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Thu, 17 Oct 2019
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Russian shaman aims to capture really big evil spirits (and a record) as she crafts dreamcatcher the size of Soviet block

Shaman Bibigul Mamaeva
© Sputnik / Ekaterina Chesnokova
Shaman Bibigul Mamaeva crafting a giant dreamcatcher in 2016.
Russia's Lake Seliger has probably become much safer from evil spirits after a 13-meter-wide dreamcatcher appeared on its shores. The massive shaman-made talisman is slated for the Guinness Book of Records.

Bibigul Mamaeva, an ethnic Kazakh shaman who boasts of being a "direct descendent" of Genghis Khan, has been working tirelessly for almost a week to create the enormous amulet on the shores of the lake, located some 380 km northwest of Moscow.

In a bid to break the record, Mamaeva has created a dreamcatcher 12.63 meters in diameter, using brushwood for the hoop and strained yarn, decorated with beads and feathers, placed on the inside. For comparison, a typical 5-story Soviet block of flats of the Khrushchev era is 14-15 meters high on average.

"I want the world to really start changing. There are a lot of angry people now. It's an attempt for the people to come together for good."

SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: Self-Help Without The Shallowness: The Hidden Depths of Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits

stephen covey
© SOTT
It's the book you've heard about for years, but probably never read - especially if you have an aversion to shallow self-help books promising success, influence, power and money. But Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is no shallow self-help book. It's actually a book about virtue - the development of character, and the timeless principles governing true success in life for as long as there has been history.

Today on MindMatters we discuss some of the overall themes of the book, Covey's unique but universal worldview, and some of the great stories he shares to really make his points hit home.


Running Time: 01:20:33

Download: MP3 — 73.7 MB


Bulb

David Berlinski in conversation with ID-friendly Muslims

david berlinski
I had the following dream last night. In it, mathematician and Darwin skeptic David Berlinski was stretched out on a red couch, schmoozing entertainingly with a couple of ID-friendly, C.S. Lewis-quoting Muslim chaps. Dr. Berlinski stretched out so far that the pair of interviewers were confined to one distant end of the couch, though they didn't seem to mind. They cracked up at all his jokes, as I did, too. Dr. Berlinski held a cane with a golden head which he used to illustrate points, and he appeared not in his usual splendid attire but, much more casually, in a cut-off jean jacket over a t-shirt. It was quite a fun dream and went on for about 45 minutes or so.

I'm kidding, actually: it wasn't a dream, though there is arguably an element of the surreal. It was a video from the very amiable and, yes, ID-friendly crew of Ahmadi Muslims at the thoughtful site Rational Religion. You must watch this.


Brain

People with anxiety may strategically choose worrying over relaxing

worry anxiety

Newman said that while researchers have known about relaxation-induced anxiety since the 1980s, the specific cause of this phenomenon has remained unknown. When Newman developed the contrast avoidance theory in 2011, she thought the two concepts might be connected.
Relaxing is supposed to be good for the body and soul, but people with anxiety may actively resist relaxation and continue worrying to avoid a large jump in anxiety if something bad does happen, according to Penn State research.

In a new study, the researchers found that people who were more sensitive to shifts in negative emotion — quickly moving from a relaxed state to one of fear, for example — were more likely to feel anxious while being led through relaxation exercises.

Michelle Newman, professor of psychology, said the results could help benefit people who experience "relaxation-induced anxiety," a phenomenon that occurs when people actually become more anxious during relaxation training.

Comment: See also:


Info

Cleansing of the brain affected by breathing

Brain Studies
© Colourbox
Measurements of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain show that breathing affects the flow as much as the heartbeat, according to a new Norwegian study.
Our brains are washed by a constant flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which plays the important role of carrying away waste substances, such as harmful proteins and excess water.

The rhythm of your heart is one of the factors that affects how well this fluid flows through the brain. Now a new study shows that breathing also affects how well the spinal fluid flows.

"It's not impossible that yoga breathing techniques can affect the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and promote the removal of brain wastes," says Vegard Vinje of the Simula Research Laboratory, where he is a PhD candidate.

The study was recently published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports and is part of Vinje's doctoral thesis on the topic.

Comment:

Check out the Éiriú Eolas breathing program.


Bell

Darwinism Is Dead, Now What? Towards A Rational Spirituality

darwin jesus
There is a great debate going on at the moment about Darwinism, especially after Yale professor David Gelernter published an article in which he basically agreed with the devastating criticism leveled at the theory by the scholars associated with the Discovery Institute. It is true: the creed of Darwinism is under attack, the foundation of materialist atheism is shaking, the worldview held by most people today - including many religious people - is crumbling. It is a beautiful sight for those of us who know that Darwinism is wrong, dead wrong and couldn't be any more wrong.

At the same time, people are confused. It's no secret that many critics of Darwinism - brilliant as they are in their scientific rigor - are also religious, mostly Christians. Some even try to smuggle in Jesus in their otherwise flawless books. If Darwinism is wrong, which it is without a shred of a doubt, should we all go back to the bible? Should we 'accept the Lord Jesus'?

Well, not so fast. For all the faults of the atheists (both old and new), their critique of religion is too powerful for any rational mind to ignore. And for all that Christianity has going for it, it is notoriously plagued by the blind acceptance of a ridiculous doctrine cobbled together by an unknown number of scribes throughout the ages.

