Magical Thinking Is Adult’s Brain’s Default Mode


Our brains our dominated by magical thinking. – Adults, more than kids, rely on the supernatural

“The findings show supernatural explanations for topics of core concern to humans are pervasive across cultures. If anything, in both industrialized and developing countries, supernatural explanations are frequently endorsed more often among adults than younger children.”

Continue reading

Affluent people less likely to reach out to others in times of trouble


Affluent people less likely to reach out to others in times of chaos, study suggests Aug. 30, 2012

Crises are said to bring people closer together. But a new study from UC Berkeley suggests that while the have-nots reach out to one another in times of trouble, the wealthy are more apt to find comfort in material possessions.

  • While chaos drives some to seek comfort in friends and family, others gravitate toward money and material possessions“
  • In times of uncertainty, we see a dramatic polarization, with the rich more focused on holding onto and attaining wealth and the poor spending more time with friends and loved ones,”  Continue reading

Problem with TED – Fake Celebrity Pop “Science”

Communicating science in the age of the internet by DEEVYBEE JULY 13, 2012 
“…Those who use the internet to communicate science have learned that the traditional modes of academic communication are hopelessly ill-suited for drawing in a wider audience. TED talks have been a remarkably successful phenomenon, and are a million miles from the normal academic lecture: the ones I’ve seen are typically no longer than 15 minutes and make minimal use of visual aids. The number of site visits for TED talks is astronomically higher than, for instance, Cambridge University’s archive of Film Interviews With Leading Thinkers, where Aaron Klug has had around 300 hits in just over one year, and Fred Sanger a mere 148. The reason is easy to guess: many of these Cambridge interviews last two hours or more. They constitute priceless archive material, and a wealth of insights into the influences that shape great academic minds, but they aren’t suited to the casual viewer. Continue reading

Addiction – Brain Values Nothing Higher Then Getting Wasted


An Interview with Rita Z. Goldstein, Ph.D.

…the motivation to procure drugs overpowers the drive to attain most other non-drug-related goals. In this model, we mapped the core clinical symptoms in drug addiction, including craving, or “drug wanting” to the brain mechanisms that underlie the ability to control behavior, especially in an drug-related) context. In this model we postulated that drug-addicted individuals attribute excessive importance, relevance to the drug and drug-related cues. At the same time, insufficient importance and relevance/interest is attributed to non-drug-related reinforcers, stimuli such as food or social relationships that increase the probability of a subsequent behavior….this change in importance.. would be predictive of impaired control of behavior/impulsivity.

…when drug-addicted individuals think about a hypothetical situation during which they are “under the influence,” the importance of a drug reward exceeds that of … food… they indeed may be craving the drug (or at least unable to ignore it) even when the drug is no longer pleasurable. Continue reading

State of the Medical and Science Art on Addiction — Medical Treatment Can Help


Ignorance and the Undertreatment of Addiction

An Interview with Charles P. O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D. Vice Chair and Kenneth Appel Professor of Psychiatry University of Pennsylvania Member, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives Dana Foundation Grantee (2007-2009)
Q: You have been studying addiction for more than 40 years, since before addiction was recognized by most to be a brain disorder. How has addiction research changed since those days?
CO: It has changed a great deal. Addiction is one mental illness where we have a pretty good understanding of the neurophysiological changes that occur. In disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, by contrast, we have a lot of hypotheses but few hard facts.

The reason we know a lot about addiction is because we have good animal models, which have enabled us to study the brain during drug self-administration. This has revealed which parts of the brain are involved in addiction and what changes are occurring in the brain. We also know that some of these changes can be addressed with specific medications. These insights have been confirmed by studies in humans using noninvasive brain imaging, which are ethical and safe to conduct because the animal studies have paved the way. Continue reading

Primer on Evolution — You Gotta Understand


Magazine, Science, Science and Technology | The descent of Edward Wilsonby Richard Dawkins May 24, 2012

Evolutionary errors.

JBS Haldane quipped that any Creator must have had “an inordinate fondness for beetles.” His insights prefigured modern genetic theory

The Social Conquest of Earth

By Edward O Wilson
(WW Norton, £18.99, May)

…I am not being funny when I say of Edward Wilson’s latest book that there are interesting and informative chapters on human evolution, and on the ways of social insects (which he knows better than any man alive), and it was a good idea to write a book comparing these two pinnacles of social evolution, but unfortunately one is obliged to wade through many pages of erroneous and downright perverse misunderstandings of evolutionary theory. In particular, Wilson now rejects “kin selection” (I shall explain this below) and replaces it with a revival of “group selection”—the poorly defined and incoherent view that evolution is driven by the differential survival of whole groups of organisms. Continue reading

“…preferences that appear puzzling, distressing or even pathological to middle- and upper-class investigators may thus be partly explicable as reflecting reactions to experiences to which the latter are rarely exposed.”