Debunking Left Brain, Right Brain Myth / Plos Paper – Corbalis

Left Brain, Right Brain: Facts and Fantasies

Michael C. Corballis, Affiliation School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Published: January 21, 2014 )open access. See original for more.


Handedness and brain asymmetry are widely regarded as unique to humans, and associated with complementary functions such as a left-brain specialization for language and logic and a right-brain specialization for creativity and intuition. In fact, asymmetries are widespread among animals, and support the gradual evolution of asymmetrical functions such as language and tool use. Handedness and brain asymmetry are inborn and under partial genetic control, although the gene or genes responsible are not well established. Cognitive and emotional difficulties are sometimes associated with departures from the “norm” of right-handedness and left-brain language dominance, more often with the absence of these asymmetries than their reversal.

Evolution of Brain Asymmetries, with Implications for Language

One myth that persists even in some scientific circles is that asymmetry is uniquely human [3]. Left–right asymmetries of brain and behavior are now known to be widespread among both vertebrates and invertebrates [11], and can arise through a number of genetic, epigenetic, or neural mechanisms [12]. Many of these asymmetries parallel those in humans, or can be seen as evolutionary precursors. A strong left-hemispheric bias for action dynamics in marine mammals and in some primates and the left-hemisphere action biases in humans, perhaps including gesture, speech, and tool use, may derive from a common precursor [13]. A right-hemisphere dominance for emotion seems to be present in all primates so far investigated, suggesting an evolutionary continuity going back at least 30 to 40 million years [14]. A left-hemisphere dominance for vocalization has been shown in mice [15] and frogs [16], and may well relate to the leftward dominance for speech—although language itself is unique to humans and is not necessarily vocal, as sign languages remind us. Around two-thirds of chimpanzees are right-handed, especially in gesturing [17] and throwing [18], and also show left-sided enlargement in two cortical areas homologous to the main language areas in humans—namely, Broca’s area [19] and Wernicke’s area [20] (see Figure 1). These observations have been taken as evidence that language did not appear de novo in humans, as argued by Chomsky [21] and others, but evolved gradually through our primate lineage [22]. They have also been interpreted as evidence that language evolved not from primate calls, but from manual gestures [23][25].

Some accounts of language evolution (e.g., [25]) have focused on mirror neurons, first identified in the monkey brain in area F5 [26], a region homologous to Broca’s area in humans, but now considered part of an extensive network more widely homologous to the language network [27]. Mirror neurons are so called because they respond when the monkey performs an action, and also when they see another individual performing the same action. This “mirroring” of what the monkey sees onto what it does seems to provide a natural platform for the evolution of language, which likewise can be seen to involve a mapping of perception onto production. The motor theory of speech perception, for example, holds that we perceive speech sounds according to how we produce them, rather than through acoustic analysis [28]. Mirror neurons in monkeys also respond to the sounds of such physical actions as ripping paper or dropping a stick onto the floor, but they remain silent to animal calls [29]. This suggests an evolutionary trajectory in which mirror neurons emerged as a system for producing and understanding manual actions, but in the course of evolution became increasingly lateralized to the left brain, incorporating vocalization and gaining grammar-like complexity [30]. The left hemisphere is dominant for sign language as for spoken language [31].

Mirror neurons themselves have been victims of hyperbole and myth [32], with the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran once predicting that “mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology” [33]. As the very name suggests, mirror neurons are often taken to be the basis of imitation, yet nonhuman primates are poor imitators. Further, the motor theory of speech perception does not account for the fact that speech can be understood by those deprived of the ability to speak, such as those with damage to Broca’s area. Even chimpanzees [34] and dogs [35] can learn to respond to simple spoken instructions, but cannot produce anything resembling human speech. An alternative is that mirror neurons are part of a system for calibrating movements to conform to perception, as a process of learning rather than direct imitation. A monkey repeatedly observes its hand movements to learn to reach accurately, and the babbling infant calibrates the production of sounds to match what she hears. Babies raised in households where sign language is used “babble” by making repetitive movements of the hands [36]. Moreover, it is this productive aspect of language, rather than the mechanisms of understanding, that shows the more pronounced bias to the left hemisphere [37].

Inborn Asymmetries

Handedness and cerebral asymmetries are detectable in the fetus. Ultrasound recording has shown that by the tenth week of gestation, the majority of fetuses move the right arm more than the left [38], and from the 15th week most suck the right thumb rather than the left [39]—an asymmetry strongly predictive of later handedness [40] (see Figure 2). In the first trimester, a majority of fetuses show a leftward enlargement of the choroid plexus [41], a structure within the ventricles known to synthesize peptides, growth factors, and cytokines that play a role in neurocortical development [42]. This asymmetry may be related to the leftward enlargement of the temporal planum (part of Wernicke’s area), evident at 31 weeks [43].

 In these prenatal brain asymmetries, around two-thirds of cases show the leftward bias. The same ratio applies to the asymmetry of the temporal planum in both infants and adults [44]. The incidence of right-handedness in the chimpanzee is also around 65–70 percent, as is a clockwise torque, in which the right hemisphere protrudes forwards and the left hemisphere rearwards, in both humans and great apes [45]. These and other asymmetries have led to the suggestion that a “default” asymmetry of around 65–70 percent, in great apes as well as humans, is inborn, with the asymmetry of human handedness and cerebral asymmetry for language increased to around 90 percent by “cultural literacy” [46].

Variations in Asymmetry

Whatever their “true” incidence, variations in handedness and cerebral asymmetry raise doubts as to the significance of the “standard” condition of right-handedness and left-cerebral specialization for language, along with other qualities associated with the left and right brains that so often feature in popular discourse. Handedness and cerebral asymmetry are not only variable, they are also imperfectly related. Some 95–99 percent of right-handed individuals are left-brained for language, but so are about 70 percent of left-handed individuals. Brain asymmetry for language may actually correlate more highly with brain asymmetry for skilled manual action, such as using tools [47],[48], which again supports the idea that language itself grew out of manual skill—perhaps initially through pantomime.

Even when the brain is at rest, brain imaging shows that there are asymmetries of activity in a number of regions. A factor analysis of these asymmetries revealed four different dimensions, each mutually uncorrelated. Only one of these dimensions corresponded to the language regions of the brain; the other three had to do with vision, internal thought, and attention [49]—vision and attention were biased toward the right hemisphere, language and internal thought to the left. This multidimensional aspect throws further doubt on the idea that cerebral asymmetry has some unitary and universal import.

Handedness, at least, is partly influenced by parental handedness, suggesting a genetic component [50], but genes can’t tell the whole story. For instance some 23 percent of monozygotic twins, who share the same genes, are of opposite handedness [51]. These so-called “mirror twins” have themselves fallen prey to a Through the Looking Glass myth; according to Martin Gardner [52], Lewis Carroll intended the twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee in that book to be enantiomers, or perfect three-dimensional mirror images in bodily form as well as in hand and brain function. Although some have argued that mirroring arises in the process of twinning itself [53],[54], large-scale studies suggest that handedness [55],[56] and cerebral asymmetry [57] in mirror twins are not subject to special mirroring effects. In the majority of twins of opposite handedness the left hemisphere is dominant for language in both twins, consistent with the finding that the majority of single-born left-handed individuals are also left-hemisphere dominant for language. In twins, as in the singly born, it is estimated that only about a quarter of the variation in handedness is due to genetic influences [56].

