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Sat, 01 Apr 2023
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Science of the Spirit


Boys and men experience more social isolation than girls and women, study finds

social isolation
A study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior has found that boys and men experience more social isolation than girls and women, with this difference disproportionately affecting the unmarried, or individuals with disrupted relationship histories. Further, levels of social isolation increase from adolescence through later life for both genders.

Social isolation - the objective state of having limited social relationships or contact with others - is associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes, as well as increased risk of mortality. In this work, Debra Umberson and colleagues pursue two research questions. First, whether there are gender differences in social isolation and its trajectories from adolescence to older adulthood. Second, whether gender differences are dependent on marital or partnership histories.

This research used data from two longitudinal studies, including the Add Health, and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Add Health followed U.S. adolescents between grades 7-12 in 1994-1995, with 5 interviews between 1995 and 2018. The HRS is an ongoing biannual survey that was launched in 1992, including adults born between 1931-1941, and their partners of any age. Every 6 years, a cohort of adults ages 50-55 are added to the study. The total sample of the current work included 12,885 women and 9271 men.


Dark personality traits linked to a greater desire to enhance oneself using technological methods

brain graphic exploding
© Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
People with dark personality traits are more likely to want to enhance their brain power with futuristic technologies, according to new research published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement.

"Enhancement of human abilities has been a prominent topic throughout human history, but has received little attention from psychological research," said study author Elena Schönthaler of the University of Graz.

"Nowadays, thanks to advanced technology, there are significantly more possibilities and means to optimize one's abilities. Finding out who would use enhancement methods has thus become an urgent question to answer. Our research aimed to shed more light onto individual differences, personality traits, and inner values of those who would enhance themselves using technological methods or devices."

Comment: See also:


Journalists less likely to use words that denote analytical thinking and numerical evidence when writing on Twitter

twitter landing page
Journalist tend to rely on rapid, low-effort cognitive processes when posting content to the social media website Twitter, according to new research that analyzed more than 12 million words produced by campaign reporters during the run-up to the 2016 election.

The study, which has been published in PLOS One, was based on what is known as dual process theory of thought, which has been popularized by psychologist Daniel Kahneman. The theory proposes that there are two distinct cognitive modes in the human mind: System 1, which is quick, intuitive and emotional; and System 2, which is slower, logical and deliberative.

People use System 1 thinking when they are faced with a situation that is familiar or when they don't have to put much thought into their decision. System 2 thinking is more effortful and is used when people need to focus their attention on a task or when they are facing a new or challenging situation. While both System 1 and System 2 thinking have their advantages, research has shown that people tend to rely too heavily on System 1 thinking, which can lead to errors in judgment.

Comment: See also:

Evil Rays

Transhumanism: A Religion for Postmodern Times

We are witnessing the birth of a new faith. It is not a theistic religion. Indeed, unlike Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, it replaces a personal relationship with a transcendent God in the context of a body of believers with a fervent and radically individualistic embrace of naked materialistic personal recreation.

Moreover, in contrast to the orthodox Christian, Judaic, and Islamic certainty that human beings are made up of both material body and immaterial soul - and that both matter - adherents of the new faith understand that we have a body, but what really counts is mind, which is ultimately reducible to mere chemical and electrical exchanges. Indeed, contrary to Christianity's view of an existing Heaven or, say, Buddhism's conception of the world as illusion, the new faith insists that the physical is all that has been, is, or ever will be.

Such thinking leads to nihilism. That's where the new religion leaves past materialistic philosophies behind, by offering adherents hope. Where traditional theism promises personal salvation, the new faith offers the prospect of rescue via radical life-extension attained by technological applications - a postmodern twist, if you will, on faith's promise of eternal life. This new religion is known as "transhumanism, " and it is all the rage among the Silicon Valley nouveau riche, university philosophers, and among bioethicists and futurists seeking the comforts and benefits of faith without the concomitant responsibilities of following dogma, asking for forgiveness, or atoning for sin - a foreign concept to transhumanists. Truly, transhumanism is a religion for our postmodern times.


The implications for humanity of Transhumanism as the dominant ideology of the fourth industrial revolution


In this volume dedicated to transhumanism, it is important to slip in, however furtively, a few words from political science. In essence, political science is the study of power relations and how they are justified and contested. Viewed from this perspective, "transhumanism" takes on a crucial significance. In fact, transhumanist thought is all about transcending our "natural" human condition by embracing cutting-edge technologies. The movement has already passed through various stages of development, after first emerging in the early 1980s — although "transhumanist" as an adjective was deployed as early as 1966 by the Iranian-American futurist Fereidoun M. Esfandiary, then a lecturer at the New School of Social Research in New York, and in works by Abraham Maslow (Toward a Psychology of Being, 1968) and Robert Ettinger (Man into Superman, 1972). However, it was Esfandiary's conversations with the artist Nancie Clark, John Spencer of the Space Tourism Society, and, later, the British philosopher Max More (born Max O'Connor) in southern California that prompted the first attempts to unify these ideas into a coherent whole. Esfandiary's renown had grown rapidly since he changed his legal name, becoming the enigmatic FM-2030, while Clark decided she would henceforth be known by the alias Natasha Vita-More, and went on to pen the Transhumanist Arts Statement in 1982.

