Is there something politicians know that the vast majority of the US voters don’t? Some of them are proof that all they need to know is how their voters think. You don’t really believe some of them talk the way they do because they’re stupid do you? It may at times appear that way, but they are speaking to voter profiles.
First they outline their demographic and then angle the pitch. There is plenty of published research on why and how certain types vote. And really it’s a predictable statistical function of the voter’s brain. But even given the current political atmosphere I couldn’t believe the venom certain candidates were spewing. With so much negativity – about “EVERYTHING” and then all the warmongering. I began to wonder if they might be fanning the flames of a growing national hate movement.
Then I read an article, “Red Brain, Blue Brain” about a joint study done by Dr. Darren Schreiber from the University of Exeter and neuroscientists at the University of California, San Diego. Using fMRI brain scans of 82 participants, they actually found differences in the way conservative and liberal brains function. Conservatives are reactionary, using an area of the brain (amygdala) related to fear. Liberal brain activity involves internalization – self-awareness, competence (left posterior insula).
With data in hand Dr. Schreiber and his team looked up participants’ political party registrations. Based on neural response they found they could predict with an 82.9% accuracy how a person will vote. This has become the most accurate predictor known. Could it really be that simple? Well although intriguing, I needed more.
According to psychologist Mike Dodd, University of Nebraska, Lincoln – “The two parties simply see the world differently.” Using electrodes to monitor skin conductance of 48 people and eye tracking devices involving 76 students, this was his study’s conclusion. Conservatives just walking into a room focus on negativity. “They’re essentially monitoring things that make them feel uncomfortable, which does feel fairly consistent with conservative policies. It doesn’t make them better or worse people but there might be a biological basis for their views” Mike said (Live Science).
Then there’s the Yale Law School study in Social Neuroscience journal, which also used fMRI to take images in real time. FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) works by tracking oxygen in the blood to image neural activity. Increased activity requires increased oxygen rich blood. For instance, the brain’s “reward center” becomes active when listening to music.
The Yale study however focused on racial bias in jury awards for discrimination cases. This was also a small study with 19 non-Hispanic white participants which included an IAT (Implicit Association Test). The IAT tests the strength of a person’s automatic subconscious responses. This measures precise reaction times to associations with positive or negative words to images of blacks and whites. Subconsciously favoring one race over another is not racism because it’s not explicit. Again bias was detected.
In Palm Springs, CA at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference they showcased several more studies about the nature of political beliefs – yielding many provocative results. The interests centered around, why there are such sharp divides between the parties on issues like war, same-sex marriage, abortion and immigration.
Emory University psychologist Drew Westen’s study strongly suggests that emotions and implicit bias influence how people view candidates. It causes them to spot faults in opposing candidates while rejecting negative information about candidates they favor.
Psychologist Brian Nosek, University of Virginia found that those with implicit and admitted racial bias tended to vote Republican. “What automatic biases reveal is that while we have the feeling we are living up to our values, that feeling may not be right. We are not aware of everything that causes our behavior.” Nosek along with Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji conducted their study online involving 130,000 whites and their views on blacks using the IAT method.
Among whites 75% showed implicit bias but Republicans harbor more anti-black prejudice. Theoretically all people have the ability to control explicit bias but I strongly believe some are hardwired.
At New York University, Neuroscientist David Amodio and his colleague Patricia Devine tested 150 white college students and once again, implicit biases shone through. But why do these split-second negative responses exist? The amygdala operates extremely rapidly, long before our conscious thoughts have time to react. Our brains have evolved to categorize and simplify patterns that are complex. Thus, “if left unchecked, they might lead to the expression of some bias in a way that you don’t intend,” says Amodio.
Fortunately, the amygdala alone doesn’t control our behavior. We have a large highly-complex frontal cortex, helping to inhibit impulses, make complicated decisions and behave in socially appropriate ways.
The FFA (fusiform face area) along with the whole ventral temporal cortex (VT cortex) are involved in facial recognition. Scientists are able to distinguish which race face one is viewing, simply by VT cortex activity.
