pants on fire wrong, almost, learned safety

I’ve seen two or three bloggers so some research on this aspect of what is ultimately a non-controversy, but haven’t seen the broadcast media look into it, Fact-Checking the Ayers Allegations: So Wrong, It’s “Pants on Fire” Wrong

However, Ayers “was never on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge,” and he “never made a decision programmatically or had a vote,” Rolling said.

“He (Ayers) was at board meetings — which, by the way, were open — as a guest,” Rolling said. “That is not anything near Bill Ayers and Barack Obama running the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.”

[   ]…Let’s look at a few, starting with the funder. Annenberg was a lifelong Republican and former ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Richard Nixon. His widow, Leonore, has endorsed McCain. Kurtz might just as plausibly have accused Obama and the foundation of “translating Annenberg’s conservatism into practice.”

Among the other board members who served with Obama were: Stanley Ikenberry, former president of the University of Illinois; Arnold Weber, former president of Northwestern University and assistant secretary of labor in the Nixon administration; Scott Smith, then publisher of the Chicago Tribune; venture capitalist Edward Bottum; John McCarter, president of the Field Museum; Patricia Albjerg Graham, former dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Journalism, and a host of other mainstream folks.

“The whole idea of it being radical when it was this tie of blue-chip, white-collar, CEOs and civic leaders is just ridiculous,” said the foundation’s former development director, Marianne Philbin.

The foundation gave money to groups of public schools — usually three to 10 — who partnered with some sort of outside organization to improve their students’ achievement.

Some people like ridiculous and that is their right, though such a right is not explicitly spelled out in out Constitution. All the fact checking in the world isn’t going to change the mind of a person that has internalized and made a huge emotional investment in such conspiracy theories about Senator Obama. When he becomes president they’ll probably stock up on tin foil to keep the special rays beamed down from Obama’s mother ship from penetrating their brains. I hope they recycle the foil.


Learning How Not to Be Afraid,

Why do some people have the ability to remain calm and relaxed even in the most stressful situations? New experiments in mice by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers are providing insight into how the brain changes when the animals learn to feel safe and secure in situations that would normally make them anxious.
HHMI investigator Eric R. Kandel and Daniela D. Pollak conducted experiments in which they conditioned mice to feel safe in stressful situations. Their experiments showed that the mice developed a conditioned inhibition of fear, which Kandel calls “learned safety.”

“I’ve always been interested in how psychoanalysis works. Since it is a learning experience, there must be a biological basis in the brain.”
Eric R. Kandel

The behavioral changes observed in the mice squelched anxiety as effectively as antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, said Kandel, who is at Columbia University. “It’s a little bit like psychotherapy,” he noted. “This shows that behavioral intervention works.”

The research is reported on October 9, 2008, in the journal Neuron. Kandel conducted the study with Pollak, who will soon leave Kandel’s lab to assume a position at the Medical University of Vienna.

The new study is noteworthy because it reveals in elegant detail how behavioral conditioning can affect the brain. According to Kandel, knowing how behavioral intervention works at the molecular and cellular levels may prove to be an interesting route to identifying new ways to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

Fear is a huge business around the world. One that provides benefits to political leaders, police agencies and defense contractors. There are real dangers, but they too often seem to be pumped up beyond their actual threat. So teaching people not to be so fearful, which in turn would bring down the general level of anger and violence, probably wouldn’t go over that well as a business model to venture capitalists. Curious that we’ll buy expensive car seats for infants, but not peace of mind.