Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poverty (Un)Consciousness

By Antonio Lopez / Source:

Due to the unfolding financial crisis, it appears that Americans are on their way to joining the majority of the world in terms of economic access and privilege.

As Americans we consume and pollute way too much, so this is a good thing. Still, this is not happening without considerable pain and difficulty for many people.

But you can survive. Having seen in Havana what Cubans did to maintain their lives and dignity after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent “special period” that followed, it amazed me how music and culture can be such a resilient tool of empowerment. This doesn’t mean that the option of black markets and prostitution were also ignored.

Everyone has a choice how to respond to his or her environmental condition. You can be “disturbed,” to borrow from ecology, but you still can choose how to respond. Your response will depend on the level of open architecture maintained in your state of being.

Bush Sr. once said the American way of life is not negotiable. This kind of mentality will not handle the disturbance of crashing markets very well. That’s why Americans, who are accustomed to a certain lifestyle, should reconsider what it means to be “wealthy.”

I’m a fan of Lynne Twist, author of the Soul of Money, who argues that “abundance” is the wrong goal. She says it’s better to be “sufficient.” I find this an aspiration that is in keeping with justice/equity and ecological concerns. It’s in keeping with Gandhi’s notion that the world has enough for our needs, but not enough for our greed.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heart Pill Erases Bad Memories

Scientists believe a common heart medicine may be able to banish fearful memories from the mind.

The Dutch investigators believe beta-blocker drugs could help people suffering from the emotional after-effects of traumatic experiences.

They believe the drug alters how memories are recalled after carrying out the study of 60 people, Nature Neuroscience reports.

But British experts questioned the ethics of tampering with the mind.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said he was concerned about the "fundamentally pharmacological" approach to people with problems such as phobias and anxiety.


Salma Hayek's Daughters Sees Ghosts

Salma Hayek's daughter sees ghosts.

The actress is convinced 16-month-old Valentina has a sixth sense that allows her to communicate with spirits and admits her child's behaviour scared her.

She said on US TV series 'The Rachel Ray Show': "Last night she saw a ghost. I'm convinced. She woke up and her eyes were open. And she's looking at one specific point and she's going, 'No no no no, au revoir,' which means goodbye in French. And she's looking at someone, but there's no one there. I was so scared, and I'm like, 'Yes, au revoir, whoever you are, get out!' And then she started saying it in English, 'Bye bye, bye bye!'

"I guess she was trying in different languages to see what nationality this ghost was to go away. It was terrifying!"

Monday, February 23, 2009

How the City Hurts Your Brain

By Jonah Lehrer / Source: Boston Globe

The city has always been an engine of intellectual life, from the 18th-century coffeehouses of London, where citizens gathered to discuss chemistry and radical politics, to the Left Bank bars of modern Paris, where Pablo Picasso held forth on modern art. Without the metropolis, we might not have had the great art of Shakespeare or James Joyce; even Einstein was inspired by commuter trains.

And yet, city life isn't easy. The same London cafes that stimulated Ben Franklin also helped spread cholera; Picasso eventually bought an estate in quiet Provence. While the modern city might be a haven for playwrights, poets, and physicists, it's also a deeply unnatural and overwhelming place.

Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it's long been recognized that city life is exhausting -- that's why Picasso left Paris -- this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Too Much Thinking Can Make You Fat

Researchers found the stress of thinking caused overeating with heavy thinkers seeking out more calories.

The research team, supervised by Dr Angelo Tremblay, measured the spontaneous food intake of 14 students after each of three tasks.

The first was relaxing in a sitting position, the second reading and summarizing a text, and finally completing a series of memory, attention, and vigilance tests on the computer.

After 45 minutes at each activity, participants were invited to eat as much as they wanted from a buffet.

The researchers had already discovered that each session of intellectual work requires only three calories more than the rest period.

