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Tue, 25 Apr 2017
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

People 2

The evolutionary purpose of depressive rumination

The phenomenon of depression is among the most common psychological disorders in the United States. It is estimated that about 16 million Americans experience a depressive episode every year, while around 350 million (5% of the world's population) suffer from some form of depression. The symptoms vary from weight gain, weight loss, insomnia, and oversleeping to an inability to feel pleasure, sadness, and loss of focus. The causes for depression vary as well, but common depressive episodes revolve around major events such as death, illness, and loss.

The general understanding within the medical community is that depression is a psychological disorder cured with antidepressants, a little therapy, and perhaps engagement in extracurricular and outdoor activities. However, one theory suggests depression is more than a mental disorder.

In a 2009 publication by Paul W. Andrews of Virginia Commonwealth University and J. Anderson Thompson, Jr. of the University of Virginia, depression was observed as an evolutionary trait for extensive analysis and problem-solving. The abstract of the publication reads:
[...] Depressed people often have severe, complex problems, and rumination is a common feature. Depressed people often believe that their ruminations give them insight into their problems, but clinicians often view depressive rumination as pathological because it is difficult to disrupt and interferes with the ability to concentrate on other things. Abundant evidence indicates that depressive rumination involves the analysis of episode-related problems. Because analysis is time consuming and requires sustained processing, disruption would interfere with problem-solving.

Black Magic

Study finds link between contemplation of one's death and authenticity

© Bart/Flickr
Being able to vividly recall experiences related to your own mortality may cause you to be more fully engaged in life, according to research published in the journal Motivation and Emotion.

The research, which included 457 participants, found a link between authenticity and the vividness of experiences that made them think about mortality. People who were better able to vividly recall death-related experiences tended to also be more authentic, meaning they were more likely to feel true to themselves and less likely to be influenced by the opinions of others.


Heart - Black

The truth about pathological and compulsive liars

© Jonathan Woodcock/Getty Images
Compulsive liars tell the stories they think want to be heard, while pathological liars "'continue to lie when they know you know they’re lying."
We all lie, but some people take it to extremes, destroying careers and relationships in the process. Admit it: From time to time, you lie — at least a little. Your best friend asks what you think of her new haircut. It's awful, but you tell her it looks great. A spouse wants to know if that extra 10 pounds shows, and of course, you say it doesn't.

"Lying is part and parcel of everyday life," says Robert Feldman, PhD, professor of psychological and brain sciences and deputy chancellor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. "In a sense, lies are the lubricants that move social interaction forward,'' says Dr. Feldman, who wrote The Liar in Your Life.

But when lying gets out of control it can wreak havoc in your personal and professional lives — potentially destroying relationships and careers. Here's what you need to know about extreme lying.

Comment: See also:


Weaponized pornography and the degeneration of the population

Warning: the nature of the subject matter in this article is not easy to mentally or emotionally digest. Please be advised before reading further.

You wouldn't think of pornography as part of a social manipulation and mind control experiment, but when you understand the benefits of degrading our sexual morality and the cohesiveness of the family unit, it becomes clear that the rampant pedophilia and sexual sociopathy we see today didn't happen by accident.

With a recent sting operation in Texas, uncovering unchecked sexual abuse and pedophilia in Child 'Protective' Services, along with global pedophilia rings being exposed, with very little mainstream news coverage, in company with two very high-profile pedophilia cases detailing criminal abuses carried out by Jerry Sandusky at Penn State and those of famed British entertainer Jimmy Savile - just to name a few - it is apparent that pedophilia and sexual perversion have overtaken low, mid-level, and the highest levels of political and social power.

The 'dark web' or 'deep web' that Ashton Kutcher recently referenced in a Senate Committee meeting on the subject exists with deep ties to child pornography. As a writer for Cracked explains, the deep web -
"...it's a hidden (that is, not indexed by search engines) part of the Web in which the sites are protected by passwords and where membership is often by invitation only. So, who uses it? Some drug dealers, but, mostly, it's pedophiles. Lots and lots of pedophiles."


Path of least resistance is hard wired, say researchers

We are biased towards perceiving anything challenging to be less appealing, suggests a new study from University College London. The amount of effort needed to do something influences what we think we see, the study found.

Imagine you are in an orchard, trying to decide which of the many apples to pick. On what do you base your decision?

