It’s necessary to be slightly underemployed if you are to do something significant.
— James Watson, Nobel laureate co-discoverer with Francis Crick of the DNA double helix
Gray hair is a blessing—ask any bald man.
— Jerry Smith
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity, Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.
— quote from the movie After Earth (2013) [D&S: We didn’t see the movie.]
No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
— Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
— G. K. Chesterton
I dream’d in a dream, I saw
a city invincible to the
Attacks of the whole of the
rest of the earth.
I dream’d that was the new City of Friends.
Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music.
"If I wasn’t real," Alice said — half laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous — "I shouldn’t be able to cry."
"I hope you don’t suppose those are real tears," Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
— Alice Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll)
Introducing Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
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FLUSH prune juice helps relieve chronic constipation. See your doctor first to ensure your regulation problem is not more serious than a need to increase your dietary fiber. Use one to four 8 ounce glasses per day as needed to help FLUSH your regulation problem.
— by Sandy Shaw
Gamma Oscillations — Key to Consciousness?
If one word were to describe the essence of a human life, that word might be conscious.
Serious research published in reputable peer-reviewed journals have studied the neural basis for consciousness. This work is closing in on what distinguishes the brain’s activity when we are conscious from that when it is operating unconsciously (which is most of what the brain does).
A little of the new research reveals:
1. Gamma oscillations may be importantly associated with and perhaps causal to consciousness (Singer, 1995) though there is no general agreement. In a 1999 paper (Engel, 1999), the author described the “gamma wave hypothesis” as follows: “[t]he hypothesis is that synchronization of neuronal discharges can serve for the integration of distributed neurons into cell assemblies and that this process may underlie the selection of perceptually and behaviorally relevant information.” “Gamma oscillations (y) [where y is the number of oscillations] (30-120 Hz), an emergent property of neuronal networks correlate with memory, cognition and encoding.” (Ferando, 2013).
2. GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter) appears to be involved in the creation of gamma oscillations. (Chen, 2014) “Among the rhythmic firing patterns observed in brain networks, gamma oscillations are generated by a specific class of inhibitory neurons with robust interconnectivity through fast GABA synapses.” (Proddutur, 2013) “...gamma oscillations may contribute to learning and memory...” (Proddutur, 2013) “We have previously shown how gamma oscillation frequency recorded in the CA3 [an area of the brain] in vitro is controlled by a delta-GABA(A)Rs-mediated tonic conductance of INs [inhibitory neurons], that is dynamically balanced by an NMDA-R mediated tonic excitation.” (Ferando, 2013)
3. Gamma oscillations may be important in working memory, a short term form of memory that is critical for complex thought. “During working memory tasks, increasing cognitive load is associated with an increase in gamma oscillations in healthy participants and epilepsy patients.” (Chen, 2014)
4. Gamma oscillations were shown to be associated with spontaneous recovery from depression in mice following chronic restraint stress (Khalid, 2016). When mice are subject to chronic restraint stress, they develop a depressive state that includes anhedonia, withdrawal from social interactions, reduced locomotor activity, much like the depression seen in humans. However, a few weeks after the chronic restraint stress is discontinued, most of the animals spontaneously recover from this depressive state. The recovery is associated with restoration of gamma activity at the network level.
5. In another paper (Rodriguez, 1999), researchers describe a new (as of that time) process in which “a transition between two distinct cognitive acts (such as face perception and motor response) should be punctuated by a transient stage of undoing the preceding synchrony and allowing for the emergence of a new ensemble...” (The gamma oscillations were associated with an increase in synchrony.)
PRODUCING GAMMA OSCILLATIONS
6. Lutz A, Greischar LL, Rawlings NB, Ricard M, Davidson RJ. Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Nov 16;101(46):16369-73.
According to a report in the FEB 2016 Nature Medicine in their “Biomedical Briefing” section, there has been a study of 2,447 individuals whose wounds (a fractured bone had penetrated the skin) were cleaned either by saline solution or Castile soap. While 14.5% of those whose wound was cleaned by the soap required follow-up surgery, only 11.6% of those receiving the saline cleaning did. This is a small difference but saline solution is cheap so why not use it in place of soap. The doctors were happy with the results because when you look at the large number of people requiring the cleaning of wounds, the small difference would add up to a lot of people.
The study appeared in New England Journal of Medicine 373:2629-41 (December 2015).
The Nature Medicine report said that bacteria had been observed to grow back faster in a wound after soap treatment as compared to saline, though they did not know why that would be the case.
Punishment is becoming a growing element in today’s political arenas. Those who support Donald Trump have been suggested by some to be an anxious lot looking for some way to PUNISH those they hate and/or fear, such as illegal immigrants. Those who support Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appear to be out to PUNISH the evil rich who have more than their “fair share.” Scientific studies are discussing the rise of punitive (e.g., punishing) gods, such as those in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, considering the existence of such gods to promote cooperation in human society. (Johnson, 2016; Purzycki, 2016.) Everywhere we see a search for somebody to do the punishing that they believe needs to be done.
What is it in the Brain of Humans that Regulates the Pursuit of Reward or Punishment?
“One hallmark of adaptive behavior is the ability to learn from the outcomes of actions, whether these results are positive or negative.” (Paton and Louie, 2012) Recent research suggests that the neurotransmitter DOPAMINE plays a leading role in this adaptive behavior by signaling the difference between a REWARD and a PUNISHMENT and selecting the physical action to be taken in response to it.
A recent paper (Paton and Louie, 2012) identified two types of dopamine receptors, D1 and D2, that are instrumental in responding to reward and punishment, respectively. D1 dopamine neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex control food intake, for example (Land, 2014). Another recent paper (Engel, 2014) reported that some hormones have been identified as playing an important role in reinforcing food intake, an inherently rewarding process. This includes ghrelin and GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide-1). (Engel, 2014) GLP-1 has also been shown to control the rewarding properties of substances such as alcohol, nicotine, amphetamine, and cocaine. In sum, the authors of this paper (Engel, 2014) suggest that the gut hormones ghrelin and GLP-1 that activate the ghrelin and GLP-1 receptors may be novel targets for development of pharmacological treatments of alcohol and drug dependence.” And also for treatment of food addiction.
Moreover, a mechanism has been identified to explain in part how these molecules foster addiction: they activate the vitally important reward system in which the cholinergic and dopaminergic nervous systems interact. Importantly, this interaction links these neurotransmitter systems to experimental findings that show that eating is initiated by a dopaminergic signal and is terminated by a cholinergic signal. (Hoebel, 2007; Rada, 2000) This hub in which the neurotransmitter systems interact is a target for the complex process of food addiction as well as other addictions.
The story of punishment goes back a very long way. The Latin word for “PUNish” was/is “PUNire.” (Sandy’s Latin-English dictionary even shows that they had/have a specific name for losing half of your property (multare dimidia parte) and for loss of the priesthood and dowry (multare sacerdotio et uxoris dote). Et tu, Roman Empire??)
— John C. Traupman, PhD, editor (THE NEW LATIN and ENGLISH DICTIONARY, Third edition, Bantam Books, 2007)
The D1 receptors induce LTP (long term potentiation) by increasing the excitability of medium spiny neurons (a type of neuron responsive to the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA), while the D2 receptors have the opposite effect, inducing LTD (long term depression) (Paton and Louie, 2012).
Stimulation of the D1 receptors (the “direct pathway” of dopaminergic signaling in the medium spiny neurons) “increased locomotion and decreased freezing” while stimulation of D2 receptors (the “indirect pathway”) resulted in decreased locomotion, increased freezing, and bradykinesis (slower movement). Thus, the rewarding pathway leads to movement and goal seeking of rewards, while the punishment pathway leads to signs of fear and anxiety (freezing) and depression (slower movement, less movement).
In their study, the researchers (Kravitz, 2012) reported that electrically stimulating the direct pathway in mice mimics reward, while the same treatment via the indirect pathway mimics punishment. Moreover, they found that there was an “asymmetry in the temporal longevity of stimulation effects, with positive reinforcement effects outlasting the transient punishment effects of activation.” “Overall, the results of Kravitz et al highlight a fundamental point about decision-making: selecting an action is never truly independent of reward learning (Paton and Louie, 2012).
