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Tue, 12 Dec 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

Snakes in Suits

Study finds psychopaths more likely to major in business and economics at college

Psychopaths are likely to be selfish, callous, remorseless and anti-social.
teen psychopath
Psychopaths are more likely to major in business and economics, a study finds. This supports the view of business people as tending towards the callous and self-interested.

At the other end of the scale, people intending to study psychology were the least likely to have psychopathic traits. The results come from a survey of over 400 Danish students. They took a personality test along with providing information about their future academic choices.

All the information was collected before they started their course, so it was unlikely the business and economic courses turned them into psychopaths.


Study shows lucid dreaming induction techniques work, especially for those who fall asleep within 5 minutes

butterfly dream
Lucid dreaming is a learnable skill, according to new research published in the journal Dreaming. Lead author Dr. Denholm Aspy of the University of Adelaide and colleagues have found that a specific combination of techniques will increase people's chances of having lucid dreams, in which the dreamer is aware they're dreaming while it's still happening and can control the experience.

The study involved 169 Australian participants divided into three groups and investigated the effectiveness of three different lucid dream induction techniques:
  1. reality testing - which involves checking your environment several times a day to see whether or not you're dreaming;
  2. wake back to bed (WBTB) - waking up after five hours, staying awake for a short period, then going back to sleep in order to enter a REM sleep period, in which dreams are more likely to occur;
  3. mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) - which involves waking up after five hours of sleep and then developing the intention to remember that you are dreaming before returning to sleep, by repeating the phrase: 'The next time I'm dreaming, I will remember that I'm dreaming;' you also imagine yourself in a lucid dream.
Among the group of 47 people who combined all three techniques, participants achieved a 17% success rate in having lucid dreams over the period of just one week - significantly higher compared to a baseline week where they didn't practice any techniques.

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Study shows correlation between depression and shorter life span

depression depresion
© Imagen ilustrativa/ pexels.com
People who suffer from depression may not live as long as individuals who don't experience this mental health disorder, a Canadian study suggests.

Researchers examined six decades of mental health and mortality data on 3,410 adults during three time periods: 1952 to 1967, 1968 to 1990 and 1991 to 2011. Depression was associated with an increased risk of premature death in every decade of the study for men, and starting in the 1990s for women.

The connection between depression and a shorter lifespan appeared strongest in the years following a depressive episode, leading the researchers to conclude that at least part of the risk might be reversed by effectively treating the mental illness.

"For some individuals depression can be very serious condition," said lead study author Stephen Gilman of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Given our finding that individuals whose depression was present at multiple time points in our study were at highest risk, it is very important to seek treatment for depression and to be vigilant about recurrences," Gilman said by email.

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11 habits of very happy people

smiling woman
© Getty Images
We're always chasing something-be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, "When (blank) happens, I'll finally be happy."

While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn't last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.
happiness normal people lottery winners
The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.

Happiness is synthetic-you either create it, or you don't. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:


More efficient brains: Study suggests a tendency to daydream may indicate a higher level of intelligence and creativity

 mind wandering, daydreaming
Unable to stay focused? Frequently going away with the fairies? It may be because you have so much brain capacity that it needs to find ways to keep itself occupied, according to new research.

A team of psychologists has found a positive correlation between a person's tendency to daydream and their levels of intelligence and creativity.

"People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can't," said one of the team, Eric Schumacher from Georgia Institute of Technology.

"Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn't always true. Some people have more efficient brains."



Stories developed to 'deal with complexity'

© AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia
Jordan Peterson, author of Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, argues people through centuries developed stories to deal with complexity in order to make action in the big, mysterious and dangerous world tractable. These stories were of three general types . Some simplified the known world and explained the individual's place in a complex society; others set out the relationship with the unknown, enabling us to face it without undue fear; and some provided a link between the known and the unknown.

Thus equipped man met challenge after challenge. Stories, myth and meaning served not to provide final truth but enough truth to enable mankind to write his next chapter. The species staggered through history like a kind of Scheherazade, making up stories that were hopefully, each a little bit truer than the last. Peterson writes:



The way you walk may provide insight into your personality

Fast walkers are more likely to be extraverted, conscientious and open to new experiences.

Naturally, though, with age, people tend to walk more slowly.

However, those high in extraversion, conscientiousness and openness to new experience did not slow down as much as they got older.

The study's authors conclude:
"This study provides robust evidence that walking speed in adulthood reflects, in part, the individual's personality."

Blue Planet

The physiological & psychological benefits of nature are well documented

Nature on the brain
European research from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany suggests that city dwellers who live near nature experience positive effects on their brains compared to their purely urban counterparts, especially on the amygdala, the brain's integrative center for emotions, emotional behaviour, and motivation. When we think of stress or fear responses, we should be thinking of the amygdala.

This research should come as no surprise, since the physiological and psychological benefits of nature are well documented. In our article "How Walking In Nature Changes The Brain," we explored the study led by Gregory Bratman, which suggested that being in nature can potentially change our brains and positively impact our health:
Researchers conducted a study which asked randomly selected participants to spend 50 minutes walking in either a natural or urban setting, and to submit to a series of psychological assessments before and after the walk. They found that volunteers who walked through a lush, green portion of Stanford campus showed improve cognitive function and mood compared to those who walked near heavy traffic for the same period of time. However, while this study showed that nature could have a positive effect on mental well-being, it did not examine the neurological mechanisms underlying this change.

Comment: Read more about the benefits of nature and 'earthing':


Psychedelics more effective at reducing crime than police, says new study

magic mushrooms
In recent years the U.S. has seen a dramatic resurgence of research into the medical use of psychedelics, after the drug war put a decades-long halt on scientific advancement. Despite psilocybin, LSD and other hallucinogens still being labeled as "Schedule 1" drugs, researchers are discovering the astounding benefits of their medical application.

Last December, pioneering clinical trials found that magic mushrooms heal mental illness like a "surgical intervention." Advanced cancer patients have "experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months." Psychedelics can treat addiction, ADHD and PTSD, and can replace years of depression therapy. Alongside medical cannabis, psychedelics can arguably solve the opioid epidemic.

Now, research is showing the positive effects of psychedelic use on social dynamics-by reducing criminal behavior. Researchers surveyed 480,000 people to produce some eye-opening results.


Can we ever know whether or not our universe is a simulation?

Universe with in
© Millennium Images, UK/Brighitta Moser-Clark
Are we living in a simulation? A flurry of headlines says no: we need no longer worry about our lives being mere software spawned by a highly advanced supercomputer.

These stories stem from a recent Science Advances paper about simulating quantum physics. One science magazine extrapolated from this to suggest that storing information about just a few hundred electrons needs a computer memory made up of more atoms than exist in the universe - thus, simulating the universe is impossible.

But the paper only claims that a specific, limited type of simulation won't work due to technical and hardware issues. It says that, within our current understanding of physical reality, there are certain quantum problems that cannot be simulated on a classical computer using a specific quantum algorithm, because it would require too much memory. The paper doesn't even mention electrons.

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