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Trump’s not the problem. He’s a symbol of 4 bigger issues. | Ian Bremmer - YouTube
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bigthink 
october 2019 by ken30096
How does alcohol affect your brain?
Alcohol inhibits activities in the brain. This is why it is known as a "depressant" — not because it makes you feel dispirited but because it reduces, or depresses, mental processes (compared to stimulants like caffeine that increase them). It manages this feat by tweaking with your brain signals.

Put simply, your nervous system relies on two types of signals: excitation and inhibition. Think of them as your personal binary code. An excitatory signal tells a neuron to fire up; an inhibitory signal tells a neuron to stay sedate. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters are responsible for these signals. Glutamate and GABA are the primary neurotransmitters for excitatory and inhibitory signals, respectively.

As you're enjoying your second drink, the alcohol is hindering your glutamate neurotransmitters while pumping up the GABA. Basically, it's telling your brain to chill out, and you perceive this mental inactivity as a drowsy, easygoing relaxation.

The alcohol is also increasing your brain's output of dopamine, another neurotransmitter that serves many functions, one of which is to control your brain's reward center. A sensation or experience that releases dopamine tells your brain, "Hey, this is going to feel good. Remember this experience because we'll want do this again sometime."

Dopamine is why we experience drinking as fulfilling and also why it can prove habit forming. One study showed that people with a family history of alcohol abuse release more dopamine than nondrinkers simply in expectation of a quaff.

At this point the chemical pickling process has intensified, and your mental inactivity starts to affect the various structures of your brain. As these brain structures switch from active to less active, you feel a variety of different effects.

Your prefrontal cortex, for example, is your mind's executive and plays key roles in decision-making, self-management, and social behavior. As this region's activities slow down, you'll find you are more socially adventurous but also less cautious and prone to impulsive decisions.

Alcohol impairs your cerebellum, which regulates balance and motor functions. The more you drink the more you must concentrate to perform motor functions as basic as walking. A cock-eyed cerebellum also stifles your reaction time and is the reason why drinking and driving is so dangerous.

Then there's the hippocampus, the brain's hard drive. Even small amounts of alcohol can make memories slippery to hold on to. Drink enough and you'll find large portions of the evening's events completely wiped.

Two (or more) drinks over the line
Depending on how much you drink, you can end up anywhere from squiffy to chemically inconvenienced to full-on drunk. But these are only the short-term effects. Alcohol can continue to alter your mind well beyond your morning hangover.

The brain is an incredibly adaptive organ, so the more often you drink the better it learns to compensate for alcohol's effects. This is why long-time drinkers have to drink more to maintain the same buzz. Drink heavily enough for long enough, and your brain's compensation will shift into normalcy, resulting in alcohol dependence. So, the more often you drink the more severely alcohol changes your brain.

Light drinking can be part of a healthy lifestyle and may even confer some health benefits. One study found that light drinkers — those who consume less than three drinks per week — have a lower risk of cancer than moderate to heavy drinkers and even nondrinkers. Of course, the researchers warn that the "evidence should not be taken to support a protective effect of light drinking," so teetotalers needn't get their drink on just to mitigate their risk of cancer.

Moderate drinking — one drink a day for women, two for men — can also be part of a healthy lifestyle, but some research has suggested that even this rate of consumption can have ill health effects. One study found that moderate drinkers were more likely to develop hippocampal atrophy
Bigthink  Health 
july 2019 by murilo
10 new things we’ve learned about death
1) You are conscious after death

Many of us imagine death will be like drifting to sleep. Your head gets heavy. Your eyes flutter and gently close. A final breath and then… lights out. It sounds perversely pleasant. Too bad it may not be that quick.

Dr. Sam Parnia, the director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone Medical Center, researches death and has proposed that our consciousness sticks around while we die. This is due to brainwaves firing in the cerebral cortex — the conscious, thinking part of the brain — for roughly 20 seconds after clinical death.

5) Near-death experiences may be extreme dreams
Bigthink 
may 2019 by murilo
Why we prefer people just like us. And why that’s potentially dangerous. | Nicholas Christakis - YouTube
The Evolutionary Explanation For Why We Hang Out With People We Have Things In Common With

- It's common for people to form groups of like minded individuals who also have similar abilities.

