Forget Survival of the Fittest: It Is Kindness That Counts

A psychologist probes how altruism, Darwinism and neurobiology mean that we can succeed by not being cutthroat.Why do people do good things? Is kindness hard-wired into the brain, or does this tendency arise via experience? Or is goodness some combination of nature and nurture? Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory, investigates these questions from multiple angles, and often generates results that are both surprising and challenging. In his new book, Born to Be

The Case Against Reality

A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind
Demi Powell

Nature: The Ultimate Remedy for Stress and Burnout

Here’s a modern paradox: People report that they feel significantly happier outdoors than they do indoors, yet we spend less than 5 percent of our waking hours in nature. Such were the findings of a recent study published in the journal Global Environmental Change, which used an iPhone app called Mappiness to track the location and corresponding emotional state of over 20,000 participants. These results are troubling yet unsurprising; Nature is becoming increasingly foreign to our culture
Demi Powell

Forget the Wisdom of Crowds; Neurobiologists Reveal the Wisdom of the Confident

The wisdom of crowds breaks down when people are biased. Now researchers have discovered a simple method of removing this bias–just listen to the most confident.Way back in 1906, the English polymath Francis Galton visited a country fair in which 800 people took part in a contest to guess the weight of a slaughtered ox. After the fair, he collected the guesses and calculated their average which turned out to be 1,208 pounds. To Galton’s surprise, this was within 1 percent of the true weight of
Demi Powell

If You’re Too Busy to Meditate, Read This

This morning, like every morning, I sat cross-legged on a cushion on the floor in my comfy yoga pants, rested my hands on my knees, closed my eyes, and did nothing but breathe for 20 minutes.People say the hardest part about meditating is finding the time to meditate. This makes sense: who these days has time to do nothing? It’s hard to justify. Meditation brings many benefits: It refreshes us, helps us settle into what’s happening now, makes us wiser and gentler, helps us cope in a world that
Demi Powell

Here is How Modern Science Approaches The Phenomenon of Soul

The Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith has provided the long awaited, first principal, biological explanation of the human condition, our capacity for so called ‘good and evil’. With the clarifying, biological explanation for why we humans became competitive, selfish and aggressive, it is now possible to look into and explain the rather elusive concept we refer to as our ‘soul’— our species’ instinctive memory of a time when our distant ancestors lived in a cooperative, selfless, loving
Demi Powell