Rationality VS Emotions

 

Which one is applied in our lives?

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Sociology scholars argue that majority of labels that are given to ideologies, individuals and groups are derived from religious doctrines, as the notion of US and THEM is present in most religious scriptures. The social conducts of societies toward others is usually ethnocentric and based on principles and norms adopted by the majority that have common and mutual ground. Therefore, labels like Evil, Good, dangerous and others are assigned or given to anyone or any group that looks, thinks and talks different. In addition, these sociologists think that even though a society might be tolerant to others, the notion of acceptance is entirely different than tolerance and co-existence, which is why co-existence has become the essence of social fabric. Therefore, subconsciously individuals tend to label others as evil, dumb, criminals and terrorist, racist, abusive or any other negative label, which they would use for their enemies or nemesis.

Max Weber’s rationalization theory, which refers to replacing traditions, values, norms, emotions and personal motivations with calculated rationales, suggests that bureaucratic ideals responsible for presenting and developing rationales for decisions. However, other sociologists have suggested that the notion of bureaucratic ideals is also used in religions to rationalize a certain label for a certain individual, group or an ideology. Although Weber argues that due to increased rationalization inherent in social life, especially in western societies, individuals are trapped ‘Iron Cage’, scholars use the same notion for religious bureaucracies. Therefore, individuals that follow a certain ideology or religion become trapped in their own created Iron Cage, which makes them unable to accept others, but at the same time mandate them to co-exist.

Rationality VS Emotions

Although it is argued that rationality through bureaucratic ideals is used for social structures and tendencies adopted by individuals, the theory of ‘affectual action’ suggests that emotions are the driving force behind all rationalities. Emotions such as hate, love, fear, loyalty, insecurity, security, dependency, independence, anger, gratitude, hope, curiosity, panic, desire, aversion, pride and frustration are the rationales behind almost all actions and decisions taken individuals.

Therefore, the following wondering as raised, which questions the argument presented by sociologists: Religions are developed and delivered to direct the emotions of individuals, as desires and emotions of people vary in kinds and levels, which means that rationalization is not necessary the primary goal of religions. In addition, if rationality was the purpose of religion, the criteria and bases for good and evil would have been formed in accordance with populist tendencies rather than the current common comprehension of good and evil. Therefore, why would religions be responsible for the social labels used by societies toward groups and individuals or ideologies?

There is a famous quote by Imam Ali, where he states: “People are the enemy of what they don’t know (or comprehend)’. Therefore, the emotions triggered by ignorance can vary from one individual to another, based on geographical position, interaction, past experience and grievances. These emotions are satisfactory to form an unorthodox and unscientific view about an individual, a group or an ideology, which can become a social norm or emotion that is adopted by a large portion of the society.

Categorization

Racial profiling, ethnic profiling and any sort of labeling used for others is a type of categorization that is used socially by individuals to distinguish themselves from anyone who is different. However, categorization is present and evident in the best idealistic case of equality and just environment.

  • Ignorance VS Knowledge
  • Powerful VS Weak
  • Ugliness VS beauty
  • Disability VS Healthy

These are some of the categories that would still exist regardless whether social acceptance is present or not, which will still be a sort of profiling a certain group within a society. Therefore, why would it be any different, when a certain ideology or a religion presents its own set of categories like believers and non-believers? Why would it be different when a religion outlines the criteria, which identifies good and evil based on its own principles?

The notion of categorization and profiling has existed since the beginning of creation, or as some theologians suggest, categorization has been a divine methodology that is used in creation. The notion of hell and heaven, the notion mortals and angels, the notion of prophets and random people are all examples of categorization outlined and created by the almighty. However, these categorizations are emotion-free, as they are bound by the will of a divine entity that cannot have emotions. In addition, the categorizations created by mankind have been affiliated with emotions and struggles since ancient days. The notion of elites and peasants, the notion of devoted and infidels, the notion of social classes (Upper Class, Middle Class, Lowe Class, Bourgeoisie, and proletariat) and many other categorizations have been catastrophic in many cases. These categories are affiliated with progress and conduct methods that are full of emotions and motivations driven by desire and need.

Conclusion

Regardless of faith and believe, the principles of good and evil are outlined by a set of criteria and guidelines that are universal. Therefore, a believer and a non-believer both agree upon the atrocity and benefit of certain actions and deeds. In addition, unorthodox action or decision that profiles and labels others or confiscate their rights and will or supresses them, doesn’t need rationality, as no rationality can be presented for such notions. Therefore, religion bounds emotions with rationality, and not the other way around.

Where Do We Stand on an Ebola Cure?

Ebola cure! Are we getting closer to a cure for ebola?

