Incense (العود / Oud) has been used to get rid of demons, jinn, and other evil spirits for thousands of years. Yet none can explain exactly why burning incense works. It is unfair to dismiss the claim that it works (absent immediate results and due to the invisibility of the target entities) given that this tradition was central to the life of Ancient Egyptians, Chinese Dynasties, Native Indians, Muslim Sufis, and many others.

Here’s a possible explanation that I put forward.  The best incense burns in blue color (e.g. blue Oud). Now remember that angels exist up there in the invisible ultra-violet portion of the frequency spectrum (blue sky/cloud association), while demons, jinn, the Devil, and evil spirits belong to the infra-red, the other end of the spectrum (underground). Burning blue incense is like exposing infra-red creatures to ultra-violet (blue) waves, and such exposure can drive these spirits from the exposure area. It is disruptive.  It is known that light of different wavelengths does not add or subtract frequency. The effect is not from interaction, but rather from exposure or existence of an unfavorable light (blue.)

It is possible instead of burning incense, based on this hypothesis, to use a blue light at home to drive evil spirits away. This also assumes that the aroma of burnt incense is irrelevant to the invisible entity and that it is more of a sensory need for humans to experience the magic of the event.  This is especially true that there’s no consensus on the smell of incense (sandalwood, myrrh, etc.) for effectiveness of evil spirit removal, suggesting a subjective human element.

This scientific explanation, while simple, it is coming to you over 5000 years too late 😉

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Difference is what creates a rate of change. No difference means no dynamics, and no life. This is why our eyes as they process images, they recognize change, identify patterns, and categorize the processed images. No difference means no pattern recognition. The same applies to hearing and the other senses. During pattern recognition, humans develop stereotypes based on categories such as race, color, ethnicity, nationalism, amongst other attributes that define “difference”. It is this difference that helps the person develop an identity, relative to others.  This difference “drives” behavior, and may cause prejudice.  This difference also produces competition.

The job of religion is to minimize this difference, it is to teach “impartiality” where recognized patterns of difference are downplayed by defining higher points of commonality (shared values.) This reduces the perceived rate of change, and results in peace – in theory.

In practice, religion, as a new pattern, in and by itself causes a new difference, this leads to additional labeling (Label Theory.) Muslim vs Christian, good vs evil labels, etc. In processing religious images and messages, humans always look for patterns of difference, to define “distinct” or different identity. Humans are not designed to look for points of commonality, otherwise less difference (less competition) is the result. Commonality is less exciting.

While all religions espouse impartiality and equality, in practice they produce partiality, bias, and injustice. More wars were fought in the name of religion than in any other attribute of difference.

Impartiality, coupled with force / power, leads to war and injustice, as powerful Impartiality imposes its position on others  (through media, war, etc.) The USA is case in point today.

The lesson here, impartiality is there by design, and balance of power between competing players is the only way to keep the peace. Defining global human values can help keep the difference in check. Otherwise,  strongly actuated difference have to be dealt with either by direct confrontation  (war/conflict), or implicit competition (cold war.) There will always be winners and losers. Welcome to difference, welcome to life on earth!


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Growth is always seen as a positive attribute until it reaches your own body. If I tell you, for example, I will grow your wallet or your bank account by a few thousand dollars,  this is seen as a good proposal. But if I tell you, grow your body bigger by 20%, this is seen as a negative proposal. Wallet fatter ok, waist line fatter, not OK. So what gives?

The difference, in short, is in the infrastructure.  You cannot build a Dodge Ram size vehicle on a Mini Cooper vehicle chassis. But if you do, you will overload and maybe break that Mini chassis. The same concept applies in the case of your body, since the infrastructure  (your chassis / skeleton / backbone) is “fixed”, any additional growth (beyond normal BMI) is seen as negative since such growth will strain your body and its organs (engine/heart overload, also auxiliary/organs overload). The only way adding pounds to your body will be seen as positive is when you can scale up your skeleton; add 1 foot of skeletal structure along your height, hypothetically, and add a few pounds, no problem whatsoever.

In the process of growing a business, operators forget to scale up their business quickly.  Your business grows by 50%, then you don’t keep the same business skeleton, you will need to hire more people, invest in new facilities,  or else you will strain your resources, and your best workers will leave you (or fail on you,  similar to body kidney failure with overload.)

When you get a bigger family, you will need to scale up; bigger home, hire maid service, etc. Absent that,  the system will not be sustainable, unhappiness ensues.

The lesson learnt; good growth is accompanied with commensurate infrastructural growth. This may seem like common sense, but it is most frequently ignored because of the immediate added cost to scale up the infrastructure.  The long-term cost of not adding it quickly is much higher.

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So which comes first? As young kids, we use Lego bricks to build structures and ideas- some designs of sorts. This is synthesis. Once you have the first completed structure,  you can do some analysis, then decide to reiterate on the design to improve it. Synthesis takes place again – as new ideas are synthesized / compounded. Your first Lego car design had no wheels, the 2nd one did as you discovered the first car didn’t roll. Synthesis first. Engineering is all about this continuous process of synthesis-analysis-synthesis. God does not need to do any of this, he creates things perfect, at first go – no iterative synthesis. We, on the other hand, err every step of the way. So synthesis is our way of saying we cannot see the optimal design right away, we have to work hard to understand things. All those corporate departments of research and development, analysis groups, etc are an acknowlegment of how little we know a priori.

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