Source: Wikimedia Google the word “thought” and you will find this uninformative, circular definition: “an idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “think” in a similarly unhelpful way: “to form or have in the mind.” But what actually is a thought? A thought is a representation of something. A representation is a likeness—a thing that depicts another thing by having characteristics that correspond to that other thing. For example, a picture, image, imprint or mold of an object is a representation of that object. A map is another example of a representation. The mind is a kind of map. The brain, and its functional product the mind, evolved as a map of the body’s relation to its external environment. Fundamentally, our thoughts are maps representing and corresponding to things that our brains have either perceived with our senses, felt with our … [Read more...] about What Actually Is a Thought? And How Is Information Physical?
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Source: Wikimedia commons Lysenko (extreme left) with Stalin (extreme right) Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976) had little scientific education, and was promoted thanks to a post-revolutionary program of positive discrimination in favor of peasants in the early days of the USSR. Set the task of acclimatizing beans in Azerbaijan, Lysenko got promising results, thanks to the mild winter of 1925-6. In 1927, a journalist on Pravda publicized Lysenko as “the barefoot professor” whose discoveries would save the peasants of Azerbaijan from starvation. Despite a total lack of scientific evidence, Lysenko went on to orchestrate a noisy press campaign in favor of his belief that plants could be “educated” to grow in adverse climates. According to him, plants were indivisible organisms, without separate hereditary or environmental influences. He attributed what amounted to free will to plants, which could not only select food, but also enter into “love … [Read more...] about The Lasting Lesson of Lysenko
In 20ll, I authored a book: When Food is Family: A loving guide to heal eating disorders. Among one of the very first professional comments I received on one significant eating disorder professional message board was from a local colleague. The criticism of my book was strong and accusations made that I was turning back the eating disorder clock in terms of understanding etiology. The comments were also divisive, in what felt like at the moment, to further polarize professional discourse by categorically asserting that eating disorders were genetically determined. Most of the reflections and comments, however, over the course of several weeks on the professional message board were very favorable and challenging of comments that were rigidly and exclusively aligned with a genetic understanding of eating disorders. The majority acknowledged me for taking steps to bridge the schism in the professional field regarding etiology. There were … [Read more...] about Eating Disorders: How Far We Have Come
Source: Free Stock Photos Is your mind wandering? The Practice: Why? Moment to moment, the flows of thoughts and feelings, sensations and desires, and conscious and unconscious processes sculpt your nervous system like water gradually carving furrows and eventually gullies on a hillside. Your brain is continually changing its structure. The only question is: Is it for better or worse? In particular, because of what's called "experience-dependent neuroplasticity," whatever you hold in attention has a special power to change your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain - and your self. Therefore, controlling your attention - becoming more able to place it where you want it and keep it there, and more able to pull it away from what's bothersome or pointless (such as looping again and again through anxious preoccupations, mental grumbling, or self-criticism) - is the foundation of … [Read more...] about Is Your Mind Wandering?
Source: Robert Indiana, Yale Digital Commons In an age of Internet love matches and instant sex hook-ups there may be some hope for romance. The magazine, “Humanities,” highlighted the work of Philip Kelley in October. He is compiling some 11,601 pieces of correspondence between Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, including their love letters. And the Journal of Popular Romance Studies is calling for papers this month for a special edition "Critical Love Studies" exploring love from romance to friendship. Today women are bombarded with advice from magazines on achieving “the big O” while men puzzle about love, obsess about size, or -- as do some young women -- take the "Tinder" way out for instant sex devoid of love and romance. During the days of courtly love, men wooed women and sang love songs to them. Women wrote adoring letters and pinned for men who were off fighting battles for the King. They … [Read more...] about 15 Ways to Reclaim Romance, Love, and Intimate Pleasure