Dead Man Walking…

Firstly a massive apology to all our friends, family and fans! It’s been awhile since we’ve graced your screens with one of our off the cuff and yet hilariously outrageous blogs. It’s safe to say we’ve been a tiny bit distracted with getting another little project up and running. Now that’s in full swing we can get back to putting the fingers to the keyboards and taping out some much needed time wasters for you ladies and gentlemen, in a time when we are finding ourselves with a lot of spare time. Safe to say living amidst a global pandemic, it’s piqued our interest and we’ve decided to take an investigative look at the wonderful yet dangerous world of virology. What is that you ask? Read on dear friends and discover for yourselves…

Well depending on which website you go to it’ll tell you that Virology is either the study of viruses or a branch of science that studies viruses, same same but different?. Either way we are currently looking at viruses whilst we have a show about pandemics playing in the background. Why a show about pandemics? Well that should be pretty self explanatory given we are currently all locked at home because of one. Many of us for the first times in our lives are having to adapt to what could potentially be the new normal for the next six or so months. With COVID-19 still ravaging many parts of the world, the fight to flatten the curve and keep people at home is an ongoing battle. Even with some locations reporting low to no new cases people shouldn’t feel they are being given the green light to become complacent and go back to their old way of life. Should we even be going back to business as usual or should we be using this as an opportunity to check in and make some changes that will better all of humanity and the environment? We’ve all heard about the wildlife now returning to clean waters, such significant reductions in air pollution that it’s visible from space and the release of animals back into their natural habitats.

It was around 1898 that scientists first started to isolate viruses and assign them to specific diseases. Over time as technology has improved and with that so has our ability to classify and identify viruses. It wasn’t until 1960 that Nobel Prize winner in Medicine and Physiology, Peter Medawar (for his integral work in the area of transplantation), to paraphrase, defined viruses as a piece of nucleic acid surrounded by some extremely bad news. Early pioneers in virology had a limited collection of medicines, techniques and equipment available to them to be able to classify and identify viruses as microbial agents. At the time of their discovery, microscopes lacked the sufficient power to see viral agents. How to grow cell cultures was unknown to scientists and probes such as antibodies and nucleic acids to mark infectious agents were not yet known and identifiable. Thankfully technology has come a long way and we are better able to research and study viruses, and from there develop medications such as antivirals and vaccinations.

A virus is actually quite different to bacteria or fungi, the other two types of infections we as humans have to face. Whilst bacteria and fungi are cells that can survive on their own accord, viruses are much smaller than a cell and require host cells to provide the energy and nutrients required to survive and replicate. Most of the time hosts are unwilling or ignorant to the fact their body and cells have been invaded. Virus’s spread and transfer through direct cell to cell contact such as through respiratory passages, open wounds and the sharing of bodily fluids. Or they hitchhike a ride through an intermediate host such as mosquitoes and the saliva they inject when they bite. Studies have shown that viruses can replicate both inside insects and the host cells ensuring smooth transition from one host to another. A good example of this is the viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue fever. Viruses attach themselves to hosts cells through receptors on the cell’s surface much like interlocking puzzle pieces. They then begin the process of invading the cell and replicating either within the cell until it bursts and spreads integrating itself in to a cells DNA so that each time the cell replicates it also replicates the virus

So now that we have a basic understanding of viruses, let’s delve a little deeper into them and look a little closer at the main one affecting the world today because let’s be real this isn’t the first pandemic the world has suffered and it won’t be the last. Throughout man’s time on earth viruses have ravaged the population, think the Spanish flu or in more recent memory Swine flu. Over time we have developed the science and medicine necessary to combat viruses through vaccines and various other means. But there will always be viruses out there that we do not know about it. It is estimated that at any one time there are over a million undiscovered corona viruses within the animal population, however most of these strains of the virus aren’t transferable to humans. Bats appear to be the prevalent carriers and studies as recently as 2015 in the Yunnan province of China showed the genome sequence of the Betacoronavirus (RaTG13) in the Intermediate Horseshoe Bat was 96% identical to that of SARS-CoV-2. Fast forward to February 7th 2020 and it was learned that a virus even closer to SARS-CoV-2 had been discovered in Pangolin. It’s similarities registered a 99% genome sequence.

Now before you go blaming the poor little pangolins as being the cause of COVID-19 recent studies of the Malaysian pangolin have shown they are less similar with only a 90% genomic concordance. Not sure what this means? Well these results have led scientists to the conclusion that the virus isolated in pangolins is not responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic currently raging. Furthermore if we have previously been able to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus in animals why is it now causing such a problem for humans. Well further studies have shown that whilst the virus identified in bats can’t enter human cells and the one isolated in pangolins can, the comparison of these genomes suggests that the SAR-CoV-2 virus is the result of a recombination between two different viruses, the process where virus’ restructure themselves in order to overcome adversity and adapt to new environments and hosts, In other words it’s a chimera between two pre-existing viruses. This recombination mechanism has previously been seen in coronaviruses in particular in explaining the origin of SARS.

For recombination to occur, the two divergent viruses must have infected the same organism simultaneously. That still leaves questions unanswered, the main one being in which organism did the recombination occur. Was it a bat, was it a pangolin or was it another species? And above all under what conditions did this recombination take place? Whilst the threat of man made biological weapons produced in labs is a valid risk to the world’s population in this case it looks like mother nature is taking care of things herself.The environment and mother nature has a way of creating its own biological time bombs or chimeras that are just as deadly to the world as man made viruses. The world has known of these threats for centuries in one form or another, some called them curses, some call them diseases and overtime they became known as viruses. It’s even kept up to date with technological advances and we can give them to our computers.

To further confuse people it is because of the process of recombination, that the specific strain SARS-CoV-2came into existence and formed into a virus that is transferable to the human population. It shares genetic similarities with other human respiratory coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS. However the subtle differences in the virus’s genetic makeup translates to significant differences in how readily it is transmitted and the symptoms of infection experienced.. SARS-CoV-2 has all the same core genetic makeup as the original SARS-CoV which caused global panic and outbreak in 2003, and it shares genetic similarities with MERS which emerged in the middle east in 2012.This new virus has weaponised it’s itself, it has versions of the same general equipment for invading cells and replication, however SARS-CoV-2 has a totally different set of genes called accessories, which give this new virus its advantages in specific situations. Not enough is known yet about the roles these accessories play and all of the advantages they give SARS-CoV-2 however an example can be seen in the MERS virus in which a particular protein shuts down a cell’s ability to sound the alarm about viral invaders.

The scientific community has banded together throughout the pandemic in a surprisingly fast and effective manner to pull together results and research allowing us to understand SARS-CoV-2 and it’s disease COVID-19. We understand how it infects the human body, how it’s transferred, partly how it came about and potentially a vaccine to combat this coronavirus in the future. The current pipeline for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines isn’t as full as we would hope but that comes down to the tough science and time it takes to actually make a successful vaccine for human use. The trials alone would take years to seek approval from the various governing bodies before being released world wide. The reason behind this is that no current vaccines for coronaviruses are on the market and no large scale manufacturing capacity for these vaccines exist, we need to build these processes and capacities.

Creating these processes and capacities for the first time can be tedious and time consuming. Funding has been awarded to several highly innovative players in the field, many of them may be successful in eventually creating a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. After consulting many medical journals and spending a weird amount of time on Google looking at YouTube videos and reading about how vaccines are created we’ve come to understand, after further Googling and videos, in attempting to make vaccines most of the companies that are trialing them are targeting something called RNA. What is RNA? Well read on and get lost with us…

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a bit like Deoxynucleic acid (DNA) in the fact that both are nucleic acids composed of a sugar, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. We all learn about DNA being the building blocks of all life forms, but don’t often hear about RNA’s. Like DNA, RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides, but unlike DNA, RNA is found in nature as a single strand folded onto itself, rather than a paired double strand. There are 3 types of RNA’s that work together to produce proteins that are essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes.Messenger RNA (mRNA) transcribes the genetic information from the DNA, Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) directs the translation of mRNA and Transfer RNA (tRNA) is involved in the actual transfer of the initial genetic information into protein synthesis. Are you with us so far? You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with the process of developing a vaccine… well many viruses encode their genetic information using an RNA genome.

New technology has allowed us to take a step away from traditional vaccines and to start to take a look at using RNA in vaccines however it has not yet been used on a global scale — meaning scientists can’t yet predict what manufacturing problems might crop up. The idea for this type of vaccine is that a group of RNA’s would attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it tries to infect the body. Our bodies naturally have these RNAs however with age and comorbidities they diminish. The vaccine would be designed to boost the specific RNA required for combatting COVID-19. Other groups, such as Duke, the Imperial College of London and Fudan University in China, are also exploring this promising approach. RNA technology leaves researchers with many unsolved challenges, compared to more traditional vaccine types that are already mass produced. One Of these problems is storage to ensure the vaccine doesn’t degrade, which is especially tricky because by nature RNA‘s are intrinsically unstable molecules.

Yet another problem the world is facing in developing a vaccine is securing enough accessory chemicals, critical for vaccine production. Many of the RNA based vaccines are formulated with “magical chemicals” for lack of better words, that look like oil droplets. These accessory materials are expensive and hard to make in large quantities. With all the technology available no one has figured out how to scale up their manufacturing or get the costs low enough so that everyone can get the vaccine.

More traditional methods for vaccine creation are also being researched, where variants of the SARS-CoV-2strain are placed into the vaccine with the idea that our body’s own immune system will be able to develop the antibodies required to fight off the virus when it tries to invade the body. . Pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax and Clover are all at various stages of testing this approach. Protein subunit and recombinant protein vaccines use an approach that is similar to existing vaccines used for HPV and Hepatitis B.

This is all sounding quite promising however even this more traditional approach to vaccines comes with its own distinct scale-up challenges. These vaccines may require booster shots to provide lasting protection against COVID-19. For other vaccine candidate types, scientists are unsure if one dose is enough to generate and maximize a protective immune response, meaning each person might have to be given multiple doses which further complicates an already complicated manufacturing scale-up. All the issues of development, manufacturing, scale-up and distribution, would be nearly insurmountable for one group to tackle on their own. Of the confirmed active vaccine candidates, 56 are being developed by private industry developers, while 22 projects are being led by academic, public sector and other non-profit organizations, according to all the googling we did whilst researching vaccines.

The pandemic has brought unprecedented collaboration among vaccine developers across the world. The National Institute of Health is launching a public-private partnership to speed up COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options, known as ACTIV — short for Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines. Scientists continue to work tirelessly to curb the pandemic through developing a safe, effective vaccine that can reach people across the world. The so-called lab coat wearing experts hope that the enthusiasm for collaboration on a COVID-19 vaccine will transfer to other vaccination efforts in the future.

So to sum it all up into even more words, we are a little while off a vaccine curing us all from the disease COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. There are going to be newer and even deadlier viruses for us to contend with in the future and now is the time, if not earlier for the world to be identifying them, creating vaccines, medicine and or nanomites to ensure that we do not have to go through pandemic after pandemic. If there is one good thing to come out of all of this though and that’s the environment is starting to spring back. The holes in the ozone layer are starting to close over, animals are migrating back to their regular patterns and we are seeing species that haven’t been seen in years. So when you sit at home and try to find a silver lining to all that is happening in the world around you it’s this. Life is bouncing back, the planet is bouncing back and so will mankind.

The only hope is that we bounce back with some form of respect for what we have and learn lessons from all of this. What’s the saying, “Lack of preparation leads to piss poor performances”. In taking a look back we can safely say the world was not prepared for a virus on this scale or how to contain it. A vaccine is still most likely 12 months away if not longer and each country needs to ensure that it is able to manage in times of crisis that includes Pandemics. Well that’s enough from us and it feels good to finally get something down for you all. Also if you are interested in hearing the voices behind the blog head over to your favourite podcasting app and download “Conversations with The Captain and Commander” trust us you’ll enjoy it. For now it’s adios amigos, stay safe and stay home to save lives…

I Slept With Somone In Fallout Boy…

Firstly no one has slept with anyone from Fallout Boy here at A Mind of Its Own that we are aware of, yeah we might joke around that we identify as a helicopter or glow stick from time to time but the writers here are very much heterosexual and more often than not a lads, lad. Sorry if that bursts anyone’s bubble but as they say the truth shall set you free. After what’s been a big couple of weeks at our other jobs, you know, the one that pays for us to be able to continue this side project with passion and gusto we’ve finally managed to spend some time behind the keyboard pumping out some blogs that actually interest us. Safe to say politics bores the absolute crap out of us!. Give us controversy and madness, we are all for it and apparently so are our readers who seem to have similar minds like ours that spend a fair bit of time in the gutter.

