Scientist inspired by Dalai Lama studies happiness
#1
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/arti...wD9FMR6B00
Scientist inspired by Dalai Lama studies happiness
By RYAN J. FOLEY (AP) – 1 day ago
MADISON, Wis. — After hearing about his cutting-edge research on the brain and emotions through mutual friends, the Dalai Lama invited Richard Davidson to his home in India in 1992 to pose a question.
Scientists often study depression, anxiety and fear, but why not devote your work to the causes of positive human qualities like happiness and compassion? the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader asked.
"I couldn't give him a good answer," recalled Davidson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist.
Since then, Davidson has become a partner in the Dalai Lama's attempts to build a connection between Buddhism and western science. This weekend, the Dalai Lama will mark the opening of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the university's Waisman Center, where more than a dozen researchers will study the science behind positive qualities of mind. Davidson said the center will be the only one in the world with a meditation room next to a brain imaging laboratory.
Davidson's research has used brain imaging technology on Buddhist monks and other veteran practitioners of meditation to try to learn how their training affects mental health.
His team's findings suggest meditation and other "contemplative practices" can improve compassion, empathy, kindness and attention. They support the concept that even adult brains can change through experience and learning.
"He's made some interesting discoveries about meditation, and I think he is doing very good science," said John Wiley, who was university chancellor from 2001 to 2008 and is interim director of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
Initially, "a significant number of his colleagues around the world were suspicious and thought that it wasn't adequately grounded in hard science," Wiley said. "He's proved them wrong."
The appearance comes as the Dalai Lama has spent more time promoting research into traditional Buddhist meditative practices and urging scientists to help create a more ethical and peaceful world.
Davidson, named one of Time magazine's most 100 influential people in 2006, will appear with the Dalai Lama at scientific events five times this year.
"His relationship with the Dalai Lama lends a great deal of public influence to the hard science that he does," said David Addiss, a former Centers for Disease Control official who now works at the Fetzer Institute, a Michigan nonprofit that gave Davidson a $2.5 million grant.
Yet Davidson's relationship with the Dalai Lama remains controversial. When he invited the Dalai Lama to speak at a 2005 neuroscience conference, dozens of researchers signed a petition in protest.
Some of the criticism appeared motivated by Chinese researchers who disagree politically with the Dalai Lama's stance on Tibet. Others said it was an inappropriate mix of faith with science.
Davidson, who meditates every morning but does not consider himself a practicing Buddhist, has also been criticized for being too close to someone with an interest in the outcome of his research.
Davidson said the Dalai Lama's commitment to science is remarkable for a religious leader of his stature, and notes that the Dalai Lama has said he is prepared to give up any part of Buddhism that is contradicted by scientific fact.
"He also is the first one to point out the limitations of meditation and how it's not a cure all and be all for everything and has very limited effects on health," Davidson said.
Davidson is ready to test his research in real-world situations. The center plans to begin training local fifth-grade teachers next fall to cultivate skills like patience and relaxation among their students.
"We're really intrigued with his research that shows students can learn how to relax so they can focus more on learning," said Sue Abplanalp, assistant superintendent for elementary schools in the Madison public schools.
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#2
Quote:Scientists often study depression, anxiety and fear, but why not devote your work to the causes of positive human qualities like happiness and compassion? the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader asked.
"I couldn't give him a good answer," recalled Davidson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist.

That response from the researcher alone proves he's biased. The study of happiness and compassion is one of the most interesting and engaging areas in applied neuroscience. Of course, one can call for more research into it, but when scientists make pretend that they are looking at something for the first time, when in reality thousands are already studying the very thing, the bias of the scientist becomes apparent.

This is not science. They are attempting to force conclusions out of preconceived beliefs. This attempt by the Lama is an assault on science.

However, I do agree that there is a need to study the brain and how brain states can be affected by our practices, both ritual and thought oriented.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#3
I thought happiness had to do with chemicals the likes of Endorphins produces in brain to stimuli (external,internal and mental)

Today's modern science papers are like Indian hindi news channels, "They want publicity and trp's"
Weired and useless studies are being done with minuscule and insignificant sample sizes in homogeneous countries (meaning the people are all of same class across spectrum so to speak) and come up with ridiculous results, mostly because when you have a hypothesis, it is always possible to make a positive for your argument by setting up the test cases to give you that desired result.
Test cases are the core which scientific experiments are based on and they are what distinguished a good scientist from genius, and there currently are only mediocre ones doing them nowadays, and this isn't good for science, people begin to question when every month there are so called studies which are contradictory, its like the leaked climate change emails, people just need and excue to question facts and these faulty science studies are more bad than helpful to science overall.
|God is Dead|
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#4
(16-May-2010, 10:38 PM)Varun Wrote: I thought happiness had to do with chemicals the likes of Endorphins produces in brain to stimuli (external,internal and mental)

Just as your post was a result of chemicals running up and down your body. But is it possible to "control" those chemicals and what and how can they be "controlled"? I think that is the question people are ultimately interested in. I of course use the word "control" in a limited sense.

(16-May-2010, 10:38 PM)Varun Wrote: Today's modern science papers are like Indian hindi news channels, "They want publicity and trp's"
Weired and useless studies are being done with minuscule and insignificant sample sizes in homogeneous countries (meaning the people are all of same class across spectrum so to speak) and come up with ridiculous results, mostly because when you have a hypothesis, it is always possible to make a positive for your argument by setting up the test cases to give you that desired result.
True, specially in medicine and I am highly skeptical of some of the developments in medicine. One of the major factors for this is massive commercial interests at stake. Swine flu is an example - more people die of the normal flu every year than that killed by the swine flu. Yet, it was hyped so that the vaccine manufacturers could profit.

The other major factor is the nature of funding for research in the US. Every research proposal you write is supposed to save the world if it is to be accepted.

Certain disciplines of science are getting corrupted into something resembling religion.
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#5
(22-May-2011, 02:31 AM)P11 Wrote: Certain disciplines of science are getting corrupted into something resembling religion.

No. They aren't anywhere close to "something resembling religion". Show me something like this in a discipline that resembles religion. You can't. Because such a thing would need the scientific method, which you won't find in anything resembling religion.
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#6
(23-May-2011, 11:31 PM)Lije Wrote: No. They aren't anywhere close to "something resembling religion". Show me something like this in a discipline that resembles religion. You can't. Because such a thing would need the scientific method, which you won't find in anything resembling religion.

I had medicine itself in mind when I said what I said. In religion people are conned by reverting to certain authority. The same is happening in medicine too where massive commercial interests are causing many mainstream academics to be dishonest and hence are conning people in the name of science. Sure, this guy in the article is trying to counter it. But it is just the tip of the iceberg.

I think the misunderstanding between the two of us has been because you seem to be talking from the standpoint of a longer timescale in which Scientific enterprise corrects itself while I seem to be talking from the standpoint of a timescale in which the need for corrective change is recognized and brought about by individual actions.

As for something like this existing in religion. If you mean intellectual honesty by "this" in religion, I think I can give some examples. Serious theologians also have debates (whether sound or not, that is besides the point). Sankaracharya was supposed to have traveled across India debating religious scholars of his time. Some of whom he managed to defeat in those debates became his disciples. So, there was a certain intellectual honesty among them.
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#7
(27-May-2011, 07:32 AM)P11 Wrote: I think the misunderstanding between the two of us has been because you seem to be talking from the standpoint of a longer timescale in which Scientific enterprise corrects itself while I seem to be talking from the standpoint of a timescale in which the need for corrective change is recognized and brought about by individual actions.

There is no misunderstanding. You said "Certain disciplines of science are getting corrupted into something resembling religion". How is it that they are getting corrupted to become like religions when there is a corrective mechanism for them? And religions have none? You have taken some very well recognized problems in medicine and have set up a false equivalence with religion, which doesn't even acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place. " need for corrective change is recognized" is possible only when you know that there is a problem.

(27-May-2011, 07:32 AM)P11 Wrote: As for something like this existing in religion. If you mean intellectual honesty by "this" in religion, I think I can give some examples. Serious theologians also have debates (whether sound or not, that is besides the point). Sankaracharya was supposed to have traveled across India debating religious scholars of his time. Some of whom he managed to defeat in those debates became his disciples. So, there was a certain intellectual honesty among them.

I did not mean only intellectual honesty, but also epistemic soundness. That is why I mentioned the scientific method (the "this" is inclusive of that). Sankaracharya may have been great at debates and rhetoric, but he was wrong. And he did not acknowledge that he could be wrong. He just was sure that he knew The Truth. Science isn't so sure. It admits the possibility of being wrong. So your examples aren't valid.

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