Big Think Interview With Curtis Sliwa
Curtist Sliwa is an activist and the founder of the Guardian Angels, a volunteer anti-crime organization. Founded in 1979 in New York, the group now leads unarmed safety patrols and spearheads educational programs in over 140 cities around the world. In 1992, Sliwa was ambushed by two gunmen from inside a stolen taxi in New York; he managed to escape but was shot repeatedly. John A. Gotti, son of the late Gambino family crime boss John Gotti, was charged with conspiring to murder Sliwa, but the case ended in a mistrial. Sliwa is currently a conservative radio talk show host.
Curtis Sliwa: I’m Curtis Sliwa. Founder and director of the Guardian Angels and as you can see as I run my mouth a mile minute, a radio talk show host here in New York at AM970 The Apple.
Question: Is it legal to perform a citizen's arrest?
Curtis Sliwa: Well first off if you talk to the brainiacs you know with their parchments and public safety from Ivy League schools or even from junior colleges they’ll swear to you that citizen arrest is a vigilante act. I’ve been with police superintendants. I’ve been in think tanks and these so called, "police scientists" will tell me it’s a vigilante act. You don’t have to argue with them, but it’s in the penal code. It’s been written about. It’s been embedded into the fabric of law since the Magna Carta in England and can be seen in virtually laws written all over the world because we have Guardian Angels now in 14 countries, 140 cities, so I’m well versed in it and it gives you a much wider leeway and breadth of activity where you can physically intervene than it would even allow the police officer because the courts assume that a police officer as he or she is, is a trained police professional who has gone to the academy and they know the differences between violations, misdemeanors, felonies and the use of force. Whereas the citizen is assumed and rightfully so not to be as expert, so if they decide to intervene as long as it is within the parameters of what they can do, guess what? I can use more force than a police officer can.
And whereas a police department is represented by a municipality, a county or a state government so it’s assumed they have big pockets. You know they’re a big fat cow ready to be brought to the slaughter house by the liars for hire, the spin doctors who are ambulance chasers by day and go at night to funeral parlors giving out business cards practicing their Martial Art, I sue. They’re looking to sue obviously for the most minor of indiscretions against the police officer, but when it comes to a citizen who doesn’t have two nickels to rub together and throws them around like manhole covers they’re not as willing to go in that direction.
So is it a reality? Can you be sued? Is it something that in which you inherit upon yourself, potential danger to yourself, danger to somebody else, civil liability, criminal liability? Of course, but it shouldn’t give you an Ex-Lax attack and make you fear to the point where you’re frozen solid as a result of your inability to respond as a Good Samaritan should do. Now, having applied it now hundreds, thousands of times in venues all over the world I can tell you this: It’s a Chinese menu. There are three ways to do it and I’ve become very proficient in doing it so much so that in 31 years we haven’t been sued once for making a citizen’s arrest even though we’ve done thousands of interventions, hundreds of citizen’s arrests, where lawyers would love to have a notch of the Guardian Angels on their belt just for the tabloid headlines that it would create for their legal business and yet that hasn’t happened.
Topic: Citizens Arrest Scenario #1: The new-agey, crystal-balancing, Oprah fan.
Curtis Sliwa: So let’s just assume we’re out in the streets and I’ve become aware that this suspect has committed a crime of shoplifting. Not the worst crime in the world, but the shopkeeper says, “Hey that guy just stole ten bags of Secret deodorant.” And I can smell the guy from a distance and now I know why he needs the Secret deodorant, but he didn’t pay for it, right? So now I’m basically doing my psychic interpretation of him and I realize he is a real nebbish. He is a real schlub. He is like not going to physically resist. He probably does yoga. You know he is probably very new-agey. He probably balances crystals and watches Oprah, so I know I got this guy in control. I’m the sadist. He is the masochist. He probably wants me to put a bull gag in his mouth and whip him, but it’s not that kind of submission, so what I do is I refer to the ancient code of Magna Carta and as if I was the sheriff of Nottingham I say, “You, a suspect who has committed a crime, you are in violation of the penal code, so therefore, I want you to wait for the police, for 5-0, cop a squat, sit down and sit down now.” So he understands I’m in charge and he likes to be submissive. Maybe he is getting his jollies off while he is waiting. Problem is, I’m calling 911 and the cops are busting donuts right, they’re pounding donuts waiting for the fresh buttermilk twist to come out of the Dunkin Donuts oven. We’ll be waiting a month of Sundays, but he is enjoying being submissive, so hey, no pain, no strain, right.
Topic: Citizens Arrest Scenario #2: The cretin with chromosome damage.
Curtis Sliwa: So now I have reason to believe or I’ve seen or it’s been brought to my attention that this cretin with chromosome damage has snatched a chain off somebody’s neck and it’s not a little monster because I could tell he hasn’t been to a Lady Gaga concert. He is not weak and soft in that regard, but he is ready to put up a fight. I can tell. There is a certain intensity. Once again, I’m using my psychic parameters. Now in a general self-defense course they would say look for his solar plexus. I can’t even find his girdle never mind his goiter, so I’m not even looking for his solar plexus. They say you want to him boom, right in his Adam’s apple. You drive his Adam’s apple or the bridge of his nose and he’ll know not to go on. You think I’m going to be wrestling around bridge of the nose, Adam’s apple as if I’m studying biology to prepare to become Doctor MD. No, what I do is if it’s myself or if there are a number of others, the weakest point of any person is their kneecaps. I got to make his kneecaps sing and ring and in fact his instep here, which just more than five pounds of pressure bam and this guy is going to be doing the Hopalong Cassidy and then as he is doing the Hopalong Cassidy I’m going to take his head, right, like this, bam, right down onto his knee. Down he goes. He will be in the primal fetal position.
I really won’t have to do much if I have a pair of handcuffs on or if I have a belt I just tie him up to a stationary object and wait for the police to arrive. Now my problem is if there is massive swelling and I can’t find a stake or a piece of iron to put the swelling down I can end up going to jail myself because I don’t have the right to go over the top, use excessive physical force. Even though he has committed a crime I have no special powers or privileges. I am not a police officer, so I have to make sure that whatever force I use, particularly in this fact that he has just snatched a chain. He hasn’t threatened anybody’s life. That if I violated him physically he may go to jail, get charged with chain snatching, but I may be charged with assault and battery because a copper may turn around after munching on the donuts and say, “You know you have the right to counter charge. Have him arrested.” And then once he hooks up with a lawyer, a B lawyer that they assign in court he goes, “Hey did you ever think of suing the Guardian Angels?” “I could get a third of the action, no retainer. Sign on the dotted line.” So you got to be very cautious under column B rules and regulations.
Question: Citizens Arrest Scenario #3: The suicide kamikaze maniac.
Curtis Sliwa: Okay, now this guy, enemy of society is intent on becoming a modern day street warrior, a.k.a., Shahid, a.k.a., suicide kamikaze maniac because he knows he is going to j-a-i-l and he wants to go out in a blaze of glory. He could have a bat. He could have a stick. He could have a chain. He could have a shiv. Boom, he wants to stab me right underneath the ribs, which will cause me to bleed to death before I even hit the ground or he might have a tooly and a gun. I’ve got to make an instantaneous decision to move towards the guy because if I move away from the guy there is good chance I’m going to get hit anyway and in the process of falling back I lose the aggressiveness. He is on the attack. I am on the defensive. Very difficult for me to get control of him.
So what I want to be able to do is get him into a position where I can spin him around and then give them what I call the Sicilian handcuffs. Now by me restraining him and with all of his moving one way or the other, whatever, at that point if I have another Guardian Angel two or three we can take him down lickety-split. If I’m by myself I can wrestle him one way. I can wrestle him the other or I can just take him off the ground and break his back. Now, you see in the process of breaking his back you might how dastardly, how over the top, how Neanderthal of you, but if this guy has a weapon and he is just committed a crime with a weapon guess what? The judge is going to actually like an accordion give me more leeway than they would a police officer who should know better. Who should be in control of his mental and physical faculties, who should be able to immediately get on his walkie-talkie and summon other police officers to give him some backup.
If I’m on my own I have to use whatever force is necessary to protect myself, to protect other victims, to protect maybe in this instance even himself, because if he has a weapon he may end up doing harm to himself if he misuses it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up at a location where the guy who, let’s face it, couldn’t connect all the dots even if he tried for a month of Sundays, ended up shooting himself because they keep the gun there in the belt and they keep it right near their thigh and they end up shooting themselves so many times because they already have it on the trigger. It’s already triggered to fire that round that is in the barrel of the gun. They don’t even have the safety on, so they end up shooting themselves as they’re trying to run away from you, so you’re actually doing him a solid even though temporarily he is going to have a lot of strain and pain and oohs and ahhs. Don’t worry about it. He’ll still live. He is not going to be room temperature and you won’t be sued.
