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Posts tagged "Neuroscience"

Don't Choke on Your Scarf!

Don’t Choke on Your Scarf!

It’s always amusing to see religious insights about human behavior expressed in management-speak, which is happened precisely in The NY Times this past Saturday, in their interview with David Rock, the director of the NeuroLeadership Institute. The acronym Mr. Rock uses to describe the in’s and out’s of motivation is SCARF, which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. For those keeping score at home, SCARF is basically shorthand for we mean when we talk about Original Sin, i.e. you could almost substitute Self-Justification for Status, Bondage for Certainty, Control for Autonomy, Exclusivity/Scapegoating for Relatedness, and Judgment for Fairness…

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Another Week Ends: Crimson Despair, Teacher Expectations, MJ's Bad, Improvement Narratives, Neil Young, Neurospeculation, The Master, and Conf Update

Another Week Ends: Crimson Despair, Teacher Expectations, MJ’s Bad, Improvement Narratives, Neil Young, Neurospeculation, The Master, and Conf Update

1. An incredibly moving account of “Depression and Despair at Harvard” in response to the suicide of a classmate by Jordan Monge on The Harvard Ichthus. With real vulnerability, Monge touches on the crushing power of expectation, the vicious circle of shame and fear, the grace of defeat, even the toxic and tragic way Christians revert to the Law, post-conversion. It’s a courageous testament to the reality that we are not saved us from pain, but in and through it, ht AZ:

via indexed.com

Admitting my weakness feels like admitting that I am not good enough to bear my own name….

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Nine Year Old Psychopaths and the Limits of Compassion

Nine Year Old Psychopaths and the Limits of Compassion

If you haven’t read Jennifer Kahn’s lengthy piece about child psychopathy in The NY Times Magazine, “Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?,” it’s eye-opening to say the least. Perhaps not recommended for parents of small children…  Ms. Kahn profiles a few of what are officially classified as the “Callous Unemotional” or “C.U.’s”, children whose anti-social behavior includes both an inability to feel empathy and acute rage of the most calculated kind (which distinguishes them from other volatile children, who are more impulsive). It’s pretty chilling. But as gruesomely fascinating as the details are, more relevant to us are the…

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Another Week Ends: Louis CK, Sam Spade, Prevailing Grace, Heavy Metal, Axl Rose, Viennese Creativity, Cabin in the Woods, and yes, more Damsels in Distress

Another Week Ends: Louis CK, Sam Spade, Prevailing Grace, Heavy Metal, Axl Rose, Viennese Creativity, Cabin in the Woods, and yes, more Damsels in Distress

1. “The Filthy Moralist: How Louis C.K. Became America’s Unlikely Conscience” in The Atlantic is remarkable, especially in its conclusion. As always when it comes to Louis, there’s a high depravity quotient, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. But also as always when it comes to Louis, the darkness is not neutral or meaningless (or merely shocking). In fact, it might even be worth the discomfort in this case to get to the final couple of paragraphs, which truly capture what Louis is about, whether he wants to be or not. It strikes me as especially pertinent as we…

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Cooperating Under Duress: Your Brain's Law Lobe Discovered!

Cooperating Under Duress: Your Brain’s Law Lobe Discovered!

Alice Walton at the medicine blog The Doctor Will See You Now recently posted an article about the human’s capacity for cooperation, claiming that it’s not just a morality-encumbered phenomenon when we do (or don’t do) what we ought, but a neurological one. Traditional wisdom has held that “rewards-based” nodes of our brains light up when we cooperate with another person. But now it appears that–who knew–we oftentimes cooperate to avoid bad feelings. Our decision-making abilities, it turns out, are subconsciously responding to perceived guilt:

When we play nice with others, perhaps collaborating with colleagues on a big presentation at work,…

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Another Week Ends: Indie Law, The New Marriage Killer, Futurizing Fear, Apatheism, Damsels in Distress, George Lucas and Downton Abbey

Another Week Ends: Indie Law, The New Marriage Killer, Futurizing Fear, Apatheism, Damsels in Distress, George Lucas and Downton Abbey

