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Wed, 27 Oct 2021
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

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Are 'psychopath eyes' really a thing?

© Harpazo Hope/Getty Images
Crime dramas, thriller movies, and mystery novels have popularized psychopathy, contributing to plenty of myths around what it truly means.

For example, sometimes people use "psychopath" interchangeably with other stigmatizing terms, such as "evil," "violent," or "criminal." Perhaps you've read psychopaths experience no emotions at all and care nothing for the consequences of their actions.

You might've even heard it's possible to recognize a psychopath simply by looking into their eyes.

Yet psychopathy is somewhat more complex than these ideas suggest.

Comment: See also:


New study shows how our brains sync hearing with vision

To make sense of complex environments, brain waves constantly adapt, compensating for drastically different sound and vision processing speeds
Brain Signals
© Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
MEG signals revealed that recalibration was enabled by a unique interaction between fast and slow brain waves in auditory and visual brain regions.
Every high-school physics student learns that sound and light travel at very different speeds. If the brain did not account for this difference, it would be much harder for us to tell where sounds came from, and how they are related to what we see.

Instead, the brain allows us to make better sense of our world by playing tricks, so that a visual and a sound created at the same time are perceived as synchronous, even though they reach the brain and are processed by neural circuits at different speeds.

One of the brain's tricks is temporal recalibration: altering our sense of time to synchronize our joint perception of sound and vision. A new study finds that recalibration depends on brain signals constantly adapting to our environment to sample, order and associate competing sensory inputs together.

Scientists at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) of McGill university recruited volunteers to view short flashes of light paired with sounds with a variety of delays and asked them to report whether they thought both happened at the same time. The participants performed this task inside a magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine, which recorded and imaged their brain waves with millisecond precision. The audio-visual pairs of stimuli changed each time, with sounds and visual objects presented closer or farther apart in time, and with random orders of presentation.

The researchers found that the volunteers' perception of simultaneity between the audio and visual stimuli in a pair was strongly affected by the perceived simultaneity of the stimulus pair before it. For example, if presented with a sound followed by a visual milliseconds apart and perceived as asynchronous, one is much more likely to report the next audio-visual stimulus pair as synchronous, even when it's not. This form of active temporal recalibration is one of the tools used by the brain to avoid a distorted or disconnected perception of reality, and help establish causal relations between the images and sounds we perceive, despite different physical velocities and neural processing speeds.

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MindMatters: Surviving Materialism, Accepting the Afterlife

surviving death
Despite the plethora of anecdotes and scientific studies suggesting the existence of an 'afterlife,' the Western world as a whole is still largely in the dark about this all-important subject. Though good information does continue to present itself, there are many who are all-too-willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater - with a bucket of dogma informed by scientific materialism.

This week on MindMatters we look at some of the most interesting research on the subject, including the recent Netflix docu-series Surviving Death, based on journalist Leslie Kean's book of the same name. We also look at its relationship to consciousness, psi and values - and how the largely narrow perspective on these themes only goes to serve the "modern" trend to accept the nihilistic and toxic strain of ideologies, postmodernism, scientism, and other limiting belief systems. (See also Stephen Braude's Immortal Remains)

Running Time: 01:09:34

Download: MP3 — 65.9 MB

MindMatters is on LBRY.


Joe Dispenza's Four Pillars of Healing

It became clear to me, after years of interviewing people who had experienced spontaneous remissions and healings, that most of these individuals had four specific qualities in common. They had experienced the same coincidences.

Before I describe the four qualities common to these cases, I would like to note some of the factors that were not consistent among the people I studied. Not all practiced the same religion; several had no religious affiliation. Not many had a background as a priest, rabbi, minister, nun, or other spiritual profession. These individuals were not all New Agers. Only some prayed to a specific religious being or charismatic leader. They varied by age, gender, race, creed, culture, educational status, profession, and tax bracket. Only a few exercised daily, and they did not all follow the same dietary regimen. They were of varying body types and fitness levels. They varied in their habits pertaining to alcohol, cigarettes, television, and other media. Not all were heterosexual; not all were sexually active. My interviewees had no external situation in common that appeared to have caused the measurable changes in their health status.

