Welcome to Sott.net
Tue, 19 Feb 2019
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Facebook can cause depression

A new report conducted by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania have determined that an excessive amount of time on "social media" sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are making millennials depressed."It was striking," said Melissa Hunt, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study. "What we found over the course of three weeks was that rates of depression and loneliness went down significantly for people who limited their (social media) use."

The study, "No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression," is being published in December's Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Researchers recruited 143 students for two different trials, one in the spring semester and one in the fall semester. Each subject was required to have a Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat account, plus an Apple iPhone. They collected data on the students for about a week to get a baseline reading of their social media usage, and also had them submit questionnaires that assessed their mental health according to seven different factors: social support, fear of missing out, loneliness, autonomy, and self-acceptance, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.


Political division is destroying civil society - but feeling gratitude can lift us up

thank you
Civil society seems to be waning. People are losing respect for the conditions that allow human beings to flourish, warns Jonah Goldberg in his book Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy.

Comment: We can't vouch for the book mentioned above, but from the title we may infer that it's something of a mixed bag.

See: NewsReal: Populism Explained and The Real Problem with Nationalism, Without the Virtue Signaling

Goldberg, a columnist for the National Review, defines civil society as "that vast social ecosystem-family, schools, churches, associations, sports, business, local communities, etc.-that mediates life between the state and the individual." Goldberg adds, "It is a healthy civil society, not the state, that civilizes people."

As more Americans place politics at the core of their identity, civil society erodes. Is authoritarianism the inevitable result of a quest to find meaning through politics?



New Study: Human brain stays alive for hours after death

One question that has baffled mankind is "after-death experience" or the experience after the heart stops beating. There have been anecdotal reports of a person being able to understand and hear what is happening around them even after they have been declared dead. A team of researchers have found that the brain works for a while after the heart has stopped. The research is reported in an a journal paper titled, 'AWARE-AWAreness during REsuscitation-A prospective study.'
Aware Study
© Triff/Shutterstock
The team of scientists from New York's Stony Brook University of Medicine, looked at patients with cardiac arrests in Europe and the US. They noted that those of the patients who were successfully resuscitated after their heart had stopped beating could recall the conversations around them between the healthcare personnel and were aware of their surroundings.

Chart Bar

Bad Science - Psychopaths and successful creative types have one thing in common

painted face

They say you should never meet your heroes. There's plenty of reasons why, but in the case of your creative heroes, it might be because they're jerks.

The idea of the "cantankerous creative" has likely been around since the first arrogant caveman learned to make fire. Pablo Picasso carried around a revolver loaded with blanks that he'd fire at people he disliked. H.P. Lovecraft was a staggering racist, even for his time. Thomas Edison happily electrocuted an elephant to discredit his rival, Nikola Tesla. It seems like creative people - whether gifted in the visual arts, science, writing, or what have you - are often thoroughly unpleasant people.

While creative success may make one bigheaded, an emerging stream of research is showing that creativity and being a real jerk may actually have a more intimate relationship. In fact, for some people, being a bit of a psychopath might nudge one toward creative success.

Comment: This study is ridiculous. What they basically found out is that psychopaths and successful artists are both disagreeable extraverts. Disagreeable people are more successful on average, because when also assertive (extraverted), they are more inclined to push themselves to be successful. So naturally, successful artists will on average be more disagreeable and extraverted than unsuccessful artists (who are probably more introverted and agreeable).

The idea of a 'prosocial psychopath' is an oxymoron. By definition, psychopaths are not prosocial. And while psychopaths may be disagreeable and extraverted by nature, being disagreeable and extraverted does not make one a psychopath.

See also:


Cortisol the 'stress hormone' linked to early toll on thinking ability

© Francesco Sambati Getty Images
Brain changes, visible on scans, are also associated with Alzheimer's precursors

The stresses of everyday life may start taking a toll on the brain in relatively early middle age, new research shows. The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention.

Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects' blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, according to the study published in October in Neurology.

Comment: Study finds that our decision-making skills in stressful situations influenced by cortisol

SOTT Logo Radio

The Truth Perspective: The Stoic Roots of Christianity: Self-Transcendence Through Meaning and Responsibility

© Global Look Press/ Hauke-Christian Dittrich
All institutions stagnate over time. But if the original inspiration contains enough universal truth, it can survive the centuries. This seems to be the case with Christianity. Despite millions of Christians who believe all they have to do is verbally profess their faith in their Lord Jesus Christ, a much deeper understanding of the human condition and each individual's capacity for transformation remains just waiting to be rediscovered. Troels Engberg-Pedersen is just one of the scholars of early Christianity to have mined Christianity's earliest texts - the letters of Paul - for insights into what they actually meant - and still mean - for those with eyes to see.

The shape of Paul's thought has much in common with the philosophy of Stoicism. Not only does it provide a pathway of transformation - it presents a vision of the world imbued with meaning and responsibility. In a time when identity politics is on the rise, perhaps it is time to rediscover the values at the root of our civilization. Paul's Christianity was the anti-identity politics of its time. His message was simple, practical, and effective: bear your suffering, act with responsibility and meaning, and consider others interests, not just your own. In short, crucify your old self so that a better self can be born.

Today on the Truth Perspective we look at the Stoic-like roots of Paul's thought and how it fits into a wider worldview where meaning is not only possible, but real.

Running Time: 01:28:09

Download: OGG, MP3

Listen live, chat, and call in to future shows on the SOTT Radio Network!


Raising awareness for 'forest therapy'

Forest therapy
In its simplest form forest therapy, also called forest bathing, is just spending time in the woods as an antidote to the sometimes-jarring sounds, sights, and smells of city life. Of course, you can get that kind of respite on your own, but a more organized version of forest therapy has now been introduced in the U.S. The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, founded in 2012, is currently training forest therapy guides. The group hopes to raise awareness of the benefits among health care professionals, and programs are being established nationwide.

As you note, forest therapy originated in Japan, where researchers have been studying its physiological effects for many years. It appears that forest therapy does have measurable health benefits; for example, it can lower levels of salivary cortisol, the hormone that rises when we're under stress. One Japanese study showed that gazing at forest scenery for as little as 20 minutes reduced salivary cortisol levels by 13.4 percent. Forest therapy can also lower blood pressure and heart rate and trigger a dramatic increase in the activity of natural killer (NK) cells (produced by the immune system to ward off infection and fight cancer). Spending three days in the forest has been shown to increase NK activity by 50 percent, a beneficial effect that can last up to one month.

Most recently, researchers from UK's University of East Anglia analyzed 143 studies of forest therapy including data on some 290 million participants from 20 different countries. Not only was forest bathing associated with lower levels of cortisol, lower blood pressure and heart rate, it also lowered blood cholesterol and reduced rates of diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma and death from heart disease. In addition, it was associated with decreased risk of preterm birth and lower all-cause mortality. Some studies suggested that forest therapy helped people sleep better and improved outcomes in those with cancer and neurological conditions. Finally, people exposed to forest therapy were found to be more likely to report that their overall health was good.

Comment: See also:


Seeing and transforming the most negative parts of ourselves into something constructive

A fully integrated human is in touch with their wholeness, whether good or bad, light or dark, ugly or beautiful. Balancing these energies can be counterintuitive. Integrating the whole leads to the holistic experience of self-actualization. But it's not easy to achieve. It does not come naturally. Yet if we can practice such integration, no matter how counterintuitive, it can be the source of tremendous power and self-fulfillment.

1. Practical Grandiosity Over Grandiosity
"To learn to creatively live with the daemonic or be violently devoured by it. We will decide our own destiny. Let us choose wisely." ~Stephen Diamond
What is practical grandiosity? It's being honest about the fact that you are a unique being, but not going too far by imagining that you are better than others. It's taking your natural grandiose energy and channeling it into a real project rather than basing it on an unreal fantasy. It's about being honest with your limits and then having the wherewithal to stretch those limits through self-improvement rather than self-embellishment.

Evil Rays

Study: People posting lots of pictures to social media became 25% more narcissistic in four months

phone millennial

The modern way to develop a personality disorder.

Posting too many pictures to social media can turn you into a narcissist, new research reveals.

People posting pictures heavily to social media became 25% more narcissistic in the four months of the study.

The increase pushed many across the cut-off for having a narcissistic personality disorder.

Comment: The results of this study aren't really surprising. Anyone posting lots of pictures to social media has too much brain real-estate being taken up by these platforms, mistaking the vain, shallow shell for reality. If you're basing your self-worth on how many 'likes' you get on a picture, how could you not become a total narcissist?

See also:


'Human-like' brain waves produced in lab-grown mini-brains

Slice thru brain
© Muotri Lab/UC San Diego
A slice through a brain organoid shows more mature cortical neurons on the outer edge of the structure.
Neuroscientists from the University of California San Diego observed spontaneous electrical activity that resembles human brain waves in a lab-grown "mini-brain" for the first time. They hope this breakthrough will allow researchers to study the early stages of brain disorders like epilepsy in infants, which is usually difficult or impossible due to the difficulty of analyzing a fetus in utero.

As detailed in a preprint research paper presented at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting earlier this month, a research team led by the neuroscientist Alysson Muotri used stem cells to grow hundreds of mini-brains, also known as brain "organoids," over the course of 10 months. Muotri and his colleagues grew these stem cells so that they would form cortical tissue, which is found in the region of the brain responsible for cognition and analyzing sensory data.

After the brain organoids had been growing in petri dishes for about six months, the researchers noticed that the electrical activity they were measuring was occuring at a higher rate than had ever been documented before in lab-grown organoids. Even more surprising, however, was that this electrical activity didn't resemble the synchronized activity seen in mature human brains. Instead, the electrical patterns were chaotic, a hallmark of a developing brain.