Saturday, September 22, 2018

No matter what I write or post

****I am never telling you what to do!
 Telling people what to do robs them of the right of learning through experience andd it also tends to place the speaker in some sort of authority. I only share my past eeperiences, posteriori. Being human and fully aware, I also share limited priori accessements.
 But please, never think I'm attempting to tell you what to do, that's beneath me.


How are men involved in abortion

 Unless you're a female and have carried a child for nine months you really should shut up. This also goes for females that have never been pregnant.
 No one can appreciate what it feels like to be pregnant with child except for those pregnant with child. No one has a right to take the moral high ground or the religious theological approach. (That view and approach changes every generation to what ever suits the particular church)


 The way some individuals think and act, abortion should be legal up until the age of 85 and 90 for men, just in case.

What’s The Word For Someone Who Loves To Learn? *Link

People who love to learn don’t depend only on classrooms or professors. They seek answers for every question, their minds are always clouded with ‘how’ and ‘why’. They have innate desire to please their inner curiosity and dig deeper until their thirst for answer quenches.


A Miskito Indian breakfast


The Evolutionary Advantages of Being Stupid



THE EVOLUTIONARY ADVANTAGES OF BEING STUPID EUGENE D. ROBIN, M.D* It is generally accepted that the highly developed brain of man with its associated high degree of intelligence represents a decisive difference between man and other animals. It is frequently suggested that a high intelligence from the evolutionary standpoint can be equated with "superiority." This type of thinking has resulted in an anthropocentric view in which man because of his intelligence is regarded as the pinnacle of evolution. This opinion was expressed by Darwin in the conclusion section of The Descent of Man as follows: Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future. But we are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason permits us to discover it; and I have given the evidence to the best of my ability. We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar sys-, tern—with all these exalted powers—Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. [1] Even this glowing tribute is considered inadequate by some modern students of evolution. Witness, for example, the following passages by Sir Julian Huxley: There is, finally, Darwin's failure to recognize explicitly the radical differences between man and other animals, especially between the process of evolution in man and in other animals. It is true that he speaks of high intellectual power and conscious morality as distinctive attributes of our species and implies that human speech is something sui generis as a means of communication; it is true that he regards man as the highest product of evolution. But nowhere does he * Professor of medicine and physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford , California 94305. Data used in this essay were obtained with the assistance of Dr. Julio Acevedo, second-year medical students Ronald Dubowy and Lili Gottfried, Dr. Robert Eisner, Dr. Lawrence M. Simon, and Dr. James Theodore. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Spring1973 | 369 point out man's truly unique and most important characteristic—cumulative tradition , the capacity for transmitting experience and the fruits of experience from one generation to the next; nor does he discuss the implications of this new human mechanism of change, as he did so exhaustively for the biological mechanism of natural selection. Thus, while overwhelmed by the thought that modern Europeans must be descended from ignorant savages, like the naked Fuegians who burst on his astonished sight, he makes no attempt to discuss or even to point out the fact that evolution from the savage to the civilized state involves essentially not a biological but a cultural change. That evolution is a natural process, involving man as well as all other organisms in its unbroken continuity: that natural selection inevitably generates novelty, adaptive improvement, and advance in general organization: that successful types tend to differentiate into dominant groups: that improvement of the mental capacities of life, or as I would prefer to put it, advance in the organization of awareness, has been one of the most striking trends in the evolution of higher animals, and has led naturally to the appearance of the distinctive mental and moral qualities of man—these ideas of Darwin, I would say, have been especially important for the later development of evolutionary theory. In the light of these facts and ideas, man's true destiny emerges in a startling new form. It is to be the chief agent for the future of evolution on this planet. Only in and through man can any further major advance be achieved—though equally he may inflict damage or distortion on the process, including his own evolving self. [2, pp...


Land of Barbarism: A Glimpse of America


by Solomon Comissiong
Garbage in, garbage out. “America's foundation is built upon the bloodied, mutilated, and lifeless bodies of innumerable people – mostly of color.” Is it any wonder, then, that the United States would become, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. concluded, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” – mainly directed against non-Europeans. “We cannot evade the fact that America is a swampland of institutional racism and white supremacy; these realities make it easy for many Euro-Americans to accept the mass killing of people of color across the globe.”

