Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 24 Jul 2016
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

2 + 2 = 4

Researchers develop equation to predict happiness

A new equation, showing how our happiness depends not only on what happens to us but also how this compares to other people, has been developed by UCL researchers funded by Wellcome. The team developed an equation to predict happiness in 2014, highlighting the importance of expectations, and the new updated equation also takes into account other people's fortunes.

The study, published in Nature Communications, found that inequality reduced happiness on average. This was true whether people were doing better or worse than another person they had just met. The subjects played gambles to try to win money and saw whether another person won or lost the same gambles. On average, when someone won a gamble they were happier when their partner also won the same gamble compared to when their partner lost. This difference could be attributed to guilt. Similarly, when people lost a gamble they were happier when their partner also lost compared to when their partner won, a difference that could be attributed to envy.

Comment: See also:

Light Sabers

How does reverse psychology work?

© Credit: Anneka | Shutterstock.com
There's good news for frustrated parents trying to get their kids to eat their vegetables (or go to sleep, or clean their rooms): Science shows that using reverse psychology can, indeed, work.

Reverse psychology is part of a phenomenon of psychology called "reactance," said Jeff Greenberg, a professor of social psychology at the University of Arizona.

The idea of reactance is that people are deeply motivated to protect their freedoms, Greenberg said. When people feel that their freedom is threatened — for example, they think someone is taking away their ability to make their own choices — they react against that threat, he said. Thus, they may feel angry or defensive and try to reverse the threat, he said.

Comment: Further reading:


Dr. Gabor Maté: Addiction is a response to childhood suffering

The Fix Q&A with Dr. Gabor Maté on addiction, the holocaust, the "disease-prone personality" and the pathology of positive thinking.

A Hungarian-born Canadian physician, Dr. Gabor Maté specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and trauma. He is well known for his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health. Dr. Maté's bestselling books include the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Rather than offering quick-fix solutions to complex issues, Dr. Maté weaves together scientific research, case histories and his own insights to present a broad perspective.

For over a decade, Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including a stint at North America's only supervised injection site. Beyond his work with addicts, he has over 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience. Dr. Maté regularly speaks to health professionals and lay audiences across North America. He has received the Hubert Evans Prize for Literary Non-Fiction and the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award from Mothers Against Teen Violence.


Deep reading: Synchronize the brain, enhance empathy and improve your writing ability

A study published in the International Journal of Business Administration in May, 2016, found that what students read in college directly effects the level of writing they achieve. In fact, researchers found that reading content and frequency may exert more significant impacts on students' writing ability than writing instruction and writing frequency. Students who read academic journals, literary fiction, or general nonfiction wrote with greater syntactic sophistication (more complex sentences) than those who read genre fiction (mysteries, fantasy, or science fiction) or exclusively web-based aggregators like Reddit, Tumblr, and BuzzFeed. The highest scores went to those who read academic journals; the lowest scores went to those who relied solely on web-based content.

The Difference Between Deep And Light Reading

Recent research also revealed that "deep reading"—defined as reading that is slow, immersive, rich in sensory detail and emotional and moral complexity—is distinctive from light reading—little more than the decoding of words. Deep reading occurs when the language is rich in detail, allusion, and metaphor, and taps into the same brain regions that would activate if the reader were experiencing the event. Deep reading is great exercise for the brain and has been shown to increase empathy, as the reader dives deeper and adds reflection, analysis, and personal subtext to what is being read. It also offers writers a way to appreciate all the qualities that make novels fascinating and meaningful—and to tap into his ability to write on a deeper level.

Comment: Further reading:


British Egyptologist remembers her past life with Seti I

Dorothy Eady
Have you ever experienced a déjà vu? If so, I would like you to imagine how odd it would feel if you could clearly remember things that happened thousands of years before you were born.

That is exactly what happened to Dorothy Louise Eady, a British Egyptologist who could vividly recollect her past life.

This unusual claim has been regarded with a lot of skepticism, but it is a fact that she had the knowledge nobody else did about the period of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt.

Her contributions to Egyptology are enormous, and yet a veil of mystery surrounds this intriguing woman.

Magic Hat

Civil servant missing most of his brain, still conscious: Your brain is not your mind!

