Mind Over Body: Can Meditation Help Cure Cancer?

Cancer is no stranger to the list of common health concerns present in today’s society.  With 1 in 3 people in the UK alone developing some form of cancer during their lifetime, it has become a challenge that most of us may have to face. However, how we choose to treat this disease is changing for many around the globe, as the rise in alternative therapies shed new hope for a natural approach to curing the dreaded C.

There are more than 200 types of cancer in the world and many different treatments for each. The most common medical therapies are Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy and Targeted Therapies. Although conventional methods have proved to be relatively successful, they do come at a price. Symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss and breathlessness are just some of the unpleasant manifestations that follow after treatment.

In recent years, alternative therapies such as yoga and meditation have taken off. As more positive research unfolds, so does ones openness to embrace another way of healing the body: through the mind itself.

 

From Where Does Meditation Derive and How Can its Benefits Help Us Today?

buddha health quote

favimages.com

This ancient practice was first formed thousands of years ago in the Far East. There is recorded evidence to suggest that meditation dates back as far as 500 B.C, where Indian artifacts known as “Tantras” speak of such meditative practices. It is speculated by researchers that the first discovery of an “altered state of conciseness” was made by primitive hunter-gathers whilst staring into the flames of their fires.

Across the Asian continent Gautama the monk, as the Buddha, made his mark as the meditative icon we still see today.  His teachings spread through the East. As neighboring countries caught wind of the spiritual practice, they adopted their own forms of mediation by practicing it in different ways.

Thousands of years passed until meditation finally made headway into Western society around the 20th century. In the 1960’s and 1970’s researchers began to look into the various effects of the practice. It quickly became apparent that there was far more to gain from meditation than just a sense of spirituality. Studies show that the physical and mental effects of mediation can be extremely beneficial.

A five year study conducted by Harvard scientists revealed that meditation affects DNA and brain activity. According to John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School who was leading the study,

There is a true biological effect. The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.

His research concluded that these mind and body techniques could have such power to switch on and off genes linked to stress and immune function.

 

But What is the Link to Cancer?

Some believe that one’s mental process or state of mind could be a contributing factor or even the cause of the disease itself. By applying alternative practices such as meditation, in theory, the mind could be cured along with the cancer.

Stories are popping up all over the web of real life testimonials from individuals claiming they cured their cancer through meditative practices. There are websites dedicated to such theories with an abundance of articles discussing the subject. One reader of the website AnmolMehta.com wrote in with her story, saying:

I reduced my stress level by at least 80% naturally.  I listened and stopped talking – becoming aware of surroundings. I knew that my organs had a voice, and I was to listen. I started to go to my room to meditate every day, and recharging my body.

Websites such as Cancerreaserch.org are jumping on the bandwagon and embracing alternative therapies too. Their website has a whole section dedicated to the subject including research conducted in many different countries on meditative benefits. Most of the recent research has been based around mindfulness mediation that can help reduce anxiety, tiredness, stress, chronic pain and sleep problems as well as lower blood pressure.

A controlled study published in 2000 looked at 90 cancer patients who did mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) meditation for 7 weeks. They found that people who meditated had 31% lower stress symptoms and 67% less mood disturbance than people who did not meditate.

 

The Results

Alternative therapies have been proven over thousands of years to reduce anxiety and stress by calming the body, and helping the individual to feel more relaxed. As of yet there is no scientific research to prove that meditation alone cures cancer but there is no doubt that the practise can significantly improve one’s sense of well being during such a traumatic time.

Although the practice derives from a religious background, you do not need to be religious to learn meditation. Whether you are seeking spirituality, clarity, or simply relaxation, with a little practice, anyone can learn and benefit from it.

There is no denying that cancer sufferers through the world are feeling the incredible benefits that the practise has to offer. If at the very least it can help patients feel more positive and optimistic, than that in itself is something to be celebrated.

 

 

References:

http://www.breakthenorms.com/blog/the-power-of-meditation-how-it-cured-my-fathers-cancer/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/keyfacts/Allcancerscombined/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/world/incidence

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Aboutcancer/AboutcancerHome.aspx

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/about-cancer/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/meditation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

http://www.project-meditation.org/wim/history_of_meditation.html

http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=L4fGAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=meditation+and+science&ots=ff63OAGaj8&sig=6cqFiEuENInovByouvmUveop–Y#v=onepage&q=meditation%20and%20science&f=false

http://meditation-research.org.uk/

http://www.rigpa.org/en/teachings/extracts-of-articles-and-publications/35-scientific-research-on-meditation.html

http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/causes/cancer-patients

http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_details.cfm?aid=8541701&icde=18114901

http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?aid=8541701&icde=18114901

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/stress

http://www.zendoctor.com/Home/frameindex.html

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/treatment/types-of-treatment

http://anmolmehta.com/blog/2011/03/10/meditation-natural-treatment-for-cancer/

My Beautiful Western Face: The Rise in De-racialisation Surgery

 

The pressure to look beautiful has become increasingly present in today’s society. With TV shows, movies and magazines flaunting some of the best looking people in the world, it’s no wonder most of us feel like we don’t hit the mark.

The longing to appear more attractive has always existed for men and women alike, but the very definition of what is attractive and what is beautiful has changed drastically over the years. The Victorians depicted the epitome of beauty in their paintings as curvaceous, busty women, whilst long ago the Japanese celebrated the elegance and perfection of the Geisha. However, an increasing number of the population are feeling the burden of a new, modern-day beauty ideal: having a Western look. In a desperate attempt to fit into this image, some are choosing to go under the knife to achieve this new ‘look’.

This growing trend is already the norm in places like Seoul, South Korea, where one in five women have had some type of  surgery to help them look more Western.  In fact, there are now a multitude of procedures one can undergo with the aim to “westernise” non-Caucasian features. It has become so popular that these procedures now have a name: de-racialisation surgery.

Plastic surgery is sweeping across Asian countries in particular. With over 4,000 clinics across the country, South Korea takes the prize for plastic surgery capital of the world. Here the most popular cosmetic surgery is double eyelid surgery; making the eyes appear bigger and rounder. In close second is refining the nose using rhinoplasty to make the tip of the nose more prominent. Following that, jaw bone surgery to make the jaw appear softer.

An Australian SBS Documentary called ‘Change My Race’ highlighted some of these extreme procedures such as facial contouring, skin whitening, calf reduction and double eyelid surgery. In the documentary, Chinese-Australian presenter Anna Choy explores the hidden truth behind our obsession with looking Western and reveals her own inner battles with accepting her Chinese origins.

But why are so many young women in particular ashamed of their inherited ethnic features? Is it really worth erasing your identity to fit into a predominantly white society?

 

The Power of White

As much as we all think this is a new phenomenon, the truth is that this racial divide has been around for hundreds of years, and still some reminiscence remains. We may have moved on from slave labour and the Nazi revolution, but in turn we have moved into a new era filled with incredible technology and far reaching media influence. There is power in the colour white, and with power comes beauty and respect.

Magazines are becoming culprits in ‘lightening’ their models and even adverts are being slated for not casting a variety of races other than Caucasian. Even such music legends as Beyonce and Michael Jackson have been accused of “Westernising” themselves. Adorned with a blonde wig and using clever studio lighting, in a recent picture to promote her new album Beyonce looked much lighter than her natural skin tone.

Let’s not forget Michael Jackson’s radical transformation over the years. Could his rise to stardom have affected the way he viewed himself? His bodily changes were shrouded in secrecy and the reasons as to how and why his skin turned white became a controversial subject for years.

These celebrities may have outraged many by “betraying” their Ethnic heritage, but sadly, for a rising number of young people, this depiction of a “white, western global beauty ideal” has been accepted as a valid reason to go under the knife.

 

Outnumbered and Out-casted

Australia is an ever-growing multicultural society and houses a large number of citizens of many ethnic origins. According to Arthur Kemp in The Immigration Invasion,

In mid-2006 there were 4,956,863 residents who were born outside Australia, representing 24% of the total population. The Australian-resident population consists of people who were born in these countries:

China (Excluding Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau), 279,447; Vietnam, 180,352; India, 153,579; Philippines, 135,619; Malaysia, 103,947; Lebanon, 86,599; Sri Lanka, 70,908; Indonesia, 67,952; Fiji, 58,815; Pakistan, 19,768; and Bangladesh, 13,751.

Although these people make up a good quarter of the population they remain a minority for now. Discrimination against colour and race is still very much prominent in Western society. Children go to school with their Australian peers and are teased for looking different, despite being born and raised there.

But it’s not just their peers who make them feel like they do not fit in. In the SBS documentary they follow a 16 year old girl called Kathy. Kathy was born and raised in Australia by her Vietnamese parents. She is a sweet girl who seems carefree and content with the way she looks. However her parents feel adamant that if she were to look more Western she would have better success in her life and future career.

Her parents felt so strongly that they pressured Kathy into having cosmetic surgery to change her face. To please her parents she had fillers injected in her nose, eyelid surgery and a chin reduction procedure. Whilst her parents gushed over her new look, Kathy seemed emotionless.

At the young age of 16, having just undergone drastic surgery that could change her life forever, her only apparent feeling seemed that of relief. Maybe she hoped that the surgery would make her parents happy and get them off her back as any teenager would feel. But, is such an extreme measure worth it? I can only wonder how this girl might feel in 20 years time.

 

The Asian Culture

In Korean culture women are judged more on their looks than any other women in the world. As stated on seoultouchup.com,

Generally in Asia, good looks and having a good face are like stepping stones- for they do open up doors to many of life’s advantages.

Clearly this is the foundation for the reason that has lead to a high rate of cosmetic surgery in Asia. Its rise in popularity has made plastic surgery all the more affordable and accessible for the average person, and with the opportunity there to become more beautiful and successful, more and more young people are choosing the ‘easy’ path of surgery.

What was once seen as an extreme step in a bid for perfection is now seen as an everyday normality in countries like Korea.  You could almost go as far as to say it is expected of women in such a society. If they do not conform to this ideal, they may be out-casted from what was once a network of friends. Non-conformity could even bring shame to their family.

The question still remains: what is perfection and beauty in their eyes? Are they just aspiring to a model of beauty that is completely unrealistic?

 

There’s Still Hope for the Future

We can only hope that in the coming years the world will open up and accept all races for what they are. After all, diversity is real beauty. I believe that having heritage is part of one’s identity. Your birth origin and ethnic background is an important part of who you are. All cultures should be celebrated and each of us should be proud of what is in our blood, not reject or suppress it.

If the victims of de-racialisation surgery keep growing we are at risk of losing not only our personal identities, but the world’s. The decisions, views, values and choices that we make today will shape the future of our offspring. Let’s strive to make the right ones.

 

Sources:

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/12/03/cosmetic-surgery-change-race-rise

http://www.seoultouchup.com/plastic-surgery-in-korea/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/world/asia/in-south-korea-plastic-surgery-comes-out-of-the-closet.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2087388/Beyonc-white-skin-row-Controversial-photo-shows-singer-looking-shades-lighter-usual-tone.html

The Immigration Invasion

 

Lucid Dreaming: A Step by Step Guide to Dream Control

lucid dreaming night

Lucid dreaming is the doorway to your inner universe. howtocontroldreams.com

A lucid dream is a dream where you know you’re dreaming and have full control over the dream. Lucid dreaming is a natural phenomenon, a science, and an art. As a natural phenomenon lucid dreaming has surely existed as long as dreams have. As an art it has been practiced for thousands of years, and across many cultures. Lucid dreaming was first described as a practice in the Upanishads, various Yoga Sutras, and in many Tibetan Buddhist texts.

