Pyramid scam? – Evolutionary psychologists take on the Hierarchy of Needs

raiders of the lost maslow by Laurence Simon (isfullofcrap) Flickr.com

“raiders of the lost maslow” by Laurence Simon (isfullofcrap) — Flickr.com

Abraham Maslow must be turning in his grave. In a recent paper, a group of evolutionary psychologists has set out to replace his famous humanistic theory of motivation with something a lot less … human.

You have probably heard of the Hierarchy of Needs. It looks like a pyramid, and it’s one of the most popular images to come out of modern psychology.

But recently, a group of evolutionary psychologists has sought to overhaul the model. Or as they put it, to “renovate the pyramid”.

The result is a perfect illustration of the fundamental division within psychology itself.

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Successful psychopaths [update]

Psychologists have recently started taking notice of so-called “successful psychopaths”. These are people who have the same kinds of disturbed personalities as regular psychopaths — but, remarkably, they have no history of criminal prosecution. In fact, they can live seemingly successful lives in normal society.

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The Swiss mystic and his big Red Book: the secret world of Carl G Jung

As Carl Jung’s mysterious masterpiece, The Red Book, is finally published, a new biography portrays the psychologist as a modern-day mystic.

Carl Jung For much of his life, pioneering psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) presented himself to the world as a rational, no-nonsense scientist. If he appeared to have any interest in mysticism or the occult, it was purely academic: just a way to help him understand the symbolism appearing in his patients’ dreams.

In truth, however, Jung was every inch the modern mystic.

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The Character Project: Templeton Foundation funds study into the nature of human character

University awarded $3.67 Million to study the nature of character.

The Character Project

The past 30 years have seen a resurgence of interest in character, particularly in the areas of psychology, philosophy, and theology. This work has given rise to a number of challenging questions, such as:

  • Do character traits such as honesty or compassion really exist?
  • If they do exist, how prevalent are they, and what is their underlying psychological nature?
  • Should character traits such as the virtues be the centerpiece of our best ethical theory?
  • How should we go about improving our characters and overcoming our character flaws?
  • For those working in theology, should thinking about human and divine character be central to theological ethics?

The goal of the Character Project, a research project funded by  the John Templeton Foundation, is to address these questions and to foster new advances in the study of character.

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Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: the neuroscientist who had a stroke and discovered Nirvana

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist who specializes in the postmortem investigation of the human brain. What that means is, she cuts up the brains of dead people to look for the neurological causes of severe mental illness.

On the morning of December 10, 1996, a blood vessel exploded in 37-year-old Jill’s brain. She woke up to discover that she was having a massive stroke — a severe hemorrhage of blood into her brain.

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Being spiritual (but not religious) makes children happier: new research

Newly published research from Canada finds that spirituality is strongly linked to the happiness of children aged 8 to 12, but religiousness is not.

— photo: D Sharon Pruitt

A new study by the University of British Columbia, Canada, shows that children who feel that their lives have meaning and value and who develop deep relationships — both aspects of spirituality — also feel happier. It would appear, however, that religious practices have little effect on their happiness.

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Self-transcendence and the brain: new research, old fallacy


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Recent advances in neuroscience are revealing the relationships between complex mental processes and brain activity. It is even possible to identify specific brain sites involved in spirituality. But does this mean, then, that spirituality is nothing but a product of the brain — and perhaps a faulty one at that?

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Physician says near-death experiences are evidence for life after death

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A hospital doctor has undertaken the “largest ever scientific study” of near-death experiences and concludes that it provides evidence for life after death.

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