However, despite the low energy cost of mental work, the students spontaneously consumed 203 more calories after summarizing a text and 253 more calories after the computer tests.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This $3 Idea Could Be Your Secret to Success

By Alex Goumakos
Creator of Secrets of Wealth Attraction

What a difference an idea makes!

In his book, Brainstorming: How to Create Successful Ideas, Professor Charles Clark writes:

“You will see the difference an idea makes in the men and women who move ahead. You will see it in the products which make sales records. You will see it in the business which prospers. You will see it in the profit and loss statements, on the stock exchange, in the delicatessen which closes, in the headlines. You will see it in your home and other homes, in the family which does things, in your church and lodge, in your political party, in your government. The one quality which turns the ordinary into the extraordinary is ideas.”

And here is the great news…

Whatever challenges you currently face …money, marital, spiritual, occupational, business, personal….the solution — in the form of an idea — already exists.

You simply aren’t aware of it yet.

The question is not, ‘Is there a way out of my predicament?”, but rather…

“When my solution comes, will I be prepared to receive it?”


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mind Power or Miracle? Medical Mysteries Confound Science

By Delthia Ricks
Source: Newsday

In 1995, debris from a burning church collapsed on Buffalo, N.Y., firefighter Donny Herbert, depriving him of oxygen for six minutes and consciousness for 10 years.

But in what has been described as a medical miracle, Herbert became fully lucid a decade after that tragedy, defying a dim prognosis and allowing him enough time to express love for his wife and four sons. He died just as unexpectedly in May 2005, a month after re-awakening.

Herbert’s experience evokes the question: Can the human mind provide the power to will a man from a near-comatose state? Some experts believe the mind is not only powerful, but it also isn’t even “local” to the body.

Larry Dossey, a physician and the former editor of a journal on alternative medicine, has lectured worldwide on the power of the mind. On his Web site, he goes even further, noting that Western medicine doesn’t prepare physicians for “miracles,” even though most doctors have witnessed the inexplicable.

“Almost all physicians possess a lavish list of strange happenings unexplainable by normal science,” he said.

The medical literature is replete with reports of tumors that have vanished or patients who say they’ve floated away from their bodies.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five Mysteries of the Universe

By Michael Brooks / Source: The Guardian

Even today, there are scientific phenomena that defy explanation. If history is anything to go by, resolving these anomalies could lead to a great leap forward, so what are the greatest mysteries, and what scientific revolutions might they bring?

1 The missing universe

Everything in the universe is either mass or energy, but there's not enough of either. Scientists think 96% of the cosmos is missing. They have come up with names for the missing stuff - "dark energy" and "dark matter" - but that doesn't really tell us anything about them. And it's not as if they're not important: dark energy is continually creating new swaths of space and time, while dark matter appears to be holding all the galaxies together. No wonder cosmologists are searching for clues to their whereabouts.

2 Life

I know you think you're more than a sack of molecules, but why? Next time you see a tree, ask yourself why that is alive when your wooden dining table is not. The phenomenon we call life is something that biologists have almost given up trying to define - instead they're investigating ways to make different combinations of molecules come alive. Bizarrely, the best hope is similar in chemical terms to laundry detergent.


Science vs. the Near-Death Experience

By Bryan Appleyard / Source: Times Online

You are dying. Twenty seconds ago your heart and breathing stopped and your pupils became fixed and dilated. Your brain cells are in a state of panic, trying every trick they know to get hold of oxygen and glucose. An electroencephalogram (EEG) would show no electrical activity in your cortex, the thin outer layer of your brain. You have flatlined.

As usual, a young, inexperienced doctor is first on the scene. They’re fitter and faster. There’s only time to confirm you’re not breathing before starting 30 chest compressions followed by two breaths into your mouth. A cart arrives with a defibrillator, the electric-shock machine, as do a few older, less fit doctors. The machine is not, sadly, one of the sexy, telegenic ones with paddles and George Clooney shouting “Clear!” With this machine the electrodes are stuck to your chest. The paddle variety caused too many shocks to the staff, so they’ve been dropped by the NHS. You are shocked. Nothing. A blood sample is taken and rushed for instant analysis. You’re given repeated injections of adrenaline and, depending on your exact condition, atropine, amiodarine and magnesium. Still nothing. The doctors and nurses work furiously for, say, 10 minutes if you’re an old lady with pneumonia or half an hour or more if you’re a young man who’s fallen into a cold pond. Nothing. Finally, a watching consultant officially announces that you no longer exist. It’s over. The confusing babble known as “your life” has ended. Or has it?

