Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Why Poverty Is Like a Disease

A must-read.  It will change how you look at poverty and meritocracy.

Why Poverty Is Like a Disease

Emerging science is putting the lie to American meritocracy

By Christian H. Cooper | April 20, 2017 | Nautilus

Continue reading


May 14, 2017 Posted by | brain, psychology, sociology | , , | Leave a comment

Is Consciousness Fractal?

What I found fascinating is how fractal nature is and how we perceive and react to it.

Is Consciousness Fractal?

Our subconscious love for fractals may tell an evolutionary story.

By Jordana Cepelewicz | May 4, 2017 | Nautilus

Continue reading

May 14, 2017 Posted by | brain, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, psychology | , , , , | 1 Comment

Stress, evolution and cancer

Interesting theory — stress speeds up evolution.  Full article: Does Stress Speed Up Evolution?

Implication for cancer is in the last few paragraphs; here is the excerpt:

…Austin says his experiments suggest that putting too much stress on cancer cells by hitting them with high doses of cancer drugs could accelerate their evolution to develop drug resistance. “We give the patients as much as they can tolerate, guaranteeing the emergence of resistant cancer cells,” he says, adding that the current aggressive approach to cancer treatment has largely failed.

Instead, he is culturing cancer cells on his death galaxy to find the right low-dosing and timing of cancer drugs that keep the cancer cells from spreading without killing them—hopefully delaying the evolution of resistance as long as possible.

At least in an ovarian cancer model in mice, the approach seems to work. In 2009, Robert Gatenby, a radiologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, and his colleagues reported that interrupting, or down-adjusting, therapy as long as the tumor volume didn’t increase prolonged survival in these mice compared with the standard aggressive regimen. “If you give them standard high-dose therapy, the tumor can almost completely go away and then come back very rapidly and be resistant,” Gatenby says. “If you use an adaptive approach, we can consistently get control of the tumor.” Gatenby is now testing the approach in a 40-patient open clinical trial in patients with late-stage prostate cancer….

April 23, 2016 Posted by | evolution, health | , , | 1 Comment

Why We Snap: From Road Rage to Barroom Brawls

“…Most violent behavior, Fields discovered, results from a clash between our evolutionary hardwiring and our modern world…”

Watch the video.

Why We Snap: From Road Rage to Barroom Brawls

By Carl Engelking | January 13, 2016 2:03 pm | Discover Blogs

January 21, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, brain, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience | , , , | Leave a comment

What I Learned from Losing $200 Million

In summary: illusion of control. And that stress amplifies it.

What I Learned from Losing $200 Million

The 2008 financial crisis taught me about the illusion of control, and how to give it up.

By Bob Henderson | December 24, 2015 | Nautilus

Continue reading

December 25, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, economics, statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stress in contagious

If you won’t take the trouble to learn how to handle stress for yourself, at least do so for your loved ones:

…“People may think they can hide their stress from loved ones or co-workers, but in many cases, they do not, and so others around them may be affected without knowing.”…

You Can “Catch” Stress Through a TV Screen

By Simone M. Scully | May 27, 2014 | Nautilus

Continue reading

October 18, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, health | , | Leave a comment

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?

Evidence is starting to come in that our gut bacteria not only affect our health, but also our behaviour.

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?

The rich array of microbiota in our intestines can tell us more than you might think.

By PETER ANDREY SMITH | JUNE 23, 2015 | New York Times Magazine

Continue reading

July 9, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fruits and Vegetables Are Trying to Kill You

Vitamins don’t replace fruits and veggies. Organic fruits maybe more “nutritious” after all. And a bit of stress may be good for us.

Fruits and Vegetables Are Trying to Kill You

Antioxidant vitamins don’t stress us like plants do—and don’t have their beneficial effect.

Continue reading

April 24, 2015 Posted by | diet, health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Misery Index

Low social status seems to activate genes associated with inflammation and the production of various immune-related cells and chemical signalling factors — sounds like low-level chronic stress to me.  It affects the responsiveness of the body to the glucocorticoids (stress) hormones.  Just from a blood test, scientists were able to predict the social status within 80% accuracy. Especially noteworthy is the discovery that all this stems from epigenetics.  From the print edition of The Economist, Apr 14th 2012:

Social status and health:Misery index

Low social status is bad for your health. Biologists are starting to understand why

Continue reading

April 21, 2012 Posted by | behaviour, genes, health | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Two Faces of Anxiety

There is a fine line between anxiety (or stress) being good or bad for you.  What is noteworthy is how bad bad is. From the  Dec. 05, 2011 Time magazine:

The Two Faces of Anxiety

By Alice Park
Continue reading

February 8, 2012 Posted by | behaviour, health, psychology | , , | Leave a comment