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10 essential new skills you can start learning today

From career changes to just picking up a new leisure activity, all of these skill bundles are hundreds of dollars off their regular price right now.

  • These 10 skills training bundles will have you mastering a new talent.
  • Subjects range from music producing and graphic design to electrical engineering and stock trading.
  • Each skill training bundle is currently at least 95% off.


New year, new you. Too often, we get to the end of another 12 months and realize that maybe we didn’t accomplish as much as we’d have liked over the past 365 days. Well, there’s a simple way to set yourself up for a happy appraisal once 2020 is finished—jump in and start something new right off the bat.

To help, we’ve assembled 10 different learning packages, each ready to help you get started mastering a new skill. From career redefinitions to just picking up a new leisure time activity, all of these bundles are hundreds of dollars off their regular price right now.

The Complete 2020 Google SEO & Growth Hacking Bundle - $25 (Originally $1,400)

These seven courses will give you all the insight you need to optimize a website or digital marketing strategy. From boosting your search engine rankings and leveraging the power of platforms like Facebook and Google, you’ll learn proven methods for getting more attention online.

Film & Cinematography Mastery Bundle: Lifetime Access - $29 (Originally $597)

Everybody has at least one big idea for a movie inside them. With this three-course collection, you’ll unlock the tools needed to write, shoot and distribute your own feature film. Who knows ... with these expert-led courses, it might even be be a hit.

The Ultimate Shopify & Ecommerce Expert Bundle - $39 (Originally $1,648.98)

Running a digital storefront has changed the way business is done, and with this 11-course, 31-hour selection the steps are laid out for starting an ecommerce website, selling your products and services through Amazon, eBay and even running an international dropshipping operation as a side hustle.

The Ableton Live Mastery Bundle by Noiselab - $29.99 (Originally $700)

If you’ve got a love for music, the 10 courses assembled here can show you how to produce tracks of your own with Ableton Live, a premier audio workstation for producing, finishing and performing live music. This training is all about the DIY know-how needed to mold or become a new music star.

The Stock Trader's Ultimate Handbook Bundle - $29 (Originally $1,000)

Who couldn’t use more money? With this collection of five courses, financial experts will give you the inside scoop on stock investments, trading, financial analysis and more. Once you understand the game, this training will help you make the smart financial decisions that could put a few (or more than a few) extra dollars in your pocket.

The School of Graphic Design Mastery Bundle - $39 (Originally $1,400)

From design aesthetics to learning tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, the seven courses gathered here can help make any graphic design idea possible. Covering the top design tools of the trade, this is the background that can turn a flair for artistry into a full-time career.

The Speed Reading Mastery Bundle - $21 (Originally $1,200)

This six-course collection gives you the steps to actually retrain your brain, boosting your reading speed while helping you retain more of what you read with insightful memory techniques. If you want to read 300 books a year, this is the training for you.

The Become a Professional Creative Writer Bundle - $21 (Originally $1,000)

From prose to novel writing to crafting your own movie script, this five-course package can unlock your inner writer. Learn basic storytelling and screenwriting principles to help form and sharpen your work as well as the tactics that can actually help get it seen.

The Ultimate Electrical Engineering Master Class Bundle - $25 (Originally $1,000)

Electrical engineering is an evergreen career path and with the five courses collected in this bundle, you’ll have the background to get into this lucrative job sector. From basic circuitry to designing electrical system to even understanding how a substation works, this package has everything you need to get started.

The Ultimate Poker Pro Blueprint Mastery Bundle - $21 (Originally $2,200)

Who doesn’t want to be the true shark at the poker table? These 11 mastery courses lay out the strategies and basic math involved in elevating your poker skills from guessing you might win to knowing you can. Whether you want to play tournaments, cash games or just stomp your friends, the tools found here will be invaluable.

Software not included. Prices are subject to change.

When you buy something through a link in this article or from our shop, Big Think earns a small commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.

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Chronic stress and captive orcas

A new study lays out the case for the damaging effects of stress on orcas living in tanks.

Image source: Thanaphong Araveeporn/Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • There are currently around 60 orcas living in concrete tanks globally.
  • Orcas' brain structures and behaviors strongly suggest smart, emotional, self-aware beings.
  • The study provides compelling evidence that the stresses inherent in captivity do damage to these naturally free-roaming cetaceans.

A study, "The harmful effects of captivity and chronic stress on the well-being of orcas (Orcinus orca)" recently published in Journal of Veterinary Behavior is the product of a unique collaboration of experts in marine mammal science, veterinary science, internal medicine and psychiatry. It makes the case for a careful consideration of the impacts of chronic stress on captive orcas, at least 60 of whom are currently in captivity. Most have spent years or decades of their lives in these conditions. 56.7% of these orcas were born in captivity, with 26 captured young. (Orcas are actually the third most commonly confined cetaceans — there are even more bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales held in tanks.)

The study explains how the continual, oppressive stress inherent to a captive orca's life is unhealthy and should be more thoughtfully addressed. Study lead author biopsychologist Lori Marino tells Big Think in an email:

"Our review shows that intelligence, complexity, and awareness are characteristics that make an animal more — not less — vulnerable to the effects of captivity. That seems counterintuitive because a lot of people think that the more mental resources you have the better you are able to cope with various situations. But it is also the case that the more mental capacity you have the greater your needs in order to thrive and the more extreme the impact of living in an artificial environment, that is, an environment outside your adaptive envelope."