Land of Barbarism: A Glimpse of America
by Solomon Comissiong
"I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don't see any American dream--I see an American nightmare."  Malcolm X
Americans have accepted barbaric narratives of ‘justifiable wars’ and ‘humanitarian wars,’ fed to them from a trough full of lies.”
When Western Europeans embarked upon their expansion of death and destruction throughout what is now commonly known as America, they would often justify these grizzly campaigns in the name of "civilization." They felt it was necessary to civilize the "barbaric red-man." The people whom whites often referred to as "Injuns" (a racist term used by settlers/thugs to label indigenous people throughout North America), were in the way of European plundering of the land. The amoral shiftless hypocrites from Western Europe needed to conjure up some rationalization for the tidal waves of mass murder they were soon to unleash upon the "uncivilized heathens." These "Injun heathens" needed a European brand of civilizing, and they needed the white man's numerously rewritten Bible.
It did not matter that they fled England in large part due to religious persecution; whites referencing their holy book to validate brutal massacres. As a matter of fact, they, and their European cousins (Spanish, Portuguese, French, et al), made a habit of imposing their Bible and religion upon indigenous people of color – no matter where they went. They simply had to "civilize" and bring culture to the world's "savages" of color, or so they said. They were deemed "savages" predicated on simple facts like: they were non-white and they had different cultures. Oh – they were also on land the Europeans wanted to steal. Europeans needed little justification to execute their routine acts of savagery and barbarism. This was the European way.
It mattered little that, no matter where they went, there were prosperous societies riddled with indigenous people. It didn't matter that these societies were much better off, more democratic, and humane than the regions these Europeans fled. And it surely did not matter that these indigenous people had their own form of spirituality. What mattered was that they were different and occupied land they wanted. This was reason enough for the real barbarians to initiate killing sprees that would make Hitler blush.
They were deemed ‘savages’ predicated on simple facts like: they were non-white and they had different cultures.”
Indigenous people of color throughout the globe were not the savages; it was those who imposed incessant onslaughts of terror upon them. Their actions make this an undeniable conclusion. These horrific true tales happened throughout the globe almost wherever Europeans roamed, including throughout what we now call "America".
America's foundation is built upon the bloodied, mutilated, and lifeless bodies of innumerable people – mostly of color. Given the undeniable historical background of the illegal founding of this country, it should be of no surprise that its legacy of death and destruction continue unabated, even in 2012.  Americans have become, in essence, complicit in their overall mental and social demise. They have allowed a government they believe represents them to psychologically dumb them down, as well as to rob them of humanity. Each time someone (anyone) is complicit with the loss of innocent lives, regardless whoever is the murderer, they are exhibiting disregard for humanity. Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right when he said, "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
Barbarism has become entrenched within American society – the foundation was built hundreds of years ago, it is now perfected. The rulers of this strange society have convinced its populace that lies are truths and that truths are lies. The people believe almost anything their government (and its unofficial 4th branch, called the media) feed them. It matters little to most Americans that their government has created carnage throughout the globe. Americans have been easily persuaded in to believing that somehow these people are a different kind of human, therefore their lives are less valuable. We cannot evade the fact that America is a swampland of institutional racism and white supremacy; these realities make it easy for many Euro-Americans to accept the mass killing of people of color across the globe.  And they certainly don't give a damn about the state sponsored loss of black life within their own stolen country, let alone that of other countries.
The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement recently released an important report detailing the extrajudicial killing of 110 black people between January 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012, by police, security guards or self-appointed law enforcement in America. How many Euro-Americans give a damn about this report or the rampant police brutality and terror communities of color are subjected to throughout this so-called land of "freedom and democracy?”
It matters little to most Americans that their government has created carnage throughout the globe.”
