blunt essays with sharp points

Bush: Bible Is Not History [link]

by Scrvpvlvs
Aug 29, 2004 1:44 AM–
While answering questions on a campaign stop Saturday, President Bush contrasted the Bible with books containing historical truth. He admitted there is value in historical truth, but preferred the Bible.
(go to complete article)



Plague Of Locusts Engulfs Gibson’s “Passion” Film Location [link]

by Scrvpvlvs
Aug 28, 2004 11:20 PM–

Locusts have descended on the town of Matera, where Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ was shot.

The insects engulfed the ancient stone city.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” Rosalia Guira Longo, who runs the Albergo Italia where Gibson stayed, told Reuters news agency.

“At night, the ground was carpeted by locusts … they were huge.”

(go to complete article)



Kerry Swift Boat Arguments Illustrate Faithlessness of Memory [link]

by Scrvpvlvs

To memory researchers, it doesn't take intentional falsifying to understand the discrepancies in the retelling of Sen. John Kerry’s war experiences. Far from being an indelible recording, human memory is fragile, incomplete, malleable and highly subject to suggestion, researchers have shown in dozens of studies.

In [an] experiment with soldiers, Yale researchers interviewed about 150 at intervals over six years, starting soon after their return from the first war with Iraq in 1991.

They asked the soldiers questions about their experiences, including whether they took incoming gunfire, faced Scud missile attacks and witnessed a friend’s death. About 15 percent changed their recall of something significant, like seeing a friend die, the researchers reported.

Some veterans were upset when their own discrepancies were pointed out. Some even asked for help. “They would say, ‘Which one is it?’ to me. I’d say, ‘I don’t know. I wasn’t there.’”

(go to complete article)



Is Procrastination Healthy? Religion Or Science To the Rescue?

by Scrvpvlvs
Aug 25, 2004 3:35 AM– Decision making in humans is now represented by a formula:

If it feels good, we do it. We pursue whatever has the greatest chance of a reward, the largest reward, and the shortest tolerable delay before a reward, as we perceive it. And impulsive people (people who are less tolerant of delay) procrastinate more.

Human behavior consistently bears this out. Impulse goals elbow out long term goals and less pleasant tasks.1

Why do our brains work this way? Because animals with a built-in preference for impulse goals, who “sleep and hoard and mate when the relevant urge arises,”2 are more likely to survive and pass it on to future generations.

So procrastination is a label for a normal, healthy functioning brain being asked to do something it isn’t adapted to: sacrifice impulse goals for long term goals.

Western religions have another name for impulse goals: temptations. The mythology of western religions reframes them as sin. For people who believe an impulse goal to be sin, the threat of punishment reduces its perceived value. The success of western culture, which owes much to long term planning, a.k.a. the work ethic, is a testament to the power of mythology to color our perceptions of value.

Recently, scientists found a center of procrastination in the brain. When they interfered with the rhinal cortex of monkeys, the monkeys were no longer able to discover that a desired goal would take time to accomplish. These monkeys treated all goals as impulse goals. Normally procrastinators like us, they suddenly became extreme workaholics.3, 4

I guess this counts as science improving on religion, but do we need better mind control?

1. Measuring Your Procrastination
2. George Ainslie.
3. Gene blocking turns monkeys into workaholics
4. DNA targeting of rhinal cortex D2 receptor protein reversibly blocks learning of cues that predict reward (requires Adobe Reader)

(go to complete article)



Are malcontents smarter? [link]

by Scrvpvlvs
Aug 23, 2004 11:23 AM– Are you in a good mood? Beware of careless thinking and contaminated memories. When you’re in a bad mood, you have better memory, better judgment, and better communication skills.

Why do our brains work this way? Probably because animals with moods are more likely to survive and pass them on to future generations. Bad moods help us be vigilant in threatening situations. Good moods let us relax and conserve energy.

Bipolar personalities have very poor judgment in their manic (up) phase. I wonder if their extreme mood blocks their judgment.

Do drunk people have poor judgment because they’re happy?

Are malcontents smarter?

(go to complete article)





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