- Evolution confers advantages on heterogeneous groups of people and groups with diverse talent sets.

- Prizing individual identity ahead of group identity also helps counteract tribalistic politics.
evolution  Psychology  bigthink 
april 2019 by jorgebarba
How to diet and exercise like the genius inventor Nikola Tesla
First of all, we eat too much , but this we have heard said often before. And we eat the wrong kinds of foods and drink the wrong kinds of liquids. Most of the harm is done by overeating and under-exercising, which bring about toxic conditions in the body and make it impossible to throw off the accumulated poisons."

"Why overburden the bodies that serve us? I eat but two meals a day, and I avoid all acid-producing foods. Almost everyone eats too many peas and beans and other foods containing uric acid and other poisons. I partake liberally of fresh vegetables, fish and meat sparingly, and rarely. Fish is reputed as fine brain food, but has a very strong acid reaction, as it contains a great deal of phosphorus. Acidity is by far the worst enemy to fight off in old age."

“I myself eschew all stimulants. I also practically abstain from meat. I am convinced that within a century coffee, tea, and tobacco will be no longer in vogue. Alcohol, however, will still be used. It is not a stimulant but a veritable elixir of life."

There you have it. Stay away from acid and keep to a mostly vegetarian diet while potentially boozing it up. Actually, Tesla was known to drink a whiskey every day.

Tesla's strict daily regimen culminated in an attitude towards sleep contrary to the popular assertions of the scientific community and government agencies about the importance of sleeping for eight hours nightly.

"Sleep? I scarcely ever sleep. I come of a long-lived family, but it is noted for its poor sleepers. I expect to match the records of my ancestors and live to be at least 100. My sleeplessness does not worry me. Sometimes I doze for an hour or so. Occasionally, however, once in a few months, I may sleep for four or five hours. Then I awaken virtually charged with energy, like a battery. Nothing can stop me after such a night. I feel great strength then. There is no doubt about it but that sleep is a restorer, a vitalizer, that it increases energy. But on the other hand, I do not think it is essential to one's well being, particularly if one is habitually a poor sleeper."
Bigthink 
april 2019 by murilo
Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says
Marcelo Gleiser, a 60-year-old Brazil-born theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College and prolific science popularizer, has won this year’s Templeton Prize. Valued at just under $1.5 million, the award from the John Templeton Foundation annually recognizes an individual “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Its past recipients include scientific luminaries such as Sir Martin Rees and Freeman Dyson, as well as religious or political leaders such as Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

To me, science is one way of connecting with the mystery of existence. And if you think of it that way, the mystery of existence is something that we have wondered about ever since people began asking questions about who we are and where we come from. So while those questions are now part of scientific research, they are much, much older than science.

“The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” and all that.

There is a difference between “science” and what we can call “scientism,” which is the notion that science can solve all problems.

So, okay, you’re going to develop a self-driving car? Good! But how will that car handle hard choices, like whether to prioritize the lives of its occupants or the lives of pedestrian bystanders? Is it going to just be the technologist from Google who decides? Let us hope not! You have to talk to philosophers, you have to talk to ethicists. And to not understand that, to say that science has all the answers, to me is just nonsense. We cannot presume that we are going to solve all the problems of the world using a strict scientific approach. It will not be the case, and it hasn’t ever been the case, because the world is too complex, and science has methodological powers as well as methodological limitations.

