Welcome to Sott.net
Tue, 23 Apr 2019
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


'We hear what we listen for' - The art of listening well

Hearing is not always the same as actively listening.

Hearing is not always the same as actively listening.
Forget about what you were going to say next. Make sure you hear what the other person says

A zoologist was walking down a busy city street with a friend. In the midst of the honking horns and screeching tires, he exclaimed to his friend, "Listen to that cricket!"

The friend looked at the zoologist in astonishment and said, "You hear a cricket in the middle of all this noise and confusion?"

Without a word, the zoologist reached into his pocket, took out a coin, and flipped it into the air. As it clinked on the sidewalk, a dozen heads turned in response.

The zoologist said quietly to his friend, "We hear what we listen for."

Comment: The practice of listening


The APA guidelines are wrong. It's ok to be stoic, competitive, dominant and aggressive - but don't take it to the extreme

Boys and men shouldn't follow the advice of a recent report by the American Psychological Association called "Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Men and Boys." These guidelines imply that "traditional masculinity" - such as stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression - are harmful.

These guidelines are wrong.

Stoically controlling your emotions is necessary. Competitive spirit drives success. Dominance - and the mental and physical strength required to dominate - is far superior to a lack of strength, which results in being dominated by someone else.

And aggression is a means to an end. Without aggressive action, you will likely be on the receiving end, bowing to someone else's aggression.

Of course, it would be nice to conjure up a world where those "traditionally masculine" traits are outmoded and unnecessary. Perhaps in that fantasy world everyone could just let their emotions spill out.

Instead of competition, in that imagined world everyone would win. Rather than looking to dominate, in this imaginary realm everyone would collaborate and live as equals. And finally, in this fictional domain, aggression would not stand and people would simply hug each other and get along.

Comment: What the APA seems to not understand is that context is important when it comes to these traits. And as the author illustrates, it's the application of such that really defines the person, not the trait itself. See also:


Carl Sagan said 'reincarnation deserves serious study': Years later the results of those studies are in

Carl Sagan and Dalai Llama
Carl Sagan, the well-known American astronomer, astrobiologist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, and author passed away in 1996. He was very skeptical of non-mainstream work, and was the same when it came to many topics within the realm of parapsychology. Almost 20 years later, we now have substantial evidence to confirm that various phenomena within the realm of parapsychology are indeed real. Some of these include telepathy, psychokinesis, distant healing, ESP, and many others, including reincarnation.

Sagan did not brush off the scientific study of these phenomena, in fact, he felt that some of them deserve "serious study."
"There are claims in the parapsychology field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study," with [one] being "that young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation." (source) (1)
He also mentions two others. One is that, by thought alone, humans can affect random number generators in computers (you can read more about that here), and the other is that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images "projected" towards them (you can read more about that here).

If Sagan were alive today, he would see that the serious scientific study of reincarnation has indeed been undertaken, despite the fact that it is a touchy subject, and the results challenge the belief systems of many. When looking at these topics from a scientific standpoint, it's a good idea to suspend all belief systems and simply examine the information that's been gathered from a neutral standpoint (which is, of course, easier said than done).



Why does it feel good to see someone fail?

pain pleasure mask
© VixCompaNi/Shutterstock
To feel a pang of pleasure at the misfortune of others is to be human.

In the Pixar animated film Inside Out, most of the plot plays out inside protagonist Riley's head, where five emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger - direct her behavior.

The film was released to glowing reviews. But director Pete Docter later admitted that he always regretted that one emotion didn't make the cut: Schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude, which literally means "harm joy" in German, is the peculiar pleasure people derive from others' misfortune.

You might feel it when the career of a high-profile celebrity craters, when a particularly noxious criminal is locked up or when a rival sporting team gets vanquished.

Psychologists have long struggled with how to best understand, explain and study the emotion: It arises in such a wide range of situations that it can seem almost impossible to come up with some sort of unifying framework. Yet that's exactly what my colleagues and I have attempted to do.

Comment: See also: Your Brain on Schadenfreude...or Not

SOTT Logo Radio

The Truth Perspective: You University: The Value and Art of Self-Education

book vortex
© Mike Dale/Alamy
Thousands of books entered the public domain on 1 January.
It starts with a question. How does a car actually work? How can I lose weight and keep it off? What are UFOs? What could I accomplish if I really applied myself? Our curiosity is peaked and we want to know more, but we're not quite sure where to start. If there's no formal education course we can take that has a syllabus all laid out, then what do we do? How do we create a plan that will guide us toward finding answers to our questions and reaching our goals?

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss "The Science of Self-Learning" by Peter Hollins: how his practical advice for self-learning can be applied to multiple dimensions of personal development, and why self-education is so important. The difference between the reading and regurgitation that is common in schools and real intellectual curiosity. The usefulness of self-explanation in uncovering what we don't know, and how S.M.A.R.T. goals and thoughtful planning can help us learn just about anything.

We also share some of our favorite books from 2018 to hopefully help everyone on their journey of self-education, so join us as we discover how to make learning fun again.

Running Time: 01:39:36

Download: MP3


How to go on a low-information diet

information overload
© thesleuthjournal.com
Disconnecting completely isn't a realistic option, so here's how to trim back on the daily deluge.

We live in a world of unlimited information. The internet produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day. Keeping up everything is impossible when we only have 24 hours in a day, and can stand in the way of getting things done and focusing on what really matters.

Anita Williams Woolley, associate professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, says the biggest problem with information overload is the constant stream of interruptions. "Doing something such as writing an email while being constantly interrupted can lead you to spend at least twice as long writing it, and the quality of the final product will be significantly lower than if it was written without interruptions," she says.

Comment: Digital detox: The health benefits of unplugging & unwinding


Science has debunked the link between video games and real violence

Chris Ferguson
© Your Turn
In a recent column, Jack Thompson argues that mass shootings might be deterred by enacting government regulation of violent video games. Thompson argues this would be "simple, constitutional and effective."

I am one of the leading researchers on the effects of violent games and testified before the School Safety Commission Thompson mentions. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled any government regulation of violent video games to be unconstitutional. Furthermore, evidence is now clear any regulation would be entirely ineffective at reducing criminal violence.

During my testimony before the School Safety Commission, I noted that research evidence has not, in fact, supported links between violent video games and mass shootings or any other criminal violence. Even for minor acts of aggression, such as putting spicy sauce in someone's food as a prank, the evidence is inconsistent. For actual acts of violence, long-term studies of youth have not provided evidence that playing violent video games is a meaningful predictor of youth violence, bullying or conduct disorder.

Comment: While it may be true that playing violent video games does not lead one to become more violent (although, it may be that the jury is still out on that one), it would behoove young and old alike to not use this as a free license to indulge in excessive gaming. There is a very real physiological consequence to too much gaming, as we see many young men and women wasting their lives away in front of a screen.

See also:


An alternative to the APA's new sexist guidelines for working with men and boys

success failure
The APA's Division 51 (Men and Masculinities) recently released their guidelines for working with men and boys. While guidelines on this topic are much needed, the APA's contribution leaves room for improvement. In this article I will outline issues with two of their 10 guidelines:

Guideline 1 of the APA guidelines suggests that "masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural and contextual norms". However although it is true that masculinity is, in part, constructed, it is also partly innate.

What is the evidence that masculinity is, in part, innate? Well, sex differences in cognition and behaviour are found worldwide, and their universality suggests something that transcends culture. Moreover, most of these clearly map onto masculinity. For example, the tendency to being more competitive, aggressive (physically), and interested in sports than women maps onto the male gender script of being a fighter and winner. The tendency to working longer hours, working in male-typical occupations, exploring the environment, more willing to take risks, maps onto the male gender script of being provider and protector. The tendency to show less fear, less crying, more inclined to substance abuse (self-medication) maps onto the male gender script of having mastery &control of one's emotions.

The crucial point for therapy is that because some aspects of masculinity are innate, changing them is not a simple case of cognitive restructuring or behaviour change, any more than changing other deeply-held aspects of gender identity or sexual identity is straightforward or even desirable.


Plants actually know when they are eaten and send distress signals

plant cell
Just because plants do not have brains it doesn't mean they cannot have feelings. Plants can feel distressed as in a way they have a type of nervous system.

Plants Warn Each Other If They Are Attacked

Biologists have found out that if the leaf of a plant starts to get eaten it is able to give off a warning to other leaves. They do this by using similar signals to animals in distress. Biologists are continuing to study the mystery of how plants are able to take to each other.

Comment: As the science progresses more and more, it becomes increasingly clear that plants don't want to be eaten. The excuse given by vegans, with their rainbows and unicorns vision of plants offering themselves up to be eaten by humans, is that they don't want to hurt the animals. Well plants are even more defenseless than animals! A rather flimsy justification, to say the least.

See also:


Five revelations for finding your true calling, according to psychology

college students
"Look. You can't plan out your life. What you have to do is first discover your passion-what you really care about." Barack Obama, as quoted by David Gergen (cited in Jachimowicz et al, 2018).

Last Saturday, the first of two BPS career events took place - "perfect for anyone looking to discover where psychology can take them in their chosen career." A second follows in London on Dec 4. If, like many, you are searching for your calling in life - perhaps you are still unsure whether psychology is for you, or which area of the profession aligns with what you most care about - here are five digested research findings worth taking into consideration:

There's a difference between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive passion

If you can find a career path or occupational goal that fires you up, you are more likely to succeed and find happiness through your work - that much we know from a deep research literature. But beware - since a seminal paper published in 2003 by the Canadian psychologist Robert Vallerand and his colleagues, researchers have made an important distinction between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive one. If you feel that your passion or calling is out of control, and that your mood and self-esteem depend on it, then this is the obsessive variety, and such passions, while they are energising, are also associated with negative outcomes like burnout and anxiety. In contrast, if your passion feels in control, reflects qualities that you like about yourself, and complements other important activities in your life, then this is the harmonious version, which is associated with positive outcomes, such as vitality, better work performance, experiencing flow, and positive mood.

Comment: And what if you don't have a true calling or any goals? This might be a good place to start: