World as a Controlled Hallucination

Karolina Kluza, Poland


What would be your reaction if I told you that the world around you is just a complex, simultaneous, processed hallucination controlled by your brain? At first, you will probably think that it is a jocular deceit or maybe a test of your knowledge. “How could it be possible” you will wonder, “that what I see may not be compatible with what the world can actually be like?”


The “sense- data” theory of perception is the most commonly known, although nowadays it is believed to be rather ‘naive’. It assumes that the way of our observation comes directly from a hierarchical system, similar to one in electronic devices like cameras. Its trail starts when light reaches our eyes, then it is converted into electrical signals, due to the cells of the retina, which encode the image. The image is sent along the optic nerve to the neural cortex which is responsible for reconstruction of visual elements. Parts of the completed image are delivered to the mind as a whole picture. Lastly,  the conscious mind tries to interpret the image.

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The problem with the ‘naive’ perceptional system is simple to explain. Normally, when you see something, it is already categorized as a ‘ready to see object’ which must have been previously interpreted. So, it means that a ‘normal’ perception is an act of interpretation of our world, an attempt to figure out what the object is or is not by oueselves. The conclusion is that perception is just a process of best-guessing or inference.


Given these facts, the next step to get closer to understanding this problem is to take into consideration the direction of perception. Does it come from inside out or outside in, or maybe both answers are true? Anil Seth and Andy Clark, the authors of the newest perceptional theory, claim that perception happens as much from the “inside out” as the “outside in.” The human brain does not try to neutrally analyze sensory data; it checks if the data matches its expectations in order to develop a picture that slots in its already created world. “Your brain tries to guess what’s out there,” said Clark, and “to the extent that the guess matches or…explains away the evolving sensory data, you get to perceive the world.”

Seth and Clark validate their theory by referring to several experiments and neurological studies. The simplest ones are based on “what we hear, see and feel”. In the link below you can check them yourself:

https://theweekenduniversity.com/blog/3-experiments-from-neuroscience-which-prove-reality-is-a-hallucination/

For example, during his speech, Clark played a short audio file of a woman’s voice, which had been deliberately garbled through sine-wave distortion to make it difficult to understand. Then, the audience heard the original recording and once again the disturbed one, which they perfectly understood this time. That short experiment shows that the process of how the human brain can actively match its expectation with sensory data.


A fresh, modern and changed look at our perception has the potential to bring the world many opportunities for more profound comprehension of problems that are our everyday struggles. Many diseases such as schizophrenia or depression can be better understood and treated when people start to think differently.

Furthermore, if you give this idea a try, you will see yourself not as a single entity of consciousness, but realize that in our world there is much more than only one possible way of being and perceiving.


“We’re all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it “reality”.”
— Anil Seth

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Trash – One of the Main Causes of Environmental Pollution

Lina Steffens, Germany

About eight million tons of plastic trash end up in our oceans every year, which is affecting the wildlife in the ocean and on the coast. Annually, about 100,000 marine mammals die due to plastic pollution and millions of birds and fish mistake plastic debris for food or get stuck in them. Along the shores, thousands of bird corpses rest on the beach with their stomachs full of plastic trash. From whales, sea lions, and birds to the zooplankton, plastic is greatly affecting marine life, and those who suffer most are the animals.

Why is the consumption of plastic so tremendous? It is lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong and inexpensive, qualities that make the use of plastic in different areas of industry and production very attractive, which leads to an over-consumption of plastic goods such as plastic bags, packaging, straws or bottles. Coupled with littering and polluting, plastic represents a danger for nature, our environment and the animal kingdom.

A plastic bag takes about 10-20 years to decompose, while a plastic bottle needs about 450 years until it’s completely decayed. If you imagine the amount of already existing plastic trash, and the amount that is added daily, the likelihood to eliminate it from our oceans completely seems impossible.

One of the main problems is recycling, or the fact that many people are not aware what proper  recycling, and the conscious use of plastic goods could change. Different types of trash are usually put in one bin together, regardless of the possibility to help saving the environment by just separating it. Bags, bottles and packaging are often dropped on the ground where they start polluting the environment.

Each and every person that consumes plastic goods daily has to rethink their use of it. Even small changes of the amount we use and how we recycle it can make a big difference. Separating our trash, recycling plastic, minimizing the use of plastic or the use of biodegradable plastic can help. There is no way to undo it, but we can prevent the worldwide problem from getting worse.

