Dark Matter

/Tag:Dark Matter

The Porn Wars: Conflicting Sexualities

All too often in the debate about porn, the issue really seems to be about something else. In the current wave of anti-porn concern the real issue is competing sexualities. Not just men's versus women's, but transgressive sexualities versus a contested 'normal' and 'correct' sexuality. The recent criticism of gonzo porn is a convenient Trojan horse. Nearly everyone, including myself, finds violent, misogynist porn profoundly problematic. Of course it should be condemned. The problem is that once we accept the Trojan horse and open it, we find that the anti-porn campaigners object to a great deal more than gonzo. Melinda [...]

Senate Inquiry Into Forced Adoption

There's been a bit of press over this Senate inquiry. It's horrific material. It made me angry reading some of the stories. It concerns the forced adoption of children born to unwed mothers between the 50's and 70's.

Black Swan

It seems appropriate to talk about Black Swan in light of my discussion of Jung. If any recent movie delves into Jungian archetype it is this. Btw warning: spoiler alert First let me say that I will be surprised if Natalie Portman doesn't get an Oscar. It is a bravura performance: it needed to be to convey the pressure placed on the character. There is a moment toward the end when she finally transforms into the Black Swan that is truly extraordinary. It's all written on her face. It is brilliant acting. I was initially concerned that the film would [...]

Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities

Magical though it was, her childhood was marred by a mysterious psychological disturbance which doctors could not diagnose and which she called her "thing". "My thing is happening," she would tell her mother, as she lapsed into the frightening mental state... When the young Del drew, she could lose herself, without losing her mind, and "the thing" could not touch her. "The act of drawing was where on one level I felt safest as a child, but also most engaged, always this feeling of incredible potentiality, which is a really electric place to be," she says. source In previous posts [...]

Dumbing Kids Down: The Flynn Effect

Here's a curious fact: at the same time as society was seeking to extend childhood, children were actually maturing earlier. The Flynn effect (and here) tells us that each generation is getting smarter by a factor of around 10 IQ points per 30 years. We owe this discovery to James R Flynn, currently Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago in NZ.When Flynn found out that standard IQ tests are periodically adjusted he decided to have students sit IQ tests from earlier decades. By using generally accepted rules of calculation he found an average increase of 3 [...]

Child Prodigies: Akiane

What is interesting about Akiane Kramarik is her claim that her artwork is inspired by visions she had between the ages of 4-8. Although she comes from a non-religious family, Akiane interpreted her visions to be from the 'Christian' God. (Of course, the evidence clearly indicates that those individuals who have such experiences interpret them according to the culture they belong to: a Hindu child will tend to have Hindu inspired visions). When I read this I was reminded of Del Kathryn Barton's visions as a child and how they inspired her art. The neurophysiology behind all of this is [...]

Abuse, Stress And Trauma

Now to a somewhat darker subject... For me an ethical imperative is that each individual should be able to reach their full developmental potential (another is speaking the truth). Evil can be defined as anything that thwarts developmental potential. Any ideology that has a limited view of human potential is, by definition, immoral. In my posts on institutional abuse and the work of Robert Sapolsky I touched on the neurophysiology of stress. There is a simple formula: abuse causes stress, stress causes trauma. An article on the 'shared parenting' debate in Australia says: Boys in rigidly sustained shared care were [...]

Wild Child: Dr Erik Demaine

Saw a fascinating program on origami. What a revelation! The art has progressed well beyond cute animals. Two of the pioneers featured were the father and son team of Marty and Erik Demaine, both artists and mathematicians, although the son, Erik, is more of a mathematician.I mention them because of Erik's unconventional childhood. Erik was home schooled and clearly had a bohemian childhood. He is also intellectually gifted. He entered university at age 12, became the youngest professor at MIT at age 20 and received a McArthur Fellowship at age 22. Dr Erik Demaine His life perfectly reflects the themes [...]

Stress And Baboons And What It Means For Humans

Saw a wonderful documentary on the ABC a few months ago. It featured the wonderfully eccentric professor of Biological Sciences and Neurology at Stanford, Robert Sapolsky. He is also a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship genius grant.Sapolsky's main research has been the study of stress in baboons. His findings, when considered in the light of other research, tells us something important about the human species.For the purposes of this post I will summarise what I consider his more significant findings.When he studied the physiology of baboons he found a significant difference between dominant and lower order males. The dominant males [...]

Daydreaming And Neurophysiology

I used to daydream a lot as a kid. Of course in those days it was seen as being idle. In my novel Wild Child Bliss goes to see a specialist who might have an insight into they way she is wired (I don't want to spoil the plot). Great advances are being made using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Neurorologists can now see the mind in action and some have used it to see what is happening during daydreaming. Psychologist Jonathan Schooler has done research that shows that: ...neural recruitment in both default  and executive network regions was strongest when [...]