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Tue, 03 Aug 2021
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Book

The power of identification: We actually 'become' happy vampires or contented wizards when reading a book

reading
© Unknown
learning is fun - results confirm that the motivation to learn is preserved throughout the lifespan
University at Buffalo study finds assimilated narratives open brave new worlds to us and in us.

Bad news for muggle parents! A new study by psychologists at the University at Buffalo finds that we more or less "become" vampires or wizards just by reading about them.

The good news is that, although we might think our teeth are a little sharper after a session with Twilight, reading satisfies a deeply felt need for human connection because we not only feel like the characters we read about but, psychologically speaking, become part of their world and derive emotional benefits from the experience.

"Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective Assimilation Hypothesis," published in the current issue journal Psychological Science, presents research supporting the authors' hypothesis that by absorbing narratives, we can psychologically become a member of the group of characters described therein, a process that makes us feel connected to those characters and their social world.

Authors Shira Gabriel, PhD, associate professor of psychology at UB, and Ariana Young, a UB graduate student working in the field of social psychology, also found that the sense of belonging that results from assimilating narratives provokes the same feelings of satisfaction and happiness we would have if we actually were part of the world described.

Comment: Since identification with the narrative (whether through a book, movie, radio or television show) has such a powerful effect on human psyche, it would be advisable and beneficial to look for impressions that act as "food for the soul", and be wary of influences that promote pathological thinking or further immersion in the illusion.

Consider the following from Superluminal Communication transcript dated 9th of April, 2011:
A: Being careful about what you allow into your "field".

Q: (L) In what sense?

A: All senses.

Q: (L) What do you mean "all senses"?

A: Seeing, hearing, speaking, and so on [...]

A: We have more in mind. Take care with interacting with negative energies.

Q: (L) Well that's kinda like creating your own reality, isn't it?

A: Not what we mean... Keep your guard up and do not allow negative energies to slip by... such as believing lies... listening to negative music while thinking it is positive...watching negative movies and thinking it is negligible. It is extremely important to not lie to the self. One can listen or watch many things as long as the truth of the orientation is known, acknowledged, and understood. Clear?

Q: (L) So, in other words: awareness. Calling a spade a spade and not allowing something negative to enter you and believing it is positive. You can see it, perceive it and acknowledge it but not allow it to influence you. Because obviously, you cannot shut off your perceptions of the world, but you can control how it affects you. So, don't let it inside, thinking it's something that it's not.

(Belibaste) So, see it as it is. If it is negative, see it as negative.

(L) Yeah, and they're saying to focus on truth in order for changes to manifest in you that are positive. That is, "positive" can mean acknowledging that something is negative because it is truth.

Q: (Galatea) Choose the seeds you wish to water.

(L) Is that basically what we're talking about here?

A: Yes



Hourglass

The Quarterlife Crisis: Young, Insecure and Depressed

Quarter life crisis
© Jeffrey Blackler/Alamy
One third of all people in their 20s feel depressed, say researchers.
New research by British psychologists shows educated twenty and thirty-somethings most likely to be hit by pre-midlife blues

It is supposed to be the time of opportunity and adventure, before mortgages and marriage have taken their toll. But struggling to cope with anxieties about jobs, unemployment, debt and relationships, many young adults are experiencing a "quarterlife crisis", according to new research by British psychologists .

Bearing all the hallmarks of the midlife crisis, this phenomenon - characterised by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness and depression - is hitting twenty- and thirty-somethings shortly after they enter the "real world", with educated professionals most likely to suffer.

"Quarterlife crises don't happen literally a quarter of the way through your life," said lead researcher Dr Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich in London. "They occur a quarter of your way through adulthood, in the period between 25 and 35, although they cluster around 30."

Bulb

Who knows you best? Not you, say psychologists

Image
© Unknown
Know thyself. That was Socrates' advice, and it squares with conventional wisdom. "It's a natural tendency to think we know ourselves better than others do," says Washington University in St. Louis assistant professor Simine Vazire.

But a new article by Vazire and her colleague Erika N. Carlson reviews the research and suggests an addendum to the philosopher's edict: Ask a friend. "There are aspects of personality that others know about us that we don't know ourselves, and vice-versa," says Vazire. "To get a complete picture of a personality, you need both perspectives." The paper is published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

It's not that we know nothing about ourselves. But our understanding is obstructed by blind spots, created by our wishes, fears, and unconscious motives - the greatest of which is the need to maintain a high (or if we're neurotic, low) self-image, research shows. Even watching ourselves on videotape does not substantially alter our perceptions - whereas others observing the same tape easily point out traits we're unaware of.

Not surprisingly, our intimates and those who spend the most time with us know us best. But even strangers have myriad cues to who we are: clothes, musical preferences, or Facebook postings. At the same time, our nearest and dearest have reasons to distort their views. After all, a boorish spouse or bullying child says something to the other spouse or parent. "We used to collect ratings from parents - and we've mostly stopped, because they're useless," notes Vazire. What such data would show: Everyone's own child is brilliant, beautiful, and charming.

Comment: But as always, the devil is in the details, and more often than not feedback from others may be colored by their own perceptions and blind spots. Thus, it is the catch 22 of objective observation, where one has to be willing to shed or go beyond the personal bias, projection or preconception, and learn to see oneself and others as they are.


Yoda

Swearing can help relieve pain, study claims

Swearing
© ALAMY
Research proves that swearing triggers not only an emotional response, but a physical one too

Scientists from Keele University found that letting forth a volley of foul language can have a powerful painkilling effect, especially for people who do not normally use expletives.

To test the theory, student volunteers placed their hands in a bucket of ice cold water while swearing repeatedly.

They then repeated the exercise but, instead of swearing, used a harmless phrase instead.

Researchers found that the students were able to keep their hands submerged in the icy water for longer when repeating the swear word - establishing a link between swearing and an increase in pain tolerance.

They also found that the pain-numbing effect was four times more likely to work in the volunteers who did not normally use bad language.

The team believes the pain-lessening effect occurs because swearing triggers the ''fight or flight'' response.

The accelerated heart rates of the students repeating the swear word may indicate an increase in aggression, in a classic fight or flight response of ''downplaying feebleness in favour of a more pain-tolerant machismo''.

Eye 1

Missing the gorilla: Why we don't see what's right in front of our eyes

Image
© Janelle Seegmiller, U of Utah, and Daniel Simons, U of Illinois
University of Utah psychologist Jason Watson displays a famous video showing people passing a basketball while a person in a gorilla suit walks across the screen. When unsuspecting viewers were asked to count how many times the basketball is passed, more than 40 percent failed to see the person in the gorilla suit. Watson and his colleagues conducted new research expanding on earlier work by psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons -- authors of the 2010 book "The Invisible Gorilla" -- and showing that a better "working memory capacity" explains why 58 percent of people to see the gorilla even if they are focusing on counting basketball passes.
University of Utah psychologists have learned why many people experience "inattention blindness" - the phenomenon that leaves drivers on cell phones prone to traffic accidents and makes a gorilla invisible to viewers of a famous video.

The answer: People who fail to see something right in front of them while they are focusing on something else have lower "working memory capacity" - a measure of "attentional control," or the ability to focus attention when and where needed, and on more than one thing at a time.

"Because people are different in how well they can focus their attention, this may influence whether you'll see something you're not expecting, in this case, a person in a gorilla suit walking across the computer screen," says the study's first author, Janelle Seegmiller, a psychology doctoral student.

The study - explaining why some people are susceptible to inattention blindness and others are not - will be published in the May issue of The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.

Bulb

Addressing negative thoughts most effective in fighting loneliness

Image
© Unknown
Better loneliness interventions sought to reduce its harmful effects on health.

Changing how a person perceives and thinks about others was the most effective intervention for loneliness, a sweeping analysis of previous research has determined. The findings may help physicians and psychologists develop better treatments for loneliness, a known risk factor for heart disease and other health problems.

Recently, researchers have characterized the negative influence of loneliness upon blood pressure, sleep quality, dementia, and other health measures. Those effects suggest that loneliness is a health risk factor, similar to obesity or smoking, which can be targeted to improve patients' health in several dimensions.

"People are becoming more isolated, and this health problem is likely to grow," said John Cacioppo, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago. "If we know that loneliness is involved in health problems, the next question is what we can do to mitigate it."

To determine the most effective method for reducing loneliness, Cacioppo and a team of researchers from the University of Chicago examined the long history of research on the topic. Published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, their quantitative review found that the best interventions targeted social cognition rather than social skills or opportunities for social interaction.

The team's review, called a meta-analysis, analyzed the methods and results from dozens of papers that tested loneliness interventions. Strategies fell into four categories: improving social skills, increasing social support, creating opportunities for social interaction, and addressing social cognition.

Bulb

How Meditation Might Ward Off the Effects of Ageing

Image
© Blaine Harrington III/Corbis
The Shamatha project took place at Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado, USA.
A study at a US Buddhist retreat suggests eastern relaxation techniques can protect our chromosomes from degenerating.

High in the mountains of northern Colorado, a 100-foot tall tower reaches up through the pinetops. Brightly coloured and strung with garlands, its ornate gold leaf glints in the sun. With a shape that symbolises a giant seated Buddha, this lofty stupa is intended to inspire those on the path to enlightenment.

Visitors here to the Shambhala Mountain Centre meditate in silence for up to 10 hours every day, emulating the lifestyle that monks have chosen for centuries in mountain refuges from India to Japan. But is it doing them any good? For two three-month retreats held in 2007, this haven for the eastern spiritual tradition opened its doors to western science. As attendees pondered the "four immeasurables" of love, compassion, joy and equanimity, a laboratory squeezed into the basement bristled with scientific equipment from brain and heart monitors to video cameras and centrifuges. The aim: to find out exactly what happens to people who meditate.

Yoda

Study links willingness to cheat, viewpoint on God

The study found no difference in the ethical behavior of believers and nonbelievers. But participants who saw God as compassionate were more likely to cheat than those who believed in an angry, punitive God.

God believer cheating
© Karen Tapia-Andersen, Los Angeles Times
"People with benevolent, loving images of God tend to be moral relativists," says one sociologist.

