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Category: Wellness

How society loses touch with reality and is lead to tyranny

In this video After Skool and Academy of Ideas explore the most dangerous of all psychic epidemics, the mass psychosis.

A mass psychosis is an epidemic of madness and it occurs when a large portion of a society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions. Such a phenomenon is not a thing of fiction. Two examples of mass psychoses are the American and European witch hunts 16th and 17th centuries and the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century.

What is it? How does is start? Are we experiencing one right now?

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

» Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

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The university lecturer who lived in a tent for two years

Anna Fazackerley, The Guardian »

Lê was awarded an annual fellowship of £16,000 for three years from Royal Holloway to do her PhD on minority ethnic groups in American literature, and won an extra scholarship from the US, where she is from, in her first year. But as an international student she had to pay £8,000 a year in fees to the university (fees that have been waived for UK fellows), leaving her with £12,000 a year to live on including her wages for teaching.

She says she was just about managing until the cheap postgraduate hall she was living in was closed for renovations at the end of her second year. She was faced with finding an extra £3,000 a year for rent, which she says she couldn’t afford. Determined not to drop out, she borrowed the tent from a friend.

Lê admits that at first “I was really scared. I found out there was a protest camp near campus so I turned up with my tent and asked if I could stay there so I wasn’t alone. And that was the start of my next two years.”

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Beware the siren song of fame

Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic »

One 2012 study found a high correlation between wanting fame and a stated desire for social recognition, financial success, and an attractive appearance, and to appear on reality television. According to a 2013 survey, people might want to be famous in order to be seen and valued, even by strangers; to have an elite, high-status lifestyle; or to be able to do good for others, such as by being a role model.

Even if a person’s motive for fame is to set a positive example, it mirrors the other, less flattering motives insofar as it depends on other people’s opinions. And therein lies the happiness problem. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the 13th century, “Happiness is in the happy. But honor is not in the honored.” In other words, fame is not found within ourselves but based on what scholars call extrinsic rewards, which research overwhelmingly shows bring less happiness than intrinsic rewards.

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Here’s what longevity research says about adding years to your life

Diet, exercise, optimism, and long-term, loving relationships all play important roles in how long and how well we live.

Matt Fuchs, Washington Post »

All humans share 99.9 percent of their genes. This explains why even “super-agers,” born with tiny genetic differences that promote longevity, almost never surpass 110. (Jeanne Louise Calment of France was an outlier, living until the age of 122, the current record.) Some animals make it well beyond that mark, according to Jan Vijg, a molecular geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Scientists know just one way for humans to live 170 years like a giant tortoise: become a giant tortoise.

What’s clear is that certain lifestyles help individuals live longer than they otherwise would — including the genetically blessed. Harvard researchers found that healthy habits add nearly 15 years of life expectancy. “That’s over $100 trillion in health-care savings,” said Harvard biologist David Sinclair.

Today, our bodies still infer a state of scarcity if we consume lots of vegetables, switching on the longevity genes. Indeed, such a diet is associated with longer lives, according to the Harvard study. Becoming a full-fledged vegetarian probably isn’t necessary, but, to maximize what longevity experts call “healthspan,” at least 50 percent of protein should come from vegetable sources, Longo said.

He advises getting other proteins mostly from fatty fish while moderating your intake of starchy carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes. Research has shown that older people who routinely devour such carbs may be more likely to become cognitively impaired. Try to replace them sometimes with foods such as lentils or extra vegetables, which have more fiber and minerals than refined carbs, said Kris Verburgh, a nutrigerontologist and author of “The Longevity Code.”

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