Sunday, September 23, 2012

Psychopaths have poor sense of smell, say psychologists

One wonders how good Obama is at smelling. Any stories?

PSYCHOPATHS have a remarkably poor sense of smell, according to a study by Australian scientists published today.

Researchers at Sydney's Macquarie University tested a theory that psychopathy - a severe personality disorder characterised by lack of empathy, antisocial behaviour and callousness - may be linked to impaired smelling ability.

Both phenomena have been independently traced to dysfunction in part of the brain called the orbito-frontal complex (OFC).

Mehmet Mahmut and Richard Stevenson of the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University trialled the olfactory skills of 79 individuals, aged 19 to 21, who had been diagnosed as non-criminal psychopaths and lived in the community.

Using "Sniffin' Sticks" - 16 pens that contain different scents, such as orange, coffee and leather - they found the participants had problems in correctly identifying the smell, and then discriminating it against a different odour.

Those who scored highest on a standard scorecard of psychopathic traits did worst on both counts, even though they knew that they were smelling something.

The finding could be useful for identifying psychopaths, who are famously manipulative in the face of questioning, says the paper, published in the journal Chemosensory Perception.

"Olfactory measures represent a potentially interesting marker for psychopathic traits, because performance expectancies are unclear in odour tests and may therefore be less susceptible to attempts to fake 'good' or 'bad' responses."

The OFC is a front part of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, planning and behaving in line with social norms.

It also appears to be important in processing olfactory signals, although the precise function is unclear, according to previous research.



A "gelernt" perspective

"Gelernt" means "learned" in Yiddish/German and David Gelernter lives up to his surname (= The Learned One) with a very perceptive understanding of the world about him.  I think he is right in his comments below

There is a mystery about this election.  The slanted national press and Romney’s weaknesses are well understood, but a large gap separates these explanations from the fact that needs explaining: this election will be close.  How is that possible when Obama has shown himself to be the worst president in modern history?  And when Romney (on the other hand) is unexciting but safe, serious, solid—just the right sort of man to shelter all sorts of tempest-tost Americans in a storm?

Americans are not a skeptical people.  But we could use a double shot of skepticism right now.  Half of what experts say about this ongoing campaign makes no sense.  Romney does make mistakes, does have weaknesses–but in light of recent presidential history, they are trivial.  Obama is said to have great personal strengths, and he has—but not the ones he is said to have.

Romney’s weaknesses, harped on by the Establishment and some conservatives, are insignificant in the larger scheme.  Reagan was often inarticulate and sometimes fumbling off-the-cuff; so were both Bushes.  Romney is said to be unlikeable, but he won the nomination although Republican primary voters were a tough audience for this moderate-minded businessman.   How dislikeable could he be?

And what does it matter, anyway?  Nixon was thoroughly dislikeable, but he demolished likeable McGovern and beat Humphrey, one of the nicest guys in US political history.  Ford was more likeable than Carter; Ford lost too.  And then there is Obama’s snide arrogance.  Romney might not be warm and folksy, but at any rate he is never mocking, patronizing, abrasive—in fact his handlers would love to see some mocking abrasiveness from Romney, and he tries, but just can’t bring it off. He is not a mocking or abrasive or arrogant man.

And yet polls show that Obama is likeable and Romney is not.

Time to ask whether these popular responses to poll-takers don’t sound just a bit rehearsed; not quite convincing. It used to be that black candidates did better in polls than elections: people wanted to impress poll-takers with their open-mindedness.  That effect has disappeared.  But a generation that wants to seem good might easily give birth to a generation than wants to be good.  And the whole American Establishment has busied itself since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s defining “good” in terms that exactly match Barack Obama.

Haven’t we all been taught that globalism is good and patriotism silly? That oil wells are bad and “renewable energy” good? That fighting to defend your friends or your honor is bad, but apologies are the staff of life?  That Judaism, Christianity and the Bible must be kept away from public life lest they infect it? That “experts” and intellectuals are America’s natural leaders?  That America is far less sinned against than sinning, that Africans, Arabs and other “less-developed” people are more virtuous than we?  That the greatest American hero of all was a black civil rights leader?–who was also a devout Christian, but we hear a lot less about that angle.

The press is slanted, but everyone knows that.  What really matters is that American culture is slanted.

Remember that Obama has demonstrated the competence of Carter with the integrity of Nixon. He has given us persistent unemployment and a pathetic recovery, Obamacare people don’t want, a pipeline project knifed in the back without explanation while money disappears down the great Green sinkhole, a staggering debt and huge yearly deficits, poisoned relations with Congress, an incompetent Department of Justice, states and cities wrestling with financial collapse across the country, schools that keep getting worse—not to mention calamitous security leaks, the Middle East in flames and Iran’s terrorist government closer to nuclear weapons every day.

Carter for all his sanctimonious incompetence had a certain humility.  He announced that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had opened his eyes to the evil of Communism–sad but honest.  And Carter was never suspected of personal corruption.  Of many contenders, the White House leaks will most likely emerge as the biggest Obama scandal.

Romney will win this election.  But the wacko-left Culture Machine won’t fall silent; the schools and colleges won’t suddenly become patriotic, serious, politically neutral.  The entertainment industry won’t discover open-mindedness regarding Judeo-Christianity and the Bible.  Nor will mainstream churches and liberal synagogues suddenly catch on to the moral and spiritual greatness of America. Unless conservatives start taking education and culture seriously, an election day will arrive in which the outcome is never in doubt, because at least 51 percent of the electorate has been trained which way to vote.  At which point the GOP might as well close shop and take the rest of the century off.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.