A Mind of Its Own has always been an outlet, a way in which we can be open and honest about things that we often struggle with in day to day life. It’s given a voice to mental health issues particularly anxiety and depression, it’s also allowed the writers to be reflective and often take lessons out of what has been written or what they themselves are writing. We are truthful in what we write and will always give both sides of the coin as we toss it in the air and throw caution to the wind. Over time though we have learnt that people often don’t really want the truth when it comes down to it. As the famous line voiced by Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men goes “You can’t handle the truth”. Human’s often struggle to hear what is often true or to often speak the truth for that matter and why? Well there are various reasons in which you will soon learn as you read on.

Be honest with yourself for a minute, we’ve all done it at some point throughout our lives, heck some people even make careers out of it (Politicians, conman etc). Lying is something that we do as human beings, we are the only species capable of deceiving each other with what is often something so simple and so small and more importantly, not needed at all. But we’ve all done it, whether you’ve lied to your boss to get time off work or your parents about going to a party or most importantly yourself about why you lie, everyone has lied it’s part of what makes us human. Honesty may be the best policy, but scheming and dishonesty are part of what makes us human. Throughout history there are 100’s if not 1000’s of examples of people who have lied about who they are, what they do, what happened, how it happened, why it happened etc.

So for some home truths to start with, we decided to write this week’s A Mind of Its Own on Lying, as well to be honest it all just fell into place with things that were going on around us. The boss-man had been lying to himself about why he was feeling the way he did, he’d been lying to everyone that would ask him if he was OK, but most of all he’d mislead and he’d not been honest with someone that he cares about. That’s the thing about lying, dishonesty and keeping things to yourself, we all do it for various reasons, whether it be to present a false image in order to hide our inadequacies or to protect the feelings of others or in some cases just as a poor excuse when confronted with something we were supposed to do.

Not all lies are harmful, In fact sometimes lying is the best approach for protecting privacy, ourselves and others from malice. Some deception such as boasting and lies in the name of tact and politeness can be classified as less than serious. But bald-faced lies (whether they involve leaving out the truth or putting in something false), are harmful, as the corrode trust and intimacy, which lets be honest once again, in a lot of peoples eyes this is the glue of society that keeps us all together.

Lying, as it turns out, is something that most people are very adept at. Most people lie with ease, some in big ways and some small. We lie to strangers, we lie to coworkers, friends and to our loved ones and family. Our capacity for dishonesty is as fundamental as our need to trust others. Ironic that this then makes us terrible at detecting lies. Being deceitful is woven into our very fabric, so much so that it would be truthful to say that to lie is human. One of the strangest, yet truthful sentences you will read on A Mind of Its Own. The commonality of lying was first documented over two decades ago by Bella DePaulo a social psychologist at the University of California in a study in which they asked 147 adults to jot down for a week every instance they tried to mislead someone. This research showed that on average subjects lied one to two times a day without even realising it.

It’s been speculated that lying as a behavior arose not long after the emergence of language. The ability to manipulate others without having to use physical force would have likely conferred an advantage in the competition for resources, a mate and could be akin to the evolution of deceptive strategies in the animal kingdom such as camouflage. Sissela Bok an ethicist at Harvard University was quoted saying “It’s much easier to lie in order to get somebody’s money or wealth than hit them over the head or rob a bank”. Here’s where it all gets interesting and as you all know we love a topic when there is a heap of research involved. As lying became more and more recognised as a deeply ingrained human trait, social science researchers began working to illuminate the nature and roots of the behavior.

How and when do we learn to lie? What are the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of dishonesty? Where do most people draw the line? The research is beginning to suggest that we’re prone to believing some lies even when they are unambiguously contradicted by clear evidence. This suggests that our proclivity for deceiving others and our vulnerability to being deceived are especially consequential in the age of social media. Our ability as a society to separate truth from lies is under unprecedented threat. Just like learning to walk and talk, lying is something of a developmental milestone. Parents may find it troubling that little Tommy or Tessa has begun to lie. It is more they see it as a loss of innocence in their child. However the emergence of this behavior in toddlers is a reassuring sign that their cognitive growth is on track according to Psychologist Kang Lee of the University of Toronto who has conducted several studies on the psychology of lying in children.

Sadly for all those parents out there the research also suggests that we only get better at lying with age. In fact the Studies Doctor Lee and his colleagues conducted with children around lying suggested that the older the child the better the deception or lie became. Why, you ask? Well remember that little thing called empathy? The increase in the sophistication of the lie comes with the development of a child’s ability to put him or herself in someone else’s shoes. Known as Theory of Mind, this is the facility we acquire for understanding the beliefs, intentions and knowledge of others. A fundamental of lying is the brain’s executive function, the required abilities required for planning, attention and self control.

In studies conducted by Dan Ariely at Duke University, they paid subjects a dollar amount for each math question they got right, the participants were told to shred their sheets before reporting their answers. Little did they know their answer sheets didn’t actually get shredded. What fascinated Ariely the most was not that people lie but rather why they didn’t lie a lot more. Even when the value was increased for each right answer most people didn’t increase their level of cheating. Something stops us from lying all the way, the reason Ariely believes is that we want to see ourselves as honest, because to some degree we have internalised honesty as a value taught to us by society. Which is why unless you are a sociopath most of us place limits on how much we are willing to lie. Ariely and others in the field have shown that this is determined by social norms arrived at through unspoken consensus, a little like taking home a few pencils from the office supply cabinet it OK as long as the bosses don’t find out but your colleagues are ok.

There appears to be no agreement among psychologists and psychiatrists about the relationship between mental health and lying. However there are certain disorders that exhibit specific lying behaviors. Individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder tend to tell manipulative lies, while narcissists may tell falsehoods to boost their image. The Sociopathic disorders tend to have the strongest link and as pointed out exhibit specific lying behaviors. Unless you are a pathological liar, which could be an underlying indicator of a mental health issue as there is motivation behind the lie in the first place, however more research needs to be conducted.

Over the last two decades researchers have studied the brain in order to see if there was anything unique about the brains of individuals who lie more than others. Using three different controls groups broken down into repeated liars, those who met the criteria for antisocial personality disorder but not frequent liars and those who were neither antisocial or had a lying habit. The research showed that the liars had at least 20 percent more neural fibers by volume in their prefrontal cortices thus suggesting that habitual liars have greater connectivity within their brains.That then poses the question as to whether this predisposes them to lying because they can think up lies more readily or is it the result of repeated lying?

Another joint study conducted by Psychologists Nobuhito Abe of Kyoto University and Joshua Greene of Harvard University scanned the brains of subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging machines (fMRI) found that those acting dishonestly showed greater activation in the nucleus accumbens (a structure in the basal fore-brain) that plays a key role in reward processing. As it turns out the more excited your reward system gets the more likely you are to cheat. Or in other words, greed may increase one’s predisposition to lying. Tali Sharot a neuroscientist at the University of London found that the amygdala’s response to lies got weaker with each lie, even as the lies got bigger.

Tim Levine, a psychologist from the University of Alabama outlines in his ‘truth default theory’ that much of the knowledge we use to navigate the world comes from what others have told us. We implicitly trust others in when it comes to human communication and without that trust we would be paralysed as individuals and cease to have social relationships. He even went on to explain there is little harm caused when we occasionally get duped. We are hardwired to be trusting which makes us intrinsically gullible we’ll use Frank Abagnale Jr, a security consultant whose cons as a young man went on to inspire the 2002 movie Catch me if You Can. He explains that scams work because people believe what they want to believe and aren’t searching for a lie.

It’s called the Liar’s Advantage according to Robert Feldman, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts. “People are not expecting lies, people are not reaching for lies and a lot of the time, people want to hear what they are hearing. According to Feildman we put up little resistance to the deceptions that please us and comfort us whether it be false praise or the promise of impossibly high investment returns. Researchers have also shown that we are especially prone to accepting lies that affirm our worldviews. Alternative facts have thrived on the internet and social media because of this vulnerability in humans. Debunking false truths or fake news does not demolish their power because we assess the evidence presented to us through a framework of preexisting beliefs and prejudices.

A recent study out of the University of Western Australia by doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology, Briony Swire-Thompson documents the ineffectiveness of evidence-based information in refuting incorrect beliefs. Studying our closest friend across the seas (The Americans) they gave them two statements to choose from. The statements both false saw that people chose with bias, for example one of the statements was about Trump in which Trump supporters immediately believed it. When presented with the evidence that it was incorrect they readjusted their view but only for a short period of time. Within a week they were back to believing the original statement. Other studies have shown that evidence undermining lies may in fact strengthen belief if them. So you run the risk of watching them grow and become hulks in front of you if you try to counteract their inaccuracies.

When it comes to lying it looks like the deck is stacked against us people, yeah we can attempt to justify them by telling ourselves it was just a ‘white lie’ or a little ‘fib’ to ease our guilt or cross our fingers behind our backs as if it somehow suspends the rules and we can judge ourselves on the right side of communicative fair play, but at the end of the day we lie because of behavioral conditioning as well as cognitive evolutionary biology. Lying can bail us out of awkward situations, spare the feelings of others. Preserve or strengthen alliances, Enhance social standing, keep us out of trouble and even save our lives. Lying is unfortunately tied into our self esteem, it’s all down to the shifting sands of the self and trying to look good both to ourselves and others.

Men lie no more than women, but they tend to lie to make themselves look better, while it is said that women are more likely to lie to make the other person feel better. Extroverts lie more than introverts according to research. Lying tends to be short term focused, when we decide to deceive someone whether to save our self image or self worth we aren’t thinking long term but if the person finds out it can have long term consequences. We need to become more aware of the extent in which we tend to lie and focus on the fact that honesty yields more genuine relationships and trust.

So if we look at what we now know about lying, we are faced with yet another seemingly adult decision in our lives, to admit we are liars or to just continue through life justifying that everyone lies and evolutionary? The problem with lying and science has now backed this up is that, the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more likely you are to do it again. “We are our own judges about our own honesty” It is both behavioral and evolutionary, we do do it for various reasons both good and bad, everyone has lied at least once if not more in their lives and we as humans have become very adept at it. To lie or not to lie that is the question but like all things in life it’s a decision that only you can make in that moment but remember the truth always finds a way to the surface.

So until the next blog all we can do is apologise to those we may have wronged, lied to and deceived throughout our lives from our hearts to yours we are sincerely sorry. Weird apologising to people at the end of blog about lying but as we said we like to reflect on our writing at the end and take something from it. From this blog we took a lot that we didn’t expect to. We don’t condone lying but we now understand a little better why people do it and from the looks of things most people don’t lie to be malicious, in fact most lies told are to protect others. The truth however shall set you free as they say and so with that in mind we say honesty is the best policy and be true to yourself, love yourself. Until next time take it easy…

Architects…

We are by no means proponents of political propaganda or slander pieces but living in the nation’s capital and sitting just down the road from the largest child care centre that also possess the biggest flag in the country (Parliament House), it’s hard not to have an opinion or question some of the decisions made by the men and women running our fine land. When the guy leading the charge is known to the public more affectionately as “Scotty from Marketing” than the Prime Minister we start to question whether the country is in good hands or are we just a bunch of cynical arseholes? Either way “Scotty from Marketing” has a lot to answer for particularly when it comes to decisions around the future of our country.

With the state of the nation up in the air after the worst bush fire season closely followed by storms that have been ravaging major cities, it’s easy to sit and question what our government and it’s elected members are doing. That’s right ladies and gentlemen we put these people in charge so at the end of the day it’s our fault if they aren’t doing what we want and or need them to. That being said though there were a lot of promises made at election time and the team here at A Mind of Its Own want to see how many, if any of these election promises have been kept, we’ll also take a look at some of “Scotties” strange and uneducated opinions that being the head of marketing allows him to push onto the rest of the country. As always these opinions are our own and in no way reflect the feelings or voices of others unless expressly quoted.

Where does one start in the realm of Australian politics, well for us it’s heading on over to Google for a search of the world wide web, as the keyboards clattered away and the Google search engine in the basement of 1600 Amphitheater Parkway in Mountain View, California spooled up in anticipation of spitting out thousands of results regarding Scotty from Marketing’s election promises we pondered whether we should get into politics. It’s a little like meteorology isn’t it? You can get the things wrong most days and still keep your job unless you do something that is completely inappropriate or your political enemies dig up the buried bodies of your past and use them against you as either blackmail or to force you out of office. Heck if the Oompa Loompa can stay in office we should be able to last a term or two in the school yard of Australian politics.

Thankfully for us Australia’s media outlets love to document the rise and fall of our political system and Google returned plenty of results on Scotty and Liberal marketeers promises to the Australian public in the 2019 election. Whether you are labor or liberal don’t get it twisted they are the same as the criminals these days and in a world where the majority of people are in it for themselves. The “me” mentality rather than the “we” mentality is evident in all facets of life and in particular the me mentality in politics is always there. What can I do or say to ensure I get the votes I need to further my ambitions rather than what’s best for the constituents in my area. So when it comes to promises from the election they seem to be similar across the board from all the parties and focus on key areas. Some to help their money making mates get even richer and others to help and support the public.

What exactly did Scotty from Marketing promise us though you ask? Well the top of his priority of promises was of course some tax breaks. The phased in tax cuts are set to cost the Australian taxpayers up to $158 billion over 10 years, well the Treasury coffers but where do they get their money from? Whilst the tax cuts are good for low income earners it seems it’s the rich who continue to prosper with the tax breaks coming down for those earning up to $200k from 37% to 30%. Then there is the “helping hand tax offset” in which Australians will get a gift with their tax returns. Australians earning around $37,000 only get $255 while those in the next tax bracket get $1080. After that it scales down but if you earn over $126,000 you get nada. Business wins again with those turning over upto $50M now able to write off assets up to $25,000, previously any business turning over $10M were excluded and you could only write of $20,000.

The next promise on Scotty from Marketings list is climate change. Hang on isn’t this the same bloke who took a lump of coal into parliament and presented it to his fellow members like they were primary school kids stating “This is coal. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be scared! Won’t hurt you,” He neglected to mention that the coal had been shellacked to prevent his hands from getting dirty. The then treasurer of Australia now prime minister has a long history of supporting the fossil fuel industry so his promises are a little surprising. Oh wait there is one supporting Adani don’t worry it almost slipped through the gate but we managed to catch it by the black soot prints it left on the floor that were easy enough to follow.

Committing a dismal $3.5 billion over 15 years to the central emissions reduction policy, apparently they’ll focus on farmers reducing their carbon dioxide emissions through planting trees or improving their energy efficiency. I mean cause they produce the most emissions right? Not the concrete jungles we call cities? Makes perfect sense, pick on the struggling, poor farmers for their emission production which probably registers compared to the emissions we create driving around town in our gas guzzlers and creating waste, landfill and whatever else we are currently doing to fuck up the earth for future generations. There is some of that $3.5 Billion set aside to expand the Snowy Hydro scheme, which is apparently going to be utilised as a giant battery to back up energy produced by other renewables.

Then there’s the contradictory strategy of developing emissions free hydrogen which could replace the energy generated by fossil fuels. Great Idea but at the same time the technology needs to be further developed and we are still backing coal mines and coal powered power stations. Scotty from Marketing has once again backed fossil fuels and in particular the Adani mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Scotty has also floated the idea of using taxpayer money to upgrade a NSW coal-fired power station and pledged to fund a feasibility study into a new “high-efficiency, low-emission” coal plant in Queensland. After all, coal is gold in the eyes of Scotty from Marketing and his cronies. Last but not least we have the emission reduction targets as outlined in the Paris agreement, we are aiming at reducing our emissions by 26% based on 2005 levels by 2030.

From environment, over to promises in the health sector and of course the government is making more and more promises that will never be kept but they have match the labor’s promise to lift the Medicare rebate freeze. What does that mean for Joe Blogs? Well it means that payments from Medicare to medical practitioners will increase to reflect what they are saying are rising costs associated with care. What are these rising costs you ask? So did we, and the answer was Primary Care, the federal budget contained a $1 billion funding boost including $448.5 million for General Practitioners to better treat patients with chronic diseases and investments in mental health. The government will also add 30 new Headspace centres to it’s network. They are going to build new residential eating disorder treatment facilities across the nation and put in place new measures to prevent Indigenous youth suicide.

Cancer, one of Australia’s most notorious killers and it’s patients will also benefit with investments on infrastructure which include a comprehensive Children’s Cancer Center in Sydney as well as a centre of excellence for immunotherapy and CAR-T therapy. Yeah lots of googling going on over here as we research CAR-T therapy. Seems that health could do with a little more of a cash injection particularly into the research and treatment side but hey we aren’t in charge of the budget or the election promises made by Scotty from Marketing and his team of Marketeers. On to education, at least we no longer have the three R’s, Reading, riting (writing) and rithmatic (arithmetic) because whoever came up with that could have done with a decent education.

Splashing more cash and of course on the private school system particularly the Catholic schools and reportedly having nothing to do with his religious beliefs Scotty from Marketing has promised another $4.6 billion that’s on top of the $23.5 billion over 10 years to all schools as part of Gonski 2.0 that former prime minister Turnbull signed up to. They’ve also promised to fund up to 80,000 apprenticeships which is part of a $525 million package. There is also a portion of the budget for a scholarship program to get students to study in regional areas of $94 million. That being said in 2017 they introduced a two year cap on university funding for regional areas. Early childhood sees no outlined long term measures beyond the reforms introduced in 2018 but children have access to 15 hours a week of preschool in the year before they go to school. $453 million has been alloted to fun four year old kindergarten for another year. So education again takes a backseat to infrastructure because what do we need? More roads you know!

Last but not least in the promise department is good old infrastructure, the thing that makes the nation function according to Scotty from Marketing. So $9.3 billion has been promised to build a 1700km inland rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane for freight. The controversial East West Link in Melbourne is back on the books despite the previous two proposals being turned down. Scotty’s chipping in $4 billion of your hard earned tax payer dollars to get it done. Western Sydney is getting $7.1 billion for road and transport connection links. Back to Melbourne and another $1.75 billion to connect the M80 ring road with the upgraded Eastern Freeway. Could Melbourne see the first bullet train? $2 billion has been put aside for a fast rail link between Melbourne and Geelong, the only catch is the Victorian government needs to match the $2 billion. The government has also spent $20 million on studies for three other potential high speed rail links, proposal for the 3 links, Shepparton to Melbourne, Sydney to Newcastle and Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast are due mid year and add to studies already conducted and proposed for other routes such as Gold Coast to Brisbane, Sydney to Wollongong etc.

The M1 will continue to get upgraded to Raymond Terrace with $1.6 billion promised for the extension. $500 million is in the kitty for the notorious Princes Highway between Nowra and Batemans Bay and last but not least the Newell Highway that connects Queensland, NSW and Victoria is set to get $400 million for upgrades. All in all that’s close to $30 billion for Infrastructure with most of it being spent in Victoria so it looks like the Mexican’s are getting some new gear.

As we read through both left and right wing media regarding how on track the Morrison government was at ‘making good’ on it’s promises one thing was becoming quite evident was that you are only as good as your word and a lot of Scotty’s above promises might just take longer to come to fruition if they come off at all. The promise of a Surplus is slowly dying as Corona Virus continues to screw with not only the global economy but our local and national economy. Those tax cuts are still making their way to where exactly we don’t know, will we see them before the new financial year?, who knows but by the looks of it, Scotty from Marketing is looking tired and needs to release the hounds of marketing in his ministers to do their jobs and help push through a lot of those election promises if this government has any chance of survival.

The money that has been promised to Infrastructure has seen some of those promises begin but will they be finished that’s a different question. Climate change is a big topic at the moment particularly after the bush fires that ravaged a lot of the nation. One thing we know for sure is that things are going to get worse and worse with each summer that passes. For more than a decade, the climate debate in Australia has been either a wonkish seminar about carbon pricing, emissions trading, clean energy targets, renewable energy targets, national energy guarantees, safeguard mechanisms, abatement targets, carryover credits, and the like – concepts that are vitally important but carry absolutely no practical meaning for most people – or it has been a slasher movie replete with surround-sound alarmism, hyperbole, intrigue, betrayals and bouts of regicide

From his love of coal to the big guy in the sky they say you shouldn’t underestimate Scotty from Marketing and that even his predecessors have gone through slumps but come on Scotty, rule number one in anything you do is to under promise and over deliver big guy, all those cute little propeller hats aren’t going to save you from the wrath of the Australian media and it’s public. Either shit or get off the pot mate as they say, actions speak louder than words. We’ll be watching closely as we head into the end of financial year as to whether those promises are on track to be delivered, if they aren’t we’ll no doubt have yet another new Prime Minister within the next year and once again take our place as on the global mantle as the laughing stock of politics. The country that is never happy with it’s leaders, at the end of the day we elected them so if we aren’t happy it’s our fault for either voting for them or not voting at all.

In all honesty writing this blog bored the hell out of us, even had some of us wishing for the Coronavirus just so we could quarantine ourselves and have something decent to write about as we watched people in hazmat suits come in and out of our airlocked room to complete tests and ensure we our survival. Speaking of survival it seems to have kicked off a lot “Prepping” in Australia which we’ve found both concerning and funny at the same time. So until next week we recommend no hand shaking, fist pumps, thumb wars and definitely no pashing of strangers unless you want to contract Coronavirus from a stranger. Maybe a questionnaire might be the way to go. Ensure that you ask where they have traveled to in the last 2 Months and if it’s Wuhan run for the hills like mad. OK peace out…

Broke and Hungry…

Everyone can write, well almost everyone, there are those that unfortunately are left behind by society and struggle to string a sentence together through no fault of their own initially. However as they grow older they do have a choice to do something about it. It is never too late to learn, to teach, to guide, to share but it is a choice as to whether or not you want to better yourself. This blog is often a way for us to better ourselves as we research topics to ensure we are providing you with not just an opinion piece but something factual and inspiring. Over time our style of writing has evolved to the point we’ve even noticed it as we read through some of the past pieces that have graced your screens. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the fundamentals and the purpose of A Mind of Its Own…

This week’s blog idea came to us via the south coast, as many of you know much of Australia has been devastated by bushfires in recent months and yet the spirit and sense of community is so strong and apparent in these areas it would melt the coldest of hearts. Despite the destruction and devastation people are getting on with life and it hasn’t dampened their imaginations or want to learn or share with others. So to our good friend known as the Hammer thank you for your ongoing support and inspirational ideas for this weeks blog. As much as we enjoyed the conversation about starting a bush dildo racing league we feel the thought and controversy behind the suggestions offered up will have the pundits running to the local Bunnings or hippy shop.

Again this is another topic that we’ve had to research as our knowledge was limited despite the fact that we use it on a daily basis. With all things that we (Human’s) don’t understand there is an inherent fear, a fear of the unknown, just look at vaccinations and the reaction from those that don’t understand or want to understand the science behind them. As humans we tend to react before we understand all the facts or have done any research into things. So we thought before everyone overreacts we’d do some research and read a few papers on the effects of this week’s topic on your health. But in order to do that we first need to give you an understanding of what it is that we are writing about and thanks to the Hammer how this all came about. So let’s crack in and get started, welcome to another week down the rabbit hole Alice…

What is 5G and why does it scare people so much? Wireless networks have been around for decades now and if you believe the Americans they developed the technology for WiFi or wireless and yet there is strong evidence that it was a “Failed experiment to detect exploding mini black holes the size of an atomic particle” by our very own Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or the CSIRO as they are better known that uncovered the keys to developing WiFi and subsequent wireless mobile networks. 5G literally stands for fifth generation, 5G surprisingly like its name is the fifth iteration of the global digital cellular wireless networks. Since the introduction of 1G and GSM there have been great advancements in technology, speed and ability of the cellular networks.

5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the telephone, converted by an analog to digital converter and transmitted as a stream of bits. All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a pool of frequencies that are reused in other cells. The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless back haul connection. As in other cell networks, a mobile device crossing from one cell to another is automatically “handed off” seamlessly to the new cell.

OK so we now know that 5G is the thing that will allow our phones to communicate, send messages, watch YouTube, stream videos, video chat and all the rest. The major benefits of 5G though are the speeds at which we can connect and if all the reports coming out are correct the network will be faster than your home internet connection. By faster we mean a hell of a lot faster reportedly at almost up to 10 to 20 Gbps fast. That’s up from the 10 Mbps the current 4G network roles out. Goodbye NBN and hello 5G and a larger data plan. We may just see a lot of Aussies doing this and “hot spotting” from their mobile devices. It would make sense wouldn’t it given that our internet is slower than some third world countries. Yeah the NBN was a great outdated Idea by the time it was rolled out, oh wait there are still parts of the country waiting for the NBN to be switched on.

From a technology standpoint having fast, speedy, reliable networks to connect your mobile devices to is amazing. However there are pundits out there that believe the health effects from 5G are much more significant compared to the generations of cellular digital networks that came before it. Firstly we aren’t saying they are wrong, there is still a lot of research to be done on the effects of high energy radiation on the human body. Yes we hear you and yes we just used the word radiation. Before we all get our undies in a twist let’s look at the actual science behind and not just focus on the articles being pumped out by reputable news sites such as Facebook and alternative health websites. The latter are the same sites that tell us vaccination is killing children and bad for us, so they are rating quite low on the list of things to read here at A Mind of Its Own.

