Intuition, simply put, is a gut feeling.  It could be based on prior knowledge, pattern recognition, an unconscious reaction, even superstition.  It is useful in making quick decisions on the spot, say, when you are alone in the jungle and hear rustling in the bushes.  But in reality, it is a lousy basis for important decisions.

Let’s look at this example.

Imagine a fictional Foobar disease, which is always fatal, not common but not overly rare either, with an overall occurrence of 0.1%.  There is a test that is exceptionally sensitive (100%), which means that if you have the disease, this test will definitely identify it.  The test also has a very low false positive rate of 1% (99% specificity).

Out of curiosity, you take the test.  It turns out positive.  Ouch.

Quick!  Based on your gut feeling, what are the chances that you have this fatal Foobar disease?

95%? 90%?


The correct answer is around 9%.  The approximate calculation is as follows (for exact calculations use Bayes’ theorem):

Out of 1000 people, only 1 will actually have the disease (0.1%).  The test, with a false positive rate of 1%, is expected to incorrectly identify 10 people as having the disease, along with the 1 person that actually has the disease.  Out of the 11 people identified as positive, only 1 will actually have it.

Counterintuitive, but true.

Now try telling that to the people that just tested positive for Foobar and blew their entire life savings at the casino.

When the US Preventative Services Task Force changed the guidelines for mammogram screenings, it was based on scientific evidence.  Same thing with prostate cancer screenings (PSA test).  The test intervals were lengthened (or eliminated) because there was no evidence that it actually provided actual benefit in the general (not high-risk) population.  The public immediately fired back, simply because it is highly counterintuitive: how on earth could someone oppose extra testing?  Conspiracy theories immediately surfaced and the issue soon became a political issue instead of a fact-based discussion.

It is unrealistic to expect everyone to look into and fully understand the underlying reasons, not because of intellectual laziness, but because those reasons often lie outside their realm of expertise.  Sadly enough, the most vocal opinions are usually shouted out by those that understand the least.  And although often treated otherwise by the media, volume does not equal correctness, understanding, controversy, much less consensus.  And as elitist as it may sound, I believe that knowledge is not a democracy, and public policy (especially on complex scientific issues) should be debated and guided by relevant experts, not by popular vote.

Scientists are generally the least confrontational and least vocal group, and politically have the least influence.  And let’s face it, the jargon-laden, carefully crafted, highly qualified statements that are spewed from their facial orifices don’t exactly appeal to voters.  So politically, are we doomed, in a Darwinian sense?  I’ll go out on a limb and say no, because although suboptimal, thankfully and ironically, ignorance is global.  Politicians everywhere are elected by popularity and not intelligence or expertise, and dictators do not rule because of oversized brains.  We are no worse off if everyone else is equally as bad.  At least that is my intuition.

* afterword: Putting the issue of limited resources and fairness aside, I am not opposed against extra testing, provided that the person fully understands the implications, risks, and what the test results actually mean, if anything.  I do oppose unnecessary testing, which I define as any test that will not change the course of action.  It makes no more sense to rearrange the deck furniture on the Titanic than it does to disinfect the death row inmate’s arm before giving him a lethal injection, or to order a Pap smear for a 90 year old.

Conscious Machine

If you are reading this, chances are that you are alive, have a brain, and are conscious.  There is also a chance this is being read by a machine, which could range from a simple web crawler/indexer to a more sophisticated content/context analyzer.  In the machine case, in some way it can be considered to be “alive” (powered by electricity), but conscious?  Most would disagree.

Being alive is not easy to define but can be characterized. Consciousness, on the other hand, defies a precise definition, yet is intuitively understood by seemingly everyone.

But is consciousness what separates us from machines?  Since consciousness cannot be precisely defined, a specific test cannot be designed to test and answer that. There are working alternatives such as the Turing test, which purportedly tests for intelligence (and unintelligence) but really tests how well it simulates human interaction, and the Mirror test, which tests for self-awareness.  Neither test is satisfactory.

Can a sufficiently advanced machine be considered alive and conscious?  That is an interesting question, but I consider it irrelevant for reasons I will expand on later.