How many of the white corporate owned media outlets (MSNBC/NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX ‘News,’ ABC) give a damn enough to do a feature on this human rights crisis? Please don't hold your collective breaths waiting for an answer. The corporate media in the US have a duty to make sure the overall status quo is upheld. They do this primarily by making sure Americans are oblivious to various issues (which means keeping it off their limited radar), and if they do think about these kinds of issues (police brutality), their job is to make sure Americans cast immediate doubt on the victims (people of color murdered by police) and not on the murderers (cops that kill people of color).  In a sane and civilized country there would be a national outcry to immediately put a stop to a system of policing that preys upon specific communities. Is there a national outcry regarding police brutality in black and brown communities in America? If you correctly answered "no" you also answered the question whether the US is a sane and/or civilized nation.
America is a nation where even its highest government officials, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, routinely exhibit themselves like bloodthirsty cave dwellers. When Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was barbarically murdered on camera by US financed terrorist thugs, it was Hillary Clinton who savagely proclaimed on camera, "we came we saw he died " . Only a nation of mentally moral zombies would condone this kind of barbaric behavior from one of their high-ranking government officials. Americans accept this kind of inhumane behavior because they have been trained (programmed) quite well.
Hillary "the barbarian" Clinton would be a suitable name if she were a professional wrestler, however she is not – nonetheless the name is still befitting of a proud war criminal. Are we to believe that US Secretary of State Clinton has genuine well-intentioned reasons for recently visiting Laos ? Are we to believe that she actually gives a damn that decades after the US imperialist Vietnam war there are still people dying from undetonated bombs? These incredibly destructive weapons were left over from the 2 million-plus tons of bombs the United States military indiscriminately dropped on Laos. Hillary Clinton claims the US is so concerned that they are now willing to clean up the leftover bombs. Really? Are civilized human beings to revel at the idea of the US spending 9 million dollars this year to cleanup a mess they created? Where are the hundreds of billions of dollars (at least) of reparations that nations like Laos are owed so that they can move forward towards truly rebuilding much of their nation? There can never be a price tag placed on the countless lives lost (millions throughout Southeast Asia), however, with a justifiable reparations package these resilient people can create a more stable and prosperous future for their children. Once again, don't hold your breath on the US doing the right thing in this case either – providing suitable reparations to the people of Southeast Asia would be an admission of guilt. This is why the US has never taken seriously the issue of reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans. They don't want to admit guilt for the crimes of Euro-Americans who build their economy and infrastructure on the blacks of kidnapped African people.
In a sane and civilized country there would be a national outcry to immediately put a stop to a system of policing that preys upon specific communities.”
Doing the right thing regarding human rights, in America, has become an elusive idea. Americans have largely accepted the narrative imposed upon them, which is often referred to as "American Exceptionalism."  This most dangerous idea moves American further and further away from the majority of the global community. They are allowing themselves to be moved to a state of isolation from those within the global community who appreciate humanity and want a world free of war and injustice. Americans have decided to put on the myopic eyeglasses given to them by their government, which ultimately impedes them from visualizing a world of peace, justice, and equality. US residents have accepted barbaric narratives of "justifiable wars" and "humanitarian wars", fed to them from a trough full of lies.
 America's wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya (to name a few), are the furthest thing from humane. They are nothing less than wars of death and destruction – all in the name of Western Imperialism. The United States' insatiable appetite for destruction is growing. The US government now has its ravenous sights set on Iran and Syria.
A politically and socially engaged US populace can make all the difference in the world, literally and figuratively. It is time for these sheep to break free and realize that there is a vast world out there, beyond the limitations of their bizarre worldview. It is time for Americans to regain their humanity. It is time to join other global citizens in creating a more livable world, free of injustice. The struggle to build a better world is going on at this very moment. When will a majority of Americans use the tools at their disposal and become social justice carpenters building a more humane global society? Hopefully we won't have to hold our breath on that question.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org ). Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues . He can be reached at: solo@yourworldnews.org.

Good, Evil and Technology

Are you a good person? How can you know? Rarely to we seriously inquire into our own morality and unless we’re kicking puppies and stealing lunches from homeless children most of us believe we’re good enough. But not being bad is not the same as being good. And when it comes to making products and technologies similar rules apply. We are unlikely to be good at assessing how good or evil we, or the things we make, actually are.


Good and evil demystified

A quick trip to the dictionary yields the following basic terms:
Good: Being positive, desirable or virtuous; a good person. Having desirable qualities: a good exterior paint; a good joke. Serving the purpose or end; suitable: Is this a good dress for the party?
Evil: Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.
But how does this apply to technology? Are there good products and evil products? Rarely. Most things fall in between: tools are often, but not always, amoral. A hammer or a pencil has little inherent moral qualities. They both work just as well whether you are building homeless shelters or when you’re writing recipes for orphan stew. If we want to claim that the things we make are good we have to go beyond their functionality. Goodness, in the moral sense, means something very different from good in the engineering sense.

What is the point of technology?

But what is the alternative? The answer depends on how you value technology. There are (at least) 5 alternatives:
  • There is no point. The universe is chaos and every confused soul fends for themselves. Therefore technology, like all things, is pointless. Software and it’s makers are just more chaotic elements in the random existential mess that is the universe. (Patron saint: Marvin the robot from Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy).
  • There might be a point, but it’s unknowable. Technology may have value but we are incapable of understanding it, therefore our attempts at making things will tend to be misguided and even self-destructive, especially if we believe the promises of the corporations who make most of the things we use. (Patron saint: Tyler Durden, Fight club).
  • The point is how it’s used (the pragmatic moral view). The point is that technology enables people to do things. How the technology is used, and the effect it has on people in the world. In this line of thought a good technology is one that enables good things to happen for people and helps them live satisfying lives and what we make should be built on the tradition of shelter, fire, electricity, refrigeration and vaccination (Patron saint: Victor Papanak, author of Design for the Real World).
  • The point is how it makes the creator feel (the selfish view). What matters is how the creator of the thing feels about the thing. This is an artistic view of technology in that programming or building is an act of expression whose greatest meaning is to the creator themselves. (Patron saint: Salvador Dali)
  • The point to technology is its economic value. The free market decides what good technology is, possibly giving creators resources for doing morally good things. But the moral value of the technology itself is indeterminate or unimportant. (Patron saint: Gordon Gekko)
I’m not offering any of these as the true answer: there isn’t one. But I am offering that without a sense of the moral purpose of technology it’s impossible to separate good from bad. There must be an underlying value system to apply to the making of things. I’m partial to the pragmatic view, that technology’s value is in helping people live better lives (or even further, that a goal of life is to be of use to people, through technological or other means), but I’m well aware that’s not the only answer.

Technological value

But if you do identify a personal philosophy for technology, there are ways to apply it to the making of things. Assuming you see good technology as achieving a moral good, here’s one approach.
For any technology you can estimate its value to help individuals. Lets call that ability V. Assuming you know how many people use the technology (N), V * N = the value of the technology. Here’s two examples:
A heart defibrillator can save someone’s life (V=100). But may only have a few users (N=1000).
V * N = 100,000.
A pizza website allows me to order pizza online (V=1). It may have many users (N=50,000).
V * N = 50,000.
We can argue about how to define V (or the value of online pizza delivery), but as a back of the envelope approach, it’s easy to compare two different technologies for their value, based on any philosophy of technology. Should you happen to be Satan’s right-hand man, change V to S (for suffering) and you’re on your way.
However, one trap in this is the difference between what technology makes possible and what people actually do. I could use a defibrillator to kill someone, or use the pizza website to play pranks on my neighbors. Or more to my point, I might not actually use the technology at all, despite purchasing it and being educated in its value. So the perceived value of a thing, by the thing’s creator, is different from the actual value the thing has for people in the real world.
Here are some questions that help sort out value:
  • What is possible with the technology?
  • How much of that potential is used? Why or why not?
  • Who benefits from the technology?
  • How do they benefit?
  • What would they have done without the technology?
  • What are the important problems people have? Is a technological solution the best way to solve them?
  • (Also see Postman’s 7 questions)

The implications of things

Many tools have an implied morality. There is a value system that every machine, program, or website has built into it that’s comprehensible if you look carefully. As two polarizing examples, look at these two things: a machine gun and a wheelchair.
Both of these have very clear purposes in mind and behind each purpose is a set of values. The wheelchair is designed to support someone. The machine gun is designed to kill someone (or several someones).
Many of the products we make don’t have as clearly defined values. However, as I mentioned earlier, the absence of value is a value: not being explicitly evil isn’t the same as being good. If I make a hammer, it can be used to build homes for the needy or to build a mansion for a bank robber. I can be proud of the hammer’s design, but I can’t be certain that I’ve done a good thing for the world: the tool’s use is too basic to define it as good or bad.
It’s common to see toolmakers, from search engines to development tools, take credit for the good they see their tools do, while ignoring the bad. This isn’t quite right: they are equally involved in the later as they are in the former.
The conclusion to this is that to do good things for people requires a more direct path than the making of tools. Helping the neighbor’s kid learn math, volunteering at the homeless shelter or donating money to the orphanage are ways to do good things that have a direct impact, compared to the dubious and sketchy goodness of indifferent tool making.

