BEST OF THE WEB FLASHBACK: Moral Outrage is Actually Self-Serving, NOT Altruistic, Say Psychologists

Perpetually raging about the world's injustices? You're probably overcompensating When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don't affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism — a "disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others." But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern — what social scientists refer to as "moral outrage" — is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one's own status as a Very Good Person. Outrage expressed "on behalf of the victim of moral violation" is often thought of as "a prosocial emotion" rooted in "a desire to restore justice by fighting on behalf of the victimized," explain Bowdoin psychology professor Zachary Rothschild and University of Southern Mississippi psychology professor Lucas...

Read More

Why evolutionary psychologists are wrong about COVID-19 leading women to cheat

Is it really true that, as a recent column in a psychology magazine claims, women are more likely to cheat during the COVID-19 crisis? An evolutionary psychologist thinks so; let's explore this a bit. First, philosopher Subrena E. Smith (right) has recently pointed out that evolutionary psychology (EP) is a doubtful enterprise in science, maybe an "impossible" one. EP's basis is modern folklore: The claim that we inherited modules from the Stone Age that govern our behavior with respect to "predator avoidance, mate selection, and cheater detection" — which sold paperbacks in the 1980s — do not correlate with neuroscience findings about the human brain. We have not found any such modules. We have no way of knowing whether the neural correlates of our behavior are the same as those of humans who lived under very different circumstances 50,000 years...

Read More

SOTT FOCUS: The World Desperately Needs The Wisdom of Bobby Kennedy, Now More Than Ever

Today's fires which have spread across America in the wake of George Floyd's murder at the knee of Minnesota police officer Derick Chauvin has presented America with the chance to do some serious soul-searching. It has also presented certain Deep State opportunists, color revolutionaries and anarchism-financing billionaires a chance to unleash what some are calling an "America's Maidan" in the hopes of accomplishing what four years of Russiagate failed to do. The fact that these riots have occurred at a moment when America finds itself seriously reviving the spirit of JFK's space vision is an irony that in many ways parallels the earlier "pregnant moment" of 1968. (In case you are not aware, NASA has officially revived manned space launches on May 28 for the first time since Obama killed the Saturn rocket program in 2011, establishing a new program...

Read More

Music synchronizes brains of audiences with their performers

The more people enjoy music, the more similar their brain activity is to that of the musician When a concert opens with a refrain from your favorite song, you are swept up in the music, happily tapping to the beat and swaying with the melody. All around you, people revel in the same familiar music. You can see that many of them are singing, the lights flashing to the rhythm, while other fans are clapping in time. Some wave their arms over their head, and others dance in place. The performers and audience seem to be moving as one, as synchronized to one another as the light show is to the beat. A new paper in the journal NeuroImage has shown that this synchrony can be seen in the brain activities of the audience and performer. And the greater the...

Read More

New research shows for the evolution of intelligence, parents matter

Humans are not the only species that enjoy prolonged childhoods: elephants, whales, dolphins and some bats and birds do also. Is this what makes us smart? And if so, how important are long-suffering parents? Exploring this with corvids - songbirds that hang around their parents in and out of the nest and have large brains relative to body size - researchers found those that spent more time with parents learned faster and lived longer. How intelligence developed has long fascinated evolutionary scientists, with several theories such as brain-to-body size ratio. But, considering large brains take a long time to grow, not many theories have given due credit to parents for shaping their offspring's cognitive development. Michael Griesser, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, recognised there must be an evolutionary perk to extended parenting. "Brains are weird adaptations - they come...

Read More

First-of-its-kind study hints at how psilocybin works in the brain to dissolve ego

The psychedelic experience can be rough on a person's ego. Those who experiment with magic mushrooms and LSD often describe a dissolution of the self, otherwise known as ego-death, ego-loss, or ego-disintegration. For some, the experience is life-changing; for others, it's downright terrifying. Yet despite anecdote after anecdote of good trips and bad trips, no one really knows what these drugs actually do to our perception of self. The human brain's cortex is where the roots of self awareness are thought to lie, and growing evidence has shown the neurotransmitter, glutamate, is elevated in this region when someone is tripping. But up until now we've only had observational evidence. Now, for the first time, researchers have looked directly into how taking psilocybin affects glutamate activity in the brain. And the evidence suggests that our tripping experience, whether good or bad,...

Read More

Strongest solar flares in years coincide with riots, reminding us that solar activity and unrest are historically linked

With so many dramatic and consuming events taking place in our world, it's easy to forget that as human beings we are deeply affected by all of the cosmic events taking place in the universe around us. We are beings of frequency in a universe made of energy. Major civil unrest, protesting and rioting began to foment in the United States on the 28th of May, and on the night of the 29th, the unrest spread to over 30 American cities, marking the most significant incident of unrest many of us have ever seen. While these events are deeply rooted in societal tension that has been building for decades, the timing of recent flare ups of unrest happens to coincide with a new wave of solar activity including the strongest solar flare we've seen in three years. "Solar flares are...

Read More

Intelligence distribution: Why so few female CEOs? Same reason few women on death row

Despite all the efforts of equalization, women in high-ranking corporate positions are still exceedingly rare. But they are almost as rare in the dredges of society - and the reasons for both run deeper than sexism. It is more than passing curious that at a time when women constitute roughly half the workforce, and are in the actual majority in terms of earning college degrees, there are still so few female CEOs. The distaff side accounts for CEOs in only 167 out of 3,000 large companies, which translates into a rather modest 5.5 percent of the total. Various explanations have been put forth to account for this fact. Women do a disproportionate share of household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, childcare, shopping. This accounts for some of the gap, but not all of it. Females are less ambitious; they do...

Read More

Spiritual emergency: Western treatment of psychosis is thoroughly wrong-headed

What do you think of hallucinations? Do you wonder how they work? Recently I talked about this with a woman I know well, who was experiencing some as we spoke. Her hallucinations included 'bugs' - microphones that she saw scattered around the room that she assumed had been put there because she was coming in, by people who wanted to keep track of everything she said, and might hurt her at any point. She could see the bugs, but I could not. Martha is in her mid 30s. Her bright blonde hair is natural. She sat on one side of a corner from me, her body tense and passive at once, the odd mixture one sees with people who are gripped with inner distress but whose musculature is flattened out by atypical antipsychotics. She carries the tight, extra weight that...

Read More

How kind is humankind? Kinder than we imagine

Augustine had it that 'no one is free from sin, not even an infant'. Machiavelli deemed that humans are 'ungrateful, fickle hypocrites', and even the founding father John Adams, the paragon of American democracy, was sure that all men would be tyrants if they could. Thucydides, Luther, Calvin, Burke, Bentham, Nietzsche, Freud — all were wrong about our natures. So was William Golding, creator of Lord of the Flies, himself a child-beater and a drunk. For a treatise on human kindness, Rutger Bregman's new book Humankind has surprisingly many villains. Here's 'a radical idea... a mind-bending drug... denied by religions and ideologies', we're told. Humans are not evil. Deep down, at least most of us are pretty decent. Left to their own devices, children will not tear each other apart on an island: quite the opposite. In the clash between...

Read More