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Sat, 23 Jun 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

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Knowing when to change and when to let go

time for change
We are so often prone to blaming ourselves when our lives aren't working out as we hoped. The cultural touchstones which help to define much of our society have been internalized by all of us, and deeply affect our self-perception. The Protestant work ethic, the American Dream, even divine punishment; these concepts inform our thoughts and opinions, and can make us feel that if only we can change ourselves, then everything will fall into place.

Add to this the complete domination of aspirational advertising, with constant images of how our life could be if we just do, say and (most importantly) buy the right things, and the idea that we should exert full control over our destiny is set. We begin to feel that we are solely responsible for absolutely everything, and this feeling pervades every aspect of our lives, from our work to our relationships. Career not on track? Put in more hours. Heading for a relationship breakdown? Push your feelings down and try harder.


The marshmallow test and morality

kid eating marshmallow
© Lopolo/Shutterstock
The Atlantic reports on a new study suggesting that the famous "marshmallow test" is unreliable as a predictor of future economic instability. Excerpt: In the case of this new study, specifically, the failure to confirm old assumptions pointed to an important truth: that circumstances matter more in shaping children's lives than Mischel and his colleagues seemed to appreciate.

Better Earth

We would do better to preach less and live our values more

deeds and words
The employees who are resigning in protest, several of whom discussed their decision to leave with Gizmodo, say that executives have become less transparent with their workforce about controversial business decisions and seem less interested in listening to workers' objections than they once did. In the case of Maven, Google is helping the Defense Department implement machine learning to classify images gathered by drones. But some employees believe humans, not algorithms, should be responsible for this sensitive and potentially lethal work-and that Google shouldn't be involved in military work at all.

Historically, Google has promoted an open culture that encourages employees to challenge and debate product decisions. But some employees feel that their leadership no longer as attentive to their concerns, leaving them to face the fallout. "Over the last couple of months, I've been less and less impressed with the response and the way people's concerns are being treated and listened to," one employee who resigned said.

- Gizmodo: Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract
Today's post will revisit a theme I spent considerable time and energy on last year. Namely, the tendency of human beings to focus on words versus deeds.

In case you haven't noticed, very few people on social media are out there talking about how much they love exploitation, or admit that they'd unflinchingly put aside all ethical considerations in the pursuit of money and power. In contrast, everyone's ranting and raving about how great they are, how right about everything their political tribe is, and how morally superior they are to the evil and corrupt "other side." The problem is someone has to be wrong in a world where everyone's convinced they're right.

Light Saber

Making lifestyle changes permanent: Focus on one thing right now and make a specific plan

Many people, myself included, have multiple areas of life they would like to improve. For example, I would like to reach more people with my writing, to lift heavier weights at the gym, and to start practicing mindfulness more consistently. Those are just a few of the goals I find desirable and you probably have a long list yourself.

The problem is, even if we are committed to working hard on our goals, our natural tendency is to revert back to our old habits at some point. Making a permanent lifestyle change is really difficult.

Recently, I've come across a few research studies that (just maybe) will make these difficult lifestyle changes a little bit easier. As you'll see, however, the approach to mastering many areas of life is somewhat counterintuitive.


Have scientists discovered the brain region involved in spiritual experiences?

face glitter
Whether we think of ourselves as religious or not, lots of people experience moments in life that can be considered spiritual - where we feel a greater sense of meaningfulness, serenity, or connection with the world around us.

Now, scientists think they've pinpointed where those transcendental moments are processed in the human brain, identifying a region in the parietal cortex that appears to be involved in experiences that go beyond our ordinary state of being.

"Spiritual experiences are robust states that may have profound impacts on people's lives," says one of the researchers, neuroscientist Marc Potenza from Yale University.

"Understanding the neural bases of spiritual experiences may help us better understand their roles in resilience and recovery from mental health and addictive disorders."

Comment: As the article states, the study was limited. The implications in helping those dealing with trauma related disorders has potential though. And it's worth remembering that one should always be critical when it comes to the idea of a spiritual experiences since even mass killers have claimed to be in communication with god: Also check out SOTT radio's: The Truth Perspective: Atheism vs. Religion: Does It Make Sense To Believe in God? - Part 1


Cults, brainwashing, and mind control in America

As a college junior in the mid 1970's Steve Hassan found himself recruited into the Unification Church. They were a cult that was also known as the "Moonies." It did not take long for him to become convinced that Armageddon and World War III would soon begin. At the time when he first became involved with them he believed that the groups sole purpose was to save the earth.

In a February article published by CNN Steve Hassan said, ""It only took a few weeks to get me convinced that the Messiah was on the Earth, even though I'm Jewish." Hassan has published a book called "Combatting Cult Mind Control" in an effort to help others who may fall victim to a cult and find themselves in its membership.

In his own words to CNN Hassan describes how he used to be when he was an active member of the cult when he said, "I was an off-the-charts, fly-a-plane-into-the-World-Trade-Center-if-Father-ordered-you-to Moonie. I was sure they wouldn't be able to make me betray Father. I wanted to prove to my parents that I was not brainwashed or mind-controlled." The man who he refers to as father in his description of himself was not his own father, but instead he is referring to the cult leader Sun Myung Moon.

It was only after he reluctantly met with former members of the group that Steve Hassan began to leave the group. Today He is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in helping others like himself who have also parted ways with cults. It is his belief that anybody's mind can be controlled.


Can narcissists be identified by looking at their eyebrows?

woman in makeup
Simon Cowell has them, so does Madonna. Audrey Hepburn's and Marilyn Monroe's have been emulated by millions of women.

But what do having thick and distinctive eyebrows reveal about our personality?

Psychologists have been combing through the evidence - and conclude that eye-catching eyebrows mean... you're probably a narcissist.

Researchers discovered that those with 'thicker and denser' brows are more likely to be self-centred than others.

A group of men and women who took part in a study were asked how much they agreed with statements such as 'If I ruled the world it would be a better place'.

Photos were then taken of them posing with neutral expressions. When the images were shown to another group, it was found that they could correctly identify the self-centred individuals from their more humble counterparts.


An inside look at a porn addiction clinic

man at window
© Humphrey Nemar
‘It’s a secret, shameful world which people struggle to admit’
On the street outside his good looks and charming smile might catch the eyes of passersby, but in here he keeps his head down and avoids looking directly at the receptionist.

He is one of Britain's growing number of pornography addicts, whose shocking secret is one click away from destroying his life forever.

"What gives you a thrill one day doesn't do it for you the next," he later explains.

"You're always looking for a greater buzz and then it leads you into a darker place you never believed possible."

And one expert in the field now claims porn addiction is affecting children as young as eight. He knows, because he's treating them.

"This a physical dependency - people are self-medicating with porn and each time they need a greater, more hardcore hit," reveals Rob Watt, who has over 13 years experience treating addicts.

"It's a secret, shameful world which people struggle to admit - until it's too late.

"I'm currently working with kids as young as eight who are watching hardcore porn in the middle of the night and getting up first thing in the morning to watch it again before school. The effects are truly devastating and will only get worse.

"A school counsellor and a group of parents came to me because what they found on a child's phone wasn't even regular sex. We're talking necrophilia and bestiality. It had already gone that far.

Comment: See also:

SOTT Logo Radio

The Truth Perspective: Atheism vs. Religion: Does It Make Sense To Believe in God? - Part 1

© Desconocido
Why are humans religious? Is God just a metaphor? Why have we believed in gods? Are we just irrational? Or is there something else going on? In this first part of a two-part discussion, we take a look at the rise in atheism - even so-called Christian atheism - and whether their claims are worth taking seriously. The celebrity atheists argue that belief in God is not only wrong, it's irrational. But most of their targets are low-hanging fruit.

As philosopher R. G. Collingwood argued, atheist types are guilty of the same sin as the fundamentalists: they take the language of religion literally. By doing so, they have blocked off entire regions of fact and experience from being taken seriously and they don't end up explaining why humans are religious, or what the real meaning behind the religious imagery might be.

But even Collingwood doesn't go deep enough. Because what is the source of religious experience? What's the source of the objects of imagination? Maybe the religious worldview has something to say not only about the way we should act, but also about the nature of reality. Maybe materialism isn't the whole cosmological banana.

Tune in Saturday, 12:00 pm EDT.

Running Time: 01:10:38

Download: OGG, MP3

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People 2

Reincarnation: Are some birthmarks past-life wounds?

© edgarcayce.org
A birthmark may be defined as "a benign irregularity on the skin which can be caused by overgrowth of blood vessels, melanocytes, smooth muscles, fat fibroblasts or keratinocytes."

Every culture has its own beliefs about birthmarks. Some regard them as good luck, others consider them to be bad luck.

In the Philippines, a birthmark (or balat) indicates bad luck or misfortune. It is blamed when an anticipated journey or task does not push through.

Most birthmarks are benign or harmless. But a few birthmarks could have something to do with what happened to a person in a previous life, whether one believes in reincarnation or not.

Comment: For more information on Dr. Stevenson's work on reincarnation, see: