Science of the Spirit


Spanking children slows cognitive development and increases risk of criminal behavior, expert says

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Harsh punishment such as spanking has been shown to slow cognitive development and increase antisocial and criminal behavior.
A new book by Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Lab and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, brings together more than four decades of research that makes the definitive case against spanking, including how it slows cognitive development and increases antisocial and criminal behavior.

"The Primordial Violence" (Routledge, 2013) shows that the reasons parents hit those they love includes a lot more than just correcting misbehavior. It provides evidence on the effect spanking has on children, and what can be done to end it. The book features longitudinal data from more than 7,000 U.S. families as well as results from a 32-nation study and presents the latest research on the extent to which spanking is used in different cultures and the subsequent effects of its use on children and on society.

"Research shows that spanking corrects misbehavior. But it also shows that spanking does not work better than other modes of correction, such as time out, explaining, and depriving a child of privileges. Moreover, the research clearly shows that the gains from spanking come at a big cost. These include weakening the tie between children and parents and increasing the probability that the child will hit other children and their parents, and as adults, hit a dating or marital partner. Spanking also slows down mental development and lowers the probability of a child doing well in school," Straus says.

"More than 100 studies have detailed these side effects of spanking, with more than 90 percent agreement among them. There is probably no other aspect of parenting and child behavior where the results are so consistent," he says.


Psychiatrist investigates children's claims of past lives

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Associate Professor of Psychiatry Jim B. Tucker
When Ryan Hammons was 4 years old, he began directing imaginary movies. Shouts of "Action!" often echoed from his room.

But the play became a concern for Ryan's parents when he began waking up in the middle of the night screaming and clutching his chest, saying he dreamed his heart exploded when he was in Hollywood.

His mother, Cyndi, asked his doctor about the episodes. Night terrors, the doctor said. He'll outgrow them.Then one night, as Cyndi tucked Ryan into bed, Ryan suddenly took hold of Cyndi's hand.

"Mama," he said. "I think I used to be someone else."

He said he remembered a big white house and a swimming pool. It was in Hollywood, many miles from his Oklahoma home. He said he had three sons, but that he couldn't remember their names. He began to cry, asking Cyndi over and over why he couldn't remember their names.


Human brain hard-wired for rural tranquillity

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Study of brain activity shows it struggling to process complex urban landscapes
Humans may be hard-wired to feel at peace in the countryside and confused in cities - even if they were born and raised in an urban area.

According to preliminary results of a study by scientists at Exeter University, an area of the brain associated with being in a calm, meditative state lit up when people were shown pictures of rural settings. But images of urban environments resulted in a significant delay in reaction, before a part of the brain involved in processing visual complexity swung into action as the viewer tried to work out what they were seeing.

The study, which used an MRI scanner to monitor brain activity, adds to a growing body of evidence that natural environments are good for humans, affecting mental and physical health and even levels of aggression.

Dr Ian Frampton, an Exeter University psychologist, stressed the researchers still had more work to do, but said they may have hit upon something significant.


Psychiatrist Hyla Cass: First Do No Harm

Psychiatrist Hyla Cass says most psychiatrists simply label patients mentally ill based solely on symptoms and put them on dangerous and addictive drugs, instead of doing complete physical examinations to find and treat underlying medical conditions which can manifest as psychiatric symptoms. There are numerous non-harmful medical solutions that patients are not being offered. She also discusses the severe withdrawal effects of psychiatric drugs and what patients need to know about safely getting off of these drugs under a doctor's supervision.

Comment: The one underlying problem that often gets ignored is the very food we eat! See 'Carbohydrates rot the brain': Neurologist slams grains as 'silent brain killers' - and says we should be eating a high-fat diet and The Ketogenic Diet - An Overview for more information.

Cell Phone

People who can ignore texts or calls are likely to be more contented

Those attached to the phone are likely to be less happy than those who can resist a ring or a message alert, says a study

If you are constantly on your mobile phone, most onlookers might think you have lots of friends and a busy social life.

However, those attached to the phone are likely to be less happy than those who can resist a ring or a message alert, says a study.

Avid mobile phone users also suffer from higher anxiety while students see their class work suffer with lower marks than those who are able to switch off.

Cell Phone

Step away from your camera phone: Constantly taking photographs STOPS our brains remembering what happened

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This phenomenon has been dubbed 'photo-taking impairment effect.' If the participants took a photo of each object as a whole, they remembered fewer objects and fewer details. The researchers claim the findings highlight key differences between a person's memory and the camera's 'memory'

Taking a photo may seem like the most obvious way to remember a special occasion, but it could in fact be causing significant damage to your memory.