Now, this is not something you should be trying in your own house. This is something that you have to practice, practice, practice, like as if you were playing Rachmaninoff at a concerto on a baby grand piano. Trust me. I’ve done this many, many times, so I wouldn’t suggest it as a sort of a new jack, a first time citizen arrester out there, a do-gooder who all of the sudden wants to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Question: Why do we have a better handle on crime now than we did 30 years ago?
Curtis Sliwa: The reason why we have a much better handle on crime now is because we have trained the police to be police, not social workers. It’s not their job, not educated, so it’s not their job. To a degree not even role models. They have to be like Sergeant Joe Friday out there. They don’t have time to sit down and have a cup of coffee and nosh on what is taking place because we have turned the police department into a reactive agency. They’re not proactive, so they’re racing around going from one 911 call to another 911 call. Now that is not the kind of policing I like, but that is just the way it is. So if the cops are going to be responsive they can’t always sit down and try to figure who is right and who is wrong, so their job is lock everyone up, take them into the hoosegow, the cop shop, and let a judge figure it out at arraignment who should be released, who should be incarcerated, who should be given bail, who should be remanded to jail. That's good policing when you have limited resource and with the recessionary times we’re in and no longer any stimulus money to keep cops on the payroll with less cops it enables you to do more, so I think that is why at this point we’re still able to keep the crime down significantly in a time of recession, but we can only hold out for so much time as we have less and less police and more and more people taking advantage of the criminal opportunities that are before them.
Question: What role does education play in combating crime?
Curtis Sliwa: Absolutely. The better educated you are it just means you have an opportunity to become a more heeled criminal, a white collar criminal with a number two pencil and rip off everybody by going to Wall Street where the banks are too big to fail and then we bail you out, so instead of doing triple life without parole for sticking a gun in somebody’s back and robbing $25 you rob them for $25 million—but you know something? At least you can read the Wall Street Journal right? Is that an advantage in life? No, in reality it’s the basic ability to take care of yourself and for those that you have responsibilities of, so learning what life is about. Now nowadays the penchant is to have you earn an academic diploma. Most people that I have ever met—including myself because I don’t have a diploma, I got kicked out of high school—I’m not going to qualify for an academic diploma. They’re not going to go onto college. They’re not going to get a BS or whatever that is or in fact a magna cum laude because some of them are going to major in having a .44 magnum in their hand, so they need to be taught skills. It’s called technical high school. It’s called in middle school finding out if their adaptability is in the academic world or it’s that they’re thoracic and that they like to work with their hands and they’d like to learn a trade and giving them the opportunity to do what it is that they desire to do.
Even charter schools nowadays: "Charter schools is the answer. You know it’s more focused. It’s more disciplined. It gives the child a better opportunity in the belly of the beast." There is not one charter school in America that is devoted to teaching technical skills, so is everybody going to be a white collar worker? Is everybody going to go to Wall Street and become a thief in a financial institution or a bank and then tell us how they should reward themselves with a bonus because they worked so hard robbing us morning, noon and night with derivatives and subprime mortgages and giving out loans to people who have no income, no jobs, no credit? I know that's wrong. You know that is wrong, but hey, they’re smarter than us. They’re brighter than us. They went to Harvard. They went to Yale. They went to the London School of Economics. They went to Wharton, the business school. Uffa to all of them. Send them to GITMO. Lock them up. That’s right. Since we’re clearing them out of terrorists, Al-Qaeda, nutniks and Taliban wannabes why don’t we put all the white collar criminals over there in GITMO?
Question: What is the biggest problem we're currently facing?
Curtis Sliwa: I’d say the biggest problem facing New York and any part of the United States and the world is the dysfunction of the family. Every time there is a dysfunctional family it bleeds into the schools, into the streets, into everything that we have to do with other human beings, so if a person is dysfunctional in the home what do you think, all of the sudden on the job they’re functional? Or all of the sudden the snap to it when they go to school? When all of the sudden they’re hanging out in the mall they’re not trying to prey on you like they’re trying to prey on even their brothers or sisters or the so-called uncle who serves as a wanna be father from time to time.
No, of course, the dysfunction is what paralyses society. It means people learn less. They can’t function properly. They can’t speak. They can’t communicate. They have anger management problems. They develop necessities and desires to have drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, and they put on a one way trip to Palookaville. And we’re trying to cosmetically make excuses for it, but in reality we turn our teachers into social workers. They barely have enough time to teach you reading, writing, arithmetic and the most important R, respect and we turn our cops into social workers because we’re not doing the social work at home where it needs to be done from the jump street.