You see, the weird thing is that you may have flatlined, be “clinically dead”, but you’ve been watching the whole thing from the ceiling. As soon as your heart stopped, you just drifted out of your body and found you could float anywhere. You feel incredibly well, bathed in bright light, suffused with a deep sense of peace and knowing that, at last, it all makes sense. Some of your dead relatives are here and, behind you, there is a tunnel from which the light floods down. Perhaps you can see Jesus at the far end of it, or Muhammad or Krishna. The chaos at your bedside is interesting, amusing even, but trivial. Death, you now know with absolutely certainty, is an illusion.

You’re having a near-death experience (NDE). They happen all the time. They may happen to everybody, however they die. Remarkably similar experiences have been reported throughout history in all cultures. Obviously, most are lost to us, because being near death is usually the immediate prelude to being dead. But precisely because high-tech hospital resuscitations are so effective — around 15% of cardiac-arrest victims are revived — we can now regularly hear news apparently from beyond the grave. And it sounds like very good news indeed. You don’t really die and you feel great. What could be nicer?


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Can We Reverse-Engineer the Brain?

By Priya Ganapati / Source: Wired Blog

Imagine a computer that can process text, video and audio in an instant, solve problems on the fly, and do it all while consuming just 10 watts of power.

It would be the ultimate computing machine if it were built with silicon instead of human nerve cells.

Compare that to current computers, which require extensive, custom programming for each application, consume hundreds of watts in power, and are still not fast enough. So it's no surprise that some computer scientists want to go back to the drawing board and try building computers that more closely emulate nature.

"The plan is to engineer the mind by reverse-engineering the brain," says Dharmendra Modha, manager of the cognitive computing project at IBM Almaden Research Center.

In what could be one of the most ambitious computing projects ever, neuroscientists, computer engineers and psychologists are coming together in a bid to create an entirely new computing architecture that can simulate the brain's abilities for perception, interaction and cognition. All that, while being small enough to fit into a lunch box and consuming extremely small amounts of power.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Theraputic Power of Out-Of-Body Experiences

By Steve G. Jones, M.Ed.
Creator of The Hypnotic Pickup Method

An out-of-body experience, or OBE, involves the feeling of floating outside of one`s physical body. Some people report being able to see their physical body while having an OBE.

According to researchers an OBE has therapeutic benefits for people including helping them cope with stress. ScienceDaily reports that one in ten people will have an out-of-body experience in their lifetime.

There are several different types of out-of-body experiences. One occurs during sleep. People who have had an OBE during sleep have also reported having a lucid dream prior to the OBE. They also said that their sleep was not deep. Another type of OBE occurs in near-death experiences. It is thought that either mental or physical traumatic events could cause such an OBE to occur.

Out-of-body experiences can also be induced mechanically, chemically, or mentally. Mechanically an OBE can be induced by binaural beats, electrical stimulation, and sensory overload. Chemically, an OBE can be produced with hallucinogens. Lastly, an OBE can be induced mentally through hypnosis and meditation.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Born Believers: How Your Brain Creates God

By Michael Brooks / Source: New Scientist

many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.

This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.

Religious ideas are common to all cultures: like language and music, they seem to be part of what it is to be human. Until recently, science has largely shied away from asking why. "It's not that religion is not important," says Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University, "it's that the taboo nature of the topic has meant there has been little progress."

The origin of religious belief is something of a mystery, but in recent years scientists have started to make suggestions. One leading idea is that religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes people more likely to survive and pass their genes onto the next generation. In this view, shared religious belief helped our ancestors form tightly knit groups that cooperated in hunting, foraging and childcare, enabling these groups to outcompete others. In this way, the theory goes, religion was selected for by evolution, and eventually permeated every human society (New Scientist, 28 January 2006, p 30)

The religion-as-an-adaptation theory doesn't wash with everybody, however. As anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor points out, the benefits of holding such unfounded beliefs are questionable, in terms of evolutionary fitness. "I don't think the idea makes much sense, given the kinds of things you find in religion," he says. A belief in life after death, for example, is hardly compatible with surviving in the here-and-now and propagating your genes. Moreover, if there are adaptive advantages of religion, they do not explain its origin, but simply how it spread.

An alternative being put forward by Atran and others is that religion emerges as a natural by-product of the way the human mind works.

That's not to say that the human brain has a "god module" in the same way that it has a language module that evolved specifically for acquiring language. Rather, some of the unique cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a tendency for supernatural thinking. "There's now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired," says Bloom.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

How to Meet and Attract Anyone You Desire

Source: The Hypnotic Pickup Method

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

7 Incredible Benefits of Mind Uploading

By Michael Anissimov / Source:

Universal mind uploading, or universal uploading for short, is the concept, by no means original to me, that the technology of mind uploading will eventually become universally adopted by all who can afford it, similar to the adoption of modern agriculture, hygiene, or living in houses. The concept is rather infrequently discussed, due to a combination of 1) its supposedly speculative nature and 2) its “far future” time frame.

Before I explore the idea, let me give a quick description of what mind uploading is and why the two roadblocks to its discussion are invalid. Mind uploading would involve simulating a human brain in a computer in enough detail that the “simulation” becomes, for all practical purposes, a perfect copy and experiences consciousness, just like protein-based human minds. If functionalism is true, like many cognitive scientists and philosophers correctly believe, then all the features of human consciousness that we know and love — including all our memories, personality, and sexual quirks — would be preserved through the transition. By simultaneously disassembling the protein brain as the computer brain is constructed, only one implementation of the person in question would exist at any one time, eliminating any unnecessary confusion.

Still, even if two direct copies are made, the universe won’t care — you would have simply created two identical individuals with the same memories. The universe can’t get confused — only you can. Regardless of how perplexed one may be by contemplating this possibility for the first time from a 20th century perspective of personal identity, an upload of you with all your memories and personality intact is no different from you than the person you are today is different than the person you were yesterday when you went to sleep, or the person you were 10^-30 seconds ago when quantum fluctuations momentarily destroyed and recreated all the particles in your brain.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Optimism Helps Reduce Cancer Pain and Fatigue

By Reuben Chow / Source: Natural News

Monty Python, in the hit song, ask us to "always look on the bright side of life". Recent research in the United States has revealed a very tangible benefit of a bright outlook – reduced cancer pain and fatigue.

There are many aspects of cancer which makes it such a frightening disease. For example, it often does not exhibit symptoms until the time when most people think it is "too late" to do anything. This makes it almost a silent killer.

It makes people feel helpless, and cancer sometimes spread very rapidly. It seems to afflict anyone, anywhere, too.

Then there is the little matter of the pain which cancer brings, in particular during its latter stages, and also for certain types of cancer, such as bone cancer, liver cancer and pancreatic cancer.

The pain and fatigue which cancer patients often suffer from can badly affect their quality of life as well as their ability to function, not just physically, but also mentally.

Many protocols and therapies, both conventional and "alternative", are used to reduce and manage pain and fatigue caused by cancer. Some of these include pain-killing drugs, foot reflexology, massage and acupuncture.

Now, research conducted by Dr Margot E Kurtz and her team of colleagues from the Michigan State University in East Lansing has found that cancer patients with more optimistic outlooks were better able to manage their cancer pain, while those patients who had a strong sense of mastery, or control over their environment, experienced less severe fatigue on top of being able to better manage their pain.