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Thu, 20 Sep 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Twitter: The high school we can't log off from

social media cartoon
© Bráulio Amado

Twitter rewards us for our mistakes. It isn't designed to let us grow up.

It appears we're in the midst of yet another Twitter backlash. Marquee users have been slowly backing away from their feeds (or slipping off the grid entirely); last week, Twitter's stock plunged by more than 20 percent after the company reported a decline in monthly users.

The arguments for defection are at this point familiar: Twitter is a dark reservoir of hatred, home to the diseased national id. It turns us into our worst selves - dehumanizing us, deranging us, keying us up, beating us down, turning us into shrieking outrage monkeys hellbent on the innocents of Oz. It uncomplicates complicated discussion; stealth-curates our news; hijacks our dopamine systems, carrying us off on a devil's quest for ever more dime bags of retweets and likes.

Comment: While opposite sides of the aisle will disagree over exactly how, it seems most can agree that Twitter seems to bring out the worst in people. It really does seem to lower people to the level of high school tribalism, bullying and playground insults. As the above author notes, the platform can be used in a beneficial way, but it's up to the individual user to make that distinction and act accordingly.

Life Preserver

5 brutally honest truths to help overcome anxiety


"Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum."

- Baz Luhrmann
As a former severe anxiety sufferer, I beyond sympathize with those of you that are still entrenched in the unpredictable, overwhelming and oftentimes flat out scary experience that is anxiety.

For several years, anxiety was my unwanted sidekick that at its peak not only prevented me from properly eating and sleeping, but convinced me that I would never again be able to live another minute of my life without it. But as the restless nights, unhealthy thoughts, and panic attacks continued to mount, I eventually reached a point where I knew that the reality I was experiencing simply wasn't sustainable.

I personally committed to seek out every resource I could to learn and apply in hopes of conquering anxiety without the use of medication - since the side effects always have and continue to terrify me. While much of what I came across simply didn't work, there also was a great deal that did. But more than anything, what surprised me about my journey was how much of it was rooted in how I perceived and approached the mental health condition that impacts an estimated 10% of teenagers and 40% of adults in the United States.

Here are 5 brutally honest truths about anxiety that I believe you need to accept before you can successfully overcome it for good:

Comment: In this article, explaining the difference between worry and anxiety, it states that worrying lies in the head, while anxiety resides in the body. So you could say the 6th truth is one of the most effective ways of settling the nervous system and shutting off over-stimulation that can cause anxiety in a world gone mad is through deep breathing that activates the vagus nerve and brings back a sense of equilibrium. And one of the surest and most effective programs out there that does this is the Éiriú Eolas Breathing and Meditation Program.

2 + 2 = 4

What 90-somethings regret most

I interviewed the oldest people I know. Their responses contradict popular research about aging and happiness.
elderly woman with hands folded
© Cristian Newman on Unsplash
My preconceptions about older people first began to crumble when one of my congregants, a woman in her 80s, came into my office seeking pastoral care. She had been widowed for several years but the reason for her distress was not the loss of her husband. It was her falling in love with a married man. As she shared her story with me over a cup of tea and Kleenex, I tried to keep a professional and compassionate countenance, though, internally, I was bewildered by the realization that even into their 80s, people still fall for one another in that teenage, butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of way.

One of the strange and wonderful features of my job as a minister is that I get to be a confidant and advisor to people at all stages of life. I've worked with people who are double and even triple my age. Experience like this is rare; our economic structure and workforce are stratified, and most people are employed within their own demographics. But because I'm a minister in a mainline denomination with an aging base, the people I primarily interact with are over the age of 60. I came into my job assuming that I, a Korean-American woman in my mid-30s, would not be able to connect with these people - they're from a completely different racial and cultural background than me. It did not take long for me to discover how very wrong I was.


People 2

How to talk to someone who won't accept reality

Broken rope knot
Holiday family gatherings are right around the corner, which means you may soon find yourself face to face with that one kooky relative who believes that Obama is a Muslim, 9/11 was an inside job, or NASA staged the moon landing. Is there anything to do in this situation except change the subject and pour another glass of wine?

And how about the less loony but still substantive disagreements about facts? Is there any way to breach the divide if you're faced with someone who simply doesn't accept reality in some important way?

Most of us view these sorts of exchanges as hopeless causes, but not Ohio State University behavioral scientist Gleb Tsipursky. On the blog Relatively Interesting he offered an in-depth guide to dealing with denialism, whether it's the outrageous political variety or a more day-to-day case of someone who refuses to pull their head out of the sand.

Facts Don't Win Arguments

To kick off his useful post, Tsipursky points out that while conspiracy theories might be fringe examples, denialism itself isn't at all uncommon. One four-year study that involved interviews with more than 1,000 board members, found that, when a CEO is ousted, 23 percent of the time it's because he or she was unwilling or unable to accept some basic aspect of reality. When faced with threatening information, people often stick their heads in the sand.

Comment: When it comes to argument and debate, often times it turns out that facts aren't what matters. As mentioned, presenting 'facts' will only cause people to cling harder to their beliefs on the subject. In Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind, he describes how it's a person's intuition, how they feel about the subject, comes first. Reasoning and logic follow. In the the book he uses the analogy of "the elephant and the rider". We (the rider) think we're in control of what is happening but it really is the elephant (intuition) that leads the way. When it comes to trying to convince someone of the 'facts', one needs to appeal to that person's elephant, rather than the rider. Although not easy to do, it is by working to find common ground with another that real dialogue can be had. Especially when it comes to delicate subjects such as politics. For more on Haidt see also: A cognitive theory and politics

Light Saber

Facing adversity: How to stay motivated in the midst of challenging times

adversity, motivation
In the midst of challenging times, we often think we're going through the worst time ever.

