My heart sank when actress Angelina Jolie announced her decision last week to have a double mastectomy as a pre-emptive strike against what doctors told her was a whopping 87 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer because of the a mutation in her BRCA1 DNA-repairing gene on top of a family history of breast and ovarian cancer.
Last year, I got tired to death of talk about 2012. I listened a good deal of powerful oration and prettily turned phrases about evolution, but did not see much hard evidence of anything besides business as usual. So I decided to become a little instigator of change myself by handing people an evolutionary action plan for free.
Today is the last day of the world – at least the world as we know it. Millions of people around the globe are celebrating the end of the old ‘I win, you lose’ paradigm and the beginning of a new, evolved consciousness. To get a glimpse of what that new paradigm might look like, we need to look no further than what happens when people make music together.
Psychologists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, and the University of Salzburg, Austria, wished to examine whether our brains act “in tandem” with others when we’re engaged in a common purpose. Although some research had been done with functional magnetic resonance imagery, no one before had examined simultaneous brain-wave activity between people carrying out the same task together.
The German scientists were inspired by recent studies examining the brain-wave rhythms between two people when they socially interact, demonstrating that one type of brainwave rhythm was associated with independent behavior, while another brainwave rhythm showed up and was shared by both parties when the behavior was coordinated.
How inherent is human spirituality – even among non-believers? Is it there all along, but simply buried under conscious doubt and skeptical analysis, waiting to surface when we confront our own mortality?
The answer is a resounding yes, according to new research examining what happens to atheists when they approach death. A new study from University of Otago in New Zealand recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, discovered that when religious people think about their own deaths, they grow consciously and unconsciously drawn to greater religious belief.
I know first-hand about a falling-down world. My father, the bright youngest child of working-class Irish, was more an inventor than a straightforward engineer. At the end of the Second World War, he designed a revolutionary kind of heating system for all the new homes being built for returning vets. In order to fund the start-up, he found two partners willing to invest. They would handle the sales and finance, while he would focus on the designs and shop floor. They even gave their company a name that sounded a little like America, a nod to the patriotic mood of the times.
Today, while watching a barn raising during an episode of Living with the Amish, the British Channel 4 series I’ve blogged about earlier which arranged for six British teenagers to live among the Amish and Mennonites for a summer, (watch it here on: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/living-with-the-amish, I was moved by the simplicity of the message and struck by how many our current problems could be sorted out by some modern form of barn raising. And apparently, according to the reaction of thousands of British viewers, I am not alone.
In this episode, the three British boys join 40 male members of the community to do all the carpentry, while the three girls joined dozens of women in cooking a vast lunch for the 80 neighbors. Within five hours the main body of the barn had been raised, and by sundown, the last nail was put in place. But even more astonishing to the teens was the simple reminder, as the Amish narrator Jonathan puts it, of ‘what can be achieved if we all stand together.’