Most research into this type of decision-making has focused on how the brain uses visual information - about features such as color, size and shape - to make a choice. But what about the effort required to obtain the apple?

Does an apple at the top of the tree look more or less tempting than the low-hanging fruit?


Dr Nobuhiro Hagura, who led the UCL team before moving to NICT in Japan, said:


Here's why empathy is so important in everyday life (Video)

You've surely heard the saying, "You can't understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes." The person who first offered this wisdom is lost to history, but it's become so ingrained in our vernacular because of the importance empathy has in life.

Because each and every one of us is an individual, with our own unique outlook on life, it can be incredibly easy to disagree; to misunderstand; to offend. Think of a time you were crying, and someone couldn't seem to wrap their head around how your emotions matched the situation. That alone is enough to make your tears flow harder.

Empathy is truly about trying to understand other people's experiences and perspectives. If you think about your strengths and weaknesses in this area, you might find it's very easy for you, or people you know, to subconsciously practice empathy, like when you see a stranger get hurt. You find yourself truly concerned for their well-being. Our egos can make it difficult, however, to see someone else's feelings as valid when they differ from our own. But just because someone has, for instance, different sensitivities, doesn't make them any less real, or any less important.


Paradox of human behavior: The myth of radical change

The natural tendency of life is to find stability. In biology we refer to this process as equilibrium or homeostasis.

For example, consider your blood pressure. When it dips too low, your heart rate speeds up and nudges your blood pressure back into a healthy range. When it rises too high, your kidneys reduce the amount of fluid in the body by flushing out urine. All the while, your blood vessels help maintain the balance by contracting or expanding as needed.

The human body employs hundreds of feedback loops to keep your blood pressure, body temperature, glucose levels, calcium levels, and many other processes at a stable equilibrium.

In his book, Mastery, martial arts master George Leonard points out that our daily lives also develop their own levels of homeostasis. We fall into patterns for how often we do (or don't) exercise, how often we do (or don't) clean the dishes, how often we do (or don't) call our parents, and everything else in between. Over time, each of us settles into our own version of equilibrium.

Like your body, there are many forces and feedback loops that moderate the particular equilibrium of your habits. Your daily routines are governed by the delicate balance between your environment, your genetic potential, your tracking methods, and many other forces. As time goes on, this equilibrium becomes so normal that it becomes invisible. All of these forces are interacting each day, but we rarely notice how they shape our behaviors.

That is, until we try to make a change.

People 2

Personality transformations: Study says human personality changes radically from teens to old age

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh carried out personality tests on people at the age of 14 then again over sixty years later when they were 77 years old. The team found hardly any relationship at all between adolescent and older-age characteristics
It's good news for awkward teenagers the world over, as it turns out you really do become a completely different person as you get older.

Scientists carried out personality tests on people at the age of 14, and then again more than sixty years later when they were 77 years old.

The team found hardly any relationship between traits people had as adolescents and those in their golden years.

They did, however, pinpoint some specific trends.

As a teenager, many of us become less conscientious, impulsive, moody and irritable.

We also become more social for a few years, then reverse those trends as we move into adulthood.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh expected to see some evidence of personality stability over 63 years.


Does handedness influence beliefs?

If you're left-handed, you know the world is not built for you. All cultures assign certain acts to the right hand such as shaking hands or swearing oaths, but how does this affect our consciousness?

Previous research has found that mixed handers (i.e., those that are more ambidextrous) were more likely than strong handers to update their beliefs. It was assumed that this was due to greater degrees of communication between the two cerebral hemispheres in mixed handers made connections between this model of updating beliefs and metacognitive processing.

Studies on twins have bolstered the belief that there may be a gene that distinguishes righties from lefties.

A preference for the left or the right hand might be traced back to asymmetry that allow us to develop specific brain patterns. "These results fundamentally change our understanding of the cause of hemispheric asymmetries," conclude the authors. The team report about their study in the journal eLife.


Book 2

Reading better: How to retain more of everything you read

Finishing a book is easy. Understanding it is harder.

In recent years, I have focused on building good reading habits and learned how to read more. But the key is not simply to read more, but to read better. For most people, the ultimate goal of reading a nonfiction book is to actually improve your life by learning a new skill, understanding an important problem, or looking at the world in a new way. It's important to read books, but it is just as important to remember what you read and put it to good use.

With that in mind, I'd like to share three reading comprehension strategies that I use to make my reading more productive.