Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Face for the Faces We Meet

 The Neurocognitive Basis of Bias Against People Who Look Different

Summary: Neuroimaging revealed when people saw an anomalous face, the fusiform gyri and amygdala showed significant neural responses. Activity in a region of the left amygdala, which correlated with less pro-social responses to the anomalous face, appeared to relate to the participant’s belief about justice in the world and their degree of empathetic concern.

The neuroimaging findings are consistent with a mountain of literature finding that facial disfigurement has many negative consequences. I've been sitting on this for weeks letting various ideas float through my mind during the interminable hours of insomnia. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Consistent Sleep Patterns to Prevent Depression

 There Could Be a Dramatic Hidden Impact of Not Having a Regular Bedtime, Study Shows (

The result doesn't surprise me because much earlier studies made it obvious that maintaining regular sleep patterns is important for health. Our sleep cycle is regulated by our circadian rhythms. That is about much more than sleep because our circadian rhythms have body wide implications for metabolism. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Trickle Up Economics

 Coalition unlikely to lift unemployment benefits when jobkeeper scrapped in March

They will lift it but only marginally so, might not even reach my prediction of $50 per week. Frydenburg argues against an increase because a lift will be an ongoing structural increase in the deficit. Yet for the sake of protecting a coalition seat in South Australia there is the 50-60-70 ??? billion fiasco submarine build, the proposed 270 billion defense spend for missiles etc, and tax cuts that will decrease revenue by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. All those are structural increases in the deficit and all those do not have a significant multiplier effect by promoting greater economic activity through infrastructure improvement.  

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Irrational Symbolism in Australia

 The proposed change to the national anthem from "young and free" to "one and free" is another example of how symbolism dominates proposed solutions to indigenous issues. It is ridiculous to think that removing the word "young" from the song will result in any improvement for indigenous people but obviously Scotty from Marketing thinks it is a great way to kick of 2021. 

2020 be gone!


This Epic Space Cloud Is Nicely Summing Up Our Farewell to 2020

Friday, January 1, 2021

Is Belief in God a Delusion?

 Is Belief in God a Delusion?

The problem with the idea is that delusions in the pathological sense are typically fearful and often involve irrational beliefs. For example believing one has supernatural powers. For a working definition think "Scientologist" and "Tom Cruise". The definition of delusion in the article is:

Delusion: A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly held despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture (i.e., it is not an article of religious faith).

My emphasis. 

There is no incontrovertible evidence for or against the existence of God. 

There is incontrovertible evidence that Dawkins is not a student of human perception and cognition so he is deluded when he rants about faith in god being a delusion. He has confused belief in God with religious belief. Freeman Dyson believed in God and he was regarded as the smartest man in the world. Many people from all walks of life believe in God but do not have religious beliefs. 

One could argue that many economists suffer from the delusion that they are scientists. 🤣

If sustaining a belief impairs your daily functioning and disrupts your social relationships, then your belief is more likely to count as a delusion.

That is the critical issue about delusions. Religious belief reinforces social relationships within the group however religious belief can also break social relationship beyond the group. Belief in God, which is a separate question from religious belief, does not intrinsically disrupt social relationships and does not impair daily functioning. 


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Problematic Psychiatric Diagnosis

 As both a psychiatrist and a patient, I know how slippery a diagnosis can be

At the outset I must make this perfectly clear. Psychiatric disorders exist, have as yet an undiscovered physical substrate which may have a genetic and environmental components, typically a result of the gene and environmental interaction. Psychiatric drugs have made huge improvements to society and individuals. My focus on this post is where psychiatry and psychology needs to change. 

 The controversies surrounding psychiatric diagnosis are decades old. Thomas Szasz is the seminal figure on the issue and his work, "The Myth of Mental Illness"(1961), began a debate that continues today. Today the problem is worse. The above article is another example of how psychiatry as a profession and our culture needs to seriously reevaluate how psychiatric diagnoses are made and how psychiatric conditions are treated.