Question: What is a potential fix for that problem?
Curtis Sliwa: Training people to be parents. We train you how to drive a car. We train you how to shoot. We say hey, don’t get a gun unless you practice. You practice in everything you do, practice playing the piano, practice singing, practice doing karaoke drunk as a skunk as you are. You realize "Boy I really stunk out the joint; I’m not a very good karaoke singer. I got to practice." so you practice, practice you know Americans dancing with felons, whatever. Everyone is practicing. They’re practicing everything in their life that is not important.
But the most important thing parenting whether you wanted the kid or it was an act of an accident or you had that urge to merge and all of the sudden the condom went powie and now all of the sudden you have this treasure that has been delivered and instead of nourishing that treasure you want to bury it somewhere out of sight, out of mind. So I think really teaching parenting skills because when babies are having babies, I mean, it’s over. So under the Curtis Sliwa draconian measures—boy would I make a good minister of defending virtue against all the vices—you wouldn’t be able to get married in my society until you were 30. I would put you in a gulag. If you dare got married before 30 I’d think the furniture was upstairs and rearranged in the wrong rooms. And if you decided to have kids, I’m going to test you first. I’m going to say with a second. I want to test your parenting skills. I’m going to give you a kid from an orphanage—Or what would we call it? A place in which children are unwanted—and you’re going to have to take care of that kid first and try to raise that kid and then I would say at that particular time you have qualified to have your child. Now that is a bit draconian wouldn’t you say?
But you know something. You won’t have all of the unwanted kids that are populating this world. I mean you know we go to bed at night and we live a pretty damn good life, but think of all those kids out there beat, raped, abused, sent to work at the age of six, no life whatsoever. We know it’s going on and we don’t do jack diddlysquat to stop it and all we see is machines out there, human beings on two legs procreating, fornicating and copulating as if they’re baboons in the middle of a forest. I thought we were human beings. I thought the strongest muscle that we have is between both our ears. That is what we should exercise, not everything that is below our navel and that is all we seem to do, fornicate, copulate, morning, noon and night. “Oh, I have a baby.” “Hey Maury, Maury Povich, give me a DNA test.” “Hey, this is a disgrazia.”
Question: What’s the most difficult situation you’ve ever had to deal with on the streets?
Curtis Sliwa: Domestic situations. It always is the mama drama, the daddy baby drama, the mamma baby drama. You’re out there in the street. Some muscle-head is pounding some female into submission and so you figure like oh, this is my time to shine. Now I’m going to be like the knight, right, who runs to the rescue of the damsel in distress except the moment you jump on the back of this predator, this violator, and you take him down for the count and he is forced to submit until the police arrive, then all of the sudden the victim starts accusing you of violating her rights, his rights. The neighborhood gets all fired up.
They come out in support of this violator and now you got to suck it up. You know you got to take the verbal abuse, the physical intimidation and oftentimes the family, the extended family will attack you as if somehow you have reached in to the epicenter of their family and ripped the heart and soul out of the family. This person who has become a primetime predator is now put up on a pedestal. So those are really the most difficult situations that I have ever faced and I know that Guardian Angels around the world have ever faced because no matter how much good you do you’re still wrong and when the police arrive they look at you and they say, “Involved in what is that? Mamma baby drama, daddy baby drama, mamma drama, okay, how are you going to work your way out of this, pal?”
Recorded July 8, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller
A conversation with the founder of the Guardian Angels
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.
- Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
- The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
- The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.
