Psychedelic Drugs Medical Treatments

I was surprised to see this video from the mainstream media. It’s a news report about an important topic and they even discuss actual scientific research. Scientists have been researching the effects, uses and benefits of psychedelics off and on for about a half century now, but it’s nice to see the mainstream media finally catching up.

Checking the Facts

Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net
By Brian Stelter

David and Barbara Mikkelson are among those trying to clean the cesspool. The unassuming California couple run Snopes, one of the most popular fact-checking destinations on the Web.

[…] Snopes is one of a small handful of sites in the fact-checking business. Brooks Jackson, the director of one of the others, the politically oriented FactCheck.org, believes news organizations should be doing more of it.

“The ‘news’ that is not fit to print gets through to people anyway these days, through 24-hour cable gasbags, partisan talk radio hosts and chain e-mails, blogs and Web sites such as WorldNetDaily or Daily Kos,” he said in an e-mail message. “What readers need now, we find, are honest referees who can help ordinary readers sort out fact from fiction.”

Even the White House now cites fact-checking sites: it has circulated links and explanations by PolitiFact.com, a project of The St. Petersburg Times that won a Pulitzer Prize last year for national reporting.

Media bias in the United States
(Wikipedia)

Organizations monitoring bias

Non-partisan

Liberal

Conservative

Will you cheat? Check your fingers

Finger length may reveal your financial acumen
By Linda Geddes

He found that traders with a longer ring fingers, and therefore higher prenatal testosterone, made on average six times the profits of traders exposed to low levels of the hormone, and tended to remain traders for longer.

Previous studies have also suggested a link between a low index-to-ring-finger ratio and autism, and better sporting ability.

“This study provides evidence for human beings of what we know from studies of animals, that exposure to sex hormones early in life predisposes the nervous systems and resulting behavior to develop in certain ways,” says Bruce mcEwen of the Rockefeller University in New York. “In this case the development of the risk taking, visual-motor skills, etc that make for success in this kind of rapid stock trading.”

Finger Length Key to Female Athletic Potential

“Previous studies have suggested the change in finger length was due to changes in testosterone levels in the womb,” he said.
 
But he said the unit had found in a separate study of twins that finger length was largely inherited, possibly explaining why sporting parents often have sporting children.
 
“We found that finger length was 70 percent heritable with little influence of the womb environment,” he said.
 
“This suggests that genes are the main factor and that finger length is a marker of your genes.”

Gathering and Organizing Info

Gathering and Organizing Info

Posted on Dec 2nd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I created a chart at work to display some work-related info.  It was rather boring information, but I enjoyed the process.  One of my favorite activities is gathering and organizing info.  Its often what I do with my time on the web. 

I love it even more when I find the product of someone else’s effort.  There are many people online who spend years or even a lifetime gathering and organizing info about a single subject.  If it weren’t for such people, the web would be a chaos of data. 

Most people don’t have the time to do a thorough search and so our society is dependent on people who will do this and offer it to others… often for free, sometimes losing money in the process.  Its amazing what people are willing to do even without the hope of financial gain.  The internet would collapse if it weren’t for all the “volunteers” that help to keep it running.  Most of the activity on the internet has very little direct economic value, but indirectly it promotes all of the online traffic which others capitalize on.

I see myself as one of those volunteers.  Some of my blogs represent immense amounts of time perusing hundreds of websites. In my recent research about virtual worlds and networking sites, I looked at thousands of websites over several months.  I’ve gathered enough info to write a very large book if I felt inspired to do so.

And all this activity by all these people is largely collaborative… intentionally or not.  The whole structure of the internet seems to promote a collective framework.  Authorship becomes less clear.  Information takes on a viral status. 

In my recent blog about virtual worlds, I gathered and organized info that had already been gathered and organized by others.  Who knows how many stages of information filtration had happened even before that.  And, of course, there will be an endless chain of links that will follow from my blog.  I did a websearch.  My blog has already been linked in some blogs, several times on Twitter and FriendFeed, linked on a forum for virtual gaming, and for some strange reason it was listed on a porn webcam site.  Oh, dear me!  lol

Access_public Access: Public 2 Comments Print Post this!views (122)  

about 5 hours later

Centria said

I smiled when reading this, Ben, imagining the joy you get researching and gathering information.  So glad this brings you happiness….and assists others as well.  You certainly have a gift for it.  Blessings, Kathy

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 5 hours later

Marmalade said

The funny thing is that I’m not naturally an organized person.  My apartment is a mess.  The only area of my life where I enjoy organization is with info, and even there its not equally applied.

