Fascination with scary stories


Why are we – some of us – fascinated by scary stories?

I find a few different ways of looking at it.


In an evolutionary context, it makes sense that we are drawn to explore scary things through stories. It helps us mentally prepare for similar situations in our own life. We get more familiar with the possible situations and how we may react, we get a bit desensitized to these types of situations so we may be more calm if or when something similar happens in our own life, and we get a chance to mentally explore different ways of dealing with it.


When I take a story about something scary as true, my attention tends to be drawn to these beliefs and what they are about. Again, it’s an invitation to mentally explore these situations in a safe setting, and how I may deal with it if something similar should happen in the real world. It’s also an invitation to explore these beliefs in themselves. Are they realistic? What’s more realistic? What’s more true for me? 

An impulse to wholeness as who I am, this human self

What I see in the wider world is a reflection of what’s here. So far, I have found how each one of my stories of the wider world – including anything scary – equally well applies to me. As long as I think some human quality or characteristic is only out there in the world, or only in me, it’s painful and uncomfortable. When I find it both in the wider world and in me, there is a sense of coming home and it’s much more comfortable. In this sense, being drawn to scary stories in an invitation for me to use it as a mirror, to find in myself what I see out there in the world, and whether the scary story is from “real life” or made up doesn’t matter much.

Finding a characteristic both in the wider world and myself, I can also relate to it in a more relaxed and level-headed manner, so this impulse to find wholeness also makes sense in an evolutionary perspective.

An impulse to clarity as what I am 

There is also an invitation to find clarity here. When I take a story as true, it’s uncomfortable. And finding more clarity on the story, it’s more comfortable. So when I am drawn to what I think of as scary stories, there is an invitation for me to identify and investigate any stressful belief that may come up. Through this, what I am – clarity and love, that which any experience and image happens within and as – notices itself more easily.

I also see that when I take a story as true I tend to get caught up in reactive emotions and one-sided views, and finding more clarity helps me function in a more healthy, kind and informed way in the world.

Summary: Evolution, and who and what I am

It makes evolutionary sense for me to be drawn to scary stories in all of these ways. (a) I become more familiar with the different scenarios of what may happen and how I desensitize to scary situations to some extent, so I can be more calm if or when something similar happens in my own life. I get to mentally explore different ways of dealing with it, in a safe setting and before it happens. (b) I am invited to investigate my beliefs about it and find what’s more realistic and true for me. (c) I am invited to find in myself what I see in the wider world, which helps me relate to it in a more relaxed and level-headed manner. (d) And there is no end to the stories I can investigate, including my most basic assumptions about myself and the world, which helps me function in the world from more clarity, kindness and wisdom. Each of these support my survival and ability to reproduce and raise offspring.

All of these also make psychological sense. It helps me function in the world, and find a sense of wholeness as who I am.

It all makes spiritual sense. It helps this human self – the infinite experiencing itself as finite – survive and function in the world. It’s an invitation for what I am to more easily notice itself.

And all of these perspectives – evolution, psychology and spirituality – converge in one sense, and are the same in another.




What comes up for me around the word projection?

The simplest is that my images and thoughts about the world is an overlay on simple perceptions. There are sensations, sights, sounds, taste and smell, and then an overlay of images and thoughts creating labels, boundaries, interpretations and stories.

These are, in a sense, projections. It’s all happening within and as my world of experience, within and as awareness. And I have an image of a car, and imagine it’s out there in the world. I have an image of a situation, and imagine it’s in my past or a future. I have an image of me and I, and imagine what these images refer to is here.

Sometimes, these images and thoughts are recognized as just that, as an overlay, as an innocent question about the world, and temporary and practical guidelines at most. And sometimes, they are taken as true, solid, and real, as inherent in the world, something I can’t – at the time – even imagine question. (Until I do.)

So the simplest and most basic way of looking as projections is this overlay of images and thoughts, essential for functioning in the world. And the next layer is whether it’s recognized as just that – in view and also emotionally, energetically and in behavior. Or taken as real and seen, felt and/or lived as real.

The way the word projection is often used is in the last way, when these images and thoughts are taken as real. That’s when I see something out there – in others, in the world, in the past or future, and not (also) here in me now. And that’s really just one subset.


Study: Psychological Trauma & Whiplash


According to a new study, PTSD can aggravate the damage from the whiplash and further increase the pain. ”We have found that PTSD leads to an increased bodily awareness and a fear of movement,” says psychologist Tonny Elmose Andersen, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern Denmark. “This is why PTSD patients tend to feel stronger pain than they otherwise would.”
Psychological traumas intensify whiplash in Science Nordic.

They listed a few possible connection between psychological trauma and whiplash. Here are a few that comes up for me:

  1. Psychological trauma (triggered beliefs) create muscle tension, which can further injure already injured tissue and also prevent it from healing (reduced blood flow etc.)
  2. Psychological trauma creates a heightened state of alertness and tension which may fuel beliefs about the injury: What it means (I won’t be able to work, I won’t get better, I will stay in pain, I will suffer), how it will unfold in the future, and even what it is (it’s pain, it’s an injury). All of these may intensify the experience of pain, and may not support healing.

I see the researchers made a connection from #2 to immobility, which in turn is less-than-ideal for healing. That’s probably true as well. It may be they included #1 in their original research article (although it was left out in this news reporting).

Seems that a combination of traditional therapy (massage, acupuncture tc.) and TRE (to release tension and trauma) may be helpful here, starting gently and early after injury. As usual with TRE, it’s helpful to be gentle and progress slowly, and, in this case, perhaps focus the tremors to the hip and leg area for a while to keep the neck comfortable.

And if this (massage, TRE, releasing tension, supporting healthy muscles) is done before any injuries, then even better.

BBC Witness: Dissidents declared mad


I listened to a podcast from BBC Witness on dissidents declared mad in the Soviet Union.

Apparently, dissidents were routinely diagnosed with sluggish schizophrenia and placed in mental hospitals. The main symptoms? Criticism of the government and interest in political reforms.

What may seem most shocking is that the majority of Soviet psychiatrists apparently believed sluggish schizophrenia to be a real mental illness.

It shows how easy it is to accept the majority view. As a fish in water, we may not even notice it. (It’s always seemed unlikely to me that fish don’t notice the water, but that’s another topic.)

How do we – and I – do the same? Where do we take commonly accepted beliefs on board, sometimes with equally (apparently) severe consequences?


Using levels and types as pointers


The two most obvious ways of using levels and types:

They can be used in the conventional way, where a person is located within a certain level or as a certain type. This can be helpful to some extent, although there are also obvious limitations. People will be at different levels, and appear as different types, at different times and in different contexts. For instance, different areas of life and different relationships may evoke behaviors and experiences that fits into different levels and types. And characteristics of several levels and types may be present at any one time.

Another, often complementary way, is to use levels and types as pointers. For each level, and each type, where do I find what’s described in my own life? What’s some examples of where my behavior and experience fit? (Make a list.)

In the more conventional approach, the levels and types will tend to fit my conscious view of myself and my conscious identity. In the second approach, it may be helpful to spend more time on the levels and types that appears to not as well match my conscious view of myself. (Revealing shadow or blind spots). What’s another specific and concrete example from my life? And another?

Ideologies in therapy


This came up in a conversation with an inquiry-friend, and also reflects what I have noticed for myself.

Ideologies in counseling or therapy may serve as a pointer to where the therapist/client may get “stuck”.  Of course, the client – or therapist – may at any point move beyond it.

For instance, a therapist may have an ideology (belief) that the client is a victim and in no way is responsible for a traumatic episode. And yet, taking responsibility for our own part is often essential for healing and resolution.

I may have the belief that “he did it to me”. As long as that belief is there, I am “stuck” in the situation because it’s not quite true. It’s not aligned with reality. Through inquiry, I may find “I did it to me” with specific examples: I didn’t stop it or leave the situation. I have replayed it in my mind many times after it happened, so continue to do it to me. And all of it – all images, all stories – happens now in my own world of images. Recognizing this is a big relief for me. It’s more aligned with my truth. (And as Katie so often points out, this is in no way condoning what happened or abuse in general. If anything, it frees me up to prevent it from happening again.)





Verb: Become or make smaller in size or amount; contract or cause to contract.

Noun: A clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.

I assume the second use of the term refers to psychologists or psychiatrists who reduce the richness of their client to fit their own theories and expectations. They take the richness and mystery of the human experience and makes it small, confined and a bit boring.

And that I do as well as soon as I believe a thought. I shrink the infinite richness and mystery of reality into something that appears to fit a story.