As a scientific practice lucid dreaming has existed since 1898, when Frederik van Eeden first coined the term “lucid dreaming” in his report, The Study of Dreams. Nowadays, due in large part to scientists such as Stephen LaBerge, lucid dreaming institutes are hard at work providing the study of lucid dreaming with unprecedented discoveries and evidence.

Lucid dreaming has been verified as a state of consciousness with “definable and measurable differences” from waking life and REM sleep. It has been physiologically verified as a legitimate occurrence using EEG scans, polygraphs, the intentional use of planned signals while a person is lucid dreaming, and more.

lucid dreaming mind

Controlling your dreams is easier than you might think. inducingluciddreams.weebly.com

In a 2008 report, scientists from universities in Japan and Germany analyzed five different studies from five different countries focusing on the prevalence of lucid dreaming. They found that the prevalence between countries varied greatly. 47% of the Japanese participants reported having had at least one lucid dream in their lifetime. About 70-80% of US, German, and Dutch citizens reported at least one. And a whopping 92% of Chinese people reported at least one lucid dream.

According to the above statistics, it’s entirely possible that you’ve experienced an unintentional lucid dream before. Lucid dreams involve varying degrees of vividness, control, and awareness, so likely your unintentional lucid dream was fuzzy, and lasted only moments. Regardless, the experience itself was surely unmistakable.

Or maybe you’ve never had a lucid dream, but still smile at the idea of becoming fully aware in your own dreamscape. There are proven effective methods for becoming lucid and gaining control over your dreams.

Lucid dreaming takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be flying through your favorite cities, using super powers, drinking light, and creating planets like a pro. Or, you can use lucid dreaming to benefit your waking life by practicing public speaking, learning languages, or delving deeper into your subconscious mind by having philosophical conversations with different aspects of yourself.

In a lucid dream, whatever you imagine comes true. You are the god of your own universe. Stick to the guide below, and you’ll be a master oneironaut (dream traveler) in no time.

 

 

———–A Step by Step Guide to Lucid Dreaming———–

 

Step 1: Don’t Get Discouraged

stephen laberge lucid dreaming

Stephen LaBerge heralded a quantum leap in lucid dreaming research. http://www.goodreads.com

According to Stephen LaBerge, founder of the Lucidity Institute, as well as the man credited with being the “Father of Lucid Dreaming,”

Although we are not usually explicitly aware of the fact that we are dreaming while we are dreaming, at times a remarkable exception occurs, and we become conscious enough to realize that we are dreaming. “Lucid” dreamers (the term derives from van Eeden, 1913) report being able to freely remember the circumstances of waking life, to think clearly, and to act deliberately upon reflection, all while experiencing a dream world that seems vividly real (Green, 1968; LaBerge, 1985; Gackenbach & LaBerge, 1988). This is all in contrast to the usual past characterization of dreams as typically lacking any reflective awareness or true volition (Rechtschaffen, 1978).

That all sounds fantastic, but here’s the truth: Unless you are a natural (you wouldn’t be reading this guide if you were), lucid dreaming will take a great deal of time and effort.

There is no participation trophy. The vividness and control you have in a dream is entirely dependent on how often you practice and follow this guide.  It will take time to have a lucid dream, sometimes more time than you’d like, so for that reason step 1 is NEVER GET DISCOURAGED. The more impatient and discouraged you get, the harder lucid dreaming becomes.  Stay relaxed, and you WILL be lucid dreaming in no time.

Some people I have spoken to claim that it only takes them a few days to become lucid for the first time. It personally took me four months to have my first lucid dream, and another month to teach myself to use basic super powers like flying and telekinesis.

Everyone has their own pace. Be patient, and stay diligent.

 

Step 2: Research Lucid Dreaming

As a 20 year veteran lucid dreamer I assure you that this guide is good. Stick to it and you’ll be lucid dreaming within weeks. However, the key to becoming truly great at something is to never stop learning.

Scroll down to the bottom of this article and read through some of the studies and articles I used as sources. Better yet, speak to some lucid dreamers directly at LD4All.com. LD4All is one of the most wonderful communities I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of. I and other lucid dreamers like me want to help you start lucid dreaming, so you may as well take advantage of us.

 

Step 3: Keep a Dream Journal

Keep a journal or a tape recorder by your bed. Every time you wake up, whether it be to use the bathroom, drink some water, or begin the day, just stop. Don’t move. The moment you move the dream will become harder and harder to remember.

lucid dream journal

A dream journal is the cornerstone of any lucid dreamer’s journey. https://imnotstalkingyou.com/tag/ann-faraday/

Begin recalling your dreams. Focus on details, colors, emotions, words, locations, people; anything!

Once the dream is rolling around your mind like a pop radio song, write it down (or record your voice). Write anything and everything. If you can only remember a faint memory of the color blue, write that down. No detail is unimportant. The more serious you take your dream journal, the more likely you are to become a lucid dreamer.

If you can’t keep yourself awake long enough to write in a dream journal, sit up on one elbow to make yourself slightly uncomfortable. Also, make sure to keep your dream journal separate from other journals you may have.

A dream journal is the cornerstone of successful lucid dreaming. Keeping a dream journal will increase dream recall, as well as the vividness and detail of your dreams. Most importantly, a dream journal is the single most important factor in increasing your chances of having a lucid dream. Whatever you do, don’t slack on step 3.

It is common to witness a profound improvement in dream recall along with dream vividness after the very first entry in your dream journal. If it has been over a week and you still can’t remember any dreams at all, scroll down to the “Lucid Dreaming Troubleshoot” section of this guide.

 

Step 4: Wake Back to Bed Method (WBTB)

This is usually taught later on, but it is so effective that I want you to know about it immediately. WBTB is the secret weapon lucid dreamers use to make lucid dreaming significantly and consistently easier. It has the added bonus of improving the likelihood that you will remember your dreams. If you are having trouble having any dreams at all, then this method is your best friend.

1.  Set your alarm to wake you up 5 hours after you fall asleep. (I know you can’t get it to be exact, just do your best). The reason the alarm needs to be set 5 hours ahead is due to our natural sleep cycle.  

On average, after 5 hours of sleep, a person is at the very tail end of REM sleep, and easily woken. This is also the very end of a dream, and just before the beginning of another descent into deep sleep. 

In truth, everyone’s sleep cycle is slightly different.  In step 8 you will master your REM cycle. For now, just stick to around 5 hours. 

2. Wake up, then go back to sleep. It’s as simple as that. While WBTB works even if you only stay awake for a few seconds, for maximum effect, stay up for 10 minutes to 1 hour.

3. During the time you are awake, focus only on lucid dreaming-related material. Read your dream journal, tell yourself you will have a lucid dream, read about lucid dreaming online. It’s up to you. The more you focus, the more likely you will be lucid dreaming when you lay back down.  

4. WBTB can be used in conjunction with all other lucid dreaming techniques. 

 

Step 5: Do Reality Checks

At this point you’re confident, well researched, and have been sticking to your journal at least semi-regularly. Welcome to step 4.  If you have ever seen the movie Inception you are familiar with the totems that each character uses to know if he or she awake or dreaming. The same applies to lucid dreaming in real life. Every lucid dreamer does reality checks throughout the day, but it has less to do with staying sane, and more to do with creating patterns in your subconscious mind.

reality check lucid dreaming

Look at your hands. Are you dreaming? http://lucidrealitycheck.com/

Let’s say your reality check is looking at your hands. In a dream, your hands rarely if ever look normal. They usually have more or less fingers, or look alien and bizarre. Upon seeing a strange hand in a normal dream you wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

“Tentacle fingers? Makes sense.”

But in the mind of a person who has been constantly doing reality checks, those tentacle fingers are the answer to the question, “Am I dreaming?” Lucid dreaming time!

Simply put; the more often you do a reality check, the more likely it is that you will do the same reality check in any given dream. The key to reality checks is to do them mindfully and frequently. Ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?  Am I awake?” Or some other variation of the same question.

If you are not asking yourself the question in waking life, then you won’t ask yourself the question in the dream. It is the question, not the action itself, that will make lucid dreaming successful.

There are an infinite number of reality checks to choose from or create. Some of the most well known and effective reality checks include:

*Note: Always remember to ask yourself if you are awake or dreaming whenever you do a reality check.

Hands: As mentioned above, glance at your hands. In waking life they look like your normal hands. But inn a dream, hands are as variable as thought itself.

Light-switch: Flip a light-switch and see what happens. In a dream a light-switch rarely has anything to do with light. It might transport you to a new location, bark at you, or spray the room with confetti. Flip and find out.

Breath: Pinch your nose and try to breathe through it. In a dream you can breathe through your forehead or your hip bone. It makes no difference. 

Text: Just about the only font used in the lucid dreaming world is a strange mix between hieroglyphics and wingdings font. It just doesn’t make sense. Sure, there will be a few letters that look familiar to you, but the odds of seeing more than a few written words in a dream that make any sense are slim to none.  I have created text in dreams, but never have I stumbled upon a piece of text that makes much sense.

Clock: Check the time. Both digital and mechanical watches look strange in a dream. Watching the hour hand move backward and the minute hand move forward is always a fun time.

Mirror: Look in a mirror. In a dream your reflection could be anything from blurry, to horrifying, or even non-existent. If it turns out you’re dreaming, take a leap of faith and walk through the mirror. You never know where you might end up. 

Jump: Simply jump. In a dream you will often move in slow motion, float above the ground, or even start flying. Some of the greatest dreams of my life have been just flying through different lands, on different planets, through fictional universes, and through various mediums. It is very liberating. 

Poke: Poke yourself. In a dream your silky smooth skin might feel like any number of different textures. Mossy arms and prickly legs aren’t impossible in a dream world. 

*Note: Always use at least two reality checks.  Once in a while you will glance at your hand in a dream and it will look completely normal. That’s where the second reality check comes into play. I have never personally heard of two reality checks failing.

As you continue to do reality checks the question of whether or not you are dreaming will become a habit of thought, especially in your dreamworld. You’ll be holding a boa constrictor, falling through the sky completely naked, and suddenly ask yourself, “wait, am I dreaming?” Of course you are. You hate it when snakes interrupt your nude skydiving sessions. Boom! Now you’re lucid, and you will record your lucid dream in your dream journal when you wake up. Right? (Stop slacking on Step 3! :D)

The other benefit of doing frequent reality checks throughout the day is that it ensures that you are constantly thinking about lucid dreaming. The more you focus on something, the more likely it is to occur, especially in the case of lucid dreaming.

With practice your dreams will become extremely vivid and detailed, so much so that they will seem as real as waking life. Luckily reality checks always turn out the same in waking life, but rarely the same in dreams.

 

Step 6. Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming (MILD)

There are a ton of techniques for becoming lucid, but I suggest you start with MILD. This technique was personally created by Stephen LaBerge and is ideal for beginners. This lucid dreaming technique can be split into five general parts. They are:

  1. Dream Recall
  2. Reality Checks
  3. Relaxation
  4. Affirmation
  5. Visualization

Lucky for you, you’ve already been working on parts 1 and 2. Let’s start with part 3; relaxation.

3. Relaxation

Any relaxation technique will suffice, but there are some tried and true methods that lucid dreamers, including myself, have found work best. Start by finding a comfortable position in bed. This is ideally a position you won’t move from.

lucid dream relax deep breath

Always make sure to take some deep breaths and relax before attempting to lucid dream. http://www.examiner.com/

Next, take 5-10 deep breaths, keeping in mind that you are preparing for a night of lucid dreaming. Remember that truly effective deep-breathing involves movement of the belly, chest, and shoulders.

