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Sat, 25 May 2019
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Science of the Spirit

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Don't Deny Girls the Evolutionary Wisdom of Fairy-Tales and Princesses

snow white
The view from moral high ground is best enjoyed after the check (for whatever you're moralizing against) clears.

Rather like animal-rights activists who own a string of steakhouses, Disney film stars Kristin Bell and Keira Knightley spoke out recently against the bad examples they feel Disney princesses convey to girls. (Bell voiced the role of Princess Anna in Disney's 2013 animated film Frozen, and Knightley stars as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney's new live action feature, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.) Knightley even used her Nutcracker promo tour to reveal that she's banned certain Disney films from her own home. The Little Mermaid is one prohibited flick, and Cinderella is another - because, Knightley explains, Cinderella "waits around for a rich guy to rescue her."

Of course, Knightley and Bell aren't alone in their disapproval. There's been a war on "princess culture" for some time. Legions of pink-phobic parents all but go into mourning whenever their daughter begs for some glitter-flecked, rosy-hued item in a store - as if it might cast a spell on her, sending her down the path to Stepfordhood instead of STEM.

snow white

Snow White is kissed by her prince in the 1937 Disney production
Bell even manages to find the #metoo in Snow White's wakeup kiss from the Prince, lecturing her daughters that "you cannot kiss someone if they're sleeping!" By this logic, one of the most beautiful forms of affection - a mother kissing her sleeping child - becomes a form of inappropriate contact.

This is crazythink. Children are not helped by adults projecting their fears in this way - stretching a prince chastely kissing a comatose princess back to consciousness into a thumbs up for having sex with a girl who's passed-out drunk at a fraternity party.

Yet, this is the sort of hysteria used to justify yanking away the wonderful fun of watching Disney princess films. Remember fun? It's a vestige from pre-1990 America - back before padded playgrounds, criminal background checks for parents working the school bake sale, and first-graders slaving over more nightly homework than I ever got in high school.

Ironically, far from contaminating young female minds, these Disney princess stories - and their fairy-tale-fic precursors - provide vitally helpful messages that parents could be discussing with their girls.


Slowly but surely, psychology is accepting that faith might play a role in treatment

talk therapy, depression
For anyone who took a college course in psychology more than a decade ago or who is even casually acquainted with the subject through popular articles, a close examination of today's field would undoubtedly prove surprising. The science that for most of the 20th century portrayed itself as the enlightened alternative to organized religion has taken a decidedly spiritual turn.

Bowling Green State University professor Kenneth Pargament, who in 2013 edited the American Psychological Association's Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, notes just how dramatically his profession's attitude towards faith has changed in recent times. As a young academic interested in the connection between mental health and religion, he would "go to the library once a semester and leisurely review the journals" only to be disappointed by how little his colleagues had to say about it. But "no more," Pargament happily reports. In fact, he adds, "it is hard to keep up with the research in the field."

Today's psychology tells us that faith can be very helpful in coping with major life setbacks, including divorce, serious illnesses, the death of a loved one, and even natural or human-caused disasters. A study by the RAND Corporation, published in the New England Journal of Medicine just after the 9/11 attacks, found that 90 percent of Americans coped with the trauma by "turning to God." During the week that followed, 60 percent went to a church or memorial service, and sales of the Bible rose more than 25 percent.


Russian Hachiko: Loyal pooch spends weeks outside hospital awaiting owner's recovery

Dog looking in window
© YouTube / Мост ТВ
Heavy snowfall, chilling wind, and temperatures far below zero are no obstacle for true love as proven by a loyal dog, who has been waiting for her sick master outside a hospital for two weeks now.

Her amazing fidelity has quickly made, Cherry, from the Russian city of Voronezh a media sensation and led to obvious comparisons with Hachiko.

Back in the 1920s, a Japanese dog had been waiting for her owner's return outside a train station for nine years, not knowing that he passed away, to become an ultimate symbol of friendship.

Comment: See also: Loyal Dog In China Refuses To Leave Owner's Grave, Goes Week Without Food

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The Truth Perspective: Unlocking the Secrets of Consciousness, Hyperdimensional Attractors and Frog Brains

walling hicks consciousness
Welcome back! On today's show we discuss the ground-breaking work Consciousness: Anatomy of the Soul. Written by Peter Walling and Kenneth Hicks, this short little book takes aim at the Mt. Everest of scientific, religious, and philosophical questions - what is consciousness? Using mathematics, experiment, and probing insight, Walling and Hicks make a compelling case as to the nature, earthly evolution, and even the location of consciousness.

Described as a "thrilling romp through the last billion years," Consciousness: Anatomy of the Soul takes the reader down a rabbit-hole into a mathematical world of flat-land and hyperspace, toroids, and beyond. So join us today on the Truth Perspective as we discuss this breathtaking landscape and the implications it has for each of us on our own individual paths of evolution.

Running Time: 01:43:11

Download: MP3

People 2

Feminists find 'sexist' men more attractive than 'woke' men

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Why do women find sexist men appealing?

Women like bad boys. At least, that's the story. And there's lots of writing and anecdotal experience to back that up. Men frequently complain about being "friendzoned," the idea being that men who are respectful toward their female interests get placed into the role of friend, rather than potential boyfriend. The "pickup artist" community has embraced this concept, teaching men how to behave in assertive, dominant ways that, allegedly, are more successful with women. Many of these concepts and dynamics themselves have been called sexist and misogynistic, reflecting underlying beliefs that women "owe" men sex. The "incel" community, a group of online males who complain bitterly, violently, and angrily about being "involuntary celibates" attack women for choosing "Alpha males" rather than softer, kinder men. . . like themselves.

