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Wed, 22 Aug 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

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Self-control is the trait that can make people happier

happy woman
People with higher self-control are happier because they pursue more rewarding goals, research finds.

Having high self-control is linked to being more positive in life, approaching potentially rewarding situations and achieving ambitions.

People high on self-control are also less likely to focus on the negative, which leads to avoidance.

The result is that people with high self-control are happier:
"...individuals with higher [self-control] are not only happier in that they experience greater life satisfaction, they also do not need to self-regulate as often as one may think."

Comment: See also:

Heart - Black

Why do some folks undercut helpful people?

good deed kindness children
© Library of Congress
The motivation for punishing people who are 'too nice'.

People who are generous and cooperative can get punished by others for being 'too good', new research finds.

Humans in all cultures can be suspicious of those who appear nicer or better than the rest. Also, the top cooperators and nicest people make others look bad, so bringing them down a peg or two can be attractive. That is why some of the nicest people can attract social punishment and even hatred.


Is psychedelics research closer to theology than to science?

Do psychedelics give access to a universal, mystical experience of reality, or is that just a culture-bound illusion?

In case you hadn't noticed, we're in the middle of a psychedelic renaissance. Research into the healing potential of psychedelics has re-started at prestigious universities such as Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and Imperial College London, and is making rock stars out of the scientists carrying it out. Their findings are being reported with joy and exultation by mainstream media - on CNN, the BBC, even the Daily Mail. Respectable publishers such as Penguin are behind psychedelics bestsellers such as Michael Pollan's book How To Change Your Mind (2018), which was reviewed enthusiastically across the political spectrum. Silicon Valley billionaires are putting their blockchain millions into funding psychedelics research, and corporates are preparing for a juicy new market. The counterculture has gone mainstream. Turn on, tune in, sell out.

The renaissance involves the resurrection of many ideas from the first 'summer of love' in 1967, in particular, the mystical theory of psychedelics. This idea was introduced by Aldous Huxley in his classic The Doors of Perception (1954). Having studied mystical experiences for more than a decade without really having one, Huxley took mescaline, and felt that he'd finally been let in to the mystics' club. Other 1960s gurus such as Alan Watts, Ram Dass and Huston Smith were also convinced that psychedelics led to genuine mystical experiences, and would be a catalyst for Western culture's spiritual awakening.

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The Truth Perspective: An Introduction to Jordan Peterson's Maps of Meaning: Explaining Evil and Transforming Chaos

Professor Jordan B. Peterson
In 1999, Jordan Peterson published his first book, Maps of Meaning. The central question he set out to answer was this: "how did evil - particularly group-fostered evil - come to play its role in the world?" Now, nearly twenty years later and given Peterson's newfound popularity, the book has started selling again, especially given that he just released an audiobook version.

Today on the Truth Perspective, we will take a look at the basic ideas Peterson introduces and their connections with other works and theories, like Lobaczewski's ponerology and Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration.

Running Time: 01:30:45

Download: OGG, MP3

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Emotional reactivity: People who think faster in a bad mood

Being in a bad mood can help certain people think more efficiently, according to new research.

Feeling fed up can boost some people's 'executive functioning', which includes their ability to focus, plan and prioritise tasks.

Conversely, good moods sometimes reduce other people's executive functioning.

Professor Tara McAuley, study co-author, said:
"Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life."

Comment: Bad moods 'boost memory and judgement'
Being in a bad mood may not be all gloom and doom after Australian scientists found that negative feelings improved judgement, boosted memory and made people less gullible.

The study, authored by psychology professor Joseph Forgas at the University of New South Wales, showed that people in a bad mood were more critical of, and paid more attention to, their surroundings than happier people, who were more likely to believe anything they were told.

People 2

Genetic studies uncover potentially two subtypes of neuroticism: 'Depressed affect' and 'worry'

worried face
© Westend61/Getty
Nearly 600 genes associated with neuroticism have been identified in the biggest study of its kind so far. The research shows that neuroticism has two different subtypes which are coded by different sets of genes, and is a big step in our understanding of the underlying biology of personality.

The research, led by Danielle Posthuma of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, looked at the genomes and personality questionnaires of nearly half a million people from several countries.