Comment: This really goes to show if you have the intention and will to make real life changes, you can shatter the limiting paradigm of thoughts that plagues human beings and leads to dis-ease and literally and figuratively build a better life. See also:


You can hold your ground against critical theory

silhouette crowd
© vector vector
The maddening crowd
Wherever, however, don't back down...

Most "cancel culture" stories are brutal and alarming. It seems no one is safe from the threat of a mob intent on taking a person down: not acclaimed editors, not professors, not poets nor promising politicians nor regular college kids. It's my hope this story will provide encouragement that it's possible to withstand the mob. But you might have to learn how to fight fire with fire.

My husband and I co-founded a non-profit organization in 2010. At the time, we knew nothing about the woke ideology called Critical Theory (or sometimes "critical social justice"). Our motivation was to address disparities in mental health care. We had learned that lay people (without clinical training) made up the majority of trauma care providers working with vulnerable populations such as refugees and human trafficking survivors around the world. We wanted to help equip those lay care providers with good resources for increasing mental and emotional resilience in their communities.

We hired clinically-trained mental health professionals to develop our curriculum, oversee Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning, and run the international training program. The organization saw great success in our first seven years. We received accolades from all the right people in academia and the non-profit world, and we partnered with international and grass-roots organizations working with survivors of trauma in more than 50 countries.

Then a few years ago, we became aware of a gradual but marked shift in tone among our program team.

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The Myth of Authority

megaphone yelling boss
Humans are incapable of looking after, organising, protecting or ruling themselves. They need someone or something in power to do it for them. This creed emanates from every pore of the owner, the professional, the state, the institution and the egoic, unconscious parent.

Often the message is an explicit exhortation, or order, to respect authority, obey the prince or know your place, but usually, in the highly developed system, The Myth of Authority is implicit, an unspoken assumption that a world which has the power to command you and I, is normal, right and natural.

Obedience is fostered and sustained by rewarding those who submit and by punishing those who rebel. Schools are structured to identify and filter out children who 'don't play well with others', who 'voice strong opinions', who are 'disruptive', 'insubordinate' or have 'a relaxed attitude'; admission panels of elite universities and interviewers for top jobs are hyper-sensitive to threats from those who might turn out to be intractable; records, references and even whispered reputations, increasingly systematised, follow trouble-makers to their grave; and if, somehow, someone who is resistant to authority finds their way through this minefield to a position of influence, they will be worn down, undermined and, eventually, ejected.

Most of this happens [semi] automatically. The system is set up to nullify threat and reward compliance with minimal human interference[1]. Those who tend to its operations do so unconsciously, instinctively or without seriously questioning its values and imperatives. Meanwhile, those at the bottom of the pile look up in wonder at those chosen to lead.


The Virtuous Narcissist

captain america
Amara touted herself as a spiritual healer versed in sundry esoteric techniques such as holographic resonance and cathartic release work. She seemed wise and encouraging. It took me years to see the back-stabbing egomaniac that lurked beneath her mystical new age facade. By the time I woke up to the truth I was privy to the way she smeared my name to clients I sent her way, and recognized how her 'inspirational mentorship' was designed to disempower me. When she attempted to lure me back in with her seductive overtures of contrition I refused to be baited.

It was a hard lesson finally learned after a decade of friendship.

Those like myself who were groomed in childhood to be narcissistic supply, desperately sought to break the insidious pattern of falling prey to malignant narcissists. In spite of our efforts we inevitably traversed a torturous phase of recovery, in which we attracted the more polished seemingly altruistic, 'special', successful, and even 'spiritual' narcissists.

Caught up in fastidiously weeding out the blatant signs of narcissism such as smear campaigns, character assassination and incessant lies, we lost sight of the subtle nuanced and stealth ways narcissists maneuver. Desperate to align with kind people of character, we fell for the insidious ploy of conspicuous 'goodness' and moral superiority. Like magnets we gravitated towards those who strategically behaved altruistically and morally so as to gain the upper hand.

These exceptional magnanimous people, highly adept at virtue signaling and grandstanding, are known as covert narcissists and ambient abusers.

