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Sat, 04 Dec 2021
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Courage of the Fukushima fifty: This is suicide, admit workers trying to avert a catastrophe

  • Nuclear workers accept their fate 'like a death sentence'
  • Fears for their health as one expert says it is 'perhaps a suicide mission'
  • Radiation levels rise in Japan as crisis continues
  • Power will be connected to knocked-out coolant pumping system 'within hours'
  • Radioactive steam still billows from reactors and fuel storage pools after helicopter missions
  • Police water cannons move in to spray overheating fuel rods
  • Radioactive plume to hit U.S. west coast tomorrow
  • 17,000 British nationals could be evacuated as last-ditch efforts are made to stop nuclear catastrophe
  • Foreign Office provides free-of-charge rescue flights from Tokyo
  • FO's new 'worst case scenario' says radiation in capital could harm humans
Poignant messages sent home by the workers trying to prevent full-scale nuclear catastrophe at Japan's stricken nuclear plant reveal that they know they are on a suicide mission.

One of the 'Fukushima Fifty' said they were stoically accepting their fate 'like a death sentence'.

Another, having absorbed a near-lethal dose of radiation, told his wife: 'Please continue to live well, I cannot be home for a while.'
© Reuters
Dangerous work: officials wearing protective clothing and respirators head towards the Fukushima nuclear plant

Magic Wand

Getting healthy: When does prediction help people change their habits?

If you ask people how much they plan to exercise, they'll exercise more - but only if that's a personal goal, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"When people have set for themselves targets about how much they should engage in a behavior (say, if the behavior is how much to exercise per week), asking them to predict whether they will exercise in the next week makes them think about what they think they should do," write authors Pierre Chandon (INSEAD), Ronn J. Smith (University of Arkansas), Vicki G. Morwitz (New York University), Eric R. Spangenberg, and David E. Sprott (both Washington State University). "This reduces the chances that they will simply repeat their past behavior and hence breaks their habits."

The researchers also confirmed that we are creatures of habit: When people did not have strong personal goals for how much they should engage in a particular behavior (like watching the news), asking them to predict how much they would watch the news resulted in strengthening their existing habits.

Magic Wand

Study Shows: Tai Chi Beats Back Depression in the Elderly

© yorkshireinternalarts.com
The numbers are, well, depressing: More than 2 million people age 65 and older suffer from depression, including 50 percent of those living in nursing homes. The suicide rate among white men over 85 is the highest in the country - six times the national rate.

And we're not getting any younger. In the next 35 years, the number of Americans over 65 will double and the number of those over 85 will triple.

So the question becomes, how to help elderly depressed individuals?

Researchers at UCLA turned to a gentle, Westernized version of tai chi chih, a 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art. When they combined a weekly tai chi exercise class with a standard depression treatment for a group of depressed elderly adults, they found greater improvement in the level of depression - along with improved quality of life, better memory and cognition, and more overall energy - than among a different group in which the standard treatment was paired with a weekly health education class.


Creativity is an upside to ADHD

© Unknown
Parents who believe that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder makes their kids more creative got a little more scientific support recently.

A new study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences found adults with ADHD enjoyed more creative achievement than those who didn't have the disorder.

"For the same reason that ADHD might create problems, like distraction, it can also allow an openness to new ideas," says Holly White, assistant professor of cognitive psychology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and co-author of the paper. "Not being completely focused on a task lets the mind make associations that might not have happened otherwise."


'Pre-baby blues' due to lack of support from partner

sad pregnant
© www.123rf.com
Pregnancy is meant to be a joyous time however some women experience overwhelming 'baby blues' before the birth of their child. Anxiety and depression during pregnancy can result in premature birth, or low birth weight, and impact the child's health even into early school years. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Public Health shows that a bad relationship with their husband or partner is the strongest predictor of maternal emotional distress.

A Norwegian study involving almost 50,000 mums-to-be looked at how these women felt about their work, family or partner, and compared their bouts of illness, alcohol and smoking habits. The amount of support women received from their partners had the strongest link with mental health; those women who were most unhappy with their relationships were the most likely to be depressed.


Compassion: The Elixir of Life?