By Ali Reza
Recent years have brought a number of terrifying headlines about the rise of the Ebola virus, and its continued spread through Africa and even into the United States. More recently, though, the Ebola-related headlines have all been considerably more positive. Consider that in early August, the medical journal Lancet published a report that a new Ebola vaccine had been developed, and that—wonder of wonders—the vaccine is allegedly 100 percent effective.

Obviously, this is huge news from the world of epidemiology. Not surprisingly, groups like Doctors Without Borders began urging the vaccine to be distributed right away. But some experts are urging caution: Maybe, they have suggested, this 100 percent effective vaccine is actually too good to be true.

So where does humankind actually stand in its quest to eradicate Ebola? Clearly, there is at least some room for optimism: A new vaccine is here, and it must as least show some promise. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Ebola cases have dipped down to fewer than 10 per week, which is a promising figure.

An Incomplete Study

But here is where caution comes into play: The data to back up this “100 percent effective” claim is not at all complete, and at this point never will be. There is no real scientific rigor or statistical clout behind it, and as such this claim of perfect efficacy does not mean as much as we all wish it did.

Here’s what happened: The vaccine exhibited a lot of success early in the clinical trial process. As such, the scientists running the trial judged that all the people in the study should receive the drug immediately. This is a natural human response, and not necessarily a bad one: People were dying of Ebola and the new vaccine seemed like it was working, so why wouldn’t it be administered as quickly as possible?

This is a good way to save lives, but it is imperfect science. What it means is that better data collection will now never be possible, due to the rushed nature of the study. Drug regulators will be less inclined to approve the drug because of this incomplete data, which means that, down the line, this vaccine may be harder to get to the people who really need it.

The Best of What’s Around

So why all the rush to anoint this new vaccine as a perfect cure? A lot of it stems from the simple fact that there is no alternative. Trials of Ebola vaccines have always been challenging to orchestrate; because Ebola is a major world health crisis, trials have been conducted largely in unstable and remote regions, which has made it difficult to attain useful data about drug safety and effectiveness.

This latest round of testing moved from Phase I to Phase III efficacy tests in less than a year’s time, which is remarkable by any standard, but when the trials started in earnest the Ebola epidemic was already beginning to wind down on its own. That’s nothing to complain about, of course, but it did mean that scientists had a harder time finding community clusters where they could test the vaccine.

All of this is really just to say that the claim to 100 percent effectiveness is a little overinflated, as there is not much evidence to base such claims on. It is true that the vaccine was 100 percent effective for those immediately exposed to Ebola—only a handful of trial participants—but because exposure levels are dropping all on their own, this doesn’t have the weight it might have, once upon a time. Meanwhile, the trial had 16 individuals who did exhibit Ebola symptoms following a delayed vaccination. To say that the drug prevents all Ebola outbreaks, then, would just not be honest.

Make no mistake: All signs suggest that we are getting closer to an Ebola cure, and the numbers for this study are certainly positive. They are just not as positive as early claims might suggest, and the study itself is not quite serious enough to warrant full celebration just yet.

Artificial Intelligence and the Quest for Better Drugs

Role of AI in Modern Medicine

By Ali Reza
The way researchers diagnose and treat diseases has changed over time—and it seems poised to change again. In fact, new experiments point to a possible use of artificial intelligence in the medical research field. If deployed properly, these AI units could effectively revolutionize the search for better, stronger, more effective medications.

The Way it Was

The search for drugs has not always been a particularly efficient one. Historically, as researchers have tried to diagnose and treat diseases, they have devoted their search to isolating the single mutation on a given gene that might have caused the problem. The problem with this approach is that the onset of a disease is typically triggered by more than just a single genetic variant. There is usually a complex array of factors in play—environmental issues, multi-gene interactions, demographics, and more.

That’s obviously a lot of information to synthesize, which is precisely why drug research has been so laborious, at times so slow and so ineffectual. Computers have never been up to the challenge of analyzing all of this information, either, because there is simply too much of it to fit within standard databases.

Rise of the Robots

Where traditional computing has failed, artificial intelligence may hold some answers. Artificial intelligence may make it possible to tease out interactions from more complex and far-reaching health data, perhaps even offering a quick way to sequence full genomes and ultimately gather more molecular information than ever.

But what exactly does all this mean? What it means, most promisingly, is that precision medicine may one day be a real possibility, not just a pipe dream—and we’ll have AI to thank for it. AI may lead to a world in which researchers can identify all of the unique characteristics that a person has that might lead to the onset of a certain disease, and also to potential avenues of precision treatment.

Practicing Precision

The concept of precision medicine is nothing new. It has long been a sort of Holy Grail among medicine researchers. Actually treating human beings in a precise manner can be complicated though—because, well, human beings themselves are so complicated.

