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Sun, 14 Feb 2016
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Stepping 'outside' of ourselves expands our view of our thinking, our emotional awareness

New research finds that distance can be the key to cracking your dilemmas.

© What-buddha-said.net
It's easy to become rigidly fixed within a view of who you are ("This is just the way I am"), and to become unable to envision possibilities for expanding your personal capacities, thinking, and emotions outside of that fixed view. Unfortunately, this disables you from enlarging your perspective, which is necessary to solve conflicts or problems that you feel stuck inside of, or unable to change or alter.

President Dwight Eisenhower reportedly said that if you're having difficulty understanding a problem and how to solve it, "enlarge" it. That applies to life beyond the battlefield or White House. That is, "enlarging" how you envision a problem or situation you're stuck within can free you from the limitations of the perspective that imprisons you to begin with.

New empirical research demonstrates this, and shows that, in effect, distancing yourself from a problem or conflict enhances your reasoning, and helps you find new solutions through a broadened perspective. For a study reported in Psychological Science, Igor Grossmann of the University of Waterloo and Ethan Kross from the University of Michigan examined the ability to recognize the limits of one's own knowledge, search for a compromise, consider the perspectives of others, and recognize the possible ways in which the scenario could unfold.

The research found that you may think about a conflict more wisely if you consider it as an outside observer would.

"These results are the first to demonstrate a new type of bias within ourselves when it comes to wise reasoning about an interpersonal relationship dilemma," Grossmann says. "We call the bias 'Solomon's Paradox,' after the king who was known for his wisdom, but who still failed at making personal decisions."

Comment: Due to the nature of the adaptive unconscious, an outside observer would necessarily see situations more wisely, objectively. Read the discussion on our forum based on Timothy Wilson's book, Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious


World's largest Near Death Experiences (NDEs) study published

Dr Sam Parnia
Recollections in relation to death, so-called out-of-body experiences (OBEs) or near-death experiences (NDEs), are an often spoken about phenomenon which have frequently been considered hallucinatory or illusory in nature; however, objective studies on these experiences are limited.

In 2008, a large-scale study involving 2060 patients from 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom, United States and Austria was launched. The AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study, sponsored by the University of Southampton in the UK, examined the broad range of mental experiences in relation to death. Researchers also tested the validity of conscious experiences using objective markers for the first time in a large study to determine whether claims of awareness compatible with out-of-body experiences correspond with real or hallucinatory events.

Comment: The paper, Parnia S, et al. AWARE - AWAreness during REsuscitation - A prospective study. Resuscitation, 2014 is available here


Toddlers regulate behavior to avoid making adults angry

© Compassionate Sleep Solutions
When kids say "the darnedest things," it's often in response to something they heard or saw. This sponge-like learning starts at birth, as infants begin to decipher the social world surrounding them long before they can speak.

Now researchers at the University of Washington have found that children as young as 15 months can detect anger when watching other people's social interactions and then use that emotional information to guide their own behavior.

The study, published in the October/November issue of the journal Cognitive Development, is the first evidence that younger toddlers are capable of using multiple cues from emotions and vision to understand the motivations of the people around them.

"At 15 months of age, children are trying to understand their social world and how people will react," said lead author Betty Repacholi, a faculty researcher at UW's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences and an associate professor of psychology. "In this study we found that toddlers who aren't yet speaking can use visual and social cues to understand other people - that's sophisticated cognitive skills for 15-month-olds."


Supervisors' abuse, regardless of intent, can make employees behave poorly

So-called motivational abuse is seen as a violation and leads to behavioral backlash

© Bigstockphoto
Employees who are verbally abused by supervisors are more likely to "act out" at work, doing everything from taking a too-long lunch break to stealing, according to a new study led by a San Francisco State University organizational psychologist.

Even if the abuse is meant to be motivational -- like when a football coach berates his team or a drill sergeant shames her cadets -- the abused employees are still more likely to engage in counter-productive work behaviors, said Kevin Eschleman, assistant professor of psychology at SF State.

The fallout from this abuse is not limited to the supervisor and employee and can in fact affect an entire company if it leads to lost work time or theft, Eschleman warned. "We didn't just focus on how these workers felt or whether they started to dislike their jobs more. We looked at consequences that actually affect the bottom line of an organization," he said.


First hint of 'life after death' in biggest ever scientific study

Southampton University scientists have found evidence that awareness can continue for at least several minutes after clinical death which was previously thought impossible.
© Shaun Wilkinson/Alamy

Some cardiac arrest patients recalled seeing a bright light; a golden flash or the Sun shining.
Death is a depressingly inevitable consequence of life, but now scientists believe they may have found some light at the end of the tunnel.

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism.

But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria.

And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of 'awareness' during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room.

Despite being unconscious and 'dead' for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines.


Life After Death? This is what people experience as the brain shuts down

What people see, feel and experience, in the minutes after cardiac arrest and before they are brought back to life.

© Hasibul Haque Sakib
The largest ever study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has found that 40% of people have some 'awareness', even after they are considered clinically dead.

Fifteen hospitals in the US, UK and Australia took part in the four-year study.

Over 2,000 people were included in the research, all of whom had suffered cardiac arrest (Parnia et al., 2014).

Of those people, 330 survived and were asked afterwards what they had experienced.

Amongst the survivors, 140 said they had some kind of awareness or experience while they were before they were brought back to life.

Comment: See more articles on the topic of near-death experiences (or NDE):

World's Largest-ever Study Of Near-Death Experiences

Near-Death Experiences Explained by Science

Near-Death Researcher Believes the Mind Survives Death

Brain Wave Surge Explains Near-Death Experiences


Academic Achievement: You inherit more than just intelligence from your parents

Why the heritability of educational achievement is about much more than just intelligence.

© theirhistory
The heritability of academic ability isn't just down to intelligence, but a whole range of factors, according to new genetic research.

The study of 13,306 twins found that while intelligence was the most heritable trait, a number of cognitive and behavioural factors predicted academic achievement (Kraphol et al., 2014).

Exam grades were also affected by personality, well-being, self-efficacy (confidence in your own abilities) and behaviour problems.

Behaviour problems, self-efficacy and personality aren't just down to the environment: they are also partly inherited.

Overall, the study found that 62% of differences between children on their exam results at around 16-years-old could be explained by heritable traits.


Trying to share our 'epic' moments may leave us feeling left out

© GoTripTv.com/William Parker
Man climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
We might love to reminisce and tell others about our extraordinary experiences - that time we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, got to taste a rare wine, or ran into a celebrity on the street - but new research suggests that sharing these extraordinary experiences may come at a social cost. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"Extraordinary experiences are pleasurable in the moment but can leave us socially worse off in the long run," says psychological scientist and study author Gus Cooney of Harvard University. "The participants in our study mistakenly thought that having an extraordinary experience would make them the star of the conversation. But they were wrong, because to be extraordinary is to be different than other people, and social interaction is grounded in similarities."

Cooney, who conducted the research with co-authors Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University and Timothy D. Wilson of the University of Virginia, was interested in exploring the downstream consequences of extraordinary experiences based on his own encounters with others:

"We all appreciate experiences that are fine and rare, and when we get what we want, we're always eager to tell our friends. But I've noticed that conversations always seem to thrive on more ordinary topics," Cooney explains. "This made me wonder if there might be times when extraordinary experiences have more costs than benefits, and whether people know what those times are."


The Power of Charisma-- It can actually inhibit higher brain function in "believers"

This article is an outgrowth of my continuing interest in the ties between psychopathy, authoritarianism, domination, hierarchy, patriarchy and top-down power
© State Library and Archives of Florida
Speaker at a Pentecostal revival - Tallahassee.
If a fundamentalist religious person even thinks another person is a charismatic leader or healer, he or she inhibits his pre-frontal cortex-- the executive, higher level thinking part of the brain.

That's what I take from a study titled The power of charisma--perceived charisma inhibits the frontal executive network of believers in intercessory prayer.

A religious person, anticipating a person who has a reputation as a charismatic-- a trait usually held by smarter, more successful psychopaths, psychopaths and narcissists-- literally shuts down his or her highest brain functions in the charismatic's presence. (Certainly not all charismatic people are charismatic, but it is a common trait of high functioning psychopaths and narcissists.)

That doesn't happen in the brains of non-believers.

Let's talk about the etymology and meanings of Charisma and Charismatics. The word charisma is derived from the Greek word charismata, which means "a gift of grace.


How learning Russian can make you better at math

© AP Photo/LM Otero
Chekov makes you better at calculus
At first glance, Russian seems to have no more connection to mathematics than any other language. But Barbara Oakley, author of the book A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If
 You Flunked Algebra), says it was learning Russian that helped her finally grasp math at age 26 - and eventually become an electrical engineer and education author.

Oakley wrote a piece for Nautilus explaining how, after a childhood of flunking through math classes, she was finally able to grasp and retain the skill. With Newton's second law of f =ma, for example:
I practiced feeling what each of the letters meant - f for force was a push, m for mass was a kind of weighty resistance to my push, and a was the exhilarating feeling of acceleration. (The equivalent in Russian was learning to physically sound out the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet.) I memorized the equation so I could carry it around with me in my head and play with it. If m and a were big numbers, what did that do to f when I pushed it through the equation? If f was big and a was small, what did that do to m? How did the units match on each side? Playing with the equation was like conjugating a verb.
The trick was to approach math the way she had approached Russian: she memorized an equation the way she had memorized Russian verbs, and then tested them in every possible - and impossible - tense and conjugation. With equations, she tested what happens when you change the values in different scenarios.