Researchers from Connecticut asked a group of students to recall what items in a museum looked like.

Those who had taken photos of the artefacts struggled to describe the objects, while those who hadn't, remembered them more clearly.

Dr Linda Henkel, from Fairfield University, who ran the study, calls this phenomenon 'photo-taking impairment effect'.

Dr Henkel is currently investigating whether the content of a photo, such as whether a person is in it, for example, affects memory.


Experiencing hardship is GOOD for you: People who have pulled through hard times are happier in the long-run

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Researchers presented adults with six positive scenarios, which included going on a hike (pictured) or looking at a waterfall and found those that had endured hardships were able to savour present pleasures more easily.

The most painful experiences in life may come with an eventual upside, by promoting the ability to appreciate life's small pleasures, scientists have said.

A new study suggests that people who have gone through divorce and coped with the death of a loved one, are better equipped to enjoy the little things in everyday life in the long-run.

A total of 14,986 adults were studied to see whether their exposure to life's hardships affected their ability to enjoy positive experiences.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Barcelona School of Management, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, first determined participants' exposure to painful experiences, including bereavement and divorce.


Thinking outside the hourglass

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This imposed artificial time constraint is a very subtle one, especially when you realize everything depends on perspective. We're clearly experiencing a manipulated, illusory cycle of time with parameters that make us feel contained, limited. And that's the intent. Closing in on your prey is an ingrained predatory behavior. If the subjects feel there's no escape, compliant behavior will eventually follow.

That's pretty clever on the part of the controllers, but it's only effective when you're not awake to what's going on.

Perceived containment has been proven time and again in even popular science to produce certain behaviors. Time is only one factor, but an important one as it is one of the more subtle ways they exert control and amplify fear. We cannot succumb to any of these false paradigms. Humanity is running to and fro in an effort to find solutions, but only within the confines they've been cleverly restricted to. It's a closed system with clearly defined limitations. We look within their constructed time-framed and otherwise controlled system for solutions when there are none to be found. And again, it's all by design.

The only true solution lies in conscious, transcendent awareness of the true big picture.

Playing By the Rules

Herein lies the big "catch". Similar to the obvious political right-left paradigm, we've been injected into a much more complex set of confining rules and regulations. They are adopted by assumption from the parameters we've been given. It's not possible to objectively discern our condition when we think we have all the information we need to make right decisions...when in reality we don't.

People 2

Why it's time for brain science to ditch the 'Venus and Mars' cliche

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There is little evidence to suggest differences between male and female brains are caused by anything other than cultural factors
Reports trumpeting basic differences between male and female brains are biological determinism at its most trivial, says the science writer of the year

As hardy perennials go, there is little to beat that science hacks' favourite: the hard-wiring of male and female brains. For more than 30 years, I have seen a stream of tales about gender differences in brain structure under headlines that assure me that from birth men are innately more rational and better at map-reading than women, who are emotional, empathetic multi-taskers, useless at telling jokes. I am from Mars, apparently, while the ladies in my life are from Venus.

Blue Planet

How Plato's 'The Republic' describes today's society

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The Republic (Greek: Πολιτεία, Politeia) is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. It is Plato's best-known work and has proven to be one of the most intellectually and historically influential works of philosophy and political theory. In it, Socrates along with various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man by considering a series of different cities coming into existence "in speech", culminating in a city (Kallipolis) ruled by philosopher-kings; and by examining the nature of existing regimes. The participants also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry in society.

In The Republic Plato describes four types of government - monarchy, oligarchy, tyranny, and democracy. The Allegory of the Cave is a discussion on human mentality and the body politic, our thinking and being. There are four types of people in the cave, though nowhere in the text are the characters overtly counted. In the cave there are the captors and captives. The captives in the cave are controlled and know nothing in life but the cave, worse they only know one wall of the cave. The captors use a fire to cast shadows on the wall the prisoners face to keep them captivated and distracted by a made up reality. Among the captives there are the chained and the unchained. The chained are held in place so that they can only look straight ahead and are convinced of the reality and moreover importance of the shadows. The unchained are transfixed with the images and convinced of the reality and moreover the importance of the shadows to the point they don't need chains. They are held by shadows, like elephants onto a string. Both the chained and unchained captives have no interest in their actual existence as captives in a cave. They are not conscious, they are not aware of self or their surroundings, or the captors, they are only aware of and concerned with the shadows.