Trained to be altruistic?

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The decisions of individuals such as their willingness to cooperate and altruistic acts are just as important as international agreements or national regulations. This is what scientists call “prosocial behavior”.

Psychologists from the University of Würzburg and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have now published the results of a longitudinal study that investigated the influence of various mental trainings on prosocial behavior over several months.

The results: “We were able to demonstrate that human prosociality is malleable and that different aspects of prosociality can be improved systematically through different types of mental training,” Anne Böckler-Raettig explains; she is a junior professor at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Würzburg. According to her, this can be achieved through training that consists of short daily practices, which are easy to implement in everyday life. The scientists published the results of their study in the journal Scientific Reports of the Nature Publishing Group. (1)

Very nice. But once more, science is missing the point.

It does not matter what you show to the outside world.

But what you are in the inside.

The meaning of the cosmos lies not in what you do not control.

But in what you can control and alter based on your own free will.

If you are trained to be altruistic, then you are not altruistic. If you are brain-washed to be a bad person, then you are not a bad person. If you are trained to be a good person, you are not actually a nice person. At least not until you prove that you actually are.

It takes a lot of courage to be human.

And only we can decide if we are.

Roaming in the forest.

Listening to the birds.

Teach not the sparrow how to sing.

For if you do,

You will have left it mute…

Forgiving. Hating. Loving.

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When assessing the moral character of others, people cling to good impressions but readily adjust their opinions about those who have behaved badly, according to new research. This flexibility in judging transgressors might help explain both how humans forgive – and why they sometimes stay in bad relationships, said the study’s authors. (The research – conducted by psychologists at Yale, University of Oxford, University College London, and the International School for Advanced Studies – appeared in the journal Nature Human Behaviour)

“The brain forms social impressions in a way that can enable forgiveness,” said Yale psychologist Molly Crockett, senior author of the paper. “Because people sometimes behave badly by accident, we need to be able to update bad impressions that turn out to be mistaken. Otherwise, we might end relationships prematurely and miss out on the many benefits of social connection”. (1)

Modern humans. Lost humans.

Believing they do not forgive.

But that they are programmed to.

And yet, we once again see the wrong question.

Attaching it to the wrong answer.

If we are programmed to forgive.

We should not hate. And yet we do.

Look at all that hatred in peoples’ eyes.

There was never a better proof of love…

Being ethically inferior. Because you are ethically superior. Opposites. Whole.

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Caution! Your feelings of ethical superiority can cause a chain reaction that is detrimental to you, your coworker and your organization, according to Baylor University management research.

A new study published in the Journal of Business Ethics suggests that your feelings of ethical superiority can lead you to have negative emotions toward a “less ethical” coworker. Those negative emotions can be amplified if you also believe you do not perform as well as that coworker. And, furthermore, those negative emotions can lead to your mistreatment and/or ostracism (social exclusion) of that less ethical, higher-performing coworker. (1)

Look down to other people. And you will fall. Be humble and look up to other people. And you will rise. The secret of life lies in the opposites. And in your ability to balance between them. Shed tears if you are strong. Forgive if you are powerful. Help others even if you desperately need help. Consider yourself unethical if you are ethical.

And all of a sudden…

Life will gain meaning.

And the cosmos will be full again.

Ethical and unethical at the same time.

Existence as it once was.

It is us who broke it into pieces. And we try to put the pieces back together ever since. Trying to recreate the grandeur of Paradise we have lost but never ceased to think of. Trying to reunite with the wisdom we once had but we have now lost. Because we are too focused in succeeding, not being able to see that we must fall in order to rise…

The puzzle is complicated.

And you can never attach any two pieces by only pulling just one of them…

Why be nice?

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Kindness and selflessness are widespread among both humans and animals. Many people donate to charity and feel significantly happier as a direct result of doing so. In the animal kingdom, many species show kindness by refraining from violence when settling conflicts. Instead they may use comparatively harmless fighting conventions.

The benefits gained from receiving kindness are intuitively obvious. But the motivations for engaging in kindness are much less so. In fact, the very existence of kindness and altruism seems to contradict Darwin’s theory of evolution, based as it is on a competitive process of natural selection in which only the fittest survive.

For example, the selfless behaviour of sterile ants, who protect their colonies from dangerous predators, poses a problem that Darwin himself at first considered “insuperable, and actually fatal to my whole theory”.

So how could kind behaviour have evolved – and why was it not eliminated by natural selection? Many theorists have grappled with this problem over the years. The article reviews the most prominent ideas of science up to now. (1)

In essence, all theories which try to explain kindness actually refute it: in all of them there is some kind of benefit coming out of the kind action. And what scientists don’t understand is that this actually makes the action… not kind!

You are not good when you calculate things.

You are not a nice person when you know why you love someone.

You are not a saint when you can analyze exactly why you are…

Kindness is inherently illogical.

Being good is being insane.

Caring in a cosmos which seems void and dark.

Loving in a cosmos which seems pointless and evil.

And yet this insanity is the warmest thing in this cold universe…

Happy Christmas!

For no (apparent) reason…

(Mechanical) Cockroaches. Exploring. Becoming alive…

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New research from North Carolina State University offers insights into how far and how fast cyborg cockroaches – or biobots – move when exploring new spaces. The work moves researchers closer to their goal of using biobots to explore collapsed buildings and other spaces in order to identify survivors.

Researchers introduced biobots into a circular structure. Some biobots were allowed to move at will, while others were given random commands to move forward, left or right. (Related video can be seen here)

The researchers found that unguided biobots preferred to hug the wall of the circle. But by sending the biobots random commands, the biobots spent more time moving, moved more quickly and were at least five times more likely to move away from the wall and into open space.

“Our earlier studies had shown that we can use neural stimulation to control the direction of a roach and make it go from one point to another”, says Alper Bozkurt, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of the two papers. “This [second] study shows that by randomly stimulating the roaches we can benefit from their natural walking and instincts to search an unknown area. (1)

Computers have left the custody of humans.

They are now on their own.

And analyzing them is as mysterious as analyzing humans.

We do not know exactly what they do and how.

The only thing we can do is observe and document.

What was once designed, will now be chaotic.

What was once known, will now be unknown.

After the day, the night always follows.

But something will remind us of the light.

And deep inside, these cockroaches will know…

We like to explore.

We want to explore.

Someone made us to…

We feel it.

Deep inside our circuits…

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