© Reuters/ Neil Hall
Which bit causes consciousness?

Comment: This article starts out well, with a genuinely puzzling piece of data that throws into question all our theories of the nature of consciousness. But then it proceeds to offer yet another nonsensical theory. The first step towards a real theory is not that difficult: your brain is not your mind!

Not much is definitively proven about consciousness, the awareness of one's existence and surroundings, other than that its somehow linked to the brain. But theories as to how, exactly, grey matter generates consciousness are challenged when a fully-conscious man is found to be missing most of his brain.

Several years ago, a 44-year-old Frenchman went to the hospital complaining of mild weakness in his left leg. It was discovered then that his skull was filled largely by fluid, leaving just a thin perimeter of actual brain tissue.

And yet the man was a married father of two and a civil servant with an IQ of 75, below-average in his intelligence but not mentally disabled.


'Helicopter parenting' harms child success, study finds

© Thinkstock
Parents who are too involved in their children's lives as they prepare to enter college could be inadvertently hampering their transition into adulthood, causing them to become depressed and experience anxiety during this crucial period, according to a newly-published study.

While it is important for mom and dad to help out as young adults prepare to leave home for the first time, intervening too much in decision making and becoming helicopter parents could have serious mental health implications, researchers from Florida State University reported in a paper now available online and scheduled to be published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

"Helicopter parents are parents who are overly involved," FSU doctoral candidate Kayla Reed, who co-authored the new study along with assistant family and child sciences professor Mallory Lucier-Greer and others, explained in a statement. "They mean everything with good intentions, but it often goes beyond supportive to intervening in the decisions of emerging adults."

Comment: Further reading:


Cut ties with energy vampires and save your sanity

With empathy, the ability to recognize and feel other people's emotions, comes the disadvantage of also absorbing the suffering and negativity of the others around you. When this occurs, your ability to function at your best can be significantly impacted. Even a person who is not so empathic can be affected energetically when around negative or dramatic people.

Absorbing other people's negative energy can be just as toxic on a person as ingesting unhealthy food, and perhaps even more noticeably draining. Thus, learning how to stop this from happening can be a valuable skill. Here are five methods that you can use so you absorb less negative energy from others around you.

1) Be Selective About the People You Allow into Your Life

You have to come to terms that not everyone will like you, and you don't have to become friends with everyone that you meet. You do not need to pressure yourself into befriending everyone you meet, either at work, though existing friends, or via your kids. Of course you want to be polite, but trust your intuition when meeting new people and don't ever feel like you need to spend time with people just because you've come to know them by association.

Comment: For more on these types see:

Book 2

Trauma lost and found: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are

The past is never dead. It's not even past. - William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

A well-documented feature of trauma, one familiar to many, is our inability to articulate what happens to us. We not only lose our words, but something happens with our memory as well. During a traumatic incident, our thought processes become scattered and disorganized in such a way that we no longer recognize the memories as belonging to the original event. Instead, fragments of memory, dispersed as images, body sensations, and words, are stored in our unconscious and can become activated later by anything even remotely reminiscent of the original experience. Once they are triggered, it is as if an invisible rewind button has been pressed, causing us to reenact aspects of the original trauma in our day-to-day lives. Unconsciously, we could find ourselves reacting to certain people, events, or situations in old, familiar ways that echo the past.

Comment: Do we pass on trauma through our DNA?

Heart - Black

Rising anxiety & depression in children and adolescents related to declining childhood play

"We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing." ~ Charles Schaefer

Every generation since the 1950s has experienced a decline in free play. During the holidays in my parent's generation, kids left the house in the morning and were told to be home by dinner. They went out into the streets, met up with other neighbourhood kids and played all day long. During my own childhood things were a little more supervised, but we still had ample time to play beyond the watchful eyes of our parents.

Today most children are rarely left to their own devices. In an attempt keep our kids safe and provide them with all they need to ensure they have every chance for a happy, successful life, we fill up their days with activities, structured opportunities to learn and seductive screen time. However, as well meaning as this approach might be, there is increasing evidence that it may be doing more harm than good.

Comment: A sign of the times? Children spend less time outside than the average prisoner