And when we're in the middle of adversity, we think it never ends. That's why we always say things like, "my life is over!"

No, you're not dramatic. It's just one of our thinking errors. It's difficult for us to judge a crisis while we're in it.

In hindsight, it's much easier. We can look back and think, "I survived that. I will survive other difficult things in the future."

But when we face illness, financial problems, or adversity in our relationships, we're quick to think it's THE END. And once we get stuck in a negative thinking pattern, we lose motivation.

And what happens when we lose motivation? Right, we give up.

So how can we get over that? How can we stay motivated during tough times? After going through a lot of adversity (personally and professionally) myself, I've learned a few things about staying motivated.

Comment: More gems from Jordan Peterson - Life is suffering, so get your act together!


End of life dreams and visions may illuminate dying

Beth Roncevich a nurse for UMPC Family Hospice and Palliative care
© Stephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette
Beth Roncevich, a nurse for UMPC Family Hospice and Palliative care, has had experiences with patients and her own father who were comforted by visions in their final days, often of previously deceased loved ones.
Beth Roncevich's father was in his last few days of life, lying in bed in his Indiana Township home with her and her mother somberly by his side.

Though his eyes were closed while terminally ill from lung disease on that day four years ago, laughter unexpectedly emerged from Albin Langus.

"I said 'Dad, what are you laughing at?' He said, 'Oh, we're all together.' "



On the acceptance of life's disappointments

sailboat on sea
© Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet
There is no man who can boast of having enjoyed an unbroken string of successes. The variability of Fortune, a pervasive theme in these pages, is a force of nature that ensures success will be liberally interspersed by failure. So it seems to me that we ought to spent just as much time-perhaps even more time-in equipping ourselves with the tools needed to deal with defeats and disappointments, than we do in preparing ourselves for short-lived victory parades. The seasoned, mature mind will wave to the crowd, and enjoy his moment of reflected glory, remembering all the while that dejection is waiting for him just around the next corner. I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said that, nearly as soon as man passes through the triumphal arches of his victory parade, the crowd will be ready to pelt him in the back with bricks. And this is undoubtedly true.

Most of the problem lies in the fact that we are creatures of expectancy. Anticipation of glory tricks our minds into believing that glory has already arrived. The riches that might require years of sustained effort to acquire will often seem closer than they really are, tantalizing our minds and oppressing our focus on what matters at the present moment. That which we desire, we believe we are owed. Herodotus (I.187-190) tells us of a Babylonian queen named Nitocris who sought to make this very point as her final statement to the living. He says that the queen constructed a tomb for herself over one of the main gateways leading into Babylon, so that it towered over the entrance that people walked through. On the outside of the tomb she had inscribed the following words:

SOTT Logo Radio

The Truth Perspective: The Great Debate: Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson's Epic 4-Night Battle of Ideas

Jordan Peterson speaks to an audience of nearly 3,000 in Portland on June 25, 2018

Jordan Peterson speaks to an audience of nearly 3,000 in Portland on June 25, 2018
Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris meet to debate what it would take to create universal morality. Brett Weinstein joins as moderator, putting the entire discussion into context. That context? That society's 'sense-making mechanisms' are breaking down. The worldview offered by the news media, universities, churches, and government has proven to be a house of cards that cannot stand scrutiny. Inquiring minds find only more and greater confusion. Moral chaos has ensued. How can we find our way out?

Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and The Moral Landscape, argues that humanity, caught between dogmatic fundamentalism on one side and postmodern nihilism on the other, must forge a new morality based on facts derived from science. Jordan Peterson argues that the very human psyche, evolutionarily, neurobiologically, and only then culturally speaking, has a specific structure, and that this is the 'beast' we must contend before defining any sort of universal moral theory.

Today on the Truth Perspective we share our thoughts on the first two nights of debate, what we think each speaker gets right, where they're vague, and what might provide the solution to their disagreements.

Listen to the Harris/Peterson talks here: night 1, night 2, night 3, night 4.

Running Time: 01:28:33

Download: OGG, MP3

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People 2

Are the guilt-prone more trustworthy?

lonely man
New research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business finds that when it comes to predicting who is most likely to act in a trustworthy manner, one of the most important factors is the anticipation of guilt.

While some people can tell the difference between feeling angry and guilty, others may not be able to separate the two. It turns out your mother was right: guilt is a powerful motivator.

Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes--accurately or not--that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a universal moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.

It's accurate to think of guilt as an internal state. In the overall scheme of emotions, guilt is in the general category of negative feeling states. It's one of the "sad" emotions, which also include agony, grief, and loneliness. But it's not really negative at all. In fact it can lead to many positive aspects of ourselves, especially if we reprogram ourselves.


Study of hundreds of nuns and monks reveals personality trait that cuts Alzheimer's risk in half

monk hands
Being conscientious cuts the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in half, research finds.

People who are conscientious tend to be more organised, responsible and in control of their impulses.

The study's authors explain:
"Conscientiousness (eg, "I am a productive person who always gets the job done") refers to a tendency to be self-disciplined, scrupulous, and purposeful."

Comment: See also: