Jack Cohen

Jack Cohen on “Beware Ideologues” “Alternative Universes” “Troubling Revelations”

IndianExpress.com (Illustration by Subrata Dhar)

Jack Cohen on “Beware Ideologues” “Alternative Universes” “Troubling Revelations”

Beware Ideologues

One of my favorite writers, Bertrand Russell, once said, “Beware of ideologues, they are dangerous people.”   When I was young and impressionable I pondered the meaning of that statement, why beware of people with an ideology?

But experience has shown that it is a good advice.  Ideologues tend to have ideologies that result in the deaths of others, many others, those who don’t share their ideology.  For example, for communists it was implicit that all capitalists were evil and as such needed to be “got rid of.”  So millions of enemies of the Soviet State were simply murdered.  Nazis were sure that European (Christian) civilization, such as it was, needed to be rescued from  Jewish influence, so murder all the Jews (they managed 6 million).  Racism, the ideology that supposes that ridding the world of ‘inferior’ races will somehow make life better, has resulted in the murder of millions of Blacks.  And so it goes.

This brings me to Islam, a religious ideology that requires that all non-believers (kaffir) be either converted or killed.  They have killed millions, especially in India and Africa, to expand their ideology and this was long before the current scourge of political Islam (Islamism) came along with its particular brand of terrorism.  Terrorism itself is not new, but radical Islamic terrorism is a new phenomenon, that derives from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan al Banna and based on the belief that Islam must be purified from all foreign and Western (Christian) influences.  It is only a step from that to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and the Islamic State that is prepared to murder millions.

The common theme of these disparate ideologies is intolerance.  Intolerance of those who believe differently, who act differently, who think differently and of those who look different.  It may be true that most Muslims are peaceful citizens, but beware the ideologues among them.

Alternative Universes

I saw a very interesting program in a series about science entitled “Genius” that was presented by Stephen Hawking, the British astrophysicist.  In episode three, in order to give three contestants  experiences whereby they would have to draw certain conclusions about “Why we are here?” Hawking and others devised three experiments, briefly described here.

Experiment one had their dinner plates suspended above the table and spinning. This looked like magic!  But it didn’t take long for them to realize this was due to spinning magnets under the table and magnets on the bottom of the plates.  So as someone has said “science is the nearest thing we have to magic.”  The conclusion was that the laws of physics operate everywhere at all times and there is no such thing as magic.

The second experiment was a graphic demonstration of how their brain waves showed that there were actually changes occurring in their brains at least one second before they made a conscious decision to push a button that exploded fireworks.  This was interpreted to mean that their brains had decided unconsciously before they had done so consciously when to push the button.  This was taken to mean that free will is a myth.

The third experiment had dozens of people wearing photos of the same faces as the three contestants, also wearing the same color coded clothes, lining up behind each of them on a grid.  Each time a buzzer sounded each of them moved one step to left or right.  It didn’t take long before the whole field was covered and it was obvious that there were many possible solutions, in other words, many possible parallel universes in which different choices could have been made.

I feel that the last two experiments could be subject to different interpretations.  In the case of the brain waves, isn’t is obvious that the brain must take a finite time to react when a decision is about to be made.  The electromagnetic wave does not prove that the decision had already been made by the brain unconsciously before the conscious decision, it only means that there was brain activity before the conscious decision and that could have been the brain preparing itself for the decision.  For example, a pianist strikes hundreds of keys in playing a concerto without referring to music.  He or she has in their brain a plan of which notes to strike before they are actually touched, this must require a prior decision in the brain, with an accompanying electromagnetic wave, before the actual key is struck.

Because the fundamental particles of nature obey quantum mechanics, which includes a degree of uncertainty, it is assumed that it is impossible to predict the future state of the universe.  The interaction of a large number of potential reactions to a given state of the universe therefore encompasses a huge potential number of outcomes.  But, as I see it, these outcomes are purely that, potential, only one outcome really exists in reality and that is the one that is actually selected or chosen as the finite outcome of the choices that were made by those who are faced by choices.  All the other choices are theoretical, they did not actually come to pass, only the reality of the choices made at every second is what is real.  Therefore there is only one actual universe at any given instant in time.  This allows the determinism of classical mechanics to be subsumed into the world of uncertain outcomes where there is free will, thus satisfying both.

Troubling Revelations


The Israeli Comptroller General Joseph Shapira has finally issued his report on IDF Operation Protective Edge of 2014 against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  It contains troubling revelations that bring into question several basic aspects of Israeli Government functioning in time of war.

Here are the most important points:

  1. The Tunnels:  PM Netanyahu was briefed on  the attack tunnels that Hamas had dug under the Gaza border into Israel to facilitate its attacks.  However, he failed to give this subject enough priority and failed to pass the information on to the military echelon, thus putting Israel in grave danger.  During the conflict a single soldier detected the infliltration of a group of Hamas terrorists from a tunnel entrance within Israel and raised the alarm.  If it had not been for this Israeli civilian casualties would have been much higher.  The IDF then destroyed this group of infiltrators and had to adapt during the war to the serious danger posed by these tunnels.  Of the 32 tunnels that were detected by the IDF, only about half were actually blown up, leaving a significant threat to the state.  Since then Hamas has dug more tunnels and the IDF is finally taking this threat seriously and developing an anti-tunnel strategy.
  2. Coordination of civilian and military leadership:  The civilian and military echelons failed to coordinate their intentions and actions in a formal way, leading to misunderstandings and in some cases lack of action when immediate action was necessary.  This could have lead to loss of life.
  3. Whether the war was necessary at all:  The dcision-making processes that lead to the Government declaring war through Operation Protective Edge were faulty.  The decision to go to war was ad hoc and needs in future to have a serious basis.

Some other details of the war were questioned, for instance, why was it necessary for the IDF to directly attack Shujaiya, a heavily defended Hamas stronghold in the center of the Strip.  This led to loss of IDF soldiers lives.  Altogether there were 74 dead and two soldiers remains were captured and are held by Hamas.

Overall, Operation Defensive Edge was considered a success by the Israeli side, in that the backbone of Hamas military control of the Gaza Strip was largely destroyed and they were dealt a severe blow, thus re-establishing Israeli deterrence.  But, even though there has mainly been quiet on that front since the end of that war, nevertheless it is widely agreed that Hamas are preparing for another war in the not too distant future.  There are two main trains of thought on the Israeli side about this.  On the right, it is questioned why an “operation” was used instead of an all-out war to totally destroy Hamas.  On the left, it is considered necessary to come to terms with Hamas (even though have no intention of coming to terms with Israel).

There are currently calls within the political establishment for a full State Commission to reinvestigate that war.  Such an action would be self-destructive for Israel.  The political establishment, including the PM are under pressure to admit mistakes, while the PM denies any.  And the military, the IDF leadership, also have counter-attacked the Report.  How this will work itself out remains to be seen.  Let’s hope lessons were learned so that such mistakes do not happen in the future.


Buying my books

Several people have complained that the information I gave recently to buy my new book “Life on Planet Alz” (see IsBlog February 3) published by Createspace, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, was apparently incorrect.  To order the book from Amazon.com you can go to the following url, where it is available (I presume dp means “direct publishing”):

Or you can order it in other countries from other Amazon sites.

Similarly my other books can be ordered at Amazon.com:

For further information about my books, including photos of the covers (designed by me) and information about the contents, go to my web-site:  http://www.jackcohenart.com . Most of these books are also available on Kindle.  I have published 9 books in 8 years (from 2009 until 2017), although I worked on some of them for 20 years before that. Of course, quantity is not a virtue in itself, but I urge you to buy and read at least one of them.  You won’t be disappointed and you will be hooked.





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