The lobster debate, Social Hierarchy and Jordan B Peterson

While reading the latest book I picked up, I came across this fascinating and fantastic trivia about lobsters’ behaviors. I assure you that you too will be surprised to learn about it. It is a very cool analogy and the correlation between the Human kingdom and Animal ones. This can be utilized to reason out a few characteristics such as male dominance, the effect of antidepressants and the social hierarchy, including even patriarchy. It goes like this:

  1. Like any animal kingdom species, lobsters get into disputes and fights to register male dominance. As usual, the battle is to determine who is the best suitable mate to carry the gene forward. As decided by binary results, the lobster that won the brawl will flex and get bigger physically, advertising his victory. The looser will shrink physically.
  2. Suppose you inject antidepressant, like serotonin, to the lost lobster. It stretches and gets bigger and ready to fight again. By the way, the same hormone work works on the human as well,
  3. An interesting point to note is that these neurochemical behaviors exist in the animal kingdom for 2.5 million years. i.e., Even before trees became into existence.
  4. A defeated human, such as with PTSD, will have the hippocampus shrink and the amygdala grow. A hippocampus can grow back with the help of anti-depressants. However, amygdala never grows back. Similarly, a defeated lobster will have its brain dissolved, and a new one grows back but not of the same one before.
  5. Basically, the argument is that the animal kingdom, including humans, organizes itself in the inevitably aligned social hierarchy, which is evolutionary and driven by neurologist chemical reactions. Not due to a political system such as capitalism. In other words, the human hierarchical organization in the political system has the evolutionary design to blame, not the other way around.
Photo by Roger Brown on

Apparently, this conclusion is based on a study on lobster, collective behaviors, social hierarchy etc. And the books where I picked up is “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos ” by Jordan B. Peterson. I will not be able to validate the theory as I am not qualified enough to do this. But he is a well-published author, Professor, clinical psychologist and public intellectual. I am gonna have to go with him this time.

Most rules of these books are controversial now, often unnecessarily. Jordan and his book are receiving end of American university students’ anger and social figures leaning left. Most noise comes from those who have not read it, instead of having their knowledge based on 140 characters of Twitter. Understandably the book is not an easy read. The technical terms, psychological reasoning etc., make it a laborious read. Unless you made up your mind to complete it, it is not gonna finish itself.

I recommend this to you if you are still interested, take it as a fresh perspective on the latest sets of social debates.

India’s love affair with poverty

We can list down a thousand reasons why India cannot lift millions of her citizens out of poverty even to this age. Corruption, the inefficiency of her pillars, the socialistic past, the siphoned off wealth by colonizers, so on and on. Among all undeniably valid excuses, one of the critical factors is probably a psychological one. Various studies and theories on India’s poverty map indicate that the mentality and the torchbearers of Gareebi Hatao could be at blame. Apparently, out revered and romanticized feeling towards poverty is one of the most significant constraints.

Believe it or not, India loves her poor and would like to cherish it. In other words, we subconsciously feel it’s a sin to dream big. While West celebrates Scrooge McDuck and Jordan Belfort showering themselves on dollar bills, India celebrates poor Sudhama, a poverty-stricken childhood buddy of Lord Krishna. Western media, entertainment and literature industries talk about getting rich quickly; their Indian counterparts say it’s absolutely OK to be the poor. Western movies depict insanely lucky at Las Vegas bounties, Vin Diesel robbing bank lockers, and million-dollar lottery wins. Indian, however, its quite the opposite. One of the three idiot’s mothers do not have enough money for roti, and another does not have the cash to buy a camera. Of course, these get a background score of violins playing for gut-wrenching music.

Only Striving for excellence, the will to make a change, and showing impatience towards mediocrity can lift us from poverty, not an endless list of excuses.

Anyways, this is one of the reasons I hate the movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Even though it’s a well-made film, I’m not too fond of it. It has won many, many academy awards. I dislike it, not just despite of, but because of.

Compare this against the OTT series, Scam 1992. It shows two brothers constantly and impatiently looking out for a way to get out of the pigeonhole they lived in.

Singlehandedly, Slumdog millionaire has managed to cause irreversible damage to slum dwellers of Mumbai and pan India. In fact, It has created an entirely undesirable new industry – slum tourism. Despite the quick buck it brings in, it builds a psychological effect on the residents. Its a thought of “it might as well be OK to stay there forever”. I believe you are already aware by now; apparently, there is an entire ecosystem that has evolved just to cater to the slum tourist needs. Tour guides who can help you navigate the slum with the best possible experience. These guides will come packed with water, cookies, sunscreen lotion, identify the best photo opportunity for Instagram, hold you an umbrella and wipe your seats.

Don’t get me wrong, its not an India image I am worried about. Who are we kidding? A slum is a slum. But lets not celebrate it, lets acknowledge it as a staging area of migrant workers abandoned their farming role, and came there in search of better life. And for heavens sake, lets get them out of there.

