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Tue, 25 Sep 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


The strong personality trait that is linked to empathy

Empathic people
Empathic people are likely to have this personality trait.

People with the personality trait of agreeableness are more likely to be highly empathic, research finds.

Agreeable people tend to be friendly, warm and tactful - always taking into account other people's feelings.

Interestingly, the study also found links between empathy and being neurotic, although neurotic people were more focused on themselves, while agreeable people focused on the other person.

Comment: More on the trait that speaks to our humanity:

Snakes in Suits

Study finds narcissists' 'heightened sense of self-worth' gives them a 'mental toughness' to succeed at work, in love and education

© rgb fotografie/ Global Look Press
They are generally disparaged in society because of their stubborn self-involvement and vanity, but it turns out narcissistic people are likely to be more successful, a new study reveals.

According to an international research project led by Queen's University Belfast, narcissism - which is considered part of the "dark triad" of personality traits alongside Machiavellianism and psychopathy - is associated with success at work, in love and education.

The research found their "heightened sense of self-worth" gives narcissists a "mental toughness" that drives them to success. "If we could abandon conventional social morality - and just focus on what is successful," then narcissism can look like a very "positive" trait, Dr Kostas Papageorgiou said, the BBC reports.

Comment: The researchers are coming very close to seeing narcissistic personality disorder as a positive trait. There are any number of mental contortions one can do to turn narcissistic behavior into a positive, but that doesn't mean that it IS a positive. The researchers should talk to all the people whose lives have been negatively affected by a narcissist and ask them if it's a "positive" behavioral trait.

The most likely reason narcissists are successful is because they have little trouble hurting others in order to advance their own interests. The problem is, the vast majority of people do not feel comfortable acting in such a way, and it is because of that that humans have not torn each other to pieces yet.

There are much better methods than acting narcissistically for training oneself to be mentally tough. It doesn't require a selfish desire to win to be that way.


Activism without working to understand yourself is not of any real value

© Toshimasa Ishibashi
Have you ever known someone who's intensely interested in helping people, but is so neurotic and unskillful that they mostly just make things worse?

"Stop!" you'll find yourself wanting to yell at such people. "Stop helping! Go help yourself!"

That's how I see most political activism today. So many well-intentioned people who want to help, and are so crazed by mass media psyops and cultural mind viruses that their energy seemingly goes everywhere but where it needs to. I'd like to say a bit about that here, if you'll indulge me.

It's really weird how many people in the political circles I move in are still running pretty much the exact same programs they were running in 2016. There are still former Berners acting like Hillary Clinton is the single greatest threat to America despite her being more or less irrelevant in 2018. There are still leftists and anarchists acting as though small neo-Nazi groups present a greater existential threat than the mainstream neoliberal neoconservative Orwellian power establishment. There are still liberals running the same "OMG TRUMP NAZI LITERALLY HITLER WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE" script despite overwhelming evidence showing that the most evil things this administration has done are all extensions of Bush and Obama administration policies. There are still anti-interventionist Trump voters doing everything they can to compartmentalize away from the undeniable fact that this president is continuing and expanding the interventionist policies of his predecessors.

Even if you had a crystal clear understanding of what was happening in US politics in 2016, continuing to perceive through the lens of that same understanding today is blindness. And the more the world continues to change (and change it always will), the more blind you will be if you continue to apply your 2016 worldview to it.

Comment: Although a tall order, working to understand your mental processes and how unconscious biases affect your thinking is key to be being able to correctly assess the world around you. It involves a lot of hard work and questioning many things you might have taken for granted or believed in but in the end, you make better decisions and allow you to contribute to society in a truly positive way. Aside from The Righteous Mind, couple of other great books on the subject are: See also:


The holonomic brain: the holographic nature of consciousness and reality

Fractal broccoli

Fractal Broccoli
Holograms come in many shapes and sizes, and for the most part, people are at least superficially familiar with the concept of holograms, but this is mostly reserved for the realm of fun eye candy and artistic works. However, if one was told that the world around them, and in fact they themselves are holographic, it would be brashly dismissed as ludicrous dribble. Well, I'm proposing precisely such an absurdity, and I seem to be in good company.

