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Mon, 30 Jan 2023
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Carrot and Stick of Primary Integration: Statistical Physics Offers Insight Into Moral Behavior

© Unknown
It seems a little strange for statistical physicists to consider questions of morality in behavior. However, that is is just what a study at ETH in Zurich, Switzeralnd, is doing. Led by Dirk Helbing, the study used game theory to consider how moral behavior arises from interactions with neighbors. Instead of moral behavior developing from an individual's interactions with society as a whole, Helbing's group discovered that there is a good chance that interactions with the individuals nearest to a person lead to the development of moral behavior.

The physicists considered different behaviors in society, including those who cooperate with the system, enforcers that punish those who aren't cooperating (moralists), free riders who ignore the common good, and even "immoral" free riders who punish other free riders. In order to set up the analysis, the physicists created a square lattice of tens of thousands of points, representing individuals. There were four possible strategies that each point could adopt: cooperate without punishing free riders; cooperate and enforce cooperation through punishment; take advantage of a free ride, but let others alone; or take advantage of a free ride and punish others in non-cooperation.


What, Me Care?

empathy symbol
© EmpathySymbol.com
A recent study finds a decline in empathy among young people in the U.S.

Humans are unlikely to win the animal kingdom's prize for fastest, strongest or largest, but we are world champions at understanding one another. This interpersonal prowess is fueled, at least in part, by empathy: our tendency to care about and share other people's emotional experiences. Empathy is a cornerstone of human behavior and has long been considered innate. A forthcoming study, however, challenges this assumption by demonstrating that empathy levels have been declining over the past 30 years.

The research, led by Sara H. Konrath of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and published online in August in Personality and Social Psychology Review, found that college students' self-reported empathy has declined since 1980, with an especially steep drop in the past 10 years. To make matters worse, during this same period students' self-reported narcissism has reached new heights, according to research by Jean M. Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University.

An individual's empathy can be assessed in many ways, but one of the most popular is simply asking people what they think of themselves. The Interpersonal Reactivity Index, a well-known questionnaire, taps empathy by asking whether responders agree to statements such as "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me" and "I try to look at everybody's side of a disagreement before I make a decision." People vary a great deal in how empathic they consider themselves. Moreover, research confirms that the people who say they are empathic actually demonstrate empathy in discernible ways, ranging from mimicking others' postures to helping people in need (for example, offering to take notes for a sick fellow student).


Similarities Between Anesthesia, Coma Discovered

© RedOrbit

The biological effects of general anesthesia are more closely related to those of a coma than natural sleep, claims a new study published in Thursday's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

While often times doctors and patients describe being under anesthesia as something similar to going to sleep, the researchers behind the new study have found "significant differences" between the two states, Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters reported on Wednesday. For example, while sleep usually involves different types of phases, a patient under general anesthesia typically only experiences one, which even at its lightest is typically far deeper than the deepest states of sleep.

"A key point of this article is to lay out a conceptual framework for understanding general anesthesia by discussing its relation to sleep and coma, something that has not been done in this way before," lead author Dr. Emery Brown of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, said in a statement.

"We started by stating the specific physiological states that comprise general anesthesia--unconsciousness, amnesia, lack of pain perception and lack of movement while stable cardiovascular, respiratory and thermoregulatory systems are maintained--another thing that has never been agreed upon in the literature; and then we looked at how it is similar to and different from the states that are most similar--sleep and coma," Brown added.


Women's Health - Body Image Issues

woman b_w
© Flickr
"We live in an age where we are surrounded by an image of an ideal body shape, communicated by a constantly evolving media....Much of what we see is a fusion of reality and fantasy, with many of the images presented to us having been altered or enhanced in some way" (Sanger, 2007). Our media is full of body images that create in many cases very unattainable and distorted body ideals that are directed at gregarious women.

Anxiety, depression, obsessive behavior, social isolation, irritability, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders (e.g. anorexia nervosa, bulimia or excessive dieting), lack of assertiveness, guilt, self-dislike, excessive plastic operation are all symptoms of the pressures that body perfect images place on people. Between 70 - 76% of Australian high school girls consistently choose an ideal figure that they wish to have that is thinner than their own and only 16% of young women are happy with their body weight with eating disorders affecting about 5% of the female population in Australia (Sanger, 2007). It is clear that the biggest problem with societal expectations of attractiveness is the impact it makes on women's perception of themselves and their self esteem.

NSW Health Summit (1996) has shown that there is a lack of larger model sizes, the media's feminine image does not truly represent the image of over 65% of women, there are conflicting up-front and subliminal messages in magazines linked to hidden interests with extraordinary profits idealizing thin bodies that portray youth, positive social and family lifestyles.

This starts by asking serious questions about one's health, dealing with the past, releasing negative emotions, respecting and acknowledging a higher wisdom.
Indeed. Éiriú Eolas is a powerful meditation and de-stressing program that can greatly help to detoxify the body and the mind.


Empathy & Apathy - Focus on Ponerology & Pathocracy

It was interesting to come across a recent speech by Mr. Nigel Farage on 'Freedom and Democracy' at the European Parliament on the 24/11/10, which raises many important issues about some of the mentalities leading various institutions.

Mr Farage's reference to the obsession or the fanaticism among political representatives should be an area of great concern. What motivates individuals in power to implement systems with the capacity to produce 'economical' or 'physical' genocide across the world and use any means to achieve their objectives? Is it the lack of empathy? A Big Ego? A superiority complex or ignorance?
" Genius with compassion can produce miracles, but genius without compassion can produce genocide." - Anonymous

2 + 2 = 4

Study: Conservatives have larger 'fear center' in brain

© unknown
Political opinions are considered choices, and in Western democracies the right to choose one's opinions -- freedom of conscience -- is considered sacrosanct.

But recent studies suggest that our brains and genes may be a major determining factor in the views we hold.

A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.

Alarm Clock

The Animalistic Behavior Of Modern Humans

What will happen when food disruptions occur, the currency collapses or social chaos breaks out in U.S. cities? This video answers that question by revealing how everyday people can transform into crazed animals who trample other human beings in order to get what they want. A shocking video that reveals a part of human nature that society tries to keep caged.


Rats Exposed to Toxic Chemicals Lose Ability to Focus

© medicalchemy-toxicology.blogspot.com
Banksy Toxic Rat
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois - They won't sit on a couch and confide their escapades to a therapist, but researchers have devised other means to detect when rats are behaving badly. A battery of laboratory tests can measure rats' hyperactivity, poor impulse control, cognitive difficulties and other impaired aspects of what researchers call executive function.

At the College of Veterinary Medicine here at the University of Illinois, scientists study the effects of chemical pollutants on Long Evans rats, a furry, black-and-white breed. They then correlate their findings with parallel studies done on humans exposed to the same pollutants through the environment.

In an interview at her laboratory, bioscience professor Susan Schantz explained her motivation to study contaminants like PCBs, mercury and lead, plus newer chemicals of concern, such as bisphenol A and phthalates. "Every one every day is exposed, and there's no way to avoid it," she said.


How to tame the monsters in your mind: ANTS - Automatic Negative Thoughts

© Scott Garett
Catch-22: Negative thoughts can make negative things happen
Ever dipped into the ­biscuit tin then decided you've ruined your diet so you may as well eat the lot? Or thought that because you didn't get a promotion this year, you're destined for failure in your career?

You're not alone. Even the most optimistic person is not immune to negative thoughts, but for some, the destructive chatter of self-doubt can be relentless.

Psychologists now believe that just as feeling embarrassed can cause a physical ­reaction (blushing) so self-destructive thoughts can lead to ill-health, weight-gain, poor skin and misery.

Psychiatrist Dr Daniel Amen has spent a lifetime studying how thoughts influence our appearance, energy and diet success.


Structure deep within the brain may contribute to a rich, varied social life

© Unknown
Scientists have discovered that the amygdala, a small almond shaped structure deep within the temporal lobe, is important to a rich and varied social life among humans. The finding was published this week in a new study in Nature Neuroscience and is similar to previous findings in other primate species, which compared the size and complexity of social groups across those species.

"We know that primates who live in larger social groups have a larger amygdala, even when controlling for overall brain size and body size," says Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, who led the study. "We considered a single primate species, humans, and found that the amygdala volume positively correlated with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans."

The researchers also performed an exploratory analysis of all the subcortical structures within the brain and found no compelling evidence of a similar relationship between any other subcortical structure and the social life of humans. The volume of the amygdala was not related to other social variables in the life of humans such as life support or social satisfaction.