Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Tagaddiction

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Young anxious woman lying in bed staring at smartphone screen at night, reading about depression symptoms in internet, phone addicted female can not stop scrolling news media before bedtime. Anxiety.

Cal Newport: Overstimulation Is Ruining Your Life

Turns out the solution is simple: don't use things that overstimulate you.

Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work, now runs a YouTube channel/podcast where he offers advice about how to live and work deeply and effectively in the digital age. I’ve consistently found his thoughts interesting, informative, and inspiring. Last week, Newport released a fifteen-minute video on “overstimulation,” and talked at some length about the chemical dopamine, and how dopamine gives us the urge to do things we think will provide us with rewards. For instance, dopamine may compel us to take another inhalation of a cigarette, yank the lever of a gambling machine in Las Vegas, or even do something as apparently benign as refreshing your email tab. While there are many opinions and Read More ›

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Hispanic man staring sadly at his smartphone

The Real Issue With the “New Drug”

Pornography is a drug, through and through, and is used mainly to alleviate negative emotions and meaninglessness

One of the biggest harms of the Internet is online pornography. While prostitution (which has the root word porneia) has been around since the dawn of human history, never before has access to explicit content been so easy and varied. Today the porn industry rakes in around $100 million globally, with the U.S. making up $12-14 million of that revenue. According to this report, 40 million Americans regularly view pornography, and 25 percent of all Internet searches are porn-related. These stats are shocking, to say the least, but it begs the question of how we best understand and treat porn addiction in today’s context. While most of us would naturally assume such addiction is related to sexual impulses, “Dr. K,” Read More ›

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Closed up image of a Female using TikTok application on a smartphone in home. 5 September, 2022. ChiangMai, Thailand.

TikTok is Storing Data in China, Contrary to Former Claims

TikTok CEO said user data isn't stored in China. Turns out it is.

Many online creators and entrepreneurs give sensitive data to TikTok, the China-owned social media app, so they can do business on the platform. That includes social security numbers. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told Congress earlier this year that users’ data was stored outside of China in places such as Virginia and Singapore. Apparently, however, that is an inaccurate claim. According to a report from Forbes, TikTok has indeed been storing sensitive data on Chinese servers, where employees there can access it. Alexandra S. Levine reports, A trove of records obtained by Forbes from multiple sources across different parts of the company reveals that highly sensitive financial and personal information about those prized users and third parties has been stored in China. Read More ›

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Young woman using smart phone

TikToxic: The Popular App is Feeding Teens a “Diet of Darkness”

Apart from the debate over espionage and data privacy, TikTok is a highly addictive app

TikTok has gained a fair bit of fierce criticism over the last few months; the China-owned social media app is the most popular on the market, with tens of millions of users and downloads. That includes, of course, teenagers. Apart from the debate over espionage and data privacy, TikTok is a highly addictive app. We covered more on that here, but recent studies show that it’s not just the amount of time spent on the app that is troubling, but the specific kinds of content young people are ingesting every day. Julie Jargon writes in the Wall Street Journal, Data privacy, though, might be less worrisome than the power of TikTok’s algorithm. Especially if you’re a parent. A recent study found that Read More ›

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A glacial rivers from above. Aerial photograph of the river streams from Icelandic glaciers. Beautiful art of the Mother nature created in Iceland. Wallpaper background high quality photo

The Solution for Tech Addiction

Trail Life USA is a way to get guys off their phones and into the wilderness

In a recent Mind Matters podcast episode, host Robert J. Marks spoke with Kent Marks, former Boy Scout guide who now works with Trail Life USA. In the wake of Boy Scouts’ precipitous decline over the last decade, Trail Life offers boys the chance to get outside and go on wilderness adventures. This is a huge opportunity to help young men get off the screens and into the beauty of creation. Speaking about the gravity of the problem, Robert said, The impact of social media has just been terrible. Teenage suicides are up, depression rates are up. I think a third of all girls involved in social media have body image problems. And that’s terrible. These are the symptoms of Read More ›

social media city
Social media icons fly over city downtown showing people reciprocity connection through social network application platform . Concept for online community and social media marketing strategy .

Social Media’s Distortion of the Real World

Constant exposure to idealized online images impacts our expectations and worldview

How does excessive social media use affect our perceptions of the real world? Writers Mark Miller and Ben White wrote a piece at Aeon on social media through the perspective of “predictive processing,” a term used in neuroscience and cognition. Predictive processing involves the brain’s capacity to predict error, danger, or some future event, and urge us to act accordingly. (That’s my basic, layman’s understanding of it, full disclosure!) White and Miller use temperature as an example, noting how the body may respond to a change of the environment by closing a window or grabbing a blanket to keep warm. Being able to respond appropriately to our surroundings depends on the accuracy of our mental model of the real world. Read More ›

daydreaming
Young woman relaxing at winter sea beach. Traveler resting by blue mountain

In Defense of Daydreaming

Andrew McDiarmid encourages people to set aside their devices and embrace the discomfort of silence

At the end of the day, do you ever feel like you’ve ingested so much information but have thought and contemplated so little? When do we take the time to simply be quiet and think? Discovery Institute’s Andrew McDiarmid encourages people to set aside their devices and embrace the discomfort of silence in a piece from The Epoch Times. He writes, A recent study reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that the act of “just thinking” can be more rewarding than we might realize. The authors of the paper acknowledge that the ability to engage in internal thoughts without external stimulation is a unique characteristic in humans, yet we regularly underappreciate the benefits of doing so. This constant feed of Read More ›

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Arms raised in worship

The Asbury Revival and the Cure for TikTok

In the age of social media addiction, young people need to know they can be imperfect and yet loved

Social media portrays a world where everybody is happy and having a good time. Everybody, of course, except for you. There must therefore be something wrong with you. You are a loser. Teenage boys without girlfriends feel like social freaks. One in three teenage girls who use social media suffers from  body image issues.   Social Media and Depression Young adults who use social media are three times as likely to suffer from depression. Depression can lead to suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, female suicides aged 15-24 increased by 87 percent over the past 20 years and male suicides increased by 30 percent. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says suicide is now Read More ›

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Asian woman playing game on smartphone in the bed at night,Thailand people,Addict social media

Surgeon General Says 13 is Too Young to Have Social Media

The public official warned against the addictive nature of social media and how it affects children's self worth

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy believes that age 13 is too young for children to start using social media, noting that their sense of self is still developing. Murthy gave his remarks on “CNN Newsroom,” saying, I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early … It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children.” Murthy’s remarks go hand in hand with a formidable body of research that shows the negative correlation between social media use and teens’ mental Read More ›

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Cigarette with ashes isolated on black background

New Article Compares Big Tech to “Big Tobacco” of the ’70s

Like smoking in the 1970s — known to be dangerous yet poorly regulated — Big Tech is harming kids today yet is met with little intervention or pushback

In a new article from Deseret News, Brad Wilcox and Riley Peterson equate Big Tech to “Big Tobacco.” They argue that the online world has the same dangers and negative effects as other drugs, and go on to cite alarming mental health data to back up their claims. Similar to how smoking was found to be dangerous in the 1970s and yet poorly regulated by the government, Big Tech is harming kids today yet is met with little intervention or pushback.  They start with a powerful analogical anecdote, writing, Imagine if a man in a white panel van pulled up in your neighborhood and began enticing teens to look at pictures and videos featuring drug use, pornography and a range Read More ›

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Sample social media app interface on mobile phone showing shared video content

Girl Tragically Dies After Doing Horrific TikTok Challenge

The 12-year-old from Argentina isn't the only victim of the fatal TikTok "blackout challenge"

A 12-year-old girl from Argentina died after trying the dangerous “choke challenge” on TikTok, per the New York Post. The girl, Milagros Soto, was found in a closet hanging from a makeshift noose on January 13th. Soto’s family members think she was bullied and challenged to perform the horrible online fad while at school. Soto isn’t the only casualty of the TikTok challenge, which involves asphyxiating oneself until passing out. It’s also only one of many “fatal fads” circulating the TikTok sphere. Also known as the “blackout challenge,” Tiktok users chase virality and clout by forcing themselves to pass out. In light of the tragic death, people are begging parents to prohibit TikTok from their children. Several Twitter users spoke Read More ›

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Stethoscope with financial on the desk.

The Practice of Medicine and Ongoing Issues with Opioid Addiction

How does our brain chemistry affect addiction? How has artificial intelligence changed medicine? Anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Hurley discusses opioid addiction from a medical perspective with host Dr. Robert J. Marks. Then, an anonymous guest details their own experience with opioids. Finally, Dr. Hurley discusses how computer algorithms have both improved and stifled the proper practice of medicine. Additional Resources

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Good and Bad Algorithms in the Practice of Medicine

Computers and artificial intelligence are restricted to being algorithmic. If something is non-algorithmic, it is not computable. Creativity, nuance, and insight are human characteristics that are non-algorithmic. What happens if you remove those human characteristics from the practice of medicine? Robert J. Marks and Dr. Richard Hurley discuss how algorithms can help and harm the practice of medicine. Show Notes Read More ›

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A First-Hand Account of Kicking Fentanyl Addiction: Reversing Hebb’s Law

Donald Hebb, the father of neuropsychology, is known for Hebb’s Law which states “neurons that fire together wire together.” This means that as you repeatedly perform an action which gives you pleasure or relief, the neurons between the action and the pleasure simultaneously fire. Dr. Robert J. Marks interviews an anonymous man called Stretch who describes his experience with fentanyl Read More ›

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A prescription pill bottle spilling out an assortment of pills

Exercising Free Won’t in Fentanyl Addiction: Unless You Die First

In the 1960s, neurosurgeon Benjamin Libet noticed there was a signal in the brainthat occurred before you knew you were going to do something. On the surface, it looks like you don’t have free will. But Libet noticed that humans do have the ability to say no to these brain signals. He called this free won’t. Dr. Robert J. Marks Read More ›

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X-ray of the head and brain of a person

Bingecast: Michael Egnor on the Human Brain

In this Bingecast episode, Dr. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Michael Egnor explore the human brain and its relationship to the mind. Is the mind an emergent property of the brain? Is there neurological evidence for the soul? What have brain experiments taught us about free will and the human person? Can you still think in a coma? Show Notes Read More ›

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wooden toy model sitting on a bench

Sci-Fi Saturday: When Virtual Friends Are a Real Addiction

This animated short begins with the thirtieth birthday party of a rather glum young man

“Best Friend” at DUST by Nicholas Olivieri, Shen Yi, Juliana De Lucca, Varun Nair, David Feliu (Feb 16, 2021, 5:31) “In a near future, a lonely man is addicted to a product called Best Friend which offers him perfect virtual friends.” As is hinted in the title (so this is not a spoiler), we suddenly learn — via an effective plot maneuver — that all of the partying friends are virtual realities. I had already begun to wonder about the animated objects cheering along with the crowd but then maybe in the future our kitchenware will have enthusiasms … But no. It’s all in his head, as long as he keeps replenishing the supply of a chemical cocktail to a Read More ›

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Bingecast: Jonathan Sackier on Healing the Brain

The brain can also both adapt and heal itself. How can we facilitate this healing in patients with brain challenges? Can this healing be accelerated without brain surgery? Using stimulation to the tongue can result in incredible changes to brain functions. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Jonathan Sackier discuss brain trauma, healing and stimulation. Show Notes 01:11 | Introducing Dr. Read More ›

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Man holding game controller in the dark

Will we surrender our free will to screens?

We may be surrendering while we aren’t paying attention

If “the machines” ever do take over, it will be because we have stopped thinking, not because they have started to.

Read More ›
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Smartphone 10 Conversation 0

We need to be more honest about the addictive nature of the device, for some.
A guy on a date is not checking his phone three times in ten minutes because the world outside the restaurant is changing that fast. He is in the grip of an addiction. Read More ›