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Tue, 29 Nov 2022
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Dollar

The Rich Are Different - and Not in a Good Way, Studies Suggest

Rich Shopper
© The New York Times
A shopper choses a pair of $1,495 Christian Louboutin shoes at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan.
The 'Haves' show less empathy than 'Have-nots'

Psychologist and social scientist Dacher Keltner says the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish.

In fact, he says, the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class "ideology of self-interest."

"We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way, and some work on compassion and it's the same story," he said. "Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it."

In an academic version of a Depression-era Frank Capra movie, Keltner and co-authors of an article called "Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm," published this week in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, argue that "upper-class rank perceptions trigger a focus away from the context toward the self...."

Book

Days Spent Reading to Dogs During Summer May Help Avoid Decline of Reading Skills

Image
© Charles B. Barton
Compulsory Education
Pilot study's results published in veterinary school white paper.

Second graders who read aloud to a canine over the summer seem to maintain their reading skills during the dog days of summer, according to a pilot study published today by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

In the study, published in a whitepaper on the school's website, second-grade students with a range of reading aptitudes and attitudes toward reading were paired with dogs - or people - and asked to read aloud to them once a week for 30 minutes in the summer of 2010.

At the end of the program, students who read to the dogs experienced a slight gain in their reading ability and improvement in their attitudes toward reading, as measured on the Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) and Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS), respectively - while those who read to people experienced a decrease on both measures.

Another surprising result was the high rate of attrition among students in the control group. Of the original cohort of nine, a third failed to complete the program. No students left the dog-reading group.

No Entry

Rioters have 'lower levels' of brain chemical that keeps impulsive behaviour under control

Some men may be more likely to riot because of their 'impulsive' brains, according to a study.

Certain individuals have lower levels of a brain chemical that helps keep behaviour under control, scientists believe.

Researchers from the University of Cardiff uncovered a link between impulsiveness and levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in a key brain region.

Image
© EPA
Do rioters, pictured looting a shop in Hackney, have lower levels of a brain chemical that helps keep behaviour under control? Scientists think so
Those with low levels tended to be more aggressive and to respond rashly to 'urges'.

GABA is one of a family of brain chemicals that allow signals to flow between neurons.

Attention

Study: Suicide, mental health linked to sex abuse

Image
© Unknown
Women who have experienced rape or other abuse have far higher rates of mental disorders and are up to 20 times more likely to attempt suicide than other females, an Australian study showed Wednesday.

The findings, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed a very strong association between exposure to gender-based violence and mental disorder, said study leader Susan Rees.

"Based on other studies, we expected there to be a correlation and an association, but the strength of it was particularly concerning," said Rees, from the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales.

"Not only was there a higher rate (of mental disorder) but there was also a greater severity."

Info

You Can Count On This: Math Ability Is Inborn, New Research Suggests

Brain Science
© Will Kirk / JHU
Melissa Libertus is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

We accept that some people are born with a talent for music or art or athletics. But what about mathematics? Do some of us just arrive in the world with better math skills than others?

It seems we do, at least according to the results of a study by a team of Johns Hopkins University psychologists. Led by Melissa Libertus, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the study -- published online in a recent issue of Developmental Science -- indicates that math ability in preschool children is strongly linked to their inborn and primitive "number sense," called an "Approximate Number System" or ANS.

Research reveals that "number sense" is basic to all animals, not just human beings. For instance, creatures that hunt or gather food use it to ascertain where they can find and procure the most nuts, plants or game and to keep track of the food they hunt or gather. We humans use it daily to allow us, at a glance, to estimate the number of open seats in a movie theater or the number of people in a crowded meeting. And it is measurable, even in newborn infants.

Though the link between ANS and formal mathematics ability already has been established in adolescents, Libertus says her team's is the first study to examine the role of "number sense" in children too young to already have had substantial formal mathematics instruction.

Magic Wand

20 Things You Didn't Know About... Stress

Image
© Jonathon Rosen
How a broken heart can really break your heart, violent games can ease your stress, and the lowest-stress job around.
  1. Think about money, work, economic outlook, family, and relationships. Feeling anxious? In a 2010 American Psychological Association survey [pdf], those five factors were the most often cited sources of stress for Americans.
  2. Stress is strongly tied to cardiac disease, hypertension, inflammatory diseases, and compromised immune systems, and possibly to cancer.
  3. And stress can literally break your heart. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or "broken heart syndrome," occurs when the bottom of the heart balloons into the shape of a pot (a tako-tsubo) used in Japan to trap octopus. It's caused when grief or another extreme stressor makes stress hormones flood the heart.

Comment: There is one proven technique that can assist you with reducing your stress, calming and focusing your mind, creating better links between body and mind and thus improving your quality of life, increasing a sense of connection with others in your community. It will help you to improve your health, strengthen your immune system, provide you with better impulse control, reduce your inflammation, etc. It will also help you to heal your emotional wounds; anything that may hinder or prevent you from leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

The Éiriú Eolas technique grew out of research conducted by the Quantum Future Group under the direction of Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Gabriela Segura, M.D. The practice has been thoroughly researched and proven to work by the thousands of people who are already benefiting from this unique program. The effects are cumulative and results and benefits can be seen in only a very short time, sometimes after just one session!

There is a myriad of relaxation techniques out there, but not many of them can attest to having not only immediate effects, but also a highly practical application. With Éiriú Eolas, there is no need to sit in special postures, or be present in a carefully prepared environment. The strength of the program comes from its high adaptability to stressful conditions of the modern world. Anyone can do it, be it a student, sitting outside of a lecture hall before the exam, a mechanic needing a break from tackling problems all day, a businessman just before signing an important deal, a mother having to raise three children and worrying if she will have enough money to pay the mortgage.

