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Sat, 23 Mar 2019
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The Truth Perspective: Churches Behaving Badly: How Religions Succeed or Fail to Prevent Pathocracy

Some critics of organized religions argue that religions are the root of all evils. Some of the faithful argue that atheism and secular ideologies like communism or capitalism produce the worst atrocities. But is either side correct? Or are they missing an important piece of the puzzle?

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss a chapter in Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology on religion and pathocracy: how religious ideologies get infected with pathological material, which can remain semi-dormant for centuries; how religions can be hijacked by malevolent individuals and groups; how the same pathological influences produce secular systems that then attack the faithful; and how despite their errors, religions still offer the best defense against political and interpersonal evil.

Religion is both our greatest aid against evil, and also - because of its importance - one of the greatest portals for evil to manifest itself. Both sides of the debate are correct, in a sense. Ponerology fills in the holes of our understanding of spirituality and evil, bridging the gap between the two and pointing the way to a reconciliation between the scientific and religious domains, where each has an important role to play.

Running Time: 01:42:40

Download: MP3


Researchers identify three different types of depression

nervous breakdown depression
Three sub-types of depression have been identified for the first time, new research reveals.

One type does not respond to SSRI antidepressants, the most common treatment for depression.

The type that does not respond to antidepressants exists in people with experience of childhood trauma, along with certain patterns of brain activity.

SSRIs are thought to work by boosting levels of serotonin in the brain, but they do not work on some people.

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Like attracts like: Study shows psychopaths attracted to each other

couple man woman
New psychology research suggests that most people do not view psychopathic personality traits as particularly desirable in a romantic partner. But the study also provides evidence that psychopaths are more attracted to other psychopaths.

"To a large extent, our findings support a 'like attracts like' hypothesis for psychopathic traits," wrote the authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Personality.

"Until recently there has been scant systematic evidence bearing on the question of whether people are especially attracted to psychopathic individuals, and if so, which personality traits may account for such attraction," they said.

In the study, 696 participants were asked to imagine a good-looking young man or woman, and then construct his or her personality from a list of 70 traits.

The researchers found that the participants preferred Factor 1 psychopathic traits (such as superficial charm, manipulativeness, and lack of empathy) over Factor 2 traits (such as impulsiveness and irresponsibility). But, overall, romantic interest in psychopathic traits was low on average.

However, participants who themselves scored higher on a measure of psychopathy tended to prefer higher levels of psychopathic traits in their ideal romantic partner.


Well, whodathunkit! When adolescents give up pot, both learning and memory quickly improve

pot marijuana cognition learn and remember
© BURGER/Canopy/Getty Images
Even a week without marijuana use improves young people's ability to learn and remember.
Marijuana, it seems, is not a performance-enhancing drug. That is, at least, not among young people, and not when the activity is learning.

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry finds that when adolescents stop using marijuana - even for just one week - their verbal learning and memory improve. The study contributes to growing evidence that marijuana use in adolescents is associated with reduced neurocognitive functioning.

More than 14 percent of students in middle school and high school reported using marijuana within the past month, finds a National Institutes of Health survey conducted in 2017. And marijuana use has increased among high-schoolers over the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

At the same time, the percentage of teens who believe that regular marijuana use poses a great risk to their health has dropped sharply since the mid-2000s. And legalization of marijuana may play a part in shaping how young people think about the drug. One study noted that after 2012, when marijuana was legalized in Washington state, the number of eighth-graders there that believed marijuana posed risks to their health dropped by 14 percent.

Researchers are particularly concerned with marijuana use among the young because THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, most sharply affects the parts of the brain that develop during adolescence.

Comment: Marijuana's effect on the brain is controversial - some studies show neuro-protective effects and potential amelioration of diseases such as Alzheimer's while others claim it actually shrinks the brain:


Hallucinations are everywhere

Experiences like hearing voices are leading psychologists to question how all people perceive reality.

There's a good chance you've hallucinated before.

If you've ever felt the buzz of your phone against your thigh only to realize the sensation was entirely in your head, you've had a sensory perception of something that isn't real. And that, according to the psychologist Philip Corlett, is what makes a hallucination.

To many, this definition may seem shockingly broad. Hallucinations were long considered the stuff of psychoses or drug trips, not a regular and inconsequential part of life. But Corlett operates on the idea that hallucinations exist within a hierarchy. At the highest level, according to Corlett's collaborator Albert Powers, they would be something like hearing "whole sentences of clearly spoken speech of a being who seems quite real." But, moving further down the line, hallucinations can be far more banal: an imagined text message, a phantom raindrop, a new parent's mistaken sense of her child by her bedside.


How to silence your inner critic: Practical ways to stop negative self-talk

self critic
© Kristina Flour
Have you ever heard an inner voice telling you disempowering things, like "I don't think I can make it," "What if I fail?", "I'm not that smart," "I'll never have that," "This is too hard," "This is too big for me," "It's impossible," or "It's too good to be true" ?

If this rings a bell for you, know that this was the voice of your Inner Critic.

What is Your Inner Critic?

It is that voice in your mind that often speaks to you when you want to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone. It is a voice of fear.

Its purpose is to keep you in the safe zone and protect you from any possible emotional injuries like judgment, rejection, blame or shame. It is an internal resistance to change and the unknown, and the main reason for you playing small and not daring to go for your dreams.

Comment: Read more about Learning to silence critical self-talk:


Putin's Orthodoxy: A few words about his religious views, values and spirituality

Putin in Church
Vladimir Putin is fairly mute about his own religious views. Being a member of the Communist Party is no evidence of atheism. Its evidence only of conformity. Party membership was essential for having any a career of any substantial kind, especially in the security services. Military and police careers were, as in all societies, attractive to patriots and nationalists, though it had to be a "Soviet" rather than a specifically Russian nationalism. However, he does say that he was secretly baptized by his mother at 18 months in Petersburg at the Cathedral of the Martyrs Alexandria and Antonia of Rome. From this, it is safe to say that Putin was secretly taught the faith from a young age.

According to his mother, it was the day of St. Michael and all the Angels, so it had to be November 21st. Putin's views are, in his own words, to be internal, and never the subject of a show. The cross that his mother gave him at the Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem he wears always. In his house many years ago, a fire broke out from the heating unit of the sauna malfunctioning. Worried that the cross, which he had left near his bed, was gone forever, once of the workmen found it perfectly intact in the midst of all the rubble.

Comment: Clearly, it is not only Putin's remarkable intelligence, fortitude, wisdom and insight that has made him such a successful leader for his people and for the world; but something more. And that something is informed by great faith in a higher power - and an awareness of his own soul that has connected him to something much, much larger than himself.


How to harness your anxiety

© Aart-Jan Venema
Research shows that we can tame anxiety to use it as a resource.

Anxiety has long been one of the most feared enemies in our emotional canon. We fear its arrival, feel helpless and trapped under its spell, and grant it power to overtake us in new, exciting and challenging situations. But what if we've been going about it all wrong?

Research shows that anxiety can actually be a pathway to our best selves. A range of new neuroscience, along with ideas from ancient philosophy, Charles Darwin, early social scientists and positive psychology, have all pointed in this direction.

To be sure, severe anxiety can be debilitating. But for many people who experience it at more moderate levels it can be helpful, if we are open enough to embrace and reframe it.

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There's an unspoken homophobia propelling the transgender movement in children

child art
When I was a Ph.D. student in sexology, I had a conversation with a colleague that forever cemented, in my mind, why I needed to speak out against the transitioning of children with gender dysphoria. Nowadays, every left-leaning parent and educator seems content to take a child's word at face value if they say they were born in the wrong body, not realizing that by doing so, an important conversation is being brushed aside.

On the day in question, our research lab had just finished our weekly meeting, and I chatted with my colleague as I packed up my things to head back to my office. He had told me previously about his son, who from the moment he was born, announced that a mistake had been made - "I'm a girl," he would say.

As a little boy, his son loved playing with dolls. He would wear his mother's dresses and high heels, and wanted to grow his hair long like Princess Jasmine from the movie, "Aladdin." At school, he preferred the company of girls to that of boys, who were rambunctious and mean. After many years of therapy and fighting constantly about the course of action they would take, his son had come out as gay.

I grew up as a straight woman in the gay community, at a time when homophobia was rampant in North American society. I witnessed the harassment and ignorance that my friends faced on a daily basis. Most, as a result, hid their sexual orientation from anyone outside of the community, and few were openly out to their families.


Kaizen: The one-minute principle for self-improvement

Nishikawa Sukenobu
© Nishikawa Sukenobu
At the heart of this method is the idea that a person should practice doing something for a single minute, every day at the same time.
Almost all of us periodically set ourselves a new goal or challenge - and just as often in the end we fail to achieve it. We end up telling ourselves that we're just not ready yet, that we'll do it next week, next month...next year.

We might even pursue them with zeal at the start. But once we've made a small amount of effort, we'll tell ourselves we've done enough, and it's time to take this whole "starting a new life" thing more slowly.

Why does it always turn out like this? The answer's fairly obvious: because we try to achieve too much, too fast, we get sick of the new responsibility and, because it's difficult to change old habits and try something new.