History of the Crusaders

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Kevin Bolt,Switzerland

In the year 1095 after Christ, Pope Urban II called in the Council of Clermont at the beginning of the Crusades.

 

In the spring of 1096, the Crusaders broke up into four armies under the leadership of French princes.

 

The religion of Islam, founded by the Arab Mohammed in Mecca 630, became a threat to Byzantium. As the holy places of Christianity in Jerusalem were also in the hands of the Arabs, the Pope called for the First Crusade.

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In the year 1099, the Crusaders succeed in conquering Jerusalem. 

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 The siege lasted five weeks. During this time, the Crusaders set up an appalling massacre among the Islamic and Jewish populations.

 

The goal of the crusade had been reached and more than one million people had lost their lives in this war.

 

: 1096-1099 First Crusade

: (15.7.1099 Storming of Jerusalem

: 1147-1149 Second Crusade

: 1189-1192 Third Crusade

: 1202-1204 Fourth Crusade 

: 1218-1229 Fifth crusade

: 1248-1254 Sixth crusade

: 1270 Seventh Crusade

 

The Seventh Crusade was also called the Children’s Crusade. Crusade undertaken by French and German children, in which they moved, from religious zeal, to the thousands to Genoa and Marseille, and perished miserably or were sold as slaves on the way.

 

The consequences of the Crusades:

The formation of Knights ‘ order

(Templar order, Order of St. John and Teutonic Order.

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Ranking of the order of the Knights Templar:

Since there was a well-organized hierarchy among the Templars, it was possible for them to set up a powerful army.

There were a large number of well-trained knights in the main quarters who guarded the fortresses on the one hand and were on call for the fight on the other.
In addition to these knights, there were sergeants and squires who belonged to the Templars.

 

Grandmaster–he acted like a sovereign
• Seneschal-he was the second highest dignitary • Marshal-was responsible for the training of the Knights

• Komtur – responsible for the provinces and treasurers

• Schneider – provided the Knights with the necessary garments depending on the seasons

• Fighting Brothers Knights – were members of the aristocracy – their possessions: 3 horses, a squire and a tent

• Serving Brothers Sergeants – came from a non-aristocratic family and possessed 1 horse

• Under Marshal-subjected to the marshal-was treated similarly to a knight

• Banner Carrier – was sergeant and responsible for all squires

• Squire – Stood up to the knight in battle and took care of the equipment and the horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appenzell

Raphaela Vogel, Switzerland

Appenzell is a region in the northeast of Switzerland. I will show you some of the places you have to see:

Mountains: Alpstein

In Appenzell, there are a lot of mountains. Altogether they are called Alpstein. The biggest mountain in Alpstein is called Saentis, which is 8,216 feet (2,504 m).  In the summer, there are a lot of hiking trails. In the winter you can go skiing and go for a winter walk in the snow.

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One of the most popular mountains in Appenzell is called Ebenalp. It became very popular because of a restaurant on the way up. The restaurant is called Aescher and it was built precariously into the face of the rock.

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Cheese factory

Another typical thing for Appenzell is the cheese. We have our own cheese called “Appenzeller cheese”. In a little village called Stein, we have our cheese factory. Overthere you can look over the shoulders of the cheesemaker and you will see how they produce their cheese. And if you like, you have the possibility to make your own cheese. Of course, there is also a restaurant and a shop where you can eat something or buy some cheese or a souvenir.

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Appenzell (City)

The capital of Appenzell has the same name as the region. In this city, you can see some typical houses for this area. And, of course, you can spend some time in this cute city. If you would like to learn something about the culture of this region you can go to the museum. There they will show you all about their lifestyle and their culture.

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Silversterchlausen

There is something that only exists in Appenzell. It is called Silversterchlausen. Each year at New Year’s Eve, some groups of six men (Silversterchlauese) go from house to house. First, they will sing together. After that, they will wish you a lucky New Year!

There are two different kinds of Silversterchlaeuse. We called them “The Beautiful Ones” (picture on the left) and “The Ugly Ones” (picture on the right).

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World Scout Jamboree

Brando Facente, Italy

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The World Scout Jamboree, is a scouting jamboree with scouts from all over the world, typically attended by tens of thousands of scouts, aged 14 to 17.

The first World Scout Jamboree was organized by The Boy Scout Association in London in 1920, by the founder of scoutism, Robert Baden-Powell.The Jamboree has been organized approximately every four years, in the more recent years by the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM).

The next World Scout Jamboree will be in the USA July-August 2019. The Jamboree 2019 will take place in Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR), located in Fayette and Raleigh Counties, near Bekley, West Virginia.

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What is the reason to make this big event every four years?

The primary intention is to unite people to make friends at young age to make sure that people can avoid wars in the future.Secondly, scouts can share their experiences and their knowledge on scouting, Lastly they can enjoy a gorgeous experience and an exciting adventure.

What do people do in the World Scout Jamboree?

The scouts live in a huge camp, with camping tents. The guys have some activities about a topic. Usually the items are about the main topic (for example the topic of next Jamboree will be Unlock a New World). Other free Activities like climbing, rafting and other amazing activities.

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How many countries participate?

In the last Jamboree in Japan, 155 countries participated, with 33,628 people. But the world is big and unfortunately some countries are richer or closer than others, and not everybody has enough money to participate. In the spirit of World Scout Jamboree, all scouts pay a proportionate fee to their country of origin   to allow everyone to participate.

I went to Sweden for the 22nd World Scout Jamboree in 2011 when I was 15. The jamboree was one of the best experiences of my life. I met scouts from all over the world, ate food from many different countries, I discovered we are very similar to each other we need to work together and break down all the walls.

 

A Beautiful View That You Need To See in Santa Barbara

Floortje Klein Schiphorst, The Netherlands

The name of the place is Knapp’s Castle in Santa Barbara. Knapp’s Castle is a privately-owned landmark ruined mansion in the Santa Ynez Mountains near Santa Barbara. Located near East Camino Cielo in the Los Padres National Forest, the ridge-top site has a panoramic view of Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez Valley. It is a popular destination for photographers and hikers.

George Owen Knapp, founder of Union Carbide, built Knapp’s Castle in 1916. In 1940, Frances Holden bought the property and invited her friend, world famous opera singer Lotte Lehmann, to move in. The mansion was destroyed  by a forest fire only five weeks later, and now only the massive sandstone foundations, fireplace pillars and walls of the original seven structures remain intact. The parcel is still privately owned, but open to the public.

This is not my video but here you can see what Knapp’s Castle looks like:

A lot of people go there and see the sunset. You have a beautiful view and amazing pictures. It is a place where you need to go. You need to climb on the walls to take the nice pictures like the one below. You can see here the pictures I took when I was there:

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If you want to go to Knapp’s Castle, you need to go by car. It’s a road to the mountains that is too long to walk. You need to park your car next to the road and walk the last part. My advice is to have warm clothes with you because it could be cold on the top of the mountain with a lot of wind.

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The Tran-Siberian Experience

By Lisa Pistocco, Italy

Have you always dreamed of travelling through Russia to the border of Mongolia? Seeing the most beautiful landscapes of Siberia? Discovering the Russian culture by meeting locals?
Here’s my story.

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Walking on the Baikal Lake was incredible

After my second year of applied languages, I decided to spend my last year of college in Russia. I had the opportunity to travel a lot, and moreover, to experience the Tran-Siberian Railroad.
For the ones who don’t know, let me explain to you what it is. The Tran-Siberian Railroad is a railway in Russia, extending from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific. This railway was constructed from 1891 to 1916, and is now one of the most famous railways in the world.

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Joanna and I waiting for our train in Ekaterinburg

I decided to experience it because, while I was there, I was so impressed by all that had happened in the country. I was impressed, but also curious. Curious about Russian people’s way to live, to be, and above all curious about this huge country.

Because yes; Russia is the world’s largest nation. It borders European and Asian countries as well as the Pacific and Artic Oceans. Russia has incredible landscapes ranges from tundra and forests to subtropical beaches. How could I not be curious? Most of you know Moscow and St. Petersburg, but in my opinion, Russia is not –or not only- Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russia is all the other things that nobody knows. Russia is humanity, culture, landscapes, and mutual aid for each other.

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Novossibirsk, Capital of Siberia

Joanna –my favourite German friend in the whole world- and I talked about taking this trip one day. “Do you want to do the Tran-Siberian?” she asked me. My answer? “Yes of course!!” and 3 weeks later we were good to go.

Of course, it wasn’t easy to plan, to collect all the information, to book the train tickets, but we had enough motivation to go through with it.

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First of all, we had to find which cities we wanted to visit, because the Tran-Siberian Railroad crosses all of Russia, and stopping in every city wasn’t possible as we had only one month to do it.
We decided where we wanted to go and our decision was to the border of Mongolia; Ulan-Ude.