Whilst sighting studies and research from reputable places such as the world health organisation (WHO) those studies do say that there is still a lot of research to be done to prove the effects 5G has on the body. Some of the articles go on to explain the following effects without having the science or research behind them to actually back it up. They are more opinion pieces, that have gathered stories or taken from other articles without fully understanding what they are putting out into the ether that is the internet. The new 5G network generates radio frequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer, cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging, disrupt cell metabolism and potentially lead to other diseases throughout the generation of stress proteins.

These claims are quite scary on their own and until the science is there to back them up quite unsubstantiated. They create panic and fear among communities rather than generating conversation and understanding. Again like all things in life we fear the unknown, the unexplainable and most importantly what we don’t understand. At a Mind of Its Own we aim to give you both sides of the proverbial coin and educate rather than cause panic and misunderstanding among the masses. So let’s take a deeper look into the science behind 5G networks and what the potential health risks are compared to earlier generations of digital cellular networks.

Like 5G its concerns are only the latest iteration of headlines and unclaimed, unfounded sentiment on the world wide web by people who often don’t have degrees let alone doctorates. The main concern is electromagnetic radiation that includes everything from WiFi to smart meters. At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radio frequency radiation (RFR). RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to the light produced from your monitor or light the sun. RFR clearly isn’t as inherently dangerous as some of the sites and blogs make it out to be, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances they could potentially become dangerous.

Science and the guys that do it Scientists say that the most important criterion about whether any particular RFR is dangerous is whether it falls into the category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. We aren’t in the sciences so we’ll need to go to Wikipedia to find out what non-ionizing and ionizing. Simply put, any radiation that’s non-ionizing is too weak to break chemical bonds. That includes ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and everything with a lower frequency, like radio waves. Everyday technologies like power lines, FM radio, and Wi-Fi also fall into this range. (Microwaves are the lone exception: non-ionizing but able to damage tissue, they’re precisely and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.) Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionizing.

Dr. Steve Novella (Sounds like a made up name, we assure you it is not), an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine website, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons, they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most of the concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation to even have a biological effect,” he said in a recent report. Or, in the less refined but more visceral words of author C. Stuart Hardwick, “radiation isn’t magic death cooties.”

Of course as is always the case, just because there’s no known mechanism for non-ionizing radiation to have a biological effect, that doesn’t’ mean it’s safe or that no effect exists. But in order to find out those effects, researchers will need to continue conducting studies into the effects. One recent study was released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an agency run by the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States. This widely quoted study about cell phone radio frequency radiation, found that high exposure to 3G RFR led to some cases of cancerous heart tumors, brain tumors, and tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The study was a good objective lesson in how hard it is to do scientific research of this type. The science points out, the number of tumors detected were so small that they statistically could have occurred by chance (which may be more likely since they were only detected in male subjects). Moreover, the level and duration of the RFR exposure were well in excess of what any actual human would ever be exposed to, and in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats.

“Experienced researchers look at a study like that and say that doesn’t really tell us anything.” Ongoing studies aside, 5G is coming, and as mentioned, there are concerns about this new technology. A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to ten homes according to estimates.” Says Dr. Novella, What they’re really saying is dose is going to be higher?. Theoretically, this is a reasonable question to ask. But skeptics caution you shouldn’t confuse asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. As Novella points out, “We’re still talking about power and a frequency less than light. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cell towers.”

It’s easy to find claims online that the greater frequency of 5G alone constitutes a risk. RadiationHealthRisks.com observes that “1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use between 1 to 5 gigahertz frequency. 5G uses between 24 to 90 gigahertz frequency,” and then asserts that “Within the RF Radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms.” But asserting that the higher frequency is more dangerous is just that—an assertion, and there’s little real science to stand behind it. 5G remains non-ionizing in nature. The FCC—responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use in the United States weighed in as well. Neil Derek Grace, a communications officer at the FCC was quoted saying the following, “For 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.” The FCC defers to the FDA for actual health risk assessments, which takes a direct, but low-key approach to addressing the risks: “The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”

In 2011, the World Health Organization classified RF Radiation as a Group 2B agent, which defined it as possibly carcinogenic to humans. In saying that you have to look at all the other things they classify as a possible carcinogen. They have been put in the same class as things like caffeine. It’s like saying everything causes cancer. Part of the problem with the WHO declaration is that it’s focused on hazard, not risk, a subtle distinction often lost on us non-scientists, not unlike the rigorous distinction between “precision” and “accuracy.” (Precision refers to how tightly clustered your data is; accuracy refers to how close that data is to the real value. You might have a dozen mis-calibrated thermometers that all tell you the wrong temperature with a very high degree of precision.) When the WHO classifies coffee or nickel or pickles as a possible carcinogen, it’s asserting hazard without regard for real-world risk. Dr Novella went on to explain, “A loaded pistol is a hazard because theoretically, it can cause damage. But if you lock it in a safe, the risk is negligible.”

Scientists will continue to test new network technology as it evolves, to make sure the technology we use every day remains safe. As the NTP study showed, research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, meaning it can take a long time to make real progress with quantifiable data. For now, everything we know about 5G networks tells us that there’s no reason to be alarmed. After all, there are many technologies we use every day with a substantially higher measurable risk. With 5G the hazard is low but not zero and the actual risk appears to be zero.

As we’ve pointed out there are risks but they are low, very low risk and there is still not enough evidence, support or research to point to a definitive yes or no. So for now ladies and gents we recommend that you not read anything on Facebook or any sites suggested through the book. If you do be sure to at least do your own research before you make up your mind on whether or radio frequency radiation is good or bad. On that note we’ll leave you to it for yet another week while we go and research next weeks blog so we can get to work on the writing for you fine people. Adios amigos until next week have a frothie or two for us. A Mind of it’s own team out (insert Mic drop).

You’ve Got The Touch…

Who would have thought that a sentence containing the following four words would lead to this week’s blog – “Is that a euphemism?” and the man you can thank for the distasteful topic is none other than the man affectionately known to his mates as Captain Google, because yes Google tells him everything and also runs his family for him. We often hear him responding to his wife with “Ok Google”. Yeah technology has taken over his life and well we are surprised he didn’t have to Google a topic for this week. It’s an interesting one that will fill our search engine with images we can never unsee. We also hope our parents aren’t reading this weeks blog. Mum and Dad if you are reading stop now please for your sake… Yeah ok disclaimer time…

Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the disclaimer, that’s right the disclaimer, this Australian meat pie institution known as parental discretion will cleanse any sense of innuendo or sarcasm from this blog that might actually make you think and will also insult your intelligence at the same time. So protect your family. This blog contains explicit depictions of things which are real. These things are commonly known as life. SO if it sounds sarcastic, don’t take it seriously. If it sounds dangerous, Do not try it at home or at all. And if it offends you, just don’t read it. With the disclaimer now lodged we’ll get started with this weeks A Mind of Its Own and get you all thinking and conversing around the water cooler. Oh and seriously if you are easily offended or not squeamish when it comes to taboo topics stop reading now…

We’ve all done it or at least tried it once and anyone that tells you they haven’t or don’t do it needs a good punch in the junk to get things started. We don’t condone violence but we also don’t appreciate lying about something that is completely natural and yet is still frowned upon and seen in some eyes as immoral. Yes we are talking about masturbating, about flicking the bean or hand to gland combat, call it what you want there are a lot of names for it, some of which had us in stitches for several hours as we tapped out this topic. A topic which is still seen as taboo across many cultures and religions. But why? We live in a world where we literally have everything in the palm of our hands, yeah pun intended there but you know how much we love to reference the internet and mobile devices. Well it (the internet) has given us all the information and porn we need to understand masturbation and all that it entails as well as getting the arousal levels to skyrocket.

Solo sex, Self Partnering (Emma Watson this is what self partnering is champion, rubbing yourself raw, not dating yourself however you do that you weirdo) or whatever you like to call it, is a topic that is rarely discussed in a group settings. We get though its awkward and usually something you do with the lights off in the darkest of rooms so no one can see. But how many times have you been out to dinner with friends or at a BBQ sitting around talking and gone through every single topic including sex, it’s positions and other weird stuff? Chances are you’ve been involved in one of these conversations and if you haven’t been it’ll happen at some point in your life, you aren’t really missing out. It’s only recently that we’ve sat back and thought why don’t people discuss masturbation? They are happy to discuss sexual positions and ensuring their sex life isn’t plain old vanilla but you never hear about their self love or solo sex. Is it embarrassing to discuss with your friends that you touch yourself or is it still seen as wrong to be touching yourself in order to gains some sexual release? We know that doing it in public is an actual criminal act if you are caught and we don’t condone it ladies and gentlemen, save that shit for at home.

Perhaps religion is somewhat to blame for the worlds views on masturbation? Throughout time religious groups have condemned masturbation. Why you ask? Well, aside from it being an affront to god almighty who in our eyes is a bit of a voyeur sitting up there watching all of us get our rocks off. It is seen as a lack of self control and the gateway to promiscuity. Cause touching yourself is an automatic button to go and shag anything with two legs and a heartbeat (facepalm). Some religious doctrine goes as far as stating that masturbation constitutes a moral disorder. Looks like we are going to hell and taking a lot of wankers with us. So while masturbation for both men and women might be frowned upon by religion it exists and if god or gods didn’t want us to masturbate they wouldn’t have invented it right? He, she or they wouldn’t have provided us with sexual organs that make us feel good when stimulated. We get that we use them to procreate however they could have made it feel like nothing or worse be painful but instead they made it pleasurable and desirable to want to touch yourself and others.

Self pleasure has been frowned upon by society though for just as long as religious views. It has long been a school of thought that your partner was to provide you all the pleasure that is often derived from masturbating. In the 1950’s research conducted by Alfred Kinsey found that 92 percent of males reported choking the chicken while roughly 62 percent of women admitted to strumming the clitar. “It is common to meet women who do not masturbate but a rarity to meet a male who doesn’t” claims sex therapist Matty Silver. Apparently this is easy to explain through the introduction of puberty. When males hit 12 or 13 we start getting erections (like masturbating we found so much slang for an erection or getting wood) Imagine if your last name was Wood and you called your sons Max or Jack Wood the amount of boner jokes those kids would cop is unquantifiable. Females however do not get boners and before magazines like Dolly and Cosmopolitans a lot of young girls may never have heard the words masturbation or orgasm. So apparently it’s not easy for women to learn to masturbate and have orgasms. It also becomes harder when they believe that it is the job of their partner.

While there are plenty of people out there that believe there is no need for masturbation whether you are in a relationship or flying solo. Without self stimulation how do you discover your body and become aware of what you like? The more you know about yourself and your body the easier it is to communicate those wants and desires to your partner allowing for more pleasurable, enjoyable experiences together. It’s probably the one time we feel safe talking about masturbation when we are getting someone else to stimulate us but why does it have to be that way. Like sex it is a natural thing, we won’t say beautiful but in some people’s eyes it may be. The team here however do not see it as a beautiful thing but more a necessary and pleasurable thing that is good for people. Yep we are condoning masturbation, in the privacy of your own homes though people!

On top of the pleasure, there are actual benefits to the body which have been highlighted throughout history. Look at Hysteria as an example, it was often treated by sending women to the doctors who would get them off as cure to hysteria. It also led to the invention of the vibrator to relieve doctors whose fingers were frequently cramping from treating female patients with Hysteria. Afterwards it would become a popular household appliance to help women get off on their own. Although taboo it would still happen. Apparently Victorian era women weren’t supposed to be able to feel sexual desire, so hysteria became a disease completely removed from sex. If a woman desired her clitoris to be stimulated, she was clearly sick with hysteria or so the theory went. The cure of course was to stimulate the clitoris until she no longer wanted to be stimulated.

There is some good news it turns out although our recommendations popping up on Google have taken an interesting and scary turn after researching masturbation, there are health benefits to making the bald man cry or doing the three knuckle shuffle if you are female. Benefits include but are not limited to:

  1. Sexual Arousal and orgasm… Apparently they produce Oxytocin.
  2. Oxytocin is the body’s most potent, natural pain modifier, not just for labor and delivery, but also for many types of chronic pain. Get touching we say!
  3. If it releases Oxytocin that means masturbating is good for reducing headaches, muscle aches, pains and insomnia.
  4. It relaxes and relieves tension. Had a stressful day at work whack one out.
  5. It may help fight off depression. During sex and masturbation endorphins are released which can improve your mood.
  6. If you are on your own and your tinder game isn’t strong it gives you the sexual release you need.
  7. Ahh apparently it can improve your immune system and contribute to your overall health. There will be more research conducted into this we promise.
  8. Research has shown men that flog the log regularly, we call them wankers are at less risk of developing prostate cancer (But still get checked fellas!)
  9. Instead of having to take a pill to stop your fella from going early, masturbation helps in combating premature ejaculation. Through training yourself to last longer solo, you’ll last longer with your partner supposedly.
  10. For the ladies, masturbation allows you to explore your body better, you’ll end up knowing exactly what you like when you are have sex with a partner. This will benefit you both.
  11. Sex and masturbation increase the flow of testosterone in the body, which helps in the transportation of the hormone DHEA, which is important for the immune system. The extra testosterone also strengthens bones and muscles.