A new study on the link between one's view of God and willingness to cheat on a test is the latest example of social scientists wading into the highly charged field of religion and morality.

The study, titled "Mean Gods Make Good People: Different Views of God Predict Cheating Behavior" was peer reviewed and published earlier this month in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.

In line with many previous studies, it found no difference between the ethical behavior of believers and nonbelievers. But those who believed in a loving, compassionate God were more likely to cheat than those who believed in an angry, punitive God.

People

Aimless, Mechanical, and Under the Power of External Influences: The Rewards of Doing "Something"

Image
© Unknown
People don't really care what they're doing - just as long as they are doing something. That's one of the findings summarized in a new review article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

When psychologists think about why people do what they do, they tend to look for specific goals, attitudes, and motivations. But they may be missing something more general - people like to be doing something. These broader goals, to be active or inactive, may have a big impact on how they spend their time.

Comment: "People don't really care what they're doing - just as long as they are doing something"...No wonder our world is in such a dire state.

The main obstacle to progress, according to Gurdjieff, was the mechanical nature of contemporary man, and his inability to carry anything through. From In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching by P. D. Ouspensky:
Everything happens. All that befalls a man, all that is done by him, all that comes from him - all this happens...

"Man is a machine. All his deeds, actions, words, thoughts, feelings, convictions, opinions, and habits are the results of external influences, external impressions. Out of himself a man cannot produce a single thought, a single action. Everything he says, does, thinks, feels - all this happens. Man cannot discover anything, invent anything. It all happens...

Everything happens - popular movements, wars, revolutions, changes of government, all this happens. And it happens in exactly the same way as everything happens in the life of individual man. Man is born, lives, dies, builds houses, writes books, not as he wants to, but as it happens. Everything happens. Man does not love, hate, desire - all this happens...
***
There is another kind of mechanization which is much more dangerous: being a machine oneself. Have you ever thought about the fact that all peoples themselves are machines?"

"Yes," I said, "from the strictly scientific point of view all people are machines governed by external influences. But the question is, can the scientific point of view be wholly accepted?"

"Scientific or not scientific is all the same to me," said G. "I want you to understand what I am saying. Look, all those people you see," he pointed along the street, "are simply machines - nothing more."

"I think I understand what you mean," I said. "And I have often thought how little there is in the world that can stand against this form of mechanization and choose its own path."

"This is just where you make your greatest mistake," said G. "You think there is something that chooses its own path, something that can stand against mechanization; you think that not everything is equally mechanical."

"Why, of course not!" I said. "Art, poetry, thought, are phenomena of quite a different order."

"Of exactly the same order," said G. "These activities are just as mechanical as everything else. Men are machines and nothing but mechanical actions can be expected of machines."

"Very well," I said. "But are there no people who are not machines?"

"It may be that there are," said G., "only not those people you see. And you do not know them. That is what I want you to understand."...

"People are so unlike one another," I said. "I do not think it would be possible to bring them all under the same heading. There are savages, there are mechanized people, there are intellectual people, there are geniuses."

"Quite right," said G., "people are very unlike one another, but the real difference between people you do not know and cannot see. The difference of which you speak simply does not exist. This must be understood. All the people you see, all the people you know, all the people you may get to know, are machines, actual machines working solely under the power of external influences, as you yourself said. Machines they are born and machines they die. How do savages and intellectuals come into this? Even now, at this very moment, while we are talking, several millions of machines are trying to annihilate one another. What is the difference between them? Where are the savages and where are the intellectuals? They are all alike . . .

"But there is a possibility of ceasing to be a machine."



Better Earth

Rogue Waves: The Global Food Crisis, Starvation, Spirulina and the Safe Places of those who Face Suffering

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Dr Mark Sircus
Most of us who have seen the Poseidon Adventure movie have seen what a rogue wave can do. Most seamen know of this rare hazard of the deep sea. What are unknown are simultaneous rouge waves - - not much can be done against one, image several hitting your ship of life at the same time. Events are beginning to move faster - - the waves are building, in fact they are towering waves that the blind do not see because they don't want to.

In countries where people live on less than $1 a day, a day's serving of rice or beans now costs more than the average daily wage.

Today we can no longer separate and divide one subject area from another. Concurrent events are destroying our normal tendency to put subject areas into nice orderly compartments -- giving more support to quantum mechanics and other mystical areas of thought, which insist that everything is connected. Charles Perrow of Yale University says "Interconnectedness in the global production system has now reached the point where a breakdown anywhere increasingly means a breakdown everywhere". This is especially true of the world's financial systems, where the coupling is very tight. "Now we have a debt crisis with the biggest player, the U.S. The consequences could be enormous."

We are going to get a crash course in these dynamics as we not only watch but participate in the food crisis, which is running smack into the oil, financial, ecological, climate and water crises. "The most worrisome thing about the vulnerability of the U.S. economy circa 2008," Kevin Phillips writes, "is the extent of official understatement and misstatement -- the preference for minimizing how many problems there are and how interconnected they are."

The heart feels itself to be part of the whole.