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Wed, 24 Aug 2016
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


The basic laws of human stupidity

Stupid people are everywhere. And, as we all know, no class, race, sex, occupation, political affiliation, country of origin, or degree of wealth has a monopoly on stupidity. Stupid people cause profound damage to individuals and to society at large. But, for the most part, stupid people operate in a kind of anonymity. Consequently, we are frequently ambushed by them and pay the often hefty price.

I say stupid people operate in anonymity not because we all don't know stupid people, but because stupid people don't have a huge literature identifying them. There are countless books written on how to be smarter, how to improve critical thinking skills, how to learn faster and how to develop acumen in all sorts of fields of endeavor.

There are books on the traits of highly successful people and on the classification of various intellectual skills. But where is the Field Guide to Stupid People, the reference source we need to identify and avoid - as much as is possible - the often irreparable harm such people can inflict? Such a book doesn't exist. Or at least I thought it didn't.

All that changed a few months ago when I was in Paris, roaming through the English language section of my favorite Parisian bookstore, Galignani.


Labelling and describing feelings reduces anxiety even if you don't think it will

Labelling anxiety — putting the feeling into words — can reduce the fear response, research finds.

In fact, the more fearful words people use to describe their anxiety, the more their anxiety reduces.

However, the study also found that people don't expect that labelling their emotions will reduce anxiety.

But, recordings of their skin conductance show that it does.

The study compared labelling anxiety with other common methods of reducing anxiety, including distraction and reappraisal.

Comment: Talking about your feelings will help you cope with scary and stressful situations.


87-year-old man builds intricate cathedral for wife with Alzheimer's

© Inside Edition
When Gerald LeSiege's wife of 60 years came down with Alzheimer's, he took up woodworking as a hobby to help him cope with his wife's illness and be a caretaker to her. After he realized he had a knack for the art, he decided to build something for his wife that she would love without needing to explain why it was for her.

The two apparently loved traveling to Europe, so he chose to build a cathedral reminiscent of those in older European cities to remind her of their time together and to make her happy. LeSiege told Inside Edition:
"What got to our heart, and made us feel real warm and close, was all of the architectural beauty of Europe."
For several months, Gerald spent hours everyday working on his design for a five-foot cathedral with lights and a clock inside of it. He had his wife by his side as he constructed the tower.

People 2

New study says opposites attract, but only if you're single

© redOrbit
When people are single they are more attracted to faces that are dissimilar to their own, new research finds.

But, when people are already in a relationship, they are more attracted to faces that look similar to their own.

In other words: opposites attract for single people, but not for those in a relationship.

The reason that dissimilar faces attract could be down to avoiding incest or other people with similar genes.

So, when people are single, they are automatically less attracted to faces that look like their own.

Comment: More on the opposites attract phenomenon:


Is resilience the key to avoiding the sickening effects of stress?

© Elizabeth Dalziel / AP
A young Maoist soldier walks into a village in Kholagaun, Nepal, in 2004
A gritty attitude seems to prevent chronic inflammation from overwhelming the body in the aftermath of trauma.

It's well known that stress makes people sick, and extreme trauma makes them even sicker. But a new study suggests that not everyone who endures adversity is doomed to chronic illness. There might be a way to prevent the body from attacking itself in the wake of trauma.

For the study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a team of researchers examined the effects of resilience—a measurement of grittiness in the face of strife—on the immune systems of former child soldiers in Nepal. From 1996 to 2006, Maoist rebels fought a civil war against Nepal's monarchy and the government forces that protected it. One of their strategies was recruiting children, first in various "cultural" activities, such as dancing, but eventually in military roles. By the time the war was over, thousands of children had served as soldiers.

Comment: Read more about How to develop emotional resilience and why everyone should do it


7 tell-tale emotional signs that dog owners often miss: Submissive behavior

As a pet owner, it's important to take the time to get to know your pooch — not only, for instance, that her favorite toy is the squeaky pig or that she often forgets to bring said pig in from outside, but also how to read her sometimes-subtle body language.

The fact is that while you and your dog may communicate very well overall, there's always room for improvement. And it's surprisingly easy to miss certain nuances of your dog's posture, eye contact or vocalizations and in so doing miss out on an opportunity to connect and strengthen your bond.

Submissive behavior is especially important to be aware of, as it's your dog's way of letting you know that she's not a threat and may, in some cases, be looking for some extra reassurances from you.

Comment: See also: Dogs "catch" emotions from humans
  • Tail-waggers and their people share hormonal bond through mutual gazing
  • Dog 'walks 200 miles to find woman who nursed her back to health after hit-and-run accident'


Why do childhood memories usually completely disappear?

When was your first memory? It's an odd question that somehow makes its way into conversations. When I think about it personally, a field of images come to mind, but one age, day, place, or action seems too concrete to pinpoint. I don't remember being a baby, getting my first tooth, or learning how to walk and talk, but I do remember holding my favorite baby doll, losing my first tooth, and learning how to ride a bike.

According to Carole Peterson, a professor of psychology at Memorial University Newfoundland who studies children's memories, small children are actually capable of recalling events from when they were as young as 20 months, but these memories seem to fade away by the time they're between 4 and 7 years old.


Write it down: A regular habit of writing enhances healing, learning, mental clarity and creativity

When you attempt to envision a writer, I imagine many of you see a quirky recluse, hunched over a desk in some cabin, crumpled paper strewn about as they obsessively work on the next great American novel. But writing is so much more.

Prose is thought put to page, which makes all of us writers—even if we don't have the chops to tangle with Faulkner. In most cases, writing is most useful as a tool for thinking, expression, and creativity; cabin-dwelling novelists be damned.

Let's look at some of the benefits of making writing a regular habit.

Writing and happiness

Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with "expressive writing," or jotting down what you think and how you feel. Even blogging "undoubtedly affords similar benefits" to private expressive writing in terms of therapeutic value.

Expressive writing has also been linked to improved mood, well-being, and reduced stress levels for those who do it regularly, says Adam Grant:
"Research by Laura King shows that writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make people happier and healthier... And Jane Dutton and I found that when people doing stressful fundraising jobs kept a journal for a few days about how their work made a difference, they increased their hourly effort by 29% over the next two weeks."

Comment: For more information on ways to use writing exercises to improve health and emotional well-being, see:

Cardboard Box

The arrogance of ignorance: How far will the ego go to protect its ignorance?

How does a control mechanism based upon the minority population enact controls over the majority - fill them with fears, insecurities and an inflated sense of importance while pitting them against each other and offering the only viable solutions.

This brings everything down to the personal level, so that any conversation (or attempt thereof) is immediately considered as a threat, no matter how logical it may be. There are always the basic projections such as "you just want to be right" or "you just want everyone to think like you" - always an external enemy instead of actually listening to the words and logic which is attempted to be conveyed. Divide and conquer at its basis, for this conversation is about people of same backgrounds and similar experiences which turn on each other at the drop of a hat over simple words, misunderstandings and fear of having their ignorance called out.

2 + 2 = 4

Why emotional abuse in childhood may lead to migraines in adulthood

© www.shutterstock.com
Child abuse and neglect are, sadly, more common than you might think. According to a 2011 study in JAMA Pediatrics, more than five million U.S. children experienced confirmed cases of maltreatment between 2004 and 2011. The effects of abuse can linger beyond childhood - and migraine headaches might be one of them.

Previous research, including our own, has found a link between experiencing migraine headaches in adulthood and experiencing emotional abuse in childhood. So how strong is the link? What is it about childhood emotional abuse that could lead to a physical problem, like migraines, in adulthood?