Inhale using your diaphragm so that your belly pushes outward. When your belly is out, continue inhaling so that the chest expands. Don’t stop there! Continue inhaling so that your shoulders and collar bone rises. Hold this breath for 2-5 seconds, and release.

Your release should move opposite to your inhale, and be just as controlled. Begin with the lowering of your shoulders, the sinking of your chest, and finally the deflation of your belly. This entire sequence is called a yogic breath, and is a very powerful relaxation tool.

After you finish with your deep breathing, you are ready to begin muscle clenching. Start from the bottom up, clenching your toes, followed by your feet, legs, and so on. By the time you reach your forehead your entire body should be clenched tight. Release, and you will feel a powerful calm wash over you. Repeat muscle clenching at least two more times, or until you are in a completely relaxed state.

4. Affirmation

In this part of MILD you affirm to yourself that you will in fact have a lucid dream. Part 4 creates a solidified intention. It is like a manual override of the brain.

As you lay in bed fully relaxed, begin repeating in your head over and over again:

“I will become lucid,” “I will have a lucid dream,” or “I am dreaming, this is a dream, I am lucid dreaming…”

The words don’t matter as much as the intention. You WILL become lucid. Convincing yourself of that is the whole point of part 4.

If it’s been three weeks and you still haven’t had a lucid dream, it will be extremely hard to totally convince yourself that the next night will be different. Remember step 1: don’t get discouraged.

As your mind begins to wander, (it inevitably will), just gently bring it back to focus on the task at hand. “I will become lucid tonight.” Remember, just like with the reality checks, the words and movements don’t matter as much as your feelings and intentions. Believe yourself when you say that you will be come lucid, no matter how long it’s been.

5. Visualization

lucid dream fly

Visualize yourself flying, and you will fly. http://www.enlightenedwithoutguru.com/

Lucid dreaming is easiest when you have a clearly defined goal. What do you want to do in your first lucid dream? If you just stand around, amazed that you are actually awake inside your own dream, you will lose lucidity, guaranteed. Part 5 gives you a better chance at becoming lucid, and remaining lucid.

While you are affirming to yourself that you will have a lucid dream, visualize in your mind what you will do in your dream. If you want to fly, visualize yourself flying in your preferred location.  It also helps to visualize yourself writing in your dream journal about the lucid dream due to the mental associations you’ve made regarding the dream journal.

MILD Quick Overview:

  1. Stick to the dream journal.
  2. Keep doing reality checks throughout the day.
  3. Find a comfortable position to fall asleep in, and begin relaxing yourself using deep breathing and full- body muscle clenching.
  4. Use positive affirmation to tell yourself that you will become lucid. Know it to be true.
  5. Visualize yourself in the lucid dream. Have a clearly defined goal, and focus on that goal during your visualizations, and in your dream.

*Note: Remember that WBTB can be used in conjunction with MILD to maximize your chances of lucidity.

 

Step 7. Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD)

After you have mastered MILD you are ready to move on to the Holy Grail of lucid dreaming techniques, WILD. There is nothing wild or crazy about WILD. It is an extremely straightforward technique. Reading it over, it might even sound easier than MILD.  In truth though, WILD is an advanced lucid dreaming technique which transports your waking state awareness directly from waking life into your dream state. Stay with me here, because this is not science fiction. WILD is a tried and true method for lucid dreaming.

*Note: Use WBTB in conjunction with WILD. For experienced lucid dreamers, this is generally the quickest, most effective, and most relied upon method of lucid dreaming. 

1. Relax

Yup, same as MILD. This technique works best when you are in a totally relaxed state.  Set aside some time for stretching, deep breathing, and/or muscle clenching.

2. Observe the Hypnagogia

The hypnagogic state occurs at the onset of sleep, well before you being lucid dreaming.  It consists of a seemingly random roller coaster ride of visions, sounds, and sensations.  You may hear a phone ringing, followed by your name shouted by thirty different voice, followed by a leaf gliding acorss your skin, all while technicolor fractal geometries dance across your inner eye lids. The hypnagogic state can be fun, disorienting, or downright terrifying. Just remember that it’s all in your head, and go along for the ride. The hypnagogic state is actually the doorway to lucidity.

hypnagogia lucid dreaming

This is a great representation of what the beginning of the hypnagogic state looks like. Morphing dots, geometries, colors and sounds.

You must stay perfectly still during the hypnagogic state, or else you will wake up and have to start all over again. With practice you will be able to ignore itches, and reflexes, like the need to swallow.  It is also a good idea to experiment with different sleeping positions to find what is not only most comfortable for your mind, but your body as well.

In most cases, a person will experience a dominant type of hypnagogia. Visual and auditory hypnagogia are the most common, but it’s also possible to experience movement on or near your body in the hypnagogic state. Whatever you experience most, focus on it. Do not let your attention sway. If it does (it will) keep reminding yourself that you are dreaming. It is helpful to count, “1 I’m dreaming…2 I’m dreaming…3 I’m dreaming…”

As you stay aware during the hypnagogic state the hypnagogia will begin taking on distinct patterns and form. Begin to project your own visualizations onto the hypnagogia. Imagine the scene you want to begin your dream in. Imagine the hypnagogic imagery forming into your desired dream scene and it will do exactly that.

It is like focusing on something under a microscope. At first everything is blurry with many sounds and images all mixed together. But as you focus, or visualize a scene, the image becomes crystal clear. Layer upon layer, your dream scene is created.

Visualize yourself entering the dream scene you have created from a first person perspective. As long as you keep reminding yourself that you are dreaming, you will pop out of your sleeping body and into your new dream body.

3. Enter the Dream and Stabilize

Success! You’re lucid dreaming (do a reality check). Now that you’re in the dream the first thing you’ll want to do is stabilize.  Imagine a pilot suddenly entering an area with a wildly different air temperature.  Things are shaky. In your case, it’s your awareness that’s shaky. If you’re not careful, you’re going to lose lucidity and fall back asleep. This can be incredibly frustrating, but it happens to the best of us.

The first thing you should do is shout “Increase lucidity!”, “I am dreaming!”, or “I will stay aware!”  Something to that effect.  This will immediately increase the dream’s vividness as well as your awareness. You can also try spinning on your axis, or asking a dream character for help in staying lucid. Some dream characters respond like robots, while others are so complex and real that it fills you with awe.

At this point you are ready to start experimenting with what works best for you. Make sure to try out different ideas while you are dreaming and see what works best for you. Congratulations, you’re a lucid dreamer.

 

Step 8: Master your Sleep Cycle

This is not a necessary step, but mastering your sleep cycle will greatly increase the vividness and rate of lucid dreams you have.

lucid dreaming sleep cycle

Who knew scientists could graph sleep with such beauty. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956/

As stated above, when doing WBTB, the reason you set your alarm clock to wake you up 5 hours after going to sleep has to do with the average person’s sleep cycle.  If you understand the basics of the sleep cycle and then master your own, I assure you, you will become a master lucid dreamer. So, here’s sleep in a nutshell:

Sleep architecture refers to the basic structural organization of normal sleep. There are two types of sleep, non-rapid eye-movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep. NREM sleep is divided into stages 1, 2, 3, and 4, representing a continuum of relative depth. Each has unique characteristics including variations in brain wave patterns, eye movements, and muscle tone. Sleep cycles and stages were uncovered with the use of electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings that trace the electrical patterns of brain activity.

The sleep cycle itself could be its own article, so let’s stick to what you need to know.

*Note: Sleep patterns change with age and gender.

  • Dreams take place almost entirely during REM sleep.
  • 80% of all dream recall is associated with waking up during REM sleep. That’s why WBTB is timed at 5 hours.
  • brain wave sleep cycle lucid dream

    Your brainwaves wile you sleep. http://www.sleepdex.org/

    Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 – 110 minutes. If you sleep for 8 hours, you are sleeping through about 5 cycles of sleep.

  • It is your goal to figure out how long your personal sleep cycle is by the best approach that exists: trial and error. Set your alarm to wake you up after 4.5, 6, 7.5, or 9 hours. Don’t wake yourself up during the first cycle as it lasts for a slightly shorter amount of time and will throw off your findings.
  • Since each sleep cycle you go through in a single night is different, pick one of the above times and stick to it.
  • Each night, set your alarm to wake you up a few minutes earlier or later than the time you chose. Write down how you feel when you wake up. Are you groggy? You probably woke up during deep sleep. Did you wake up feeling refreshed? Than you probably woke up during REM sleep or Stage 1 sleep.
  • Do the math and figure out when your REM cycle takes place on average. That is your golden time to set your alarm for WBTB. You will experience significantly better dream recall, as well as greater vividness when you go back to sleep.

*Note: You can also use the knowledge of your sleep cycle to ensure that you don’t wake up feeling dazed and confused every morning.  Sleep only in intervals that match when you will wake up feeling refreshed.  Don’t forget to engineer the perfect morning while you’re at it.

 

Step 9. Alternative Techniques

Try out the copious amount of other techniques that lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers alike have come up with. There is certainly no shortage.

You can even look into using some lucid dreaming technology such as the NovaDreamer.

If you are a true experimenter you can give Calea Zacatechichi a try. Known as Calea Z for short, consuming this plant doesn’t have any noticeable effects while you are awake. Once you go to sleep though, it’s a whole different story. Your dreams become more vivid, more convincing, and in some cases, wilder. I have personally tried Calea Z on multiple occasions, and it is in my opinion like using a psychedelic in the dream world.  This is definitely for the experienced lucid dreamer.

Another tried and true alternative that you can mix with any other technique is the use of binaural beats. A binaural beat is a pair of two very similar but slightly different frequencies played in each ear.  The brain integrates each frequency, and by doing so creates the sensation of a third frequency called the binaural beat. If a frequency of 100 hertz is played in the right ear, and another frequency of 94 hertz is played in the left ear, the frequency of the binaural beat will be 6 hertz. That is equivalent to theta brain waves (4-7 hertz), as well as REM sleep.  In this way, you can guide your brain into REM sleep just by listening to specific sounds as you fall asleep.

Binaural beats are most effective when using headphones, and can be used at any time to induce a wide range of states of consciousnesses.

Turn your speakers way up:

 

Lucid Dreaming Troubleshoot:

 

–No Dream Recall

You’ve had a notebook sitting by your head for 3 weeks and you still can’t recall a single dream.

Just as writers experience writer’s block, lucid dreamers experience dry spells.  Sometimes you just can’t remember anything. Are you stressed? Do a quick scan of your body. Does any part of your body feel overly stressed? Stress is the ultimate lucid dream killer.

lucid dreaming food

All of these foods have the potential to enhance your dreams. Take your pick. http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/

Another thing to consider is your diet. Alcohol has been known to decrease dream recall, as well as cannabis. There are many foods you can eat to help with dream recall though.

You can also check out Calea Z if you’re feeling adventurous, or just do some good old exercise.

Most importantly, take advantage of the WBTB method.

— Infrequent Lucid Dreams

You become lucid, but only rarely. How can you increase the frequency of lucid dreaming? 

First of all, being a lucid dreamer does not mean you will be transforming into Godzilla and saving the cosmos from interstellar doom every single night.  When you are first getting started 1-2 lucid dreams per month is normal.  After a year or more of practice 10-20 days each month is very common. I don’t have any clear evidence of this claim. I base it on the claims made over years of being active in various lucid dreaming forums.