Ok we’ll leave it at 11 key points just to be weirdos, but that’s just highlighting some of the health benefits. It has got us looking at the office policy for self pleasure. Could it be considered as part of ‘Self Care’? We are kidding, its highly inappropriate but it did get you all thinking about it for a couple of seconds didn’t it. With Google throwing up more and more suggestions for us we did come across a couple of articles about items that can help you out with your masturbation. From smart cock rings that claim to track the exercise of your man bits as well as detect chlamydia and syphilis to kGoal smart kegeling to strengthen a woman’s pelvic floor there’s a smart device for all your masturbatory needs. They are all mobile app enabled with a multitude of settings that’ll help you explore your sexual bits like never before.

For those who live in smart homes there are even devices that connect to your Google, Alexa and various other smart home devices. “Ok Google, whack me off” may just start to become a phrase uttered around homes across the globe. There are even hands free devices for men now, women have had them for awhile but now men can bring new meaning to “Look Ma, no hands” as they cop up to 180 strokes per minute from there dishwasher safe pocket vagina. It was only a matter of time before the sex industry came a knocking on the door of Silicon Valley to help them out with the latest and greatest. From robots to vibrators there isn’t a toy that can’t be tech integrated. Even the old spanking paddle has got an upgrade and some built in sensors to measure pain levels and responses based on your voice to ensure you get the right amount of force each every time for your basic S&M needs.

It’s safe to say that this week’s blog has been interesting, we’ve covered off a topic that is still taboo to talk about in social circles, depending on your friendship group. We’ve learnt that masturbating is actually good for you and that you can now basically get any sex toy in a waterproof, usb chargeable, smart device enabled model. Whether you touch yourself or not it’s not a topic that should be shamed, masturbation is completely natural and ok we’ll say it can be a beautiful thing as you explore your body and get to know yourself and what works for you. The gods will always be perves but it’s not a gateway to promiscuity or hell it’s about knowing yourself and what gets you off. Maybe if more people were open and honest about what works for them, there would be less infidelity and less divorce but at the end of the day it comes down to communicating what you want, when you want and sometimes how you want. There is nothing wrong with being a wanker ladies and gents hahahaha

So without further adieu we’ll bid you a fond farewell for another week on what has been yet another first here at A Mind of Its Own. We hope we haven’t offended too many people. After all is just masturbation. And I touch myself is a great song. We are sorry though to any parents reading this and having to deal with crusty socks or towels just remember you do it or did it and everything is washable. If it’s not washable, burn it or bury it deep within the earth. Let’s change the conversation and rid the world of another stigma, it’s ok to masturbate and it’s ok to talk about it. Just so you are all aware someone is already on the bandwagon and May is masturbation month with the 28th of May being international Masturbation day. Well that will just about do it from the sickos here at A Mind of Its Own. Go forth and be healthy, self love is often the best love. Go on now go and rub one out…

We Don’t Go In There…

A big shout out to the man affectionately known to his close friends as Bezos Junior, BJs or the Library Monitor for his suggestion for this weeks blog, ok well it wasn’t really a suggestion it was an article he forwarded to one of the team that sparked this weeks deep dive into the mysteries of the land down under and blew into a global scandal that was bigger the latest Kardashian Cheating affair. Speaking of mysteries does anyone know where to find decent ribs in the nation’s capital? There doesn’t seem to be a cinders chance in snow of finding some good ribs. Burgers yes, ribs, no and the cave men that write this blog need meat pronto. Anyway before we start dribbling too much rubbish we’ll get into this weeks A Mind Of Its Own…

The Moon Landing, Elvis, Area 51, JFK, Flat Earth, the CIA and even Australia, yes Australia the proud land in which A Mind of Its Own was born and raised is a geographic conspiracy theory and yet here we sit in the nation’s capital typing out the latest installment for you in a country that supposedly doesn’t exist according to theorists around the globe. Does that mean we aren’t alive and are an artificial intelligence gathering and growing datasets day by day or are we alive and we are all just plugged into the matrix? Did we swallow the blue pill or the red pill? So many questions and so many answers, most of which could be and are no doubt wrong but hey who are we to say what’s right and wrong, what’s real and what’s not? It’s a conundrum in itself ladies and gentleman.

Conspiracy theories, cover ups, scandals, myths and legends have existed for centuries, the rise of the internet (probably some conspiracy itself) however has led to the expansion of these ideas and the freedom for people with half a brain or no brain to post whatever they like, whenever they like. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, opinions are like arseholes everyone has one. The internet however has given everyone with access, a soapbox on which to stand, allowing them to voice their thoughts and ideas to the world. It’s also allowed us to question the sanity of world leaders, self diagnose diseases and communicate with people we’ve never met before. As we read an article sent to us by the aforementioned Knox school for the rich kids Library Monitor, it got us thinking about all the crackpot ideas people had come up with over the years and why. The cover ups and scandals, the conspiracies, the myths and legends.

Where would one start? Well for the team we thought it was best to start in our own backyard and do a little digging to see what skeletons could be uncovered. What better place to start than the nation’s capital right, if there were any bodies buried, the answers would surely be here. After all, the people that are covering up things work here and flock here like seagulls to a chip when parliament is sitting. From the city with the giant penis (owl) statue, the lake that has it’s own fountain, the place made famous by its rules that contradict the rest of the nation, we bring you, weed, porn, fireworks and prostitution scandals. Wait someone has just pointed out that’s a typical week in parliament. We bring you Australia’s greatest hidden truths aka the Australian Conspiracy and cover up files. This is clearly the first edition and will need further additions to live up to that title. It’s a little like the Tim talks podcasts that never got off the ground.

In this edition of A Mind of Its Own we are going into the bowels of Parliament House to lift the lid on one of Australia’s greatest mysteries. As it turns out we weren’t really involved at all but it was an interesting topic to research. From our own version of Area 51 to the Bass Strait triangle, the occult design of Canberra, the city we currently live in and the disappearance of a beloved prime minister we aren’t short of a conspiracy or two. Nor are we short of a cover up or scandal as we said earlier, it’s a typical week in parliament when someone is being ousted for using taxpayer dollars to fund a holiday or watch poor young woman twirl around a pole. But there was one cover up that resonated and started getting us thinking. We’ll start with that. The Sandline Affair, what was it and how were we involved as a nation? Read on friends and you’ll soon be delighted with what could be the plot for a multimillion dollar action film starring a lot of white african actors of people like us doing really bad accents.

Sitting just north of mainland Australia is the sovereign nation of Papua New Guinea, many Australian’s know it well due to the Kokoda Track campaign fought in World War two against the Japanese. But for over a decade the island nation fought a civil war between the government and the traditional land owners of Bougainville Island. Like most wars it was fought over land and resources. In this case it was more the resources and destruction of land, when a massive copper deposit was found in the 1960’s. Enter Australian mining giant Rio Tinto or Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA) as they were known back then who established a mine on the island. At the time of its establishment the Panguna open cut mine was the largest in the world. CRA registered various traditional landowners but excluded women despite the fact they are seen as traditional custodians of the land in the matrilineal system. That was error number one right there and one that wouldn’t stand in today’s society. It wasn’t until 1972 that production started under the management of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL). The PNG government at that point in time was a 20% shareholder. Starting to get a picture of where this is headed? Yeah you might be right…

The PNG Independence constitution at the time stated that land ownership was to just below the surface meaning that mineral rights belonged to the state. You can see where the traditional land owners might start to take issue with this given that at the time the mining operations provided 45% of Papua New Guinea’s national export revenue. The Bouganvillians had a very different concept of land seeing it as their lifeblood in political, emotional and social terms. Enter resentment, with substantial payouts going to certain landowner groups and not others you can see why it raised its ugly head. Now there are some of you saying to yourselves, when are they going to get to the good bit? Where’s the action promised earlier in the blog? Hold your horses it’s coming and Australia well we have a bit of a dark part to play in this true story.

With resentment often comes anger and when you aren’t being paid the royalties you were promised and your rivers are being polluted by the tailings for the mine and a belief that the land would never be returned to its natural state it’s only natural that you would become resentful. Heck we’ve been resentful over far less trivial things this year and the only thing that was polluted was our pride. By the late 80’s tensions had spilled over and one disgruntled landowner had had enough. Francis Ona who would later become one of the leaders of Bougainville Republican Army or BRA for short, led sabotage attacks on the mine and by 1989 his band of rebels had forced the mine into shutdown. It was the beginning of what would be a long and bloody civil war. From 1989 to 1998 atrocities were committed in the conflict known by the locals as the “Crisis” there has been no truth telling process or transitional justice. You want the numbers during the civil war it was estimated that over 20,000 people lost their lives. Various accounts of the conflict include reports of massacres, extra judicial killings, torture, mass rapes and disappearances just to name a few.

In mid 1994 Sir Julius Chan became the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, we are still questioning how the man who resorted to military intervention ever became knighted is beyond our understanding, maybe he just liked being called Sir. He started off with the right intentions and tried to resolve the conflict through diplomatic means however he failed to bring the Bougainville leaders Francis Ona, Sam Kauona and Joseph Kabui to the table for peace talks. Enter the Private Military Companies (PMC), by early 1996 the peace talks had faltered, the ceasefire was no longer in effect and Australia was hosting meetings between the PNG government and PMC companies, namely Plaza 107 limited (Which would later incorporate Sandline International), part of the well known Executive Outcomes network. Also present in the meeting were representatives from Branch Energy. Now depending who you believe they are a subsidiary of Plaza 107 Limited. As the picture started to build and the more we dug we realised that as a nation we could have stepped in a lot sooner than we did to help create peace for our neighbours to the north. Instead we let them use sunny Cairns to host meetings between their new Private Military Contractor mates and heads of defence.

Over the next year there would be several more meetings between the now newly minted private military company, Sandline International under the direction of Tim Spicer, Prime Minister Chan and the PNG Defence minister. Yeah Cairns played host to several of them and the city that Juan Anotonio Samaranch so famously called out all those years ago to host the 2000 Olympic games also hosted a meeting or two. By Early January 2007 a proposal had been tabled and contracts changed hands. The proposal would detail how to end the entire conflict and reopen the mine but there would be one small hiccup that would rock the proverbial boat and put a stop to use of Mercenaries alongside Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel. There were plans to use Russian attack helicopters supplied by Sandline International to straffe the island and destroy the Bougainville (BRA) leadership. Ok destroy is an understatement they wanted to wipe them off the face of the earth. But the plan outlined the death of men, women and children, anyone within rebel held parts of the island would be wiped out.

Sandline International under the contract signed by the Papua New Guinea Government, would provide Special Forces Training, and basically an army of highly trained soldiers as well as equipment, tactics and planning to aid the PNGDF to retake Bougainville, the contract would include the following: 42 Mercenaries (including 2 doctors) (Mainly British, South African and Australian) all former special forces soldiers subcontracted from Executive Outcomes, 2 Mi-17 Transport Helicopters, 2 Mi-24 Attack Helicopters, 100 AK-47 Assault rifles, 20 Makarov Pistols, 10 Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers plus 1000 rockets, 10 PKM Machine guns with 125,000 rounds, 800 grenades, mortar rounds, clips, ammunition for rifles totaling 750,000 rounds, crews and maintenance for the helicopters, uniforms including boots and webbing, night vision goggles and various other piece of military equipment all for the low price tag of US $36,000,000 back in 1997 or todays price tag of $57,590,803.74 (For those of you doing the conversion rates at home that’s $83,690,955.99 AUD).

Half of the fee was to be paid upfront and the other half on completion of their assignment (Rid Bougainville of it’s rebellious leadership and reopen the mine), this is of course after Sandline International had already been paid $250,000 US to outline in detail Project Contravene and what it would involve to Prime Minister Chan and his Deputy months earlier before the contract was signed. The outline contained very little to no analysis of what was actually happening on the ground and rather focussed on assumptions of interference from foreign interests (Australia and New Zealand) to keep the PNG economy from flourishing by refusing to offer aid and supporting the Bougainville Republican Army (BRA) by letting them have an office in an Australian City, again the city is Sydney (Said in a spanish accent, thanks Juan). The same country who was hosting meetings between a Private Military Company and the PNG Government. Yeah that was some good sales pitch by Sandline International playing on all the things that were of concern to the current government leading into an election.

The Sandline mercenaries were tasked to “get the criminals,” by which the mercenaries assumed the rebel leaders on Bougainville. Sandline’s plan was to use helicopters to support and ferry an operational force of contract soldiers to do battle where they would defeat the BRA and force a negotiated settlement. In addition to armed force, the tactics used by the Sandline involved manipulating the media and using psychological warfare on the people of central and south Bougainville. This instigated fear in Bougainville and PNG as a whole. The Sandline deal met opposition from Port Moresby Governor Bill Skate, who described it as “a crazy plan” because it reflected a failure on the part of the PNG government to address the crisis and issues of landowner grievance and environmental damage.

