them, Man is the active agent operating upon a distinct reactive or passive substrate - i.e., Nature. But, though intuitively compelling, it is a false dichotomy.


Man is, by definition, a part of Nature. His tools are natural and so are his constructions, the built environment. Man interacts with the other elements of Nature and modifies it - but so do all other species. Arguably, bacteria and insects exert on Nature far more influence with farther reaching consequences than Man has ever done. Even an environmentalist like Bill McKibben of “End of Nature” fame, recognize this synergetic confluence. “To Think Like a Mountain” (Aldo Leopold) gradually came to be challenged by “To Think Like a Mall” (Steven Vogel). We should consider the entirety of our surroundings argues Vogel and seek to optimize our environment regardless of its origin: manmade or “natural”.


The mind is a physical phenomenon. Period. There are only physical phenomena in existence.


Jacobsen: Human collectives - e.g., tribes, city centres, nation-states, and such - are composed of these same minds, in interaction, limited by the processes and dynamics of the universe. (Some newer modulations based on developments in digital information processing, e.g., the Internet.) The aforementioned intersubjective agreement becomes an emergent property from human collective arrangements. The human mind reflects a psychological structure with associated functions. The intersubjective agreement, in turn, reflects structures inter-related with emergent functions in collective psychology, and the prior associated functions in individual psychology. This may imply an embedment, where these minds in human collectives represent phenomena statistically interpretable as a singular entity. Not a literal entity, an abstraction for ease of comprehension. If so, these singular entities (phenomena statistically interpretable as such) may be contextualized in a manner similar to the physics of the mind. Even in the reverse direction, the neuronal networks, and associated support cells and structures, neurons, and so on, of the nervous system – and their outputs – become interpreted, contextualized, as a person with a mind. Back to the point, given the variation of human minds and the variants of human collectives, is it reasonable to make the connection of the limitations of human collectives as reflective of the limits in human psychology bound by the universe? A means by which to demarcate boundaries and draw a thread from individual narrative to mass psychology in scientific terms and referents, as seems, among educated people, accepted from parts of the nervous system in interaction to individual narrative. Even though, as you have noted elsewhere, notions of individuality, personality, and the like, are “misleading and counterfactual.”


The newly discovered phenomenon of entraining has taught us that minds literally meld, fuse, merge, and become one in response to regular or rhythmic stimuli (music). Speech may carry the same function in human collectives: to synchronize minds and foster a “hive” consciousness.

Human collectives display all the hallmarks and attributes of individual psychology, but some of these features are taken to the extreme, amplified as it were. For example: in a mob, individuals are far less inhibited and considerably more aggressive and paranoid.

Still, the limitations that apply in individual psychology are equally applicable to mass psychology. Crowds are nothing but individuals writ large.

In collectives, the executive functions of the individual’s mind as well as the regulatory functions and ego boundary functions are relegated to the group. But this transfer does not alter them substantially.

Finally, individual pathologies clearly appear in masses of people. Collectives can be narcissistic or psychopathic, schizoid, paranoid, bipolar, or even borderline.

Jacobsen: How can a scientific approach to the arrangement of human collectives improve human flourishing, individually and collectively, with a fine understanding of human flaws?


Human collectives are, first and foremost human. All our attempts at social engineering failed miserably and many of them resulted in incalculable catastrophes. I am adamantly set against such endeavours. I even consider psychology to be a grandiose pseudo-science.

Jacobsen: What are valid and reliable indices of healthy human collectives akin to individual self-love (not narcissism)?


The secret of healthy, durable collectives is self-love. Not narcissism which is a compensation for self-loathing and an inferiority complex – but profound, all-pervasive self-love.

Self-love is a healthy self-regard and the pursuit of one's happiness and favorable outcomes. It rests on four pillars:


1. Self-awareness: an intimate, detailed and compassionate knowledge of oneself, a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, others's roles, and threats


2. Self-acceptance: the unconditional embrace of one's core identity, personality, character, temperament, relationships, experiences, and life circumstances.


3. Self-trust: the conviction that one has one's best interests in mind, is watching one's back, and has agency and autonomy: one is not controlled by or dependent upon others in a compromising fashion


4. Self-efficacy: the belief, gleaned from and honed by experience, that one is capable of setting rational, realistic, and beneficial goals and possesses the wherewithal to realize outcomes commensurate with one's aims.


Self love is the only reliable compass in life. Experience usually comes too late, when its lessons can no longer be implemented because of old age, lost opportunities, and changed circumstances. It is also pretty useless: no two people or situations are the same. But self-love is a rock: a stable, reliable, immovable, and immutable guide and the truest of loyal friends whose only concern in your welfare and contentment.


