Study: Lower levels of brain activity in cognitive control and reasoning areas when focusing on sacred values

An international team of researchers has found that people have lower levels of activity in brain in areas related to cognitive control and reasoning when they are focusing on sacred values. In their paper published in Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study involving brain scans of terrorist sympathizers and what they found.

Prior research and anecdotal evidence have shown that once a person develops sacred values regarding a particular topic, it is difficult to get them to change their minds. Prior research has also shown that people who have certain sacred values are often more willing to fight and die for a cause than others. In this new effort, the researchers sought to learn more about what goes on in the minds of people who have expressed a willingness to die for a cause that is based on sacred values—in this case, sympathizers of an Al-Qaeda offshoot called Lashkar-et Taiba.

The researchers note that sometimes, people say and do things that are contrary to what they are truly thinking or feeling. For this reason, they chose to recruit several sympathizers for brain scan testing. They claim that neuroimaging rules out posturing by individuals because brain signals related to brain processing cannot be controlled.

Testing involved asking the volunteers questions while they were undergoing fMRI scanning. The questions concerned their sacred values, such as whether they would be willing to fight and die for these values, and non-sacred values as a comparison.

The researchers report that they found that when the volunteers were being asked questions related to their sacred values, there were lower levels of brain activity in areas related to reasoning and cognitive control. Prior research has shown that such areas are typically involved in processing consequences and calculating costs. They report that they also found that if they told the volunteers that other sympathizers they knew were less willing to die for a cause, their own willingness to do so dropped, as well. The researchers claim their findings show that there are distinct processes that occur in the brain when a person is focused on issues related to strongly held sacred values.

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Parkland families applaud arrest of school officer: “This is the only thing we have wanted”

Ffs, people. There is one person to blame for your child’s death. Nikolas Cruz. This is wrong-headed. The man may have had no business being an armed law officer. My guess is that is why he was assigned to a school in the first place. Trying to put him in jail is just one of those examples of human beings being unable to stop generating suffering. Each parent pinning their sorrow on him is pitiful and misguided, and the “professionals” entertaining this for political/career gain are even worse for being happy to oblige the parents, whose brokenness and error are at least understandable. The prosecutor is a piece of shit for making this happen and for indulging the worst of everything. There truly are no adults in the world. You cannot trust the human beings in the criminal justice system to do the right thing. Ever.

Barr slams Trump critics, bluntly criticizes Mueller team’s ‘legal analysis’

[Damn right. Love it.]

Attorney General Bill Barr, in an interview aired on Friday, blamed President Donald Trump‘s critics for “shredding institutions,” not the president, and bluntly spelled out his disagreements with special counsel Robert Mueller, saying his team’s legal analysis “did not reflect the views” of the Justice Department.

“I think it’s important that in this period of intense partisan feeling not to destroy our institutions,” Barr told CBS News’ Jan Crawford. “I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying it’s President Trump shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that. From my perspective, the idea of resisting a democratically-elected president and basically throwing everything at him, you know, is really changing the norms on the grounds ‘we have stop this president.’

“That’s where that shredding of our norms and institutions are occurring,” Barr said in an interview done during an official trip to Alaska to meet with the Native American community on tribal access to law enforcement.

PHOTO: Attorney General William Barr gestures as he speaks before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, April 10, 2019, in Washington.
Attorney General William Barr gestures as he speaks before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, April 10, 2019, in Washington.

Elaborating on his ongoing review of how the FBI’s investigation began, including what he has called “spying” on the Trump campaign, Barr said, “I think the activities were undertaken by a small group at the top which is one of the- probably one of the mistakes that has been made instead of running this as a normal Bureau investigation or counterintelligence investigation,” Barr said. “It was done by the executives at the senior level, out of headquarters.”

“Like many others regarding intelligence activities, I had a lot of questions. I went in and got no answers that are satisfactory and, in fact, probably have more questions and some of the facts I’ve learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened,” Barr said. “That’s really all I will say, things are not jiving.”

Speaking generally about the danger of a government abuse of power, he said “…republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state.

“And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they’re there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official,” he said.

Barr continued to defend his use of the word “spying,” saying it is “part of the craziness of the modern day that if the president uses a word it all of a sudden becomes off bounds. It’s a perfectly good English word. I’ll continue to use it.”

PHOTO: Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice, May 29, 2019, in Washington, about the Russia investigation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice, May 29, 2019, in Washington, about the Russia investigation.

He also used some of his strongest language yet in criticizing Mueller’s report and his not making a decision on whether the president obstructed justice, dismissing “a lot” of the legal analysis in the report as “the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers” not the Justice Department’s.(MORE: Robert Mueller breaks silence, does not want to testify, says charging Trump ‘not an option’ )

“Well, I think Bob said that he was not going to engage in the analysis,” Barr said. “He was not going to make a determination one way or the other. We analyzed the law and the facts, and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction as a matter of law.

“In other words, we didn’t agree with the legal analysis — a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department. It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers, and so we applied what we thought was the right law,” Barr said in his first television network interview since Mueller made his public statement on Wednesday.

Barr, according to CBS, said that over a period of weeks he had asked the special counsel’s office to identify the sensitive grand jury material in the report so that he could release the rest immediately to the public and was surprised when Mueller’s team delivered the report to him with no redactions.

Barr also said that he’s not surprised by the blowback he is getting.

“We live in a crazy hyper-partisan time and I knew it was only be a matter of time if I was behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them, that I’d be attacked because nowadays people don’t care about the merits or the substance. They only care about who helps, benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits,” he said.

“Everything is gauged by politics and that antithetical to the way the department runs and any attorney general in this period is going to end up losing a lot of political capital and I realized that and that’s one of the reasons why I was ultimately persuaded to take it on because I think at my stage in life it doesn’t really make any difference.”

Asked about his legacy, Barr said it doesn’t matter.

“Everyone dies and I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that immortality comes by having odes sung about you over the centuries,” he said.