I’m still completely fascinated with how much science can tell about the origin and evolution of the universe. Modern cosmology and astrobiology have most of the questions I look for—the idea of the transition from nonlife, to life, to me, is absolutely fascinating. But to be honest with you, the formative experience was that I lost my mom. I was six years old, and that loss was absolutely devastating. It put me in contact with the notion of time from a very early age. And obviously religion was the thing that came immediately, because I’m Jewish, but I became very disillusioned with the Old Testament when I was a teenager, and then I found Einstein. That was when I realized, you can actually ask questions about the nature of time and space and nature itself using science. That just blew me away. And so I think it was a very early sense of loss that made me curious about existence. And if you are curious about existence, physics becomes a wonderful portal, because it brings you close to the nature of the fundamental questions: space, time, origins. And I’ve been happy ever since.
Bigthink 
april 2019 by murilo
What anti-vaxxers are actually afraid of (it's not all about autism)
Andrew Wakefield's infamous 1998 study connecting autism with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine raised skeptical eyebrows shortly after its publication. It took the journal 12 years to retract the paper, however, and by then its contents had been broadly disseminated. In 2006, investigative journalist Brian Deer revealed in the Sunday Times of London that Wakefield had been paid over £400,000 to fabricate his findings.

Support of alternative disease treatments
Let's stop calling it "alternative" medicine. A 2017 review speculates that the "complementary and alternative" market will generate $196 billion by 2025. That is a gargantuan industry, not a group of alchemists brewing Peruvian elixirs in a cave. A wide range of systems fall within this category, some worth pursing, many not, as there is simply medicine that works and medicine that does not. The alternative to working is inefficacy. Besides, the reason many treatments work is due to placebo.

Your homeopathic concoction is not going to accomplish what a vaccine does, even if they share similar philosophical roots.
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
How Taoist philosophy deals with the concept of anxiety
- Anxiety doesn't exist for someone who has a life lived in the present.
- Our concerns for a spectral future fuel anxiety.
- Taoist philosophy teaches us a new way of living.

But the future is still not here, and cannot become a part of experienced reality until it is present. Since what we know of the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, seen, heard, or otherwise enjoyed.
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
The U-curve of happiness: Why old age is a time of psychological bliss
The U-curve shows that people are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of our lives, that midlife, the famous midlife crisis, is indeed the trough of our satisfaction. And this is true for a couple of reasons. Midlife is the time of life when typically we have maximum family responsibilities. We're supposed to be crushing it in our careers. We may have responsibility for people both older and younger than us. And it's also the time of life where we realize, gee, I may not become a ballerina, I may not hike Mt. Everest. And those are sobering reflections, that maybe now, you're at a turning point, and there's more road behind you than ahead.

The knowledge that time is short helps people live in the moment, because they are more conscious about what they want to do with their time and who they want to spend it with. Kids live in the moment because they aren't neurologically equipped to do anything else. And olders do it because precisely they are aware that time is short and they want to make the most of the remaining time. It's why the older people are, the less they worry about dying. They don't want to die. And they especially don't want to die in pain. But they don't worry about it.
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
People who constantly complain are harmful to your health
The most obvious reason for striving to complain less is that griping is bad for you: "When we complain, our brains release stress hormones that harm neural connections in areas used for problem solving and other cognitive functions. This also happens when we listen to someone else moan and groan."
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
What It’s Like To Go Without Complaining For A Month
Griping comes naturally for us. During an average conversation, we lob complaints at each other about once a minute, according to research. There’s a social reason for that. “Nothing unites people more strongly than a common dislike,” says Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps. “The easiest way to build friendship and communicate is through something negative.”

Also, evolution primes us to focus on the negative for self-defense, says Jon Gordon, author of The No Complaining Rule. “The more we look at something that can hurt us and kill us, we are programed to be on guard against that.”

But all of that whining comes with a cost. When we complain, our brains release stress hormones that harm neural connections in areas used for problem solving and other cognitive functions. This also happens when we listen to someone else moan and groan. “It’s as bad as secondhand smoke,” Gordon says. “

And sometimes we absolutely need to vent. It feels good, doesn’t it? One study showed that bottling emotions could shorten your life by an average of two years.
Mente  Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.
For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily.

Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.

But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.

This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example, researchers in one 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.

How does all this work? One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions. In one famous 1993 experiment, researchers asked human subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create “crow’s feet”). They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.

If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).

In addition to building our own happiness, choosing gratitude can also bring out the best in those around us. Researchers at the University of Southern California showed this in a 2011 study of people with high power but low emotional security (think of the worst boss you’ve ever had). The research demonstrated that when their competence was questioned, the subjects tended to lash out with aggression and personal denigration. When shown gratitude, however, they reduced the bad behavior.