The best advice is to stick to one technique and master it. Become the Mr. Miyagi of WILD, or the Yoda of DILD. As long as you focus on a single vehicle for lucid dreaming, frequency is sure to come.

Other than that, just stick to the guide and ensure that you master each step along the way. Be patient, and stay focused.

— Blurry Dreams and Difficulty Staying Lucid

Your lucid dreams are blurry and it’s hard to stay lucid. You usually just fall back to sleep. 

This is an extremely common problem, especially when you’re first starting out.  Check out the section entitled “Stabilization” in Step 7 (WILD) of the lucid dreaming guide.

Some quick tips are to spin on your axis, scream “increase lucidity,” visualize a new dream-scene, or ask a dream character for help.

— Sleep Paralysis 

Sometimes you wake up and your whole body is paralyzed. What should you do?

This is called sleep paralysis, and it can be a frightening experience. For those of you that have never experienced sleep paralysis, it feels like your whole body is chained down and that there is a heavy weight on your chest. Sometimes a menacing presence is felt in the room as well.

he menacing presence is likely just a result of hypnagogia (more on that in the next section). As for sleep paralysis, it’s totally natural.  It is not clear why it occurs, but it is thought to be directly associated with REM atonia. REM atonia is when the body shuts off production of motor neurons during REM sleep.  This is likely a way for the body to protect itself. Were it not for sleep paralysis everyone would be acting out their dreams.  Sleep walking would be the norm.

This best thing to do if you are experiencing sleep paralysis is to stay calm, and use it as a chance to become lucid. If you fight the paralysis you will only make things worse.  Instead, begin the WILD technique from the state of sleep paralysis. You’re already a step closer to lucid dreaming that way.

— The Old Hag

This scary old lady appeared last night, sat on your chest, and stared into your eyes with a look of death.  W-T-F!

Just about every lucid dreamer will meet the Old Hag at one time or another.  The truth is, there is no legitimate explanation for why thousands of lucid dreamers over the last 2000 years have been describing variations of the same terrifying old woman appearing in their dreams an sitting on top of them.

old hag syndrome

The notorious Old Hag. http://www.paranormalportals.com/

It is known as Old Hag Syndrome, and it is arguably the single most terrifying experience that can take place during your lucid dreaming adventures.

The running theory is that the Old Hag is a combination of sleep paralysis, emotional instability/stress, and hallucinations/hypnagogia. Just remember, it’s all in your head. The old hag and the rest of the nightmares you will face cannot hurt you.  You are choosing to be afraid.  Recognize that it is not real, and just let go. The harder you struggle, the worse it gets.

Just let go, and remember that you are the one and only master of your dreams.

–Other Issues. 

If you have any other problems or issues not mentioned here I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability as a lucid dreamer with 10 years of experience. Send an email to efein0419@wondergressive.com with any questions or concerns.

 

Lucid Dreaming Ideas and Inspiration

Are you tired of just flying around, exploring worlds, and talking to dream characters? Do you need some creative inspiration? Are you looking to push your imagination to the limit? Either head over to LD4all for more tips, tricks, ideas, and inspiration, or try out my own suggestions below.

  • Walk through a mirror.
  • Experience synysthesia, a mixing of senses. For example, try tasting light, listening to smells, etc.
  • Transform into an animal of your choosing.
  • Transform into an alien creature.
  • Explore the human body as a cell.
  • Engage in a Pokemon battle.
  • Create your own world, solar system, or even galaxy.
  • Have a party where you invite different aspects of yourself. Invite your artistic side, your murderous side, and your silly side, and watch them all interact.
  • Shout out that you would like to meet your spirit guide and see what happens.
  • Request something creative from your dream, like a poem, song, or picture.
  • Conquer an old nightmare you had as a child, or one you are currently having.
  • Practice a sport in your dream and you may very well see positive results in your waking life.
  • Try talking to a dead person from history, or a dead relative.
  • Experiment with time dilation. Try making a 10 minute dream feel like 10 hours.
  • Ask your dream characters highly existential questions such as “Are you in my dream, or am I in yours?”
  • Play with gravity and other laws of physics.
  • Travel through time and meet yourself in 30 years.
  • Become the founding mother/father of a dream nation.
  • Recreate the universe of your favorite book.
  • Experience life as the opposite gender.
  • Let go of your control over the dream while remaining lucid. Be a quiet observer of the changes inside and out.

 

If you must sleep through a third of your life, why should you sleep through your dreams, too? –Stephen LaBerge

lucid dreaming totem

Quick! Do a reality check. Are you dreaming?

 

Sources:

http://www.lucidity.com/SleepAndCognition.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19750924

http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/IJoDR/article/viewFile/79/96

http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/IJoDR/article/viewFile/79/96

http://www.lucidity.com/LucidDreamingFAQ2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oneironautics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_LaBerge

http://library.macewan.ca/lucidity/lucid%20let%205.2/LL5_2_Preview_L_G.htm

http://www.lucidity.com/vanEeden.html

http://www.lucidity.com/SleepAndCognition.html

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/mnemonic-induction-of-lucid-dreams.html

http://ld4all.com/

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/hypnagogic-state.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956/

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/the-stages-of-sleep.html

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/lucid-dreaming-techniques.html

http://www.amazon.com/Calea-zacatechichi-ternifolia-Dream-Capsules/dp/B00A9ZM65I

http://www.monroeinstitute.org/resources/what-are-binaural-beats

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/15-foods-that-enhance-your-dreams.html

http://www.neurology.org/content/52/6/1194

Internet Trolls: Why They Prosper From Your Grief

Internet trolls are a force to be reckoned with.

Have you ever played an online video game? Entered a chat room? Posted a topic? Wrote a blog? Of course you have. And maybe you have even been trolled in the process… but what is trolling and how have you been affected?

The internet troll is a unique individual, at times making quick appearances, other times invading our cyber lives in overwhelming fashion. They are best described as individuals who regularly exhibit the three characteristics of the Dark Triad:

  • Narcissism – pride and egotism with a lack of empathy.
  • Machiavellianism – deceiving and using others for self gain; immoral individuals.
  • Psychopathy – exhibiting remorselessness and again a lack of empathy.

Related ArticleA Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

Internet trolls are not only described by those characteristics, but also proven to share a correlation with them! In a new study, titled “Trolls Just Want to Have Fun” (genius), it was found that:

trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores.

But why would anyone troll your blog about cute animals doing cute things? Your blog is silly and I hate you and your cute things are disgusting that’s why! Sorry about that, my inner troll popped up unexpectedly.

But seriously, they thrive off of personal work and emotion. Something you put a great deal of work and time into is the ideal target.

Even in a chat room where a serious debate has ensued, a troll will inevitably charge in to divert the focus of the debate or simply mock any and every intellectual point made. Their actions and words spark an emotional connection and provoke a passionate, heartfelt response. This is precisely the point when a troll reigns victorious.

Related ArticleNOT Another 9-11 Article (rolls eyes*)

Did you just achieve a new rank in a game? Did someone follow up that achievement with a statement to anger you? You read:  “Newb.” or “LOL props scrub,” and with that all your hard work and sense of achievement wanes into a form of senseless rage. But why would someone want to anger you? Why is it that someone is getting pleasure out of your misery?

The answer lies in the conclusion of the study:

[Internet] trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

Sadists. All of them. This result bolsters the idea that a their behavior is actually representative of an even greater evil, the Dark Tetrad. This malevolent nexus of annoying includes the Dark Triad with the addition of sadism – gaining pleasure from others’ misery.

Interestingly enough, you may have trolled someone yourself, out of boredom if not for any other reason. Maybe you’ve said someone’s profile picture is ugly or created a fake story, telling others the story is the gospel truth… does “spreading gossip” ring any bells? Does that make everyone a little sadistic, narcissistic, psychopathic, and Machiavellian? Is the world just an endless stream of Rick Rolls? Are we all internet trolls at heart?

Related ArticleYou Might be a Psychopath; Psychological Catch 22

Being trolled? Just breathe… they want you to respond in a heated manner. Ignore the comment, delete it, or simply move on to a different topic. To reply to them is to fuel them! LOL… here’s a graph depicting the reality of the dark tetrad around the world.

Cheers!

internet troll personality

Mean Personality Score.
http://www.motherjones.com

 

 

Research:

Science Direct: They just want to have fun

Science Direct: Dark Triad

Wikipedia: Dark Tetrad

Popular Science: Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments

15 Infuriatingly Hilarious Quotes

 

Wondergressive: You Might be a Psychopath; Psychological Catch 22

Wondergressive: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

Wondergressive: NOT Another 9-11 Article (rolls eyes*)

State Nullification and the Tenther Movement: Fight the Fed

state nullification jefferson

State nullification is the only way to tame the Leviathan! http://logisticsmonster.com/

State nullification is a term you will be hearing more and more often in the coming years.  It is taking place all across the nation as states fight to take back power from the Leviathan-like federal government of the United States.

Simply put, a vast majority of Americans believe the federal government is out of control. Activities like NSA spying, the use of drones, the passing of the NDAA, illegal search and seizures, and overall flagrant disregard for the rights and will of the people have forced the hand of individuals and states. The people are taking a stand, and state nullification appears to be the key to success.

Over the years the Fed has been placing greater emphasis on its own will rather than the will of the people. The Fed has actually gone so far as to throw away the writ of habeaus corpus whenever it sees fit under the Patriot Act and NDAA. There are various solutions to the power struggle that individuals and groups have experimented with.  Some people choose to protest, some revolt, while others choose to cast their vote and hope for the best. All of these methods have wildly mixed results.

State nullification, however, is an historically effective tool used by of one of the fastest growing movements in America.  This movement has been wining major battles with the Fed for years, and there is no sign that state nullification will stop working as a viable solution in the near future. The movement I’m referring to is the Tenther Movement.

 

The Tenther Movement

tenther movement state nullification

Proponents of state nullification are part of the Tenther Movement. sodahead.com

The Tenther Movement, also called the State Sovereignty Movement or Tenth Amendment movement, is spreading like wildfire. It is founded on a political ideology which posits that the federal government is acting unconstitutionally, and that it is the states’ obligation to stand against an unconstitutional federal government.  It is a state-wide refusal of what is considered flagrant disregard for constitutional law on the part of the federal government. Most importantly, refusal is taken a step further with federal laws overturned through state nullification.

According to the supremacy clause of the Constitution no state is allowed to create a law that is in direct conflict with a federal law. Incredibly, despite the legal reality of the supremacy clause, state nullification has worked in the past, and continues to work today. The numbers are staggering, with some reports showing that 80% of states have at least one law in direct opposition to a federal law.

The Tenther movement was inaccurately named after the tenth amendment to the Constitution, which states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This is a misnomer however since the implied validity of state nullification goes beyond just the wordage of the Constitution to the very words spoken during various constitutional conventions.  In fact, supporters of state nullification have attempted to shed the name “Tenther” because it was created as a pejorative by those opposing their ideals. The name, however, has stuck.

If state nullification is so popular, why have you never heard of it? Actually, you have heard of it, you probably just didn’t realize it was a collective movement. In truth, any state victory against the Fed is associated with the Tenther Movement in some way. Check out this list of instances where state nullification is either being considered, currently being passed, or has already been used to trump federal law in a wide array of states:

As you can see, there is a great deal of successful, and ongoing state nullification taking place in the United States.  Taken as a single instance state nullification may not mean much. Taken collectively, however, state nullification represents a powerful, growing trend in practicing state sovereignty. Every time a state stands up to what it perceives as the Fed overstepping its boundaries all other states benefit. State victories set national precedents. Consider, it wasn’t until cannabis was recreationally legalized in Washington and Colorado that hemp became legal at the federal level for 10 different states that are ready to grow it.

How are states getting away with this, and do their actions stand a fighting chance in a court of law?

Related Article: The Drones Are Coming!

 

Is State Nullification Constitutional?

According to legal scholars, the Constitution, along with various court rulings, make it clear that the federal government reigns supreme. If a state’s activities or laws impede the federal government in any way, the state is legally bound to change in accordance with the federal government. The supremacy clause is clear about one thing: the game is rigged. No matter what, the Fed wins.

state nullification federal law

State nullification? According to the current Fed, keep dreaming… http://www.federalcriminallawyer.us/

Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles who specializes in constitutional law explains that,

the law is clear — the supremacy clause says specifically that the federal laws are supreme over contrary state laws, even if the state doesn’t like those laws.

As we learned above though, the world of law and the real world are very different places. Somehow, the Fed is losing. Its prohibitions and decrees are being overturned by states all across the country.

One of the most outspoken voices supporting state nullification is a man named Tom Woods. Woods is being featured in the mainstream media and invited to legal seminars across the nation. Everyone wants to know the same thing: What makes proponents of state nullification think they have a leg to stand on in a court of law?

Let’s take a look at the wording of the supremacy clause . It reads:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

According to Woods and other state nullification supporters, the key to their movement is the bolded text, “which shall be made in Pursuance thereof.” According to Brion McClanahan, Ph.D. in American History from the University of South Carolina and a faculty member at Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom,

All laws made in pursuance of the Constitution, or those clearly enumerated in the document, were supreme, State laws notwithstanding. In other words, the federal government was supreme in all items clearly listed in the document.

state nullification tom woods

This is Tom Woods book which outlines the legality and necessity of state nullification. http://www.libertyclassroom.com

Thus, anything not clearly outlined in the Constitution does not fall under the supremacy clause. There is nothing about healthcare, cannabis, or the NSA in the Constitution, thus, according to state nullification supporters, these issues fall under the tenth amendment: state enumeration.

Concerns regarding the federal power granted by the supremacy clause are nothing new. Debates over the clause date back to the Constitutional Convention held on May 31, 1787, when Edmund Randolph presented the Virginia Plan. The plan granted the federal government the power to “negative,” or shred any extant state law if it deemed a state was “incompetent.” Pierce Butler along with other representatives from South Carolina stressed that this plan was too vague and stripped the states of too much power. In the end, the idea of a federal “negative” power was voted down.

In subsequent Constitutional and ratifying conventions the supremacy clause was continuously debated. In response to attacks made on the supremacy clause, William Davie, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from North Carolina and supporter of the Constitution explained to those against the supremacy clause that,

This Constitution, as to the powers therein granted, is constantly to be the supreme law of the land. Every power ceded by it must be executed without being counteracted by the laws or constitutions of the individual states. Gentlemen should distinguish that it is not the supreme law in the exercise of power not granted. It can be supreme only in cases consistent with the powers specially granted, and not in usurpations.

In plain English, the supremacy clause ONLY pertains to those powers clearly granted by the Constitution. Furthermore, Supreme Court justice James Iredell of North Carolina argued that the supremacy clause,

is supposed to give too much power, when, in fact, it only provides for the execution of those powers which are already given in the foregoing articles. If Congress, under pretence of executing one power, should, in fact, usurp another, they will violate the Constitution.

According to Tenthers the words of both the supremacy clause as well as those of our founding fathers make it clear that federal power is limited to those powers outlined in the Constitution only.  State nullification likely wouldn’t hold up in a contemporary court of law, yet it appears to be completely in accordance with the words of the Constitution.

Related Article:  ObamaCare and the 49-Employee Company

 

Tenther Philosophy: Argument for State Nullification 

What we have here is a clash of semantics and philosophy dating back centuries. The founding fathers, as well as contemporary interpretations of the Constitution, are all locked in a Locke vs. Hobbes fight:  John Locke’s idea of a fully self-governed society vs. Thomas Hobbes idea of an all-powerful leviathan government.  Has the Fed turned into Hobbe’s Leviathan? According to Tenthers, absolutely.

state nullification thomas jefferson

Thomas Jefferson prescribed state nullification as the necessary cure to tyranny. http://northcarolina.tenthamendmentcenter.com/

Woods reminds us that both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned of an out of control central government, and prescribed state nullification as the proper weapon to fight against a leviathan government. Woods explains why we need state nullification:

As Jefferson warned, if the federal government is allowed to hold a monopoly on determining the extent of its own powers, we have no right to be surprised when it keeps discovering new ones. If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power. In his Report of 1800, Madison reminded Virginians and Americans at large that the judicial branch was not infallible, and that some remedy must be found for those cases in which all three branches of the federal government exceed their constitutional limits.

Woods sums up the basis of Tenther philosophy using the following three points:

1. The states preceded the union. The Declaration of Independence speaks of free and independent states. The ratification of the Constitution was accomplished not by a single national vote, but by the individual ratification of various states.

2. The American system appoints no government as sovereign. The people of each state are sovereigns, and they apportion power between themselves, their state governments, and the federal government. This apportioning is a sovereign exercise, not an impairment to sovereignty.

3. Since the people of each state are sovereign, they themselves are the proper disputants when the federal government acts unconstitutionally. The people of the state are responsible for reviewing whether their agent (the federal government) was intended to exercise such powers in question. The sovereigns must retain the power to restrain the agent they themselves created. 

If the sovereign power of the people cannot be retained, a leviathan inevitably grows, resulting in the loss of civil liberties and rights. This is precisely the reason the government is allowed to continue violating the rights of the American people on a daily basis.

Related Article: A Case Against Gun Control

 

What if State Nullification Passes Segregation or Slave Laws?

This is the most common issue raised by scholars when discussing the validity and constitutional safety of state nullification.  For obvious reasons, it is an extremely valid point.

Woods uses history as his defense. According to Woods, state nullification has never been used in support of slavery. State nullification was instead used against slavery. Wisconsin nullified the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and safely transported a runaway slave to Canada.  While the Wisconsin nullification is true, the full breadth of Woods assertion is not.

state nullification brown v board of education

Brown V. Board of Education shook up the nation. Those that attempted state nullification got shut down. http://www.thelostyear.com/

When Brown V. Board of Education passed in 1954, several states attempted to use state nullification to claim that the supreme court decision held no legal ground in defiance of state laws. All nine justices signed an opinion stating that the states were the ones in defiance of constitutional law.

In the 1958 case of Cooper V. Aaron, in response to Arkansas attempting to keep schools segregated using state nullification, the Supreme Court stated that the Brown V. Board of Education decision,

can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation whether attempted ‘ingeniously or ingenuously’.

The supreme court put a seeming halt to the state nullification debate when it stated in the case of Bush V. Orleans Parish School Board that,

The conclusion is clear that [nullification] is not a constitutional doctrine. If taken seriously, it is illegal defiance of constitutional authority. Otherwise, ‘it amounted to no more than a protest, an escape valve through which the legislators blew off steam to relieve their tensions.’ . . . However solemn or spirited, [nullification] resolutions have no legal efficacy.

In the end, this point stands as a valid argument against state nullification. History however stands to show that state nullification has only been successful in defiance of slavery, not in defense.

The Supreme Court explains clearly that state nullification is a bunch of baloney, but according to the Constitution, state nullification is perfectly valid.  The Supreme Court claims that the federal government is the supreme law of the land in all matters it deems constitutional, but the Constitution limits the Feds power to only that which is outlined in the Constitution. What’s going on here?

 

Nobody’s Right, and Everyone’s Wrong

The Supreme Court doesn’t believe that state nullification holds any legal backing. The words of America’s founding fathers, specific words used in the supremacy clause, and the sovereignty of the individual claim otherwise. Who’s right? I don’t know that there is a clear answer.

state nullification map country

In reality, the country looks more like this. regansravings.blogspot.com

The point is that the Tenther Movement, whether good or bad, is proof that states have the power, if not the right, to self govern themselves. For whatever reason, state nullification is working, and is proving to be an effective method in creating change in the current “Leviathan” federal government.

Did all hell break loose in Colorado when cannabis was recreationally legalized? No, because everyone who is getting high now was already getting high before pot was legalized. The only visible difference this act of state nullification has made is the amount of money and business flowing into each state. Colorado and Washington hit the jackpot. Another great upside to the current state nullification craze is lower suicide rates in states that have legalized medical marijuana. If this movement is saving lives, maybe it’s worth a look?

Even though the Tenther Movement is taking place on a state level, it is people like you who ensure the snowball of change begins rolling at the local level. If the Tenther Movement has shown us anything it is that we the people are not powerless. If the federal government is out of control, it is the peoples’ duty to ensure that reasonable order is restored. Alone we can do nothing, but together, we the people have power.

Head to the Tenth Amendment Center to get up to date information about state nullification taking place in each state. The site also offers resources to help you get started on leading your own state in the process of state nullification.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Sources:

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/hobbes/leviathan-contents.html

https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/ndaa

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/illegal-search-and-seizure

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-suspension-of-habeas-corpus-in-america/5311701

http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/?doing_wp_cron=1392051648.6796290874481201171875

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/7701-state-vs-federal-the-nullification-movement

http://www.annenbergclassroom.org/speakouts.aspx?name=what-happens-when-states-enact-legislation-that-contradicts-federal-laws-&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/tenth_amendment

http://reason.com/blog/2009/09/21/the-tenther-smear

http://tracking.tenthamendmentcenter.com/?doing_wp_cron=1392252846.9485108852386474609375

http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20140210-906077.html

http://definitions.uslegal.com/s/supremacy-clause/

http://www.libertyclassroom.com/nullification/

http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=7

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_531.asp

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/print_documents/a6_2s19.html

http://jim.com/hobbes.htm

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/02/constitution.html

http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=2485&keyword=booth

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/358/1/case.html

http://www.leagle.com/decision/19601104188FSupp916_1899

http://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp6280.html

http://grassroots.tenthamendmentcenter.com/?doing_wp_cron=1392303861.0843660831451416015625

Is Religion Good For Your Brain?

When you think of religion does your body get invigorated? Do you feel your soul flutter? Does your brain reach a higher state of functioning? In answer to the last question, Jeffrey Anderson, assistant professor of nueroradiology at the University of Utah states that,

We think we have the tools now to do a study of brain activity during the really profound and deep types of emotional and social interactions associated with religion, and we’re really excited to try and understand more.

religion science god

Religion constantly falls under the close scrutiny of science.

Anderson and other researchers are launching a new study that will examine exactly how religion and spiritual rituals impact the human brain. The study will consist of participants between the age of 20 and 30 who are currently active in their faith. An MRI scan will be performed while the participants are surrounded by faith oriented activities, such as listening to spiritual music, listening to proclamations from their religion, and acting out religious rituals associated with their particular faith. Very interesting indeed, but it will take some time before the results of the study are posted. If you believe your self to be a prime candidate for the study, and of course as long as you are in the immediate area of the University of Utah, you can apply to be a participant on the Religious Brain Project website.

Related ArticleMorals or More Rails (to guide us)

The study does beg another set of questions however: can religion and belief be measured by science? Or rather, should science be used to gauge religion? Is it morally correct to accept religion over science, or vice versa? Essentially we arrive at a very pertinent question: should religion be completely replaced by science within the school system as a more viable teaching strategy?

