On Handling Shit

Let’s say a steaming pile of shit shows up in my life.

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Our Greatest Failing

Alan Lightman begins his article, “Nothing but the Truth; Science’s and Greatest Weakness Is Also Its Greatest Strength”  (Popular Science, May 2015) with an anecdote about Richard Feynman, “40 years ago, the legendary physicist Richard Feynman gave the commencement address at my graduation from the California Institute of technology… Feynman told us that before we went public with new scientific results, we should consider every conceivable way we might be wrong. It was a tall order.” Continue reading

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The CIA on ‘Your Thoughts Create Your Reality’

In 1999, the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence published Psychology of Intelligence Analysis by Richards J. Heuer, Jr. The book opens with the obligatory caveat, nullifying my headline: Continue reading

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What I Learned After 6 Intense Years in ‘Positive Thinking’ Training

My close friends know that in the 90s my wife and I spent six very intense years involved with a small organization called WonderWorks Studios. I started by taking their weekend-long Prosperity Workshop, which was a crash course in concepts popularized by the New Age movement— intentions, affirmations, ‘your thoughts create your reality’— focused primarily on one’s personal relationship to money. The teacher was Toni Stone, and the curriculum was her own blend of Landmark’s The Forum, divinity school, and New Age; an interesting and potent mix.  Being young and impressionable, the concepts in this workshop impacted me greatly and I wanted more. Continue reading

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New New Year’s Resolutions

Bored by tired, overused New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with family? Here are some suggestions for commonly overlooked problems that make for great resolutions…

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Imagining Exercising’s Impact on Muscle Mass

A new study by Professor Brian Clark, director of the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institution was recently published in the journal Neurophysiology, and it is nicely summed up over at PsyBlog. Continue reading

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Altering Gene Expression With Thought

Marc Folcher and other researchers from the group led by Martin Fussenegger, Professor of Biotechnology and Bioengineering at the Department of Biosystems (D-BSSE) in Basel, were able to tap into brainwaves and convert genes into proteins (gene expression) using a new gene regulation method. Continue reading

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Learned Pain

Radiolab has a great story on ‘learned pain’ (story 2 in this podcast, starts around minute 14:30). It describes an amputee and his persistent phantom pain from his previously debilitated arm. His arm was no longer there, yet the pain he used to feel in that arm persisted. His doctor— V.S. Ramashandran— suspected this pain was learned, and devised a successful method of unlearning pain felt in a non-existent limb. Ramashandran jokes: “This is the first example in the history of medicine of a successful amputation of a phantom limb.” Continue reading

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Mindfulness Activities Measurably Fights Disease

If you are uncertain about the value of actively curating your thoughts, a study of breast cancer survivors conducted at Canadian cancer centers should increase your certainty.

The study, led by Dr. Linda E. Carlson, showed participants who regularly practiced mindfulness activities “had longer telomeres, part of the chromosome thought to be important in physical health”.

Mindfulness isn’t goody goody nonsense, it improves health and well-being. The study I’d like to see next is a measure of the bodily effects of habitual stressful thinking.

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Balancing ‘Fuck You’

It seems silly to have to defend the value of an emotion, but anger often gets a bad rap. The value of anger is wonderfully illustrated in Mike Hrostosky’s piece, Fuck You Spiritual People For Using Gratitude As A Bypass To Your Anger. Continue reading

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