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Idle Science

Researchers Crown Buddhist Monk the World's Happiest Man 348

concealment writes in with a story about a man who has been crowned the world's happiest. "Tibetan monk and molecular geneticist Matthieu Ricard is the happiest man in the world according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin. The 66-year-old's brain produces a level of gamma waves — those linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory — never before reported in neuroscience. The scans showed that when meditating on compassion, Ricard's brain produces a level of gamma waves — those linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory — 'never reported before in the neuroscience literature,' Davidson said. The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain's left pre-frontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity, researchers believe."
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Researchers Crown Buddhist Monk the World's Happiest Man

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  • Just like Hulk... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gagol ( 583737 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @04:08AM (#41839563)
    ...but the complete opposite. On a more serious note, this is the kind of story that will make me take a second look into meditation. Cant wait to enjoy massive gamma waves myself!
  • Re:Why be happy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by human_err ( 934003 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @05:07AM (#41839811)

    Happiness is the natural result of not identifying with a self that is separate from others. Selfishness is the antithesis of happiness.

    In Buddhist terminology, true compassion is the sense of you-are-the-same-as-me that automatically moves one to act alleviate the suffering of another (because it hurts the helper almost the same). It's not the same as pity, which may not be sufficient to motivate helping. Paradoxically (to people unaccustomed to practicing compassion), feeling the suffering of others who are sick, dying, aging, in war, etc. actually increases one's happiness as it diminishes one's feelings of alienation.

  • Re:Why be happy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @06:52AM (#41840263)

    I contest that every human being is either inherently ENTIRELY selfish, or have something wrong with them (i.e. insanity). Even those ultra-religious types that beat themselves violently in repentance for sins are doing it on the promise of eternal happiness in heaven. If they truly believed that there was no afterlife, or that they'd suffer for all eternity; they wouldn't do it.

    This is the sort of libertarian nonsense that leads philosophers and psychologists to utterly detest randoids.

    The problem with egotism, is it rests almost entirely on tautology. When almost any action can be "explained" by a circular reference to "because its in my self interest" (Why? Because I want to? Why do I want to? Because its in my self interest, ad nauseum) its a theory with no predictive powers, and frankly it runs completely at odds with everything we know about psychology and neuro-biology.

    We know we have other drives other than self interest, and they are not underwritten by "self interest" either, just biology and if you explain biology by motive, you end up with mystical reification of processes. Just because we have evolved in our reproductive interests that is not the same as the claim of *intentions*. A mother throwing herself in front of a car to save her child might be acting in her species self interest, but she's not under any circumstances acting INTENTIONALLY in her OWN percieved self interest .

    We have extensive networks of mirror neurons that give us the ability to empathise with others.

    We have deeply wired structures in our brain that cause us to give up comfort for our children.

    We are succeptable to ideological configurations that lead us to place the national interest over our own, and no dying in a kamikase attack in no way advances our personal wellbeing, because our brain design (for want of a better word) allows us to decide that the interest of the nation is more important to our personal interest.

    And no, claiming that this is "irrational" doesn't help us here, because if rationality can only be defined (by the egotist creed) as self interested behavior, and self interested behavior is that, according to the randian, which is rational (by the same creed) then we are back into tautology territory again.

    I could go on.

    So we are stuck with a situation of a thesis about human behavior that can't be justified philosophically without committing fundamental logical errors. We can't justify it psychologically without engaging in fundamental ignorance of over a century of psychological research. We can't justify it scientifically because the evidence directly contradicts the thesis.

    And to be honest, the hardest task, is to justify it politically because it seems to demand behaviors that go against everything we know about the proper running of a civil society.

    Why do people persist in believing such hogwash? Its mystical solipsist randian nonsense.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito