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Tue, 15 Oct 2019
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


The importance of searching and testing ourselves for truth

"What is truth?"

This question Pontius Pilate asked Christ moments before the Crucifixion is, in my opinion, the question that the rest of the Gospels spend answering. It is the reason why Jesus gives no specific answer to Pilate in John 18, and instead simply stands there as the answer Himself. But truth, regardless of how much we would like it to be black and white, is often difficult to decipher. Stories, which often contain emotional truths can hold lies within them. This is unfortunately common in Hollywood movies, which use good and true emotions such as love and kindness to cover up narratives that underscore many Christian values.

Rather than dissecting a current film, which would require an article much longer than this one, here a is clever science fair project that 14 year-old Nathan Zohner came up with, covered by this 1997 Washington Post article:
The chemical compound dihydrogen monoxide (or DHMO) has been implicated in the deaths of thousands of Americans every year, mainly through accidental ingestion. In gaseous form, it can cause severe burns. And, according to a new report, "the dangers of this chemical do not end there."

The chemical is so caustic that it "accelerates the corrosion and rusting of many metals,... is a major component of acid rain, {and} . . . has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients." Symptoms of ingestion include "excessive sweating and urination," and "for those who have developed a dependency on DHMO, complete withdrawal means certain death."

Yet the presence of the chemical has been confirmed in every river, stream, lake and reservoir in America.

Judging from these facts, do you think dihydrogen monoxide should be banned?

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MindMatters: The Meaning of the World's Mythologies

In our previous show on Witzel's book Origins of the World's Mythologies, we learned that the vast majority of world mythologies share the same narrative structure or overall storyline. But what does it mean, and why has it endured for so long, among so many peoples? Today we look at the final chapter of Witzel's book, where he ties it all together, along with our own expansions on his ideas. With reference to psychology (including Jordan Peterson and Kazimierz Dabrowski), generational history (the so-called "fourth turning"), and a hint at a future discussion: the history of earth's encounters with cataclysm-causing cometary encounters.

Running Time: 01:03:18

Download: MP3 — 58 MB


Genetic markers found that link to being left-handed

© Shutterstock
Scientists have discovered the first genetic markers tied to being left-handed, according to a new study.

In addition, these genetic markers may play roles in brain development and communication between different brain areas, the authors said.

The findings, published Thursday (Sept. 5) in the journal Brain, "shed considerably more light on the [biological] processes leading to left-handedness," study lead author Dr. Akira Wiberg, a research fellow at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

About 1 in 10 people worldwide is left-handed. Scientists have known that genes contribute to being left-handed, but they didn't know which genes are involved.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed the genomes of about 400,000 people in the United Kingdom whose health records and genomic data are part of a database known as the U.K. Biobank. Of these, about 38,000 were left-handed.

The researchers looked for differences in the DNA of left- versus right-handers, and they identified four genetic markers tied to being left-handed.


Why transhumanists' search for earthly immortality is misguided

robot equation
For all the reports on the sordid life of Jeffrey Epstein, little has been written about his interest in transhumanism. Followers of the transhumanist movement believe humans will achieve super-longevity, and, perhaps one day, live forever. Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google and the author of books predicting a coming technological "singularity," is perhaps the most prominent transhumanist.

The singularity refers to the date when machines obtain human intelligence; Kurzweil sees that happening by 2045. He foresees people "merging with the [machine] intelligence we have created."

Followers active in the movement, like Kurzweil, take an unfathomable number of nutritional supplements each day. Those supplements supposedly slow the aging process, allowing time for science to kick in and enable transhumanists to achieve immortality. Some transhumanists believe their consciousness will be uploaded into a machine or a new body, or perhaps even a younger cloned version of themselves.

As one follower of Kurzweil puts it:
As a true digital-cerebral interface comes into existence and we are able to 'upload' our memories and consciousness into a twin computer backup, true human immortality will follow automatically as a matter of course. This creation of a twin consciousness of self on the digital plane will be the defining moment of The Singularity. For as soon as this is done, and we are able to create backup copies of ourselves, by definition, we're immortal.

Comment: Perhaps if the transhumanists weren't so identified with nihilistic materialism and the ideas posed by neo-Darwinism they would be more open to the idea that their minds/consciousness/souls perhaps do take on a new kind of life - after death - and so they would have less to fear about such an eventuality.

See also:


Kill your inner John Bolton

bolton's moustache

John Bolton's moustache may be more famous than he is
We each have a miniature John Bolton living rent-free inside our heads, ruining our peace and promoting world domination at every opportunity.

Hear me out.

The most common objection I hear when I advocate non-interventionist foreign policy can essentially be boiled down to something like, "But- but- but if we're not controlling the world all the time, then the world will be out of our control!" The argument, as I understand it, is that if the US-centralized empire stopped waging endless wars, staging coups, inflicting siege warfare upon civilian populations, patrolling the skies with flying death robots, arming terrorist militias, and torturing journalists who expose US war crimes, the bad guys might win.