Now, I went into this wanting to be impartial especially since I have Republican friends but the science just isn’t there to support impartiality. In every study I’ve read, Republicans attract negative, racially biased voters and maybe by design. There are now enough studies to corroborate this fact and interestingly there don’t seem to be any to contradict them.
This doesn’t mean all Republicans are racists; some are good people. Nor as many critics suggest, are the universities and scientists anti-conservative. In their book “Blind Spot” by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, professors of psychology at Harvard and the University of Washington, respectively say: Most of us may hold biases so when we go out of our way to help people like ourselves we’re being “good” people. Self-deception is understandable but such selective privileging reinforces the status quo. The best indicator of the validity of this is predictive behavior is how it transitions into the poor treatment of blacks.
Is there a baseline for a “model mind?” Are we to one day set an ideal attainable moral and ethical value? Scientists debate whether such higher-order processes as consciousness and morality have their own real estate in the brain. Luckily the mind can be investigated and fMRI is now an essential tool for researchers around the world wanting to watch the brain at work. “It provides information that can’t be obtained with any other approach right now,” said Hal Blumenfeld, M.D., Ph.D. professor of neurology, Yale University. The method is noninvasive and shows the whole brain at once.
Jon Krosnick, a political scientist at Stanford University says: “If anyone in Washington is skeptical about these findings, they are in denial. We have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with racial prejudice. If people say, ‘This takes me aback,’ they are ignoring a huge volume of research.”
With all this peering into the mind using fMRI and other methods like EEG, CT, electrodes and sensors, others have taken notice. Many of the cynics are now embracing the findings. Lawyers want the technology for screening jurors, law enforcement want the lie detection capabilities. Companies like No Lie MRI want to provide those detection services. DHS wants fMRI for predictive pre-crime terrorism technology along with the military. Advertisers, entrepreneurs and neuro-marketers want in too. Employers want to pre-screen job applicants.
David Adam, The Guardian – writes: “This new research raises the possibility that police recruits could be screened for bias.” At its most far-reaching, the study raises the possibility that the minds of people, including police, firemen, educators, etcetera, could be screened for racist attitudes. A leader in this research, Professor Jennifer Richeson, Dartmouth College concurs and says: “I was shocked. I couldn’t believe we got this correspondence with the brain activity!
As for me, I detest explicit racism and believe it should be a recognized mental health disorder!
For more fMRI studies: NYU, SUNY, UCLA, Yale, Stanford, Carnegie Melon, Dartmouth, University of Chicago, Columbia, Exeter, Emory, Cornell, University of Sydney, Oxford, University of Freiburg, Temple University, University of Geneva and many others.
Neuroscientist Claims That Consciousness Itself Is Its Own Energy Field
A neuroscientist has suggested in a new theory that our consciousness is derived from a field of electromagnetic waves given off by neurons.
The study published last month in the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness is entirely based off a theory absent of tangible evidence. However, the author of the research Johnjoe McFadden said that his hypothesis could offer a way forward for robots that think and feel emotions.
McFadden believes that neuron waves of electrical activity get sent out and as they propagate across the brain, they help compose our entire conscious experience.
Johnjoe McFadden, is a molecular geneticist and director of quantum biology at the University of Surrey. McFadden points to flaws in other models of consciousness as the reason that we don’t have sentient artificial intelligence or robots capable of achieving consciousness.
McFadden’s hypothesis swerves away from most traditional neuroscientists, who generally see consciousness as a narrative that our brain constructs out of our senses, perceptions, and actions. Instead, McFadden returns to a more empirical version of dualism — the idea that consciousness stems from something other than our brain matter.
McFadden’s theory adapts the idea of “dualism,” which is the belief that consciousness is a supernatural force. Dualism has long been rejected by scientists and ruled pseudo-science, but McFadden has attempted to apply a scientific explanation for the idea, which hasn’t been done before.
Neuroscience news reports that the theory is based on scientific fact:
“The theory is based on scientific fact: when neurons in the brain and nervous system fire, they not only send the familiar electrical signal down the wire-like nerve fibres, but they also send a pulse of electromagnetic energy into the surrounding tissue. Such energy is usually disregarded, yet it carries the same information as nerve firings, but as an immaterial wave of energy, rather than a flow of atoms in and out of the nerves.”
It’s also a fact we have an electromagnetic field surrounding our brain is well-known and is detected by brain-scanning techniques such as electroencephalogram (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) but has previously been dismissed as irrelevant to brain function and supernatural. Instead, McFadden contends that the brain’s information-rich electromagnetic field is, in fact, itself the seat of consciousness, driving the ‘free will’ of an individual.
“How brain matter becomes aware and manages to think is a mystery that has been pondered by philosophers, theologians, mystics and ordinary people for millennia,” McFadden said in a press release published by Medical Xpress. “I believe this mystery has now been solved, and that consciousness is the experience of nerves plugging into the brain’s self-generated electromagnetic field to drive what we call ‘free will’ and our voluntary actions.”
Ann Arbor becomes latest city to decriminalize “magic” mushrooms and other natural psychedelics
(TMU) – The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has effectively decriminalized psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms along with other natural psychedelics in the latest sign that public opinion across the U.S. is continuing to turn against prohibitionist policies.
On Monday, the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution that would make it the city’s lowest-ranked law enforcement priority to the investigate or arrest anyone planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, using or possessing entheogenic plants or plant compounds.
The resolution applies to all psychedelics derived from plants and fungi, including psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine, mescaline, peyote and other substances with hallucinogenic properties deemed illegal under state and federal law.
The council also requires the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to halt the prosecution of those involved in the use of entheogenic plants and plant compounds.
Ann Arbor now joins a growing list of cities including Denver, Colorado, and the California cities of Santa Cruz and Oakland that have decriminalized all entheogenic plants. Other cities including Chicago and Austin are considering similar measures. A ballot measure that would legalize the use of psilocybin in therapeutic settings will also be voted on in the state of Oregon this November.
The move to de-prioritize law enforcement around psychedelics was spearheaded by the efforts of local grassroots advocacy group Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor, or DNA2.
At the beginning of the year, councilmembers were skeptical about any move to decriminalize psychedelics. Since then, they’ve found themselves convinced by evidence of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of psychedelics, including for mental health treatment and treating addiction, reports MLive.
Councilmember Zachary Ackerman cited the opening of a $17 million psychedelic and consciousness research center by Johns Hopkins Medicine as proof of “the tremendous potential of these future medicines.” The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is currently conducting clinical trials to find out whether the drug is suitable as a prescription drug for the U.S. market.
Councilmember Jack Eaton described the council’s unanimous backing for the decriminalization resolution as carrying on the city’s legacy of backing the local decriminalization of marijuana during the 1970s, when the plant was still illegal under state and federal law.
The resolution doesn’t allow for the commission of crimes or any significant violation of state or federal law, and any use of entheogenic substances that pose a threat to public health and safety could require intervention by law enforcement bodies.
In the resolution, entheogenic plants are defined as the full spectrum of plants and fungi that contain indole amines, tryptamines and phenethylamines “that can benefit psychological and physical wellness, support and enhance religious and spiritual practices, and can reestablish human’s inalienable and direct relationship to nature.”
The resolution also states that psychedelic substances can be used to address substance abuse problems, addiction, recidivism, trauma, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, grief, cluster headaches and other debilitating conditions.
“The use of entheogenic plants, which can catalyze profound experiences of personal and spiritual growth, have been shown by scientific and clinical studies and traditional practices to be beneficial to the health and well-being of individuals and communities in addressing these conditions,” it states.
Psilocybin mushrooms are currently considered a Schedule 1 narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
However, psilocybin – the main chemical component of the mushrooms – was designated as a “breakthrough therapy” by the FDA in 2019 due to the positive results of psilocybin in treating depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health problems.
Studies have also shown how a microdose of psilocybin—far from the level needed for a full-blown trip—actually increases the creativity and empathy of participants.
Other researchers have also found that psilocybin has provided effective help to patients struggling to quit other addictive substances such as cigarettes.
The newfound recognition of psilocybin therapy as a valid treatment has eroded old stereotypes of psilocybin as some intoxicating and hallucination-inducing party drug that drives its users insane – a reputation that largely grew out of the hippie counterculture of the 1960s when they were widely known as “psychedelic” or “magic” mushrooms.
The resolution further notes that entheogenic plants have been the basis of spiritual practices by human cultures for thousands of years, yet those who seek them for the sake of improving their health and wellbeing must risk arrest and prosecution to obtain them.
“Decriminalization of naturally occurring medicines is necessary for progress,” councilmember Jeff Hayner said in a press release from DNA2 last week, reports Detroit Metro Times. “We can no longer turn a blind eye towards the wisdom of indigenous peoples, and the bounty the earth provides. I have been moved by the testimonies of those who have found profound relief from the use of entheogenic plants.”
The Esoteric Meaning Behind Neo’s Interrogation Scene in The Matrix
More than 20 years old now, The Matrix is recognized by fans across the world as being one of the most brilliant films in history, most notably for its deeper meaning and esoteric philosophy.
One scene that is particularly intriguing, considering the social climate of today, is Neo’s interrogation by the Agents of the Matrix.
Now, before we dig into the potential hidden meaning here, as I perceive it, and how Neo found himself in this uncomfortable position to begin with, let’s first establish some key points in relation to the overall story line that will help us to appreciate the implications behind this scene a little bit more.
What Does The Character Neo Represent in the Matrix?
Neo in ancient Greek (νέος) means new/young one. This is an important piece of the puzzle to help us understand what the directors of the film are trying to communicate to us. With that said, when we assess Neo’s character in the first film, we find that he is a solitary individual that keeps to himself and is struggling to find deeper meaning in this world by constantly searching the internet.
What Does The Character Morpheus Represent in the Matrix?
Morpheus in Greek mythology is a messenger of the gods. He appears to humans through dreams with the intention of delivering divine Knowledge and Truth. In the Greek mythos, he can appear in almost any form in people’s dreams, which could be because anyone, regardless of race, gender, or outward appearance, can be a messenger of enlightenment and Truth.
The First Matrix Film is About The Beginning of the Journey to Awakening
With the understanding of the deeper meaning behind what Neo and Morpheus’ characters represent in the film, we can now appreciate the intro scene of Neo sleeping (whilst searching for Morpheus) through a different lens of perception and awareness.
You see, Neo sleeping whilst searching online for Morpheus represents the early stages of the Truth seekers journey — “asleep” but still searching for deeper meaning in life — and hoping to find that meaning by seeking out a “messenger” of higher Knowledge and Truth.
Truth is Terrorism in the Empire of Lies
Through his incessant efforts, Neo begins to get closer and closer to finding the elusive Morpheus. This, however, also attracts the unwanted attention of the Agents in the Matrix, which represent the enforcers of the shadow government of this system. Their job is to ensure that no one exposes what the Matrix really is, and how it turns unsuspecting every day human beings into useful resources that it can use and exploit.
The Agents proceed to apprehend Neo and interrogate him, where they make it very clear that they’ve been spying on him and keeping meticulous records of his activities, both online and offline, for quite some time now. As we all know very well today, all around the world intelligence agencies are doing exactly that — tracking what we view online and keeping meticulous records on many of our movements.
The agents, however, do not see Neo as being a major threat to the Matrix system, as he is still in the early stages of his awakening and does not know enough to be a major threat. Instead, they offer him a deal where they will be willing to “wipe the slate clean” on his illegal activities online, if Neo will simply help them track down the man they call Morpheus, who they claim is “a known terrorist” that is “considered by many authorities to be the most dangerous man alive”.
