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Sat, 27 Aug 2016
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

Alarm Clock

What to believe? Science is a red herring and a wild-goose chase

To be certain about things is reassuring. It allows feelings of safety, security.

For knowledge, for understanding the world, humankind seems to have turned at first to what could be inferred from the spirits of things — the spirits associated with or inherent in everything: in mountains, in trees, in bodies of water. The spirits could be understood, at least partly, because they were similar to people in having emotions and desires.

Eventually — quite recently, only a few thousand years ago — the plurality and hierarchies of spirits and gods yielded to monotheistic religions in most parts of the world. Even more recently, and only in the most powerfully developed countries, religion yielded to science.

That is to say, traditional religion yielded to scientism, the religion of science. Even the monotheistic gods have emotions and desires, but science doesn't. So knowledge became entirely impersonal, at least in principle.

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Why you don't know your own mind

© Inge Morath /The Inge Morath Foundation/Magnum Photos. Masks by Saul Steinberg /The Saul Steinberg Foundation/ARS, NY
It is often said that we can never truly know the minds of others, because we can't "get inside their heads." Our ability to know our own minds, though, is rarely called into question. It is assumed that your experience of your own consciousness clinches the assertion that you "know your own mind" in a way that no one else can. This is a mistake.

Ever since Plato, philosophers have, without much argument, shared common sense's confidence about the nature of its own thoughts. They have argued that we can secure certainty about at least some very important conclusions, not through empirical inquiry, but by introspection: the existence, immateriality (and maybe immortality) of the soul, the awareness of our own free will, meaning and moral value. In a Stone column Gary Gutting explained how this tradition continues to manifest itself in contemporary philosophy as the search for "a 'transcendental' or 'absolute' consciousness that provides the fuller significance of our ordinary experiences." Thomas Nagel has invoked the same source to trump science in this publication as well.

Introspection, "the mind's eye," assures us with the greatest confidence that it is the best, in some cases the only authority on how the mind works, because we all think it has direct, first person access to itself. We're all very confident that we just know what's going on in our own minds, from the inside, so to speak.

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People 2

A simple and cheap alternative to traditional therapy for treating depression

Depression can be more simply treated by behavioural activation therapy, a new study concludes.

Behavioural activation therapy is a more straightforward alternative to cognitive-behavioural therapy — the gold standard of depression treatment.

Clinical depression affects around 350 million people around the world, but only a fraction receive the best care.

Behavioural activation therapy could be a good alternative that provides access to therapy for more people.

The therapy itself focuses on encouraging people to take part in meaningful activities that are linked to their core values.


Listening to 'pink noise' could help you sleep better and enhance memory

Sounds played during sleep can enhance memory and may even benefit sleep, recent research finds.

The sounds, though, need to be in sync with the brain's natural oscillations to work.

In the study 11 people were played 'pink noise' while they slept.

This sounds like gentle hissing that goes up and down — much like the lapping of waves on the beach.

Comment: According to Wikipedia, different colors of noise have significantly different properties: for example, as audio signals they will sound different to human ears, and as images they will have a visibly different texture. The sense of 'color' for noise signals is similar to the concept of timbre in music. Pink noise occurs in many physical, biological as well as economic systems. It is present in heart beat rhythms, neural activity and the electromagnetic radiation output of some astronomical bodies. Pink noise has been compared to the sounds of rushing water, heavy rain or strong wind through leaves.


Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues to build character

Benjamin Franklin by David Rent Etter, after Charles Willson Peale, after David Martin (1835)
At the ripe old age of twenty, Benjamin Franklin set out to make himself morally perfect. Having studied the ancient philosophers and their ideas of the virtues required to be an ideal man, he created his own list of thirteen virtues. Like the virtue ethicists of the ancient past and more modern times, Franklin sought to develop his entire character rather than focus on the question of how to act in a certain situation. His hope being that with the perfection of his character, he would never again have to ask how to act, as he would simply act as a virtuous person would by habit. Never again would he commit a fault at any time, he thought.

His selections were ordered by importance, and he saw the earliest ones as being needed to achieve the latter ones. They were also chosen for simplicity, as each covers a small and defined area of character.
1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

13. Humility. Imitate Jesus [Caesar] and Socrates.

Comment: To learn more about improving ourselves and accurately evaluating what's going on inside our minds (and the minds of those around us), read the discussion on our forum based on Timothy Wilson's book, "Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious".

See also: The intelligence of self observation and self-awareness

Dollar Gold

What is it that keeps gamblers gambling even when they lose?

The act of gambling may be as crucial to the buzz as the winning.
No one likes to lose - even pathological gamblers. And yet they keep on betting. If the house always wins, why roll the dice again? People addicted to gambling frequently report that, despite losses stacking up, the buzz keeps bringing them back to the card table or slot machine.

"I wanted to gamble all the time," one former addict recalled to Scientific American in 2013. "I loved it — I loved that high I felt."

And recently, one Wall Street executive admitted defrauding family, friends and others out of $100 million to feed his habit.

"It was just a way for me to get money to feed a gambling addiction," he told the court.

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Mindfulness meditation leads to positive brain changes

Mindfulness-based teachings have shown benefits in everything from inflammatory disorders to central nervous system dysfunction and even cancer. Training groups in mindfulness has become a powerful tool in preventative intervention. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) are studying how cognitive therapy that uses mindfulness techniques serve as an alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Mindfulness is "the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment", which can be trained by a large extent in meditational practices.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric conditions affecting children and adolescents. While antidepressants are frequently used to treat youth with anxiety disorders, they may be poorly tolerated in children who are at high risk of developing bipolar disorder.

Comment: No-cost and free of side effects -- meditation is a no-brainer. Try the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program. A form of breathing and meditation designed to be informative, effective and life changing! Interested in learning more about the numerous benefits of a breathing and meditation program like Éiriú Eolas? Check out the program here and try it today!


Are painting and coloring good for your health?

Who doesn't remember the joy of dipping sticky fingers into paint and squiggling away on paper! Drawing, painting, and coloring are a delightful part of childhood but these simple pleasures are often waylaid as you grow up. Today, however, adult coloring books are all the rage and grownups are rediscovering the joys of painting and coloring - and the health benefits they bring. But did you know that even as early as a hundred years ago, Carl Jung considered the drawing of mandalas to be an indication of self-discovery?

So how does painting or coloring affect the body and mind?


Post-It Note

The best way of empathizing might be a surprise and it's not what your your gut instinct tells you

Most people are wrong about the best way to empathize with others.

Surprisingly, systematic reasoning beats gut instinct for working out what other people are thinking and feeling.

The result is surprising as the same research found that people thought that gut instinct would triumph.

Arrow Down

Depressed patients do as well with cheaper therapy modal

© Dreamstime
Many people with depression struggle to get treatment for the condition, in part because "talk therapy" can be expensive, and there aren't enough qualified therapists to deliver it.

But now, a new study suggests that a simple and relatively cheap type of talk therapy may work just as well at treating depressionas the current "gold standard" treatment. The findings suggest that using this simpler therapy — called behavioral activation — on a wide scale could improve access to treatment for depression and reduce health care costs, the researchers said.

"Our findings indicate that health services worldwide, both rich and poor, could reduce the need for costly professional training and infrastructure, reduce waiting times, and increase the availability of psychological therapies" by using behavioral activation, said David Richards, a professor of mental health services research at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, who led the study.

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