What does it mean to live as part of the web of life, but to behave as if we don’t?

The question about what it means to live life as though we are not connected to all is urgently important at this point in our history on this planet. Because if we don’t collectively come to understand that everything matters, we will sadly be headed for doom. It’s wonderful to see this line of thinking enter into the realm of what mental health professionals are thinking about. … [click on title for the rest of the post]

NIMH is abandoning the DSM!

Another big WOW piece of news. I’ll let it stand alone. Thank you for alerting us Mind Hacks.

It’s not like Insel is generally an enlightened sort, but this remains fascinating!

UPDATE: I read the NIMH announcement. (when I first posted this I had just woken up) As I said above, Insel is hardly an enlightened sort. This probably isn’t as positive as it sounds. Although acknowledging the limitations of DSM is good, what will eventually replace it is likely to be even more reductive, i.e. the criteria for diagnosis will likely become all biological based on genetics, scans and other kinds of testing without reference to anything involved outside the patient’s body.

That’s not to diminish the value of discarding conceptual categories. It’s not that long ago that mental illness was mostly classified as hysteria. … [click on title for the rest of the post]

How Life Organizes

Open systems not only maintain their balance amidst the flux, but also evolve in complexity. When challenges from their environment persist, they can fall apart or adapt by reorganizing themselves around new, more responsive norms. This, too, is a function of feedback–positive or deviation-amplifying feedback (also called “cybernetics two”). It is how we learn and how we evolved from the amoeba. But if our changing behaviors are not compatible with the challenges we face, and do not achieve a new balance with them, the positive feedback loop gets out of control and goes into “runaway,” leading eventually to systems breakdown. … [click on title to read the rest]

GMO OMG: a film for #foodie friday

Today in the United States, by the simple acts of feeding ourselves, we are unwittingly participating in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings. Each of us unknowingly consumes genetically engineered food on a daily basis. The risks and effects to our health and the environment are largely unknown. Yet more and more studies are being conducted around the world, which only provide even more reason for concern. We are the oblivious guinea pigs for wide-scale experimentation of modern biotechnology.

This opens with a lovely poem and looks like a really wonderful and important film. Below I’ve included a list posts that consider our contaminated food supply… [click on title to read the rest]

Poisoning the planet for profit

by PAUL WOODWARD
The mealy-mouthed, equivocating, spineless New York Times reports on the devastating loss in bee populations caused by what is termed “colony collapse disorder.”

The insidious feature of this report is that while it highlights the magnitude of the problem, it implies that concern about the dangers from pesticides is prevalent mostly among beekeepers — as though scientists remain largely agnostic on how much harm derives from chemicals, as opposed for instance to naturally occurring viral epidemics.

The takeaway narrative is that humble beekeepers, perturbed by their losses are afraid of the chemicals, scientists are earnestly investigating the issue, while industry meekly awaits the results, happy to be guided by whatever science reveals. … [click on title to read the rest]

What you are is what eats

Given that the human microbiome is at this point a vast yet mostly uncharted territory, the fact that this is territory in which medicine — through the use of antibiotics — has engaged in open warfare for much of the last century, is all the more reason to think about our nature. In a rampage to kill our enemies we have also been destroying our selves.