From a typology perspective, my Ne goes off in every direction.  Its from my Ne that I get my love of research and gathering.  My natural way of keeping my environment is best described as creative chaos. 

I learned Te organizational abilities from my dad, and Te is the aspirational function of my INFP type.  My dad is a Te type.  He’d use Te organizing for practical purposes, but I tend to use it for only purposes that have no obvious practical value.

Abstinence Only Education is Proven Effective… Not!

This video is about a recent study that has been described as “abstinence only” and some are claiming it proves “abstinence only” is effective. 

There are two problems:

  1. It actually only promotes abstinence, but as far as I know all sex education promotes abstinence.  Most people (whether liberal or conservative) don’t want young kids to have sex.  This supposedly “abstinence only” program didn’t teach kids to wait until marriage but merely told kids to wait until they were ready.   Also, this program taught the use of condoms.  So, this study in no way disproves all the studies that came before it, and tall the studies that came before it conclude that “abstinence only” doesn’t work.
  2. This study can’t tell us about “abstinence only” or much of anything at all.  Even if this had actually been a study about “abstinence only”, one study doesn’t prove anything.  You can find a single study with almost any conclusion.  The scientific method, however, operates by way of replication.  Anyways, this study was way too limited.  The study was done with 6th and 7th graders and only followed them two years, but most kids don’t lose their virginity until their mid to late teens.  Even within these limitations, this program only discouraged a fairly small percentage of kids not to have sex for two years.  That is a rather minor success.

Uncommon Talents: Research & Critical Thinking

I’m a person who likes to do research on topics that interest me, but I like to do research in general even when it isn’t a topic that interests me too much.  If I’m making specific argument in a discussion, I want to make sure that I’m not being biased and that I’m using confirmed data. 

The problem is that I find few other people are willing to do the same kind of research.  Most people just believe what they want to believe.  Many people even seem to assume that the facts would agree with their opinions if they ever bothered to look at the facts.  This kind of righteous self-certainty annoys me, but even moreso it just perplexes me.

I realize people have limited time to do research for themselves.  That is fine.  But if that is the case, then shouldn’t the person refrain from making any absolute claims.  Instead of making declarations, shouldn’t they use language such as “I think…”, “I suspect…”, “My best guess is”…, “It would seem reasonable…”, or “I could be wrong, but…”.

Often, though, it seems that the less data someone has the more certain they declare their ‘knowledge’.  What bugs me even more is that many people are willing to directly dismiss or generally act dismissive towards the data that another person presents.  They’ll ask you to cite every fact you present all the while refusing to present any facts of their own.  It’s easy to be dismissive.

In response, I’ll sometimes do the detailed research and present specific quotes from specific sources, but it usually doesn’t change anything.  If the person truly wanted to know the facts, then they could’ve done the research for themselves.  Or could they?  I sometimes think that many (most?) people lack certain intellectual skills such as how to research data and how to think critically about it.  Research takes effort and understanding it well requires much intelligence and education (which would include self-education).

I think, however, there is also a systemic failure of education in the US.  I went to public schools.  I can tell you that I learned very little of my intellectual skills from my schooling.  Most of what I learned came from my parents and from simply reading and thinking a lot.

There is also would seem to be a cultural factor, but I’m not certain as my knowledge of other cultures is limited.  What I’ve observed is that many people believe it’s more reasonable to deny something without facts than to claim something without facts.  This is obviously wrong as any denial of a claim is simply another claim stated in the negative.  To deny a belief in God is no more reasonable than to claim a belief in God.  Neither theist or atheist has objective data, and so the only reasonable conclusion is agnosticism. 

All in all, I do think atheists and scientific-minded people tend to be more reasonable than those prone to religious extremism (whether it’s Christian fundamentalism or New Age woo).  Most scientists in the world agree that Darwinian evolution and Climate Change are accurate appraisals of reality.  This is based on science from around the world funded by many different organizations.  However, religious folk and other rightwingers are willing to deny the evidence without offering any of their own counter-evidence.  To put it simply, this isn’t a rational response.