America at a Precipice, Freedom at Risk

America stands at a precipice. Never before have so many of our fundamental, God-given freedoms hung by so thin a thread here at home as they do now.

This generation—you and I, our neighbors and co-workers, our families and friends—will soon decide on many fronts whether or not this great experiment in freedom continues or crumbles. We will decide if we keep our Republic.

We’ve all witnessed the dramatic events that began last week on the anniversary of Sept. 11th, when terrorists invaded our sovereign territory, burned it, and killed the US diplomatic team.

And we’ve also seen how certain members of our government responded to this atrocity: namely, by putting our First Amendment on trial.

This is not out of character for the Left – this is how they operate.

For years, American citizens and American traditions have come out on the short end of the stick when the Left steps in to be sure no crisis goes to waste. All it takes is for a “victim” from a favored group to complain about an offense real or imagined, and the anti-freedom Left jumps into action. And when they do, the first thing on the chopping block is always free speech and the free exercise of religious faith and conscience.

And while the events surrounding the September 11th anniversary were glaring examples of this, we cannot overlook that fact that there are smaller, daily erosions of our liberty that are happening all the time but going unreported.

For example, the same Left that is limiting free speech to protect the public’s “religious feelings” is also infiltrating professional organizations and the education systems that control the destinies of so many Americans. From those lofty perches they will enforce their ideology with such aggression that mere disagreement leads to banishment from the profession or expulsion from the schools.

They create quasi-government courts with noble sounding names like the “Human Rights Commission,” then use these bodies to drive people of faith from the marketplace or impose heavy penalties on those who choose to stay and fight. They come down especially hard on those who dare remain convinced of the Constitutionally-protected freedoms of religion and of speech.

Both the glaring attacks and the more subtle ones have one thing in common—they are all alike used to chip away at our freedoms and bring us into compliance with the ideology of a Left that has staked its claim on America’s failure.

We stand at a precipice. And this great country, through which God has given us so much, now teeters on the edge of a dark future in which freedom is a distant memory.



Free Speech Isn't the Problem

 Jonah Goldberg

"No One Murdered Because Of This Image."  That was a recent headline from The Onion, the often hilarious parody newspaper.

The image in question is really not appropriate to describe with any specificity in a family newspaper. It's quite simply disgusting. And, suffice it to say, it leaves nothing to the imagination.

Four of "the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity," according to The Onion, and yet "no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened, sources reported Thursday."

"Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day."

There was one conspicuous no-show for the celestial orgy: the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

The Onion's point should be obvious. Amidst all of the talk of religious tolerance and the hand-wringing over free speech in recent days, one salient fact is often lost or glossed over: What we face are not broad questions about the limits of free speech or the importance of religious tolerance, but rather a very specific question about the limits of Muslim tolerance and the unimportance of free speech to much of the Muslin world.

It's really quite amazing. In Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, Christians are being harassed, brutalized and even murdered, often with state support, or at least state indulgence. And let's not even talk about the warm reception Jews receive in much of the Muslim world.

And yet, it seems you can't turn on National Public Radio or open a newspaper or a highbrow magazine without finding some oh-so-thoughtful meditation on how anti-Islamic speech should be considered the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a movie theater.

It's an interesting comparison. First, the prohibition on yelling "fire" in a theater only applies to instances where there is no fire. A person who yells "fire" when there is, in fact, a fire is quite likely a hero. I'm not saying that the people ridiculing Muhammad -- be they the makers of the "Innocence of Muslims" trailer or the editors of a French magazine -- have truth on their side. But blasphemy is not a question of scientific fact, merely of opinion. And in America we give a very wide legal berth to the airing of such opinions. Loudly declaring "It is my opinion there is a fire in here" is not analogous to declaring "It is my opinion that Muhammad was a blankety-blank."

You know why? Because Muslims aren't fire, they're people. And fire isn't a sentient entity, it is a force of nature bereft of choice or cognition of any kind. Just as water seeks its own level, fire burns what it can burn. Muslims have free will. If they choose to riot, that's not the same thing as igniting a fire.

Indeed, the point is proven by the simple fact that the vast majority of Muslims don't riot. More than 17 million people live in greater Cairo. A tiny fraction of a fraction of that number stormed the U.S. Embassy to "protest" that stupid video. And yet, the logic seems to be that the prime authors of Muslim violence are non-Muslims who express their opinions, often thousands of miles away.

I absolutely agree that our devotion to free speech can cause headaches and challenges. But so can any number of non-negotiable facts of life. Anyone with a child knows that having a kid creates all sorts of problems and inconveniences. But few decent parents respond to those problems and inconveniences by loving their kid any less. And as a general rule, only evil, incomprehensibly stupid or selfish people would consider getting rid of their kid to avoid the inconvenience.

There's nothing wrong with exercising sound judgment, even caution, when it comes to offending anybody's most cherished beliefs. But the First Amendment isn't the problem here, the dysfunctions and inadequacies of the Arab and Muslim world are.

James Burnham famously said that when there is no alternative there is no problem. If free speech in America causes a comparative handful of zealots to want to murder Americans, the correct response is to protect Americans from those zealots (something the Obama administration abjectly failed to do in Libya) and relentlessly seek the punishment of anyone who succeeds. Because, as far as America is concerned, there is no alternative to the First Amendment.



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH,  FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist.  It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day.  It was only to the Right of  Stalin's Communism.  The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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