Here is a thought experiment.  There are machines that already pass the Turing Test relatively well and I can conceive of a day where it can simulate intelligence very well.  Imagine one day in the not so distant future, where someone creates an advanced computer (or robot similar to Issac Asimov’s).  This computer could perform a self-check to see the health of its components (this feature is already in most operating systems).  It could check the internet for new components and upgrades, both software and hardware.  Say it has access to electronic funds and can order components online and have someone install them, which it can then verify if they work properly.  It could be a hardware component like a redundant power system, extra batteries, robotic arms, or software upgrades, or even cloud applications.  It could respond to external stimuli.  Spontaneity can be programmed in with random actions taken, perhaps according to a cost function (redistribute resources, upgrade hardware, etc.).  It could be programmed to reproduce itself, by examining its own components, purchasing everything online, and hiring someone for assembly.  Upon completion, it could verify that all systems are working after assembly, upload its own software over the network, and authorize the final payment.  It could even seek and accept computational jobs for money online, or invest in a portfolio, to replenish the resource pool and become self-sustaining.  It could defend itself against online attacks, and prepare itself against certain circumstances (redundant power supply and critical components).  It could even order protective casing around it, or even bodyguards, I mean machineguards, to protect against physical attacks if sufficient funds are available.

This hypothetical machine could reproduce itself, maybe not organically, which I argue is irrelevant anyway.  The ultimate goal of reproduction is reached, and there are plenty of examples of effective reproduction requiring outside agents (e.g., bees and pollen).

With GPS, optical hardware, mechanical components, and recognition software, it could realize where it is in space and recognize itself in a mirror based on certain tests and feedback.

Back to the question of “can a sufficiently advanced machine be considered alive and conscious?”  I contend that this is not the right question, since there is no simple definition of either.  A better question would be, in the spirit of the Turing Test, as “could a sufficiently advanced machine, from external observation or interaction alone, be distinguishable from a living, conscious being?”

To answer this question, I think the best way is to step back and stop thinking like a human for a bit.

Stealing from Scott Adams’ example in God’s Debris (Chapter Evolution), imagine highly intelligent extra-terrestrial beings visiting Earth after an extinction event that wipes off all organic life on earth.  They find fossils and books and all the documentation of what used to be life on earth.  They also find extensive videos and logs and archives of these amazing machines in action, but the underlying code is gone forever.  Unburdened by the arbitrary earth-centric biological classification of Life – Domain – Kingdom – (blah blah) – Species, and judging from the evidence at hand alone, I contend that these aliens would consider these machines alive, and probably classify them under “inorganic life”.

This hypothetical machine meets most if not all descriptions of characteristics of life (since there is no easy definition of “life”).  I argue that without access to the underlying code of the machine, from any observational, behavioral, and external perspective, the machine is alive.  Consciousness would be an abstract concept that an alien may or may not have, but there is no reason to think that from an external viewpoint, the machines would not have consciousness.

So what, then, separates humans from a sufficiently advanced machine?  Cognition?  Sentience?  I have a simpler answer.

Three pounds of thinking meat.


Update: After going down the rabbit hole of hypothetical advanced Artificial Intelligence (Singularity, FAI/UFAI, Roko’s Basilisk) and its implications, I concede that the Robot in my thought experiment is crude and probably not thought out in sufficient detail.  However, for the purpose of the thought experiment, the point it makes is still valid.  I later discovered that it is very similar to the Giant Robot thought experiment as described by Dennet (Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, 2013).

Lawyers and scientists

Note: This post is poorly written and need heavy editing.  Read at your own risk.


Which profession garners more respect: Lawyer or Scientist?

I think most people would choose Scientist.  In fact, most polls put Scientist in the top 3 but Lawyers somewhere in the mid-low range.  But why?  Both professions require extensive education and qualifications; both do a lot of research, and use reasoning as part of their daily jobs.  What makes one so much more respectable than the other?

How much of the perception is influenced by the second hand Hollywood stereotype of the slick talking, self-serving, win-at-all-cost image vs. the smart, honest, socially-awkward nerd, and how much of that sterotyping is real?

This is what I think.  Regardless of stereotypes, the professions use similar tools but serve very different purposes.  The job of a lawyer is to protect the client’s interest; the job of a scientist is to pursue knowledge scientifically, wherever that may lead.  Given the same information, a competent lawyer will cherry-pick the evidence beneficial to his client to build his case and arguments, and formulate defending arguments against the detremental evidence against his client (that was conveniently ignored).  The lawyer is paid to win, to protect his client’s interest, not to pursue the truth.  A competent scientist will look at everything and base his opinion on the quality of the available evidence.

If both are merely doing their jobs, why are lawyers so looked down upon?

Let’s say a top-notch tax lawyer is able to exploit all the loopholes in the system and save a billionaire obscene amounts of money.  Many would find that disgusting.  However, assuming that no law is broken, is it really the lawyer’s fault for being excellent at his job (protecting the client’s interest)?  How about a criminal defense lawyer who is able to get a serial child molester/murderer off the hook?  Is it morally reprehensible to be good at what is legally required of the profession?

The only thing that remains is the conscious choice of this particular profession, which one can hardly criticize.

Let’s take an air force pilot as another example.  Say he is ordered to drop a few MOABs on some villages suspected to harbor high-value terrorists, and is exceptionally accurate and inadvertently wipes out a few orphanages, hospitals, endangered species (a.k.a. collateral damage), along with suspected high-value terrorists.  We do not generally make moral judgements on the pilot for following orders.

The difference between lawyers and pilots would be mainly, one is doing his job and killing for our country, and one is doing his job and making a killing for himself.  The reasoning in professional respect typically goes like this: each dime that shyster helps that rich guy save (cheat) on taxes is a dime stolen from Uncle Sam, which is like stealing from the people, which is stealing from me, those thieves.  Those cratered former zip codes are far away, in a country I can’t spell, and rampant with terrorist-ridden towelheads anyway.  We pay the armed forces = working for me.  Saving on taxes = stealing from me.  And it goes without saying, can’t respect a thief.  Cognitive dissonance wins.

What would it take?


What a loaded word.

Apparently has very different meanings to different people.

According to the Merriam-Webster, the definition is “receptive to arguments or ideas”.  To me, it means the willingness to change my mind (receptive) based on carefully examining valid, well-formed, clear, logical statements based on best available evidence (arguments), and the willingness to examine hypotheses that have at least some level of plausibility (ideas).  This does not include argument from logical fallacies, personal anecdotes or opinions, ideological, theological or teleological statements (which despite ending in -logical, none are), or unsupported assertions.

To some, openmindedness means to listen to and accept what others have to say without question, or at least “respect” their viewpoint.

To many, openmindedness simply means you have to agree with them.

To me, openmindedness applies to factual issues, such as the effectiveness of coffee enemas; moral issues are usually personal opinions or preference, which in my opinion, “receptiveness” does not apply.  There are plenty of arguments that are politically incorrect, but regardless of how well executed they are, are irrelevant because they do not serve to change our collective behavior, and are destined to simply be factoids.

In my opinion, a good indicator of openmindedness would be to simply ask the question: “What would it take to change your mind?”

A truly openminded person is willing to examine everything, no matter how deep the conviction.  Ask the Pope what it would take to change his faith and it would likely be “nothing”.  Ask an evolutionary biologist what it would take to change his belief in evolution, and it would likely be a very specific statement such as “a pre-Cambrian rabbit fossil”.  Ask most people what it would take to change their mind about some deep conviction they have, and the answer is more often than not, “I don’t know”.

Richard Muller, professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, and until recently a very promient global warming skeptic, changed his mind about global warming after carefully examining the evidence.  When was the last time you saw your favorite politician change his/her mind based on the evidence?  Unfortunately that is called flip-flopping and for some reason unknown to me, it is considered a flaw rather than a virtue.  Personally I would like my representative to change his or her mind as soon as evidence becomes available, as often as needed.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  What constitutes good evidence is the subject of another long blog post for another day.  But next time you are asked to be openminded, ask yourself, “What would it take to change your mind?”.  If you don’t know in very specific terms, it might be time to reexamine that belief.

Politically incorrect

This post is very much politically incorrect, read at your own risk.  You were warned.

Four time gold medalist Michael Johnson is not afraid to speak his mind, with him being one of the few in the unique position to do so.  He is the self-proclaimed, unintended beneficiary of a past wrong.

