Permalink to The high price of perpetual fear

The high price of perpetual fear

I've gone on for a long time about fear making humans stupid, and even about it being a weapon and a brain poison. But I've also wondered at times whether people would hit fear-fatigue... that point where people have simply had enough fear and walk out from under it. As it turns out, however, I was a bit optimistic on fear fatigue. I've been reading Robert Sapolsky's newest book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best And Worst, and was disappointed to learn what the best new research shows on the long-term application of fear. (Or, in the academic terminology, sustained stress.) My disappointment, however, was soon tempered by two things: I gained information on how fear poisoning works. That human neurology is immensely variable, that there are exceptions to everything, and that if the whole picture were actually...

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Permalink to SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Interview with John Buchanan: Alfred North Whitehead – A Philosophy For Our Time

SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Interview with John Buchanan: Alfred North Whitehead – A Philosophy For Our Time

We've made numerous references to Alfred North Whitehead and process philosophy on MindMatters, but who was Whitehead, and what makes his philosophy so interesting, and relevant? Today on the show, we are joined by John Buchanan, co-editor of the recently released volume Rethinking Consciousness, in which he has a paper highlighting the similarities between Jim Carpenter's first sight theory and Whitehead's process philosophy. In our discussion with John we discuss Whitehead, some of the things that made his philosophy so revolutionary, why he isn't more well known today, and why he should be. His philosophy rejects the atheism and materialism of the current 'scientific' worldview, making room for the entire range of human experience. Another advantage is that Whitehead as a mathematician was well versed in the relativity and quantum theories that have come to characterize our contemporary science and...

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Permalink to Children use both brain hemispheres to understand language, unlike adults says new finding

Children use both brain hemispheres to understand language, unlike adults says new finding

Infants and young children have brains with a superpower, of sorts, say Georgetown University Medical Center neuroscientists. Whereas adults process most discrete neural tasks in specific areas in one or the other of their brain's two hemispheres, youngsters use both the right and left hemispheres to do the same task. The finding suggests a possible reason why children appear to recover from neural injury much easier than adults. The study, published Sept. 7, 2020, in PNAS, focuses on one task — language — and finds that to understand language (more specifically, processing spoken sentences), children use both hemispheres. This finding fits with previous and ongoing research led by Georgetown neurology professor Elissa L. Newport, PhD, a former postdoctoral fellow Olumide Olulade, MD, PhD, and neurology assistant professor Anna Greenwald, PhD. "This is very good news for young children who experience...

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BEST OF THE WEB: Will you choose freedom?

In George Orwell's classic dystopian novel "1984," protagonist Winston wonders whether he is the only person who retains a real memory and doubts the narrative of The Party. He has no way to find out whether everyone else truly believes the government-revised version of history, or simply acts like they do; discussing such matters is verboten, punishable by vaporization: deletion from history. Fortunately we are not quite at that point in the United States — no one has yet been vaporized. However, we seem to be imprisoned by the force of social disapproval just as surely as Winston was imprisoned by the threat of instant death. Millions of lockdown opponents won't make their position known even to their closest family and friends; taking a position publicly is unthinkable — they would lose social standing, clients, and possibly even their jobs....

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Scientists induce psychedelic-like experiences from a placebo alone

New research recently published in Psychopharmacology provides evidence that inert placebo pills can induce psychedelic-like effects, including perceptual alterations. The findings highlight the importance of expectations and context when ingesting psychedelic substances. The study also sheds some light on the mystery of so-called contact highs. "I am interested in placebos generally and in particular in maximizing their effects. When I was reading clinical trials of psychedelic drugs, I was surprised by the low placebo effects reported in many studies," said study author Jay Olson, who recently earned his PhD in psychiatry from McGill University. "We have other evidence that people can have psychedelic-like effects without taking the drug. For example, in the case of 'contact highs' in which people feel the effects of drugs merely by being around people who have consumed the drug. Or, other people have reported having...

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More entitled people get angrier after experiencing bad luck

We've all had the experience of losing our temper when being treated unfairly by someone else. And while anger isn't the most pleasant emotion, it can be a useful social tool to signal to another person that we're not happy with how they're acting towards us. But what about when we suffer because of bad luck, rather someone else's actions? In that case it would seem to make little sense to get mad. And yet, a new study in Personality and Individual Differences finds that a certain group of people are more likely to show anger in such situations: those who feel like they are particularly entitled in the first place. Psychological entitlement is essentially a belief that you deserve more than others. People who score highly in entitlement tend to think that others should be accommodating of their own...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Interview with Alan Francis: The Fourth Way, Taoism and Spiritual Development

Today on MindMatters we interview Alan Francis, a longtime Fourth Way practitioner, teacher and author of the book Secrets of the Fourth Way. Alan is the founder of the Russian Center for Gurdjieff Studies as well as the International School of the Fourth Way, planned to open this coming winter. Our discussion covers a range of topics, from Alan's early life experiences that led him to the Fourth Way, basic Fourth Way topics like kundabuffer and Gurdjieff's take on kundalini, addiction, and fear, to 'powers and principalities', Taoist alchemy and its possible significance in relation to Gurdjieff's ideas and practice, concluding with a demonstration of a unique Fourth Way gymnastics exercise. Alan's Facebook group is accessible here. Running Time: 01:42:06 Download: MP3 — 93.5 MB ...

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Massive study suggests dreams are really continuations of reality

Where do dreams come from? It's an age-old question, something people have been wondering and theorising about for millennia. Whereas ancient civilisations may have interpreted dreams as having supernatural or spiritual origins, in modern society, we're more likely to analyse our dreams in terms of our waking life, looking for meaningful connections linking the content of dreams with lived experiences from our day-to-day existence. "Research has repeatedly provided strong support for what sleep scientists refer to as the 'continuity hypothesis of dreams': most dreams are a continuation of what is happening in everyday life," researchers led by computer scientist Alessandro Fogli from Roma Tre University in Italy explain in a new study. "It turns out that everyday life impacts dreaming (e.g. anxiety in life leads to dreams with negative affect) and vice versa (e.g. dreaming impacts problem-solving skills)." These psychological...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Dark Triad Politics: The Psychology of the Far Left and Alt Right

Narcissism, machiavellianism and psychopathy are the three components of what psychologists and social scientists call the 'Dark Triad' - personality traits that inform how one thinks and what one does. And dark they are because these personality features represent some of the very worst that humanity has to offer itself. As we continue to see the chaos and destruction being savaged on Western society by far left groups who claim to be fighting for justice and equality, some new studies go to show that their "liberal" sentiments belie a deeper pathology. What these activists are actually doing is acting out their Dark Triad tendencies - which fly in the face of the very values they claim to espouse and closely resemble their supposed political 'enemies' on the far right. This week on MindMatters we delve into the world of extremist...

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What personality traits predict psychopathy and sex drive?

New research examines the link the "Dark Tetrad" and other characteristics. It's a fine line between sanity and insanity, or so they say. But what about personality? How big is the difference between traits such as psychopathy and more common and socially approved ones? New research published in the European Journal of Psychological Assessment may hold an answer. A team of psychologists led by Delroy Paulhus of the University of British Columbia conducted a study in which they sought to map the four aspects of what is referred to as the "Dark Tetrad" to the five best-known and most widely researched dimensions of personality — that is, extraversion, openness to experience, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. ...

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