BTW, The West’s fascination with the underdog is another topic altogether. They simply want to put the underdog on a frame or a cage, exhibit it, and maybe even take a poke at it. I cannot explain this fully, but I believe it is related to the hunger for existential superiority of culture, ideology, and even religion. They love slums, and if it’s legal, they might even make a zoo. Please be informed, I am NOT making this up. This has happened before. History provides a myriad of examples. Let me pick the first one that comes to my mind. Please follow this link for more on same category

An Indian family and their elephant on display at Berlin Zoo through Rare Historical Photos

Saree, Kachra and Rathore

This is a more of research paper for a blog post. I literally had to reside below a bodhi tree for a month to gain this knowledge. You better read it and like it. 🙂

If you recall a post I had Previously written, I had adequately addressed a few of my north Indian friends’ quintessential questions. It was “Why does Karnataka has a flag of its own, while other states don’t“. This is the second one in that series “Why do South-Indians add a letter h to ‘t‘ sound, such as Jayalalitha as against a proper Jayalalita“. Okay, let us get to it.

South-Indians consider four ‘t’ sounds a set of mutually exclusive and distinctive representations in their native languages. For this very reason, when written in a foreign script, such as English, they will get four different spellings.

  1. t for voiceless retroflex,
  2. tt for voiced retroflex,
  3. th for voiceless dental,
  4. and finally, tth or tthh for voiced dental.

North Indians, however, chose to manage it with two even though Devanagari still has the same combinations.

  1. t for both voiceless retroflex and dental
  2. th for both voiced retroflex and dental.

For example, the English spelling of an Atal and Atul for a north Indian will change to Atal and Athul for a south Indian.

Now, who is correct? The answer is neither, nor maybe both.

Please be aware that this cannot be a spelling bee. Indian native languages are exceptionally and perfectly capable of representing all their native sounds in their preferred scripts. The trouble comes only when one needs to write them in a foreign language such as English. In English, however, we simply do not have a one-to-one mapping for all the sounds of Indian origin. Why should they? Understandably this is by design.

If it is of any consolation, the vice versa is true as well. For instance, we can never write the word ‘acid’ in any Indian languages, convincingly. It can be either ‘A-sid’ or ‘aasid’, and that is the best you can get. Hence the verdict is, the argument itself is wrong. Unless we are talking about Unicode or international phonetic symbols as foreign languages of consideration, both representations should and are correct. Stop arguing now.

Now that we have settled that debate let me pose a counter-question on a related topic. Why do all North Indians write few words such as Saree, Rathore and Kachra with two different representations or even pronounce differently? You must be familiar with Saadi, Rathod and Kachda.

Most of the time, it is pronounced as a Sadi and written Saree? This is very annoying for a non-native.

Disclosure. I am not a native Hindi speaker; I did not even have proper formal education on Hindi. I studied Hindi as my fourth language, but my Hindi teacher was in a great hurry and skipped a topic or few, such as alphabet! Obviously, she could not answer may of such questions we had. Why such a level of imperfections

  1. Why does Hindi omit (or swallow) the final vowel, e.g., Kannad for Kannada?
  2. Why does turtle have strange spelling ending with a vowel KachuAA instead of Kachuva?
  3. Why does translation for Yesterday and Tomorrow has the same word leaving it to its verb to decide the fate?
  4. And the most crucial question is, why on earth Hindi does not end a word with a consonant and must be a vowel? I mean, Hindi’s mother Sanskrit does the proper ending of each word. E.g., In Hindi Jal and Jala written the same. At the same time, Sanskrit differentiates even with the same script of Devanagari.

What surprised me the most is my friends with proper education on Hindi could not explain this deviation of Hindi from her mother, (Samskrutam) Sanskrit.

In my quest for knowledge, I had asked many many of my friends on these discrepancies. I quizzed them precisely on the r spelling for d sound. Most of them dint have a clue but a few attempted explaining it to me. Apparently, the language Hindi has a sound/letter that falls somewhere between an ‘r‘ and a ‘d‘. Unfortunately, this consonant does not sit in a scientifically classified and tabulated alphabet of Indian languages. So, it has to be foreign.

It’s called Nuqta. Let me quote Manisha Kulshreshtha, and Ramkumar Mathur on what they wrote in Dialect Accent Features for Establishing Speaker Identity. A few sounds, borrowed from the other languages like Persian and Arabic, are written with a dot (Bindu or nuktā). Many people who speak Hindi as a second language, especially those who come from rural backgrounds and do not speak conventional Hindi (also called Khariboli), or speak in one of its dialects, pronounce these sounds as their nearest equivalents.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of a dot (period). You can bring this confusing sound by merely putting a period, below or on the side, wherever you find some space. It should be done for one and the only purpose – to represent a foreign sound, especially with loan words. By definition, anything and everything can be covered here, including click sound of African languages. Nuqta was introduced in Devanagari to accommodate pronunciation India’s invaders bought in.

This is brilliant stuff; I have full clarity now. Absolutely useless! But still brilliant!

This raises more questions than answers. Why on earth would you consider sadi/saree is a foreign loaned word? Have you seen anyone in central Asia or the middle east wearing it? The Saree, its style, its etymology – they all have origins in India. It existed even before Hindi was even born, let’s not even talk about loans.