Just to give a prominent example: what thinking mind could possibly accept the physical resurrection of Jesus? It is something that has never been observed by anyone; it flies in the face of what we know happens to an organism once the life force holding it together is withdrawn; it clearly sounds like a fairy-tale only a child could take literally. And yet, it is one of the most unshakable doctrines of the various Christian denominations. Tell a Christian believer that this is obvious nonsense and watch the reaction.

Info

Study prompts call for routine memory testing of teenagers

Car Accident
© Getty Images
New study questions whether all teenagers are up to the demands of driving.
A study of young drivers in the US has found those who did worse on tests for short term "working" memory were more likely to crash in the first few years after getting their licence.

The finding has prompted the authors, led by neuroscientist Elizabeth Walshe from the University of Pennsylvania, to call for routine memory testing of teens to weed out those not ready to take the wheel. They could instead be offered extra training.

The study comes on the back of a stark set of numbers. Statistics from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention show vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in US teens. Six teen drivers die on the roads each day with the cost of adolescents injured in crashes topping $US13 billion in 2016.

Having a callow youth at the helm is also bad news for other youngsters in the car. More than half of children aged eight to 17 who die in crashes are in cars driven by someone under 20.

The authors' suspicion was that some teenage brains are just not up to the job.

Driving puts big demands on your working memory. That's the "scratch pad" that keeps track of things that happened in the last few seconds and helps you decide what to do next.

Camcorder

Confirmation bias: People will accept anything as true if it confirms their beliefs

Manipulating people
© Sobol/Shutterstock
Lots of people — including Congress — are worried about fake videos and imagery distorting the truth, purporting to show people saying and doing things they never said or did.

I'm part of a larger U.S. government project that is working on developing ways to detect images and videos that have been manipulated. My team's work, though, is to play the role of the bad guy. We develop increasingly devious, and convincing, ways to generate fakes — in hopes of giving other researchers a good challenge when they're testing their detection methods.

For the past three years, we've been having a bit of fun dreaming up new ways to try to change the meaning of images and video. We've created some scenarios ourselves, but we've also had plenty of inspiration from current events and circumstances of actual bad guys trying to twist public opinion.

I'm proud of the work we've done, and hope it will help people keep track of the truth in a media-flooded world. But we've found that a key element of the battle between truth and propaganda has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with how people are much more likely to accept something if it confirms their beliefs.

Comment: See also:


Magnify

When false claims are repeated, we start to believe they are true - but behaving like a fact-checker can help

fack checking
If you hear an unfounded statement often enough, you might just start believing that it's true. This phenomenon, known as the "illusory truth effect", is exploited by politicians and advertisers — and if you think you are immune to it, you're probably wrong. In fact, earlier this year we reported on a study that found people are prone to the effect regardless of their particular cognitive profile.

But that doesn't mean there's nothing we can do to protect ourselves against the illusion. A study in Cognition has found that using our own knowledge to fact-check a false claim can prevent us from believing it is true when it is later repeated. But we might need a bit of a nudge to get there.

The illusory truth effect stems from the fact that we process repeated statements more fluently: we mistake that feeling of fluency for a signal that the statement is true. And the effect occurs even when we should know better — when we repeatedly hear a statement that we know is wrong, for instance, like "The fastest land animal is the leopard". But Nadia Brashier at Harvard University and colleagues wondered whether asking people to focus on the accuracy of a statement could encourage them to use their knowledge instead, and avoid relying on feelings of fluency.

In the initial study, the team first asked 103 participants to read 60 widely-known facts, some of which were true (e.g. "The Italian city known for its canals is Venice"), and some of which were false (e.g. "The planet closest to the sun is Venus"). One group rated how interesting each statement was, while the other rated how true it was. Then in the second part of the study, both groups saw the same 60 statements along with 60 new ones — again a mixture of true and false — and rated their truthfulness.

Comment: See also: The illusion of truth: Believing something is true when it's not


Info

New clues in understanding near-death experiences

Going in the tunnel
© Candice Mickler/Getty Images
Imagine a dream in which you sense an intense feeling of presence, the truest, most real experience in your life, as you float away from your body and look at your own face. You have a twinge of fear as memories of your life flash by, but then you pass a transcendent threshold and are overcome by a feeling of bliss. Although contemplating death elicits fear for many people, these positive features are reported in some of the near-death experiences (NDEs) undergone by those who reached the brink of death only to recover.

Accounts of NDEs are remarkably consistent in character and content. They include intensely vivid memories involving bodily sensations that give a strong impression of being real, more real even than memories of true events. The content of those experiences famously includes memories of one's life "flashing before the eyes," and also the sensation of leaving the body, often seeing one's own face and body, blissfully traveling through a tunnel toward a light and feeling "at one" with something universal.

Not surprisingly, many have seized on NDEs as evidence of life after death, heaven and the existence of god. The descriptions of leaving the body and blissful unity with the universal seem almost scripted from religious beliefs about souls leaving the body at death and ascending toward heavenly bliss. But these experiences are shared across a broad range of cultures and religions so it's not likely that they are all reflections of specific religious expectations. Instead, that commonality suggests that NDEs might arise from something more fundamental than religious or cultural expectations. Perhaps NDEs reflect changes in how the brain functions as we approach death.