The creative responsibility (Hacker ethics)

Computer science has no well-established code of ethics. You are unlikely to hear the words moral, ethical, good and evil in the curriculum of most degree programs (However some organizations are working on this: see references). It’s not that computer science departments condone a specific philosophical view: it’s that they don’t see it as their place to prescribe a philosophical view to engineering students. (The absence of a philosophy is in fact a philosophy, but that’s not my point). But the history of engineering does have some examples of engineering cultures that took clear stances on ethics.
Freemasons, the ancient (and often mocked) order of builders, has a central code that all members are expected to uphold. It defines a clear standard of moral and ethical behavior and connects the building of things to those ideals.
More recently, the early hacker culture at MIT defined a set of rules for how hacks should be done.
A hack must:
  • be safe
  • not damage anything
  • not damage anyone, either physically, mentally or emotionally
  • be funny, at least to most of the people who experience it
The meaning of the term hacker has changed several times, but the simplicity and power of a short set of rules remains. Do you bind the decisions you make in creating things to a set of ideals? What are they?

Defining our beliefs

Even if we don’t define rules for ourselves, we all believe one of three things about what we make:
  • I have no responsibility (for how it’s used)
  • I have some responsibility
  • I have total responsibility
Most of us fall into the middle view: we have some responsibility. But if that’s true, how do we take on that responsibility? How do our actions reflect that accountability?
Nothing prevents us from making sure the tools we make, and skills we have, are put to good use: donated to causes we value, demonstrated to those who need help, customized for specific purposes and people we think are doing good things. It’s only in those acts that we’re doing good: the software, website or machine is often not enough. Or more to my point, the best way to do good has less to do with the technology, and more to do with what we do with it.
  • “The purpose of technology is to facilitate things. On the whole, I think, technology can deliver, but what it is asked to do is often not very great. “ – Neil Postman
  • “Let the chips fall where they may” – Tyler Durden
  • “I think the technical capabilities of technology are well ahead of the value concepts which we ask it to deliver. “ – Edward De Bono
  • “If you want to understand a new technology, ask yourself how it would be used in the hands of the criminal, the policeman, and the politician” – William Gibson
  • “With great power comes great responsibility” – SpiderMan
  • “Our technology has surpassed our humanity” – Einstein
First published November 15, 2005 [minor edits 2/21/2015, 2/23/2018]

References


Friday, September 21, 2018

I can change with the times, my blog is "my" study hall / notebook

 I "was" looking up certain information for others, I had thought about the fun educational online games that I gave prizes for but nah, I won't do any of it anymore. People don't appreciate shit and it's sad.
 A couple of Mensa associates said that this day would come but my silly ass believed in the humaneness of other people.



 I have a plan "if it all goes wrong", how about you?

I'm going to walk it out, take care


This reminded me of a time long gone

 If anyone remembers, "Open Minds 2012' or American Citizen's Admin" they'll remember when I gave out restaurant vouchers, money orders, gift cards and the like for successfully completing "online learning tasks".
 In Aguadilla, Puerto Rico I shared my small profits 100% with the students at the local college because they assisted me in looking up information which saved me time.
 I use to receive thank you "letters" not emails and I also received cookies, cakes and gift cards.
 Those days are no more! I'll even be taking down the contact form on this blog soon, if you don't care, why should I?

 I've been asked about money often and typically when I filed for patents there was a group that benefitted, not this time, it will only be me. I created the 6 new ideas and will just keep any and all profit to myself, thanks.


I was asked is "Sys Nica" successful

 It took me a moment but my answer was, "For all intents and purposes, it may be successful". When asked to explain I simply said, "Most people are not going to change no matter what they learn, it may be successful in having changed one life other than my own".


Nearly half of Americans can’t afford the basics to live

By Herb Scribner
@HerbScribner
Published: May 19, 2018 7:00 am



SALT LAKE CITY — A new study released this week found that nearly half of Americans can’t afford the basics of life, including rent and food.

The United Way ALICE Project released the study, which found 51 million households don’t earn a monthly income that can pay for food, child care, housing, transportation and a cell phone.

In total, that’s about 43 percent of American households, with California, New Mexico and Hawaii having the most struggling families with 49 percent in each of those states. North Dakota had the lowest at 32 percent.

The study found 16.1 million homes live in poverty. Meanwhile 34.7 million were dubbed as “ALICE,” which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

Stephanie Hoopes, the project's director, told CNNMoney this group of people makes less than what’s needed to have a basic middle-class lifestyle.

"Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem," she said.

When it comes to Utah, 10 percent of the 941,094 households were deemed as living in poverty. About 29 percent were labeled as ALICE.

That puts Utah’s total share of struggling families around 39 percent, which is about middle of the road on the ALICE scale, which ranges from 32 to 39 percent.

Hoopes told NJ.com that wages haven’t risen to meet the growing cost of living.

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"I think we feel that in our communities," Hoopes said. "There's a sense of frustration or even anger because people are being told that they're doing better but they aren't."

Worst, she said, is the fact those families are unable to save money over time.

"A lot of people had their savings wiped out during the recession," Hoopes said. "A lot of people lost their jobs. And we're finding, when they were rehired, it was for less and they've been unable to replenish those savings."

People with depression are more likely to say certain words


From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression.

Scientists have long tried to pin down the exact relationship between depression and language, and technology is helping us get closer to a full picture. Our new study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, has now unveiled a class of words that can help accurately predict whether someone is suffering from depression.


Traditionally, linguistic analyses in this field have been carried out by researchers reading and taking notes. Nowadays, computerized text analysis methods allow the processing of extremely large data banks in minutes. This can help spot linguistic features which humans may miss, calculating the percentage prevalence of words and classes of words, lexical diversity, average sentence length, grammatical patterns, and many other metrics.

So far, personal essays and diary entries by depressed people have been useful, as has the work of well-known artists such as Cobain and Plath. For the spoken word, snippets of natural language of people with depression have also provided insight. Taken together, the findings from such research reveal clear and consistent differences in language between those with and without symptoms of depression.

Content
Language can be separated into two components: content and style. The content relates to what we express—that is, the meaning or subject matter of statements. It will surprise no one to learn that those with symptoms of depression use an excessive amount of words conveying negative emotions, specifically negative adjectives and adverbs—such as “lonely,” “sad” or “miserable.”


More interesting is the use of pronouns. Those with symptoms of depression use significantly more first person singular pronouns—such as “me,” “myself,” and “I”—and significantly fewer second and third person pronouns—such as “they,” “them” or “she.” This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words.

We know that rumination (dwelling on personal problems) and social isolation are common features of depression. However, we don’t know whether these findings reflect differences in attention or thinking style. Does depression cause people to focus on themselves, or do people who focus on themselves get symptoms of depression?

Style
The style of language relates to how we express ourselves, rather than the content we express. Our lab recently conducted a big data text analysis of 64 different online mental health forums, examining over 6,400 members. “Absolutist words”—which convey absolute magnitudes or probabilities, such as “always,” “nothing” or “completely”—were found to be better markers for mental health forums than either pronouns or negative emotion words.


From the outset, we predicted that those with depression will have a more black and white view of the world, and that this would manifest in their style of language. Compared to 19 different control forums (for example, Mumsnet and StudentRoom), the prevalence of absolutist words is approximately 50% greater in anxiety and depression forums, and approximately 80% greater for suicidal ideation forums.

Pronouns produced a similar distributional pattern as absolutist words across the forums, but the effect was smaller. By contrast, negative emotion words were paradoxically less prevalent in suicidal ideation forums than in anxiety and depression forums.

Our research also included recovery forums, where members who feel they have recovered from a depressive episode write positive and encouraging posts about their recovery. Here we found that negative emotion words were used at comparable levels to control forums, while positive emotion words were elevated by approximately 70%. Nevertheless, the prevalence of absolutist words remained significantly greater than that of controls, but slightly lower than in anxiety and depression forums.

Crucially, those who have previously had depressive symptoms are more likely to have them again. Therefore, their greater tendency for absolutist thinking, even when there are currently no symptoms of depression, is a sign that it may play a role in causing depressive episodes. The same effect is seen in use of pronouns, but not for negative emotion words.

Practical implications
Understanding the language of depression can help us understand the way those with symptoms of depression think, but it also has practical implications. Researchers are combining automated text analysis with machine learning (computers that can learn from experience without being programmed) to classify a variety of mental health conditions from natural language text samples such as blog posts.


Such classification is already outperforming that made by trained therapists. Importantly, machine learning classification will only improve as more data is provided and more sophisticated algorithms are developed. This goes beyond looking at the broad patterns of absolutism, negativity, and pronouns already discussed. Work has begun on using computers to accurately identify increasingly specific subcategories of mental health problems—such as perfectionism, self-esteem problems, and social anxiety.

That said, it is of course possible to use a language associated with depression without actually being depressed. Ultimately, it is how you feel over time that determines whether you are suffering. But as the World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% since 2005, having more tools available to spot the condition is certainly important to improve health and prevent tragic suicides like those of Plath and Cobain.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. 

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