Visit the Éiriú Eolas site or participate on the forum to learn more about the scientific background of this program and then try it out for yourselves, free of charge.


Eye 2

The Philosophical Significance of Psychopaths: Postmodernism, Morality, and God

psychopath work
© unknown
Psychopaths are fascinating, in a repugnant sort of way. Whether we read about Ted Bundy or Paul Bernardo or see psychopaths depicted in fictional characters such as Hannibal Lecter, we are forced to wonder how a human being could ever do such horrible things. We are also forced to wonder whether we ourselves could ever do those things - whether such darkness possibly exists deep within us all.

As a sensitive human being, I was always baffled by psychopaths until I studied the topic of psychopathy, especially as understood by its foremost expert, Robert Hare, the psychiatrist who developed the Psychopathy Checklist, now the standard tool for diagnosing people with psychopathy. But it was as a philosopher that I experienced a kind of awakening. This is because I not only came to understand what makes psychopaths tick, but I began to see the wider significance of psychopaths - connections with areas of inquiry that experts such as Hare (let alone philosophers) did not seem to see. (I am a "What is x ?" philosopher, the kind who takes science seriously, the kind who believes that it is not wisdom to ignore evidence.)

In this article, I shall focus on three areas of wider significance: postmodernism, morality, and theology. It is perhaps astonishing that the human phenomenon of psychopathy can teach us anything about these three fields, but as we shall see, it actually has a lot to teach us.

First we need to be reasonably clear on what psychopathy is. Following the work of Hare in his must-read Without Conscience (1995), psychopathy is not a form of insanity or even a mental illness, given the clinical meanings of these terms. Nor need psychopaths be lacking in rationality. Conceivably a psychopath could have the genius of an Einstein and function quite well in the world. There is no twisted logic necessarily involved with psychopathy, no warped thinking that is so obvious in the mentally ill and insane, no hallucinations, no depression, no dysfunctionality necessarily.

Psychopaths are defined in terms of something else - a cluster of features, most of which are deficiencies. This means that psychopathy is a matter of degree. Many of us might score relatively high in one or more of these defining characteristics, but that does not necessarily mean that we are psychopaths. On the other hand, there are those who score so high on the Psychopathy Checklist that they are considered full-fledged psychopaths. They are, so to speak, the interesting ones.

Comment: Well Yahweh certainly fits the psychopathic profile. The offspring of his followers, Christianity and Islam aren't any better. Monotheism is fertile ground for psychopathy.

This article makes many good points. To widen the field of view to include the effects of psychopathy on an entire society, be sure to read Political Ponerology.


Butterfly

US: Veteran PTSD Symptoms Significantly Reduced After 8 Weeks Of Transcendental Meditation

Image
© Meditation Q & A
An 8-week course of stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation resulted in a 50% reduction in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms among Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, researchers reported in Military Medicine. The pilot study involved five veterans aged 25 to 40 years with PTSD symptoms - they had all served between 10 and 24 months and had been involved in moderate or heavy moderate combat.

The researchers, from Georgetown University Medical School, explained that Transcendental Meditation resulted in considerable reductions in stress and depression, and clear relationships improvements. The participants' overall quality of life improved.

Comment: There are a myriad of relaxation techniques out there, but not many of them can attest to having not only immediate effects, but also having a highly practical application. With Éiriú Eolas, there is no need to sit in special postures, or be present in a carefully prepared relaxing atmosphere. The strength of the program comes from its high adaptability to stressful conditions of the modern world. Anyone can do it, be it a student, sitting outside of a lecture hall before the exam, a mechanic needing a break from tackling problems all day, a businessman just before signing an important deal, a mother having to raise three children and worrying if she will have enough money to pay the mortgage, etc.

Visit the Éiriú Eolas site or participate on the forum to learn more about the scientific background of this program and then try it out for yourselves, free of charge.


Bulb

Have we met before? Scientists show why the brain has the answer

Image
© Unknown
Have you ever been approached by someone whose face you recognize but whose name you can't remember? Neuroscientists at the University of Bristol have identified the reasons behind why we are, at times, unable to link a face to a name.

The research, led by Dr Clea Warburton and Dr Gareth Barker in the University's School of Physiology and Pharmacology and published in the Journal of Neuroscience, has investigated why we can recognise faces much better if we have extra clues as to where or indeed when we encountered them in the first place.

The study found that when we need to remember that a particular object, for example a face, occurred in a particular place, or at a particular time, multiple brain regions have to work together - not independently.

It has been known for some time that three brain regions appear to have specific roles in memory processing. The perirhinal cortex seems to be critical for our ability to recognise whether an individual object is novel or familiar, the hippocampus is important for recognising places and for navigation, while the medial prefrontal cortex is associated with higher brain functions.

Info

Your Memory Might Not Be As Powerful As You Think

Memory
© Live Science
A significant number of Americans believe that memory is more powerful, objective and reliable than it actually is, a new survey finds. Some memory myths are so pervasive that up to 83 percent of people believe them.

The survey, published online today (Aug. 3) in the journal PLoS ONE, queried a nationally representative sample of 1,500 Americans about a variety of common beliefs about memory. The survey found that almost two-thirds of Americans believe that memory works like a video camera, accurately recording events for later review.

In fact, study researchers said, scientific data suggests that even confident eyewitnesses to an event are wrong about what happened 30 percent of the time.