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Psychopaths: how can you spot one? – April 6, 2014

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Professor Robert Hare is a criminal psychologist, and the creator of the PCL-R, a psychological assessment used to determine whether someone is a psychopath. “A high-scoring psychopath views the world in a very different way,” says Hare. “It’s like colour-blind people trying to understand the colour red, but in this case ‘red’ is other people’s emotions.”

psychopathsAt heart, Hare’s test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn’t apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list includes: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, cunning/manipulative, pathological lying, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, a tendency to boredom, impulsivity, criminal versatility, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Hare says: “A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, once said: ‘Bob, when I meet someone who scores 35 or 36, I know these people really are different.’ The ones we consider to be alien are the ones at the upper end.”

If someone’s brain lacks the moral niceties the rest of us take for granted, they obviously can’t do anything about that, any more than a colour-blind person can start seeing colour. So where does this leave the concept of moral responsibility? “The legal system traditionally asserts that all people standing in front of the judge’s bench are equal. That’s demonstrably false,” says the neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. He suggests that instead of thinking in terms of blameworthiness, the law should deal with the likelihood that someone will reoffend, and issue sentences accordingly, with rehabilitation for those likely to benefit and long sentences for those likely to be long-term dangers

via Psychopaths: how can you spot one? – Telegraph.

If You Also Hate The Time Change… November 3, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, health, Lifestyle.
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AccordUS Time Zonesing to Time and Date, a Norwegian Newsletter dedicated to time zone information, America started using four time zones in 1883. Before that, each city had its own time standard based on its calculation of apparent solar time (when the sun is directly over-head at noon) using sundials. That led to more than 300 different American time zones. This made operations very difficult for the telegraph and burgeoning railroad industry. Railroads operated with 100 different time zones before America moved to four, which was consistent with Britain’s push for a global time standard.

Now the world has evolved further—we are even more integrated and mobile, suggesting we’d benefit from fewer, more stable time zones. Why stick with a system designed for commerce in 1883? In reality, America already functions on fewer than four time zones.

 Research based on time use surveys found American’s schedules are determined by television more than daylight.  That suggests in effect, Americans already live on two time zones.

via Daylight Saving Time Is Terrible: Here’s a Simple Plan to Fix It – Allison Schrager – The Atlantic.

Vampires Have Increased Risk Of Heart Attack May 10, 2013

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Edinburgh University research suggests sunlight helps reduce blood pressure, cutting heart attack and stroke risks and even prolonging life.

Heart disease and stroke linked to high blood pressure are estimated to lead to about 80 times more deaths than those from skin cancer in the UK.

Dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight” Dr Richard Weller Edinburgh University

Production of the pressure-reducing compound, nitric oxide, is separate from the body’s manufacture of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to sunshine.

via BBC News – Sun’s blood pressure benefits ‘may outdo cancer risks’.

More Baby Talk = More IQ April 10, 2013

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Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family. And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.

Hart and Risley later wrote that children’s level of language development starts to level off when it matches that of their parents — so a language deficit is passed down through generations. They found that parents talk much more to girls than to boys (perhaps because girls are more sociable, or because it is Mom who does most of the care, and parents talk more to children of their gender). This might explain why young, poor boys have particular trouble in school. And they argued that the disparities in word usage correlated so closely with academic success that kids born to families on welfare do worse than professional-class children entirely because their parents talk to them less. In other words, if everyone talked to their young children the same amount, there would be no racial or socioeconomic gap at all. (Some other researchers say that while word count is extremely important, it can’t be the only factor.)

via The Power of Talking to Your Baby – NYTimes.com.

How Vaccines Have Changed Our World April 1, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, Science & Technology.
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The data in this graphic come from the web site of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, but a graphic designer in Purchase, N.Y., named Leon Farrant has created a graphic that drives home what the data mean.

Below is a look at the past morbidity (how many people became sick) of what were once very common infectious diseases, and the current morbidity in the U.S.

Print

via How Vaccines Have Changed Our World In One Graphic – Forbes.

When Enlightenment Meets Science April 1, 2013

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The veteran meditators in the MRI could do each of the resting states perfectly, but when it came to creating a contrasting condition, they were helpless. They had lost the ability to “let their minds wander” because they had long ago shed the habit of entertaining discursive narrative thoughts. They no longer worried about how their hair looked, or their to-do lists, or whether people thought they were annoying. Their minds were largely quiet. When thoughts did come – and they did still come – these subjects reported that the thoughts had a different quality, an unfixated quality. The thought “This MRI machine is extremely loud” might arise, but it would quickly evaporate. Thoughts seemed to emerge as-needed in response to different situations and would then disappear crisply into the clear backdrop of consciousness. In other words, these practitioners were always meditating.

