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Showing posts from July, 2015

Empathy represses analytic thought, and vice versa

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Came across this study from 2012 while researching an article.  It sure explains a lot. . . not just how the CEO, Frank Shirley, came to make his disastrous cost-cutting decision in the movie Christmas Vacation written by John Hughes.  It explains how so many bone-headed decisions are made by business executives and owners.

In simplest terms, our brains can either be analytical or empathetic, but not both at the same time because being one shuts down the other.  Why would this be?  There has to be an evolutionary advantage to this dichotomy.  If soldiers on a battlefield feel empathy toward an enemy, would they pull the trigger?  Would a caveman be able to feed his family if he thought, "Oh, look Bambi."  So there is a reason we're wired this way.

Today, this phenomena can lead to disaster, as happened to the Griswolds and to Frank Shirley.  As his wife said, "Oh, Frank.  How could you?"  Well, this is how.

As always as link to the original study is included in th…

Your worried character who lives in the past

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I'd never thought of worry and a compulsion to think on past events as a gateway to mental illness, but according to this release and the articles referenced, it is.
We probably all know someone who seems overcome if not obsessed by some past event or series of events.  Perhaps we've even been there ourselves.  I have, but it was something that passed as I worked through it.
But what of someone who can't seem to work through it?  Who continues to struggle.  How does this mind set effect people, say a character in a story you're working on?  Where does it take them?  What is the worst case outcome?  How does it effect the people around them, the other characters in your story?  Or in your life?
As always, it's important to remember that research shows that people suffering a mental illness are unlikely to become violent - they're much more likely to be the victim of violence.
Mental Illness Less Likely to Lead to Violence than Drugs, Rage or Access to Guns
Here's…

Link between intelligence and longevity is mostly genetic

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As we've stated more than once on SNfW, we're in the very early days of a revolution in scientific knowledge, with our knowledge predicted by some to double every 70 minutes by the year 2020.\
Below is another first study on a phenomena that impacts millions.  As a first study, the conclusions of the researchers are yet to be confirmed by research that replicates this study.  Scientific technique requires that for a conclusion or set of conclusions to be considered "fact", the original research has to be duplicated by independent researchers getting the same result.
Still, the conclusions of this study are interesting.  Basically, to have a long life you need to be born with the right genes if this study is to be accepted.
Here's the story with a link to the original research in the attribution. *  *  *  *  *
Link between intelligence and longevity is mostly genetic
"Children who score higher in IQ-type tests are prone to living longer."
The tendency of more…

What triggered the Viking Age?

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Polite trading with early Vikings? Scandinavian trade 'triggered' the Viking Age
Archaeologists suggest that the dawn of the Viking Age may have been much earlier -- and less violent -- than previously believed. The new study shows that the early Vikings from Norway had access to large quantities of reindeer antlers and sold them to craftworkers in Southern Scandinavia.

The study by Dr Steve Ashby, of the Department of Archaeology at York, working with colleagues from York and Aarhus University, identified the first signs of the Viking Age around 70 years before the first raid on England.

Previously, the start of the Viking Age has been dated to a June 793 raid by Norwegian Vikings on Lindisfarne. But the new research published in the European Journal of Archaeology shows that Vikings were travelling from Norway to the vital trading centre in Ribe on Denmark's west coast as early as 725.

The researchers say that long voyages were underway early in the 8th century AD, with t…

Have Blue Eyes? Then We're Related.

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There are days when I just scan through random research reports from past years, and find things that make me say, "Well, this is certainly interesting." 

If you have blue eyes as I do, then we share a common ancestor who lived between six and ten thousand years ago.  Not ancestors, plural, but an ancestor, singular, that had a random mutation in a single gene that created the first blue-eyed person ever. Until about ten thousand years ago, everyone of the planet had black skin with eyes that varied from brown to green, but starting with this one person, there were blue eyes.  Meaningless in most respects, but interesting in that it shows the power of one mutation in one gene in one person.

Enough to make most blue eyed folks say, "Wow.  Way cool."

So let's start a club, the Blue Eyed Gene Pool.

Here are the results of several studies into the genetics of blue eyes, with links to original research in the attribution line.
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Blue-eyed humans have a single…

Four on Shakespeare

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The one thing I know with absolute certainty about Wm. Shakespeare is that he writes gooder than me.  Much, much gooder.

Joking aside, reading his plays and sonnets is both a pleasure and a chore.  It's not just the 500 year old language and usage, it's the way he manipulates words and sentences.  It makes you think, and, according to an EEG study of people reading Shakespeare, it causes changes in the way the brain functions.

Take the phrase, 'he godded me’ from the tragedy of Coriolanus.  God is a noun and a proper noun depending on usage.  How do you "god" someone?  Put them on a pedestal ? Perhaps.  Did he mean it sarcastically?  It turns out that EEG studies show that readers get it even before they think about possible meanings.

In these studies, researchers report on compiling a psychological profile of Shakespeare, how the brain changes while reading his work, a study of Richard III that concludes he wasn't a sociopath as many believe, followed by a spec…