Bill Nye (yes, the science guy) and Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis, supporting the side of religion and creationism) squared off in a debate last night about religion which addressed these issues directly. The overarching question of the debate was : Is creation a viable model of human origins in today’s modern scientific era? Both sides had their own opinions as well as evidence to back up their claims.

religion creation science

Which Religion is right? Which book do your prefer? sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com

In the debate, Ken Ham defends religion by stating that science should be split into two separate categories. The first would pertain to observational science (a science based on models). This category involves what we experience now and how the world works today. The second category involves historical science (a type of theoretical science of origin) which is used to define our origins and makes sense of the world around us from a historical perspective. He stresses the importance of separating the two to help with the confusion that children are being exposed to. He gives the example that by only teaching evolution, which to most starts with a random beginning for no reason other than “it happened,” we limit children to thinking that science is just as random. This randomness can crate incredible confusion when making conclusions about existential quandaries children are trying to work through. Ken Ham asserts that instead, children should be taught religion and to embrace the idea of God because it empowers them to think they are indeed special, as they are made in the image of God.

Related ArticleIn 1610 God Was a Binary, Fractal, Self-Replicating Algorithm

Bill Nye on the other hand focuses on accepted scientific evidence to disprove Ham’s assertions regarding religious truth. For example, he refers to the different layers in stone and snow that have been compressed to form ice which would take far longer than the amount of time Creationism allows for. He talks about the allotted four thousand years since the Great Flood and the improbability of the amount of species we see today to exist with the limited time that Creationists claim elapsed since then. He stresses the idea that we need to depend on natural law and orders, not religious or divine laws, to predict practical and accurate future theories and laws. He asserts that the basis of scientific education must be information derived through the scientific process, such as evolution, in order for children and future scientists to make reasonable scientific predictions in the future. In essence, he is claiming that one must understand and accept theories like evolution which have been supported with scientific evidence in order to understand why a fish can come to walk on land, why there are over 8.7 million different species on Earth, why layers in rocks and trees and ice exist, and so on.  He stresses that by allowing religion and Creationism to thrive in academic settings we are impeding the scientific literacy of future generations and essentially stifling the United States in future scientific breakthroughs.

Related Article: Watching Evolution Occur

The debate finished with questions and rebuttals, but the underlying theme of the debate, I fear, was lost. Instead of trying to prove why one or the other is wrong in the school system, it turned into a contest of ego and the denouncing of each others ideals.

religion science stats

Some surprising statistics about religion and science. blog.faithlife.com

I wonder, why not accept both ideas? Why not teach every child in every classroom the idea of science, and then, on your own time, teach your children your worship, your religion, and your belief. Allow for both religion and science to be taught in their own settings (in schools and at home/place of worship respectively) and allow for the child to then choose which idea they support and believe. What is with this unyielding hatred between the two schools of thought? What ever happened to being free and allowing for choice? Most importantly though: can’t we all just get along?

In the end, much of the issue is largely based on opinion, some opinions stemming from facts, others stemming from observed information. One thing is for certain, all this debate and speculation on religion is definitely causing your brain to function at an elevated level. Maybe you’ve been unintentionally participating in Anderson’s experiment this whole time!

To feed your own opinions further, or for the sake of debate itself, check out the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate on Creationism vs. science in the video below!

Cheers!


Sources:

Religious Brain Project

Deseret News: What’s the effect of religion on the brain? U. launches new study

University of Utah

Youtube: Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham

Youtube: Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children

Youtube: Ken Ham Responds to Bill Nye “the Humanist Guy”

Answers in Genesis – Creationism

Wikipedia: Genesis flood narrative

Backreaction: Models and Theories

Models, Theories, and Laws

How many species on Earth? 8.7 million

 

Wondergressive: Watching Evolution Occur

Wondergessive: Morals or More Rails (to guide us)

Wondergressive: In 1610 God Was a Binary, Fractal, Self-Replicating Algorithm

“Envy-Free” Algorithm Easily Settles Divorce and Inheritance Disputes

divorce homeless

One of the most expensive parts of a marriage is the divorce.

Divorce and death are two of the most common events that take place in the average person’s life. Unfortunately divorce and death often involve some pretty potent cocktails of emotion, leading to the types of fights that leave relationships and families torn asunder. What’s more, the legal proceedings involved in a divorce are extremely expensive, sometimes too expensive for married couples that desire a divorce. Lucky for us a group of researchers have created what they believe to be an easy and viable solution to divorce and inheritance disputes.

Related Article: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 2): Bottled Water, Weddings, Jewelry, Paper Towels

In a paper published in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, researchers Steven Brams from New York University, Wilfrid Laurier University’s D. Marc Kilgour, and the University of Graz’s Christian Klamler outline a pair of simple algorithmic functions that divvy up property and wealth in a completely fair and envy-free way.

The distribution of property is an age old issue, possibly one of the original conflicts early humans faced hundreds of thousands of years ago. As the authors note in the paper,

The problem of fairly dividing a divisible good, such as cake or land, between two people probably goes back to the dawn of civilization.

divorce dispute

“Look Honey, I know you want everything, but this should be fair.” “WHAT IS FAIR?” http://www.ehow.com

As society has evolved, more and more of our possessions have become indivisible, especially in the case of non-allocated marital property in a divorce. The researchers state that this added difficulty with regards to indivisible property is no challenge for their algorithms.

Unlike more demanding fair-division algorithms, which ask players to give more detailed information or make more difficult comparisons, our algorithms are easy to apply and, therefore, eminently practicable.

The algorithms take into account how each party ranks a list of their self-identified priorities from best to worst. In this way the algorithms are able to optimize fairness.  The first algorithm requires that players take turns attributing a rank to items, starting with their most preferred item and descending to their least preferred item. The second algorithm asks that each party submit the complete preference ranking to an unbiased source, or a computer.

Related Article: In 1610 God Was a Binary, Fractal, Self-Replicating Algorithm

The algorithms are envy-free because they do not compare items directly, but rather the preference each party has for an item relative to preferences for other items as well as the opposite party’s preferences. This should be an easy process, but divorce is never easy, is it? If both parties desire an item at the same point in the algorithm, meaning that the relative preference each party has for the item is equivalent, a problem arises. Let’s take an example of party A and B ranking four items from left to right (most preferred to least preferred):

A: 1 2 3 4
B: 2 3 4 1

Now, if we give A item 1 and B item 2 (their most preferred), the next unallocated item on both their lists is item 3. Who should get it? The algorithm gives it to A and gives item 4 to B, which is an envy-free allocation because each player prefers its items to the other player’s:

A prefers item 1 to 2 and item 3 to 4
B prefers item 2 to 3 and item 4 to 1

Not only does each party prefer its pair of items to the other’s, but there is no alternative allocation that both parties would prefer, which makes it efficient.

divorce by state

There is no such thing as bachelorhood in Idaho. http://www.livescience.com/

An ideal allocation isn’t always possible using the algorithm, but to be fair, an ideal allocation is practically never possible during a divorce, so this is a major improvement regardless. If worst comes to worst, the algorithm can place items that both A and B have a high preference for into a contested pile to be argued over at a later time. This at least makes the pile of non-allocated items smaller, and attorney fees less expensive for both parties.

Related Article: Money, Designed to Fail: In The Federal Reserve’s Grip

There are nearly 1 million divorces occurring in the United States each year. Some countries have divorce to marriage ratios as high as 71%. As for inheritance disputes, everyone dies, so major familial disputes are inevitably ubiquitous around the world. Just think of all the time, money, stress, and relationships these simple algorithms will save.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2014/02/03/researchers-develop-envy-free-algorithm-for-settling-disputes-from-divorce-to-inheritance.html

http://www.ams.org/notices/201402/rnoti-p130.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm

http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=144021297

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dyb2011/Table25.pdf

Smartest Dogs: Moscow Stray Dogs Ride Complex Subway System and More

stray dog moscow metro

A stray dog riding the subway in Moscow from point A to point B.

Stray dogs living in Russia’s capital city Moscow have for many years been observed navigating the complex subway system.  What’s more, the stray dogs ride the subway like any other commuter, waiting patiently to reach their intended destination and getting off at their own regular stops.

Everybody likes to think they have a smart dog. Maybe it knows a few tricks like how to say hello, pee only on the rude neighbor’s yard, or crack open a bottle of your favorite beer, but there are no dogs that can compare to a significant number of the roughly 35,000 stray dogs living in Moscow.

Related Article: Pooping Dogs Perceive Earth’s Magnetic Field

Dr. Andrey Poyarkov, a biologist who has studied Moscow’s strays for 30 years, told ABC News that,

In Moscow there are all sorts of stray dogs, but… there are no stupid dogs. The street is tough and it’s survival of the fittest. These clever dogs know people much better than people know them.

stray dog nap subway

This dog takes a nap while waiting for the next stop. englishrussia.com

Studies back up Dr. Poyarkov’s assertion that the stray dogs know people better than people know the dogs. Dogs have honed their social skills over the thousands of years they’ve interacted with humans. They’ve become masters of understanding complex human emotions and human societal structure. Furthermore, dogs are the only non-primate species that instinctively moves its gaze to the right side of a face to obtain information about emotions and general state of being. Amazingly, dogs only exhibit this behavior only when meeting a human being.

Related Article: Dogs Can Predict Earthquakes by Hearing Them

Dogs are certainly an interesting and clever species due large in part to their longstanding position as Man’s best friend.This relationship is likely the reason stray dogs are able to comprehend the relatively complex intricacies of one of the world’s most extensive and impressive subway systems.

According to Poyarkov’s graduate student, Alexei Vereshchagin, what’s most impressive about the subway riding stray dogs is that they are able to remain perfectly calm and focused despite the Metro’s blaring noises and huge crowds of people. Vereshchagin explains that,

It’s stressful even for people standing in a crowd, and the dogs are lying down so no one is seeing them, so anyone can put feet on them. But they get used to this.

Poyarkov notes that Moscow’s stray dogs have adapted to human society in other incredible ways as well. For example, packs of stray dogs have been seen obeying traffic lights, and sending cuter dogs to beg for food for the pack. Packs and individual stray dogs have also been reported scaring people in an attempt to snag a free meal. The strays jump up behind people holding food and bark right behind their head, causing the person to drop their food out of fear.  Poyarkov notes that this is clearly a harmless scare tactic as the stray dogs don’t normally bite or scratch.

Fortunately the stray dogs and people of Moscow seem to be living peacefully together.  There is even a statue in the Mendeleyevskaya subway station commemorating a stray dog named Malchik, who was stabbed to death by a fashion model for barking at her pet terrier.

Related Article: A Group of Prominent Scientists Agree; Animals are Just as Conscious as Us

All of these behaviors illustrate that dogs are highly capable at adapting to new environments, especially when it comes to urban sprawls. In truth, all dog breeds are intelligent in vastly different ways. Some make great hunting companions, some are excellent at evading detection, some are the perfect security guard, while others are masters of cuddling.

The degree of intelligence also varies greatly from breed to breed, as well as from individual to individual. A great example is that of Betsy the dog, a border collie who knows more than 340 words and is able to easily connect an actual object with a photo of the same object despite having seen neither before. My dog can barely recognize her own name. She’s of the ‘expert cuddler’ class of intelligence. Chaser, a border collie from the United States, can remember the names of more than 1,000 items. Scientists also state that Chaser can categorize toys by function or shape, an activity learned by young human children.

In 1994, Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, published a book entitled The Intelligence of Dogs. The book presents a list of dog breeds ordered by intelligence. Intelligence is evaluated using 3 different criteria: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence. Below is a list of the top 10 canine geniuses, and the top 10 canine derps. Don’t let your dog see it though since studies show that dogs are prone to human-like jealousy.

