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Fri, 20 Apr 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Why most psychology research is BS, and what you need to do to optimize your life

© Wikimedia Commons
With close to 40 million views, the TED Talk on power posing is one of psychology's most-shared videos ever.

According to Amy Cuddy, the Harvard researcher behind the power-posing study, if you stand in a confident posture (think Superman or Superwoman) for a mere two minutes, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol will plummet and your testosterone will skyrocket.

Cuddy's famous paper on the subject claims that this two-minute exercise causes testosterone to increase by 20 percent and cortisol to drop by 25 percent.

Unfortunately, no one has been able to replicate her research.

This isn't the only troubled finding in the world of psychology. There's been a recent rash of behavioral science studies getting overturned-one replication of 100 psychology studies found only a 36.1 percent reproducibility rate.

Arrow Up

People with high IQ are better at cooperating with others

man high iq
Intelligent people are better at cooperating with others, new research finds.

While personality traits like being generous and conscientious have an effect on cooperation, higher IQ is the main factor that encourages people to work well together.

That is why people with high IQs are so essential: without them society would not work.

People with lower intelligence tend not to use a consistent strategy and fail to consider the consequences of their actions, the researchers also found.


Seeing what's unseen about yourself and how to conquer self awareness blind spots

climbing out
© Simone Acquaroli
"The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions." ― Leonardo da Vinci
What we see clouds our judgment; what we don't see bias our behaviors.

Six men in a village went to observe an elephant. It was their first time - all of them were blind.

"It's a pillar." said the man who touched the elephant's leg.

"No, it's like a rope." - said other after touching the tail.

The blind men began to argue; everyone believed he was right. After observing the elephant, the rest thought that it was either a snake, spear, hand fan or branch.

A wise man who was passing by calmly explained: "You are all right. Everyone noticed something different because each of you touched a different part; the elephant has all the features you all said."

Our reality is like the elephant in this Indian parable: everyone observes parts of it. That's why others can see aspects of yourself that you are missing.


What's really going on when we die?

There were times reading the University of Western Ontario's study, published this January in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, when I couldn't tell if it's all a big scary attempt to terrify us or if it's an earnest, scientific and intellectual inquiry into what happens to our memories when we die. The findings - which say our brains are working as much as 10 minutes after we pass - are mind blowing enough to argue that it's both.

As you know, the topic of what happens at the end has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. Authors have written books about it. Hollywood has made movies. The 2014 film Heaven Is For Real, about a 4-year old boy who told his parents he visited heaven while having surgery, was a huge box office success.

But even before that, we've all heard stories of how people who have died and come back to life say they saw light at the end of a tunnel. Or that they floated above their bodies, watching doctors desperately work to bring them back to life. I know one such person.


Why it's right and necessary to let boys be boys

© Frank Polich/Reuters
When you spend time with boys and girls, one of the first things you notice is that they're generally profoundly different. I say generally, of course, because there are exceptions to every human behavioral rule. All girls aren't the same. All boys aren't the same. But there are general truths, and those who view the world with honest eyes can see them every day.

I sometimes think back to the week I spent a few years ago chaperoning my daughter's eighth-grade class trip to Washington, D.C. It was like shepherding two different colonies of humans. There was the girl group - quiet, dutiful, occasionally tearful, but handling their drama via text message and social media. Then there was the boy group, best described as a rolling, nonstop low-level brawl. They were constantly pushing, grabbing, and mocking. One could often discern the best friendships by finding the guys who most aggressively attacked each other, verbally and physically.

The patterns - though less pronounced, since everything is less pronounced outside of middle school - persist throughout life. Boys are stronger than girls. They're more physically active, less willing to sit still. They're more aggressive. In many ways, their very nature rebels against the increasing emphasis on order and quiet in American schooling. There is less room for play. There is less room for conflict. There is less room for boys.

Comment: See also:


In search of utopia for lobsters


A review of
12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson, Random House Canada (January 23, 2018) 409 pages, and Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari, Bloomsbury USA (January 23, 2018) 336 pages.

Two recent and highly influential books have both addressed a puzzling question: despite unprecedented levels of material wealth, why are so many people in the modern world still so anxious and depressed?

For Canadian clinical psychologist / intellectual celebrity, Jordan B. Peterson, the issue lies primarily within individuals themselves. His book 12 Rules for Life argues that many people, especially young men, lack meaning, purpose and connection because they have not taken on enough personal responsibility for their own lives.


A wise Easter message: How to face suffering

Professor Jordan B. Peterson
A professor friend who endures the inanity now routine at universities - touchy, twenty-something totalitarians, or identity politics which makes ethnicity, skin colour and culture relevant instead of character, academic ability and aptitude - told me of how he first heard about Jordan Peterson: His University of Calgary colleagues were near-unanimous that Peterson, a University of Toronto clinical psychologist, was racist, sexist and beyond the pale.

Peterson became famous in late 2016 for opposing federal legislation to include artificial gender categories in the human rights code. Add to that Peterson's refusal to bend to his own university's diktats that he use made-up gender pronouns such as "zhe" in place of evolutionary-derived and fixed gender categories.

Comment: From Peterson's website:

On the ark of the covenant, the cathedral, and the cross: Easter Message I

There has to be a bridge between the finite and the infinite.

There has to be a place where the ephemeral meets the eternal.

There has to be a bridge between the knowable and the unknowable.

There has to be bedrock at the foundation.

The ark, which is the portal to God, is to be carried on the shoulders of those who are Holy. It is not to be touched. To touch the ark is to risk death. There are holy things that cannot be touched except at mortal risk. These things that cannot be touched are the very foundation of the community.

The ark must be placed at the center of the temple. The temple must be placed at the center of the community. The community must be arranged around what is untouchable and unshakeable. The untouchable and unshakeable is what is axiomatic. The people following the ark have determined to journey toward the eternal Promised Land.

The city arranged properly around the ark of the covenant is eternal Jerusalem.

Something must be axiomatic, or everything shakes and falls. The axiomatic cannot be expressed fully in words. The axiomatic, untouchable and unshakeable, is instead what makes communication possible. The axiomatic is a spirit, a process, a living force. Its manifestations, however, are concrete. That is the transformation of the spirit into matter. That is the generation of the Tablets of Stone.

The ark of the covenant contains the Rules that are derived in the first order from the axiomatic principle. That principle is the Spirit that made the Rules manifest. The Spirit is the ultimate inhabitant of the ark, and the rules the result of its action. That Spirit is the creative Logos.

The ark of the covenant and the temple is replaced by the cathedral at the center of the community. The cathedral is the cross in architectural form. The cross is where the transformation takes place. The transformation is the incorporation of the body of Christ. That incorporation is a dramatic pretense; is the embodiment of the decision not to believe in Christ but to act Him out, which is to believe in a much deeper manner than to merely believe.

Christ is He who transcends death by voluntarily accepting death. Christ is He who rejects the kingdoms of this world for the Kingdom of God. Christ is He who speaks the truth that creates the habitable order that is good from the chaos of potential that exists prior to the materialization of reality. Christ is He who wields potential as the sword that cleaves death. Christ is He whose radical acceptance of the conditions of life defeats the hatred, bitterness and vengefulness that the tragedy and malevolence that taints Being otherwise produces. Without the acceptance of death, bitterness rules, and Hell triumphs.

Christ is the potential of man and woman.

It is said that man and woman alike are made in the image of God, and that God is He who uses the eternal Logos to generate habitable order from the chaos of potential. This is the axiom. This is the diamond at the center of the world. This is the Spirit in the ark that is untouchable. This is the bedrock of the culture that brings peace and prosperity and that respects the dignity of man. This is the Great Truth. This is the responsibility whose acceptance allows each of us to live despite the catastrophic fragility of our limited being. Our likeness to God gives each of us a value that transcends the finite. Individual and society alike are charged with the ethical demand to respect that value. This is not only the presumption that grounds the idea of the Rights of Man. It is the presumption that lays upon each of us the Ultimate Responsibility that is the inevitable corollary of those Rights.

Face the chaos of the future.

Employ the Logos of which you are a part to transform that chaos into the habitable order that is Good. Speak the truth. Embody the truth.

Accept, impossibly, the limitations that make Being possible. Dispense in that manner with resentment, hatred, and the desire for infinite and unbounded vengeance and all the cruelty and evil that accompanies it. Pick up the cross of your tragedy and betrayal. Accept its terrible weight. Hoist it onto your shoulders and struggle impossibly upward toward the Kingdom of God on the hill.

The alternative is Death and Hell.


'Rise in possessions' leads Vatican to hold exorcist training course

still from the exorcist
© Rex/Shutterstock
A still from the 1973 film The Exorcist. A Christian thinktank said exorcisms were a ‘booming industry’ in the UK, particularly among Pentecostal churches.
Critics warn exorcism can be a form of spiritual abuse as priests report jump in possession claims

The Vatican is to hold a training course for priests in exorcism next month amid claims that demands for deliverance from demonic possession have greatly increased across the the world.

The Vatican-backed International Association of Exorcists, which represents more than 200 Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox priests, said the increase represented a "pastoral emergency".

According to a priest from Sicily, the number of people in Italy claiming to be possessed had tripled to 500,000 a year, and an Irish priest has said demand for exorcisms has "risen exponentially".

Comment: The rise in demand for exorcisms could be ascribed to more mundane, non-spiritual causes including the rise in mental health issues, increased toxicity of the environment, and likely many more possible cofounders. But could it also be that, during such trying times as we're currently experiencing on this planet, spirit attachments have more opportunities to take hold?

See also:


What happens when social psychologists cry wolf

Boy who cried wolf
"The boy leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, 'Wolf! Wolf!' But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come."-Aesop, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"

Sure, she was young and cute. But that's not why I gave her the money for the payphone. Regardless, she put up her hand like a crossing guard when I tried to hand her the quarters. Said she didn't need the money. Said she was just doing a study: a study of people's willingness to give money to strangers. Her thesis-soon to be published, no doubt, in The Journal of Incredibly Obvious Results-is that the race, class, and gender of the person being asked (and the person doing the asking) are important. "For instance," she said-with all of the sanctimonious seriousness of an annoying nine-year-old boy who's memorized the names of the dinosaurs-"men like you are far more likely to give money to an attractive well-dressed young women than to a guy with a mohawk who looks like a junkie and smells bad." "Um, yeah," I replied-visibly pissed off at this point-"because I figure he wants the money for heroin. I thought you actually needed the money for the phone. Regardless, does it occur to you that I might be less likely to give money to anyone in the future?" She looked perplexed. Vaguely hurt. "Um, no, why?" "Because I'm gonna think it's just another stupid study."

Cell Phone

The happiest teenagers only use digital media less than an hour a day

kids social media
Worried about your child's smartphone use getting out of hand? You should be. A new study finds that teens who are hooked on their phones and other digital devices are "markedly" unhappier than their less-plugged-in peers.

Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia examined data on more than a million 8th, 10th, and 12th grade American students participating in the longterm "Monitoring the Future" study. Participants were polled on their mobile device and computer use and their amount of face-to-face social interaction with others. They were also surveyed on their level of overall happiness.

The authors found that teens who spent more time hanging out with friends in person and less time texting or video chatting were happier than those who spent more time in front of a screen. There was a notable increase in overall life satisfaction for students who participated in more extracurricular activities or sports, as well as those who read actual print publications more frequently. The research team believes that habitual use of smartphones or computers to socialize was a key factor in how unhappy a participant felt.