The latter effect is interesting. People tend to pay more attention to the effect of positive information (that provides a REWARD because it supports your beliefs), as compared to negative information when they reconsider their beliefs.
In the Political Realm
Fear seems to be showing up pervasively among the populace. As an example, December of 2015 had the all time record for background checks on Americans in advance of their purchasing firearms. In the first two months of 2016, 5,218,000 background checks were processed. (Investyourself.com, Mar. 6, 2016).
Might those who fear some group of “others” be looking for somebody to punish these “others”? One might also surmise that the more fear, the more desire for punishment. In a world of mounting fear, the growing danger of the rise of a societal ethic based upon punishment is alarming.
... civilization means, above all, an unwillingness to inflict unnecessary pain. Within the ambit of that definition, those of us who heedlessly accept the commands of authority cannot yet claim to be civilized men.
— Harold J. Laski, “The Dangers of Obedience” (in Stanley Milgram’s classic Obedience To Authority (Harper & Row, 1975)
Chocolate created a sensation in Europe during the 1600’s following its introduction by men who had been exploring Middle and South America. Extrapolating from Aztec medicine, chocolate was used in Europe to soothe stomach and intestinal disorders, to control diarrhea in children, to reduce fevers, to induce cough to expel mucus, and “promote strength before military or sexual conquests” (Wilson, 2010), among other things.
CHOCOLATE: a LIBIDO enhancer?
Chocolate was promoted as a libido enhancer early on. “In 1652, Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma’s ‘Chocolate; or, An Indian Drink’ promises it [chocolate] ‘Twill make Old Women Young and Fresh...” (Wilson, 2010)
Effects on LOVE and SEX
Phenylethylamine (also called β-phenylethylamine), found in chocolate, is “a compound that causes the brain to release mood-elevating and pain-relieving endorphins. Moreover, phenethylamine triggers the release of DOPAMINE, a neurotransmitter that stimulates creativity, sociability, and reward-seeking behavior. Phenethylamine is released in the brain when people FALL IN LOVE or become INFATUATED, which could explain the addictive properties of chocolate.” (Cassiday, 2012).
Phenylethylamine is also available as a metabolite of the amino acid phenylalanine, which is a constituent of our entire family of BLAST energy products. (The phenylethylamine is part of the BLAST! effect.) Phenylethylamine increases the stimulation of caffeine when the two are combined.
Women were reported to give the highest hedonic (pleasure) rating in a survey. It has been proposed that “phenylethylamine [aka β-phenethylamine] could be the critical factor...” because monoamine oxidase B, an enzyme that breaks down dopamine, may be reduced during the perimenstruum, a part of the menstrual cycle (Michener, 1994).
We have lost the reference for this point, but report it because we found it quite interesting. It was said that divorcing couples had elevated levels of phenethylamine in their brains. If true, this could certainly contribute to nasty divorce proceedings and even a heightened risk of murder at the time.
THEOBROMINE, another component of CHOCOLATE
Possible Effects on LOVE and SEX
THEOBROMINE, sometimes considered a contributing factor to the emotional state of “falling in love” is found in chocolate and provides milder stimulation than caffeine (also found in chocolate), which its chemical structure resembles. Theobromine also acts as a vasorelaxant and (purely a speculation) may support penile erection (the latter requires vasorelaxation).
There are many examples of government forcing people to say things they don’t agree with, such as the FDA requiring that you include warnings on your product with which you disagree. What might be the consequences to those having to lie to comply with government force? For example, if you sold Flush Pune Juice,™ the FDA would likely try to force you to say that your product was not for treating constipation.
This is an area of scientific research that has been studied for a long time. The famous Leon Festinger (whose paper on cognitive dissonance is considered a classic in the field of psychology (Festinger, 1957)), also published a paper in 1959 with James M. Carlsmith (Festinger and Carlsmith, 1959) on the cognitive consequences of forced compliance.
This paper explored what might happen when people had to say things that were in conflict with their private opinion. Two earlier papers by the same authors (Janis and King, 1954; King and Janis, 1956) showed that “if a person is forced to improvise a speech supporting a point of view with which he disagrees, his private opinion moves toward the position advocated in the speech. The observed opinion change is greater than for persons who only hear the speech or for persons who read a prepared speech with emphasis solely on elocution and manner of delivery.”
Festinger and Carlsmith analyzed an earlier paper that had found that when an individual was forced to say something that was opposite to that which he actually believed, the greater the promised reward for saying this falsehood or threatened punishment for not saying this falsehood, the less subsequent opinion change toward that falsehood took place, which was the opposite to what the author of the paper had expected. In their analysis, Festinger and Carlsmith suggest that “the magnitude of dissonance is maximal if these promised rewards or threatened punishments were just barely sufficient to induce the person to say [the falsehood]. From this point on, as the promised rewards or threatened punishment become larger, the magnitude of dissonance becomes smaller.” (Festinger and Carlsmith, 1959).
They continue: “One way in which the dissonance can be reduced is for the person to change his private opinion so as to bring it into correspondence with what he has said.” They suggest that “...the observed opinion change should be greatest when the pressure used to elicit the overt behavior is just sufficient to [induce them] to do it.”
This, then, is a view of what might happen inside the mind of someone who is coerced into making false statements by the threat of a punishment (as with the FDA). Surprisingly, it might be that, consistently with the results of the experiments carried out by and reported in Festinger and Carlsmith, 1959, that the lies end up being incorporated to some extent into a modified opinion that is more consistent with the lies and, hence, reduces the dissonance resulting from having made false statements.
“TOR [a growth promoting gene activated by food] inhibition [ ] stimulates AUTOPHAGY [cellular self-digestion], which, as in insulin/IGF-1 mutants, is REQUIRED FOR LIFE EXTENSION (at least in worms and flies).” (emphasis added) (That is, AUTOPHAGY is required for life extension in worms and flies. It may be required in other organisms.) (Cynthia Kenyon, Nature. Mar. 2010)
Autophagy is induced by limiting caloric intake, promoting the cellular self-digestion to obtain energy and raw materials in the absence of adequate amounts of food. However, some natural substances can also induce autophagy, including TREHALOSE, an osmolyte found in our FOLDRIGHT.
Has anyone reading this newsletter failed to notice the unbelievable increase in governmental corruption at all levels in the U.S., local, State, and federal? Something to keep track of in the decline of Western civilization.
A recent study was published in Nature on the prevalence of rule violations and the intrinsic honesty of individuals living in different societies (Gachter, 2016). Among other things, the paper reports, “[s]ocieties with higher material security, as measured by Government Effectiveness [described in the paper as a proxy for ‘bureaucratic quality and material security’] tend to be more individualist, and more individualist societies tend to have less corruption.” The decline and fall of powerful historical societies (such as the Roman Empire) seem to coincide with rapidly increasing corruption.
The study’s results further suggest that “for many people lying is psychologically costly.” One has to be very cautious in dealing with those who DO NOT find lying to be psychologically costly. They are very possibly sociopaths.
Reference: Gachter and Schulz. Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies. Nature. VOL 000: 00 MONTH 2016 [this is how the reference is given on our hardcopy]
“I read ‘Why the Germans? Why the Jews?’ by Gotz Aly. And I read ‘Mein Kampf.’ Of all the things there are to tell, the most alarming discovery to me was how the constant complaints of income inequality were synonymous with an ushering in of the fascist state. In ways I don’t fully understand, political messages that beat that drum — the constant barrage of political messages to the people that they are all victims — scares me.
On the surface I would not have thought cries of income inequality had anything to do with fascism, but I’m telling you it does. If fascism is a submarine then the income inequality mantra Is the snorkel.”
—Posted by John Walters
on FRIDAY SQUID BLOGGING:
SQUID SCIENTISTS ON TUMBLR
It is amazing how much of the science and technology discussed in our Life Extension, A Practical Scientific Approach is still just as useful today as it was in 1982, when the book was published. We include here one such useful item. It involved a case in which we acted as consultants to the owner of a valuable stud racehorse that simply could not reach orgasm.