Consciousness is the driving force behind the manifestation of form within this holographic matrix. This hologram has close relations with fractals, and a lot of times, the hologram of existence is usually referred to as a fractal hologram. However, what is a fractal, and ultimately, what is a hologram?

A fractal is a mathematical set whose constituent parts become increasingly detailed according to a fixed exponential formula, revealing recurrent self-similar properties as it is observed on a smaller and smaller scale. In other words, the initial object that one observes, when orienting one's point of view closer and closer to the object, reveals the existence of a pattern within it. That pattern is constructed of a grouping of smaller patterns, with parts the same shape of the initial larger object, and are then made up of still smaller versions of the same pattern. This "bottomless pit" rendering of patterns can technically extend to infinity, eventually revealing that the initial object or image was never really made up of anything. Therefore, what one sees with their conscious eyes is a hologram - an object that appears to take the form of something due to hidden "information" within it. In other words, something that is an illusion; an illusion that has the appearance of properties that it really does not have.

Comment: Karl Pribram speaks about the Holonomic Brain Theory:

SOTT Logo Radio

The Truth Perspective: Diving Into the Collective Unconscious: Where Jung Went Wrong

peterson jung
Jung thought humanity shared a collective unconscious which provided the forms of myths, dreams, and fantasies. Most modern scientists reject the idea completely. But maybe they're both wrong. Jung may have gotten most of the details wrong, but there may be a kernel of truth in the idea, and while modern critics are correct to point out the holes in Jung's theory, they also throw the baby out with the bathwater in their rejection of a shared unconscious.

In addition to taking a closer look at the idea of a collective unconscious, today on the Truth Perspective we will take a brief look at Jung's method of therapy and some of its flaws. In the words of Dr. K. Dabrowski, many of Jung's notions were vague, impractical, and lacked an awareness of the multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functions.

Tune today at 12 pm EDT as we once again dive into the underworld of Jungian thought.

Running Time: 01:44:07

Download: OGG, MP3

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People 2

Debunking an age-old adage: Putting yourself in someone else's shoes only gives you the impression you know them better

It does not help you work out what they are feeling or if they are lying.

Putting yourself in someone else's shoes does NOT help you understand what they are thinking, a series of 25 experiments has shown.

It debunks one of the most commonly used ways to work out what other people are thinking.

In fact, putting yourself in someone else's shoes only gives you the impression that you know them better.

Far better, to just ask them.


The APA/DSM pedophilia controversy: Orientation or disorder?

© imagebroker / Ulrich Niehoff / www.globallookpress.com
How does the American Psychiatric Association (APA) view pedophilia? A recent controversy leaves many people wondering about this question. Charisma Magazine, a publication geared toward evangelical Christians, was dismayed to discover that the APA had described pedophilia as a "sexual orientation" rather than a "sexual interest." The description seems to validate pedophilia, which is a sexual attraction to children, as a viable life choice.

Christian and conservative citizens quickly responded to the report, petitioning Congress and Attorney General Eric Holder to appeal to the APA to change their definition. Immediately after, the concerned groups noticed that the APA had written a news release to correct their error. The APA said that the discussion section of the newest version of the DSM-5 (a manual of psychiatric disorders that is widely used by mental health professionals) contained an error.

The APA said that the discussion about diagnostic criterion for pedophilic disorder contained an error; it should have read, "sexual interest," instead of "sexual orientation."

In the news release, the APA affirmed that they strongly support effort to criminally prosecute those who sexually abuse and exploit children and adolescents. They also support ongoing efforts to develop treatment for individuals who have been diagnosed with pedophilic disorder, with the goal of preventing future abusive acts.