By February 1997 Sandline Mercenaries were landing in PNG in preparation while Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer (You all remember him right?) lands at the same airport during the unloading of the Antonov aircraft carrying weapons but doesn’t question the military buildup until he is told of the use of Mercenaries to aid in retaking Bougainville. Prime Minister “Caterpillar Brows” Howard gives Chen a call only to be told that Australia needs butt out and mind it’s own business. Ok so by now you are asking yourselves what was Australia’s involvement in all of this and was there any mystery at all? Or are the team just digging through the rubbish (Segway here) for a blog piece? Well our involvement was limited right up until the time the Weekend Australian published a cover story by Mary-Louise O’Callaghan on the engagement of mercenaries to ‘blast’ Bougainville rebel leadership and the presence of some Sandline personnel in PNG (Wewak to be specific).

Sparkling international support and debate along with the leaking of several documents led to 10 days of civil unrest around PNG that almost resulted in an all out civil war. Between the rioting in the capital and the calls for Chen and his government to resign, the Sandline Mercenaries were rounded up and put on a plane under the surveillance and security of PNGDF personnel and sent home, all except for Tim Spicer who was arrested and would provide evidence in a Royal Commission over the use of Sandline and the signing of contracts by the National Emergency Council (NEC). Australia’s involvement comes in March of 2007 where we as a nation agree at the request of the PNG Government for an aircraft carrying weapons supplied under the Sandline contract to land and for the weapons to be stored by the Australian Defence Force.

Remember those Attack helicopters? Yeah they sat at RAAF Tindal just deteriorating for 20 years before the Department of Defence ordered them to be disposed of. Loaded up in a couple of shipping containers they were shipped off to the Darwin tip and buried in the hazardous waste section in the hopes of never being seen again. At the time that Australia took custody of the helicopters and weapons there was an ongoing dispute between Sandline International and the PNG Government. The dispute lasted for over a decade and left us (Australia) with little choice but to hold onto the helicopters? Here’s where the mystery kicks in!

What happened to the 100 assault rifles, 20 makarov pistols, RPGs and all the ammunition that was on the plane along with the helicopters that had been forced to land in the top end when Australia took custody of the weaponry. We know the final chapter of the Russian made helicopters now continuing to rot in a Darwin dump due to the use of asbestos in their construct but what happened to all the weapons? Where did they end up? We know the PNG defense forces doesn’t use AK-47s and they certainly don’t use PKMs so where did the long laundry list of equipment sent over specifically for the Mercenary force disappear to? We know if made it to Australia in the back of a large Antonov cargo plane. From their it’s a mystery and one that we feel we’ll continue to dig into over the next couple of weeks. A few news stories hinted at the possible use of Russian military rifles in gang wars and crimes throughout the nation. Could these be the Sandline weapons?

The entire duration of the “Crisis” was filled with one scandal after another, the Sandline Affair itself was layer upon layer of scandal between the government of PNG and Sandline. The way the contract was approved, the way they were paid and the use of the contractors are scandals in themeselves. The fact that after all this time former Prime Minister Chen is still backing his play to use a government funded PMC to resolve the conflict is a scandal. The man clearly not once thought of the landowners and their frustrations. The mine had kicked this all off and the government had done the wrong thing whether it be through greed or through some stupid government policy. The situation was something that could have been handled so much better had man not followed his usual instincts.

With enough controversy surrounding the company and links to Executive Outcomes, Sandline International would fold overtime but not before being linked to a couple more international scandals. The people of Bougainville head to the poles this month to vote on their independence as part of an agreement that was made more than 20 years ago during the peace process to end the bloody 10 years conflict on Bougainville. The Sandline Affair marked a period of uncertainty and instability in the history of PNG with the government wanting to use military action instead of hearing and actioning the issues from the landowners on Bougainville. We’ll provide you an update on the vote and any issues that may arise causing yet another crisis with Australia’s closest northern neighbour.

From the team here we wish you a happy weekend and look forward to reading through the suggestions for next week’s blog. Thank you once again to the man we know as the Library Monitor for this week’s blog idea and the endless sleepless nights of research that we actually enjoyed. We could have written so much more on The Sandline Affair, it was truly an international scandal that could have resulted in an all out civil war across PNG. Thankfully a journalist and PNGDF general decided to blow the whistle. Pressure from the international community was enough to force a change in government and bring about a peaceful resolution, there were still over 10 years of fighting and 20,000 people lost their lives and we have missing weapons that were at last count in our custody…

So until next week we bid you a fond farewell and look forward to gracing your screens with more mind numbing blogs on things that tend to come out of nowhere at us. If you are interested in hearing more or going into more depth around the Sandline Affair please contact us and we’ll provide you with useful links and documentation providing a more indepth look at PNG and the history of the Bougainville crisis, Sandline Affair and Project Contravene. Adios amigos…

You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave…

Whilst there are those of us who look at dreams from a spiritual perspective the team here tend to look at them from the Psychological aspect. We thought since everyone dreams, despite the fact that over 80% of people don’t remember dreaming or more than 5% of their dreams, that we throw on a nightcap and sleeping gown to explore the dream state and look at the psychology behind them. If we have time we might get some spiritual mumbo jumbo for everyone to have a look at, you know to give you both sides of the proverbial coin. Clearly we’ve landed on the psychological side of the coin having watched it spin through the air for several years. Yes there are still things that science can’t explain but for most things there is a logical explanation available.

For the rest though there is always the whack job conspiracy theorist to help brighten up our days. Forward to dreamland we march. We would have liked to do an immersion study into Dreams however someone had to stay awake in order to write this blog for you. A screen full of Zzzz’s whilst looking quite interesting isn’t a very good read, last time we checked. So where does one start a dream blog and what is the appropriate response when someone asks you to interpret their dreams? Hopefully we’ll be able to answer that for you and more in the coming paragraphs. And if not well at least we’ve managed to somewhat entertain you for a couple of minutes with or unique blend of silly fact driven dribble.

Well firstly they say you learn something new everyday and if you haven’t for the day we’ll share with you what we just learnt. The study of dreams, more importantly the scientific study of dreams has its own name. Yep it’s got a scientific term, Oneirology (pronounced On-ear-ology, well at least that’s what the lady on youtube sounded like) which, yeah means the scientific study of dreams. So if you didn’t already know that you now do and potentially learnt something new for the day. Don’t say we’ve never taught you anything here at A Mind of Its Own. After all, sharing is caring as they say and we are all about educating our readers and promoting discussion of our topics. What is knowledge they say? That’s right its power!

According to reputable online forum Psychology Today, the most important scientific findings about dreams can be summarized into 9 key points. They could have made it an even number it would of looked a little tidier. Before we go into those though maybe we should answer the main question burning in our little brains. What is a dream? Well according to the not so reputable website where a lot of university students go to get their information these days. Wikipedia. A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. Why we dream is a little harder to explain and is not yet fully understood from a scientific standpoint. But it hasn’t stopped the shrinks around the globe coming up with theories around dreams and we’ll cover some of these off a little later.

The catalyst for the blog was a conversation with one of our close friends who has had some weird dreams and well the team being who they are the research light bulb sparked and we thought we’d try and help everyone understand why they dream and how dreams happen, why we dream what we dream. So the team will embark on a journey through the synapses to understand the how, what, where and why of it all. After all the whole premise of this here blog to answer questions and create conversation isn’t? Or are we just writing for the fun of it and people have slowly started to join in and read the rubbish that gets post each week while they are sitting on the can voiding their bowels?

A little graphic from the writers but we are trying to paint a picture here and speaking of pictures did you know that not everyone dreams in colour? Studies have found that people who predominantly grew up watching black and white TV tend to dream in black white, what colours they do see are said to represent feelings. Those who grew up in the 21st century tend to dream in colour and rarely have black and white dreams or colours that represent feelings. Speaking of thoughts and feelings it is believed and scientists are working on proving it that you dream when your thoughts and memories are being reorganised. You also tend to express your hidden desires when you dream. Your mental schema is also modified when you dream. Most dreams we witness things happening through visual or auditory perception.

And yeah someone asked the question Do Blind people dream? Silly of course they do, their dreams are more auditory than visual and they images they “see” have been described as a blur or non-existant or even created from their memories that have been built with touch and sound. It made us wonder whether someone could input images into a blind person minds and they would then know what a lot of things look like and be able to experience and see colours for the first time. Science has no doubt had a few things in the pipeline for years, heck he CIA used to experiment with mind altering drugs in the 70’s. It’s not a far leap to think they may have started experiments to make the blind see and experience in their dreams.

For those of you who wish to understand the meaning of your dreams well that’s dependant on what you link your dream images to and how you wish to interpret them altogether. There is no science behind how to interpret your dreams it is purely up to the individual to work out their own dreams. The surprising fact that has been scientifically proven is that the average person spends around six whole years of their lives dreaming, on average that’s two hours per night. Early studies led to the belief that we only dream during the earliest phases of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. However, more recent studies have shown that we dream through all the various sleep phases. When it comes to remembering our dreams though that’s where the lightest REM phase comes into play. According to scientists anyway and we tend to trust those guys given they do these studies for a living.

The anatomy of the sleep cycle is actually quite interesting and helps to explain why we remember dreams during the various phases of REM and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). Over the course of the night the body goes through the five stages of sleep 4-6 times spending an average of 90 minutes in each stage. As we spend so much of our lives sleeping it’s no wonder that we dream and dream often. It’s our dreams that can inspire others or lead us to individual greatness. They say dream big, or to go big or go home and well we have to agree with them. Whilst dreams are often our subconscious coming through and pulling with it the things we want and need in our lives.

Ok now that we know sleep is broken down into 5 phases or four phases depending on which school of thought you come from, we now know we dream throughout those 5 or 4 phases. We can now take a deeper look into the breakdown and psychology of our dreams. Yes we’ll try to answer the questions for you as to whether your dreams are a presentation of the future, past of present, our just our hopes and dreams playing out in the dreamstate? Hopefully we can answer that for you in the next couple of paragraphs before you fall asleep and start dreaming about the day we write a blog that keeps you awake and doesn’t bore you to sleep. We are kidding we know you can’t stop once you pick up our blog each week.

Ok so we thought the best way to do this would be to pick out some facts that have been scientifically proven, queue the anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and conspiracy theorists to argue the point just because they can and they will. They are a little like a mosquito flying around your room when you are trying to sleep. Ok, we kid, we kid they are ok and they are entitled to their opinions, even if they go against science. So some of this we have covered already above and some of it is new to us but we thought we’d give you some of the psychological effects and reasons behind our dreams. We picked thirteen to be annoying and because the boss keeps telling us that everything has to be an even number and it’s annoying us.

1. In Our Dreams, We Only See Faces That We Know

When you first hear this fact, you might think it surely doesn’t sound right… But in our dreams, the faces we see are faces that we know! Experts insist that our brains cannot invent new faces to feature in our dreams. This means that any face we see in our dreams is one we’ve seen before. This doesn’t mean that you personally know that person. Since most of us encounter “extras” in our dreams, this information may come as a surprise.

However, consider that we constantly encounter faces that we don’t necessarily log as important. So, a newsreader on a TV segment and a stranger on your commute to work can feature in your later dreams, and we may not recognise them as people we’ve already seen.

Most of the major players in our dreams are likely to be people we know quite well, or at least used to know. In some cases, our brains can also present a strange hybrid of people we know and those we don’t. For example, you might believe you’re interacting with an old friend in a dream, and their personality may fit perfectly. However, when you wake up you, might suddenly notice that they were “played” by a person with a different face, sometimes someone you’ve only encountered in passing.

2. Not Everybody Dreams In Colour

Surprisingly, not everyone dreams in color. In fact, a full 12% of sighted people will dream in black and white. Studies which were conducted from 1915 to the 1950’s supported that a majority of dreams had been in black and white. However, after the 1960’s the numbers did shift over to color. Further, the number of people who dream in black and white is dropping as the years’ pass. Research suggests that this could be linked to the fact that this was around the time that TV switched from black and white to color, so there may be a correlation.

3. Your Mind Is More Active During a Dream Than When You’re Awake

Most of us associate the idea of sleep with a slowing down of the mind and body. This makes sense, given that being asleep is all about resting, recharging and getting ready for a new day. Plus, a good sleep is profoundly relaxing and refreshing, giving you the impression you’re your brain has been working more slowly. However, don’t assume that your mind is less active during dreams. In fact, it’s more active then than it is when you’re awake! You can see this in the concrete data provided by sleep studies that track electrical activity in the brain. The above fact may not make sense to you at first glance, but it has a lot to do with the variety and significance of waking life. This appears to be because your brain is busy learning from what you did over the preceding hours, processing problems that remain, and making sense of everything you’ve seen and felt during the day. Some research hints that the brain is even more active during sleep when you’ve had a novel experience in the last 24 hours, or when you’ve been through a major change of some sort, whether positive or negative.