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Ulan-Ude, capital city of the Republic of Buryatia

To make this trip possible, you need to be conscious of the hard weather in Russia during the time we were going to be there. Of course, if you do it during the summer time, you’ll not have that much of a problem, but we did it during the winter period, which not everybody is able to do.

Temperatures were most of the time below -4F°. The most important to think then is to buy enough warm clothes that allow you to keep you warm!

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It’s really cold in Siberia, but so much fun also

Once we bought our clothes, our train tickets, and booked all the hostels, we were good to go.
Oh, I forgot something really important to take: FOOD.

Because, of course, while you are on the train –for 14h, 21h, 37h, 73h- you need food. And in the train, it’s not really possible to eat. It depends on which train, you can have the possibility to find a restaurant wagon. If there isn’t, you need to buy some dry noodles, and food that you can eat without warming and putting in the refrigerator.

 

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34hours of train on our way to Irkutsk

 

It was one of the best experiences I ever had, I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and I made so many unforgettable memories. I can only recommend to you to take this trip, but also just to enjoy your life. Enjoy your life by meeting people, travelling, and be happy.

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Dogs for People with Challenges

By Luca Wislsperger, Germany

For many years people had to go through difficulties and had to struggle with doing certain tasks or activities by their own, but now they can have a support dog.

Emotional support dogs are dogs that provide comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like service dogs are. They are meant only for emotional stability and unconditional love.

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There are 2 different types of support dogs:

One kind is the emotional support dog which can assist with various kinds of mental and emotional conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts/tendencies.

The Therapy dog which provides affection and comforts to individuals in hospitals and nursing homes. It is also used, as you can guess, for therapies so the clients have certain lessons together with these dogs to cure different types of diseases.

The second one is the service dog that is helpful for people which are limited by their disabilities so they function as an assistant for performing a normal life.

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Have you thought of making your dog a service, therapy or emotional dog?

Some people say that the dog is the humans’ best friend. Whether or not this is true, it is certainly a fact that dogs can provide a lot of help and companionship for those with disabilities. If you have been wondering how to make your dog a service dog, an emotional support dog, or a therapy dog, there a lot of companies like “USA Service Dogs” that help you to train your dog to these kind of assistant.

Here is a link to a website where you can train your own dog: https://zoomroom.me/portal/own-your-own-zoom-room/?utm_campaign=1045189562&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=247365016752&utm_term=%2Bown%20%2Bdog%20%2Btraining&adgroupid=58184426624

How much does a service dog cost?

The price range for a service dog can be anywhere from $3,000 to train it personally to as much as $35,000 if you use a popular and expensive organization.

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It generally takes 1–2 years to train a service dog. The dog must be trained to mitigate your disability and must behave appropriately in public to avoid being removed. This means there are two main facets of service dog training: first of all public access behaviors and secondly disability-related work and tasks.

Rescue Dogs:

There is also another type of support dog. It is used for environmental catastrophes like the heavy mud slides in Montecito the previous month.

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For this disaster the firefighters use highly trained search dogs, most of them were schooled by the “National Disaster Search Dog Foundation”, located in Santa Paula.

It’s a private non-profit organization where the dogs are trained for about 8-10 months. Afterwards they can tell you if a body is either still alive or dead. Furthermore, they can differ between a live body and fresh clothes. The dogs which are only trained to detect dead bodies are called “cadaver dogs” or “HR” which stands for human remains dogs.

15 Question Interview with an EF Student

  1. If you could drink only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

– Water.

  1. What is your biggest goal in life?

– To be happy all my life.

  1. How old do you think our substitute teacher Kevin is?

– 28.

  1. What do you think you will be doing in 20 years?

– I think I will have a good job and my own family, and hopefully be married.

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

– I think, in Spain.

  1. Who is the most important person to you?

– My sister.

  1. What makes you happy?

– The sun, going out with friends, my family, and eating.

  1. What makes you sad?

– If I see other people being sad or unhappy.

  1. Who is your biggest inspiration?

– My grandmother.

  1. Do you have any big regrets in life?

– My ex-boyfriend.

  1. Why did you come to Santa Barbara?

– Because I wanted to learn English in a sunny place and I heard a lot of good things  about Santa Barbara.

  1. What do you talk about to avoid awkward silence?

– Always asking the other person questions.

  1. Where is the best place to spend a Saturday night?

– In a good club.

  1. What would be the first thing you bought if you won 10 million dollars?

– A car and a house.

  1. What is important in a best friend?

– That you can always go back to the same person, knowing that she would never abandon you.