We advised them to supplement the horse with niacin and histidine. The niacin releases histamine, required for orgasm, and histidine is the precursor to histamine. As we described the results in our book, “[t]he horse’s handlers told us later that the niacin worked beautifully for a few days but then he began having trouble again. We pointed out that the horse might not be making enough histamine and suggested they supplement his diet with histidine (which is made into histamine) and vitamin B6(required for this conversion).” They told us later that the combination worked great. In fact, they said that they had to restrain the horse, who was masturbating so frequently that they were afraid he would injure himself!
Incredibly, we were also told later (though this was not reported in the case history that we included in LIFE EXTENSION, pg. 754 of the hardcover edition) that the horse’s caretakers were using so much of it themselves that they were constantly asking us to send them some more. Which we did.
Before we go any further, let us assure you that the authors averred that there was no funding for this study; perhaps the authors paid for it themselves. If so, nobody can complain that it was a waste of their tax money.
The authors managed to write a 17 page paper on this subject. Moreover, they claimed to have used a “new research method” to determine what size penis women preferred. The new research method turned out to be 3D models of penises, rather than the 2D photos said to be used in other people’s research. The 3D penis models used were, however, a bit, er, odd. You see, they looked like cylinders without any resemblance to actual penises at all. The authors said that there were no “mathematical descriptions available to accurately represent normal proportions of more complex penile structure” and that women might have a negative response to the appearance of an actual penis.
Hmmmm. Anyway, Figure 2 showed the model penises, which looked about as sexy as you might expect from the description above. Also, they were colored blue to avoid any possible racial connotation. The authors hypothesized that women might prefer larger penises for a one night stand as compared to a long term relationship since a larger penis might be perceived as more masculine, possibly preferable for a short term affair. The authors cite a reference that supports the contention that women prefer more masculine partners for a short term sexual relationship.
The results, using the 3D models, were that women preferred a larger penis (especially a larger circumference) for a one time partner, but the larger size preferred was only slightly larger than average and, in fact, women’s preferences for both relationship types was slightly larger than average. (Presumably a survey of erect penises determined what was “average.”*)
* One wonders how the penises were measured, though. Did they use actual penises attached to actual men or the inferior 2D photos alluded to in their paper?
The authors conclude by noting that “[t]his first use of 3D stimuli to assess preferences is promising.”
Just in case you wondered...
Prause et al. Women’s preference for penis size: A new research method using selection among 3D models. PLoS One, Sept. 2, 2015
Excerpts from Some LOVE POEMS
Selected by SANDY SHAW
(all except the first were published in “LOVE AND LONGING,” a collection of classic poetry and prose, edited by Kate Agnew, 2004, Wizard Books, Ltd., UK)
Someday he’ll come along
The man I love
And he’ll be big and strong
The man I love
And when he comes my way
I’ll do my best to make him stay.
He’ll look at me and smile
And in a little while
He’ll take my hand
And though it seems absurd
I know we both won’t say a word
Maybe I shall meet him
Sunday, maybe Monday, maybe not
Still I’m sure to meet him one day.
He’ll buld a little home
Just meant for two...
The man I love.
Excerpts from “THE MAN I LOVE” (written
by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Nicoleman)
(c) SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC/ WARNER/
CHAPPELL MUSIC, INC.
Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow’s dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite
You would close your term here, up and be gone
Where I could not follow
With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!
— from THE GOING by Thomas Hardy
She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.”
— from LOVE by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.”
— from JENNY KISSED ME by Leigh Hunt
Look into her eyes
Do you see what I mean
Just look at her hair
And when she speaks, oh, oh what a pleasant surprise
How do you feel
Just look at her smile
Do you see what I mean
She is looking our way
Oh how I wish we could stay, just stay for a while
How do you feel
Just look at her walk
Do you see what I mean
She is coming our way
Oh, how my heart beats, I don’t even think I can talk.
How do you feel”
— from HOW DO YOU FEEL, Jefferson Airplane
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