Photo by Nivedita Singh on

The answer is very straightforward. This is the side effect of a hangover by Turkik and Persian speaking empires ruling us. We could not even decide if a piece of clothing we wore for a millennium, was foreign or Indian. Finally, we settled, and we decided its foreign. Well done there.

Let me know your thoughts, do write your opinion on the comments section.

Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity & Inclusion is one of the most beautiful concepts when it is applied to its real sense. It has a straightforward and unambiguous meaning. An organization, a team or even a civilization can no longer afford to exclude the different voices, different from traditionally theirs. If they do, they compromise on width, depth, efficiency, perspective, and completeness of the state they are trying to achieve.

For example, take a team consisting of a perfectionist and a taskmaster. A taskmaster can complete 95% tasks seldom haphazardly, but with paramount efficiency and productivity. A perfectionist will take it from here. He surely will take his own sweet time. Still, he will ensure that the job is comprehensively and conclusively completed in a form normal human being can comprehend. Imagine a team constituting with only one sort of them? Team taskmaster can deliver tomorrow afternoon with many bugs. A perfectionist will provide you with a perfect solution, but only by the subsequent quarter.

Even with this simple truth is widely misinterpreted, often deliberately.

  1. The ask amazingly simple. Include the diversity into the team and follow a democratic process. It generally gets confused and leads to giving power of veto, virtually an authoritarian decision making.
  2. Most definitions list out the race, gender, religion, and caste etc. All these correct, but this list should only be kept in the appendix. This list will keep in growing and evolving in all its probability. We cannot dilute the spirit of it with specifics.
  3. This goes without saying, freedom of expression holds the paramount value of any teams. There should be a channel for everyone to speak their heart out.

Let us discuss what it’s not.

  1. It is not a vehicle to correct historical injustice. If you give D&I the time to evolve, it will address all your grievances in this regard. Unfortunately, some of the torchbearers use D&I as a tool for overcompensating or even underrepresenting a group of people.
  2. D&I is a progressive concept on itself, but you cannot form a team entirely made of progressives, which fails the entire purpose. This applies to any groups part of a D&I team.

A couple of examples.

Exhibit 1. This is an image of the editorial board of a once-popular online newsmagazine. They often accused of torchbearers of progressiveness in the modern internet world. No wonder their articles are monotonous and predictable.

Source :

Exhibit 2. This is an image of Late-night talk show hosts. I have seen episodes of most of them. They all dress, look, talk, laugh, joke and express opinions about if they all came out of a mould. They are irritatingly predictable.


Let me know your thoughts about this, do write your reviews in the comments section.

The Psychology of Money and Paracetamol Junkies

I am currently reading this cool book, which interestingly named “The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness” by Morgan Housel. I have not finished it yet to give you a full review. But, I could not help but to share an important concept resonated well with me. Housel calls it as “being rational vs being reasonable”.

We all know what is being rational while taking any decision ahead of us. To achieve it rationally, we pull out all available information from Google, Wikipedia and Quora, draw a spreadsheet on pros and cons, apply the weighted average, analyze balance sheet, and then go for it. Additionally, you might factor the scenario of “What would Kejriwal do?” :-). Being reasonable is much easier to explain, it is just being practical with taking one day at a time and accepting being imperfect.

However, more than the concept itself, the example Morgan chose is fascinating. It is about temperature increase during a fever. Fever is almost always misconceived as a bad thing. We know that it must be avoided at any circumstances, else immediately leading to a panic situation. This has mostly to do with discomfort a fever brings in. And there is a widely accepted popular opinion that Fever is a side effect of an ongoing battle within the human body. For these reasons, we pop paracetamol even for a small degree increase in body temperature. In fact, a sub-industry of pharmaceuticals working on curing ‘fever’ and provide comfort to the ailing.

However, apparently, myriad studies have been conducted on fever and its effects on human body. Please be informed that I am not qualified to fully comprehend and provide advise. But I can tell you what the gist is. The temperature increase is not a side effect for most cases. Instead, it is a mechanism deployed by our immune system to set favorable grounds for battle by deliberately increasing temperature. In other words, temperature raise is not post-battle collateral damage. Instead, it is pre-battle and pre-emptive preparation against the infiltrating microorganisms. Evidently, a slight increase of one degree Fahrenheit can immediately put foreign microorganisms at their backfoot and thus increasing efficiency of our immune system by manifold.

On contrary to popular opinion, consumption of a Paracetamol would reduce the temperature setting back to the square one. The head start it previously gained is now completely removed. Basically, paracetamol will nullify the action taken by a system, which has a maturity that evolved over millions of years with its infinite wisdom. Now immune system will have to overwork.

In this scenario, and for short fevers, keeping calm and resting is the most rational thing to do. However, we have already sleepwalked into being paracetamol junkies. As adults, we pop a pill on the drop of a hat and rush toddlers emergency rooms. The panic overpowers the rationality, and we consider the most reasonable thing to do it burden the medical industry further. The doctors are obligated to remove patient’ discomfort, more than the obligation of cure. Hope it makes sense.

Disclaimer: I am not qualified to provide you with a piece of medical advice here. Please do your own reading and consult.