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New research shows for the evolution of intelligence, parents matter

New Caledonian crows
© Natalie Uomini
A juvenile wild New Caledonian crow (right) using a tool to probe together with a tolerant adult.
Humans are not the only species that enjoy prolonged childhoods: elephants, whales, dolphins and some bats and birds do also.

Is this what makes us smart? And if so, how important are long-suffering parents?

Exploring this with corvids - songbirds that hang around their parents in and out of the nest and have large brains relative to body size - researchers found those that spent more time with parents learned faster and lived longer.

How intelligence developed has long fascinated evolutionary scientists, with several theories such as brain-to-body size ratio. But, considering large brains take a long time to grow, not many theories have given due credit to parents for shaping their offspring's cognitive development.

Michael Griesser, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, recognised there must be an evolutionary perk to extended parenting.

"Brains are weird adaptations - they come empty and are very costly," he says. "So it takes individuals a lot of time to make this adaptation worthwhile.

"The problem of most studies looking into this is that they are very focussed on the outcomes of having a large brain but overlook the issue of having them until brains make up for their cost. That's where the extended parenting comes in."

It can't just be nepotism that benefits children, as they still need to leave the nest and become independent at some point, so Griesser realised skill learning had to be involved, facilitating cognitive development.

Arrow Up

First-of-its-kind study hints at how psilocybin works in the brain to dissolve ego

magic mushrooms
© gilaxia/Getty Images
The psychedelic experience can be rough on a person's ego. Those who experiment with magic mushrooms and LSD often describe a dissolution of the self, otherwise known as ego-death, ego-loss, or ego-disintegration.

For some, the experience is life-changing; for others, it's downright terrifying. Yet despite anecdote after anecdote of good trips and bad trips, no one really knows what these drugs actually do to our perception of self.

The human brain's cortex is where the roots of self awareness are thought to lie, and growing evidence has shown the neurotransmitter, glutamate, is elevated in this region when someone is tripping.

But up until now we've only had observational evidence. Now, for the first time, researchers have looked directly into how taking psilocybin affects glutamate activity in the brain. And the evidence suggests that our tripping experience, whether good or bad, might be linked to glutamate.

Comment: See also:


Sun

Strongest solar flares in years coincide with riots, reminding us that solar activity and unrest are historically linked

solar flare and riots
With so many dramatic and consuming events taking place in our world, it's easy to forget that as human beings we are deeply affected by all of the cosmic events taking place in the universe around us. We are beings of frequency in a universe made of energy.

Major civil unrest, protesting and rioting began to foment in the United States on the 28th of May, and on the night of the 29th, the unrest spread to over 30 American cities, marking the most significant incident of unrest many of us have ever seen.

While these events are deeply rooted in societal tension that has been building for decades, the timing of recent flare ups of unrest happens to coincide with a new wave of solar activity including the strongest solar flare we've seen in three years.
"Solar flares are intense blooms of radiation that come from the release of the magnetic energy associated with sunspots. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ranks solar flares using five categories from weakest to stongest: A, B, C, M, and X. Each category is 10 times stronger than the one before it. Within each category, a flare is ranked from 1 to 9, according to strength, although X-class flares can go higher than 9. According to NASA, the most powerful solar flare recorded was an X28 (in 2003)." [Source]

Comment: For more on the "human-cosmic connection," see:


People 2

Intelligence distribution: Why so few female CEOs? Same reason few women on death row

Male/Female brain
© YouTube
Despite all the efforts of equalization, women in high-ranking corporate positions are still exceedingly rare. But they are almost as rare in the dredges of society - and the reasons for both run deeper than sexism.

It is more than passing curious that at a time when women constitute roughly half the workforce, and are in the actual majority in terms of earning college degrees, there are still so few female CEOs. The distaff side accounts for CEOs in only 167 out of 3,000 large companies, which translates into a rather modest 5.5 percent of the total.

Various explanations have been put forth to account for this fact. Women do a disproportionate share of household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, childcare, shopping. This accounts for some of the gap, but not all of it. Females are less ambitious; they do not as readily seek promotions as do males.

Why not? They are more attached to home and hearth, and realize that the higher up you go in the work hierarchy, the more on the job responsibility there is, which will detract from their family obligations. This, too accounts for their greater reluctance to seek greener pastures in more lucrative employment elsewhere; the wife is more likely to be the trailing spouse, who has to accept whatever is available in another city or state, than her husband.

