Can we unlearn social biases while we sleep?

Betsssssy (CC BY 2.0)

Betsssssy (CC BY 2.0)

Xiaoqing Hu, University of Texas at Austin

Your brain does a lot when you are asleep. It’s when you consolidate memories and integrate the things you’ve learned during the day into your existing knowledge structure. We now have lots of evidence that while you are sleeping, specific memories can be reactivated and thus strengthened.

We wondered whether sleep could play a role in undoing implicit social biases. These are the learned negative associations we make through repeat exposure – things like stereotypes about women not being good at science or biases against black people. Research has shown that training can help people learn to counter biases, lessening our knee-jerk prejudices, many of which can operate without our notice. We know from earlier studies that sound can cue the process of memory consolidation. Can this sleep-based memory trick strengthen newly learned information and in turn help reduce or reverse biases?… Read the rest

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The Last Mile: Inside San Quentin’s Tech Incubator

There’s a tech incubator popping up, but it’s not in Silicon Valley—it’s inside San Quentin State Prison. The Last Mile program teaches inmates entrepreneurship skills with the goal that each participant founds a socially conscious, tech-forward company. Award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner goes inside the innovative non-profit and follows inmates as they work to craft a business plan, pitch their ideas in front of venture capitalists, and then, transition back into society.

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Don’t Overthink It, Less Is More When It Comes to Creativity

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Amber Case (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Just in case you’re in a bit of a creative rut, Jessica Schmerier at Scientific American has some news on how to get the juices flowing: don’t force it. (Though, I can’t decide if this just makes things more difficult.) The new study calls into question the traditional “right-brained,” “left-brained” dynamic.

There is a scientific belief that the cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that “makes us human,” and that the two hemispheres of the cortex differentiate the creative thinkers from the logical thinkers (the “right-brained” from the “left-brained”). This has fostered the view that “neurological processes can be divided into “higher” cognitive functions and “lower” basic sensory-motor, functions,” says Robert Barton, an evolutionary biologist at Durham University in England who was not involved in this study—but the latest research calls that understanding into question.

Participants in the study were placed into a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine with a nonmagnetic tablet and asked to draw a series of pictures based on action words (for example, vote, exhaust, salute) with 30 seconds for each word.

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How to Become a Paranormal Investigator

TheGuyCalledDennis (CC BY 2.0)

TheGuyCalledDennis (CC BY 2.0)

Have you ever wanted to be a paranormal investigator? Well, Christos at Hiduth.com gives a breakdown of what it takes:

How to Become a Paranormal Investigator – Many people who have a strong interest in the paranormal often ask how to become a paranormal investigator. Read on to learn what it takes to investigate paranormal phenomenon like a professional.

Learning How to Become a Paranormal Investigator

Paranormal investigation is extremely popular as an amateur hobby among enthusiasts who have experienced strange and seemingly unexplainable phenomenon first hand. Unfortunately, the majority of these potential investigators have no scientific or research background.

However, if you are interested in becoming a professional paranormal investigator, there are several areas of training you can focus on to ensure that you conduct yourself as an authentic scientist in the field. Doing so, you will increase your chances of successfully identifying the true source of phenomenon.

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Morality requires a god, whether you’re religious or not

Moral commands are the commands of a unique, external, eternal agent. Chris JL

Moral commands are the commands of a unique, external, eternal agent. Chris JL

Gerald K Harrison, Massey University

I have no religious convictions. I am, or try to be, a man of reason, not of faith. Nevertheless, I believe a few simple arguments demonstrate that morality requires a god.

Take moral commands. It is trivially true that a moral command is a command. A command is a command, right? It is also true that commands (real ones, rather than apparent or metaphorical ones) are always the commands of an agent, a mind with beliefs and desires. My chair cannot command me to sit in it. And commands cannot issue themselves. It follows that moral commands are the commands of an agent or agents.