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When Men Behave Badly - A review

Rape of Lucretia
© Wikimedia Commons.
The Rape of Lucretia by Luca Giordano (1663)
A review of When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault by David M. Buss, Little, Brown Spark, 336 pages (April 2021)

david buss

David Buss
Professor David M. Buss, a leading evolutionary psychologist, states in the introduction of his fascinating new book that it "uncovers the hidden roots of sexual conflict." Though the book focuses on male misbehavior, it also contains a broad and fascinating overview of mating psychology.

Sex, as defined by biologists, is indicated by the size of our gametes. Males have smaller gametes (sperm) and females have larger gametes (eggs). Broadly speaking, women and men had conflicting interests in the ancestral environment. Women were more vulnerable than men. And women took on far more risk when having sex, including pregnancy, which was perilous in an environment without modern technology. In addition to the physical costs, in the final stages of pregnancy, women must also obtain extra calories. According to Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, pregnant women in their final trimester require an additional 200 calories per day, or 18,000 calories more in total than they otherwise would have required. This surplus was not easy to obtain for our ancestors. Men, in contrast, did not face the same level of sexual risk.

These differences in reproductive biology have given rise to differences in sexual psychology that are comparable to sex differences in height, weight, and upper-body muscle mass. However, Buss is careful to note, such differences always carry the qualifier "on average." Some women are taller than some men — but on average men are taller. Likewise, some women prefer to have more sex partners than some men — but on average men prefer more. These evolved differences are a key source of conflict.

One goal of the book is to highlight situations in which sexual conflict is diminished or amplified to prevent victimization and reduce harm.

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MindMatters: Mary Balogh: The Meaning and Purpose of Romance

Today on MindMatters we have the pleasure of speaking with multiple New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh. Mary is the author of over ninety historical romance novels and dozens of novellas. In this wide-ranging discussion Mary shares her thoughts on romance, her writing process, the nature of inspiration, and the meaning and purpose with which she imbues her novels. There's a reason romance is the bestselling genre of fiction, and there's a reason Mary Balogh is among the best of the best. And if you're not already a fan, tune in, and check out her books! You won't regret it.

Mary's website: marybalogh.com/
Mary on Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorMaryBalogh/
MindMatters on LBRY: lbry.tv/@MindMatters:4

Running Time: 01:58:11

Download: MP3 — 96.6 MB


Anesthesia works by changing the brain's rhythms says new research

Simultaneous measurement of neural rhythms and spikes across five brain areas in animals reveals how propofol induces unconsciousness.

In a uniquely deep and detailed look at how the commonly used anesthetic propofol causes unconsciousness, a collaboration of labs at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT shows that as the drug takes hold in the brain, a wide swath of regions become coordinated by very slow rhythms that maintain a commensurately languid pace of neural activity. Electrically stimulating a deeper region, the thalamus, restores synchrony of the brain's normal higher frequency rhythms and activity levels, waking the brain back up and restoring arousal.
Brain Scans
© The Picower Institute
Data from the research shows strong increases in synchrony only in very slow frequencies (deep red color) between the thalamus and four cortical regions.
"There's a folk psychology or tacit assumption that what anesthesia does is simply 'turn off' the brain," said Earl Miller, Picower Professor of Neuroscience and co-senior author of the study in eLife. "What we show is that propofol dramatically changes and controls the dynamics of the brain's rhythms."

Conscious functions, such as perception and cognition, depend on coordinated brain communication, in particular between the thalamus and the brain's surface regions, or cortex, in a variety of frequency bands ranging from 4 to 100 Hz. Propofol, the study shows, seems to bring coordination among the thalamus and cortical regions down to frequencies around just 1 Hz.

Miller's lab, led by postdoc Andre Bastos and former graduate student Jacob Donoghue, collaborated with that of co-senior author Emery N. Brown, who is Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience and an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. The collaboration therefore powerfully unified the Miller lab's expertise on how neural rhythms coordinate the cortex to produce conscious brain function with the Brown lab's expertise in the neuroscience of anesthesia and statistical analysis of neural signals.