This turned out to be the least dramatic of Vago’s discoveries. With the two most experienced meditators, something even more surprising happened, something that, to the knowledge of the investigators involved, had never before been captured on any kind of brain imaging technology.

Lying on their padded gurneys in the center of the humming MRI in this famous research hospital in the heart of East Boston and Harvard Medical School, each of the two research subjects suddenly … disappeared.

Har-Prakash Khalsa, a 52-year old Canadian mail carrier and yoga teacher – and one of the veterans to whom this happened – describes his experience:

“It’s a kind of pressure or momentum. I was in one of the rest states, and as I let go of it, I felt myself heading into a much bigger dissolution – a bigger ‘gone’ as Shinzen would call it. It felt impossible to resist.  My mind, body and world just collapsed.”

A few moments later – blinking, refreshed, reformatted – Har-Prakash returned to consciousness, not at all sure how he was to supposed to fit this experience into the research protocol. He couldn’t indicate it with a button press even if he wanted to: there was no one present to press the button.

This wasn’t rest – it was annihilation.

via Understanding Enlightenment Could Change Science – Psychology TomorrowPsychology Tomorrow Magazine.

Would you rather be Right or Happy? March 16, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Business, health, Lifestyle.
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When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a the feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right.

lionHenpeckedI’ve coached dozens of incredibly successful leaders who suffer from this addiction. They are extremely good at fighting for their point of view (which is indeed often right) yet they are completely unaware of the dampening impact that behavior has on the people around them. If one person is getting high off his or her dominance, others are being drummed into submission, experiencing the fight, flight, freeze or appease response I described before, which diminishes their collaborative impulses.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing. Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.

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How Leaded Gasoline Caused Our Violent Crime Wave. January 5, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, Science & Technology.
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Starting in the 1960s, America saw a huge increase in levels of violent crime that peaked in the early 1990s, then steadily declined, and continues to decline today. All kinds of theories have been promulgated to explain this peak and decline in crime, and plenty of politicians in the 1990s took credit for it. Lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the ’40s and ’50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

And with that we have our molecule: tetraethyl lead, the gasoline additive invented by General Motors in the 1920s to prevent knocking and pinging in high-performance engines. As auto sales boomed after World War II, and drivers in powerful new cars increasingly asked service station attendants to “fill ‘er up with ethyl,” they were unwittingly creating a crime wave two decades later.

The use of lead pipes to carry water to wealthy neighLeadedCrimeWaveborhoods is claimed to be one major factor that contributed to the weakening and eventual destruction of the Roman Empire. At least we had the Science to discover our lead folly and correct it, even though much is to still be remediated. But the huge penal/judicial/police industrial complex budget justifications are threatened by such a simple crime source. Turns out criminologists were blaming the wrong Lead, when some accused the music of Led Zeppelin, among others.

via America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead | Mother Jones.

More Deaths Caused by Obesity than Hunger December 29, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, In The News, Lifestyle.
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Obesity has become a bigger threat to global health than child hunger, according to a major study.

More than three million deaths in 2010 were attributable to excess body weight, three times the death toll due to malnutrition.

The largest investigation of disease ever undertaken, published yesterday, also found that high blood pressure, smoking and drinking alcohol have become the world’s biggest health risks.

So-called diseases of the western industrialised nations have become more prevalent as developing nations become more affluent. Fewer infants are dying of starvation in the poorest countries while a fast expanding middle-class in the emerging economies. ibeatanorexia

Obesity kills more than hunger in march of ‘progress’ | The Times.

Explore A Virtual Human Body With Stunning Graphics December 6, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Cool Sites, health, Science & Technology.
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bdhumanIn the old days, learning about the components of the human body meant poring over a copy of Grey’s Anatomy. Or, if you were studying medicine, you could take a scalpel to a real cadavre of course.

Now, thanks to a fabulous web site at www.biodigitalhuman.com, you can learn about the makings of the human body without having to resort to boring textbooks or a lab.

With nothing more than a web browser and a decent internet connection you can browse the virtual skeleton.  You can choose between male and female, zoom and rotate the skeleton, and turn on/off the display of specific bodily systems such as reproductive, cardiovascular and so on. You can also view the location and symptoms of hundreds of common diseases.

via Explore A Virtual Human Body With Stunning Graphics.

Rise of the Asian Welfare State September 22, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics, health, Lifestyle.
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Although poorer countries still limit themselves to ad hoc welfare offerings, fitting the spending level to revenues one budget at a time, there is an increasing trend towards entitlements served by statutory institutions that will outlive the budgetary cycle. As these systems mature, welfare provision will be demand-led, not supply-driven; welfare will become integral to the state. Asia’s tigerish economies are turning marsupial, carrying their dependants along with them as they prowl.

Some of the national leaders who unleashed those tiger economies would be shocked and disturbed by the development. To them the welfare state was a Western aberration that would serve only to undermine thrift, industry and filial duty.

It seems that every country that can afford to build a welfare state will come under mounting pressure to do so. And much of Asia has hit the relevant level of prosperity (see chart 1). Indonesia is now almost as developed as America was in 1935 when it passed the landmark Social Security Act, according to figures compiled by the late Angus Maddison, an economic historian. China is already richer than Britain was in 1948, when it inaugurated the National Health Service (NHS) which, to judge by political ructions—and Olympic opening ceremonies—has become crucial to its sense of national identity.

via Asian welfare states: New cradles to graves | The Economist.

You Can’t Blame Your Stress On Work September 15, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, health, Lifestyle.
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Work stress, job satisfaction and health problems due to high stress have more to do with genes than you might think.

The lead author of “Genetic influences on core self-evaluations, job satisfaction, work stress, and employee health: A behavioral genetics mediated model,” published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Judge studied nearly 600 twins — some identical, some fraternal — who were raised together and reared apart. He found that being raised in the same environment had very little effect on personality, stress and health. Shared genes turned out to be about four times as important as shared environment.

via Feeling stressed by your job? Don’t blame your employer, study shows.

Bird Flu Blamed for Seal Deaths August 7, 2012

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First there was swine flu. Now, while everyone’s attention is on another  Ebola outbreak there may be seal flu.

In the wake of a pneumonia outbreak that killed 162 harbor seals in New England last year, researchers are blaming the deaths on an avian flu virus.

The virus is similar to one circulating in North American birds since 2002 but shows signs of having recently adapted to mammals, according to according to Ian Lipkin, MD, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and colleagues.

The outbreak is “particularly significant,” they wrote, because the virus has naturally acquired mutations that may make it a candidate to cause disease in humans.

via Medical News: Bird Flu Blamed for Seal Deaths – in Infectious Disease, Flu & URI from MedPage Today.

AARP- an Insurance Company in Non-Profit Clothes July 31, 2011

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AARP, under the guise of an orginization offering discounts to Seniors,  sells their names to companies, who pay heftily to be their exclusive supplier. A recent Hearing Aid company bankruptcy revealed that the deal is very lucrative for AARP.  A lion-share of AARP payments come from Seniors into their captive for-profit corporation, which has grown into the 6th largest US Insurance company, with almost half-a-billion dollars in profits. Planned cuts in Medicare, will encourage more Seniors to purchase Medigap Insurance, through AARP’s exclusive agent – United, to the tune of an estimated $1 billion during the next 10 years. The chart shows the decreasing share that is returned to the non-profit side of AARP, except, by non-profit standards, the lush salaries and perks management enjoys, while being on both Boards. Read the full report at AARP_Report.pdf (application/pdf Object).

4 Stages of Life June 28, 2011

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12 year old Autistic Artist June 28, 2011

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David Barth Kunst » Portretten.

This link will take you to the Portfolio of an amazing 12 year-old Autistic Artist from Rotterdam.

from an email from David’s mother to Jill Mullen, who runs an Autistic Artists website:

His drawings often represent his current obsessions. In the attachment I send you, it’s not hard to guess what’s keeping him busy right now. There are almost 400 birds on it and he knows the names and Latin names of most of them.

Click on the picture to enlarge. Thanks to Caroline Collier.

New Insights Into Pleasure & Addiction June 25, 2011

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Do you, like many, think that drug addicts become drug addicts be­cause they derive greater reward from getting high than others? The biology says no. They actually seem to want it more but like it less.  The scientific definition of addiction is actually rooted in the brain’s inability to experience pleasure.

“There are variants in genes that turn down the function of dopamine signaling within the pleasure circuit,” explains Linden,  a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology.” For people who carry these gene variants, their muted dopamine systems lead to blunted pleasure circuits, which in turn affects their pleasure-seeking activities, he says. “In order to get to that same set point of pleasure that others would get to easily — maybe with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends — you need six drinks at the bar to get the same thing.”

It is important to realize that our pleasure circuits are the result of a combination of genetics, stress and life experience, beginning as early as the womb. Crucially, brain imaging studies show that giving to charity, paying taxes, and receiving information about future events all activate the same neural plea­sure circuit that’s engaged by heroin or orgasm or fatty foods.

via ‘The Compass Of Pleasure': Why Some Things Feel So Good : NPR.

Video – Our 200 Year Increase in Life Expectancy and Wealth December 2, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, health, Life, Video.
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Global Aging November 20, 2010

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Worldwide, there is a 50 percent chance that the population will be falling by 2070, according to a recent study published in Nature. By 2150, according to one U.N. projection, the global population could be half what it is today.