4. Animals Dream Too

Have you ever noticed that when your pet is asleep, they sometimes make noises, or twitch their paws as though they are running? This is because animals also dream. Studies have been conducted which showed that when animals are in the REM stage of sleep, they all show the same brain waves as we do when we are dreaming. The studies have included chimps, dolphins, dogs, and cats. It’s fair to speculate that most mammals (at the very least) dream, just like we do. This means that they can also be unsettled by their experiences of dreams. So, keep an eye on your pet after sleep to make sure they aren’t feeling out of sorts after a nightmare. We can all relate to that feeling of discomfort and disorientation after a dream!

5. Blind People Can Also Dream

It’s not only people who can see that can dream. Blind people can also dream. Those who had become blind after birth can still see in their dreams, however, those who have been born blind cannot see in their dreams. Those who cannot see in their dreams, still experience dreams in a different way: through smell, sound, touch and other senses.

6. Dreams Speak Through Our Subconscious

Now, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably wondered “What do dreams mean when you dream about someone specific?”. As mentioned at the outset, there’s still a prominent school of thought according to which dreaming of someone or something can tell you something useful about how you feel, and about what you want from life. So, what does it mean when you dream of someone repeatedly? Psychological facts about dreams of someone suggest that it can indicate a range of things. In some cases, you repeatedly dream about someone because you care a lot about them and have some kind of unresolved issues with them. This could be a romantic interest, or it could be about losing touch with an old friend. It could just as easily indicate an ongoing conflict under the surface of your dynamic with a family member.

7. Dreams Are Often Forgotten

Everyone has dreams when they sleep, it’s just that a lot of us don’t remember them when we wake up. It is simply not easy to hold onto the bulk of the content of your dreams. Up to 60% of people do not remember their dreams at all, especially after the first 5 minutes of waking up. In addition, for the average person, 90% of the details from dreams have vanished within a mere ten minutes. This means you can really only remember a fraction of your dreams. The exception to this is if something ways you during the rapid eye movement stage of your dreams (i.e. REM sleep). When this happens, you’re typically more capable of recalling dream information. The downside is that you will also feel startled, and will miss out on one of the most important, healing parts of the sleep process. Of course, dreams are also more likely to stick with you if they repeat or have emotional resonance. However, if you have a general interest in remembering dreams, try keeping a notepad by your bed and noting down an outline as soon as you wake. This means you can regularly come back to your dreams and see if you notice overlapping themes or can figure out any potential messages from your subconscious mind.

8. Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is where you have a temporary inability to move or speak. This can occur either when you are waking up or when you are falling asleep. Most people will experience sleep paralysis once or twice in their life, whilst others can experience it more regularly.

Sleep paralysis does not feel like you are in a dream, it feels real. Some people have said that during their experience, they feel a sensation that someone or something is in the room with them. Sleep Paralysis normally lasts from a few seconds to several minutes.

9. Some Dreams Could Be Premonitions

There have been some cases where people have claimed to have dreamt things that turned out to actually happen later. Some say it is coincidence, while others say they can see the future and experience premonitions. The cases recorded include: Abraham Lincoln dreaming of his assassination, many victims of the 9/11 had dreams warning them, and there have also been 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic, to name a few.

10. You Can Act Out Your Dreams When Sleepwalking (And Worse!)

Sleepwalking is known as an extreme form of REM sleep disorder. For some, sleepwalking can be mild and for others, more serious. Some cases could be where you walk around your room or talk to others, whilst sleeping. However, there have been cases where people have left their homes, or drawn gorgeous paintings that they cannot paint when they are awake.

11. Dreams Recharge Your Creativity

You may have thought that apart from any subconscious messages they contain, dreams must be quite useless. That’s not so much the case. They can actually improve your performance in seemingly unrelated areas of your everyday life. According to research reported by the American Psychological Society on the psychology of dreams, they work wonders for your creative faculties in particular. If you’re an artist, you might have already spotted this, but the type of creativity we’re talking about here also applies to things like creative problem-solving. Apparently, this is because the process of dreaming is a lot like using your imagination to be creative. When your brain analyses and tackles problems during your sleep, it’s activity parallels that witnessed when you’re being creative in waking life. This means that no matter what your preferred artistic mode of expression might be, you’re likely to be better at it after a night of vivid dreaming. And, as a bonus, you may find direct inspiration in your dreams. For example, if you dream about a fantastical scenario, go through a challenging experience or revisit a moving aspect of your past, this can help you “tune into” the types of intense emotions that boost creative output.

12. Men And Women Dream Differently

When women dream there are normally an almost equal amount of both men and women that are involved in their dreams. However, for men, around 70% of the people in their dreams are other men. As well as this, men have been known to have more aggressive dreams than women too. Women also tend to have slightly longer dreams.

13. 50% Of Dreams Are Negative

Research has found that most dreams include negative emotions. 50% of all dreams are normally negative. In a study that was conducted, the common emotions that people experienced during their dreams were sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety.

So we aren’t too sure as to whether we answered any questions or all questions or just wasted a lot of our time and your time this week as we dreamed away 5 pages of what would no doubt be some of the most boring material we have come up with to date. The adventure into dreamland wasn’t as exciting as we had hoped it was even a little mind numbing and boring to us which is probably why it took so long to write and edit. That and we’ve actually been busy at the job that pays the bills so we thought rather than getting sacked and sitting around coffee shops all day writing books and blogs we should make some actual money and stop eating two minute noodles. Ok to be the struggling writer when you have nothing to actually do but it’s not ok when you have a job that pays you quite well.

Anyway that’s enough from us for another week, we’ll leave you in peace and wish you a fond farewell until the next piece of literary genius hits your inbox and dances across your screen like a burlesque dancer at a show on a friday night in northern siberia. Like always we’ll love you and leave you, thanks for being the ever faithful fans and supporting us like you have from day one on this amazing journey into the blogosphere. Yeah we just dropped blogosphere after saying we never would. And on that note we’ve been A Mind of Its Own and it’s been our pleasure have a good day or night wherever you may be.

Timberwolves at New Jersey…

It’s funny how people will come in and out of your life. They drift from one Dunbar number to next and often back and forth between the various different social groups in your life. If you are wondering what we are talking about you’ll need to go back to last weeks post and have a read. But it does help us lead into this weeks A Mind of Its Own, yep plug an old piece and get a segway into this weeks blog well played by us. Anyway, we used to have a mate and this week’s blog goes out to him. Yep we had a mate just one! I’d say he sat most of the time in between our clan and tribe level on the Dunbar matrix. He was never a really good close mate that we’d confide in but someone that we hang out with on regular occasion when we were younger.

We’ll call him Abe because it was the worst name we could come up with and he was often a bit of a knob to people in his younger immature years but who wasn’t right? Abe had this argument he’d bring up whenever he’d had a couple of beers and was well on his way to being obnoxious and annoying. The argument we’ve presented before but we’ve never really gone into detail and explained the why or how. So the premise of the argument is that it’s not a sport unless it involves a ball. Over the years it has provided hours of fun and conversation around the pub, club or bar as people try to disprove the theory that it’s not a sport unless it involves a ball.

Already the cogs are ticking away in your head as you think about so called ‘sports’ that don’t involve a ball. It’s at this point that obnoxious Abe would start shooting down peoples suggestions of sports left, right and centre. Like a gunslinger from the wild west he was first to draw and quick to blow a hole in his challengers arguments no matter how good a point they made that their sport was indeed a sport. It’s usually a lot of the individual sports that were the first to be shot down in flames. From there things progressed to some team based sports that even as sensible human beings we struggled to comprehend how they had become sports. But if it can be commercialised you can guarantee our allies in the US of A will have turned it into a money making scheme.

According to the definition, A sport is an activity that is competitive and athletic, and which requires some particular set of skills or physical abilities to be carried out. But good old Abe could never be swayed on his sports stance. The man even had a book planned but quickly gave up on the idea when he realised the title “Balls and All” was already taken and that he’d actually have to write it himself.

So what’s a sport, well the following is a list of some sports according to Abe:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Dodgeball
  • Football (Soccer, Gridiron, AFL, Rugby Union, Rugby League)
  • Tennis (Including Table)
  • Quidditch
  • Lawn Bowls
  • Lacrosse
  • Polo
  • Field Hockey
  • Bowling
  • Billiards
  • Cricket

The list goes on and there are so many derivatives of sports that we could literally list pages upon pages of them. But we aren’t here to talk about what is a sport we want to focus on what isn’t. If it doesn’t involve a ball it’s not a sport, plain and simple. What’s that athletics is a sport? No sorry it isn’t athletics is a bunch of life skills we all need and here is why. In the wild you need to be able to run away from big game so running is not a sport. Huddles is not a sport, when you are running away from the police you need to be able to leap over fences without stopping and high jump well that’s just even bigger fences. Javelin you say, nope another life skills that’s just hunting skills. Discus is just a heavy frisby, the only two athletics events that are actual sports are shot put and hammer throw. Yes the hammer is a ball on a chain a little like paddle tennis in your backyard.

Swimming is also not a sport and the most easy to argue. If you don’t swim you drown! It’s really a no brainer. Most water sports fall into the it’s not a sport category and can be classified as recreation activities. That includes synchronised swimming, diving, fishing, surfing, water skiing, wakeboarding or water pistol fights. Boxing, MMA, wrestling and any of the martial arts are not sports they are additional survival skills you may one day need when and if the zombie apocalypse comes or your country is invaded. Horse racing, motor racing and boat racing are not sports either they are activities, recreational or otherwise and none of them involve a ball unless its car soccer that’s a sport. The prevalent rise of gaming is also another recreational activity that is not a sport even if you are playing a sport on the screen.

We then move on to all the adventure sports like rock climbing, base jumping, hang gliding, street luge, white water rafting or kayaking, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, kite surfing and anything else that has a high likelihood of injury are all not sports. Rock climbing like tree climbing is something you did when you were a kid, cliff diving with or without a parachute is just silly. Laying on a skateboard and flying down a hill is also not a sport and something you did when you were 12 years old. The rest all just fall into recreational activities or modes of transportation.

Then there are those sports that just become questionable like hockey, played on the field it’s a sport, on ice the argument becomes a little dodgy as it’s a puck and not a ball however many a bar brawl has almost started over this one and apparently it is a sport because the ball was originally used however some genius came up with the idea to slice it in half as it travelled better over the ice. Over the years the ball was just flattened down into the puck we now know. So Abe’s argument on this one is that it’s just a squashed ball. Badminton is another questionable sport but again it’s a ball shaped object with wings a little like the golden snitch from the Harry Potter invented game of Quidditch, which has geeks running around on broomsticks across ovals all around the globe.

Anything that requires firing a weapon that was once used to kill other humans can not be classified as a sport on the premise that if it kills it’s not a sport. Archery, shooting, ice skating are all hunting skills and help put food on the fire when the world goes to shit or you just don’t have time to make it to Coles or Woolworths. Like fishing is not a sport, if you don’t catch a fish you don’t eat. What’s the saying ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime’ It’s a part of the survival skill set that we all need to have in our lives. Heck you can combine it with as many other activities as you like and it still doesn’t make it a sport, yeah we are calling you out Biathlon, skiing and shooting has been done to hunt and kill in snow covered countries for centuries that doesn’t make it sport.

Dancing is something that you do in nightclub and therefore is not a sport even when you add ribbons or some batons and call it rhythmic gymnastics. Even when you throw in a pole and the man or woman does some acrobatic stuff on the pole and gets paid money to do so, it’s not a sport despite the guy having balls. And there’s another group of activities that aren’t sports. Gymnastics isn’t a sport either, except for that one floor event where they throw the bowling ball around that’s a sport. The balance beam, rings, uneven bars, trampoline and other floor events are all things that belong in a circus or a children’s jungle gym. Some of those skills could be used for survival though. Another so called sport to rise over the past decade is CrossFit and even the smart people here at A Mind of Its Own question whether that’s a sport.

We’ve decided that CrossFit is not a sport unless there is a medicine ball carrying event that is the only portion of this so called sport that is actually a sport. The rest is a bunch of fitness fanatics jumping over boxes, lifting weights, climbing ropes and doing all the things the military seem to do. To take it one step further it’s not a sport but do people try and classify bodybuilding as a sport? We know there is a lot of doping in professional sports but professional modeling competitions where you need to look like a triangle seems to have more Anabolic Steroids than the Bombers medical unit before James Hird was sacked. It’s a peptide party and only Essendon are invited but the coach didn’t know a thing about it… Hmm we think not!

As you can see there is an argument that can go with every example and if we wanted to we could take up a lot more of your time with what isn’t a sport but we’ve provided you with some of Abe’s best examples of what isn’t a sport. The man has an argument or come back for every example of a sport that he would have declassified from being a sport and the whole Idea started over a beer or two which funnily enough has now become part of a sport that has its own world championships. And yes ladies and gentlemen it’s a sport, Beer Pong the sport in which drunk men and women throw, you guessed it a ball into plastic red cups to make the other team get drunker and drunker. Run out of cups on the table and you lose. It’s a simple sport but nevertheless it is a sport.

Abe has been arguing for at least the last decade and no doubt has started a campaign or two for the rights of real sports. The problem though with Abe’s argument is that a lot of real sports are starting to die. With our interconnected world more and more children are staying inside and playing video games or chatting away to friends on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or any other online instant messaging system available. Heck even text messages are instantaneous these days unless you are on network Vodafone oh noooo. But in all seriousness, where did the kids go that had great imaginations and would play outside for hours on end until they were called inside for dinner. Oh that’s right the world changed and creeps roam the streets praying on women and small children like the monsters of myths, legends and fairytales.

So no matter where you fall on the great is it a sport debate, just remember the words of Abe the great. If it doesn’t have a ball it’s not a sport, if you can drive it, ride it or kill with it, it’s not a sport. The great sport debate will rage on throughout drinking holes around the globe for years to come. The Future of sports is unknown but we’ll no doubt see more and more technology involved in our favourite sports. From drones for viewing to GPS and heat mapping of players movements around the sporting field to no doubt robots taking the place of humans at some point in time throughout the future. It’s a scary new world for sports, those with balls anyways.

Yet another chapter to be filed away in the A Mind of Its Own chronicles. As the sun dips beyond the horizon on another day we’ll close this blog by saying the following. If you are a professional athlete and have taken offense to this because you don’t have a ball in your sport, take it up with Abe you can find him at the Raiders club in Canberra. The gungahlin one just FYI, for those looking to spark up the great debate over a beer or two and a slap on the pokies. I hear he’s a big fan of Where’s the Gold these days! On that note and the no doubt several calls we may get from Abe we’ll say goodbye and wish you all a pleasant week wherever you may be in this wonderful world.

Oh and if something doesn’t make sense there is a good chance Google can answer it for you, it’s helped us to research a lot of the things we write about here.

Things We Lost In the Fire…

After last weeks foray into self-help books and people not being able to be themselves or needing to wear a mask to the world. We thought we’d dive a little deeper into the study of evolutionary anthropology and look at one of only a handful of men who have a number named after him. Once we’ve done all that we’ll attempt to make light of why we struggle when presented with so much choice and why our choices often lead to what is more commonly known as the ‘fear of missing out’ or as the kids tend to say these days FOMO. So as we kick of another week of A Mind of Its Own we welcome old friends and new friends alike to yet another addition of Australia’s favourite blog. The country just doesn’t know it yet…

Being a topic that has piqued our interest us for quite some time now we thought it was only prudent that we lend our hand to spreading the message that is the study of evolutionary anthropology and psychology. It’s only fitting that we start with the man that introduced us to some of the studies that captured our imagination. It was Mark Manson who pointed out Professor Robin Dunbar and his now famous number in a talk he gave about his most recent self help book ‘Everything is F#cked’ at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The team attended as part of our exploration into the self help world and it’s so called gurus. (See previous blog for more context around the topic). So who is Robin Dunbar?, What is the Dunbar number and how did he come up with it? All will be revealed below along with some of our own observations, calculations and salutations.

Robin Ian McDonald Dunbar, born 28th of June 1947, for those that are into Astrology he’s a cancer, yep a crab. The man hails from our motherland, yes England and we wonder whether he’s ever thrown out the convict title when referring to all of us in the land down under. An anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist by trade he specialises in primate behaviour. However when asked what his research is all about Professor Dunbar usually responds with the following. He’s written multiple books on psychology, evolution, anthropology as well as scientific and research journals. Been interviewed on several occasions regarding the Dunbar number as well as had several people try to disprove his theory only to come back to the magic number around 150.

“My research is concerned with trying to understand the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular). Understanding these mechanisms, and the functions that relationships serve, will give us insights on how humans have managed to create large scale societies using a form of psychological that is evolutionarily adapted to very small scale societies, and why these mechanisms are less than perfect in the modern world. This has implications for the design of social networking sites as well as mobile technology. We use conventional behavioural and cognitive experimental approaches, combined with network analysis, agent based modelling, comparative studies of primate brain evolution, neuroimaging and neuroendocrinology to explore explicit and implicit processes at both the dyadic and the group level. An important feature of our behavioural studies has been the constraints that time places on an individual’s ability to manage their relationships, and the cognitive tricks used to overcome these”.

So how did he come up with the Dunbar number and what is it? There is a complex answer and a simple answer to what is the Dunbar number and if you read on we’ll explain how Professor Dunbar came up with it. But First things first. The Dunbar number, what is it? It is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust and obligation. There is some personal history and not just names and faces. That’s the simple answer, the more complex answer goes a little something like this. The way our social world is constructed is part and parcel of our biological inheritance. Together with apes and monkeys, we form part of the primate family. Within that family there is a general relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the social group. We fit within a pattern. There are social circles beyond it and layers within it but there is a natural grouping that averages around 150. The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: a hundred at the low end and two hundred for the more social of us.)

From there, through qualitative interviews coupled with analysis of experimental and survey data, Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face. While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid. Your five today may not be your five next week; people drift among layers and sometimes fall out of them altogether.

Firstly, it’s a little confusing as there is no specific number actually assigned as the ‘Dunbar number’, as previously stated above however 150 is a common number which is associated and the answer as to why will become more apparent as we explain how Professor Dunbar came across his numbering during a study. As to how the study came about well thanks to our cousins in the animal kingdom. Yes primates, whilst working on why primates spend so much time grooming each other he wanted to test a hypothesis that says primates have big brains and the reason why is because they live in a complex social world. Grooming being social, he hypothesised that all these things should be able to be mapped together. He started plotting brain size, group size and grooming time against one another in which he came out with a nice set of relationships.

According to the good professor, he had a light bulb moment rather early one morning around 3am where he wondered what would happen if he plugged humans into the study. After doing so he got a number of 150 connections, on first glance it looked implausibly small given that most people now live in cities. It turns out the number was the typical size of hunter gatherer societies. It was also the average size of a village in the Domesday Book (A manuscript record of the “Great Survey” conducted in much of England and parts of Wales in 1086 by order of King William The Conqueror).

The number turns out to be much the same when you have better data available. An example of this is parish registers in the 18th century. County by county the average village size was once again 150, except for Kent which was 100. Professor Dunbar has no idea why it is smaller but hypothesized that perhaps there was a higher density of people with bigger brains in Kent throughout the 18th century. Unfortunately the records available can not prove or disprove this theory. A quick google search though did tell us that the population in England exploded throughout the 18th century which is contrary to the Dunbar number and the parish records that state the average size of the village was 100 people.

The professor further hypothesized that the number most likely dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans around 250,000 years ago and by going back in time and estimating brain size we can see community sizes on the decline. Through evolutionary strategy we evolved and adapted as a social species. Most animal species aren’t as intensely social as humans, apes and monkeys. They tend to pair up and mate for life unlike primates, who whilst they tend to mate monogamously it’s not always for life or the same partner. We guess the lesson behind that is there is something computationally demanding about maintaining close relationships over a very long period of time as we all know.

Ok so when we started out on this little exploration into the Dunbar Number we were under the assumption that it was a number based on connections you could have in your life, which is correct but we being the A Mind of Its Own team thought it was a little simpler than it has turned out to be. Like most topics we tackle it’s just raising more and more questions but slowly the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to create the picture. So before we wrap it up for another week, we’ll answer two more burning questions and for once try to tie it all together in a nice neat bow for you, rather than leaving it ambiguous and unfinished as we’ve so often done.

The first of the final two questions is can we grow the Dunbar Number? Again there is a simple answer and complicated answer. In modern times we are caught in a somewhat of a bind as community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer type societies, when people weren’t living on top of one another. Days gone by your 150 would be scattered over a wide area but everyone shared the same 150. It made for a dense interconnected community that policed itself. You didn’t need lawyers and policemen. If you stepped out of line you more than likely had granny to answer to. For the last twenty-two years, Dunbar has been “unpacking and exploring” what that number actually means—and whether our ever-expanding social networks have done anything to change it.

The problem we face is the sheer density of people, it stretches our networks rather than keeping them compact. Most people will have friends scattered around the world who don’t know one another. This in turn means we no longer have interwoven networks, therefore leading to less well integrated societies. So the question now becomes how do we recreate that old sense of community. That’s a social engineers problem that needs to be worked around. The alternative is that we evolve bigger brains, they’d have to be much bigger and that would take a long time.

The second of our final two questions actually started out our interest in all this and we have written about technology and whether it has killed off social interaction on several occasions in the past. What role does the internet and social media play in the Dunbar Number? Like an onion there are multiple layers to this question. Can you have meaningful relationships online with the old number of 150? Well the answer is yes according to Professor Dunbar. Using the example of Twitter, we can find out what you had for breakfast from a mere tweet. Can we really get to know one another better though? Digital developments have helped us to keep in touch when in the past a relationship might have died through distance of various other circumstances, however due to our biology in the end we actually have to get together to make a relationship work.

As humans we still rely heavily on touch and as hard as the crazy science guys have tried we still have worked out how to do virtual touch, perhaps when we cracked that big nut it may lead to a true Dunbar Number? The last and final piece to our puzzle is where does choice come into all of this? Living in an interconnected world we have an abundance of choice at our fingertips. We have everything we could possibly need at the palm of our hands. Every aspect of our lives can be managed from a device and for every aspect there are multiple choices. If we look at social media and the amount of connections people have on average, most people would say they have more than the average Dunbar Number. Most of the A Mind of its Own team certainly have more than 150 followers or are following 150 people whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms.

Ask yourself this question though, out of all those people who you follow or are following, how many of those people do you truly trust and feel an obligation towards to maintain your friendship. We can guarantee you that number won’t match the number you follow or thought. You may be able to arrange them into the various patterns of Dunbar Numbers but there will be some that float in between groups. So here’s our take on the whole Dunbar Number, the internet why the world is so ridiculously F#cked at present. Whilst many people will blame social media it was the internet that ruined the world. We (Humanbeings) thought that by providing each other with as much information as possible at our fingertips the truth would float to the top. That’s not the case our brains aren’t developed or evolved enough, if you will to compute that amount of data and work out whats fact from fiction.

The internet has provided us with freedom of choice when it comes to deciding what’s truth and what is a lie. The fact our thinking brain and feeling brain can’t make an educated decision due to the amount of data available has led us down the garden path in more ways than one. Unsubstantiated facts have have become the truth for many around the world as their feeling brains take over and that fact whilst not having any truth or in most cases science behind it, it now becomes their truth and the knock on effect is that each time they relay that fact if becomes more and more the truth they believe. Give someone too many choices whether it be selecting one festival to attend out of all them across a year, you are guaranteed that person will have some from of regret or FOMO.

In societal aspects this can be related to dating and the rise of online dating platforms like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and eHarmony. The fact that divorce is on the rise, polygamy and polyamory are now both acceptable in society leads one to believe we now have too much choice when it comes to finding a mate. In a society of swiping left and right, we no longer base our connections on more than just looks and are we truly getting to know people? An example of this are the boys and girls who are seeing multiple people at once as they can’t decide on just one person through fear of missing out that someone better might come along. Again we have too much choice and aren’t making the strong connections we would have made back in the day before we lived in an interconnected world. In relation to Dunbars numbers a lot of these people would start in the acquaintance group and depending on whether a relationship developed or not they could move up or out of the larger number.

On an even deeper level, there may be a physiological aspect of friendship that virtual connections can never replace.

So as we gift wrap this latest blog for you we can sum it up by saying, the internet killed the world and gave rise to anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and a lot of the internet’s other whack jobs. It’s responsible for providing a platform or soapbox to every man and its dog to play their violin and whinge their woe is me story. Or spew their hateful rhetoric across the internet. Whilst we are more interconnected than ever, we are not as interwoven as we have been throughout history and therefore our Dunbar Numbers stay relatively the same. Social media and internet dating sites and applications have given us too much choice and therefore we are not happy with the choices we are making. People no longer try to work things out due to this and sexually transmitted infections, apparently people didn’t like catching a disease are on the rise in 1st world countries. So all in all as Mark Manson put it, “Everything is Fucked” until next week do some thinking and work out who your 5 are. We know ours.

“Words are slippery, a touch is worth a 1,000 words any day”.