How can the rationally-minded educated class reach this large segment of society that gladly throws out all evidence without even looking at it much less trying to understand it?  Even intelligent rightwingers will deny science which is even more bewildering.  I guess it makes sense that unless you’ve been educated in science you’re less likely to understand science.  Getting a college education (in business management for example) won’t necessarily make you any better prepared for understanding science.  Most of the people who go into scientific fields are liberals (with independents being the next largest group and conservatives being a small percentage).  The question is why do conservatives mistrust science?  The only way you could mistrust science is by mistrusting objectivity altogether because science is the best method humans have in determining objective facts.

It might not be that most people are incapable of being rational.  It could be that either they have psychological reasons not to use rationality in certain contexts.  Psychological research shows two key factors: (1) People are good at compartmentalizing different cognitive functions and different parts of their lives, and (2) People are good at rationalizing their behavior and conclusions.  The unconscious mind has more influence on us than does our conscious mind.

The question, then, is why do some people become more capable of intellectual skills or at least more identified with being an intellectual.  What makes someone willing and able to question social norms and ‘commonsense’ assumptions?  What motivates someone to look critically upon all statements?  If this isn’t a ‘natural’ ability (i.e., not common), then why do a few people learn to excel at it?  And why are some people willing to admit intellectual limitations (their own and that of the human species in general) and some aren’t?  Will intellectual ability always be held by a minority?  Is it possible to teach the average person effective critical thinking skills?  If it is possible, why have we as a society chosen not to do so?

MBTI: Functions vs Traits, Criticism & Correlation

I have an interest in psychology in general, but anyone who reads my blog knows that I have particular love for all things Jung (specifically Jungian typology as it was more fully developed with Myers-Briggs).  I came to MBTI through my studies of Jung and esoterica.  I was studying Tarot and noticed some correlations people had made between the card suits and Jungian functions.

However, like Jung, my interest in the esoteric is rooted in my desire for truth and so I’m not content to look at pretty diagrams of possible correlations.  So, I’ve studied the theoretical and scientific side of it well enough that I have a broad grasp of all the details and different viewpoints.

Anyone who has been on a type forum or checked out the variety of info available on the web quickly will realize that there is much debate and disagreement.

There is Myers-Briggs versus Kiersey, and then there are Berens’ Interaction Styles that attempt to bridge the two (also, Berens based her model on that of DISC which is something entirely else).  There is Beebe’s function roles which puts the functions in one order versus Thomson who puts them in another order.  Then there is the Russian field of Socionics which (mixing in some other theories) interprets Jung entirely different than Myers-Briggs (and some of the Socionics supporters claim that Kiersey fits their model the best).

The real interesting debate, though, is those who claim that the MBTI isn’t scientific and that Trait Theory (the favorite Trait Theory being FFM, aka the “Big Five”).  It’s this last area of disagreement that I was just now considering in some recent web-searches, but it’s something I’ve considered off and on these last couple of years.  I would gladly give up MBTI if it proved entirely or mostly false an unuseful, and so it’s an important to determine what is presently known.

There are several criticisms often stated:

  • Limited peer review research
  • Bimodal theory is disproven by trait research
  • Unreliability because of low incidence of test result repeatability
  • Neuroticism is excluded

Well, I don’t plan on answering all of those criticisms.  I’m not an expert and so my opinion isn’t all that important, but I am a very curios cat.  I will say that I doubt at present any absolute conclusions can be made.  These are worthy criticisms to consider, but further research is required.  Also, even if the MBTI is imperfect and requires improvement, that isn’t a reason to scrap it.  Research improves theories and so thinking of MBTI as a static belief system is far from helpful.  Furthermore, Jungian typology goes beyond just the MBTI (in more than a half century, numerous theories and tests have been created, and some of these are based on different premises such as not forcing bimodal results).

Here are some things that I found interesting which support various aspects of the MBTI:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Wikipedia)

What Did Isabel Do? Insights into the MBTI

A “Big Five” Scoring System for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Hierarchical Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Score Reliability Across Studies

Reliability of the MBTI® Form Q Assessment

Myers-Briggs and Four-Type Structure

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Mapping to Circumplex and Five-Factor Models

MBTI is NOT a pseudoscience. Check your facts, nay-sayers!

Cannabis: Drugs and Developing Minds

New study suggests cannabis use by teens damages brain worse than suspected

I was amused by this article.  It’s the type of thing that would feed some people’s fears.  “OMG!  Pot is destroying our children’s minds!  The fear-mongering of the Just Say No ads was right!  That really is how your brain looks on drugs!”

Yeah, yeah, yeah… well, everything effects the brain, especially the developing brain.  The brain keeps developing even during the decade when most people go to college, start drinking heavily and start experimenting with drugs.  Heck, your diet and environment effects your brain.  Children who grow up poor (malnourishment and environmental pollution) grow up to have many physical and mental health problems (such as lowered IQ).

