Chronic Pain Can Be Relieved By Unlearning

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Crux of Yoga Offers New Hope for Chronic Pain by Kelly McGonigal:

  • If you repeat something many times, it becomes a second nature. This applies even to pain: “Through the repeated experience of pain, the nervous system gets better at detecting threat and producing the protective pain response. “
  • “The best way to unlearn chronic stress and pain responses is to give the mind and body healthier responses to practice.”
  • “Relaxation specifically has been shown to be healing for chronic pain. It turns off the stress response and directs the body’s energy to growth, repair, immune function, digestion, and other self-nurturing processes.”
  • Detailed instructions for pain relieving relaxation are given in the article, here is a small part: “Imagine that the breath is dissolving or massaging the tension and pain. […] try moving your attention back and forth between the uncomfortable area and a more comfortable area. […] Switching back and forth like this can teach the mind how to give the uncomfortable sensations less priority.”

Life on Earth is Older Than Earth

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Crux of Moore’s Law and the Origin of Life by The Physics arXiv Blog:

  • The complexity of the genome seems to grow exponentially.
  • Extrapolating back to the past, it is possible to estimate the time when this complexity was 0 – a single base pair.
  • The time of 0 genome complexity is estimated at about 10 billion years ago.
  • Since the earth is only 4.5 billion years old, it could be that bacterial spores from elsewhere arrived at the young earth.

Science-Based Productivity Tips

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Crux of What To Know About Productivity by Gregory Ciotti:

Research shows that “our brain fears big projects” and “will attempt to “simulate” real productive work by avoiding big projects and focusing on small, mindless tasks to fill your time.”

Studies have found several ways to overcome this.

Get Started

“The Zeigarnik Effect” is our tendency to want to finish what we started, whether it’s a real project or a reality TV show. So “the best way to overcome your fear of spending a lot of energy on a big project is to simply get started.”

Short Bursts of Energy

Since “willpower is a limited resource that can be used up in it’s entirety” it is best to “break big projects down into smaller chunks and plan a recovery period right after.”

To sync with our natural rhythm, schedule “productive sessions (of 90 minutes) followed by short breaks (of no more than 15-20 minutes)”.

Track Output, Not Input

“Tracking your progress […] increase self-control because you’ll be exposed to the work you’ve actually accomplished, and not the (inaccurate) assumption of work you might construe in your head.”

A simple 2-column tracking system:

  • in the left column write your 90-minutes scheduled sessions of focused work
  • in the right column write tasks you accomplished in each session

Focus on One Thing at a Time

Research shows that “multitaskers are actually less likely to be productive, yet they feel more “emotionally satisfied” with their work (creating an illusion of productivity).”

To avoid multitasking and distractions:

  • turn off alerts, notifications, and extra applications.
  • “create an evening planning ritual where you select a few priority tasks to accomplish the next day.” because “we drastically miscalculate the amount of focus we’ll be able to maintain in the future [and then] when tomorrow rolls around without a game plan to get us started, we’ll likely fall back into our old multitasking ways to avoid doing any real work.”
  • “split large tasks up into smaller segments so your brain won’t view the assignment as something that is so large that you must multitask to complete it.”

Violence Against Women Correlates With Political Instability

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Crux of What Sex Means for World Peace by Valerie M. Hudson:

“Using the largest extant database on the status of women in the world today […] we found that there is a strong and highly significant link between state security and women’s security. In fact, the very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. What’s more, democracies with higher levels of violence against women are as insecure and unstable as nondemocracies.”

Chicken Vaccines Combine to Produce Deadly Virus

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Crux of Chicken Vaccines Combine to Produce Deadly Virus by Kai Kupferschmidt:

  • In 2008 two new strains of a deadly chicken virus appeared in Australia, two years after the country introduced a new vaccine in addition to the older two used there.
  • “when the researchers sequenced the genomes of the two new strains and the three vaccine strains, they found that the new viruses were actually stitched together from the European and Australian vaccines.”
  • It seems that somehow two vaccine viruses got into a single animal and recombined in a way that deleted the genes that made them harmless, thus creating a new deadly virus.

Willpower and thought are a finite resource

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Crux of Ego Depletion by David McRaney:

  • There are several mental functions that seem to draw on a single energy pool. They include: “making choices, avoiding temptation, suppressing emotions and thoughts,” and solving puzzles.
  • This energy pool can get depleted by use, thus making it difficult to make decisions after avoiding temptation, for example. “self-control is a strenuous act. As your ego depletes, your automatic processes get louder, and each successive attempt to take control of your impulses is less successful than the last.”
  • Several things can affect depletion and repletion of this ego energy pool, including: social rejection depletes the ego and social acceptance repletes it, hunger and lack of sleep deplete while satiety and rest replete.

Low Cholesterol Linked to Cancer

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Crux of Can low cholesterol cause cancer? by John Briffa:

  • Past studies found that “Low cholesterol is associated with an enhanced risk of specific health issues including haemorrhagic stroke (stroke caused by bleeding of rather than blockage in blood vessels) and cancer.”
  • A new study shows a long term link between cancer and low cholesterol in the 19 years before the cancer was diagnosed.
  • It may be that cancer causes low cholesterol, but from this recent study it seems more likely that low cholesterol is the cause and cancer the effect.

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