BEST OF THE WEB: Memento mori, or love in the age of corona

In recent weeks, I've learned not to post anything on Facebook, because people decide I'm a hater if I so much as suggest that there might be another metric worth considering besides the coronavirus mortality rate. So I won't open that can of worms here, except to say that risk management entails looking at a variety of factors, not exclusively public health. The strength of the economy, the stability of society, the prevalence of psychological illness, and the death tolls of other diseases - all these are relevant factors to take into account. A purely epidemiological approach is necessarily narrow-minded. It doesn't do us much good to save, say, one thousand lives from COVID-19 if we've condemned our nation to a decade or more of grinding poverty. Chronic unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure, the loss of businesses and the lifetime of...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: The Hidden Psychological Depth of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

The tragic fall that started it all... Darth Vader: we're all familiar with the hulking half-man half-machine embodiment of inhuman domination, brutal ambition and a malevolent will to rule the galaxy with a robotic fist - as portrayed in the very widely seen and loved Star Wars series. But as we look back at what made these almost mythical stories great to begin with, we are reminded of who this character was before he became such a powerful agent of the dark side. As shown in the Star Wars prequels, and particularly in the mostly-overlooked film, Episode III: Revenge of The Sith, we learn that the person who was to become Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker, was first a Jedi, a prodigious and sincere student of the force, and one of a number of warrior priests who sought to protect the...

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Musical scales are a prehistoric gift to the modern world

During the last a few months, several groups have come up with interesting publications on how music affects the mind. The first is a report on March 1 from a group from Indiana University in the U.S., stating that music may overcome delirium in critically ill patients. Such patients experience acute mental disturbance, with speech disorder and hallucinations. The researchers attempted to try music as a drug-free intervention in 117 such patients, and gave half of them music - either their own personally chosen music (PM), or relaxing slow tempo music (STM), and compared them with a control group which was not offered music. The music was offered to the experimental group for 1 hour, twice daily for a week, and their progress noted. Results revealed that such music delivery (PM or STM, either was OK) reduced the incidence of...

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Science review confirms yoga benefits your brain

With a history spanning thousands of years, yoga (in a wide variety of forms) has proven its benefits experientially across generations. Modern science is also confirming its usefulness for people seeking improved mental and physical health and fitness conditioning. Like many (if not most) other forms of exercise, yoga, though mild in comparison, has also been shown to support healthy brain function and stave off neurological decline. ...

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Free won’t? How Libet’s free will research is misrepresented

In a recent podcast, "Free Will or Free Won't?", Robert J. Marks (left) and Dr. Michael Egnor discussed free will, free won't, predestination, and the brain, as seen from the perspective of neuroscientist Benjamin Libet's findings about brain activity when people make decisions (partial transcript here). In the transcribed portion below (the second half), they looked at how Libet's findings have been misrepresented to suit doctrines of naturalism/materialism: 10:00 | The misrepresentation of Benjamin Libet's experiments Robert J. Marks: You mentioned that Libet's experiment of free won't is actually misrepresented by materialists. Could you elaborate on that a little bit? ...

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How well do you know the back of your hand, really?

Many of us are spending a lot of time looking at our hands lately and we think we know them pretty well. But research from York University's Centre for Vision Research shows the way our brains perceive our hands is inaccurate. In a new study, the Centre's director Laurence Harris, a Psychology professor in York's Faculty of Health, and graduate student Sarah D'Amour, found the brain's representation of the back of hands changes depending on the orientation in which they are held. The study published the journal, Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) today looked at how accurate healthy individuals are at judging the size of the back and the palm of their hand and how perception of hand size might be affected when viewing the hand in familiar or unfamiliar perspectives. Using a novel technique that revealed the indivduals'...

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Be conscious of what you are thinking

Since the dawn of New Age thought, proponents have emphasized the power of the mind in controlling biology. The notion of self-empowerment in managing health was adamantly condemned by the pharmaceutical industry, an industry whose livelihood is based upon selling drugs as the only path in controlling health. The public's perception that pharmaceuticals are the only way to regain health is conditioned by the industry's onslaught of drug commercials every ten minutes in TV programming. The financial power of the drug companies has also been used to manipulate medical school curricula so that practitioners are trained to devalue the role of the mind while they are encouraged to write drug prescriptions for their patients. While medical practitioners have essentially dismissed the role of the mind in influencing health, science has fully established that a minimum of one third, and up...

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For the full life experience, put down the devices and walk

Pedestrian: a word fitted to the most drab, tedious and monotonous moments of life. We don't want to live pedestrian lives. Yet maybe we should. Many of history's great thinkers have been pedestrians. Henry David Thoreau and William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Walt Whitman, Friedrich Nietzsche and Virginia Woolf, Arthur Rimbaud, Mahatma Gandhi, William James - all were writers who hinged the working of their minds to the steady movement of their feet. They felt the need to get up and get the blood moving, leaving the page to put on a hat and go outside for a stroll. In doing so, they were in step with the antipodal forces of motion and rest, an impetus written into the laws of nature. How many of us today are able to free ourselves from the page and head out the...

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BEST OF THE WEB: Viktor Frankl: Saying Yes to Life in Difficult Times

Man's Search for Meaning is one of the most powerful arguments for human dignity of the 20th Century. The author is Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and a Jew, who spent about three years in concentration camps, including Auschwitz. His father, mother, brother and his pregnant wife all perished in the camps. Frankl was astonishingly productive and soon after he was released in April 1945, he was back at work. The next year he wrote his memoir of Auschwitz. In German the title of the first edition was Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager, which translates roughly as "In spite of everything, say Yes to life: a psychologist's experience of the concentration camp". Later he added a section reflecting on his experiences and sketching what became the third school of Viennese psychology, logotherapy. Man's Search for...

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