Precision medicine embraces that complexity. The concept behind it: All of us are wildly distinct, genetically speaking. We differ not only in our genetics, but also in our environmental histories. In precision medicine, the goal is to provide each person with a specific, individualized treatment that takes these distinctions into account—as opposed to the more generalized approach to treatment that is necessary today.

What the Research Says

But back to the robots. Researchers recently presented their approach to AI-empowered healthcare at a New York Academy of Sciences conference. What they presented was, basically, a scenario in which computers are asked to think about genomics, diseases, and disease treatments in the same way that human beings do—only much faster and on a grander scale.

The applications for such a scenario could prove myriad. One particularly noteworthy application is drug research. According to this initial report, AI could be used to identify new uses for existing drugs—uses that previous research methods may have missed. It currently takes an average of 14 years and $2.6 billion to develop a single drug for clinical use, so the implications of AI-enabled methodologies—for pharmaceutical companies as well as for patients—are obviously exciting.

In fact, the researchers who presented these findings have already used an AI system—they call it EMERGENT—to identify new biomarkers that could prove to be drug targets for glaucoma.

Where Next?

So what is the next step for all of this? One immediate goal is to develop a new method to visualize the data produced by these research robots. After all, the AI results will not be useful unless biologists can actually sit down, understand them, and extrapolate. Right now, apps are being developed to make this possible, including some that will allow researchers to immerse themselves in AI data within the confines of a gaming system!

All of it seems promising—and certainly, medical research seems like it could be the best application yet for artificial intelligence.

New Handheld Device Could Curb Pain

By Ali Reza

The problem of pain is innate to the human experience: For as long as people have existed, they have experienced different levels and different types of physical discomfort, and anything from a stubbed toe to a major automobile accident can cause that pain to intensify. Of course, countless dollars and man hours are devoted to finding new ways to mitigate pain, sometimes to some effect and sometimes to little effect at all—but what if we told you that there is a new device that can literally put effective pain management into the palm of your hand?

Well, we should clarify: It wouldn’t be your hand, but the hand of your surgeon. A new handheld device could provide doctors and physicians with a revolutionary new approach to treating pain—and of course, medical patients the world over could benefit from this technology’s implementation.

The Rise of Chimaera

So what is this groundbreaking new surgical tool? Its mythology-referencing name is Chimaera, and its intent is to help surgeons identify the correct nerve with effortlessness and ease, providing them with real-time feedback during their operations. In short, it will make delicate nerve procedures much more manageable and much less unwieldy for surgeons—which could in effect revolutionize medicine.

That’s because nerves, as you might have heard, are pretty important, and in particular they are vital to the Body Paintopic of pain. Pain emanates from nerves. Whether you’re talking about the pain of a migraine headache, a twisted limb, or a paper cut, pain is experienced through the transmission of electrical signals from the nerves. Researchers, seeking new ways to manage and minimize pain, have long focused on overriding these nervous signals.

And there has been some progress made in this undertaking. Over the past few years, researchers have unveiled devices called neuromodulators, which function as implants and can, in theory, cease the experience of pain. The efficacy of these devices, however, depends on surgeons being able to locate the right nerves—no easy feat.

Getting the Right Nerves

There are many dangers to this process, because nerves often lay in big jumbles- especially in the face and behind the eyes. As such, picking through them to find the one that’s transmitting pain can be a big challenge—and getting it wrong can provide extreme damage to the patient.

Enter the Chimaera. This device helps surgeons to locate and access specific nerves, and it functions with Chimaera Devicerelative ease. The surgeon holds the device—a kind of hand-held wand, wireless and portable—near the point of planned incision. Chimaera then sends information about that place to a computer, where it is combined with a CT scan of the patient’s brain. All of this data is then combined into something that looks a little like an X-ray. Surgeons then don Google Glass (yes, really!) to examine the place of the surgery, and the data from the Chimaera allows them to see a map of the pertinent nerves, making it possible for them to implement their surgical tools with as much precision as possible.

The bottom line? Using Chimaera technology, surgeons can operate while doing as little damage as possible, sparing healthy nerves and ultimately implanting that pain-reducing neuromodulator with much greater effectiveness than would otherwise be possible.

A New World for Pain Management

It is difficult to overstate the potential significance of Chimaera. Consider this: Right now, delicate nerve operations can only be conducted by a handful of surgeons—the most skilled and in-demand surgeons across the planet. But if Chimaera is implemented and proves successful, it could make neuromodulator use commonplace, which will be good news indeed for anyone who suffers from migraines or other forms of chronic pain.

This technology is still in its conceptual stage, and probably won’t be in widespread use any time soon—but it is remarkable to think how this confluence of handheld technology with Google Glass and a good old-fashioned CT scan may make pain management more possible and more effective than ever before.

What is Bird Flu? And Why is it Spreading?