1. In his short article “The Pitfalls of Indie Fame” on Grantland, Chuck Klosterman captures something we have been trying to say on here forever. Don’t be put off by all the music jargon; he is using the critical success of the tUnE-yArDs debut record as an opportunity to reflect on the cruelty of the Law. Which may be particularly pronounced in the indie world (or any rarified/snobby setting for that matter), but the phenomenon is universal. The human relationship to righteousness is a troubled one, love/hate at best, and it finds expression in every possible arena. And while non-religious…

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Does Neuroscience Spell the End of Free Will? You Decide!

Does Neuroscience Spell the End of Free Will? You Decide!

An interesting devil’s advocate piece appeared in The NY Times recently, addressing the question “Is Neuroscience the Death of Free Will?” Here author and philosopher Eddy Nahmias argues that recent discoveries about brain function do not in fact equate to the death of free will, that they really only speak to our faulty operating definitions of the term, that free will is not an all-or-nothing faculty, and even if it were, the implications for consciousness (reduced to inner spectator) are too absurd to fathom.

His argument is not unconvincing, but it is also not anything new for those familiar with theological…

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That Somehow Indispensable Word: Neuroskepticism and the Replacement of... Evil

That Somehow Indispensable Word: Neuroskepticism and the Replacement of… Evil

Slate put up a phenomenal piece of ‘neuroskepticism’ by Ron Rosenbaum last week, posing the timely question “Is Evil Over?” We’ve been following the recent explosion of pop-neuroscience pretty closely and enthusiastically, mainly for the sympathetic conclusions it is coming to in regards to willpower and agency. However, Rosenbaum wisely cautions us not to swallow these recent claims wholeheartedly, especially those surrounding the topic of evil. Essentially, the trend in certain neuroscience camps (and there are camps!) is to dismiss “evil” as an antiquated concept, one that can explained by faulty brain tissue and exposed by an MRI. That ‘evil’…

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Another Week Ends: Damsels in Distress, Religious DNA, AA & Romans 7, Brain Shrinkage, Jim Henson, Fountains of Wayne, and Pirate Autopsies

Another Week Ends: Damsels in Distress, Religious DNA, AA & Romans 7, Brain Shrinkage, Jim Henson, Fountains of Wayne, and Pirate Autopsies

1. A lot has happened in the world this past week. And it’s probably an indictment that the piece of news that I’ve been most focused on is the announcement that Whit Stillman’s long, long-awaited new film Violet Wister’s Damsels in Distress will close the Venice Film Festival in September. The first stills from the movie has also hit the net – see below – so the countdown has begun! I’d wager we’ll be seeing a trailer before Kate Preston’s annual Sag Harbor Labor Party.

Anyone want to spring for a plane ticket so I can cover the event in person?…

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Eagleman and Colbert Talk Decision-Making and Subconscious Neural Parliaments

Bound to Get Away With Murder? Crime, Compassion and Blame According to David Eagleman

Bound to Get Away With Murder? Crime, Compassion and Blame According to David Eagleman

One wonders if high-profile neuroscientist David Eagleman is aware that he’s expressing such a historically Protestant understanding of the brain. At this point, someone has to have mentioned The Bondage of the Will to him, right?! He’s essentially providing the biological evidence to support Martin Luther’s inspired polemic, extending the notion of the “inheritance of sin” to the gene-level. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I fully understand if you glaze over when we post this neuroscience stuff – some of it can be pretty convoluted. But if you only read one article on the subject, make it Eagleman’s recent piece…

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Is Sex Addiction For Real?

Is Sex Addiction For Real?

NPR ran a fascinating feature yesterday about the new book by neuroscientist David Linden, The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good. With sex addiction all over the news these days, the book is a timely look at the purported difference between pleasure and addiction, namely that “the scientific definition of addiction is actually rooted in the brain’s inability to experience pleasure.” As is often the case with addiction studies, Dr. Linden seems to hedge his bets slightly by downplaying the proportion of addicts in relation to…

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