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Mon, 26 Sep 2016
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

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Feeling sadness may actually change how we perceive color

The world might seem a little grayer than usual when we're down in the dumps and we often talk about "feeling blue" — new research suggests that the associations we make between emotion and color go beyond mere metaphor. The results of two studies indicate that feeling sadness may actually change how we perceive color. Specifically, researchers found that participants who were induced to feel sad were less accurate in identifying colors on the blue-yellow axis than those who were led to feel amused or emotionally neutral.

The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"Our results show that mood and emotion can affect how we see the world around us," says psychology researcher Christopher Thorstenson of the University of Rochester, first author on the research. "Our work advances the study of perception by showing that sadness specifically impairs basic visual processes that are involved in perceiving color."

Previous studies have shown that emotion can influence various visual processes, and some work has even indicated a link between depressed mood and reduced sensitivity to visual contrast. Because contrast sensitivity is a basic visual process involved in color perception, Thorstenson and co-authors Adam Pazda and Andrew Elliot wondered whether there might be a specific link between sadness and our ability to perceive color.


Homemaking together: Restoring the family ecosystem

© Sarah Horrigan
Today's parents have high expectations for themselves and for their children. They have an image of where they want their families to be, but daily hassles make that image hard to reach. Anytime we get caught in the gap between reality and the ideal, we are easy targets for frustration and guilt.

Often, then, parents conclude that they or their children are flawed. They aren't. Well, they are. We all are flawed. That is the nature of being human, but our flaws aren't the source of most common parenting struggles. The struggles arise because many of our conventionally held beliefs throw hurdles and obstacles in our way.


Change your thoughts, change your health

Many people expect a doctor and a pill to cure them of their ailments, ailments that are often preventable and aren't always effectively treated with a pill. This type of mentality typically stems from a lack of knowledge about the tremendous healing capabilities of our bodies and minds. The key to being healthy is to work with this innate wisdom, which requires maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but more so, emotional and psychological well being.

If we believe we aren't going to feel better, we limit any possible solutions for becoming well. If we are caught up in a victim mentality and expect someone or something else to "fix" us, then we will never the take the necessary steps to improve our life. Constantly identifying with disease creates blinders to the blessings and positive aspects of health that exist in one's life. Most healthy people I know are happy, and the ones that are not as healthy, usually have a relatively better quality of life when they have a positive attitude.

Eye 1

First impressions made faster than eye blink

© Wikimedia Commons
People make snap judgments — a quality wired into the eye and brain. Studies show that first impressions are quick to form and hard to change.

People are capable of making judgments faster than a blink of an eye — and researchers have found looks matter. This goes beyond physical attractiveness. People make judgments on nonvisual choices like picking a bottle of wine or a political candidate.

People make snap judgments about whether a person is competent, trustworthy, or fit for a job or second date. They aren't trying to act like snobs, but people are hard-wired to interpret visual information at amazing speed.

Dr. Mary Potter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that research participants could see and interpret images in only 80 milliseconds, which is much faster than previously believed. People can see and make judgments roughly four times faster than a blink of an eye, which takes 300 to 400 milliseconds.

This makes the eye and brain connection especially effective at looking at something and almost instantly recognizing it. A longer look doesn't seem to change people's original impressions. Princeton researchers Janine Todorov and Alexander Willis asked participants to make quick judgments on 66 faces.

They results published in Psychological Science found that when participants were allowed to take longer to make an evaluation, they didn't change their minds. Instead, their confidence with the original impression increased.

2 + 2 = 4

Jealous mothers and their daughters: The last dirty secret?

The toxic behavior no one really wants to talk about but should

"Even now, it's hard to use the word 'jealous' about my mother. The idea that a mother would be, could be, jealous of her own kid paints a picture of a monster. Better cruel or uncaring than jealous, I'd say. It's just so damning."

© Warner Brothers
A scene from "Gypsy", a movie/musical that illustrates a mother's need to live vicariously through her children.
Those are the words of a woman now in her fifties and a mother herself but they don't surprise me. Talking about maternal jealousy is perhaps the ultimate taboo, inimical to all we hold dear about motherhood and want to believe about mother love, especially that of a mother for her daughter.


How to move forward once you've hit bottom

Pema Chodron tells the story of when, having hit rock bottom, she asked her teacher what to do.

I thought I would tell you this little story about Naropa University's founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and my very first one-on-one interview with him. This interview occurred during the time when my life was completely falling apart, and I went there because I wanted to talk about the fact that I was feeling like such a failure and so raw.

But when I sat down in front of him, he said, "How is your meditation?"

Comment: We were made for these times
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.


Culture has made us "Hungry Ghosts": The 40 hour work week & more


Consumerism is Heavily Nurtured by Corporations

Here in the West, a lifestyle of unnecessary spending has been deliberately cultivated and nurtured in the public by big business. Companies in all kinds of industries have a huge stake in the public's penchant to be frivolous with its spending, and in the documentary The Corporation, a marketing psychologist shows just how easy it is to increase sales by targeting nagging children, and the effect that nagging has on the parents' spending.

"You can manipulate consumers into wanting, and therefore buying your products. It's a game," says Lucy Hughes, co-creator of "The Nag Factor."

This is only one small example of something prevalent in our culture, that companies don't make sales by promoting the virtues of their products, but by creating a culture of hundreds of millions of people that buy pointless stuff to chase away dissatisfaction. This is reminiscent of the analogy of culture as "hungry ghosts"; a culture of people who constantly want and need, but are never satisfied.

Comment: The Psychopathic Corporation - A Clinical Diagnosis by Dr. Robert Hare


One woman's story as the the sole survivor of an airplane obliterated by a thunderstorm

© Wings of Hope/Youtube
Koepcke in Werner Herzog's 2000 documentary Wings of Hope, sitting next to the same kind of seat row she woke up under after falling 10,000 feet into the jungle.
Juliane Koepcke was 17 years old on Christmas Eve 1971, when the plane supposed to fly her and 91 other passengers from Lima, Peru, to Pucallpa, Peru, was struck by lightning and exploded in the air.

Everyone on board died that night except for Koepcke, who was believed to be dead before she reappeared after trekking through the jungle for 11 days.

In a 2010 interview with Vice News and a 2000 German documentary about her story, Koepcke goes over what happened during those days that changed her life.


The power of question-based affirmations

© matey_88 (Flickr)
If you've been into self growth for any length of time, chances are you've heard of (and probably tried) affirmations. You know, those positive, self-affirming "I am" statements that are supposed to retrain your mind to believe in the best version of yourself? I am loved. I am whole.

I am abundant... and whatever other flavor-of-the-month idea you want to integrate? Depending on who and what you believe, affirmations are supposed to be the secret to getting whatever you want in life. And they work fabulously—for some people. And for the vast majority of us, it's hit or miss... or worse.

In fact, Dr. Richard Bolstad, a pioneering NLP practitioner and researcher found (along with a group of interested colleagues) that affirmations, arguably "one of the most popular self-development tools of all time, generally lowered people's self-esteem and made them less likely to act." Their findings were based on a number of studies, and one in particular, which was conducted by University of Waterloo psychologists Joanne Wood and John Lee, along with Wei Qi Elaine Perunovic from the University of New Brunswick.


Be careful, your love of science is awfully religious

© Reuters/Daniel Aguilar
A group of Mexican tourists are silhouetted against the morning sky as they watch the sunrise of the spring equinox at the pyramids of Teotihuacan, outside Mexico City, March 21, 2003. Tens of thousands of people including mystics, spiritualists and onlookers crowd into the ancient Aztec city on this day every year, hoping to capture a little spiritual energy by standing amid the ruins and witnessing the dawn of the first day of Spring.
Scientific beliefs are destined to supersede and replace primitive religious views, once argued 19th-century French philosopher Auguste Comte. His scientific positivism birthed today's scientism: the notion that science has exclusive access to the truth. "Science" is usually equated by proponents of this view with empiricism or, in many fields, with a method of inquiry that employs controls, blinding, and randomization. Now, a small group of contemporary psychologists have published a series of provocative experiments showing that faith in science can serve the same mentally-stabilizing function as religious beliefs.

In 2013, a study published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology​ found that when subjects were stressed, they were more likely to agree to statements typifying scientism such as, "the scientific method is the only reliable path to knowledge." When people felt anxious, they esteemed science more highly than calmer subjects did, just as previous experiments have shown to be the case with religious ideals.

Another study led by University of Amsterdam's Bastiaan Rutjens in 2010 found that uncertain subjects expressed an increased faith in God o​r i​n evolution, provided that evolution was presented as a structured and predictable process. In these cases, beliefs about science may be defended emotionally, even if they are false, as long as they provide a reassuring sense of order. That is to say, beliefs about science may be defended thoughtlessly—even unscientifically.

Comment: Indeed, it seems that the establishment supports the man-made global warming theory with homicidal intent. Other beliefs held by mainstream science with religious zeal include: smoking as the cause of lung cancer, and humanity origins via evolution, often with those doubting the paradigms being labeled as crazy deniers and any contradictory evidence being excluded from consideration - all in a very unscientific manner.

So what does it mean that both religious and scientific outlooks may function to becalm our existential anxieties? What we believe, the parallel implies, can sometimes be less important than h​ow ​we believe it. In other words, deep faith in science is sometimes just another form of (irrational) extremism.

Comment: For a wonderful example of how science is used to support an unverified belief, take this article from Scientific American. Note that the link for 'GMOs are safe to eat' takes us to an article about food security, which has nothing to do with GMO safety. That's just one example of the authority of 'Science' being used to declare something which is still fundamentally in doubt.