Those who predict a coming Asian Century have not come to terms with the region’s approaching era of hyper-aging. Asia will also be plagued by a chronic shortage of women in the coming decades, which could leave the most populous region on Earth with the same skewed sex ratios as the early American West. Due to selective abortion, China has about 16 percent more boys than girls, which many predict will lead to instability as tens of millions of “unmarriageable” men find other outlets for their excess libido. India has nearly the same sex-ratio imbalance and also a substantial difference in birth rates between its southern (mostly Hindu) states and its northern (more heavily Muslim) states, which could contribute to ethnic tension.

Birth rates are falling dramatically across Latin America, especially in Mexico, suggesting a tidal shift in migration patterns. Consider what happened with Puerto Rico, where birth rates have also plunged: Immigration to the mainland United States has all but stopped despite an open border and the lure of a considerably higher standard of living on the continent. In the not-so-distant future, the United States may well find itself competing for immigrants rather than building walls to keep them out.

via Think Again: Global Aging – By Phillip Longman | Foreign Policy.

Cure For The Common Cold? November 2, 2010

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“In any immunology textbook you will read that once a virus makes it into a cell, that is game over because the cell is now infected. At that point there is nothing the immune response can do other than kill that cell,” said Leo James, who led the research team.

But studies at the Medical Research Council’s laboratory have found that the antibodies produced by the immune system, which recognise and attack invading viruses, actually ride piggyback into the inside of a cell with the invading virus.

Once inside the cell, the presence of the antibody is recognised by a naturally occurring protein in the cell called TRIM21 which in turn activates a powerful virus-crushing machinery that can eliminate the virus within two hours – long before it has the chance to hijack the cell to start making its own viral proteins. “This is the last opportunity a cell gets because after that it gets infected and there is nothing else the body can do but kill the cell,” Dr James said.

via A cure for the common cold may finally be achieved as a result of a remarkable discovery in a Cambridge laboratory – Science, News – The Independent.

Alcohol more harmful than heroin, cocaine, study finds November 1, 2010

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The study, published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet,  found that heroin, crack cocaine, and metamfetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (part scores 34, 37, and 32, respectively), whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17, respectively). Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places.

Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored far lower in the study, paid for by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Experts said alcohol scored so high because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them.

When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.

via Alcohol more harmful than heroin, cocaine, study finds – CTV News.

Born a Leftist October 28, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in health, Lifestyle, philosophy & politics.
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The research, based on 2,000 Americans, is published in the Journal of Politics. It found those with a strain of the DRD4 gene seek out “novelty” – such as people and lifestyles which are different to the ones they are used to. This leads them to have more liberal political opinions, it found.

The person’s age, ethnicity, gender or culture appeared to make no difference – it was the gene which counts. DRD4 is controlled by dopamine which affects the way the brain deals with emotions, pleasure and pain and can therefore influence personality traits.

UC Professor James Fowler said: “It is the crucial interaction of two factors – the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence – that is associated with being more liberal. “These findings suggest that political affiliation is not based solely on the kind of social environment people experience.”

via ‘Liberal gene’ discovered by scientists – Telegraph.

Why Athletes Choke September 23, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in health, Lifestyle, Sports.
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A University of Chicago psychologist says thinking too much about what you are doing, because you are worried about failing, can lead to “paralysis by analysis,” a university release reports.

Paralysis by analysis occurs when athletes try to control every aspect of what they are doing in an attempt to ensure success. Unfortunately, this increased control can backfire, disrupting what was once a fluid, flawless performance.

“Highly skilled golfers are more likely to hole a simple 3-foot putt when we give them the tools to stop analyzing their shot, to stop thinking,” Beilock said. “Highly practiced putts run better when you don’t try to control every aspect of performance.” Thanks to John Milciunas

via Psychologist studies sports ‘choke’ – UPI.com.

Maybe You Shouldn’t “Make Your Bed” August 8, 2010

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Researcher Dr Stephen Pretlove said: “We know that mites can only survive by taking in water from the atmosphere using small glands on the outside of their body.

“Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die.”  Thanks to Suzanne in France.

via BBC NEWS | Health | Untidy beds may keep us healthy.

No More Dental Fillings? July 28, 2010

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A gel that can help decayed teeth grow back in just weeks may mean an end to fillings.

The gel, which is being developed by scientists in France, works by prompting cells in teeth to start multiplying. They then form healthy new tooth tissue that gradually replaces what has been lost to decay.

Researchers say in lab studies it took just four weeks to restore teeth back to their original healthy state. The gel contains melanocyte-stimulating hormone, or MSH.

via Gel that can help decayed teeth grow back could end fillings | Mail Online.

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