Comment: If anything, the facts should make conservatives MORE concerned: if pedophilia is akin to an orientation - in the sense that pedophiles are biologically attracted to pre-pubescent children, in a similar manner to which heterosexuals are attracted to the opposite sex and homosexuals to the same sex - that implies it is persistent and difficult to change. Ironically, that might support conservative approaches to dealing with the problem: i.e., keeping track of pedophiles, making sure they don't have access to children, etc.

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The Health & Wellness Show: Interview With Dr. Valdeane Brown - Nonlinear Dynamic Thinking With NeurOptimal Neurofeedback

Ever heard of neurofeedback, non-linear dynamics or a "bottom-up" approach towards better health? Have you ever heard of a tool that can help with optimization of the brain's automatic or unconscious behaviour? Join us on this episode of the Health and Wellness Show as we interview Dr. Valdeane W. Brown, co-creator of NeurOptimal, and learn about our favorite brain-training tool at SOTT.net.

Dr. Valdeane W. Brown is an internationally recognized "trainer of neurofeedback trainers", who has taught and consulted widely on personal and organizational transformation. With a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a background in math, physics, computer programming, philosophy, yoga, meditation and martial arts, Dr. Brown brings a presence and precision to his work. This is further informed by a profound sense of compassion, a facility with energy dynamics and a deep commitment to revealing the elegant simplicity inherent in learning and transformation.

Developer of the Five Phase Model and co-creator with his wife Dr. Sue Brown of the Period 3 Approach to Clinical Neurofeedback, Dr. Brown has realized his vision of a truly comprehensive training system in NeurOptimal. His vision in bringing NeurOptimal to the world is to make personal transformation effortless and available to all.

This is a unique opportunity to hear us pick the brain of one of the most interesting, forward-thinking minds of our time as he illuminates some of the latest information about the brain and the most cutting edge neurofeedback system available. Don't miss it!

Running Time: 01:51:38

Download: OGG, MP3

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Loneliness on the rise among Americans, experts warn it's making us sick

© Grandhi/Flicker
Former Surgeon General Doctor Vivek Murthy brought mental health to the forefront last September when he wrote in the Harvard Business Review that loneliness is a "growing health epidemic." Now a recent survey by health service company Cigna adds to that by showing many Americans say they sometimes or always feel alone.

The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed some alarming findings:
  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
  • One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).

Comment: It's no surprise that loneliness is on the rise in America, and surely around the Western world, as the effects of further isolation, increased reliance on technology and increasing fear seem unabated. Neither is it a surprise that this growing loneliness would have health consequences. It's more important now than ever to increase real face to face social interactions and social bonding. Our lives may depend on it.

See also:


Study: Psychedelic drugs promote neural plasticity in rats and flies

psychedelics effect on cortical neurons
© Ly et al.
This figure shows the effects of three psychedelics and one control (VEH) on cortical neurons.
Psychedelic drugs may have mind-altering powers in the physical sense, too. A new study, published June 12 in the journal Cell Reports, found psychedelics, specifically DOI, DMT, and LSD, can change brain cells in rats and flies, making neurons more likely to branch out and connect with one another. The work supports the theory that psychedelics could help to fight depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"These are some of the most powerful compounds known to affect brain function, it's very obvious to me that we should understand how they work," says senior author David E. Olson, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

The idea that depression stems from imbalanced brain chemistry remains popular, but recent studies have revealed evidence that depression manifests as structural changes in brain circuits or atrophy in parts of the brain. This doesn't mean neurons die off during depression, but that neurites retract. Neurites are the sections -- either axons or dendrites -- of a neuron that project out to bridge the gap between two neurons at the synapse to facilitate communication.

Comment: While it's encouraging that despite years of demonization, researchers are beginning to study psychedelic drugs for their medicinal potential. It seems rather anti-science to ignore, or even suppress, important research because of societal taboos. None the less, extreme caution needs to be utilized and local legal constraints need to be respected.

See also: