31 March 2011


GOOD & EVIL Experimental psychologist Andrea Kuszewski, guest blogging for Scientific American, posits that the line between good and evil is gray and fuzzy, rather than clear. In an entertaining and thought-provoking essay, she suggests that "the world's greatest heroes are also some of the most hard-headed, rebellious, not-necessarily law-abiding rule-breakers .... Not only that, there may be a genetic link between these extreme heroes and those least expected to act heroically -- the Sociopath. This person [the hero] is called the Extreme Altruist, or X-Altruist." The sub-headers in her essay hint at what lies beneath the surface of our assumptions, and how those assumptions may be midguided --

  • Heroism to the Extreme

  • X-Altruists and Sociopaths -- A Genetic Link?

  • The Traits of the Sociopath vs. the X-Altruist

  • Ego, Empathy, Emotion -- Why Do They Matter?

  • The X-Altruist -- a Personality Disorder or Optimal Gene Expression?

  • Why Is the Intensity Necessary?

  • Ego Resilience and Flexible Detachment -- the Superpowers of the X-Altruist

  • Could an X-Altruist "turn evil"?

  • The Sociopath -- a Less Hardy X-Altruist?

  • How Can We Prevent X-Altruists From Becoming Sociopaths?

  • How Do We Encourage X-Altruism?
It may surprise you (as it did me) to learn that in psychological terms, X-Altruists and Sociopaths SHARE seven of nine defining traits. They differ in only two. To learn more, I invite you to read Kuszewski's remarkable essay, at the link above.

WEST COAST TSUNAMI. Could the horrific events which befell Japan following a near-offshore earthquake and tsunami, happen in the U.S.? Absolutely, according to an 8-minute PBS Newshour segment, viewable here. Both countries lie on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and both countries have a major tectonic plate subduction zone lying just off their respective coasts.

The last such catastrophic earthquake off the Pacific Northwest occurred in 1700, and another is due anytime. Should the next quake strike anywhere near shore, as did the quake in Japan, the resulting tsunami, once ashore, could reach up to 130 feet above sea level .... as did the tsunami in Japan. Think of it -- all coastal areas below 130 feet in elevation, inundated. Considering that the Japan quake's tsunami caused considerable damage in Santa Cruz, California, 6000 miles from the quake epicenter, it is not hard to imagine a natural disaster that could dwarf the effects of Hurricane Katrina, since a much longer stretch of coastline (and many more people) would be at risk. Please view the PBS Newshour segment for more graphic information.

Finally, to lighten things up while still learning cool stuff, check out the video How A Differential Gear Works. It looks like it might have been filmed in the 1950s, but the step-by-step presentation is clear and fun to watch. See if a little light bulb doesn't go off over your head.

No comments:

Post a Comment