This represents that the single greatest threat to this manipulative system — which is overwhelmingly ruled by deception and exploitation — is any messenger of higher Knowledge and Truth that can potentially awaken those who are still “asleep” to what the proverbial Matrix really is. In fact, one could argue this sort of power struggle has been going on for thousands of years, and is possibly why Socrates was accused of “corrupting the youth” by the ruling class more than 2,000 years ago and subsequently sentenced to death; or why Fred Hampton was assassinated by government authorities in 1969; or, in more recent history, why civilians that were peacefully protesting against Wall Street and the bankers for their part in destroying the world economy in 2008, were targeted by the FBI and even labelled as potential “domestic terrorists“.
Simply put, Truth is terrorism in the empire of lies.
Neo, still being somewhat naïve and unbegun in his journey, rejects the Agent’s offer and demands he get a phone call because “I know my rights!”
To this, Agent Smith retorts, “tell me Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?”, which results in Neo’s mouth warping in the most eerie of ways.
This scene represents a lesson that all genuine Truth seekers eventually come to learn — this system is not concerned with human rights nor is it concerned with upholding authentic justice. Instead, it inculcates these beliefs and misperceptions into our minds from a very young age, because it serves to help legitimize its unnecessary existence in the eyes of the unsuspecting public and indoctrinate us as to why we think we need it. But in reality, our government guaranteed “rights” can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye.
In relation to current events, for example, many thousands of people worldwide have been arrested for violating curfew orders; In one Indian state, civilians were told they must take selfies every hour and send it to the authorities to prove that they are staying indoors; in South Africa, some have been fined for not wearing masks while driving their cars; In Boston in the United States, people have even been told that they will be fined if they walk “the wrong direction” down the street; Homeless people in France have reportedly been fined for not staying indoors; Some people have been arrested for attending funerals of loved ones because it violated lockdown orders; Others (including doctors and scientists) have had their right to freedom of speech censored online; In Australia, a pregnant woman was actually arrested in her home for facebook posts that encouraged protesting against the lockdown; According to the International Labor Organization, tens of millions are being pushed into unemployment; and travel all around the world has been severely restricted by these authorities who have taken it upon themselves to be the rulers of this planet by dictating what the rest of us can and cannot do. Whether you agree with these policies or not, these things cannot logically be called “rights” since they are so very easily violated and taken away from us.
There are many other examples that demonstrate how our government given “rights” are more of a comforting illusion than an actual reality, such as the CIA’s secretive Black Site torture programs, which have been done in cooperation with other intelligence agencies and authorities throughout the world. In these programs, people have been kidnapped — without any legal criminal charge or trial — and then taken to undisclosed secret locations where many of them are tortured for many months on end, in ways that are considered to be in violation of international law and basic human rights. The CIA, of course, simply claims they are suspected terrorists. In 2014, however, a Senate Intelligence Committee Report found that at least 26 of the people that were kidnapped and tortured were actually “wrongfully detained”.
Wake Up Neo — You Are the One
Fortunately, Neo manages to escape this unthinkable situation without any serious injury or harm. Soon after, he is contacted by Morpheus, where he is told that he was very lucky that the Agents underestimated his great potential and spared him, because if the Agents had known the great secret that Morpheus knows, then Neo would probably be dead.
Confused by the obvious strangeness of everything taking place, Neo asks Morpheus what the hell is going on, and what exactly is he talking about?? Without hesitation, Morpheus replies to him, “You are the one Neo — You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.”
This is perhaps the most important lesson the new Truth seeker must eventually come to learn — We are the ones we have been waiting for to change this corrupt world my friends; and we must stop looking for heroes and human leaders to absolve us of this very serious responsibility. Instead, we must all take on the role of Morpheus — which is to awaken as many Neo’s (new minds) as we possibly can, whilst also taking on the role that represents the journey of Neo, by challenging ourselves to become the best version of who we authentically are.
By doing this, we will help to awaken and unleash the unique creative forces of each individual’s problem solving imagination; and we will also find unity in our shared struggle against the injustices, and corruption, of this inhumane system which invariably exploits us all.
If not us, then who? And if not now, then when?
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