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Wed, 21 Feb 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

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Jordan Peterson: 'The pursuit of happiness is a pointless goal. You need an AIM'

jordan peterson lobsters
© Phil Fisk for the Observer
"You’re not as nice as you think. And you’re not as useless as you think": Jordan Peterson.
It is uncomfortable to be told to get in touch with your inner psychopath, that life is a catastrophe and that the aim of living is not to be happy. This is hardly the staple of most self-help books. And yet, superficially at least, a self-help book containing these messages is what the Canadian psychologist Jordan B Peterson has written.

His book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is an ambitious, some would say hubristic, attempt to explain how an individual should live their life, ethically rather than in the service of self. It is informed by the Bible, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung and Dostoevsky - again, uncommon sources for the genre.

I doubt it has the commercial appeal of The Secret (wish for something and it will come true) and it certainly strays markedly from the territory of How to Win Friends and Influence People. But then Peterson is in a different intellectual league from the authors of most such books. Camille Paglia estimates him to be "the most important Canadian thinker since Marshall McLuhan".

Comment: 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos is due for release on Amazon on 23 January 2018.


Christie Blatchford interviews 'warrior for common sense' Jordan Peterson

jordan peterson 1
Jordan Peterson burst from academic quasi-obscurity in 2016 with a video criticizing political correctness on campus and rejecting gender-neutral pronouns. It went viral, setting him up for constant protests, calls for censure, even firing, while establishing him as a darling of the anti-PC crowd. In his new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Peterson draws on everything from neuroscience to the Old Testament to his well-known controversial views. He talks with Christie Blatchford, who has been known to court controversy herself, and who once referred to Peterson as "a warrior for common sense and plain speech." Their conversation has been edited and adapted.

Christie Blatchford (CB): About this book: It's hard work, as a proper self-help book should be, and it is a self-help book isn't it?

Jordan Peterson (JP): It's help for the self and everyone else at the same time.

CB: For a lot of people like me, who only knew you through the controversy at the University of Toronto and the genderless pronoun issue, it comes as a bit of a surprise that you're a psychologist, and there's a lot of psychology in here. Do you define yourself chiefly as a psychologist?

Comment: One of the things that makes him so popular is his ability to impart his message in clear and practical way. See also:


Equine therapy: Horses are helping veterans with PTSD

"Both the horses and the vets kind of exhibit or even suffer from the same fear circuit-based behavior."

In his old age, Chuck decided to take up a side job - walking in circles.

To be fair, he doesn't only work in circles. The retiree also lets people pet him, groom him, pick up his feet and talk sweet to him. Sometimes he even accepts sugar cube treats. That's because Chuck is a horse-one who's part of the Man O'War program's equine therapy study.

Branded as the first university-led formal study of its kind, the Columbia University research seeks to measure the efficacy of the seldom-studied use of equine therapy for veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

Comment: Horses can read our body language, even when they don't know us


Jordan Peterson Goes International: Takes London by Storm

Jordan Peterson
Why are young Brits flocking to hear a psychology professor talk about morality?

Last Sunday night a capacity crowd of mainly young people packed into the Emmanuel Centre in London. Those who couldn't find a seat stood at the back of the hall. When the speaker entered, the entire hall rose to its feet. It was his second lecture that day, the fourth across three days of sold-out London events. For an hour and a half the audience listened to a rambling, quirky, but fascinating tour of evolutionary biology, myth, religion, psychology, dictators and Dostoyevsky. Occasionally a line would get its own burst of applause. One of the loudest came after the speaker's appeal for the sanctity of marriage and child-rearing.

Yet this was not a Christian revivalist meeting. At least not explicitly or intendedly so. It was a lecture by a 55-year-old, grey-haired, dark-browed Canadian academic who until 18 months ago was little known outside his professional field of psychology. Today, for at least one generation, Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto has become a mixture of philosopher, life-coach, educator and guru. He has the kind of passionate, youthful, pedagogical draw that the organized churches can only dream of. Anybody interested in our current culture wars, not to mention the ongoing place of religion, should head to YouTube, where his classes have been viewed by millions.

Comment: If you are still new to Peterson's ideas and wisdom, see the short documentary, Jordan Peterson: Truth in the Time of Chaos:

Also this recent television interview to get a sense of how he responds to someone who attempts to critique him:

And here's one of the talks he gave in London, about his new book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos:


Read to lead and learn: How to digest books 'above your level' and increase intelligence

The best advice I've ever got about reading came from a secretive movie producer and talent manager who'd sold more than 100 million albums and done more than $1B in box office returns. He said to me one day, "Ryan, it's not enough that you read a lot. To do great things, you have to read to lead."

What he meant was that in an age where almost nobody reads, you can be forgiven for thinking that the simple act of picking up a book is revolutionary. It may be, but it's not enough. Reading to lead means pushing yourself-reading books "above your level."

In short, you know the books where the words blur together and you can't understand what's happening? Those are the books a leader needs to read. Reading to lead or learn requires that you treat your brain like the muscle that it is-lifting the subjects with the most tension and weight.

For me, that means pushing ahead into subjects you're not familiar with and wresting with them until you can-shying away from the "easy read." It means reading Feynman over Friedman, biographies over business books, and the classics over the contemporary.

Comment: More tips on getting the most from your reading and its benefits:

People 2

Study finds young men prefer women of normal weight between 110 and 150 pounds over skinnier peers

Both better health and higher attractiveness were linked to this weight

Young men prefer young women of normal weight, research finds.

Flying in the face of the size zero trend, normal weight young women are seen as more healthy-looking and attractive than skinnier peers.

'Normal' weight for a young woman who is the average height in the US of 1.64 metres is between 50 kg and 68 kg. This range is higher for women who are taller and lower for those who are shorter.


The Non-Scientist's Guide to Reading and Understanding a Scientific Paper

It's not as difficult as you think. Well, maybe it is. But reading scientific articles will help you make more informed decisions, and better understand and participate in the public debate about important scientific issues
Understanding scientific papers 1
© Señor Salme/Endpoints

More than 2.5 million new English-language scientific papers are published each year in more than 28,000 peer-review journals.

While many are paywalled, there are also prestigious open-access journals where you can read articles for free.

Reading articles will help you make more informed decisions in the areas of life that concern you, and better understand and participate in the public debate about important scientific issues.

Here are the basic steps: focus on the big picture the scientists are addressing; read the Abstract, Introduction, and Discussion, in that order; think critically about the conclusions the scientists make; conduct follow-up research.

For practice, we provide a link to a popular scientific paper on light-emitting e-readers.
We live in a golden age of scientific research. The top five countries in scientific research and development - the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea, respectively - spend over $1 trillion on it each year. But where do all the resulting discoveries and eureka! moments go? Eventually they may find their way into textbooks or form the foundation of a life-saving therapeutic, but first most of them they go onto the page, in a scientific article.

Comment: Peer review process came under lot of criticism due to fraud and retractions. See also:

2 + 2 = 4

Leading a happier life is about individual growth through finding meaning


Over the past two decades, the positive psychology movement has brightened up psychological research with its science of happiness, human potential and flourishing. It argues that psychologists should not only investigate mental illness but also what makes life worth living.

The founding father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, describes happiness as experiencing frequent positive emotions, such as joy, excitement and contentment, combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose. It implies a positive mindset in the present and an optimistic outlook for the future. Importantly, happiness experts have argued that happiness is not a stable, unchangeable trait but something flexible that we can work on and ultimately strive towards.

Snakes in Suits

Parents who do these 3 things likely to raise violent narcissists

young man
A permissive upbringing is one way parents raise narcissistic children, research finds.

Two other important factors are lack of affection from parents and exposure to violence in the home.

The conclusions come from a Spanish study of 591 adolescents.

Narcissistic children were likely to be aggressive towards parents when they didn't get what they wanted.

Comment: What may really be at root in many of these issues are called "errors in thinking" as Stanton Samenow elucidates in his book "Inside the Criminal Mind." The type of behavior described sets the perfect stage for criminality down the road, and if left unchecked eventually lead to hardship for themselves and many others. Most standards treatments end up failing because the patient doesn't consider themselves to have anything wrong with them in the first place, it's everyone else who has a problem. They're 'perfect', 'unique', 'entitled' - they're narcissists!


More and more Russians believe in life after death

Donskoy Monastery statue
© Vladimir Vyatkin. / Sputnik
A statuary gravestone located at the cemetery of the Donskoy Monastery, Moscow, Russia.
The number of Russians believing in the afterlife has significantly increased in recent years, according to a fresh opinion poll. Now, four in 10 Russians hold the view that life does not end with death.

The percentage of Russians believing in the hereafter has grown by almost 10 percent over nine years, a survey conducted by independent pollster the Levada Center has shown. In 2008, only about a third of respondents supported this belief, while in late 2017 the figure was 42 percent.

Russians are also increasingly developing the conviction that their deceased relatives are able to influence the lives of the living. According to the Levada Center, the number of people believing in the hidden influence of their deceased kin on their lives has risen by 10 percent since 2008, growing from 28 to 38 percent.

The survey showed that religious people are generally more inclined to believe in the afterlife. However, even nonbelievers appear to be inclined to such feelings. According to Levada, 10 percent of those who define themselves as atheists or say they do not follow any religion also believe in the existence of heaven and hell as well as in religious miracles.

Comment: Quantum physicists agree -- consciousness lives on after death