An extremely active galaxy<p> <br> </p><p>Radio galaxies are galaxies with extremely active central regions, known as nuclei, which shine incredibly brightly in some part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They are known for emitting large jets of ionized matter into intergalactic space at speeds approaching that of light. They are related to quasars and blazars. It is thought that supermassive black holes are the energy source that make these galaxies shine so brightly. </p><p>What makes these two galaxies (known as MGTC J095959.63+024608.6 and MGTC J100016.84+015133.0) so interesting is their size. Only 831 similar, "giant radio galaxies" are known to exist. As study co-author Dr. Matthew Prescott explains, these are particularly large even for <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2021/01/18/we-just-found-two-mysterious-galaxies-62-times-bigger-than-our-milky-way-say-scientists/?sh=76edf29c2892" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">giants</a>:</p><p>"These two galaxies are special because they are amongst the largest giants known, and in the top 10 percent of all giant radio galaxies. They are more than two mega-parsecs across, which is around 6.5 million light-years or about 62 times the size of the Milky Way. Yet they are fainter than others of the same size."</p><p>The smaller of the two is just over two megaparsecs across, roughly six and a half million light-years. The larger is almost another half megaparsec larger than <a href="http://www.sci-news.com/astronomy/giant-radio-galaxies-09266.html" target="_blank">that</a>. <br></p><p>Exactly how these things get to be so massive remains a mystery. Some have proposed that they are ejecting matter into unusually empty space, allowing for the jet to expand further, though some evidence contradicts this. The most commonly suggested idea is that they are simply much, much older than the previously observed radio galaxies, allowing more time for expansion to occur.</p>
How does this change our understanding of the universe?<p> While exciting and impressive on their own, the findings also suggest that there are very many more of these giant galaxies than previously supposed. If you were going off the previous estimates for how typical these galaxies are, then the odds of finding these two would be 1 in 2.7×10<sup>6. </sup>This suggests that there must be more, given that the alternative is that the scientists were impossibly lucky. </p><p> In the study, the researchers also apply this reasoning to smaller versions of these galaxies, saying:</p><p> "While our analysis has considered only enormous (>2 Mpc) objects, if radio galaxies must grow to reach this size, then we may expect to similarly uncover in our data previously undetected GRGs with smaller sizes."</p><p> Exactly how common radio galaxies and turn out to be remains to be seen. Still, it will undoubtedly be an exciting time for radio astronomy as new telescopes are turned skywards to search for them.</p>
How did they find them?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/c1ZW3nVfe5A" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> The new galaxies were discovered by the amusingly named <a href="https://www.sarao.ac.za/gallery/meerkat/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">MeerKAT</a> radio telescope in South Africa during the creation of a new radio map of the sky. The MeerKAT is the first of what will soon be the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_Kilometre_Array" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Square Kilometre Array</a> of telescopes, which will span several countries in the southern hemisphere and make even more impressive discoveries in radio astronomy possible. </p>
Daydreaming can be a pleasant pastime, but people who suffer from maladaptive daydreamers are trapped by their fantasies.
Maladaptive daydreaming<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUwMjgyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0OTUxNzc3Nn0.yVIUGnZl6VnJhfevESkBpb1TEvwKrHcLtobwNJV55HI/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C63%2C0%2C63&height=700" id="713cf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e2d24a66284b3aa58ad16b66c135dc9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
One maladaptive dreamer spent hours a day dreaming he was a powerful man who could solve the world's problems.
(Photo: Pixabay)<p>Daydreaming is an indulgence of the mind and imagination, one provided courtesy of the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/default-mode-network#:~:text=The%20default%20mode%20network%20(DMN,and%20Exercise%20Psychology%20Research%2C%202016" target="_blank">default mode network</a>, a network of interacting brain regions that is active even when the conscious mind is not. But like so many of life's indulgences—wine, steak dinners, video games, and even <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-too-much-exercise-can-be-bad-042514" target="_blank">exercise</a>—too much daydreaming can be harmful to our well-being. When daydreaming crosses that threshold, it can be considered maladaptive.</p><p>This disorder was first identified by <a href="https://haifa.academia.edu/EliSomer" target="_blank">Eli Somer</a>, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Haifa, School of Social Work, in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1020597026919" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a 2002 paper</a>. That paper looked to six patients in a trauma center whose daydreaming habits replaced human interactions or interfered with their standard life functions, such as going to school or holding down a job. </p><p>Since then, other case studies have looked at <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/maladaptive-daydreaming#:~:text=Maladaptive%20daydreaming%20is%20a%20psychiatric,life%20events%20trigger%20day%20dreams." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">maladaptive daydreamers</a> and compiled a list of potential symptoms. These include vivid, richly-detailed daydreams; abnormally long daydreaming sessions; daydreams triggered by real-life events; daydreaming sessions that interrupt sleep; and repetitive motions or whisperings while daydreaming. On average, one study reported, maladaptive daydreamers spend <a href="https://bigthink.com/bps-research-digest/people-with-maladaptive-daydreaming-spend-an-average-of-four-hours-a-day-lost-in-their-imagination" target="_self">four hours a day</a> housed in their imaginations.