 

genius stray dog book

This dog is a genius. safe4work.org

Geniuses:

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

 

 

 

Derps:

derp dog

This dog is a derp. agentmlovestacos.com

  1. Basset Hound
  2. Mastiff
  3. Beagle
  4. Pekingese
  5. Bloodhound
  6. Borzoi
  7. Chow Chow
  8. Bulldog
  9. Basenji
  10. Afghan Hound

 

 

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/Technology/stray-dogs-master-complex-moscow-subway-system/story?id=10145833

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661305002081

http://www.perceptionweb.com/abstract.cgi?id=v070385

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/animal-minds/virginia-morell-text

http://www.amazon.com/The-Intelligence-Dogs-Thoughts-Companions/dp/0743280873

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200907/canine-intelligence-breed-does-matter

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/derp

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7771259.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12067099

Cannabis or Cannabust: Why That “Rocky Mountain High” May Come Crashing Down on Your Heads (At Least on Your Potheads)

legal pot shop open

In Washington and Colorado toking is completely legal at the state level. http://www.tokeofthetown.com/

It’s a Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rain fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody’s high

-John Denver

When the late John Denver recorded these prophetic lyrics in 1972, who could have foreseen the day, 35 years later, when Rocky Mountain High would take its place next to Where the Columbines Grow as the official co-state song of the State of Colorado? On November 6, 2012, a mere five years after Rocky Mountain High attained such legendary status, the voters in Colorado approved a ballot initiative that would make it the first state, quickly followed by the state of Washington, to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

The scenes on television that November evening were nothing short of remarkable.  As most of America was fixated on the results of the presidential election, along with numerous congressional, gubernatorial, state and local elections also taking place on that fateful November day, an awkward assortment of casual marijuana users, hard core potheads and aging hippies rejoiced while watching the network newscasters announce the results of the Colorado and Washington ballot initiatives on marijuana.[1]

Related Article: The History and Legality of Cannabis Use Around the World

cannabis legal colorado

A thick haze covers Colorado, but it’s a legal haze. http://traviswright.com/

As the circus atmosphere continued to play out on television screens across the country throughout the evening, a peculiar assemblage of psychologists, sociologists, criminologists, policy pundits and other talking heads debated endlessly about the pros and cons of the legalization of marijuana.  Legal scholars, on the other hand, focused on the potentially titanic clash between these state actions and Article VI (2) of the United States Constitution, commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause.

Inevitably, there will be a deluge of legal battles in which marijuana users are surely going to be unwitting pawns.  The vast majority of legal challenges to these state laws will arise not from the legalization of the substance itself, but rather from the notion that certain states are apparently determined to trump federal law in violation of the most revered and sacred legal document in our nation’s history: The Constitution of the United States.

Another complicating factor that cannot be overlooked is the shockingly complicit position taken by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).  Under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, the DOJ has given a clear signal to the burgeoning marijuana industry that the federal authorities will not be enforcing federal law in a manner that would require the industry to have any serious concerns.  In fact, it is not a stretch to interpret the DOJ’s official guidance on the issue as tacit approval.  While the underlying motivations fueling this controversial decision are certainly nebulous,[2] the fact remains that Mr. Holder has apparently made the decision that the DOJ should not be taking aggressive enforcement action against certain groups of lawbreakers.

 

What is the Supremacy Clause?

The verbiage of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause is deceptively simple;

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State notwithstanding.

In plain English, this means that no state has the power to enact a law that is in direct conflict with a federal law, which is precisely what Colorado and Washington appear to have done.

Related Article: Federal Judge Urges Legalization of Marijuana

The constitution may be old, but it is still the law of the land. http://www.senatorhill.com/

The constitution may be old, but it is still the law of the land. http://www.senatorhill.com/

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance under the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (commonly referred to as the “Controlled Substances Act”).  In other words, as seen through the federal lens, marijuana is an extremely dangerous drug with no medical benefits.  Accordingly, under the Controlled Substances Act it is a federal crime to manufacture, distribute, dispense or to possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense marijuana.  Regardless of how narrowly these state laws are construed by the courts, it is difficult to see how it is plausible to reconcile these laws with the conflicting federal law in a way that would allow state and federal law to coexist.

The national debate that has been raging in this country for decades about whether marijuana is, or is not, a dangerous drug worthy of its Schedule I Controlled Substance designation is beyond the scope of this article.  That issue is of little significance when compared to the dangerous precedent being established by a few “progressive” states and the Obama administration’s DOJ which, at least to this point, seems determined to facilitate the unconstitutional actions of those states.  The remainder of this article is devoted to the analysis of three issues: (1) the obvious clash between these particular state laws (with the focus on Colorado’s law) and the conflicting federal law; (2) the thinly-veiled efforts of the Obama administration to pacify the marijuana enthusiasts; and (3) the likely future of these laws.

 

The Colorado Law

Effective December 10, 2012, Article 18, Section 16 of Colorado’s state Constitution became law.   Like many laws, especially those that are bound to be controversial and challenged in the courts, the Colorado law is meticulously drafted and painfully verbose.  However, for the purposes of this analysis the critical provisions can be found in subsections 3 (Personal use of marijuana) and 4 (Lawful operation of marijuana-related facilities).

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

legal state laws

State enumeration rights apply as long as the constitution doesn’t have a say in the matter. susops.blogspot.com

Subsection 3 provides, in pertinent part, that persons over 21 years of age may (a) possess, use, display, purchase or transport marijuana in quantities not exceeding one ounce as well as marijuana accessories; (b) possess, grow, process or transport up to six marijuana plants, no more than three of which are mature, flowering plants, and possess the marijuana produced by those plants on the premises where the plants are grown, provided that the growing takes place in an area that is enclosed and locked and provided that the marijuana is not made available for sale; (c) transfer no more than one ounce of marijuana without remuneration to a person who is 21 years of age or older; (d) consume marijuana as long as it is not consumed publicly or openly or in a manner that endangers others; and (e) assist others who are at least 21 years of age in the acts set forth in (a) through (d) above.

Subsection 3 essentially allows anyone who is 21 or older to have their way with marijuana as long as they limit their indulgence in accordance with the seemingly arbitrary quantities as well as the production, transit and transfer methods established by that subsection.  Undoubtedly, this provision will seem reasonably clear and unambiguous to the average reader, especially when it is read in conjunction with subsection 2 (Definitions) and in the proper context with the other provisions of the law. Predictably, however, we are just beginning to hear the tedious cacophony emanating from the armies of lawyers and judges that will twist these words into a convoluted statutory compost pile.

Subsection 4 establishes restrictions governing the marijuana supply chain from production and processing through transportation and storage to the retail stores and end users.  Think of it as a crop-harvesting process similar to corn or soybeans, just slightly more sophisticated and aromatic.

Related Article: Ingredient in Pot Decreases the High: THC, Pot Shops and Lobbyists

legal laws cannabis

Judges and lawyers on both sides of the debate are feverishly analyzing the laws. http://www.pauldzirvinskis.com/

The truly intriguing parts of the Colorado law begin with subsection 5 (Regulation of marijuana).  As comical as it may be to conjure up images of the side show that will come to town when the legion of lawyers and judges begin dissecting this law, just think of the confusion that is bound to come out of the state’s regulatory process.  The administrative agency charged with enacting regulations governing the implementation of the law is, not surprisingly, the Colorado Department of Revenue.  This is not a typographical error and the writer is not under the influence of any hallucinogenic substance.  The state’s tax authorities are responsible for issuing regulations governing the law’s implementation.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for promulgating regulations that establish the following:

  • (a)    Procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of operating licenses for marijuana establishments;
  • (b)   A schedule of application, licensing and renewal fees;
  • (c)    Qualifications for the licensing that are directly related to the operation of a marijuana establishment;
  • (d)   Security requirements for marijuana establishments;
  • (e)    Requirements for the prevention, sale or diversion or marijuana and marijuana products to persons under 21 years of age;
  • (f)    Labeling requirements for marijuana and marijuana products sold or distributed by a marijuana establishment;
  • (g)   Health and safety regulations and standards for the manufacture of marijuana products and the cultivation of marijuana;
  • (h)   Restrictions on the advertising and display of marijuana and marijuana products; and
  • (i)     Civil penalties for the failure to comply with the regulations.

It is also worth noting that this bureaucratic party does not end with the Department of Revenue.  According to Colorado Constitution Article 18, Section 16(5)(d), the Colorado general assembly is responsible for enacting an excise tax to be levied upon the marijuana and each locality is required to enact a host of ordinances further regulating the licensing of marijuana establishments operating within their municipal jurisdiction.  This is a clear-cut recipe for inconsistency among the multiple municipalities.

 

Federal Law

The Controlled Substances Act contains a complex array of violations and penalties that depend on a variety of factors including amounts and specific ingredients of certain substances.  However, the critical point to understand is contained in the first paragraph.  Subchapter (a) states as follows:

…it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally (1) to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance…

dea legal marijuana

The DEA and other federal agencies have been told to stand down in Colorado. http://www.svet.rs/

There are five categories of “controlled substances.” The category in which a particular substance is listed is based on a variety of factors.  However, as a general rule, Schedule I contains the substances that are considered the most dangerous and Schedule V contains the substances that are considered the least dangerous.

Related Article: Team Red = Team Blue

With a Schedule I controlled substance there is (A) a high potential for abuse; (B) no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and (C) a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.  It is beyond dispute that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance has more than a few highly credible critics.  Nevertheless, this is the current state of the law.  By comparison, with a Schedule V controlled substance there is (A) a low potential for abuse; (B) accepted medical use in the United States; and (C) a limited potential for physical or psychological dependence arising from abuse of the substance.  Schedules II, III and IV each fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance has been a fiercely debated topic for decades by scholars in a host of disciplines.  However, the wisdom of this classification is beyond the scope of this article.  The point is that this is the current state of the law.

 

The Constitution and Federal Courts 

It hardly takes a constitutional scholar to understand that the Supremacy Clause does not receive the copious amount of attention that is regularly bestowed upon its much sexier cousins.  Endless debate seems to follow just about every Supreme Court decision involving the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion and assembly; freedom of the press).  It does not produce the rancorous arguments that inevitably result from the Court’s decisions under the Second Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms, or the Fourth Amendment, which protects the populous from unreasonable searches and seizures (warrantless searches).  The Supremacy Clause certainly does not produce the emotional drama that ensues from death penalty rulings under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.  This list could go on for several pages, but you get the idea.

Related Article: Private Prison Sues State for Not Having Enough Prisoners

While the Supremacy Clause is not surrounded by an aura of excitement like these other constitutional provisions, it is certainly no less important.  The Supreme Court rulings striking down state laws under the Supremacy Clause date back to the late 1700’s. While there have been varying degrees of controversy surrounding the Supremacy Clause since the Constitutional Convention that took place in Philadelphia in 1787, Supreme Court decisions have been remarkably consistent over the past 227 years, at least in comparison to some of the other provisions.

obama legal cannabis

President Obama smoking marijuana in his early years. http://www.popularresistance.org/

The clash of state and federal laws involving the legalization of marijuana is not a new phenomenon and has come before the federal government on many occasions.  In a case involving California’s “Compassionate Use Act,” which resulted from Proposition 215 in 1996 (United States v. Cannabis Cultivators Club), a federal court in that state addressed the issue head on.[3]  In essence, the “Compassionate Use Act” made it legal for seriously ill patients and their primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for use by the seriously ill patient if recommended by the patient’s physician.  This California law precluded prosecution of either the patient or the caregiver.  The marijuana was supplied by medical cannabis dispensaries.  In this case, the defendants operated such dispensaries.