By Amanda C.
Edited by Ali Reza

The news has been abuzz recently with stories about the bird flu or avian flu. As with any disease outbreak, this causes concern among people who worry about what it means for their health. This virus, known as H5N1, has garnered much attention as it has been affecting poultry throughout the world. But what is bird flu and why is it a concern?

The bird flu is a virus that has been spreading among wild birds worldwide. It occurs naturally but these wild animals can pass it on to domestic animals that are used as food sources. The virus is rarely passed to humans, but it is possible. Many of the outbreaks have occurred in the Middle East and Asia with Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam experiencing ongoing infections in their poultry. In many birds, the disease is fatal.

Because wild birds have also spread the infection to other species, this can make it more difficult to contain and eradicate. Flocks or individual animals with the disease must be dealt with immediately to help prevent the spread of the virus and contamination of other animals.

How is the virus spread?

The bird flu passes relatively easily from animal to animal, but this is not the case with humans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that, “since 2003, 650 human infections with highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by 15 countries. About 60% of these people died from their illness.”

Many people were infected by coming in close contact with infected birds or poultry. They may have handled sickened chickens or ducks when plucking feathers to prepare them for cooking, or while disposing of their bodies. Another way of contracting the disease is through the fecal matter of these animals. Bird droppings may have contaminated water used for bathing or swimming. In rare instances, close contact between two humans could transmit the disease. However, for the most part, the bird flu is a much greater danger to animals than humans.

It is important to note that you cannot get infected from poultry that has been properly handled and prepared. All meat should be cooked to recommended temperatures to kill bacteria and viruses that may be present. Eating undercooked meat can lead to a variety of illnesses.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of bird flu in humans can be similar to those of the regular flu. They include abdominal pain and diarrhea, fever, cough, and acute respiratory distress. As with any illness, the virus can cause complications in people with pre-existing health conditions. Scientists believe that typical flu medications can help to treat humans infected with H5N1.

In birds, certain strains present few or no symptoms. More contagious strains can make birds very ill and have high mortality rates. The disease can spread quickly among flocks and lead to poultry shortages as infected birds are not used. Farmers will often cull their flock to try to stop the spread of the virus and protect other animals. As a result, communities may notice an increase in price of poultry products such as meat and eggs.

Protecting Yourself

While human contraction of the bird flu is rare, people should still use caution when handling poultry or being exposed to areas where birds are raised.

  • Use warm soapy water to wash your hands both before and after handling any raw poultry.
  • Make sure that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned after coming in contact with raw poultry.
  • Cook poultry to at least the minimum recommended temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When using eggs, make sure they are thoroughly cooked as well and all surfaces are cleaned.

Officials are doing their best to contain and prevent outbreaks but it is a difficult virus to eradicate since it is spread so easily among birds. People should make sure they are vigilant about protecting themselves when handling poultry and when traveling to regions where the bird flu has been detected.

Physical Inactivity as Bad as Smoking

Study has shown physical inactivity as harmful as smoking. The harms of smoking are well documented but it maybe hard to imagine that laziness and inactivity could be as harmful and as deadly as smoking. Well that is exactly what WebMD claims in a research.

Majority of people don’t get the needed daily physical activity. In USA, the estimate of people who don’t get the needed activity are around 80% which is almost around the same for most industrial countries. Non-industrial populations aren’t that much better either. Scientists agree the inactivity epidemic is more dangerous than the obesity epidemic which is covering much of the industrial countries and even underdeveloped and developing countries.

Exercising has numerous benefits. It helps reduce chance of diabetes, heart-disease, and various cancers. Many doctors recommend regular exercising to battle emotional diseases such as memory loss and depression.  People that exercise statically live a healthier and longer life.

Constant Moving is the Key

In the research article WebMD  reports that moving improves the level of blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Lack of movements does the exact opposite which can cause alls sort of health issues.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

For average people with good health, at least 30 minutes exercise and 5 days a week of is considered a fair and healthy routine.  However depending on age, health status of a person as well as other factors, some people many need to exercise more and some may need to exercise less. The best is to consulting with your doctor and\or an expert.

Your body usually shows you if your exercise is making you healthier or not. For example if you are overweight and you start losing weight or reduce dress size, then you know that your exercise is working out. If you are dealing with depression, then you will see less signs of it or less occurrence of depression attacks.

Staying Healthy is Islamic 
There are numerous verses of Quran and narrations that directly address health issues. For example prohibiting of Alcoholic beverage is a good example. Drinking alcohol is not only a sin that is bad for the soul, but it is very harmful to ones physical and mental health.

Another example is Islamic dietaries laws which have great health factors considered in them. There are also a numerous narrations from Prophet and Ahlulbayt (peace be upon them) that emphasize that a momin (beliver) needs to keep an active and healthy life by staying away from laziness;

Never, never will prosperity be reached by remaining idle and lazy – Imam Ali (a)