© Unknown
New research suggests that compassion might be able to slow the aging process.

Gerontologists (scientists who research aging) probing into why we age have found that a major part of the effects of aging may actually be collateral damage in the body due to inflammation.

On the whole, inflammation is vital. It is part of the immune response that helps facilitate healing of the body. But the problem is that on the one hand inflammation helps us heal, but on the other it can also cause us harm. Over time it can chip away at the body, like waves gradually eroding a coastline. Just as a dripping tap gradually fills a sink and causes collateral damage to the floor, so the effects of inflammation can gradually build up and cause serious harm to the body.

It is now known that inflammation plays a significant role in many serious diseases, and especially so in cardiovascular disease -- a major killer in the western world.

Comment: Try out the Eiriu Eolas stress reduction and rejuvenation program, with breathing exercises designed to stimulate the vagus nerve, thus reduce both your stress, anxiety and depression along with your inflammation!


Dogs Probably Feel Sorry For Us

Dogs appear to empathize with us, to the point that some therapy dogs even seem to take on the emotions of their sick or distressed human charges, according to a new paper in the latest issue of Biology Letters.

cute dog therapy
© badrobot
The matter is more complicated than you might think, because researchers need to tease apart true empathy from a phenomenon known as "emotional contagion."


Facebook walls boost self-esteem, finds study

"Mirror, mirror on the wall/Who in the land is fairest of all?" But unlike Snow White's Queen, many people don't feel better after gazing at their wall mirror. Facebook walls, on the other hand, can have a positive influence on the self-esteem of college students, report social media researchers at Cornell.

© Unknown
This is probably because Facebook allows them to put their best face forward, says Jeffrey Hancock, associate professor of communication; users can choose what they reveal about themselves and filter anything that might reflect badly.

Feedback from friends posted publicly on people's profiles also tend to be overwhelmingly positive, which can further boost self-esteem, said Hancock, who co-authored a paper published Feb. 24 in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

"Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem if that image does not match with our ideal, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves," Hancock said. "We're not saying that it's a deceptive version of self, but it's a positive one."


Why don't we all just trust one another? And would it work as long as we live in pathological environment?

© Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG, Vancouver Sun
Strong market economies help create more trusting societies, a University of B.C. psychologist-anthropologist says.
"Trust me."

Have you heard that one before? Have you said it yourself?

It's an expression sometimes heard in the workplace, in the marketplace, and in personal relationships, even in the bedroom.

We often greet requests to "trust me" with suspicion, however, as if the phrase is the last resort of shifty usedcar salespeople or dictators secretly stealing the people's money.

Without thinking about it, most Canadians assume a degree of trust in any relationship: intimate, mercantile or social. We tend to go around assuming other people are reasonably honest and reliable.

Trust is necessary to cut through suspicion to accomplish goals, and to make a personal connection. Without trust, we wither. As individuals. And as cultures. For these reasons, trust is becoming a big topic in Canada and around the globe.

Trust is being studied by psychologists, anthropologists, business leaders and governments.

Comment: World religion based on values of truth and conscience, that cultivates healthy and non-pathological way of living in flourishing and nurturing communities may seem as a dream long gone in our infested by psychopathy world. And, yet, there is hope amidst the chaos, that urges us to wake up and see that we are one step from extinction.


University of Alberta researcher questions whether genius might be a result of hormonal influences

A longstanding debate as to whether genius is a byproduct of good genes or good environment has an upstart challenger that may take the discussion in an entirely new direction. University of Alberta researcher Marty Mrazik says being bright may be due to an excess level of a natural hormone.

Mrazik, a professor in the Faculty of Education's educational psychology department, and a colleague from Rider University in the U.S., have published a paper in Roeper Review linking giftedness (having an IQ score of 130 or higher) to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone. Mrazik hypothesizes that, in the same way that physical and cognitive deficiencies can be developed in utero, so, too, could similar exposure to this naturally occurring chemical result in giftedness.

"There seems to be some evidence that excessive prenatal exposure to testosterone facilitates increased connections in the brain, especially in the right prefrontal cortex," said Mrazik. "That's why we see some intellectually gifted people with distinct personality characteristics that you don't see in the normal population."