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Sun, 18 Feb 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Colliding with reality: What depth psychology tells us about victimhood

person looking through window
When Carl Jung was a 12-year-old schoolboy, he was shoved to the ground by another child, hitting his head on the pavement, and nearly losing consciousness. Instantly, he grasped the opportunities created by this attack.
At the moment I felt the blow, the thought flashed through my mind: "Now you won't have to go to school anymore." I was only half unconscious, but I remained lying there a few moments longer than was strictly necessary, chiefly in order to avenge myself on my assailant....


Singing your heart out with a group could very well make you happier

singing group
Singing in groups could make you happier, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Researchers examined the benefits of singing among people with mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

They found that people who took part in a community singing group maintained or improved their mental health. And that the combination of singing and socializing was an essential part of recovery because it promoted an ongoing feeling of belonging and wellbeing.

Lead researcher Prof Tom Shakespeare from UEA's Norwich Medical School and his researcher Dr Alice Whieldon worked in collaboration with the Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) project, based in Norfolk.

The grassroots initiative runs weekly singing workshops, aimed at people with mental health conditions as well as the general public. It originally began at Hellesdon psychiatric hospital in 2005, but afterwards moved into the community. Around 120 people now attend four free workshops each week across Norfolk -- two thirds of whom have had contact with mental health services.

Comment: In addition to stimulating your vagus nerve, singing has all kinds of positive benefits:


New study suggests that the lower your social class, the 'wiser' and better you are at conflict resolution

© Nicolas Hoizey/Unsplash
Growing up working class gives people social skills that help broaden their perspective during conflicts.
There's an apparent paradox in modern life: Society as a whole is getting smarter, yet we aren't any closer to figuring out how to all get along. "How is it possible that we have just as many, if not more, conflicts as before?" asks social psychologist Igor Grossmann at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

The answer is that raw intelligence doesn't reduce conflict, he asserts. Wisdom does. Such wisdom-in effect, the ability to take the perspectives of others into account and aim for compromise - comes much more naturally to those who grow up poor or working class, according to a new study by Grossman and colleagues.

"This work represents the cutting edge in wisdom research," says Eranda Jayawickreme, a social psychologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

To conduct the study, Grossmann and his graduate student Justin Brienza embarked on a two-part experiment. First, they asked 2145 people throughout the United States to take an online survey. Participants were asked to remember a recent conflict they had with someone, such as an argument with a spouse or a fight with a friend. They then answered 20 questions applicable to that or any conflict, including: "Did you ever consider a third-party perspective?" "How much did you try to understand the other person's viewpoint?" and "Did you consider that you might be wrong?"

Comment: While we can't control the social class we were born into (and all the commensurate wisdom that may come with it) there are attitudes and cognitive practices that may very well help to grow this trait within us:

Ancient Stoic wisdom to help achieve greater happiness

Microscope 1

Born this way? Homing in on the complex biology behind homosexuality in men

born this way gay parade
We're homing in on the pathways that shape sexual orientation - in men, at least. The latest findings reveal genes and antibodies that seem to be part of the complex biology behind homosexuality.

Studies of sexuality have largely tended to focus on men, and for decades there has been evidence that sexual orientation is partly heritable in men. Genetic variations in regions of the X chromosome and chromosome 8 were linked to homosexuality in the mid-1990s, but no specific genes had been found. There was also no explanation for why men are more likely to be gay if they have older brothers, known as the "fraternal birth order effect".

Now, for the first time, two genes that may influence how sexual orientation develops have been identified, while another team's work may explain the fraternal birth order effect.

Alan Sanders at NorthShore University, Illinois, and his colleagues compared DNA from 1077 gay and 1231 straight men. Scanning the men's entire genomes, the team spotted two genes whose variants seem to be linked to sexual orientation (Nature Scientific Reports, doi.org/cg94).

Comment: So far, the biology of homosexuality doesn't support a strict genetics-to-orientation pathway. That suggests a biosocial pathway - biology that interacts with environmental influences, whether in utero or in early childhood - maybe all of the above. There are still a lot of questions unanswered. Why don't the above biological markers apply in all cases? Are there any essential biological markers, without which orientation will be heterosexual? Are there multiple pathways to orientation?

Red Pill

Semantogymnastics about Microconsent: The absurdity of demanding explicit sexual consent

sexual consent
Explicitly articulated 'microconsent' (my term, it signifies continuous monitoring and incremental or progressive affirmation of consent in an evolving situation) is widely promoted as a necessary condition of permissible conduct in sexual relations (Consent Is Everything and The University of Sydney). Here I argue that the relevant criterion for consent is too restrictive for normal interaction between private persons and may be better suited for commercial, medical and political relations.