The manner in which handedness is inherited has been most successfully modeled by supposing that a gene or genes influence not whether the individual is right- or left-handed, but whether a bias to right-handedness will be expressed or not. In those lacking the “right shift” bias, the direction of handedness is a matter of chance; that is, left-handedness arises from the lack of a bias toward the right hand, and not from a “left-hand gene.” Such models can account reasonably well for the parental influence [58][60], and even for the relation between handedness and cerebral asymmetry if it is supposed that the same gene or genes bias the brain toward a left-sided dominance for speech [60],[61]. It now seems likely that a number of such genes are involved, but the basic insight that genes influence whether or not a given directional bias is expressed, rather than whether or not it can be reversed, remains plausible (see Box 1).

Genetic considerations aside, departures from right-handedness or left-cerebral dominance have sometimes been linked to disabilities. In the 1920s and 1930s, the American physician Samuel Torrey Orton attributed both reading disability and stuttering to a failure to establish cerebral dominance [62]. Orton’s views declined in influence, perhaps in part because he held eccentric ideas about interhemispheric reversals giving rise to left–right confusions [63], and in part because learning-theory explanations came to be preferred to neurological ones. In a recent article, Dorothy Bishop reverses Orton’s argument, suggesting that weak cerebral lateralization may itself result from impaired language learning [64]. Either way, the idea of an association between disability and failure of cerebral dominance may be due for revival, as recent studies have suggested that ambidexterity, or a lack of clear handedness or cerebral asymmetry, is indeed associated with stuttering [65] and deficits in academic skills [66], as well as mental health difficulties [67] and schizophrenia (see Box 1).

Although it may be the absence of asymmetry rather than its reversal that can be linked to problems of social or educational adjustment, left-handed individuals have often been regarded as deficient or contrarian, but this may be based more on prejudice than on the facts. Left-handers have excelled in all walks of life. They include five of the past seven US presidents, sports stars such as Rafael Nadal in tennis and Babe Ruth in baseball, and Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the greatest genius of all time.





Gene Mutations / Most have ZERO influence on development

Links are all live! Tons of info. Aspergers is often attributed to a group of scattered genes, but there is no proof that even if this occurs, that the genes explain Aspergers. Those “changes” could actually be null, positive or simply characteristic of the Asperger brain and not a defect at all.  

Artist Sandra Yagi

Do all gene mutations affect health and development?

No; only a small percentage of mutations cause genetic disorders—most have no impact on health or development. For example, some mutations alter a gene’s DNA sequence but do not change the function of the protein made by the gene.

Often, gene mutations that could cause a genetic disorder are repaired by certain enzymes before the gene is expressed and an altered protein is produced. Each cell has a number of pathways through which enzymes recognize and repair mistakes in DNA. Because DNA can be damaged or mutated in many ways, DNA repair is an important process by which the body protects itself from disease.

A very small percentage of all mutations actually have a positive effect. These mutations lead to new versions of proteins that help an individual better adapt to changes in his or her environment. For example, a beneficial mutation could result in a protein that protects an individual and future generations from a new strain of bacteria.

Because a person’s genetic code can have a large number of mutations with no effect on health, diagnosing genetic conditions can be difficult. Sometimes, genes thought to be related to a particular genetic condition have mutations, but whether these changes are involved in development of the condition has not been determined; these genetic changes are known as variants of unknown significance (VOUS). Sometimes, no mutations are found in suspected disease-related genes, but mutations are found in other genes whose relationship to a particular genetic condition is unknown. It is difficult to know whether these variants are involved in the disease.

H. Erectus Potpourri / Videos + paper

Homo erectus: Why can’t I get no respect!

Brain size? Some weaseling here! Late erectus up to 1250cc. Modern human range is 950cc – 1500cc.

It’s also “cheating” to compare H. erectus skulls to contemporary homo sapiens skulls, as if archaic Homo sapiens didn’t have a whopping big brow ridge and robust skull!

The fossilized remains of Homo sapiens idaltu were discovered in 1997 by Tim White at Herto Bouri near the Middle Awash site of Ethiopia’s Afar Triangle. Dating took place by the radioisotope method which analysed the volcanic layers containing the 3 cranial fossils [White 2003].

 The morphology of the skulls display archaic features not found in the later Homo sapiens, but are still seen as the direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens sapiens.  The remains discovered at Herto Bouri have been named ‘Herto Man’. Experts claim the finds are complete enough to be identified as early modern humans, since they show the characteristic globular shape of the braincase and the facial features of our species. However, both the adult skulls are huge and robust, and also show resemblances to more primitive African skulls.
Homo sapiens by Kennis & Kennis / Based off of Jebel Irhoud 1, one of the oldest remains of anatomically modern humans, an adult male at 160,000 years old, from Jebel Irhoud cave in Morocco:


PMID: 18191986 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.11.003

Taxonomic implications of cranial shape variation in Homo erectus.

Baab KL1., Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University


The taxonomic status of Homo erectus sensu lato has been a source of debate since the early 1980s, when a series of publications suggested that the early African fossils may represent a separate species, H. ergaster. To gain further resolution regarding this debate, 3D geometric morphometric data were used to quantify overall shape variation in the cranial vault within H. erectus using a new metric, the sum of squared pairwise Procrustes distances (SSD). Bootstrapping methods were used to compare the H. erectus SSD to a broad range of human and nonhuman primate samples in order to ascertain whether variation in H. erectus most clearly resembles that seen in one or more species. The reference taxa included relevant phylogenetic, ecological, and temporal analogs including humans, apes, and both extant and extinct papionin monkeys. The mean cranial shapes of different temporogeographic subsets of H. erectus fossils were then tested for significance using exact randomization tests and compared to the distances between regional groups of modern humans and subspecies/species of the ape and papionin monkey taxa. To gauge the influence of sexual dimorphism on levels of variation, comparisons were also made between the mean cranial shapes of single-sex samples for the reference taxa. Results indicate that variation in H. erectus is most comparable to single species of papionin monkeys and the genus Pan, which included two species. However, H. erectus encompasses a limited range of variation given its extensive geographic and temporal range, leading to the conclusion that only one species should be recognized. In addition, there are significant differences between the African/Georgian and Asian H. erectus samples, but not between H. ergaster (Georgia+Africa, excluding OH 9 and Daka) and H. erectus sensu stricto. This finding is in line with expectations for intraspecific variation in a long-lived species with a wide, but probably discontinuous, geographic distribution.