Jacobsen: Even if ignoring old ideas of flourishing, eudaimonia, and keeping to persistence, what needs to be considered for the survival of the species, human collectives, and of the individual? What are the main threats to human collectives’ survival now?


Volitional Dissonance is when we act in ways which we perceive to be akratic, immoral, or antisocial, rather than phronetic. When we perceive our actions to have been the outcomes of akrasia (weak willed misbehavior contrary to our best judgment) and not of phronesis (good judgment, excellence of character, habits conducive to eudaimonia - a good life - and practical virtue).

So, we need to develop perseverance, determination, critical thinking, cooperation, and quest for excellence (but not superiority via relative positioning).

Regrettably, we are going in the opposite direction with blind alacrity. We are risk-averse to the point of effete timidity; we have microscopic attention spans; we are more gullible than ever (hence the pandemics of conspiracy theories and misinformation); we are atomized and self-sufficient; and we settle for alcohol-imbued entertainment-suffused mediocrity. This doesn’t bode well to the survival of the species.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Prof. Vaknin.

Vaknin: Thank you for showcasing some of my work.


5.    Interview about Chronon Field Theory of Time and Time Asymmetry (News Intervention)


Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You earned a Ph.D. based on a dissertation entitled “Time Asymmetry Revisited” from California Miramar University (previously “Pacific Western University”). “Revisited” is a recurring term, whether on the physics of time or the psychology of narcissism. So, let's revisit the early 1980s, what was the inspiration or practical purpose of a doctorate in physics from 1982-83?

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin:

In the 1970s, the second law of thermodynamics has emerged as a major explanation for the Time arrow: entropy inexorably increases and its unidirectional growth determines Time’s exclusive trajectory, from past to future.

This tautology (after all: entropy increases in time!) dominated physics. It provided no insight into the nature of Time or reality (correlation is not causation or any other necessary linkage).

In 1982-3, I met Richard Feynman, the Nobel prize winning genius, in Geneva a few times for long evening reveries in a lakeside shed owned by a common friend (the late Dudley Wright).

One evening, Richard, tired of my diatribes, said: “You are insisting that Time is a nonreducible elementary theoretical entity. If it is so, surely you could derive all of physics from this one single underlying process or thing?”

And this is what I set out to do in my dissertation.

Recently, Eytan Suchard et al. took my work and ran with it and were able to derive every single theory and equation in all fields of physics from my original, way more primitive, thesis.

Jacobsen: Why study time in particular?


Time is the only bridge between physical reality and the human mind. Many scholars – Einstein included - went as far as suggesting that Time is nothing but a mental artefact, a reflection of our inability, as finite creatures, to perceive reality in its totality. Others, starting with Newton, regarded time as ontic.

In my work, Time is the field of all potentials. Only the mind (a sentient intelligence) can witness the becoming of these potentials. This harks back to the observer in some interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.

Jacobsen: What were other research possibilities, in physics, of interest at the time?


I did a lot of work in thermodynamics and quantum physics. But I became disenchanted with the latter as it began to resemble metaphysics.

Jacobsen: Why is time symmetric at one scale of existence and asymmetric at another one?


A directional time does not feature in Newtonian mechanics, in electromagnetic theory, in quantum mechanics, in the equations which describe the world of elementary particles (with the exception of the kaon decay), and in some border astrophysical conditions, where there is time symmetry.

Yet, we perceive the world of the macro as time asymmetric and our cosmology and thermodynamics explicitly incorporate a time arrow, albeit one which is superimposed on the equations and not derived from them. The introduction of stochastic processes has somewhat mitigated this conundrum.

Time is, therefore, an epiphenomenon: it does not characterize the parts – though it emerges as a main property of the whole, as an extensive parameter of macro systems.

Jacobsen: What is the point at which time divides between asymmetric and symmetric, even if artificial and not truly real?


No one knows. The emergence of time in macrosystems is one of the greatest mysteries of science.

Jacobsen: What are chronons?

In my doctoral dissertation (Ph.D. Thesis available from the Library of Congress), I postulates the existence of a particle (chronon). Time is the result of the interaction of chronons, very much as other forces in nature are "transferred" in such interactions.


The Chronon is a time "atom" (actually, an elementary particle, a time "quark"). We can postulate the existence of various time quarks (up, down, colors, etc.) whose properties cancel each other (in pairs, etc.) and thus derive the time arrow (time asymmetry).


My postulated particle (chronon) is not only an ideal clock, but also mediates time itself (same like the relationship between the Higgs boson and mass.) In other words: I propose that what we call "time" is the interaction between chronons in a field. The field is time itself.

Chronons exchange a particle and thereby exert a force which we call time. Introducing time as a fifth force gives rise to a quasi-deterministic rendition of quantum theories and links inextricably time to other particle properties, such as mass.


"Events" are perturbations in the Time Field and they are distinct from chronon interactions. Chronon interactions (i.e. particle exchange) in the Time Field generate "time" (small t) and "time asymmetry" as we observe them.


My work is, therefore, a Field Theory of Time. The Universe is observing itself. It is the only privileged observer and frame of reference, which restores intuitive (Einsteinian) determinism to physics.


The idea of atomistic, discrete time has a long pedigree in physics (Descartes, Gassendi, Torricelli, among others). More recently, Boltzmann, Mach, and even Poincare all toyed with the concept. There was a brief flowering of various speculative and not very rigorous, almost metaphysical or numerological models immediately after the introduction of quantum mechanics in the 1920s and 1930s (Palacios, Thomson indirectly, Levi who coined the neologism “chronon”, PokrowskiGottfried Beck, Schames, Proca with his “granular” time, Ruark, Flint and Richardson, Glaser and Sitte).


Oddly, luminaries such as Pauli, de Broglie, and especially Schroedinger were drawn into the fray, together with lesser lights like Wataghin, Iwanenko, Ambarzumian, Silberstein, Landau, and Peierls. By now, everyone was talking about minimal durations (somehow derived from or correlated to the mass or some other property of each type of elementary particle), not about time “atoms” or a lattice. This subtle conceptual transition between mutually-contradictory notions caused an almighty and enduring confusion. Is time itself somehow discrete/quantized/atomized – or are our measurements discontinuous?


Ever since the early 1960s and especially during the 1990s, there have been several attempts to build on the work of the likes of H. S. Snyder (Physical Review 71, (1) 1947, 38) to suggest a quantized spacetime or a Quantum Field Theory, Tsung Dao Lee’s work being the most notable attempt. More recent work with relativistic stochastic models led inexorably to discrete time.


P. Caldirola postulated the existence of a chronon (1955, 1980): “An elementary interval of time characterizing the variation of the particle’s state under the action of external forces”. He calculated chronons for several types of particles, most notably the electron, both classical and in (nonrelativistic) quantum mechanics.


In 1982-3, I proposed that chronons may be actual particles – more about my work HERE. A decade later, in 1992, Kenneth J. Hsu suggested the very same thing (though without reference to my work). He postulated sequencing cues delivered to particles by captured chronons. Like me, he hypothesized the existence of various types of chronons (“large” and small). Chronons, wrote Hsu are also involved in the catalysis of events. Finally, like me, Hsu also posited a field theory for the flow of chronons. In 1994, C. Wolf again suggested the existence of time atoms (Nuov. Cim. B 109 (3) 1994 213).


In 1993, Arthur Charlesby suggested that particles have an intrinsic discrete time property and that time (interval in the presence of relative motion) has a “quantized nature”. This dispenses with the need for a wave concept as a mere mathematical expedient in the case of individual events (though still useful in contemplating continuous relative motion). This notion of “proprietary” or “individual” system-specific time as distinct from a “systemic”, overall Time was further explored by Alexander R. Karimov in 2008.


In the same year (1993), Sidney Golden published a paper in which he claimed that “quantum time-lapses are ... an essential feature of the changes undergone by the energy-eigenfunction-evaluated matrix elements of statistical operators that evolve in accordance with an intrinsic temporal discreteness characteristic of strictly irreversible behavior.”


A year later, in 1994, A. P. Balachandran and L. Chandar studied the quantized of time in discretized gravity models with multiple-valued Hamiltonians. Ruy H. A. Farias and Erasmo Recami (2010) applied a quantum of time to obtain startlingly impressive consequences regarding the treatment of electrons (and, more generally, leptons), the free particle, the harmonic oscillator, and the hydrogen atom in both classical and quantum physics, in effect proffering a discretized and surprisingly powerful and useful quantum mechanics. Strangely, their work had very little resonance.


Quantized time has been used to suggest solutions to a panoply of riddles in physics, including the K-meson decay, the Klein-Gordon equation, and the application of Kerr-Newman black holes to electron theory, q-deformations and stochastic subordination (“quantum subordination”), among others (R. Hakim, Journal of Mathematical Physics 9 1968, 1805; B. G. Sidharth, 2000, Alexander R. Karimov,2008; Claudio Albanese and Stephan Lawi).