Many philosophers maintain that moral commands are commands of reason. They are right, I think. But the point still stands. Reason’s commands are commands. Therefore, reason’s commands are the commands of an agent or agents.… Read the rest

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Video Shows Workers Being Sprayed With Toxic Weed Killer


When Daryl Ivy responded a Craigslist job posting as a truck driver for Applebee Aviation, he didn’t expect to be sprayed with toxic chemicals that caused him to cough up blood.

Travis Gettys via The Raw Story:

A whistleblower recorded hundreds of videos showing helicopters spraying toxic weed killers onto Oregon timber workers below.

After answering a Craigslist job posting, Daryl Ivy spent 17 days this spring working as a truck driver for Applebee Aviation in Douglas County, where he said chemicals stained his windshield and caused him to cough up blood, reported Oregon Live.

The 45-year-old Ivy eventually sought treatment at a hospital, where he was decontaminated and placed in isolation before he was diagnosed with acute chemical exposure and contact dermatitis.

A monitor from the state’s Department of Forestry was at the site last month, during one of the times Ivy recorded video, but did not report any violations.

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

Mort

Zoltan Istvan via IEET:

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

So what are transhumanists to do in a world where science and technology are quickly improving and will almost certainly overcome human mortality in the next 30 years? Will there be a great civil rights debate and clash around the world?

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How we make emotional decisions

Craig Sunter (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Craig Sunter (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via EurekAlert:

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Some decisions arouse far more anxiety than others. Among the most anxiety-provoking are those that involve options with both positive and negative elements, such choosing to take a higher-paying job in a city far from family and friends, versus choosing to stay put with less pay.

MIT researchers have now identified a neural circuit that appears to underlie decision-making in this type of situation, which is known as approach-avoidance conflict. The findings could help researchers to discover new ways to treat psychiatric disorders that feature impaired decision-making, such as depression, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.

“In order to create a treatment for these types of disorders, we need to understand how the decision-making process is working,” says Alexander Friedman, a research scientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the lead author of a paper describing the findings in the May 28 issue of Cell.

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The Age Of Disinformation

I couldn’t resist posting this article at Medium by meteorologist James Spann, pretty much because of the title, although he makes a very good point about modern news communication:

I have been a professional meteorologist for 36 years. Since my debut on television in 1979, I have been an eyewitness to the many changes in technology, society, and how we communicate. I am one who embraces change, and celebrates the higher quality of life we enjoy now thanks to this progress.

But, at the same time, I realize the instant communication platforms we enjoy now do have some negatives that are troubling. Just a few examples in recent days…

I would say hundreds of people have sent this image to me over the past 24 hours via social media.

 weather

Comments are attached… like “This is a cloud never seen before in the U.S.”… “can’t you see this is due to government manipulation of the weather from chemtrails”… “no doubt this is a sign of the end of the age”.

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Fantasy Coffins Make Death Seem…Fun!

Hennensarg von Kudjo Affutu 2008.jpg

Hen coffin by Kudjoe Affutu (CC)

 

If you’ve ever had to pick out a coffin, you know that the choices are all pretty bland and boring. Unless you live in Ghana, West Africa, that is, where Atlas Obscura finds all sorts of fantasy coffins, from lobsters to beer bottles:

The workshop of one of the most well-known fantasy coffin carvers in the world is squeezed between a barbershop and a clothing store, in the shadow of a three-story Melcom supermarket. In front of the workshop, children skitter through the dirt and women sell fried yam, cell phone credit, and balls of fermented corn mash called kenkey. A generator’s incessant hum fills the air, alongside the echoing calls of the passing tro-tros and the ubiquitous tune of high-life music. Above the shop, a faded wooden fish hangs above a plank with “KANE KWEI COFFINS” painted in black block letters. Inside, Eric Adjetey Anang and his carpenters are spearheading the creation of Ghana’s most fascinating and internationally renowned artistic product: abebuu adekai, or fantasy coffins.

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