PMID: 18191986 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.11.003

Links to Papers, Articles / Evolution of Female Pelvis

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Mar 5; 370(1663): 20140063.

doi:  10.1098/rstb.2014.0063

PMCID: PMC4305164

The evolution of the human pelvis: changing adaptations to bipedalism, obstetrics and thermoregulation


The fossil record of the human pelvis reveals the selective priorities acting on hominin anatomy at different points in our evolutionary history, during which mechanical requirements for locomotion, childbirth and thermoregulation often conflicted. In our earliest upright ancestors, fundamental alterations of the pelvis compared with non-human primates facilitated bipedal walking. Further changes early in hominin evolution produced a platypelloid birth canal in a pelvis that was wide overall, with flaring ilia. This pelvic form was maintained over 3–4 Myr with only moderate changes in response to greater habitat diversity, changes in locomotor behaviour and increases in brain size. It was not until Homo sapiens evolved in Africa and the Middle East 200 000 years ago that the narrow anatomically modern pelvis with a more circular birth canal emerged. This major change appears to reflect selective pressures for further increases in neonatal brain size and for a narrow body shape associated with heat dissipation in warm environments. The advent of the modern birth canal, the shape and alignment of which require fetal rotation during birth, allowed the earliest members of our species to deal obstetrically with increases in encephalization while maintaining a narrow body to meet thermoregulatory demands and enhance locomotor performance.


Science. 2008 Nov 14;322(5904):1089-92. doi: 10.1126/science.1163592.

A female Homo erectus pelvis from Gona, Ethiopia.

Quade J, Levin NE, Butler R, Dupont-Nivet G, Everett M, Semaw S.

Department of Anatomy, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106-4930, USA.


Analyses of the KNM-WT 15000 Homo erectus juvenile male partial skeleton from Kenya concluded that this species had a tall thin body shape due to specialized locomotor and climatic adaptations. Moreover, it was concluded that H. erectus pelves were obstetrically restricted to birthing a small-brained altricial neonate. Here we describe a nearly complete early Pleistocene adult female H. erectus pelvis from the Busidima Formation of Gona, Afar, Ethiopia. This obstetrically capacious pelvis demonstrates that pelvic shape in H. erectus was evolving in response to increasing fetal brain size. This pelvis indicates that neither adaptations to tropical environments nor endurance running were primary selective factors in determining pelvis morphology in H. erectus during the early Pleistocene.

PMID:19008443 DOI: 10.1126/science.1163592


Osteoarthritis – a consequence of evolution?

T. Hogervorst

For Homo sapiens, the female pelvis is the single skeletal element that conveys information about the two most peculiar traits of human evolution. These are upright gait and an ultra-large brain. It shows both the adaptations that occurred to facilitate a permanent bipedal gait, and at the same time the adjustments required to accommodate the birth of a large-brained foetus.7,8 Using such an evolutionary perspective, two human hip disorders can be considered – FAI and DDH. Both feature frequently in current orthopaedic practice.

The Prologue

DNA evidence dates the shared ancestor of chimpanzees and humans to approximately between six and seven million years ago.9 Since then extensive changes have occurred in the pelvis (Fig. 2) and, by comparison, the morphological changes in the hip have been quite minor. The last 50 years have yielded spectacular fossil finds that have helped map hominid evolution. The restructuring of the pelvis is best described as a compacting of the pelvis, with transition from a nearly two-dimensional to three-dimensional form.

The main feature of this compacting8 has been a marked shortening of the ilium, while the sacrum enlarged in all dimensions and came lower to lie opposite the pubis. The result has been a bony birth canal that can cause trouble during childbirth. In addition, the sacrum moved forward (ventrally) and tilted, while the lumbar spine lengthened. The number of lumbar vertebrae increased, from three or four in the chimpanzee to five, sometimes six, in Homo sapiens.This facilitated the development of a lumbar lordosis, thereby positioning the spine more centrally and bringing the centre of gravity of the upper body closer to the hip joints in the sagittal (lateral) plane.

The human ilium may have become shorter, but it also arches further forward (ventrally), creating prominent anterior superior iliac spines. This forward-arching ilium repositions the gluteal muscles over the hip joint. In the large apes (orang-utan, chimpanzee, gorilla) these muscles are almost entirely posterior to the hip joint, which is why they function mainly as hip extensors. Meanwhile, human gluteal muscles are posterior, directly above and anterior to the hip joint, making them true hip abductors.

Early human ancestors (hominids) first began walking upright and only later developed a large brain. Evidence for this comes from Australopithecus afarensis of 3.2 million years ago, that was well-adapted to a permanent upright gait11 but still had a body and brain size similar to a chimpanzee.7 In the subsequent three million years, body size approximately doubled while brain size tripled. This brain enlargement thus happened when the pelvis, in evolutionary terms, had already undergone extensive restructuring to facilitate a true upright gait. There had also been a remarkable elongation of the lower limbs.

From approximately three to 0.5 million years ago only anteroposterior deepening of the pelvis appears to have taken place through relative growth of the pubic bones while the relative width of the pelvis decreased. This may be because of the importance of an efficient abductor mechanism for the now permanent bipedal gait of early humans. To keep required abductor work within limits, the lever arm of bodyweight should also be kept within limits.12 Indeed, the distance between the midline of the pelvis and the centre of the femoral head has been said to be larger for human females than males.13

A large foetal brain and long legs may present serious problems at childbirth. Today’s rate of Caesarean section is approximately 20% in developed countries.14 Meanwhile, obstetric problems have never been documented in the large apes.15 Nevertheless, difficulties with childbirth are not exclusive to humans, as bovids and smaller primates such as the macaque are known to have birthing problems.


First Job in Wyoming / Telemarketeer Re-Post

Telemarketeer -Twenty years ago…

1997: In my now-and-then capacity as a telemarketer for the local newspaper, I have been addressed as Sir, Son, Ma’m, Dear, and Dude. The confusion produced by my telephone voice began when I was about ten years old, the result of an innocent quirk of nature that caused my mother so much embarrassment that she directed me to speak in a higher, more feminine voice, insisting that if I did so, the change would become permanent. Her idiotic suggestion did not win my compliance, and to this day the people I ring up on behalf of the local newspaper call me Sir, Son, Ma’am, or even Dude and I let them think whatever they wish.

As TV journalists like to say, “the vast majority” of copies of the weekly flyer named The Guide are delivered to residents of two towns in our county. Of the 30,000 copies printed each week, 350 must be mailed to outlying households, a service for which the United States Postal Service charges the publishers $125.00 per week. The postal authorities have decided that we (that’s me) must obtain the names of 8,000 people who will admit that they wish to receive The Guide, otherwise the Postal Service will no longer permit copies to be mailed bulk rate.


About Our County: Not the entire state, just our county. Imagine an area the size of Massachusetts. Remove the vegetation, the history, the thriving cities and towns, the ethnic culture, the restaurants, the shopping, the seafood, the numerous institutions of research and higher learning, the cultural arts, professional sports teams, and all but 45,000 of its people. Add bitter alkaline soil, a uniformly high and lifeless plateau (average altitude 6,500′) and precipitation on a par with the Mongolian Steppe. True, a river does flow through the area like the Nile crosses Egypt, but without delivering a single bucket of fertile sediment. Too barren for cattle – Pronghorn, coyote, varmints and rabbits form a tentative fauna. Hordes of sheep are trucked in during February because the vast public lands mean they can be rotated to a different grazing patch every two to three days.

Over the brief time that I’ve lived in Wyoming, contact with my neighbors has for the most part been via the phone calls I make on behalf of the newspaper’s ongoing survey. When someone answers the phone, I say, “This is The Guide calling to verify that you still wish to receive The Guide.”

The usual response is “uh” or “uh-huh”, both of which mean yes, so I quickly confirm the address as it appears in the phone book. Good enough, but in an extraordinary number of instances, the phone number does not belong to the person listed in the phone book. This invalidates the response, and I must ask the person to reveal his or her correct address and identity. Shockingly, he or she invariably complies. The percentage of disconnected numbers is also high: area jobs depend on oil and gas production and coal and trona (baking soda) mining, industries that guarantee a boom and bust transient population.

About half the respondents don’t recognize the free paper as The Guide, so I prompt them with, “The free Tuesday paper, the shopper’s guide, you know, the one that has the TV listings inside?”

Everyone gets it then, although a few say, “Oh! That thing I find in my bushes every Tuesday.” Which is true.

An alarming number of residents fear that we intend to take it away from them or that we will start charging for it. One woman said, “Well, if it’s a bother, I guess you can stop bringing it.”

Another meekly replied, “No, I don’t want it anymore – is that OK?”

A few say positive things such as, “We love that little paper.” “I sure do need that TV Guide,” and “Don’t leave me without the grocery store coupons.”

A teenager responded wryly, “My mother and her husband aren’t here. Call back.” Stereotypical husbands must ask the wife. “I’m not in a decision-making position in this house,” admitted one.

“My wife just got laid off and I’m kinda gettin’ that way too.” What this had to do with receiving a free paper, I’m not sure. I worry about folks who contrive to make me decide whether to say “yes” or “no” for them, and about a man who shouted, “Come over for a soft drink, a cup of coffee, and Ritz crackers.”

A high percentage of those who wish to stop delivery cite failing eyesight or blindness.

“I always have the TV on, why do I need a TV guide?” an elderly gentleman asked.

Sometimes despair overcomes me when my phone call intrudes on what sounds like a tiny human black hole at the center of a room-sized galaxy, surviving on energy sucked from an excruciatingly loud television set, with the furnace set on Hell, in the company of a sole surviving houseplant that was packed into potting soil in 1952, its one withered leaf gasping for the CO2 that the old human can no longer supply in sufficient quantity. Enough poetry.

The phone book is crammed with names that are new to me: Likwartz, Labuda, Bodyfelt, Copyak, Bozovich, Blazovich, Chewning, Bilyeu, Crnich, Cukale, Delanneoy, Depoyster, Fagnant, Holopeter, Jauregui, Jelouchan, Lovercheck, Manhard, Warpness, and more. Between 1850 and 1950, this corner of Wyoming attracted an international ensemble of men looking for the worst work on earth, but alas, ethnic names are the only lasting evidence of a diverse cultural heritage, which is not surprising in an environment that defeats human effort, and in which the vast and bleak land paralyzes the psyche.

A friend who grew up in a coal camp north of town contends that by the 1950’s, everyone had become the same. “Everybody just looked and sounded the same,” he said. “Bleak, beaten up, defeated.”

I continue to jot down amazing names: LaDonna LaCroix, Season Lower, Ty Harder,  Larry Hell, Numa Grubb, Jack Leathers, Bert Mexican, Edwardo Wardo, Osmo Ranta, Clint Chick, Caddy Cackler, Fyrn Coon, Rhett Coy, Theron Dye, Deena & Alle Jo Butters, Kamber Bink Backman, Wanda Hodo, Hushlen Cochrun, Tex Jasperson, Cyma Cudney, Bubb Buh. And the surnames – Uncapher, Sweat, Warpness, Chitica, Laundra, Tonette.

Another melancholy evening as a telemarketer: one phone exchange took off on a sad energy of its own. I don’t recall what set the woman off, but she said that as a young bride she had agreed to follow her husband into the Colorado mountains for a three-month try at a mining job. The pair stayed to raise four kids before moving to Wyoming.

“Eighteen years in Colorado, eighteen here,” she said. A symmetrical life at least. Her husband still works as a miner and drives “a twelve-mile-long dirt road with nothing but ditches” to work and back, which worries her. “I can’t believe that my life is all gone,” she sighed.  “After eighteen years we still don’t know anyone in this town.”

Me neither: my rubber dingy ran aground here a short two years ago and I’ve been busy falling in love with the landscape.

“We’re sorry, you have reached a marriage that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.” No longer connected are Duke + Sandra; Don + Darla; Eldon + LaRie; Cactus + Tammy; Amber + Travis; Hava + Holly; Jay + Dee Dee.

It could be 1957 outside the newspaper office, except that town was an exciting enclave back then. Copies of the newspaper from that time are characterized by enthusiasm and pride; by advertisements for roadhouses, dance halls, and social clubs that catered to every interest, age and hobby. There were restaurants and stores. A full plate of gossip and local news kept people connected. Flipping through the old papers makes me wish I had wandered here a half century ago.

Today’s main street is a dreary alignment of gas stations, concrete block motels, and auto body shops punctuated by weedy lots and businesses that stick to the Interstate interchange at either end of town like cultural antibodies guaranteed to fight off growth and prosperity.

Nature Bites Back / The “Tick” Thing – Diseases

Two articles about tick-born disease dangers: one social media; one from Washington University in St Louis.  Do “ASD” Asperger people run away from environmental threats (chemicals, noise, light, crowding, disease – “sick buildings”; pathogens, parasites, etc) due to a natural “ecological fear response”?

Oh, Lovely: The Tick That Gives People Meat Allergies Is Spreading


By Megan Molteni for WIRED.

First comes the unscratchable itching, and the angry blossoming of hives. Then stomach cramping, and — for the unluckiest few — difficulty breathing, passing out, and even death. In the last decade and a half, thousands of previously protein-loving Americans have developed a dangerous allergy to meat. And they all have one thing in common: the lone star tick.

Red meat, you might be surprised to know, isn’t totally sugar-free. It contains a few protein-linked saccharides, including one called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal, for short. More and more people are learning this the hard way, when they suddenly develop a life-threatening allergy to that pesky sugar molecule after a tick bite.

Yep, one bite from the lone star tick — which gets its name from the Texas-shaped splash of white on its back — is enough to reprogram your immune system to forever reject even the smallest nibble of perfectly crisped bacon. For years, physicians and researchers only reported the allergy in places the lone star tick calls home, namely the southeastern United States. But recently it’s started to spread.

The newest hot spots? Duluth, Minnesota, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the eastern tip of Long Island, where at least 100 cases have been reported in the last year. Scientists are racing to trace its spread, to understand if the lone star tick is expanding into new territories, or if other species of ticks are now causing the allergy.

RELATED: Lyme Isn’t the Only Disease Ticks Are Spreading This Summer

The University of Virginia is deep in the heart of lone star tick country. It’s also home to a world-class allergy research division, headed up by immunologist Thomas Platts-Mills. He’d been hearing tales of the meat allergy since the ’90s — people waking up in the middle of the night after a big meal, sweating and breaking out in hives. But he didn’t give it much thought until 2004, when he heard about another group of patients all suffering from the same symptoms.

This time, it wasn’t a plate of pork chops they shared; it was a new cancer drug called cetuximab. The drug worked, but curiously, patients that lived in the southeast were 10 times as likely to report side effects of itching, swelling, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Platts-Mills teamed up with cetuximab’s distributor, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and began comparing patient blood samples. He discovered that all the patients who experienced an allergic reaction had pre-existing antibodies to alpha-gal, and cetuximab was full of the stuff, thanks to the genetically modified mice from which it was derived. With that mystery solved, Platts-Mills turned to figuring out what made patients so sensitive to alpha-gal.

The best hint he had was the geographic overlap between the cetuximab patients and previously reported meat allergies. The area perfectly matched where people came down with Rocky Mountain spotted fever — a disease carried by the lone star tick. But it wasn’t until Platts-Mills and two of his lab members came down with tick-induced meat allergies of their own that they made the connection.

READ MORE: Blood in a Mosquito’s Belly Could Reveal How Diseases Spread

Over the next few years Platts-Mills and his colleague Scott Commins screened more meat allergy patients and discovered that 80 percent reported being bitten by a tick. What’s more, they showed that tick bites led to a 20-fold increase in alpha-gal antibodies. Since ethics standards prevented them from attaching ticks to randomized groups of patients, this data was the best they could do to guess how meat allergy arises. Something in the tick’s saliva hijacks humans’ immune systems, red-flagging alpha-gal, and triggering the massive release of histamines whenever red meat is consumed.

Researchers are still trying to find what that something is. Commins has since moved to the University of North Carolina, where he’s injecting mice with lone star tick extracts to try to understand which molecules are setting off the alpha-gal bomb. It’s tricky: Tick saliva is packed with tons of bioactive compounds to help the parasite feed without detection. One of them might be an alpha-gal analogue — something similar-but-different-enough in shape that it sets off the human immune system. But it could also be a microbe — like a bacteria or virus — that triggers the response. Some have even suggested that residual proteins from the ticks’ earlier blood meals could be the culprit.

RELATED: Zika Isn’t the Mosquito-Borne Virus You Should Fear

Whatever it is, allergy researchers will be paying attention. Because, as far as anyone can tell, alpha-gal syndrome seems to be the only allergy that affects all people, regardless of genetic makeup. “There’s something really special about this tick,” says Jeff Wilson, an asthma, allergy, and immunology fellow in Platts-Mills’ group. Usually a mix of genes and environmental factors combine to create allergies. But when it comes to the lone star tick it doesn’t matter if you’re predisposed or not. “Just a few bites and you can render anyone really, really allergic,” he says.

In the meantime, Platts-Mills, Commins, and Wilson are busy communicating the scale of the public health problem. Every day they check local news headlines to log new cases of catastrophic hamburger aversion, and spend hours on the phone gathering the latest intel from allergy clinics and academic centers around the country. They’re building the first real red meat allergy incidence map of the U.S. — because state health departments aren’t required to report alpha-gal syndrome to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s still rare enough outside the southeastern US that many doctors don’t correctly diagnose it.

Wilson is trying to get blood samples from all the new outbreaks, to figure out if the patients’ antibodies correspond to the saliva of lone star ticks or a different tick species. That will tell him if the increases in the allergy are the result of changing range patterns, or if other ticks have developed the capacity to rewire human immune systems in the same way. That information would also provide further clues to the mechanism itself. As for a cure? There’s not much science has to offer on that front, besides Epipens and veggie burgers.


Don’t know how accurate this list is, but it points out that ticks need moisture and woody environments to thrive. After 22 years in Wyoming, with my dogs running all over the desert shrub-land,  I’ve had to remove maybe 2-3 ticks.

Top 5 states for Dogs with Fleas: Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Oregon Top 5 States for Cats with Fleas: Oregon. Washington, Florida, California, Alabama The least common? Semi-arid and Desert regions of the U.S. of the North, Midwest and Western states. Bottom 5 States for Dogs with Fleas: Utah, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, South Dakota Bottom 5 States for Cats with Fleas: Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Montana, South Dakota


From people who study ticks:  https://source/

Study extends the ‘ecology of fear’ to fear of parasites

Squirrels and raccoons will give up food to avoid ticks

By Diana Lutz February 24, 2012 January 13, 2016

Here’s a riddle: What’s the difference between a tick and a lion? The answer used to be that a tick is a parasite and the lion is a predator. But now those definitions don’t seem as secure as they once did. A tick also hunts its prey, following vapor trails of carbon dioxide, and consumes host tissues (blood is considered a tissue), so at least in terms of its interactions with other creatures, it is like a lion — a very small, eight-legged lion.

Ecologists are increasingly finding it useful to think of parasites, such as ticks, as micro-predators and have been mining predator-prey theory for insights into parasite-host ecology. One of those insights is that predators don’t just graze at will, and prey aren’t just so many steaks in a freezer. Instead, prey make predators work for dinner by moving elsewhere, being vigilant, flocking together or taking other defensive measures.

This notion that prey are not victims but players, as strongly motivated by fear as the predators are by hunger, is called the ecology of fear.

Work at Washington University in St. Louis, just published in EcoHealth, shows that the ecology of fear, like other concepts from predator-prey theory, also extends to parasites. Raccoons and squirrels would give up food, the study demonstrated, if the area was infested with larval ticks. At some level, they are weighing the value of the abandoned food against the risk of being parasitized.

This new understanding of the interaction between ticks and host animals has implications for human health because the ticks are vectors of several newly emerging diseases. The more we know about what determines the distributions of ticks in their environment, the better prepared we will be to avoid human exposure to these diseases.

Do host animals fear ticks?

The study’s first author, Alexa Fritzsche, collaborated with Brian Allan, PhD, now an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Is there an animal left in the wild that isn’t part of a science study?

Two young raccoons visiting a feeding tray for breakfast become unwitting participants in the study. (Credit: FRITzsche)

By the time Allan finished his postdoctoral fellowship at WUSTL, he had acquired a reputation as the tick man of Tyson Research Center, the university’s biological field station. So it was only natural that when Fritzsche, then Allan’s summer research technician, was given time to do research of her own, she decided to see if the ecology of fear extends to ticks.

Fritzsche now is a doctoral candidate in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia and is studying the role that animal behavior plays in determining the risk of parasitism

Near St. Louis, the most prevalent tick is Amblyomma americanum, called the lone star tick because the adult female has a white splotch on her back. Its larval stage heavily parasitizes small mammals, such as gray and fox squirrels and the common raccoon. Because the ticks can weaken an animal either by exposing it to pathogens or simply by consuming vast quantities of its blood, it made sense to ask whether the host animals were aware of the ticks and able to avoid them.

“It really comes down to natural selection,” Fritzsche says. “There is a cost to being parasitized, and if you don’t develop ways to detect the parasite and avoid it, you’re not going to do well in the long term.”

What will they give up to avoid ticks?

The study was designed to take advantage of the fact that lone star tick larvae (sometimes called “seed ticks”) emerge from eggs in the leaf litter in mid- to late-summer and tick densities increase as more and more ticks emerge. Larval tick densities were measured by dragging a cloth to which “questing” ticks became attached, and counting and identifying the ticks in the laboratory.

