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Sun, 20 Aug 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

Magic Wand

Religious leaders trip on magic mushrooms all in the name of science

© Fredrik Skold/Alamy
The experiment aims to assess whether a transcendental experience alters the participants’ religious thinking.
A Catholic priest, a Rabbi and a Buddhist walk into a bar and order some magic mushrooms. It may sound like the first line of a bad joke, but this scenario is playing out in one of the first scientific investigations into the effects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience - albeit in a laboratory rather than a bar.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have enlisted two dozen religious leaders from a wide range of denominations, to participate in a study in which they will be given two powerful doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

Dr William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland who is involved in the work, said:
"With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy."
The experiment, which is currently under way, aims to assess whether a transcendental experience makes the leaders more effective and confident in their work and how it alters their religious thinking.


Are there memory benefits to note taking?

Psychologists asked people to play a classic memory game, sometimes called Concentration or Pairs — half were allowed to take notes.

Making notes can actually reduce what you remember, according to psychological research.

In a reverse of what many people expect, writing down information causes it to be flushed from memory.

We seem to intentionally forget what we write down.

Comment: While note taking may not help with remembering, the regular practice of writing can help to clarify thoughts, process emotions and work through past trauma:


What does it mean when you dream of driving?

Often you will dream about being in a car.

It is important to notice who's driving the car, as a car represents your "drive" in life or how you propel yourself from the present time toward your future. If you are not driving, notice the position in the car where you are sitting. If you are in the front passenger seat, whoever is driving the car represents the driver in your life. If you know this person, describe their personality in three words, such as "Judith is quiet, responsible, and squeamish." That is the adopted program that is driving your life in this dream. You are riding shotgun to your own life.

I used to have dreams of not even having a car, but sort of a skateboard apparatus that I propelled with my hand. Needless to say, that was not a good thing. I was driving myself fist over fist — not an easy way to travel through life.

If you are in the back seat, you are in an unconscious state and cannot act or drive on your own behalf. You are literally being driven by adaptations you have made in the past.

Lord help you if you are in the trunk, seriously. You have compartmentalized your original self to such a degree that you cannot even ride with your driving programs.

Comment: Fascinating facts about dreams

Eye 1

Peering into the pathology of online trolls

© Reuters/Beck Diefenbach
What does looking into the hearts and minds of online trolls tell us?

That's the question Australian researchers tried to answer in a new study that investigates the psychological profile of trolls — that is, computer users who engage in the disturbing 21st century practice of deliberating provoking, demeaning, and threatening others online.

Researchers at Australia's Federation University used an online questionnaire to look closer at a handful of traits — psychopathy, sadism, and empathy — among those who engage in online trolling. The survey included 415 participants, approximately one-third male and two-thirds female, with a median age of 23 years. The researchers controlled the results for gender, a significant factor given that trolls dramatically skew male.

Comment: See also: Internet trolls are narcissists, psychopaths, and sadists


Why narcissists can't love their own children

© unsplash.com
Children of parents with dark triad personality traits may be seen as merely a tool or possession.
The so-called dark triad personality traits — narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy — manifest in people as excessive self-love, a manipulative attitude, and a lack of empathy.

It's unclear how many people have these traits, but various studies and estimates put the number at somewhere between 1% and 10%.

People with DTP traits are often reported to have an obsession with themselves and struggle to see the point in other people's feelings. Because of this, their relationships are often abusive and controlling. Romantic partners can be manipulated, used, and tricked into believing they are crazy before being abruptly devalued and discarded.

A common question that comes up is whether the offspring of a person with DTP traits would be treated any differently than the person's romantic partners. In other words, can a real narcissist ever truly love someone?

Comment: It's sloppy to lead off this article with a mention of psychopathy (the original title even says "Why psychopaths cannot love..."), when the descriptions then given all relate to narcissism, which isn't the same thing. Yes, psychopaths are narcissistic, but not all narcissists are psychopaths.

Actually focusing on psychopathy would go into much darker dynamics. A child to a psychopath is simply a tool or possession, as the author states, which goes some way to accounting for things like child trafficking, torture, rape, and murder. For a psychopath, a child is just a human-shaped piece of meat.