Neuroticism is one of the "big five" personality traits. We already knew that people who score highly for neuroticism - an important risk factor for schizophrenia and depression - are more likely to worry and be moody, anxious and guilty.

The team found around 600 genes that were involved in neuroticism, and that the personality trait seemed to be made up from two different clusters of genes. Each cluster appears to contribute to a separate subtype of neurotic behaviour.

These were dubbed 'depressed affect' - the tendency to experience frequent mood changes and feel lonely, and 'worry' - a tendency to be anxious and fret about what other people think of you. Full-blown neuroticism seemed to arise from a mix of the genetic signals from both clusters.


The first memories of 40% of people are made up, study finds

© Shutterstock
Two-fifths of people have a fictional first memory based on fragments of early experiences, psychologists have found.

Scientists questioned participants in a survey that identified more than 2,000 individuals claiming to have memories from the age of two or younger.

Current research suggests that memories cannot be formed before about three-and-a-half years. Yet 893 of those taking part in the survey said they had memories extending to before their first birthday.

The researchers studied the content, language, nature and descriptive detail of the early memory descriptions. They found that the memories were fictional patchworks based on fragments of early remembered experiences combined with facts derived from photos and family conversations.



Thoughts can change the physical structure of your brain

The way people think and act not only affects the way the brain operates, but also its shape, according to researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH). They found that each brain has physical properties as unique as fingerprints that can alter over time.

Studies have shown that thoughts alone can improve vision, fitness, and strength. The placebo effect, as observed with fake operations and sham drugs, for example, works because of the power of thought. Expectancies and learned associations have been shown to change brain chemistry and circuitry which results in real physiological and cognitive outcomes, such as less fatigue, lower immune system reaction, elevated hormone levels, and reduced anxiety.

Reasoning, spatial skills and speed of thought begin to decline around 20s to early 30s. As you age, your brain goes through changes that can slow down your thinking: It loses volume, the cortex becomes thinner, the myelin sheath surrounding the fibers of your neurons begins to degrade, and your brain receptors don't fire as quickly.

Some brain areas, including the hippocampus, shrink in size depending on thought patterns. The myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers wears down, which can slow the speed of communication between neurons. Some of the receptors on the surface of neurons that enable them to communicate with one another may not function as well as they once did. These changes can affect your ability to encode new information into your memory and retrieve information that's already in storage.

Comment: See also: New study links brain cortex shape to personality traits


Neurotheology: What happens to the brain during spiritual experiences?

spiritual experiences
© Athit Perawongmetha
A devotee in a state of trance is calmed by volunteers at a Buddhist temple in Nakhon Pathom Province, Thailand.
The field of neurotheology uses science to try to understand religion, and vice versa.

"Everyone philosophizes," writes neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg in his latest book, The Metaphysical Mind: Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought. We all speculate about the meaning of all kinds of things, from everyday concerns about dealing with a co-worker to our ultimate beliefs about the purpose of existence. Accompanying solutions we find to these problems, there's a range of satisfied feelings, from "ah-ha" or light-bulb moments upon solving an everyday problem to ecstatic feelings during mystical experiences.

Since everyday and spiritual concerns are variations of the same thinking processes, Newberg thinks it's essential to examine how people experience spirituality in order to fully understand how their brains work. Looking at the bigger questions has already provided practical applications for improving mental and physical health.

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The Health & Wellness Show: Dudes in Distress: The State of Men and Boys in the West

boys adrift
Lately, there has been lots of talk about the gender gap. For most people the gender gap refers to disparities in treatment between men and women with the focus solely being on female inequality. The truth is that male inequality has been thoroughly ignored and boys and men are losing out. Males are falling behind in various aspects of society including education, employment and health. They make up the majority of suicides, high school dropouts, the homeless and workplace fatalities all the while being excoriated in misandrist attacks for their 'toxic masculinity'. Is it any wonder that men, marked as disposable, are deciding to go their own way? And if the patriarchy reigns supreme, why are males in such dire straits?

Join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show where we'll discuss the state of men and boys in the West and the continuous whittling away of their status in society by radical feminists and the efforts to combat this trend. For contrast, we'll also take a look at some actual toxic males who give a bad name to all the good guys out there.

Running Time: 01:23:35

Download: OGG, MP3

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