Comment: This piece from Johnstone sounds suspiciously like an invitation to navel gaze. Yes, meditation can be helpful to separate oneself from the constant chatter and vying for control of the ego. But to liken that to 'just let everything be' on a geopolitical level is a bit naive.


Is psychology building a house of cards?

brain puzzle
© Ratoca/Shutterstock
Here's a short quiz concerning several popular findings from different subfields of psychology. True or False?

1. Brain training games strengthen cognitive skills in ways that generalize to everyday life tasks.

2. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, the class of anti-depressants that includes Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil (among others), are more effective than older anti-depressants, and are significantly better than placebo for most people with mild or moderate depression

3. Standing in a "power pose" prior to a job interview, hands on your hips or interlocked behind your head, increases testosterone production as well as the odds of being selected for the job.

4. The reason most types of psychotherapy are helpful is because they share a set of common factors, such as empathy, not because of specific methods unique to each approach.

5. Girls and women perform better on math tests when they are told the test doesn't really measure anything about their true math ability. This is one variant of the stereotype threat effect.

6. If you are asked to resist eating a freshly baked chocolate cookie on a nearby plate for 15 minutes, your performance on a cognitive test is likely to diminish — a phenomenon called ego-depletion.

7. The Stanford Prison Study, in which participants were randomly assigned to be guards or prisoners in a mock prison, showed definitively that specific contexts can lead people to act sadistically.

And now the answers:

Comment: See also: Undead theories: The sorry state of modern psychology


Human perception of colour doesn't rely entirely on language

Colour Perception
Do names shape the way we categorise what we perceive?
The unusual side effect of a stroke has given French neurologists a rare opportunity to study the interaction between language and thought.

A male patient identified only as RDS discovered that while he could identify something as red, blue, green, or any other chromatic hue, he could not name the object's colour.

This gets to the heart of an issue that neuroscientists and philosophers have long debated: do names shape the way we categorise what we perceive, or do they correspond to categories that arise from perception?

"We perceive colours as continuous. There is no sharp boundary between, say, red and blue. And yet conceptually we group colours into categories associated with colour names," says Paolo Bartolomeo from the Brain and Spine Institute in Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, the senior author of paper in the journal Cell Reports.

Many scientists believe categorising colours depends on top-down input from the language system to the visual cortex. Colour names are believed to be stored in the brain's left hemisphere and to depend on language-related activity in the left side of the brain.

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MindMatters: T.C. Lethbridge And The Psi-Science Of The Pendulum

Do we have access to a 'superconscious' part of our minds - that can become, under certain conditions, and with much observation, more or less conscious, or at the very least, made use of? Are there technologies which can, like a psi-powered geiger counter, help us to find things in our environments - and perhaps even assist us to navigate life - from other levels of awareness? Not content to retire as honorary Keeper of Anglo-Saxon Antiquities at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, T.C. Lethbridge devoted the latter part of his life towards answering these questions, and searching for the answers to questions that materialists aren't even aware of.

On this week's MindMatters, we discuss Lethbridge's last and most famous book, The Power of the Pendulum, and take a look at Lethbridge's experience using the pendulum, his thoughts about human perception, as well as his well-informed opinion of orthodox science and the ideas that seek to limit the very types of explorations into mind that he devoted many years to uncovering.

Running Time: 01:01:46

Download: MP3 — 56.6 MB


Snorting powdered toad secretions just once is linked to feeling happier for a month

© kuhnmi/Wikimedia, CC-BY-2.0
In the last few years, evidence has been emerging that several psychedelics seem to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Now scientists have tested a new compound - and early trials indicate that it, too, has potential.

As with many other psychedelics, this one comes from nature, too. Specifically, we're talking 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT), secreted by the Colorado River toad (Incilius alvarius).

Among a small group of people, researchers led by Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that inhaling dried-and-powdered toad secretions resulted in increased life satisfaction, better mindfulness, and a decrease in psychopathological symptoms for the duration of the four-week-long study.

According to the team, this result shows more research is needed into the potential beneficial effects of 5-MeO-DMT.

Comment: See also: Exploring the frontiers of psychedelics


The humans are waking up (maybe)

eye closeup
You run into a lot of despair in this line of work. The more you learn about the mechanisms of power, the more hopeless things seem at first glance.

The political system is totally locked down, with anyone who tries to upend the status quo being aggressively sabotaged by the mass media and their own political party.

Technology, which futurists have long heralded as the deus ex machina which will liberate humanity from its self-destructive ways, is owned by plutocrats with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and is pervasively infiltrated by murderous intelligence agencies from top to bottom.

Comment: It's hard to say for sure whether this is simply some wishful thinking on the part of Johnstone, or there really is a mass-awakening phenomenon at play here. Keeping a constant eye on the headlines, as we do here at SOTT, certainly doesn't make one optimistic for any kind of evolution in consciousness. It seems quite likely that a good majority of people on this planet aren't ready for any kind of awakening - but what about the ones who are? Regardless, the best approach is to not worry about what everyone else is doing and try evolve yourself. Your efforts may have a currently unknown effect on humanity at large.