Wine n Glass

Spiritual sickness: The roots of alcohol addiction with Gabor Maté

Many believe that alcoholism is a spiritual disease, and that at the very least there are real spiritual consequences of alcohol consumption. Yet, it is ubiquitous in our society, a strange culture which simultaneously prohibits those mind-altering substances which elevate consciousness and help us to live more meaningful lives.

Alcohol is decidedly more dangerous than cannabis, magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, LSD, and so many other drugs, but our cultural addiction to booze is evident everywhere. Research has shown that even moderate alcohol consumption is extremely detrimental to your health.

Comment: Alcoholism, like most other forms of addictions, be it substances, video games, obsessions or habits, etc., according to Dr. Maté, is usually an attempt to avoid the pain of a traumatic childhood that has never fully been resolved. So people choose to suffer in their own ways, often dissociating through a medium like alcohol that promises short term relief from pain, but with it comes dependencies and other consequences.


Your career choice changes the way you think

Bob Ross
When asked to talk about images of places, painters are more likely to describe the depicted space as a two-dimensional image, while architects are more likely to focus on paths and the boundaries of the space.
"We found that painters, sculptors and architects consistently showed signs of their profession when talking about the spaces we showed them, and all three groups had more elaborate, detailed descriptions than people in unrelated professions," said senior author Dr Hugo Spiers (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences).
Artists' portraits predominantly present subjects' in a specific profile which aligns with their expectations and profession.

For the study, published in Cognitive Science, the researchers brought in 16 people from each of the three professions -- they all had at least eight years of experience and included Sir Anthony Gormley -- alongside 16 participants without any relevant background, who acted as controls. The participants were presented with a Google Street View image, a painting of St. Peter's Basilica, and a computer-generated surreal scene. They had to describe the environment, explain how they would explore the space, and suggest changes to the environment in the image.


Psychics who hear voices could be on to something

The ways some "healthy voice hearers" cope might be able to help people with psychotic disorders.

© Sarah Jung
Jessica Dorner was lying in bed at her cousin's house when her grandmother, a "pushy lady" in an apron who had been dead for several years, appeared in front of her. "I know you can see me," Jessica heard her say, "and you need to do something about it."

It was a lonely time in Jessica's life. She was living away from home for the first time, and she thinks her grandmother was drawn by some sense of that. She eventually told her parents what happened, and according to her they were concerned, but not overly panicked. "My parents are probably the least judgmental people I know," she said.



Yoga and meditation can change your genes

Yoga and meditation may do more than just help you feel relaxed in the moment. A new scientific review suggests that these and other mindfulness exercises can actually reverse stress-related changes in genes linked to poor health and depression.

In the new paper, published in Frontiers in Immunology, British researchers analyzed the findings from 18 previously published studies—involving a total of 846 people—on the biological effects of meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, Qi gong and Tai Chi. Together, the authors say, the studies show that these mind-body exercises appear to suppress the expression of genes and genetic pathways that promote inflammation.

Inflammation can temporarily boost the immune system, and can be protective against infection and injury, the authors write in their paper. But in today's society, in which stress is primarily psychological, the body's inflammatory response can become chronic and can impair both physical and mental health.

Comment: Try Éiriú Eolas for a complete program that combines breathing exercises and meditation.

© Éiriú Eolas
For other useful tips for your daily practice, listen to The Health & Wellness Show: Yoga Demystified


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The prince who built the Citadel

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Today is the birthday of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But very few people know that he was not only the author of the Little Prince. He was a Nietzschean, who eventually found the God.

June 29, 1900 was born a man who left us a real miracle - The Little Prince. However, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is much more than the author of the book.

First of all, he is a real warrior. He devoted almost all his life to aviation. He first met the sky at the age of 12 - and fell in love with him for life.

The military pilot survived several air crashes, repeatedly got into extreme situations, but never complained. Saint-Exupéry voluntarily went to the front during the Second World War, explaining this simply: "I am obliged to participate in this war. Everything I love is under threat."

"I chose the job for maximum wear," he wrote, "I just wish that this vile war ended before I get up like a candle in a stream of oxygen." I have something to do after it. "

July 31, 1944 Saint-Exupéry flew from the Borgo airfield on Corsica in reconnaissance flight and ... did not return.