With mandatory sexual consent classes at Oxford University and an information campaign about consent by a leading condom brand, one would like to think that the mainstream discussion about the normative significance of consent gains rational grounding and analytical depth, not just publicity, but this is sadly not the case.

On the contrary, some supposedly progressive claims about consent give rise to confusion about the general sense of 'intention' and about the limits culpability. If 'A slurred Yeesh doesn't mean Yes', then perhaps my drunk-driving does not mean I am really driving... And so, assuming gender equality, if a drunk woman is not responsible for her actions, then a drunk man is also not responsible for his actions?

Comment: See also:

Sweden loses its collective mind: Proposed law will make any sex without "explicit" consent rape


Why Highly Intelligent People Suffer More Mental and Physical Disorders

college campuses

Warning: Here be snowflakes
People with high IQ are considered to have an advantage in many domains. They are predicted to have higher educational attainment, better jobs, and a higher income level. Yet, it turns out that a high IQ is also associated with various mental and immunological diseases like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD as well as allergies, asthma, and immune disorders. Why is that? A new paper published in the journal Intelligence reviews the literature and explores the mechanisms that possibly underlie this connection.

The study authors compared data taken from 3,715 members of the American Mensa Society (people who have scored in the top 2% of intelligent tests) to data from national surveys in order to examine the prevalence of several disorders in those with higher intelligence compared to the average population.

The results showed that highly intelligent people are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 80% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, 83% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, and 182% more likely to develop at least one mood disorder.

Comment: This might go some way to accounting for 'Generation Snowflake'. It's not just that they bought into ideology, big time; they were heavily predisposed to.

On the other hand, they're only one end of a spectrum of 'sensitive types' that includes intelligent people who bear their misfortunes and get on with life.


Are fitness classes the new consumerist church?

© Alexander Tamargo / Getty
Gyms provide ritual and community, serving as a sort of religion. They also promote values American culture already worships-capitalism and overwork.

You pay a regular tithe to support the community. In public, you wear symbols that identify you as one of the faithful. When you gather with other adherents, it's often in small, close rooms. Breathing gets heavy; bodies sweat. If anyone speaks, it is to moan, or occasionally to shout in triumph.

Comment: The massive fitness trend that's not actually healthy at all


The seven cognitive biases that can ruin how you make decisions

one way signs
Meaningful work. Productive days. Health and happiness. Everything that contributes to a life with value seems to come down to one thing: Making good decisions.

Yet, while we try our best, there are forces at work that undermine our ability to make choices that are rational, intelligent, and ultimately in our best interests.

In order to handle the insane amount of information we're constantly bombarded with, our brains have developed shortcuts, or 'cognitive biases' as they're commonly referred to. These biases help us filter information, make snap decisions, and concentrate on what matters most.

So, what's the problem then?

Well for one, we don't control our biases. They filter without consent, meaning they may ignore information that's relevant to the choices we're trying to make. And without a full view, how can we know we're making the best choice possible?

While more than 150 cognitive biases have been classified (you can see Wikipedia's extensive list here), these are the 7 that most commonly creep into the decision-making process. Let's take a look at what they are, when they happen, and how to counteract them.

Comment: The Truth Perspective: You are not so smart - understanding our cognitive biases

Alarm Clock

Do you have a time management problem or an attention management problem?

chasing time
A key habit I've noticed in successful people repeatedly, is that they are ruthless in managing what they pay attention to.

Sources of distraction today are plentiful and with everything becoming digitized, are only exponentially increasing. I'm sorry to be crass, but your mind is like an egg, ripe for fertilization and every ping, push notification, email, call, text...is yet one more opportunity for your mind to be literally penetrated.

We have a dozen social networks that are so woven into the fabric of our daily lives that using them is as habitual as brushing our teeth. There are millions of websites ranging from mild entertainment to intellectual porn (articles like this, that make us feel we're doing something when we're just consuming). Our perpetual exposure to digital stimuli has gone far beyond what evolution intended.

Walk through the airport, a mall, a grocery store or even a bar on a Saturday night and it's not uncommon to see people looking at their phones.

Comment: There's more than enough time, when you use the time you have constructively


The culture of hungry ghosts

Hungry Ghosts
"No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side." ― Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
Something wicked bubbles just beneath the surface of the collective conscience. Our society is rife with corruption, predation, perversion, over-consumption, violence, addiction and so much more. Somehow enough is never enough, as if the driving force behind human existence is pure want.

This is not true, though, for we know that spiritually well beings are content beings, looking no further than the present moment's blessings for satisfaction. We don't have an inherent need for want. Want is a symptom, not the condition. It's something that enters when the spirit is untended to.