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Joined: 25 Sep 2014
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Posts: 929

20 Dec 2019, 3:25 am

The earth's magnetism has been doing something very strange lately. See:

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My daughter had her birthday not long ago.

The day before her birthday, I followed my ritual, and re-read the letter I wrote to her for her eighth birthday. In that letter, I explained to her what autism is, and how she should be proud of who she is. I told her, we are born not to fit in, but to stand out. We are leaders, not followers. Those were the main points in my letter.

On her birthday, we went out to a restaurant of my daughter's choice. No party, no birthday cake, but a lot of pasta.

After we had ordered food, I started to tell my daughter a story about garbage bins.

I told her, in our neighborhood, each house has three bins. One black bin for regular trash. One blue bin for recyclables. Plus one green bin for yard trim. Black bin is easy: you take it out every week on the trash day. Blue bin and green bin are trickier: you take them out in turns. That is, one week for the blue bin, then the following week for the green bin. The precise schedule is available on the city's website, and a paper copy is also sent to each household at the beginning of a year. However, virtually no one bothers to check the website or the paper schedule.

This is what I usually do: I would pull out the black bin first, and then take a look at my neighbors. If I see a blue bin, or a few blue bins, then I would pull out the blue bin. I usually don't remember what colored bin I pulled out last week, so I would just count on my neighbors' memory.

I then asked my daughter, what she thought our neighbors would do to choose between blue and green bins. My daughter then said, our neighbors would probably do the same thing: check on other neighbors. I told her, that was right. Yep, everyone would just copy what their neighbors did. Their hope was that someone would figure out the correct bin color for them.

In practice, that strategy works out pretty well. But, once in a while, someone would make a mistake, and pull out a wrong-color bin. The funny thing is, because many neighbors simply copy what other neighbors do, you would then end up seeing entire blocks with the wrong bin color. Sometimes the mistake propagates to several blocks. Some other times, you see a mixture of colors: one block with blue bins, and another block with green bins.

That surely is a funny sight to see. Most people would probably enjoy seeing a mixture of bin colors and realize how the mistake comes about. But, their story would probably end there.

I told my daughter, being autistic, our brains can see things that other people cannot see. We find analogies that other people don't find. I told her, that when I remembered about the garbage bin story, I then also realized that, the same situation happens with geomagnetism. See, the earth has a magnetic inner core, formed by molten iron. To make the story simple, there are smaller magnets inside this body of molten iron. These smaller magnets are like the individual households, and they like to copy and align with their neighbors. The thing is, due to thermal fluctuation, some of these small magnets would point up, or down. And the neighbors of these small magnets would then copy. The end result is, the earth's overall magnet would flip polarity, from time to time. That is known as the "geomagnetic reversal." Today, the earth's magnetic north pole aligns with it's geographic north pole. But one day in the future, the earth's magnetic north pole would flip and point to the geographic south pole instead. Each magnetic "chron" lasts for about hundreds of thousands years, with the earth spending a few thousands years to complete a transition. The variances for these durations are rather large, so the exact durations of chrons and transitions are highly unpredictable.

I then asked my daughter about the difference between laser pointers and flash lights. Flash lights have a dispersing light cone, whereas a laser pointer's light beam stays narrow and doesn't disperse much at all. I asked my daughter why that was the case. She said she didn't know. I then told her, see, it was the same situation as with the trash bins. The light particles inside a laser, photons, have identical frequencies (and directions). I told her, when photons have identical frequencies (and directions), they like to copy each other and align with each other's direction. In other words, photons in identical states like to hold hands, and move together as one single block. That is why they don't disperse.

I told my daughter, bipolar disorder in human, follows the same principle. The same is true with autism. I told her, the fact that we the autistic people can see non-trivial correlations, and come up with non-trivial analogies, was because we have all those conceptons and vortons inside our brains. So, autism, bipolar disorder, laser, geomagnetic reversal, all these phenomena, are actually related to the story of blue and green garbage bins. I told her, because of my autism, I was able to see beyond just blue and green garbage bins, and related them to other phenomena.

My wife then interjected. She told my daughter: "You have a better brain than your dad. Your dad is able to see all that, but your brain is even more powerful: because your dad wasn't raised the right way, but you have been raised the right way." I then reminded my daughter about the story she wrote and the picture she drew, when she was in her first grade. I told her she showed creativity in her story about "Princess Rosalina" that lived in "Primrose Palace," and that there was also a bird called "Jack the Janitor." My daughter was already good at correlations.

Yep, those are the topics I talked to my daughter on her birthday. How to be creative. How to come up with analogies. How to see things that other people cannot see.

See, recently in the forum, people have talked about school bullies, about anxiety, about difficulty in getting jobs, about ADHD, about apps/devices to help autistic children learn. Autism, on the surface, has a multitude of issues that would require a multitude of solutions. Take for instance the case of bullying, so many parents have recommended: "hit them back." Now, if you ask those parents, what they would do to deal with anxiety, they would give you another solution. How to get jobs? They would come up with yet another list of advices. How to handle ADHD? Another list of advices. What devices/apps to use? Another list. Social skills? verbalization? And the lists go on. All of a sudden, autism seems an insurmountable issue.

It is a chaos with autism, because people don't see the forest for the trees. To me, all these issues are all linked, all the way to blue and green garbage bins. They are all connected. They are even connected to the Equation of Intelligence derived by Alex Wissner-Gross, connect to the arisal of good and evil as found by a friend of mine, and connected to so many other things, including to the partisanship in the impeachment of Donald Trump, or the chaos caused by fake news. So, how much intelligence is in an advice such as "hit them back"? That kind of advice falls into what I call "single-bit machines." An amoeba is capable of that kind of intelligence. Single-bit machines are basically an "If ... then ... else" statement in a computer program. We are humans, not amoeba bacteria. Unfortunately, all too many of our social scientist friends are stuck at the amoeba level. Hence the chaos in their approaches to autism.

Let me show here a list of issues I have gone through with my son.

(*) flushing toilet --> talking
(*) playing with vacuum cleaner --> reading
(*) riding elevators --> car seat change
(*) birthday poster --> wearing hats
(*) banana peel --> taking bath without protest
(*) flying kites --> getting up without protest
(*) pushing elevator button --> building electronic circuits
(*) electronic gate --> writing essays


I mean, each problem is solved in the most unimaginable way. Just think, if an autistic child is not talking, and I tell the parents that the best way to teach the child to talk is by letting the child flush toilets, they will probably think I am out of my mind. But, that was truly the way how my son started to talk (after mimicking some DieselDucy's video passages.) Who would imagine that a vacuum cleaner could be used to teach a child to read? What does a birthday poster have anything to do with acceptance of wearing hats? Every single problem above, has a solution that is totally counter-intuitive. Worse of all, they worked for my son, but I am pretty sure they wouldn't work for other children. So, if you are a parents and just want to copy my solutions, you and your children will probably fail, miserably. That is what you get when you apply single-bit machines.

We are humans. Not amoeba bacteria. Sure, there are a few steps to climb. There are high-level concepts, and tools.

We live inside the Technological Singularity. If we continue to behave like amoebas, we will be replaced by AI / robots in no time. In fact, your children's survival in this brave new world, depends on how you raise them.

- - -

Today my daughter gave me a math assessment test sheet from school for me to sign. She got the full score, and was happy about it. Frankly, I haven't been teaching my daughter math lately.

But I have been teaching my daughter about blue and green garbage bins. I recently also told my children about the trees in Biosphere 2 and why those trees would fall. Stories like those. I raise my children so that they can see the forest and not just the trees. Creativity, ability to find correlations, those are the things that today's children need to survive. And those are the things I focus on. It's not about having fish. It's about knowing how to fish.

Jason Lu