</p><p>"This is not like rehearsing a conversation that you might have with a boss," <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/30/health/maladaptive-daydreaming-feature/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Somer told CNN</a>. "This is fanciful, weaving of stories. It produces an intense sense of presence."</p><p>While such symptoms are common, though not comprehensive or guaranteed, how maladaptive daydreams manifest are naturally individual to the dreamers. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6426361/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In one case study</a>, researchers analyzed the diary of a man codenamed "Peter." Peter described investing as many as 14 hours a day online. The news and images he happened upon would trigger related fantasies. For example, he may envision himself as a multimillionaire genius who could prevent bad news from occurring or self-insert himself into the power fantasies of superhero movies or police procedurals for hours at a time.</p><p>"When I felt this pain as a child, I started imagining how things could be different. I created stories which never happened. To suppress that pain I would hug my pillow or quilt, thinking I was being comforted by someone else," Peter wrote.</p><p>In an interview with CNN, Cordellia Rose described her maladaptive daydreaming like a drug and noted that her daydreams developed into intricate storylines that could last for years. These stories proved so distracted that she was unable to complete everyday tasks such as driving lessons.</p><p>"You get hooked on it, because it can be like an action movie in your head that's so gripping that you cannot turn off," Rose told CNN. "This [condition] needs to be public, because these are people suffering, and badly."</p><p>To be clear, maladaptive dreaming is not a <a href="https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/what-is-psychosis#1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">psychotic disorder</a> like schizophrenia. Daydreamers such as Peter and Rose are aware that their fantasies are as unreal as they may be unrealistic. Because of this, many maladaptive dreamers understand the difficulties they face and the real-life losses they have endured for the sake of their fantasies. </p>
More research needed<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6fdb8ca5dcc87c58b441d9c7cd766f35"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vI7b4_-MA8g?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Researchers don't have a <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319400" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">standard diagnosis or treatment for maladaptive daydreaming</a> because they aren't yet sure it's a unique psychological condition. Maladaptive daydreaming has not been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition—blessedly abbreviated as the DMS-5—the definitive book on mental disorders. To date, there isn't enough evidence to determine if maladaptive daydreaming is a separate condition or a manifestation of an already listed disorder.</p><p>Somer has developed a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053810015300611" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">14-point scale</a> to help people determine whether they are experiencing maladaptive-daydreaming symptoms, but the results only indicate whether an individual should seek help. They provide no formal diagnosis.</p><p>Also, maladaptive daydreaming is often expressed alongside other conditions, such as anxiety disorders, <a href="https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/topics/anxiety/ptsd-trauma-and-stressor-related/high-prevalence-of-maladaptive-daydreaming-among-patients-with-dissociative-disorders/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dissociative disorders</a>, attention deficit disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. And the researchers of Peter's case study noticed a striking similarity between his condition and those with <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164585/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">behavioral addition response</a>—including analogous responses with preoccupation, mood modification, tolerance, and withdrawal. It may be that maladaptive daydreaming is an expression of these, or other, disorders.</p><p>It's worth noting that similar empirical hurdles exist for other well-known, though not formalized, disorders. Orthorexia, sex addiction, misophonia, internet addiction, and parental alienation syndrome are all <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/whats-missing-from-the-dsm-4145344#:~:text=This%20diagnosis%20covered%20patients%20who,%22%20or%20%22unspecified%20disorder.%22" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">likewise absent from the DSM-5</a>. For maladaptive daydreaming and these other conditions, it's simply a case of more evidence and research needed before a determination can be made.</p>
A growing understanding of maladaptive daydreaming<p>The question of labeling is a tricky one—not only from a medical point-of-view but also a prosocial one. Some people find having a recognized condition validating; they feel it promotes social acceptance and makes seeking treatment easier. Others find such labels stigmatizing and restricting.</p><p>But the question of how to label something is an academic one. It isn't to say that the experience doesn't exist. It does, and whether maladaptive daydreaming ultimately enters the DSM-5 or not, awareness is growing. <a href="https://daydreamresearch.wixsite.com/md-research/links" target="_blank">Online communities</a> now exist to give support and spread awareness. And regardless of a condition's presence in the medical literature, if symptoms disrupt work, school, or social lives, help should be sought.</p><p>Thanks to the efforts of psychologists and the community, maladaptive daydreaming, unlike Thurber's literary creation, is no longer "inscrutable to the last." And those who suffer it are no longer relegated to a firing-squad of their own mind but can find they help the need.</p>
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
Psychologists point to specific reasons that make it hard for us to admit our wrongdoing.
- Admitting mistakes can be very difficult for our ego and self-image, say psychologists.
- Refusing to own up to guilt boosts the ego and can feel more satisfying.
- Not acknowledging you are wrong can lead to psychological issues and ruined relationships.