Comment: The author's analysis and conclusion, written last March, seems to be prophetic.

See: Biden signs executive order designed to unleash transhumanist hell


Facing your fears through lucid dreaming may help you overcome a phobia, study suggests

lucid dreaming
A recent study offers evidence that lucid dreaming may be an effective tool for overcoming irrational phobias. Just under half of participants who confronted a fear through lucid dreaming reported a reduction in fear after awakening. The findings are set to be published in the journal Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice.

During a lucid dream, a person becomes aware that they are dreaming and may even be able to influence the course of their dream. Lucid dreaming has been scientifically studied in the lab and tends to occur during REM sleep, the stage of the sleep cycle associated with rapid eye movements and vivid dreaming.

Psychology studies have suggested that this type of dreaming can be used for therapeutic purposes, for example, to reduce the occurrence of nightmares and improve sleep quality. The researchers behind the new study wanted to investigate whether lucid dreaming might be helpful for treating fears and phobias that are unrelated to dreams. Within a lucid dream, a person can explore a frightening situation from the physical world while remaining in a safe environment.

Comment: See also:


Study: Cannabis users appear to be less aware of unhealthy romantic relationship strategies

smoking cannabis marijuana joint
With the legalization of cannabis in many places in America, marijuana usage has become increasingly widespread in recent years. Cannabis consumption is considered to be calming, but does that extend to dealing with relationship conflict? A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggests that cannabis users are more likely to avoid conflict and engage negatively.

Substance use can have significant effects on users' social lives, especially in regard to romantic relationships. While other substances have been studied at length, cannabis use and its relationship with couple functioning has been understudied. This is a significant gap, especially because around 35% of young adults self-report cannabis usage.

Previous research has shown that even though people may use cannabis to regulate their emotions, it can have negative effects on interactions with a partner. This study aims to better understand the relationship between cannabis use and relational conflict.

Comment: See also:

Eye 1

Psychopathic men have an extreme focus on mating at the expense of other domains and tend to be "parasitic" fathers

Why do psychopaths become parents? A study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science suggests that people high in psychopathy focus primarily on mating, but often avoid parental or somatic investment (meaning the growth and maintenance of oneself).

Psychopathy consists of traits such as selfishness, grandiosity, callousness, and impulsivity. People who are high on these antisocial traits can be very harmful to the people around them. This can oftentimes include short-term mating and less parental investment. Somatic investment is another key part of mating that has not been heavily explored when it comes to people high in psychopathy. This study seeks to bridge that research gap and examine investment patterns when somatic investment is included.

"We were interested in this study to expand on how psychopathic personality traits in men can be understood from an evolutionary perspective," said study author Kristopher Brazil (@brazkris). "From a broad evolutionary perspective, individuals spend time and energy investing in survival and reproduction. Reproduction is typically partitioned into mating effort (i.e., seeking out mates) and parental effort (i.e., taking care of offspring)."

Comment: Over and above looking at why boys and young men may become psychopaths (or sociopaths, more accurately), the researchers would do well to keep in mind that many are just born that way. This may be a limitation of the evolutionary model, treating mating strategies as somehow strategically advantageous. Born psychopaths haven't decided, consciously or unconsciously, to be psychopathic. It's what they are.

See also:


Ignorance of Evil

evil, demons
Rolo over at the Slavland Chronicles invited me on to discuss the nature of evil. Head on over to his Substack to listen in.

I had a lot of fun. Rolo's a great conversationalist, has a lot of interesting things to say, and challenged me on some of my more half-baked ideas, which provided a lot of food for thought. No doubt we will continue the conversation at some point!

Among the topics discussed:

The necessity to start with experience. Much theology and philosophy is mere speculation — games of logic using untested assumptions. As Rolo argued, logic isn't the place to start. Like the left hemisphere, it must only be used in service to the whole of experience, bringing it into order. In this case, that means the reality of evil: on earth and as is presented in mystical experience.

Many people have a tendency to deny the reality of evil. In the world, this may mean denying what our lying eyes plainly perceive. This may also extend to thinking of evil not as really evil, but merely as good in disguise — a type of optical illusion. Anyone who has come face to face with evil will have trouble buying that one.

Comment: See also: Evil is Real: What do J.P. Sears and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld have in common?

SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: The Memes Will Set You Free: Apocalyptic Conversation and American Gnosis with Arthur Versluis

Arthur Versluis is back to discuss his recent book 'Conversations in Apocalyptic Times' (a dialogue with Robert Faas), and his forthcoming 'American Gnosis.' Tune in for a wide-ranging discussion on our current spiritual malaise, the hidden theosophic tradition within Western Christianity, continuity of consciousness, the mystery of mysteries - the Holy Grail, and Arthur's new and upcoming courses with the Hieros Institute. Keep listening: Arthur also recommends a handful of mind-blowing books you may never have heard of.

Running Time: 01:25:42

Download: MP3 — 81.2 MB