And you think illegal drugs are the main problem?  Recent research shows that cigarettes and alcohol are more harmful than marijuana.  Also, research shows that prescription drugs given to children (such as the popular Ritalin) can permanently alter their brain functioning.  The prescribing of drugs to children has increased massively in recent years.  There are more kids taking legal drugs than illegal drugs (although they may be taking legal drugs that are prescribed to others which is the biggest drug problem in schools).

I don’t think kids should be smoking pot, but kids shouldn’t be doing many things (whether by their own choice or by the choice of adults).  In the big picture, though, I don’t think marijuana comes even close to being one of the bigger issues to worry about.

Interesting Stuff on the Web: 12/1/09

The Doctors Were Real, the Patients Undercover

I find this kind of thing fascinating.  I think there should be more research like this.  It’d be cool if scientists acted as undercover agents in all aspects of society.  Oh, what wondrous things we’d learn about human nature!

Palin particularly popular among fans of Limbaugh and Beck

Somewhat interesting article.  I’m not sure if Palin will unite the party or even what that would accomplish, but conservatives are united in their simultaneous criticism of Obama and their own party.  Conservatives are just unhappy right now.  The problem is that they can’t seem to agree on what they want, what they stand for.  They’re united by their dissatisfaction. 

Demographically, US public opinion is moving away from the far right fringe… and there is nothing that can stop this inevitable shift.  It’s just the nature of politics.  When whites were the majority, white values held sway.  Now, when the US is becoming multi-cultural with mixed race marriages and alternative lifestyles increasing dramatically, values of the past no longer apply.  The world is changing and it will never change back to the way it was.  Whether you judge that as good or bad, it’s a basic fact that can’t be denied. 

Also, the political atmosphere switches back and forth between liberal and conservative every few decades.  Conservatives have ruled the past few decades and the next few decades will be ruled by liberals.  It’s nothing to get all hot and bothered about.  Wait a few more decades and the conservatives will get their chance again.

In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap

I suppose it’s good to have articles that continually state the obvious.  But my first response was “Well, duh!”  Racism still exists.  Surprise, surprise!  Oh, wait… tons of other research has already shown that racism still exists.

7 stories Barack Obama doesn’t want told

Why should I care?  Stories?  Sure, presidents want to control their stories… just like reporters such as this one want to control the stories.  Everyone is looking to spin the facts.  Personally, I’d prefer if they just gave me the facts without the spin (and I’m not talking about O’Reilly’s laughable “No Spin Zone”).

The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

The presidnt is intelligent and thoughtful.  God save us all!

So, a soldier would rather die in the name of a blatant lie?  I realize telling a lie with conviction can be very convincing, but is that really what we want from a president.  Shouldn’t we want a president to think carefully about the lives of people?  Do people prefer Bush jr’s brazen bullshit that killed thousands of our soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocents?  I certainly hope not.

Science, Psychology, Demographics, etc.

Some interesting stuff I came across in perusing the web:

http://www.slate.com/id/2233986/

http://people-press.org/report/528/

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/blog/4909-necessary-biases-science-25275.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/subliminal-messaging-14083.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/neuroscience-political-orientation-14220.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/scientists-prove-if-money-could-buy-happiness-you-wouldnt-know-what-buy-14361.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/wait-are-you-suggesting-your-brain-affects-your-behavior-14967.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/blog/4909-will-there-be-neuroscience-culture-war-19331.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/blog/4909-are-we-more-moral-cavemen-16696.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/illusion-free-will-14392.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/will-neuroscience-end-responsibility-15413.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/blog/4909-can-your-brain-force-you-do-something-you-dont-want-do-18242.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/blog/4909-why-insanity-defense-un-scientific-17485.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/blog/4909-skeptical-skeptics-18181.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/why-girls-say-holded-boys-say-held-14118.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/blog/4909-what-babies-pay-attention-17509.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/are-babies-prejudiced-14610.html

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/what-if-we-could-run-history-twice-would-madonna-still-be-popular-15912.html

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/11/17/your-looks-and-online-dating/

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/10/05/your-race-affects-whether-people-write-you-back/

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/09/29/how-races-and-religions-match-in-online-dating/

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/07/13/sweet-ass-american-trends/

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/06/25/rape-fantasies-and-hygiene-by-state/