The federal government brought a number of lawsuits against the cannabis dispensaries on the grounds that the dispensaries manufactured and distributed marijuana and possessed the drug with the intent to manufacture and distribute in violation of the Controlled Substance Act.  The court reiterated the provision of the Supremacy Clause, articulating the concept that state law must always be preempted when it is not possible to comply with both the state law and the conflicting federal law or where a state law creates an obstacle to carrying out the objectives of the federal law.  After analyzing the defendants’ multiple arguments, the court issued an order precluding the defendants from engaging in the manufacture or distribution of marijuana or the possession of marijuana with the intent to manufacture or distribute the drug in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

Related Article: War on Drugs Farce Continues Unabated

In the end, regardless of how well intentioned a state law legalizing marijuana may be, and regardless of the level of public support the law may garner, the United States Constitution requires that such a law must always be preempted.

There are many other cases that have been decided by courts across the country.  However, the main point is always the same.  These laws simply will not hold up under our current system of government.

 

Analysis

At first glance it might appear perfectly reasonable, even desirable, that Colorado and Washington have enacted laws legalizing recreational marijuana production and use by adults, albeit within certain limitations.  After all, in the Colorado case, a referendum was held and a majority of the state’s voters (53% in favor and 47% opposed)approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the legalization of marijuana.  The state legislators and governor acted at the direction of the majority and the result, according to conventional wisdom, was a resounding victory for the democratic process.  But is it really desirable to enact laws simply because they contain certain provisions that have popular support?  When the issue is viewed through a slightly more sophisticated lens, it quickly becomes apparent that this action is replete with hidden dangers that are unrelated to the number of people who will choose to take up or continue the hobby of pot smoking.

Related Article: Portugal Decriminalizes All Drugs; 10 Years Later the Results are Mind Blowing

marijuana laws legal

Talk about confusing… http://www.marijuana.com

Properly regulated and controlled, recreational marijuana production and use may seem to be a good idea, especially in light of the fact that the public apparently wants it.  Let’s analyze this concept from a different perspective by considering another example that is far more extreme.  What would happen if lawmakers in the state of Alabama suddenly decided that it would be desirable to bring back the indisputably repugnant practice of racial segregation.  Let’s also assume that this outlandish initiative somehow found its way onto the ballot[4] and a majority of the state’s voters supported it.  Should the Alabama legislature enact such a patently offensive law?[5]  Should the governor sign the law?  In the event that any state attempted such a maneuver, it would clearly violate a host of federal civil rights laws that clearly preclude such dehumanizing practices.  Such a law would certainly be struck down on a multitude of statutory and constitutional grounds (including the Supremacy Clause).  While this is, undeniably, an outrageous example, it makes the same point.  Just because a majority of the populace may be clamoring for something does not mean that the public’s desire must become law.

On the surface, these two examples of Supremacy Clause violations (marijuana in Colorado and racial segregation in Alabama) appear to be totally dissimilar.  A common retort to this type of example that is frequently heard from marijuana enthusiasts goes something like; “You can’t compare these two things.  One is harmless and the other is evil.”  On the surface, that response is certainly reasonable.  But is the underlying concept in these two examples not exactly the same?  Federal law contains a clear prohibition on a specific act, one of which may be harmless and the other undoubtedly evil, yet a particular state or group of states decides that the law should not apply because the voters or lawmakers want something different.

Related Article: Fed Allows Cannabis Legalization, Police Unhappy

Would the situation really be different if Colorado’s voters decided to legalize recreational use of cocaine?  What about heroine?  Regardless of the example, the point is the same.  It is not up to any single state or group of states to defy a federal law.  Rather, it is the responsibility of the United States Congress and the President to follow the established legislative process that has been in place for well over two centuries.  In the absence of such action by Congress and the President, it is the responsibility of the executive branch of government to enforce the federal law and the responsibility of the courts to strike down any law that is unconstitutional.

 

The Department of Justice Joins the Party

In a move that can only be described as inexplicable, the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs issued a press release on August 29, 2013 entitled; “Justice Department Announces Update to Marijuana Enforcement Policy.”  In its convoluted and disjointed (pun intended) press release, the DOJ reiterated its position that

marijuana remains an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act,

and that,

federal prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce this statute.  In the same press release it was noted that in states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted laws to authorize the production, distribution and sale of marijuana, the DOJ “expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance.

eric holder legal marijuana

Eric Holder in front of a substance he seems very confused by. http://cdn.theweedblog.com/

Next, in a maneuver that could only be accomplished by a schizophrenic federal bureaucracy, after summarizing how these two states have allowed federal law to be willfully violated, the DOJ (in the same press release) informed the governors of the two states that “it is deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time.”  Allow me to translate this incomprehensible and irrational legal jargon into plain English: the United States Department of Justice, the most important federal law enforcement entity in the country, has announced that, for all intents and purposes, it plans to ignore this matter.

Related Article: Department of Justice Aided Anti-Zimmerman Rallies

Whether or not one agrees with the legalization of recreational marijuana use or not is beside the point.  No one individual, even the Attorney General of the United States, should be able to unilaterally determine which laws will be enforced and which laws will not be enforced.  Obviously, a certain amount of judgment and discretion will always be required in this arena.  Not every immaterial violation of every law can possibly be enforced.  But a public pronouncement that a major provision of a significant law such as the Controlled Substances Act will not be enforced is unprecedented.  It is not an exaggeration to think that such a blatantly defiant move by one of the most senior officials in the executive branch has the potential to shake the very foundation of our system of government.  One can now only wonder what other federal statutes are in jeopardy of becoming irrelevant at the whim of the attorney general.

There is another major dilemma that is likely to flow from the actions of President Obama’s DOJ.  It is highly likely that the next President of the United States, whether Democrat or Republican, will appoint a new attorney general to head the DOJ.  Suppose that person changes course and directs the federal law enforcement apparatus to aggressively prosecute those who have just been given a “green light” to produce, distribute and use marijuana.  What message does that send to a citizenry that will be justifiably confused and angered?  The most likely result would be chaos.  One administration assures the marijuana industry that it can proceed without fear of the heavy hand of government initiating criminal prosecution and the next administration reverses course.  The resulting confusion would be unimaginable.

 

Conclusion

Colorado, Washington and the federal government are playing a very dangerous game in which marijuana producers and users are likely to be the losers.  If Congress does not modify the Controlled Substances Act (which does not appear likely in the foreseeable future) so that a direct conflict with the various state laws is averted, then these laws will not withstand a constitutional challenge and will be struck down.

Regardless of one’s views on the issue of marijuana (harmless substance, dangerous drug or something in between), these laws cannot withstand Constitutional scrutiny and will, in all likelihood, not survive.  The euphoria of the segment of the population that has been rejoicing since November 6, 2012 will come to an abrupt end.  That is the result that is mandated by our Constitutional framework.  The only remaining question is this: After all of the legal gyrations, will anything positive have been accomplished?  The answer to this question will unfold in the coming years.  In the meantime, it appears that marijuana users from Denver to Seattle will continue to enjoy that “Rocky Mountain High!”

pot smoker colorado smile

That Rocky Mountain High puts a smile on many faces! http://www.denverpost.com

 


[1] This article focuses on the Colorado law since that state appears to be getting the vast majority of media attention.  Moreover, an in-depth analysis of both laws (Colorado and Washington) would be duplicative and unnecessarily tedious.

[2] The Administration’s opposition to strict enforcement of federal drug laws is well documented.  Nevertheless, an analysis of the reasons for the DOJ’s position is beyond the scope of this article.

[3] In United States v. Cannabis Cultivator’s Club, 5 F.Supp2d 1086 (N.D. California 1998), the court addressed the direct conflict between the state’s Compassionate Use Act and the federal Controlled Substances Act.

[4]  Most laws are passed by state legislatures and signed by the governor.  Few laws actually result from a referendum approved by voters, but this example is designed to model the Colorado situation.

[5] While such a scenario may seem far-fetched to younger readers, it was only 51 years ago that George Wallace defiantly made the following statement in his inaugural speech on January 14, 1963; “…I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

 

Sources:

http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_5418736

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/07/us-usa-marijuana-legalization-idUSBRE8A602D20121107

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/August/13-opa-974.html#maincontent

http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/3/199/case.html

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-151.ZO.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/07/us-usa-marijuana-legalization-idUSBRE8A602D20121107

Space Dust Brings Water and Organics to Planets Simultaneously

space dust planets

Space dust is a mover and shaper of the solar system. http://www.wallpaper4me.com/

Researchers have discovered a surprising characteristic of interplanetary space dust; it seeds planets with necessary components for life. Interplanetary dust particles found in space allows water and organic compounds (containing carbon) to be delivered to the Earth and other planets. The researchers made the discovery by using a very high powered transmission electron microscope to directly view space dust, as well as the water created through the reaction of dust and solar wind. The research team’s members came from many different universities and laboratories, including the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and University of California – Berkeley.

interplanetary space dust close up

A particle of interplanetary space dust. www2.astronomy.com

The discovery marks the first time scientists have been able to prove that water and organics can be delivered to planets simultaneously. The water and organics transported by interplanetary space dust make up all that is needed for life as we know it to thrive and eventually evolve into complex organisms.

Related Article: New Ecosystem Discovered: Glacier Mice

Space dust originates from comets, asteroids, and the leftover elements from the creation of the solar system (it’s a very messy and chaotic process). All planets in our solar system, including our own, are constantly being bathed in this space dust. Before the dust mixes with our atmosphere though it is bombarded by hydrogen ions found in solar wind. The ion attack knocks around the atoms composing the silicate minerals of the interplanetary space dust. This leaves behind free floating oxygen that readily bonds with hydrogen to create H2O. In this way space water is crated.

Related Article: Water Droplets Now Used as Computers

Hope Ishii, new Associate Researcher in the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) at UH Mānoa’s SOEST and co-author of the study is very excited about the find, stating that,

It is a thrilling possibility that this influx of dust has acted as a continuous rainfall of little reaction vessels containing both the water and organics needed for the eventual origin of life on Earth and possibly Mars.

interplanetary space dust moon water

Celebrities pay top dollar for 12 ounces of moon water. afewofjustinsfavoritethings.blogspot.com

There’s no reason to believe that this process of solar rain is not taking place in other solar systems as well.

Another mystery this study may help solve concerns our closest celestial neighbor, the moon. Because the moon contains a great deal of silicate material that is directly bombarded by interplanetary space dust and solar wind, this study may explain how OH and ice water formed and continue to be found on the moon. The researchers are very clear however that this study does not account for all of the water found on Earth. Ishi states that,

In no way do we suggest that it was sufficient to form oceans, for example. However, the relevance of our work is not the origin of the Earth’s oceans but that we have shown continuous, co-delivery of water and organics intimately intermixed.

The researchers are planning further studies which will estimate the amount of water delivered to Earth by interplanetary space dust.

Related Article: Titan’s Atmosphere Can Make DNA

Solar wind, solar dust, solar rain: these terms give life to the solar system as a whole and present the Earth as a single hill or knoll in an incredibly expansive solar ecosystem. I hope one day we are able to leave our hill and pioneer into the greater galactic jungle.

 

Sources:

http://manoa.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=6249

https://wondergressive.com/life-its-all-over-the-place/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhy1fucSRQI

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/ice/ice_moon.html