As you’ve probably heard, my adopted country, Great Britain, is on fire. From Manchester to London entire communities have been set alight, stores and houses vandalized, people beaten up, and five murdered as of this writing. Last Wednesday, my sleepy suburban corner of London was crawling with policemen, acting on inside information that our area was targeted next.
Commentators have been busy, trying to work out the collective significance of the anarchy on the streets. Who is doing this? Are they provocateurs, bussed in from the outside? Or well organized protests against globalization? Or perhaps the criminal underbelly of society?
For most of the last 10 days, I’ve been on the phone. On the other end of the line has been virtually every important thought leader in the human potential movement: Jack Canfield, Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith, Marci Shimoff, Steven Covey, Howard Martin, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Jean Houston, Lisa Nichols, Bobbi DePorter, Eric Pearl, Arjuna Ardagh, Gay and Katie Hendricks, Don Beck, James O’Dea, Arielle Ford, Janet Attwood, Bryan Hubbard, Katherine Woodward Thomas.
You name them, I spoke to them this week. And I’m carrying on next week, too.
Recently, I came across an article in the New York Times about our inherent ‘thirst’ for fairness. The story provided evidence for the fact that human beings, even in primitive hunter-gatherer societies, have an enormous distaste for hierarchical extremes and a deeply and finely honed sense of fairness.
Recently I was in Vermont, speaking at the annual American Society of Dowsers annual conference — a delightful experience – where I learned of the burgeoning Transition Town of Montpelier, one of 90 official Transition Town initiatives in the US.
As you may know, the Transition Town movement, which has now captured the imagination of citizens in 34 countries and half of the US’s fifty states, started life in an unlikely spot — the tiny town of Totnes in southwest corner of the UK. It is the brainchild of Rob Hopkins, a builder and teacher of permaculture — sustainable land use design, based on natural patterns in nature.
The brain stubbornly refuses to operate according to our current notions of reality. Not only does it have difficulty working out the difference between a thought and an action, it also appears to be an organ without an understanding of time as a forward progression.
Extraordinary new evidence shows that the brain cannot distinguish between the recall of our own past (called ‘episodic memory’) and imagination of our future events. Indeed, the same areas of the brain are activated for both activities.
Recently, a team of British scientists at the University of Liverpool discovered that eye movement patterns of the Chinese, born and raised in China, are completely different to that of white people living in Britain.
The study aimed to investigate eye movements between the two cultures to examine brain mechanisms controlling the eyes and the way they compare between different populations.
Last week New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a column called ‘Nice Guys Finish First’, in which he took issue with current evidence for our accepted theory of ‘eat or be eaten’ evolution.
‘In this telling,’ he writes, ‘we humans are like all other animals – deeply and thoroughly selfish. We spend our time trying to maximize our outcomes – competing for status, wealth and mating opportunities. Behavior that seems altruistic is really self-interest in disguise. Charity and fellowship are the cultural drapery atop the iron logic of nature.’
Or so that theory goes. However, new theories crossing his desk everyday everyday to attempt to rationalize the massive evidence to the contrary.
What a lot of sentiment last week’s blog caused – perhaps an indication of how unfair all we believe life is at the moment - so I thought it worthy of more comment from me.
First off, I need to clear up a few misconceptions. I’ve not been body snatched (at least last time I looked) and if I look glassy-eyed in one video, as one correspondent complained, it probably has to do with 1) chronic sleep deprivation after writing The Bond, my most ambitious book to date, and whizzing back and forth across America spreading this message 2) being filmed by handheld video equipment without benefit of all the things – lighting, special makeup, acting ability, youth – that make people look good on camera.
Let’s start with what I’m NOT saying. My message is not a call to arms.
The biggest headache for any drug-company executive is the placebo. A placebo, or sugar pill, is used in controlled drug trials precisely to show that the drug in question works.
One of two groups of patients is given the active drug, while the other group is given the placebo, but neither knows who got what. The assumption is that far more patients will show improvements on the drug than on the placebo. Upon this assumption is built the entire edifice of modern medicine.
Nevertheless, in practice, so many patients receive the same relief and even the same side effects with a placebo as with the drug itself that a placebo often is not a true control.
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