Recently, a new elucidation has been added to these more traditional accounts. It is that men are more likely to occupy positions that feed into CEO jobs than women. For example, more males than females take on line roles which are directly responsible for profits and losses, such as heading up a division of a large firm. In contrast, women specialize in areas that do not as readily account for the bottom line, such as heading up human resources, the legal team, or administration.

Comment: See also: Sex Hormones May Sway Women's Career Choices


Blue Pill

Spiritual emergency: Western treatment of psychosis is thoroughly wrong-headed

psychosis environment
What do you think of hallucinations? Do you wonder how they work? Recently I talked about this with a woman I know well, who was experiencing some as we spoke. Her hallucinations included 'bugs' - microphones that she saw scattered around the room that she assumed had been put there because she was coming in, by people who wanted to keep track of everything she said, and might hurt her at any point. She could see the bugs, but I could not.

Martha is in her mid 30s. Her bright blonde hair is natural. She sat on one side of a corner from me, her body tense and passive at once, the odd mixture one sees with people who are gripped with inner distress but whose musculature is flattened out by atypical antipsychotics. She carries the tight, extra weight that also accompanies those drugs. Her eyes are shy and furtive, checking the room, checking my face.

She is a very intelligent person and is vexed by people telling her that such things are not real. She cannot doubt her senses, and she sees them. (I say: 'I agree. I don't doubt my senses either.') Same thing with the voices speaking to her on the turned-off radio. She understands that I do not see and hear these things, but she does.

She frames a question that carries deep implications of challenge and shame: 'Do you think they are real?'

An answer came out of my mouth that I had never quite thought before, but as I heard the words, they seemed true: 'It's not as simple a question as we usually think. We usually think that whatever we perceive is what is there. Perception equals reality. But research shows that every perception we have is actually constructed by the unconscious mind, which then instantly hands it to consciousness. What the unconscious mind uses to do this constructing is largely sensory stimulations. We grasp this information with our senses, we process it with our brains unconsciously, and the product enters our consciousness. Because we all share this sensory world, we do very similar unconscious constructing. We can both look at a lamp like this one and see the same lamp, as far as we can ever know. It's easy to say, this lamp is real.'

Comment: For more on Dr. Carpenter's work, see:


Hearts

How kind is humankind? Kinder than we imagine

fireman london bombing
© Getty Images
A fireman rescues a toddler after a bombing raid in London in 1940. Our true colours reveal themselves in times of crisis, according to Rutger Bregman.
Augustine had it that 'no one is free from sin, not even an infant'. Machiavelli deemed that humans are 'ungrateful, fickle hypocrites', and even the founding father John Adams, the paragon of American democracy, was sure that all men would be tyrants if they could. Thucydides, Luther, Calvin, Burke, Bentham, Nietzsche, Freud — all were wrong about our natures. So was William Golding, creator of Lord of the Flies, himself a child-beater and a drunk. For a treatise on human kindness, Rutger Bregman's new book Humankind has surprisingly many villains.

Here's 'a radical idea... a mind-bending drug... denied by religions and ideologies', we're told. Humans are not evil. Deep down, at least most of us are pretty decent. Left to their own devices, children will not tear each other apart on an island: quite the opposite. In the clash between Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, it was the Genevan, not the man of Malmesbury, who had it right. How do we know? Hobbes and Rousseau were armchair theorists, but today we have science. And science, according to Bregman, says that we're good.

This wasn't always true. Scientists have been lying to us for a long time. Take, for example, Stanley Milgram, of obedience to authority fame, who showed that ordinary people would administer electric shocks of up to 450 volts to innocents if only told to do so by a person dressed in a white lab coat. Turns out Milgram was after fame and fudged his results. Most participants didn't actually believe they were inflicting pain, and a majority of those who did quickly called it quits.