While skeptics may consider it a leap to assume that orcas are intelligent and emotional enough to suffer the ill effects of stress, Marino responds, "That would be a claim in search of evidence. Stress is a common phenomenon in all mammals and many other organisms. The effects of chronic stress have been well-studied in mice, rats, dogs, etc." The study provides ample evidence that orcas are exceptionally intelligent, feeling creatures in any event.

The orca brain

Image source: FineShine/Shutterstock

The orca brain exhibits neurobiological traits that are considered prerequisites for complex psychology, emotion, and behavior:

  • a large brain size
  • an expanded neocortex
  • a well-differentiated cortical cytoarchitecture
  • an elaborated limbic system.

Even more important than sheer brain size is its size in relation to an animal's body. This is captured as the organism's encephalization quotient, or EQ. Says the study, "Odontocetes, and in particular Delphinoidea [the superfamily to which orcas belong], are the most highly encephalized nonhuman taxonomic group known … except modern humans."

Orcas also have the most highly convoluted, or folded, neocortical surface of all mammals including humans, and their ratio of neocortical surface to brain weight also exceeds the human brain's, suggesting an organ well-suited to higher-order functions.

Among a range of other clues presented by the study that suggest orcas are highly intelligent creatures are these:

  • Areas associated in the human brain with high-level cognitive and social functions including attention, prediction, social awareness, and empathy are all highly developed in orcas.
  • Orcas have a well-integrated mammalian limbic system that supports having emotions, memory, motivation, reasoning, learning, and abstraction.

Supporting behaviors

Image source: Willyam Bradberry /Shutterstock

Observations of orca behavior richly supports the implications of their neurobiological structures. Marino says, "Free-ranging orcas live in tightly-knit social groups that are necessary during their long juvenile periods and afterwards. They support each other, help each other when in trouble, and grieve each other. Mothers and calves are very tightly bonded. In some groups, male orcas stay with their mom their whole life and if mom dies [the male offpsring] may go into a deep depression and die as well. Family and social group are everything."

Orcas also demonstrate culture, with vocalizations and even hunting methods unique within groups and passed from generation to generation.

"Orcas at Punta Norte, Argentina, hunt sea lion and elephant seal pups by beaching themselves and capturing the pups, typically in the surf zone," according to the study.

Captivity morbidities

Image source: Peter Etchells/Shutterstock

In the wild, free-ranging female orcas live an average of 46 years — some live as long as 90 years — and males 31 years, or as long as 50-60 years. Captive orcas rarely live more than 30 years, with many dying in their teens or 20s. Their medical histories can be difficult to access due to facilities' desire for confidentiality. Nonetheless, some morbidities, or causes of death, have become clear over time.

One review from 1979 identified infectious disease as the culprit behind the death of 17 captive North American orcas who'd died since 1965 prior to the report's writing. The new study cites publicly available documentation revealing that between 1971 and 2017, SeaWorld parks alone have experienced 35 documented orca deaths, and that, "When causes of death were available, the most commonly implicated conditions were viral, bacterial and fungal infections, gastrointestinal disease, and trauma."

Infections such as these may not in and of themselves have necessarily been lethal, but when combined with orcas' "weakened immune system, chronic exposure to chemical irritants or trauma to the skin, excessive or improper use of antimicrobials, and an imbalance in the microbiota of the body or environment (which may exist in tanks)," they become deadly. Common fungal infections may also especially dangerous in this context "as a result of long-term and aggressive antibiotic treatment, overtreatment of water for purity, or both." The same is true for untreated dental infections.

Another frequent cause of orca death: gastrointestinal ulceration — ulcers — caused by prolonged exposure to stress.

The destructive power of stress

Image source: eldeiv/Shutterstock

"Importantly, the poor health and short lifespans of captive orcas are most clearly understood as connected elements in a cycle of maladaptiveness to the conditions of captivity that involves behavioral abnormalities, physical harm and vulnerability to disease."

The paper shows, says Marino, that "when you examine the totality of the welfare findings for captive orcas the whole picture fits best within a larger common framework of evidence on how stress effects captive animals. We know that, when confined, other animals show the same kinds of behavioral and physiological abnormalities that captive orcas do. This is not mysterious or even controversial. It is basic science."

Marino cites as especially damaging the manner in which captivity prevents orcas from making social connections. Tanks also deprive them of places to retreat, making conflicts inescapable even temporarily. Finally, captive orcas are likely to become bored and chronically demotivated by the frustration over their loss of autonomy.

The study also notes physical effects brought on by long-term stress, including:

  • the release of too much cortisol by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis, causing elevated blood sugar, suppression of the immune system, as well as metabolism and blood pressure issues.
  • alterations of the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex due to prolonged stress, potentially leading to Increased anxiety, post-traumatic stress, cognitive impairment, depression, and mood dysregulation.
  • organ degradation in response to unrelenting stress.
  • a loss of natural sensory information, about which, says the study, "a growing body of research has found that exposure to excessive or unnatural levels or types of acoustic input can cause a number of impacts to cetaceans, including but not limited to … accelerated aging, suppression of the immune response, as well as premature hearing loss."

A valuable conversation

Marino explains why it was important to conduct this study, saying, "My co-authors and I wrote this review to bring all of the available information on captive orca well-being together in one place and to suggest that we might all best be able to understand the effects of captivity within a very familiar and well-researched model of how chronic stress effects all organisms. We want this paper to be a catalyst for dialogue and further scientific exploration based on data as to how we can better understand who orcas are and how we can identify the important elements needed in a captive environment for them to thrive."

The Whale Sanctuary Project is hosting a free public webinar to discuss the study and the effects of stress on captive orcas with three of the study's authors Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

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