“The tick larvae are only about the size of a poppyseed,” Fritzsche says, “but they are present in such great numbers that you can look down and see a mass of them on the ground.

“When you dragged over one of these ‘tick bombs,’” she says, “the ticks could scatter across the cloth within seconds. I walked with a loop of duct-tape around my hand and as soon as I saw a mass, I’d hit the cloth with the duct tape and they’d be stuck on the tape.”

The animals’ response to the ticks (raccoons) was measured by how much food they abandoned, called the giving-up-density (GUD). This metric for assessing tradeoffs between foraging benefits and predation risks is well-established in predator-prey ecology but has only recently been used to assess the ecology of fear in host-parasite interactions.

Run for your lives

Contrary to Fritzsche’s expectations, the animals didn’t abandon the ground-level trays as soon as the ticks began to emerge. Over the course of the study, tick numbers increased — but in a patchy fashion. Some sites had only one tick per 60 square meters; others had 667.

Now, the animals began to abandon more seed from trays at sites with high tick densities regardless of whether they were on the ground or in a tree. The result suggests that the host animals may recognize the threat of parasitism and adjust their patterns of foraging accordingly.

The Center for Disease Control: reported cases of Ehrlichiosis chaffeensis, the most common of the emerging diseases carried by the lonestar tick (Amblyomma americanum). Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas account for 35 percent of all reported E. chaffeensis infections. The incidence of ehrlichiosis has gone steadily up since the disease became reportable in 2000 but thankfully the case fatality rate has declined. (Credit: CDC)

“We thought that they might abandon more seed on the ground than in the tree because ticks are confined to the ground, so we expected more of a local trade-off in foraging,” Allan says. “It turned out that the hosts were actually avoiding entire areas of high tick densities, suggesting potentially an even stronger response to the risk of parasitism than we initially hypothesized.”

Apparently people have underestimated both the ticks and their furry hosts, which far from blundering about obliviously, are wary of threats to their health the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Fritzsche is willing to take the ecology of fear even farther — to include host responses to infections with micro-organisms as well as micro-predators.

Running a temperature helps some amphibians fight parasites such as viruses and fungi. As cold-blooded animals, they can’t raise their temperature on their own, but some amphibians will go to the highest rocks where the sun burns brightest to acquire a “behavioral fever” that helps them fight these illnesses.

“Some people are reluctant to attribute this level of ‘awareness’ to wild animals,” Allan says, “but ecologists have established quite clearly that prey will go to great lengths to avoid predation. Given the substantial cost of parasitism to wildlife, it wouldn’t be surprising if hosts actively adjust their behaviors to reduce this burden.”

After all, it isn’t that different from washing your hands.

Using Numbers to Express Emotion / Chat Room Chat

(My comments in olive Green) A common difficulty in communication between Asperger’s and social typicals is that specific words and word concepts (such as emotions, empathy) do not have common or shared “meanings”
This is not superficial. It reflects differences in the act of communication itself; in the (expected) intent, utility, and outcomes of communication. Social use of language often seems “Nebulous” “self referencing” “vague” and “pointless” to a Concrete visual thinker, whose brain is set to problem-solving mode against a background of logical “natural” structures.
Social typical language is About human relationships that define status on a social hierarchy – A system driven by rigid rules and yet perpetually “under negotiation” at personal, group and class  boundaries.

In essence, Asperger types and social types are not talking to each other at all, but about distinct mental “universes” that arise from very different perceptions of the environment – “reality” 

Trying to establish “contact” with Asperger’s individuals by forcing them to “reveal social-emotional states” is counterproductive; in fact it is outside our experience of reality. Trying to establish contact with social typicals by “sharing” the fascinating facts of physics, steam locomotion, forest growth cycles or geologic processes is equally hopeless.

No, I don’t have a solution. (Perhaps a sense of humor of the “absurd” kind aids tolerance, at least LOL)

Numbers / Empathy / Emotion

An Asperger chat line exchange: 

MOMBOY: My mom mentioned I don’t have much empathy. I told her it was a useless emotion. (Empathy: Is it an emotion, a behavior, a brain function, a concept, or science fiction?) I said that I do help people sometimes to make up for it, minus the emotional baggage. I told her that I usually have an empathy of 2/100. I said it peaks at 20/100. Then she laughed that I use numbers to describe it. She implied that I pull these numbers out of thin air. I feel like these numbers are ways to express approximations. Does anyone else use numbers to describe feelings? Is this funny to you?

MR FORMAL: What works for you, works for you, but when communicating with others you should consider trying to stick with known contexts (words). Otherwise you get weird looks. The point is, there is an amount of conformism that should be observed in order to cleanly operate within soceity. Humans need a consensus in many different areas in order to get along with each other. Communication is one of the most basic consensus items we use to attain this. If you are communicating in another language (foreign, numerical, or invented) then you will be misunderstood by the majority around you. Predict your future if you stick with describing yourself in unconventional ways while in the company of others. The case for social conformity, at least in public.

MOMBOY: You make a good point. However, this is my mother so I can get away with it.  And saying “I don’t possess empathy for other humans and you’re not smart enough to understand why” would not score me any more social points than my fractions would. The use of numbers to disguise true feelings and thoughts?

MS LOGIC: It depends on how you think. Being left brained I always use numbers to describe things, but most people don’t. Being a person of math most things are approximations, only theorems are absolute after all. Approximations = shades of emotion.

MOMBOY: When I think of something that has a quantitative value (amount of empathy or something), I see a glass of liquid and I guage how full it is. Numeric is then the most logical way. Visual conversion of quantity.

MS LOGIC: I don’t see a glass of liquid, but I agree that numbers tend to be the most logical representation. That way you can organize things based on situation. Just to clarify, my give-a-shit meter works on a percentage scale. Your fraction based system is very similar though. (Fractions are percentages!) Visualizing quantities – numbers.

MR FORMAL: A perfect example of communication building based on associating language with context. Keep this up and you guys will be speaking half in numbers and half in words.

MOMBOY: I don’t use the numbers in speech unless someone asks me how much empathy I feel for a certain situation. That has yet to happen, so for now my mind just uses the numbers as markers. The numbers gauge things comparatively against what you think about other events, not comparing what you think to what others think.

MR FORMAL: You misunderstand me, however, I was thinking along the lines of you both developing a new way of expressing something through a hybridization of an old language and a new element. And I was running a social simulation in my head where human language used numbers instead of words to describe feelings. Creative compromise.

NEWBOY: The numbers are useless without context. 1/100 could be referencing happiness, grief, or relief. I don’t think a language based entirely off of numbers is practical. Unless of course you change certain numbers to be words. As in when I say “5” it holds the same meaning as the word empathy. That would be rather clumsy though. There are languages based on numbers – they’re called CODES.

MOMBOY: There is little difference between how we use numbers and how other people use terms such as a lot, somewhat, strongly, very etc…

NEWGIRL: We just use the numbers because they are more concise and pleasing to us. In reality there is almost no difference between these two “I strongly empathize with XXX” and “I empathize 90% with XXX” Even though to some it may sound foreign to some people.

