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Sun, 17 Dec 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Eckhart Tolle, like most spiritual gurus, is a con

breathing meditation depression
© Anton Gepolov / Fotolia
When the human being experiences a moment of pleasure - it begins to desire that experience to endlessly repeat itself in an attempt to create permanence. And the constant attempt to construct permanence gives the so-called "spiritual ideologies", or "new age gurus" the opportunity to provide us with the methods to attain "constant happiness", "bliss" and "higher states of consciousness". The reality is that we are constantly in pursuit of ideas given to us by others. And the pursuit of these goals is what creates the polarization in the human being. Now, let me remind you that a true "guru" seeks no followers.

I recently listened to a podcast where Eckhart Tolle was being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about "The Conscious New Earth". Not only was I enraged by a lot of what I heard, but I was left wondering how people come to believe this bunch of baloney.

I will point out the fallacies in his words:

Comment: See also:


Plants can count and communicate, even without a brain

Neuroscientist Greg Gage
If you have one of those annoying Vegan/Buddhist friends who keep yammering about how they don't eat meat because "animals have a mind of their own", show them this video of Neuroscientist Greg Gage demonstrating many of the 'sentient' properties of plants, just to piss them off:

Comment: Plants are pretty amazing things! See:


Neuroscientist: The most important choice you can make is the company you keep

Friends walking on a beach
© Kelvin Delvecchio/Unsplash
According to Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University who has been studying decision-making for over a decade, the surest way to maximise happiness has nothing to do with experiences, material goods, or personal philosophy.

It's all about who you decide to spend time with. But "it's not just advice to choose your friends carefully," Cerf told Business Insider.

There are two premises that lead Cerf to believe personal company is the most important factor for long-term satisfaction.

The first is that decision-making is tiring. A great deal of research has found that humans have a limited amount of mental energy to devote to making choices. Picking our clothes, where to eat, what to eat when we get there, what music to listen to, whether it should actually be a podcast, and what to do in our free time all demand our brains to exert that energy on a daily basis.


New study shows sleep deprivation makes it difficult for neurons to function effectively

Tired man
© Shutterstock
After a sleepless night, you likely feel sluggish the next morning, and a small new study suggests why: Your brain cells feel sluggish, too. And when those brain cells are tired, you may be more likely to be forgetful and get distracted more easily, the research found.

In the study, the researchers found that sleep deprivation makes it difficult for brain cells to communicate effectively, which, in turn, can lead to temporary mental lapses that affect memory and visual perception.

In other words, the findings offer clues as to why a sleepless night makes it so hard to think and concentrate the next day.

"We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly," senior study author Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said in a statement. "This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us."

Comment: See also:


How challenging situations activate cognitive shifts

Cognitive shifts
Challenging situations make it more difficult to understand where you are and what's happening around you, new research demonstrates. The finding suggests that challenging situations cause the brain to abandon nuanced, context-based cognition and shift to reflexive action.

Previous research suggests that long-term memories formed under stress lack the context and peripheral details encoded by the hippocampus, making false alarms and reflexive reactions more likely. These context details are necessary for situating yourself in space and time, so struggling to acquire them has implications for decision-making in the moment as well as in memory formation.

Biased cognition during high arousal states is a relevant to a variety of topics, from the development of post-traumatic stress disorders or stress-triggered addictive behaviors to forensic considerations regarding crimes of passion.

Comment: See also: Waking the Tiger: An interview with Peter Levine


Unhealed trauma may cause physical illness

crying person
We've known for a long while that unresolved emotional trauma can cause lifelong behavioral problems. Most notably, Dr. Gabor Maté has explained how addictions arise in people who've suffered wounds in the past, mostly during their childhood years, and how those wounds continue to manifest in negative ways throughout their lives.

While this is not something that can easily be pinned down by medical research, it does make sense intuitively, and the improvements people see in their lives once traumatic experiences are reconciled and put to rest offers sufficient testimony to support this idea.



Are you only as happy as your unhappiest child?

Unhappy children
© Don McPhee for the Guardian
‘Yes, children are trouble – but is life about avoiding trouble at all costs?’
An article published this week in the digital magazine Aeon carries the headline: "Kids? Just say no," which purports to make "the moral case against procreation". The author, a philosopher called David Benatar, claims that "coming into existence is always a serious harm". He describes himself as an "antinatalist". "Even if life isn't pure suffering," he ponders, "coming into existence can still be sufficiently harmful to render procreation wrong. Life is simply much worse than most people think."

This is a point of view I find verging on the pathological, but it is true that the reasons not to have children are sufficiently numerous that it makes you wonder why so many people do it.

Apart from anything else, people who don't have children are, according to numerous surveys, consistently happier. The moment you have children, you are burdened with worries and responsibilities for the rest of your life. You are only ever as happy as your unhappiest child.

So, what is the motivation? The answer to this, as far as I'm concerned, is pretty much: "Well, what else are you going to do?" For me, life isn't the pursuit of happiness. Life is the pursuit of meaning.

Comment: Jordan Peterson: " Transcend your suffering"
This is the most profound speech of the 21st century.

Its balance of emotional wrath and cogent argument makes it undeniably sincere, and yet, entirely reasonable. Peterson rips apart the victim mindset that plagues our culture -- a plague that is quietly nourished by our intelligentsia.

It's not that the victim mindset is wrong -- it's correct. Everyone's a victim! But instead of masturbating over our collective self-pity, we ought to try to lessen the load of our victim-hood. Start with yourself: what are you doing that is making your life more painful? If you ask yourself that question, and you sincerely want to know the answer, it will immediately become clear that you are your own worst enemy. And how can you complain about society when you won't improve your individual inadequacies?

And so Dr Peterson places the blame squarely on the individual. Which is the primary discovery of the West: the necessity of individual responsibility. That's not "Blaming the Victim" -- it's a realistic approach to life. No one is going to shelter and protect you indefinitely, so you'll have to do it yourself. And anyone who suggests otherwise will most likely enslave you.

In short, Dr. Peterson shows how the correct response to the suffering of life is to confront it forthrightly. And with that, he drops the mic on western civilization


Burnout: When minds turn to ash

mental burnout
© Izhar Chen
When Steve first came to my consulting room, it was hard to square the shambling figure slumped low in the chair opposite with the young dynamo who, so he told me, had only recently been putting in 90-hour weeks at an investment bank. Clad in baggy sportswear that had not graced the inside of a washing machine for a while, he listlessly tugged his matted hair, while I tried, without much success, to picture him gliding imperiously down the corridors of some glassy corporate palace.

Steve had grown up as an only child in an affluent suburb. He recalls his parents, now divorced, channeling the frustrations of their loveless, quarrelsome marriage into the ferocious cultivation of their son. The straight-A grades, baseball-team captaincy and Ivy League scholarship he eventually won had, he felt, been destined pretty much from the moment he was born. "It wasn't so much like I was doing all this great stuff, more like I was slotting into the role they'd already scripted for me." It seemed as though he'd lived the entirety of his childhood and adolescence on autopilot, so busy living out the life expected of him that he never questioned whether he actually wanted it.

Comment: Finding a healthy balance between our work, social, and personal lives can be very difficult. With the advent of cell phones and social media, for all their usefulness, finding that balance has become even more tricky. After all, we must pay rent on life, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the process of creating a life for ourselves that we find worth living.

One way to help deal with the stress that comes with paying rent on life and facing reality is Éiriú Eolas. Other ways can be found here:


More creative people tend to have poorer sleep

sleeping child
People who are more creative go to sleep later, get up later and have worse sleep overall, research finds.

Both visually and verbally creative people reported worse sleep.

Their sleep was more disturbed during the night and they had more problems functioning during the day as a result.

Neta Ram-Vlasov, the study's first author, said:
"Visually creative people reported disturbed sleep leading to difficulties in daytime functioning.

In the case of verbally creative people, we found that they sleep more hours and go to sleep and get up later.

In other words, the two types of creativity were associated with different sleep patterns.

This strengthens the hypothesis that the processing and expression of visual creativity involves different psychobiological mechanisms to those found in verbal creativity."

Comment: Hidden epidemic: We are as dream-deprived as we are sleep-deprived


People find altruistic behaviour attractive, especially women

The behaviour is particularly attractive to women, although men also rate it highly.

Being altruistic - helping others without thought of reward - is particularly attractive to women, research finds.

But both men and women find those who are altruistic more attractive.

The results come from three studies including over 1,000 people.

Comment: If people are attracted to altruism, natural selection would dictate that generations to come would be more generally altruistic than the present ones. That would be good news, for a change. But it is probably not as simple as that. Free will is real, and that means that the future is always open.