Women who admit to liking bad boys - being attracted to men who are assertive or dominant - are sometimes criticized as having "internalized" misogynistic attitudes, or simply as naïve and foolish, failing to recognize or admit that sexism is damaging. During the 2016 presidential campaign, female fans of then-candidate Trump proudly invited their candidate to grab them, following release of tapes of Trump discussing grabbing women without consent. These women were proclaimed traitors to other women, or decried as simply deluded. Others have suggested that women may choose bad boy types in order to acquire protection from other, more aggressive and hostile men, a theory referred to as the "protection racket." Some simply suggest that sexism is insidious, and that these dynamics infiltrate our choices without us noticing.

Comment: It's amazing that we live in an age where chivalry and respect are equated with sexism. Men have traditionally played a courteous and protective role towards women, yet today we find women complaining that men are holding the door for them, as it it suggests they aren't capable of opening the door themselves. Yet the study mentioned above suggests that "benevolent sexism" is actually more attractive to women, feminist or not. Perhaps our in-built drives outweigh culturally "progressive" programming after all.

See also:


Understanding the Vagus Nerve: Interview with Dr. Stephen Porges

© Daniel Hjalmarsson
Yogis know that practice positively affects physical health-but what's the deal with the vagus nerve? Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges explains.

It might seem obvious, but our nervous system is affected by everything we do. In the trauma-filled wake of recent gun violence in schools and the overwhelmingly heartbreaking stories shared during the #MeToo movement, conversations around wellness, trauma, and mental health have been thrust into the mainstream. Now more than ever, people are questioning what it means to be safe and what happens when we are threatened, on edge, and stressed.

Comment: The Polyvagal Theory explained

2 + 2 = 4

New Harvard study confirms there is no gender wage gap - men and women make different choices

© Darren McCollester / Getty Images
"Gender pay gap is worse than thought: Study shows women actually earn half the income of men," NBC announced recently in reference to a report titled "Still a Man's Labor Market" by the Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research, which found that women's income was 51 percent less than men's earnings.

The "Gender Pay Gap" Isn't What You Think It Is

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "gender pay gap"? Perhaps you think of a man and woman who work exactly the same job at exactly the same place, but he gets paid more than she does. This sort of discrimination has been illegal in the United States since the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963.

But that is not what is generally meant by the phrase "gender wage gap." Instead, the commonly reported figure - that a woman earns 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man - is derived by taking the total annual earnings of men in the American economy in a given year and dividing that by the number of male workers. This gives you the average annual earnings of an American man. Then you do the same thing but for women. The average annual women's earnings come in at about 80 percent of the average annual man's earnings. Presto, you have a gender wage gap.


Breathing through the nose may offer unique brain benefits

© Illustration by Celia Jacobs
Folklore, spiritual traditions and even mothers have for ages drawn an implicit connection between respiration and state of mind: Breathe in deeply through your nose, we are told, to clarify thoughts, achieve serenity, defuse tantrums. There isn't a lot of scientific evidence to back up these ideas, but a growing number of experiments have been looking at the influence that breathing has on our cognition. In October, a study in The Journal of Neuroscience considered the relationship between memory and how we breathe.

Recognizing odors is a key survival mechanism for most creatures - including humans, of course. This is why neuroscientists believe the links between thinking and breathing were early evolutionary adaptations. Studies have shown that when rodents sniff, the flow of even odorless air initiates brain activity by stimulating neurons in what's called the olfactory bulb, which then signal the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in the creation and storage of memories. For the October study, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and other institutions conducted an experiment to see whether something similar happens to us if we breathe through our mouths.

Comment: Read more fascinating information about The Science of breathing: Breathing and meditation exercises help to relieve physical, mental and emotional stress check out the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program website and give it a try!

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The Truth Perspective: Herd Behavior: What Gustav Le Bon's Classic Book Can Teach Us About 'The Crowd'

madness of crowds
Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss the French polymath Gustave Le Bon's most famous work, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. Le Bon was a physician, soldier, and author of numerous works ranging from anthropology, medicine, physiology, and even physics, where he is credited with anticipating Einstein's theory of relativity.

But it was defeat during the Franco-Prussian War, the radical mentality of the Paris Commune of 1871, and his extensive studies of peoples in Europe, Asia and North Africa that gave him that unique insight into the nature of crowds which, when he published them, resulted in a book which has been described as "one of the most influential books of social psychology ever written."

The Crowd may have been an instant bestseller in the late 19th century but it remains just as relevant today. From radical Islamists in Syria to Antifa in the US, and most recently the Yellow Vests storming Paris, Le Bon provides us key insights regarding the crowd's susceptibility to suggestion, the individual's loss of control, and its potential to be radicalized in the name of senseless violence. If nothing else this knowledge can help to keep us moored while others are swept away in the tide.

Running Time: 01:36:00

Download: MP3

2 + 2 = 4

Think again: Are schools teaching enough critical thinking skills?

critical thinking
© Jonathan Ernst
Critical thinking can feel in short supply these days. Politics is more polarized than ever, the president regularly dismisses his opposition as enemies, losers, or phonies, while critics of the president cannot bear the thought of ever entertaining support for his ideas or actions.

If a lack of civility in public discourse is the problem, a lack of critical thinking may be partly to blame. A recent study by the Reboot Foundation, which was founded to fund research on critical thinking and develop resources for parents and schools, concluded that while the American public claims to engage with opposing views, people don't actually do so in practice.

Comment: Read more about the importance of critical thinking...