He makes a hypothesis about slavery inadvertently creating better atheletes through selective pressure, which is a politically sensitive and polarizing statement to say the least.  There is some level of plausibility and evidence for the argument, such as:

  • Disproportionate ratio of African-American/Caribbean descendants at the top level of the game
  • Initial selective pressure prior to transportation
  • Ongoing selective pressure during enslavement
  • Alleged eugenics

There is also plenty of confounding factors and arguments against it (politically incorrect translation in parentheses):

  • Better overall training environment (Nikes on indoor, air conditioned PU track easier on the feet than running barefoot over egg sized gravel hot enough to fry  lizards)
  • Better participation and awareness (Going for the gold on an obstacle course actually means dodging bullets to steal gold from Kony)
  • Initial selective pressure not significant (Well they chose the better ones from the batch, but the really fast ones got away)
  • Ongoing selective pressure not significant nor long enough (Couple of hundred years is nothing)
  • Unusual specificity (What makes Caribbean/North American slaves better than Brazilian slaves?)

Just to list a few.

I predict that no one will touch this subject with a 10 foot pole.  Even if someone did spend the effort to seriously research this out of intellectual curiosity (which often is good enough), what would it accomplish?  If his views are found correct, it is not like we can start enslaving people of any race or subgroup again.  Either way it goes, there is little you can say to not offend.  “No pain, no gain” is an equally bad conclusion as “No harm done”.

Ilana Yurkiewicz has an eloquent blog post in a somewhat similar situation, regarding a controversial social study by Mark Regnerus.

Sometimes, it’s best to keep your mouth shut.  Just like in marriage.

Why We Suck at Risk Assessment

Note: This poorly written post is currently slated for heavy revision or deletion. Read at your own risk.


It is no secret that we suck at risk assessment.  We make bad decisions every day, individually and collectively, based on bad risk assessment.

For example, someone might smoke and chomp on a burger while talking on his cell phone while driving to the Santa Cruz beach, only to decide not to enter the water because of this report he saw last night about deadly box jellyfish.

Never mind the fact that he was thousands of times more likely to die from the drive over than getting hit by lightning.  Or the fact that in reality box jellyfish rarely kill.  Or the fact that box jellyfish aren’t even found in Santa Cruz.

Another example is that Americans are spending over a trillion fighting wars far away, at a cost of close to $10,000 per household, to “fight terrorism”.  If the goal is to save lives of Americans, it would be about the worst return on investment in the history of mankind.  It’s only slightly better than burning $100 bills in the fireplace to keep the house warm.

Why is it then, that we suck at risk assessment?

Simply put, our brains are not ready yet.

Most animals have a fight-or-flight response, which is arguably the most important decision for survival, and it is done almost instantly, based on the immediate circumstances.  There is no time for calculation of long term consequences.  You flatten the squirrel and run from the tiger.  It is raw emotion and reflexes.

Over time, our brains have evolved to have a different type of decision process, which is more nuanced and calculated.  It takes into account future rewards and consequences.  This ability to predict events and recognize patterns (separate blog on this) and make decisions based on them is what separates humans from the beasts.  It’s what enables people to slow play or bluff at a poker hand.  This decision process is more about reasoning and logic.

Clearly when it comes to major decisions, the latter type is more advantageous.  However oftentimes the immediate fight-or-flight part of the brain gets in the way of our decision process, leading to poor risk assessments and decisions.  It’s like calling an all-in bet with nothing simply out of anger.

My theory is that the reasoning part of the brain has not existed long enough to overcome the primal impulses of the brain.  Our brains have not caught up to the rapid technological development and incredible amount of information that is being conveyed.  In the past what was local and relevant information, today can spread globally in the blink of an eye, where it is often not relevant.

There is no shortage of risk assessments being biased by the fight-or-flight response:

Spectacular, unusual, gruesome and unfamiliar risks are over-emphasized.  After 9/11 people were paranoid of flying, especially if there were people dressed in Muslim garb on board.  A news report of someone decapitated by a tire strip shot through the windshield from a blown tire from the truck in front will make you stay away from trucks.

Recent exposure will increase emphasis, while long term risks are deemphasized.  If you see someone in Muslim garb on a plane now, are you as afraid as you were the days after 9/11?  In the other example, a month later, you will be fearlessly tailgating that truck.  Yet the risk has not changed at all, only they way it is perceived.

Perceived control over a situation, or a risk voluntarily taken, or possible benefit from the risk will also distort the assessment of the risk.  One feels more secure driving (in control) than flying or being driven (not in control).  A smoker/drinker/drug user will subconsciously underestimate the risk for the reward.  A gambler will go for a long shot even if the odds are extremely bad (think lottery).