MOMBOY: Exactly. Numbers allow thoughts to be clarified in ways that are often notable. By supporting someone’s actions 85 percent (instead of saying support them greatly), the 15 percent left speaks volumes. It leaves room for a lecture, (fudging between saying what you think and limiting the social blowback?) yet still conveys that you are not in terrible opposition to the person’s actions; thus they needn’t be too troubled by your critique. Numbers (in the right context of course) can say a lot to people.

MS. DAISY: Makes perfect sense to me. I usually either feel an emotion or I don’t, so I don’t think that quantifying them would help me very much. With that in mind, though, I think it’s a very useful concept, at least for introspection. I doubt most people would appreciate the numeric representation of emotions, as it probably comes off as being a bit cold.

MOMBOY: The touchy feely types may not appreciate such a mathematical approach to detecting emotion.

JOINER: To me, emotion is like a smoke or a fog that moves a bit like liquid. Emotion is very ethereal. Feeling emotion is like a mystical treasure. But deciding how important it is? That must done with the most precise logic. Very visual experience – of a physical state.

MR MATH: I describe feelings with numbers most of the time as well because it’s easier for me to explain feelings this way. I suppose it just depends on whom you’re talking to whether they’ll appreciate it or not. Most of the people in my life have gotten used to it. I can explain my interest in someone in terms of “Its 10% friendship, 20% …” Having to translate physical feeling (emotion) into numbers in order to describe it.

MR FORMAL: I have a couple of published papers on quantification of soft cognition: beliefs, hunches, biases, assumptions, uncertainty, emotional mood, etc. This is for research related to applications in artificial intelligence. Some of my recent research is based upon a “calculus” I have developed – Bias-Based Reasoning, which mathematizes mental percepts.

MS Daisy: Sometimes I do quantify a feeling in terms of how much i would spend on something. (Me) This I can relate to: if I want to limit calories to 1200 / day, the calories automatically convert to dollars and  I “spend them” on food. It’s very different to think of a 400 calorie chocolate bar costing $4.00 out of a $12.00 budget, which shows that it’s not a “bargain.”

MR MATH: My natural tendency is to use numbers. I think in terms of a horizontal line with 100% at one side and 0% at the other. I have learned to edit out the % with most people as I feel I come across very nerdy and I know most people don’t relate to it. Visual conversion of numbers. This is familiar to me as a visual thinker.

NEW GIRL: I would say my empathy can get to 8/10 at extreme conditions, usually falls around a steady 0.37/10.00 and coasts up to 3/10 sometimes. A bit wacky, but perhaps charming. LOL!

Business Insider Report / U.S. – Russia Arms Sales

They say the Cold War is over, but Russia and the U.S. remain the leading supplier of weapons to countries around the world and are the two biggest military powers. Lately, tensions have been pretty high, too. The U.S. supplies much of NATO and Middle Eastern allies like Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Russia supplies other BRIC nations, as well as Iran, much of Southeast Asia, and North Africa.

We took numbers from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute for 2012-2013 to see whom the two rivals were supplying with weaponry. The U.S. dealt to 59 nations that Russia doesn’t sell or send weaponry to, while Russia dealt to just 15 nations that don’t receive U.S. arms. Fifteen countries received weaponry from both the U.S. and Russia, including Brazil, India, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The country that received the highest dollar amount of U.S. weaponry was the United Arab Emirates, with more than $3.7 billion in arms received over that period. Russia dealt the greatest value of weapons to India, sending more than $13.6 billion.

Overall, the U.S. sent more than $26.9 billion in weaponry to foreign nations, while Russia sent weaponry exceeding $29.7 billion in value around the globe.

Interestingly, the U.S. actually recieved roughly $16 million worth of weaponry from Russia. This was part of a $1 billion helicopter deal the two nations made so that the U.S. could supply Afghan security forces with equipment they were already more familiar with.

Importantly, SIPRI’s totals don’t measure the cost of the transaction but the cost of the weapons’ production. The numbers are listed as the production value of the weapons sold rather than the amount they were actually sold for. In addition, SIPRI does not track the transfer of certain small arms. How much of this weaponry is given away FREE by the U.S. ?

SIPRI gives several examples to explain their chosen method. In 2009, six Eurofighters valued at $55 million each were delivered by Germany to Austria. Therefore the delivery was valued at $330 million, even though the actual transaction likely netted a much higher total. For comparison, when The New York Times listed the total of weapons sold by the U.S. at $66.3 billion in 2011, SIPRI came up with a much lower total based off of production cost of $15.4 billion. As usual, accurate $$$$ is impossible to establish.

You can read the full explanation of SIPRI’s calculations here. – articles on how business interests see the news.

bi_graphics_usrussiaarmsrace-3 cost

Graphic Novels for Visual Thinkers / Educating Aspergers

Support a new Middle School project in New York! (from a site offering funding for teacher proposals)

Graphic Novels Motivate Readers With Asperger Syndrome

My students need a library of graphic novels to motivate readers because these books provide the visual cues kids with Asperger and autism need to truly understand characters.


My ten students are middle-schoolers who have Asperger Syndrome.

Students in my classroom have difficulty understanding people, so it’s not surprising that they also struggle to infer characters’ motives and purpose in books. Nonfiction, full of facts? No problem! But fiction? The majority of my students with Asperger Syndrome could leave it completely.

Vintage “graphic novels” were aimed at boys who didn’t like to read.

They like to follow rules – but they make a lot of their own. They like to be right, so they hate to admit when they don’t know something, and they avoid things that are difficult. Tough concepts, like characterization, theme and tone in a novel, make them feel uncomfortable – so they’d rather not read fiction. And, as educators know, the only thing that really improves reading once the school day ends, is more reading. Then I found the novel, The Inventions of Hugo Cabret. We only have one copy – I borrowed it from our library, and they want it back! But the students were riveted. Not only were they fascinated by the format of the book – half graphic novel, half traditional – but they understood Hugo’s emotions, portrayed as they were with matching drawings, moving incrementally forward! Experiments with other graphic novels are also proving successful, but we don’t have a lot of them to go around.

I am requesting class sets of popular graphic novels for my self-contained English class of students with Asperger Syndrome (and High-Functioning Autism.) The novels I request will be taught in the same manner as traditional literature, and I will compare each work with a traditional novel, which we will also read. This will help my students be on equal footing with their peers, because they will have more insight into concepts about characterization (as well as plot, theme, tone, etc.) when they rejoin their peers in high school reading more traditional works. I hope that, ultimately, these graphic novels lead them to enjoy literature in a way that many people without autism do – for the love of the story and the characters we would otherwise not know.

I was a MAD Magazine addict and a sucker for cats and rabbits dressed in charming clothing.

Please help me bridge the “understanding gap” for my students, who are so smart and fun and have so much potential. Help them understand literature by opening the door, using pictures with the text, and engendering a level of understanding that their disability would otherwise prevents them from obtaining. Thank you so much for reading my proposal.

Remember when all childhood schoolbooks had plenty of beautiful illustrations – stylized but realistic (not infantilized and deformed neotenic blobs) FOR ALL CHILDREN? Maybe our “old-fashioned” predecessors in publishing and education knew a lot more than we do about visual thinking being basic to the human ability to learn…

Anger Management / BS


Anger –

It’s as if even thinking or speaking about anger translates into “being angry”

Bring up the topic, and the adrenalin level in people around you goes through the roof. No one wants to talk about anger. Why?