I learned this lesson 10 years ago. At the time, I was an academic social scientist toiling in professorial obscurity, writing technical articles and books that would be read by a few dozen people at most. Soon after securing tenure, however, I published a book about charitable giving that, to my utter befuddlement, gained a popular audience. Overnight, I started receiving feedback from total strangers who had seen me on television or heard me on the radio.

One afternoon, I received an unsolicited email. “Dear Professor Brooks,” it began, “You are a fraud.” That seemed pretty unpromising, but I read on anyway. My correspondent made, in brutal detail, a case against every chapter of my book. As I made my way through the long email, however, my dominant thought wasn’t resentment. It was, “He read my book!” And so I wrote him back — rebutting a few of his points, but mostly just expressing gratitude for his time and attention. I felt good writing it, and his near-immediate response came with a warm and friendly tone.
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round
1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion.

2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.

3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being.

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.

5. Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem- grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

7. Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
How practicing gratitude rewires
Our minds, of course, fall victim to negativity bias. As written about extensively by Rick Hanson in his 2013 book Hardwiring Happiness, negativity bias is our brain's natural home base. We remember “bad" events more than good ones, hang on to that nasty thing our coworker said, and forget the praise our boss gave us.

That structuring was originally created in order to protect us. After all, if we can't remember which berries are poisonous and which aren't, our lives are on the line. But now that's an outdated operating system, as ancient as Windows 95, and we must use the magic of neuroplasticity to rewire our brains.

It's a practice to take a moment each day to take in natural beauty and reflect on positive events. And like all practices, it takes stamina to stick to it.

But the benefits are well-documented. As covered in the New York Times, “gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry" that produces the sensation of pleasure)." Forbes covered the top seven scientifically validated benefits of gratitude, citing that it improves mental and physical health.
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
Massive new study debunks a vaccination-autism link
A massive new study finds absolutely no link between MMR vaccination and autism.
Some question the expenditure of yet more research money on convincing conspiracy theorists.
There are already 206 measles cases this year in the U.S., and the disease is up by 30% globally, despite previous near-eradication.

Measles were eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. Those were the days. Now it's back, with 206 cases in 11 states already confirmed this year. Measles' return is due to an increasing number of parents opting not to vaccinate their kids with DTaP-IPV/Hib, a 97% effective treatment against measles, mumps, and rubella ("MMR").

A comprehensive study just published in Annals of Internal Medicine and based on 10 years of data and half a million people hopes to finally, authoritatively, put Wakefield's spurious and dangerous claims to rest.
Bigthink 
march 2019 by murilo
The first list of antidepressant foods restructures the "standard" American diet
Michael Pollan was onto something when he added two words to conventional wisdom, writing, "You are what what you eat eats." The nutrients your meal consumes becomes part of you as well, whether it's a cow munching on grass or the soil your vegetables grow in.

There is evidence that the lack of key nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D, result in depressive symptoms. In fact, clinical treatment often involves supplementing one or more of these nutrients. The fact that we can get plenty of vitamin D with just a few minutes in the sun is one indicator that our lifestyle patterns are missing essential components for optimal health.

According to the mean score by category, vegetables top the list at 48 percent, followed by organ meats (25 percent), fruits (20 percent), and seafood (16 percent).

As nutritionist Chris Kresser wrote in 2011, purely vegetarian and vegan diets are problematic given the lack of essential nutrients, such as those cited in the above study.
Bigthink  Health 
march 2019 by murilo
You have doppelgängers. They’re quietly influencing your life.
One way companies recommend products to you is by referring the purchasing tendencies of individuals who have bought similar items in past. When these individuals have many similarities, they are referred to as doppelgangers.
This can also work in medicine. When someone gets sick, professionals may refer to the patient's health doppelganger, who's had similar symptoms, and prescribe treatments that previously worked.
It's a powerful methodology and it gets more powerful the more data you have. That is, the more data you have, the more likely you're going to find someone in that data set who's "really, really" similar to you.
Bigthink 
february 2019 by murilo

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