Comment: See also:


Eye 1

The #1 myth about psychopaths and narcissists: What people get wrong

Masks of psychopaths
© psychopathsinlife.com
One of the biggest misconceptions about psychopaths and malignant narcissists who have psychopathic traits is the idea that they are lashing out from pain when they engage in aggressive behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The defining characteristic of a psychopath is their tendency to engage in what is known as instrumental aggression (Glenn & Raine, 2009). Instrumental aggression is deliberate aggression waged against a victim for the purpose of fulfilling an agenda or getting some sort of reward. This type of aggression, also known as proactive or predatory aggression, is planned, premeditated, and often unprovoked by their victims; it is controlled, purposeful, and used to achieve personal gain, usually an external goal like money, social status, fame, drugs, or even sadistic pleasure derived from the act of inflicting pain.

Research has found that psychopathic criminals are more likely to engage in predatory instrumental violence, while non-psychopathic violent criminals are more likely to engage in reactive violence - violence in response to a perceived threat.

Comment: See also: I, Psychopath


Cross

Does science support miracles? New study documents a blind woman's healing

smiling
She once was blind, but now she sees — a peer-reviewed medical journal has published the extraordinary case study of a woman whose eyesight was spontaneously restored after prayer for healing. It's the latest example of how researchers are increasingly using scientific methods to investigate claims of miracles.

The study details the medical history of a woman who was blind for more than a dozen years from juvenile macular degeneration, an incurable condition. She had attended a school for the blind, used a white cane for mobility, and read braille.

One night at bedtime her husband, a Baptist pastor, got on his knees to pray. He put a hand on her shoulder as she laid on the bed. They were both crying as he prayed: "Oh, God! You can restore ... eyesight tonight, Lord. I know you can do it! And I pray you will do it tonight."

Comment: This would seem to scientifically confirm the efficacy of prayer and healing touch via a method like Reiki. See:


Grey Alien

Latest DMT study addresses eerie prevalence of hallucinations of 'interdimensional entities'

dmt psychedelic hallucination
© XAVI/xaviart.com
Podular Manifestation
Last month researchers released a new study on the hallucinogen DMT (or dimethyltryptamine) that provided fresh survey data on the phenomenon of DMT users experiencing and encountering sentient 'entities' while tripping. Scientists believe the findings could help to better understand near-death experiences and alien-abduction experiences, as well as develop treatments for mood and behavioral disorders.

The study involved surveying over 2,000 DMT users, the majority of whom claimed to have had positive encounters and even emotional exchanges with beings they felt were advanced and benevolent. Most of the users, upon coming down from the drug, felt the beings were real and not manufactured solely by a hallucination.

The survey produced the following additional data: 99% had an emotional response and of those, 58% believed the entity they encountered also had an emotional response and the feeling was overwhelmingly positive, though some reported instances of fear; 81% of respondents felt the 'entities' were real; and two-thirds believed they had received "a message, task, mission, purpose, or insight from the entity encounter experience."


Comment: Perhaps the worst consequence of the New Age movement has been the uncritical, blind trust in one's emotional reactions. Heroin makes you feel good; that doesn't mean it is good for you. A psychopath can make you feel like a prince or princess; that doesn't mean they have your best interests at heart - just the opposite.


The study adds more anecdotal corroboration that the DMT psychedelic experience is unique from other drugs.

First discovered as a psychoactive agent by Hungarian psychopharmacologist Stephen Szara in the 1950s, DMT is a psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. It's the only psychedelic that is found both in nature and produced naturally by the human body. Because its chemical structure strongly resemble neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin, some refer to it as 'nature's serotonin.'

As an endogenous chemical, produced naturally by the human body, it has also been referred to as the "brain's own psychedelic."

Family

Self-awareness: How and why you should cultivate it

self awareness mirror
Self-awareness seems to have become the latest management buzzword — and for good reason. Research suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative. We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. We're less likely to lie, cheat, and steal. We are better workers who get more promotions. And we're more-effective leaders with more-satisfied employees and more-profitable companies.

As an organizational psychologist and executive coach, I've had a ringside seat to the power of leadership self-awareness for 15 years. I've also seen how attainable this skill is. Yet, when I first began to delve into the research on self-awareness, I was surprised by the striking gap between the science and the practice of self-awareness. All things considered, we knew surprisingly little about improving this critical skill.

A few years ago, my team of researchers and I embarked on a large-scale scientific study of self-awareness. In 10 separate investigations with nearly 5,000 participants, we examined what self-awareness really is, why we need it, and how we can increase it. (We are currently writing up our results for submission to an academic journal.)

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