A fine philosophy.
This is an amazing attitude
If an urge to explore rises in us innately, perhaps its foundation lies within our genome. In fact there is a mutation that pops up frequently in such discussions: a variant of a gene called DRD4, which helps control dopamine, a chemical brain messenger important in learning and reward. Researchers have repeatedly tied the variant, known as DRD4-7R and carried by roughly 20 percent of all humans, to curiosity and restlessness. Dozens of human studies have found that 7R makes people more likely to take risks; explore new places, ideas, foods, relationships, drugs, or sexual opportunities; and generally embrace movement, change, and adventure. Studies in animals simulating 7R’s actions suggest it increases their taste for both movement and novelty. (Not incidentally, it is also closely associated with ADHD.) […] The people who keep this spirit of playful engagement with the possibilities of the moment closest at hand—the Cooks and Tupaias, the Sally Rides and Michael Barratts—are the explorers.
If an urge to explore rises in us innately, perhaps its foundation lies within our genome. In fact there is a mutation that pops up frequently in such discussions: a variant of a gene called DRD4, which helps control dopamine, a chemical brain messenger important in learning and reward. Researchers have repeatedly tied the variant, known as DRD4-7R and carried by roughly 20 percent of all humans, to curiosity and restlessness. Dozens of human studies have found that 7R makes people more likely to take risks; explore new places, ideas, foods, relationships, drugs, or sexual opportunities; and generally embrace movement, change, and adventure. Studies in animals simulating 7R’s actions suggest it increases their taste for both movement and novelty. (Not incidentally, it is also closely associated with ADHD.)
The people who keep this spirit of playful engagement with the possibilities of the moment closest at hand—the Cooks and Tupaias, the Sally Rides and Michael Barratts—are the explorers.
Restless Genes – David Dobbs on how we evolved to explore.
Complement with Neil deGrasse Tyson on why we’re wired for curiosity.(via explore-blog)
(Source: , via explore-blog)
Extreme close-ups of human eyes by Suren Manvelyan
Here’s looking at you. Eyed say you’ll have a hard time unseeing these amazing photos.
My favorite bit:
Now I have to tell you something, and I mean this in the best and most inoffensive way possible: I don’t believe in process. In fact, when I interview a potential employee and he or she says that “it’s all about the process,” I see that as a bad sign.
The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.
Long read in the NYTimes this week. The story documents a family of a 9 year old named Michael who exhibits signs of psychopathy. The story is wildly enthralling, especially for someone who finds differing forms of insanity as intriguing as I do. Michael, the child in question, is not only unempathetic, but markedly manipulative. The most fascinating behavioral pattern of Michael (and his peers mentioned in the story at the psychological summer camp that Michael attends) is their ability to delay gratification in order to achieve the ultimate goal they seek. An example is highlighted when the reporter interacts with Michael directly:
Glancing down a second later, he noticed my digital tape recorder on the table. “Did you record that?” he asked. I said that I had. He stared at me briefly before turning back to the video. When a sudden noise from the other room caused me to glance away, Michael seized the opportunity to grab the recorder and press the erase button. (Waschbusch later noted that such a calculated reprisal was unusual in a 9-year-old, who would normally go for the recorder immediately or simply whine and sulk.)
The thing that stands out about all of the suspected psychopathic children in the story is how intelligent they are when they’re uninhibited by empathy. They only document cause and effect relationships, measuring what actions yield what results, never held back by worry of the ensuing human consequences. It’s a somewhat unbridled and insidious curiosity that drives them rather than a measure of social feedback. Their psychopathy produces a sense of simplicity and purity, where their lives are not colored or distracted by their fellow humans. It’s a frighteningly solitary existence to live, but also remarkably free. I found the piece to be well worth the several thousand words.
Interesting. Gotta love when people start rejecting science as they learn MORE. Sounds rational, right?
The graph you’re looking at shows a striking trend. Over the past several decades, self-reported conservatives have lost faith and confidence in the scientific community, while moderates and liberals have remained relatively unchanged. This comes from a new study by Gordon Gauchet of UNC, drawing on 36 years of polling done involving tens of thousands of Americans in the General Social Survey.
Both frequent churchgoers and conservatives reported a more than 25% drop since 1974 when it came to faith in science (namely climate and evolution). It doesn’t paint the whole community that way, but the trend is clear. So what’s going on?
I’ve linked to Chris Mooney’s new book The Republican Brain before. I’ve now read it. As uncomfortable as it seems, a body of recent research says that there are not only differences in how conservative brains develop in the context of family and society (“nurture”), but likely also in how they are formed (“nature”). The differences seem amplified in conservatives as they become more educated. How can this be?
Chris Mooney’s blog and book detail these studies, as well as their shortcomings. He also details areas where liberals are guilty of similar bias in reasoning (like vaccines).
We are forced now to ask whether conservative brains and liberal brains, as they exist in society, are equally receptive to facts and equally receptive to changing their minds based upon them. It appears that might not be the case.
I encourage everyone to browse Chris’s blog and read his book. We won’t find solutions to our political divide in either the nature or nurture hypotheses, but rather somewhere in the middle. What’s clear is that facts are not holding equal weight in both brains.
(via Cosmic Log)
This week I started reading a nonfiction account of the Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D., graduate of Yale School of Medecine and UCB in neurobiology. She is currently a neuropsychiatrist at UCSF. Her book describes the various female hormonal and neurological phases, and the behavior resulting from such phases. The book was essentially whisked into my possession by a friend, and after 100 pages, I have to say, I’m thoroughly engrossed. As an earnest hobbyist of endocrinology, it’s definitely a recommended read, particularly for the scientifically/psychologically minded folk, but it is written in a ubiquitously digestible manner for those also interested but not scientifically inclined.
I picked out a few quotes that I found particularly salient in the first 100 pages. Here they are:
“Falling in love is one of the most irrational behaviors or brain states imaginable for both men and women. The brain becomes “illogical” in the throw of new romance, literally blind to the shortcomings of the lover. It’s an involuntary state. Passionately bring in love or so-called infatuation-love is now a documented brain state. It shares brain circuits with states of obsession, mania, intoxication, thirst, and hunger. It is not an emotion, but it does intensify or decreases other emotions…This fevered brain activity runs on hormones and neurochemicals such as dopamine, estrogen, oxytocin, and testosterone.”
“The desire to fall in love is always hovering in the background. Being in love, however, requires making room in your life and your brain for the beloved, actually incorporating [them] into your self-image via the brain’s attachment and emotional memory circuits.”
“As far as researchers know, human males represent behaviors on a spectrum from totally polygamist to totally monogamous. Scientists speculate that different genes and hormones may account for this variability. There is a gene that codes for a particular type of vasopressin receptor in the brain…males who had a longer version of the vasopressin gene showed greater monogamy and spent more time [caring for their young]…The human gene comes in at least seventeen lengths.”
“But the reality is that men may just come in two different categories. There are the ones for hot sex and the ones for safety, comfort, and child rearing. Women are constantly longing for both wrapped into one package, but sadly, science shows that this may be wishful thinking.”
“A boy’s testosterone level increases twenty-five-fold between the ages nine and fifteen. With all that extra sexual rocket fuel, teen boys typically have 3 times more sex drive than girls of the same age—a difference that will persist throughout the rest of their lives.”
As you can see, some interesting shit. And goes along with the idea that males and females are fundamentally different (an idea I wholly believe in). Food for thought, Tumblrers!