Jacobsen: With the interactions between the chronons in a field creating perturbations for the creation of the idea of the Time Field, the argument implies the 4-dimensionality of space as space-time comes from the perturbations in the Time Field based on the interactions of the chronons in the field exerting a force. So, in a sense, chronons’ interactions in the Time Field produce the temporal dimension, where without the chronons’ interactions in the Time Field; time would not pass because time would not exist in the first place. What is the apparent time asymmetry in this context?


Timespace can be regarded as a wave function with observer-mediated collapse. All the chronons are entangled at the exact "moment" of the Big Bang. This yields a relativistic QFT with chronons as its Field Quanta (excited states.) The integration is achieved via the quantum superpositions.


Another way to look at it is that the metric expansion of time is implied if time is a fourth dimension of space. Time may even be described as a PHONON of the metric itself.


A more productive approach may involve Perturbative QFT. Time from the Big Bang is mediated by chronons and this leads to expansion (including in the number of chronons.) In this case, there are no bound states.


Chronons as excitation states (stochastic perturbations, vibrations) tie in nicely with superstring theories, but without the baggage of extra dimensions and without the metaphysical nonsense of "music of the spheres”. Perturbations also yield General Relativity: cumulative, "emerging" perturbations amount to a distortion (curvature) of time-space. Both superstring theories and GRT are, therefore, private cases of a Chronon Field Theory.


Jacobsen: Have there been other advancements on these ideas since 1983?


Eytan H. Suchard’s Work


Interacting particles with non-gravitational fields can be seen as clocks whose trajectory is not Minkowsky geodesic.


A field in which a small enough clock is not geodesic can be described by a scalar field of time whose gradient has non-zero curvature. The scalar field is either real which describes acceleration of neutral clocks made of charged matter or imaginary, which describes acceleration of clocks made of Majorana type matter.


This way the scalar field adds information to space-time, which is not anticipated by the metric tensor alone. The scalar field can’t be realized as a coordinate because it can be measured from a reference sub-manifold along different curves.


In a “Big Bang” manifold, the field is simply an upper limit on measurable time by interacting clocks, backwards from each event to the big bang singularity as a limit only.


In De Sitter / Anti De Sitter space-time, reference sub-manifolds from which such time is measured along integral curves are described as all the events in which the scalar field is zero. The solution need not be unique but the representation of the acceleration field by an anti-symmetric matrix is unique up to SU(2) x U(1) degrees of freedom.


Matter in Einstein-Grossmann equation is replaced by the action of the acceleration field, i.e. by a geometric action which is not anticipated by the metric alone. This idea leads to a new formalism of matter that replaces the conventional stress-energy-momentum-tensor. The formalism will be mainly developed for classical but also for quantum physics. The result is that a positive charge manifests small attracting gravity and a stronger but small repelling acceleration field that repels even uncharged particles that measure proper time, i.e. have rest mass.


The negative charge manifests a repelling anti-gravity but also a stronger acceleration field that attracts even uncharged particles that measure proper time, i.e. have rest mass.


The theory leads to causal sets. Spacetime exists only where a chronon wave-function collapses. Work still to be done is to replace particles by strings of collapse events. The theory in its quantum form is of events and not of particles.

The theory has technological repercussions and implications regarding "Dark Matter" and "Dark Energy".


Jacobsen: Have there been any experimental results supporting the theoretical framework, even the basic claim of the existence of chronons?


None. The theoretical framework emerged less than 5 years ago. But there are some technological implications and even an application for a patent in the USA ( https://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/.aiw?PageNum=0&docid=20200130870&IDKey=58760C759BBB )

Jacobsen: As a Field Theory of Time, as the field itself is time or events in spacetime equate to perturbations in this field of time, if true, what does this leave  - a la Feynman – for future paths of the development of time asymmetry, chronons, temporal field theoretic considerations, and integrations of the Field Theory of Time into a GUT (Grand Unified Theory) and a ToE (Theory of Everything, which you consider inevitable or have “no doubt” about its arrival - eventually)?


Chronon Field Theory is a GUT/TOE. It is parsimonious (Time is the only entity and also the only principle of action). Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AEEwYcWUuc

Every potential in the field, once observed (“collapsed”), is an aspect of physics: mass, momentum, force, particles, symmetry, energy, field coefficients, fine structure constant, gravity, etc.

The theory predicts new particles (for example between muons and bottom quarks); a new, fifth force of nature; a natural connection between electromagnetism and gravity; and many other goodies which can be leveraged into futuristic technologies.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Prof. Vaknin.

Vaknin: Much appreciated.

Previous Electronic ‘Print’ Interviews (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)

An Interview with Professor Sam Vaknin on Narcissistic Personality Disorder

(In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal: June 22, 2020)

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Prof. Sam Vaknin: May 25, 2022)


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