Some titles of anger management articles:

“Anger – How to solve our anger problem”

“Anger Management is a psycho-therapeutic program for anger prevention and control” (which extends to and encompasses) “Alcohol and Drug Abuse” “Co-parenting and Divorce” “Domestic Violence”

“Are you a Powder Keg? ”

These titles, of course, are meant to drag the reader – any reader – into the sphere of THE PROBLEM, which traditionally is the subject of Sunday sermon rants about Original Sin and Disobedience to god. Anger is everyone’s cross to bear: “mankind” is  inherently sinful and “disordered”.

We may note without hesitation that none of these angry chastisements about how “bad” humans are, has had any positive effect on the most hopeless of projects; eradication of violence, anger, aggression, brutality, cruelty and all manner of destructive activities over millennia of human history, nor on aggression, revenge, war, crime, domestic battery, psychological cruelty, etc. Nor has the constant harangue against the dreadful state “being human” done anything to increase human happiness, security or health.

'In the interest of full disclosure, I should inform you that I define an hour as 40 minutes.'

‘In the interest of full disclosure, I should inform you that I define an hour as 40 minutes.’

From the Mayo Clinic – Intermittent Explosive Disorder Definition

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Intermittent explosive disorder involves repeated, sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts in which you react grossly out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or other temper tantrums may be signs of intermittent explosive disorder.

These intermittent, explosive outbursts cause you significant distress, negatively impact your relationships, work and school, and they can have legal and financial consequences. It’s an unusual use of pronouns in a “definition” – aggressive and accusatory, as opposed to “a person” may experience these behaviors.

Intermittent explosive disorder is a chronic disorder that can continue for years, although the severity of outbursts may decrease with age. Treatment involves medications and psychotherapy to help you control your aggressive impulses

Is there a pattern here? Of course: Anger is declared to be a “tangible thing” – barely distinguishable from the religious notion of being possessed by Demonic forces or the restless and angry spirits of the dead. In contagious magic, mere “contact” with the location of a violent death or murder is sufficient to “contaminate” a living person and make them deranged.  Today “bad genes” are often invoked as “causal” to “disorders” along with a “brain chemistry problems” “brain damage” “brain development defects” and being born with an antisocial personality. All of these are supernatural explanations, regardless of the label imposed – superstition, religious dogma, or psychotherapeutic theory.  Drugs as a treatment for anger (or any other taboo emotion or behavior) seek to “prove” that there is something “bad” going on inside your brain… PROOF? Look at how medication has become the default response to any behavior judged to be “abnormal-pathological” – dangerous untested (and often addictive) drugs which merely disrupt or mask so-called “symptoms” or worsen the person’s ability to function.

The destination for all of these myths and treatment practices is the same: CONTROL of unwanted human behavior. CONTROL, whether or not is expedited by torture, talk therapy, or the administration of sledgehammer pharmacology. There truly is no current attempt at understanding the brain, understanding the evolution of human behavior, or the obvious comparison with animal behavior, which we share.

There is one hapless nod to reality inserted in most of these articles: Anger is a normal and healthy part of being human, but… you have a problem.

Let’s see what the American Psychological Association has to say:

'The doctor will acknowlege your existance now.'

Controlling anger before it controls you.

We all know what anger is, and we’ve all felt it: whether as a fleeting annoyance or as full-fledged rage. We don’t know what anger is; we know the “experience” of sudden adrenalin production. Adrenalin rushes are “judged” by word labels (emotion labels) in order to isolate a particular reaction as “good or bad” emotion / behavior.

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. The obligatory lame nod to reality. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. This brochure is meant to help you understand and control anger. The default position is that YOU do not understand this “mysterious bad thing” that rampages inside of you, but WE DO. By virtue of being human, you are at the mercy of “bad you”, but we can fix you.

The Nature of Anger

Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,” according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. This “explanation” is as usual, inverted: “Anger” IS the physiological occurrence of an increase in hormones, heart rate and other biological changes. Anger is not some “supernatural entity” that causes physical phenomena – it is a result of physical changes in response to interaction with the environment. 

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. Good start – acknowledgement of cause; but you are an idiot, so we must explain what “event” means.  You could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings. We’re back to emotions being “things” that hang  around in your brain just waiting to go crazy.

Expressing Anger

The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats. It inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

 Are these assumptions proven or even provable? NO. Isn’t this statement  formulated as an excuse for aggressive male behavior? Do animals “feel anger” when a possible threat appears? No. The fight, flight or freeze response is not absolute – there are options. These are judgements about the function of anger in MALE HUMANS: the insistence that violence is an inevitable outcome in response to threat and defense.

On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us. Again, anger is this “thing” inside us, like a big vat of poison, that MUST find expression – this is a MALE VIEW, as if anger=sexual desire that must be released, which DUH! may contribute to rape behavior. 

People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others. What a LOAD OF BS! It’s the typical social solution, and it’s a male solution: HIDE your aggression; call it “assertiveness” and you are off the hook of responsibility for consequences due to psychological aggression.

Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression. The classic “you can’t win” scenario, building to the goal of “you need our help”.

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.

Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.


As Dr. Spielberger notes, “when none of these three techniques work, that’s when someone—or something—is going to get hurt.” You need us to intervene, because psychologists, like priests, are the know-it-all keepers, promulgators and definers of social reality AND your personal status as “approved or not approved” depends on our judgment.  

Are You Too Angry?

There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone to anger you are, and how well you handle it. But chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. Let’s go for “self-diagnosis”, which is the effortless means to produce willing clients. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion. Scare tactics? You are going to Hell, sister!

Why Are Some People More Angry Than Others?

According to Jerry Deffenbacher, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in anger management, some people really are more “hotheaded” than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don’t show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don’t always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill. Wow! Anyone and everyone can be a closet threat to society! It’s amazing though, that with all their “expert” knowledge, psychologists can’t PREDICT who will be dangerous, but jump in after the fact to “profile; claim-to-know” just who these “bad” actors are.

People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can’t take things in stride, and they’re particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.

Wow! Your problem results from totally inconsequential events; you are a selfish bitch. The tactic of devaluating the validity of a person’s “emotions” is truly standard abuse characteristic of tyrants. Example: how long does the average “client” have to wait for mental health service; for a scheduled appointment to begin 30-40 minutes late; with no consequence for abrupt cancellations on the part of the provider, but default billing and a “disobedient child” lecture should a patient have an unavoidable emergency? The “helping, caring, fixing” people are masters at creating frustration, just to let YOU know who is in charge and that YOU don’t count.

What makes these people this way? A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age.

We all know, as ASD or Asperger children, that this means US. Call it original sin, demon possession, or a slew of concocted disorders, it’s all the same judgmental dismissal due to imperious social rejection. 

Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we’re taught that it’s all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don’t learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.

Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications. That takes care of the liberal category of “poor uneducated people and minorities” !!

WOW! And who is it that has taught generations of American children (especially girls and minorities) that this “psychologically approved” scheme of emotional narcissism and helplessness is not only normal, but supported by “science” ?