Saturday, June 27, 2009

Current Events and the sin-traits

It's kind of amazing to watch the hoopla every time a politician is busted having an affair. The news this week of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford running off to Argentina to spend time with his lover is the latest in many, many scandals involving political figures and the lust trait.

Why does a church going guy like Sanford cheat? Why does a super-intelligent guy like Bill Clinton get caught with his pants down? It's this powerful sin-trait - this lust that drives intelligent, good people to do damaging things. I'm not excusing it - but my book will explain it.

In other recent new take the horrible crises happening in Iran right now. I, like many, was shocked when Ahmadinejad was reelected for President of Iran...and I had my doubts about the veracity of the election. I couldn't help but wonder if his desire for power - driven by the vanity trait - caused him and Khamenei to ignore the real count and announce his win. History is littered with examples of narcissistic sociopaths abusing the will of the people to serve their own needs. My interview with Steven Pinker highlighted some examples and the psychology behind this type of behavior.

The seven sin traits so affect what happens in society and do so much damage. I'm hoping that my book will shed a little more light on the subject and provide some useful actions we can all take to mitigate this damage.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Neurotic reality

I am reading Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death, a fascinating examination of human existence which one the Pulitzer's in 1974 (sadlly, two months after he died of cancer).

It's not an easy read - I've been picking it up and putting it down for a few months, actually. Just about every page could require a days thought if you were to let the mind dwell. I'm sorry this guy is no longer with us, he really has some amazing insights. Thankfully there is a foundation dedicated to his work.

One of my favorite areas of the book is Becker's analysis of human neurosis. He basically says (and cites many sources, his favorite being Otto Rank) that people develop neurotic tics and behaviors so that they can focus their attention away from the big questions of life and death and meaning and the terrible realities of human existence. He paraphrases a great Sigmund Freud quote where Freud essentially says, "when you cure the neurotic of their neuroses they are then faced with the far more terrifying prospect of dealing with reality."

I think there's a lot of truth in that.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Science vs. Religion

I've been enjoying with great interest the work of the John Templeton Foundation. I recommend checking it out if you are interested in the complex relationship between science and religion.

I'm not explloring that relationship somewhat explicitly in Curing the Humam Disease as there is a scientific basis for the seven deadly sin-traits which have been defined by the church.

What I have found so interesting in the Templeton work is their effort to expel the myth of centuries-old conflict between the Catholic Church and scientific progress. That is a semi-recent phenomenon. In many ways the church respected and supported the efforts of many of history's greatest scientific minds.

In addition to looking at the 7 sins through the lens of both religion and science, my project is going to look at the role of government and brain scientists in shaping human behavior. I'm looking forward not only to writing about it but having a robust public debate on that topic :)

Anway I highly recommend the Templeton Foundation newsletters, lot's of deep and interesting stuff these.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A book chat with Bill Maher

I know it's been awhile since I posted...sorry about that! I am working on a big marketing project and my time has been severly limited.

Thanks to some mutual friends I did get the opportunity to chat with Bill Maher about my book yesterday. We had a really interesting discussion about the role of government and religion in guiding how people in society will act upon their "sin traits."

Bill was really generous with his time and said nice things about the project. But unfortunately he didn't want to be quoted in the book. He explained that he is constantly getting requests for interviews and feels like he is too out there - spread too thin. And that every time he's interviewed it feels like he is giving a little piece of himself away.

I do understand and it's cool, though it's too bad because he had some great insights...and of course he was funny as hell!