A higher risk is perceived for things that are not understood clearly or easily, and by extension, a man-made item carries a higher risk than a naturally occurring one.  To a layperson it is not obvious how a microwave oven works, and thus it might seem riskier than a stove top, which is actually far more dangerous.  A burning plastic bag invokes more fear than say, an all natural and 100% organic death cap mushroom, ricin, or a cute Komodo Dragon.  The sun emits radiation in a spectrum and an intensity that in terms of danger, is several orders of magnitude higher than say, gluing cell phones all over your head and sleeping in a cell phone base station next to a high voltage power line.

Another influence is anecdotes, and somewhat associated, immediately available or vivid memories.  If one reads multiple “personal accounts” of a product on the web that allegedly has caused harm, he will likely think the product carries more risk than it actually does.  If you’re in the Vatican City and all you hear and read is that the condom is a product of the devil, you’d think twice about wearing that raincoat, before you bless the lord and plunge forward.  If you see pictures of a flattened human jigsaw puzzle, you’d be more careful crossing the street.  The mind is a strange thing; it remembers vivid details of a scene and snippets of information, while forgetting where it came from and even if the information is correct or not.  You don’t forget a flattened human jigsaw puzzle easily, but you will likely over time, forget where you first saw it.

Unscrupulous marketers and politicians exploit this quite readily.  After all, it’s an easy way to make a buck, and even easier way to obtain power.

The products that are out there range from small devices like so-called EMF shields to large establishments like doomsday shelters and underground condos.  Of course in the event that nuclear annihilation actually occurs, it’s unknown how one is supposed to drive hours into the wilderness to get to that shelter without dying first.  However, dubious products would be the topic of another blog and I won’t elaborate here.

Politicians use the trick all the time, trumpeting issues from “war on terror”, “war on drugs” to “secure the border”, just to name a few.  Climate change is another issue that gets raised often but there is some legitimate debate on that so that is partly justified.  The PATRIOT act, one of the worst acts ever written in history, was passed in record time by Congress, without even being actually studied, based on irrational fear and poor risk assessment.

People would not be people without emotion, and it is an integral part of humanity.  It is what separates us as a species.  It also enables us to live, love, enjoy, and experience life to its fullest.  But when it comes to assessing risk and making serious decisions with long term implications, the best decision is always from a careful analysis of the best available information.

Special thanks to David Ropeik and George Gray, as some material is blatantly pilfered from their book “Risk”.  Please don’t sue me.

Superstition and Pattern Recognition

Note: This poorly written post is currently slated for heavy revision or deletion. Read at your own risk.


According to Wikipedia:

Superstition is a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge.

That definition is suspiciously similar to another word: Religion.  But that is the subject of another blog.

Humans are in general, superstitious.  This seems to be true in all major cultures, regardless of background or location.  How could humans, in all corners of the world, independently develop a universal concept of no practical use?

Two words: Pattern Recognition.

Think about it.  If your cavemates keep getting munched on every time they wander into the woods at night with two shiny eyes and a growl in the distance, you’d learn to recognize the pattern pretty fast, or get removed from the gene pool.  Selective pressure, basic evolution.  The caveman that recognizes the pattern might also be afraid of any two reflective items, which might lead to fewer munching opportunities but avoid being munched on.  As long as the benefits outweigh the downside it is a fair trade.

Recognizing patterns becomes more and more ingrained into the brain as humans evolve, as they become more intelligent.  Or alas, as it seems nowadays, less and less intelligent.

I predict we will eventually have brains so large we will have to evolve extra arms to hold the head in place while we cruise around in our Segway hovercrafts, that is, if we don’t destroy ourselves before then.

My theory is that we have not been contacted by aliens because all civilizations eventually self-destruct by nuclear annihilation, not over lack of resources but over who has a better imaginary friend.  It is the completion of an evolution cycle – extinction through self destruction.  It is God’s crude sense of humor, since he allegedly works in mysterious ways.  Humans on earth seem well on their way to this endgame – but enough of me being pessimistic; this is about superstition and pattern recognition.

Pattern recognition by itself is not intelligence, but an association skill.  It provides information but not knowledge.  Most people interpret the information based on preconceptions and biases (they see what they want to see).  Knowledge, on the other hand, comes from unbiased critical analysis of the information.

For example, say, someone sees a bearded Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Someone with a preconceived notion will think that his deity of choice has, after countless sandwiches, voluntarily chosen an unlikely edible medium to manifest himself for an unspecified reason, and that he is blessed and he has pleased his deity.  The believer has made up his mind, and there is very little anyone can do to convince this person to think otherwise, and it would be unwise to try.

A more critical look would realize that for this to be true, there are many unverifiable conditions that would also have to be true, such as:

1. The pattern so out of the ordinary that it is highly unlikely to be randomly occurring.

2. The pattern is not caused by other means (imprint on grill, other events).

3. The pattern is clearly a likeness of a bearded person.

4. Jesus is real and was a bearded person of middle-eastern descent.

5. The person knows *for certain* what Jesus looked like, and the pattern bears unmistakable resemblance to that image, and not a random middle-eastern male.

6. Jesus being a supernatural being, possesses human-like intents (which in itself is contradictory if he were omnipotent).

7. Jesus, with his human-like intent, decides to suddenly manifest himself to a single person through imperfect means.  Keep in mind that a “decision” is a shortcoming of a non-omniscient being, and an imperfect method implies an imperfect decision process.

8. The person believes that, by recognizing this as Jesus, he is somehow blessed or affected, and is “special”.  This implies that Jesus plays favorites, another human shortcoming.

9. The person believes that Jesus would be “pleased” by his acknowledgement, which is projecting human emotion on an alleged superhuman deity.   Keep in mind that emotion is a human shortcoming:  it is a reaction to an external event not previously known.  An omnipotent being would supposedly know everything and have no need for joy or anger.  If you already know what has happened, is happening, and will happen, would you feel one way or the other?  No.  It makes no difference either way since it is already long known.

Of course, to the person that believes that Jesus is talking to him, none of this really matters, no matter how absurd the circumstance.  It makes him feel good and special and less hopeless.  It gives him 15 minutes of fame.  Questioning the premises is offending his religion and belief, which for some unknown reason is considered not politically correct.

It is mostly true that ignorance is bliss.  However it is sad when mass ignorance turns into mass delusion, and pursuit of truth and knowledge is looked down upon and considered impolite or improper.  Sure, one will not make many friends by reasoning away someone’s ignorance, however collectively as a society, rationality should not be discouraged in favor of superstition.

Superstition is part accumulation of unexamined and unverified patterns, and part imagination gone awry.  In general the more authoritative a society, the more superstition thrives.  It comes in many forms: folk lores, unproven remedies, (ahem) religion, chain letters, bioenergy fields, crystal power, rituals, you name it.

Many scams rely on, and exploit superstition.  The most successful scams and convincing lies have a few common ingredients.  There are verifiable snippets of truth mixed in, so by association (pattern recognition) one assumes that the entire deal is real.  There are usually some coincidences (again, pattern recognition) to strengthen the claim.  There are usually lots of personal anecdotes with touching stories that feed on human empathy (more pattern recognition).  Sometimes there are a few buzzwords or theories that the layperson cannot verify thrown in.  Occasionally conspiracy theory is cited to imply oppressed legitimacy.  Let’s face it, if you have a kid with an uncurable disease, and find an official looking site on the internet claiming to use a new, breakthrough stem cell therapy utilizing quantum theory nanotechnology (that cannot be done in the US because big pharma wants to suppress this and sell more drugs), and have 100 stories (real or not) of miraculously-cured kids running around, who wouldn’t sell a kidney or two to pay for a mere *chance* at a cure?

Will gathering 100,000 “like” clicks, forwarding sob stories or folding 10,000 paper cranes really help that allegedly sick orphan?  Not really, but it makes the participants feel good, and maybe that is justification enough.  It’s mental masturbation for the participants, and either a misguided effort or perhaps even a sick joke for the initiator.

Being superstitious is not a crime.  It is kind of like living in the Matrix.  For some it is just fine, but I find reality far more interesting.  Pointing out the absurdities is also quite entertaining I must say.

It is a pity that critical thinking skills are not explicitly taught in science classes, and scientific experts’ opinions often take back seat to politically correct  nonsense.  Unfortunately that is reality.  So my politically incorrect prediction is that, sometime in the not-so-distant future, hopefully well past our lifetimes, mankind will self-destruct, likely over a dispute regarding which collectively imagined god with anthropomorphized characteristics and shortcomings is imagined to have better superpowers; in other words, whose imaginary friend is more powerful.  I am relatively certain that this will happen well before we evolve extra arms to hold up our oversized heads.