The Joy of Addiction
Activities that give us pleasure activate the same areas of the brain such that, for some, taking cocaine is analogous to giving to charity. Pleasure is a powerful motivator for action.
What's the Latest Development?
Rats who receive a pleasurable sensation when they press a lever quickly become addicted to that lever, neurologists at Johns Hopkins University have found. So strong was the rats' desire for gratification that male rats ignored female rats in heat and mother rats abandoned their children. The good feeling was delivered by an electrode implanted into the rats' brains, which scientists had to disconnect before they starved themselves—even eating became less important than getting their fix.
What's the Big Idea?
So strong is our drive for pleasure that activities which give us that good feeling are ones we could become addicted to, which are not limited to ingesting drugs or drinking alcohol. Altruism, too, creates positive emotion and activates pleasure-sensitive areas of the brain, the same ones which cocaine addicts enjoy. It turns out that our conception of vice and virtue, while not incorrect, are not as simple as we believe. Our brains compel us toward good behavior and bad behavior often for the same reason.
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Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.
In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
New research on the public's opinion about genetically modified foods illustrates an alarming cognitive bias.
- A recent study compared the public's scientific literacy with their attitudes on GM foods.
- The results showed that "as the extremity of opposition increased, objective knowledge went down, but self-assessed knowledge went up."
- The results also suggest that, in terms of policy efforts to boost scientific literacy, education about a given topic alone isn't going to be enough.
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