The Work and Cognitive Therapy


The Work is quite similar to cognitive therapy. In each case, we identify and inquire into stressful thoughts.

In The Work, thoughts are starting points for inquiry. It’s meditation.

And no story is left out of inquiry. Not even the most basic ones such as “I”, “I am”, “I am a man”, “I am Norwegian” and so on.

Cognitive therapy can of course be used in a similar manner. It’s all up to who’s using it.


John Welwood: Human Nature, Buddha Nature


Modern culture and child raising leave most people suffering from symptoms of insecure attachment: self-hatred, disembodiment, lack of grounding, ongoing insecurity and anxiety, overactive minds, inability to deeply trust, and a deep sense of inner deficiency. So most of us suffer from an extreme degree of alienation and disconnection that was unknown in earlier times—from society, community, family, older generations, nature, religion, tradition, our body, our feelings, and our humanity itself. [….]

Yet to grow into a healthy human being, we need a base of secure attachment in the positive, psychological sense, meaning: close emotional ties to other people that promote connectedness, grounded embodiment, and well-being. As John Muir the naturalist wrote: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.” Similarly, the hand cannot function unless it is attached to the arm—that’s attachment in the positive sense.  We’re interconnected, interwoven, and interdependent with everything in the universe. On the human level we can’t help feeling somewhat attached to people we are close to. [….]


Makes sense also in an ordinary psychological way


Exploring and discovering what I am makes sense in an ordinary psychological way too.

(i) There is this field of awareness.

(ii) Notice what happens in this field of awareness – sounds, sights, sensations, smell, taste, thoughts. Is that anything other than awareness itself?

(iii) Content of awareness – sensory impressions and thoughts – come and go. What doesn’t come and go? (Here, right now, the field of awarness, what allows awareness and the play of awareness.)


15 ways thoughts can be out of alignment with reality


From Thoughts & Feelings by McKay, Davis, & Fanning. New Harbinger, 1981. These styles of thinking (or cognitive distortions) were gleaned from the work of several authors, including Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, and David Burns, among others.

1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them, while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. A single detail may be picked out, and the whole event becomes colored by this detail. When you pull negative things out of context, isolated from all the good experiences around you, you make them larger and more awful than they really are.

2. Polarized Thinking: The hallmark of this distortion is an insistence on dichotomous choices. Things are black or white, good or bad. You tend to perceive everything at the extremes, with very little room for a middle ground. The greatest danger in polarized thinking is its impact on how you judge yourself. For example-You have to be perfect or you’re a failure.

3. Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. ‘Always’ and ‘never’ are cues that this style of thinking is being utilized. This distortion can lead to a restricted life, as you avoid future failures based on the single incident or event.


Befriending oneself


The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

– from NY Times, Go Easy on Yourself

One of the main keys to healing, maturing and even awakening is to befriend oneself and the whole field of experience in general (AKA the world).

The reason is simple: When I am not a friend with what is, I am caught up in resistance and beliefs, and that’s what (re)creates wounds, keeps me locked in old patterns, and it comes from identification with stories which prevents what I am from noticing itself.

So when I befriend what is – through allowing experience, noticing I already am the field of experience, inquire into beliefs, find clarity to live from my inner guidance and so on, there is an invitation for healing and maturing, and it may even be easier for what I am to notice itself.


The weirdest people


“If you’re a Westerner, your intuitions about human psychology are probably wrong or at least there’s good reason to believe they’re wrong,” Dr. Henrich says.

After analyzing reams of data from earlier studies, the UBC team found that WEIRD people reacted differently from others in experiment after experiment involving measures of fairness, anti-social punishment and co-operation, as well as visual illusions and questions of individualism and conformity.

– from Westerners vs. The World: We Are The WEIRD Ones.

This quote is from an article based on The Weirdest People in the World? (PDF) published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences earlier this year.

I haven’t read the paper yet, so but it looks interesting and it is an important topic. When we do behavioral research, we most often study WEIRD people – Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. It is important to be aware of this, take it into consideration when we analyse the results, and make an effort to include other groups in our studies.

This is nothing new. It is mentioned in just about any research paper: we cannot easily generalize to other populations than the one we studied.

There are practical reasons for using WEIRD people. Most researchers are themselves WEIRD and they work in a WEIRD environment and culture, so WEIRD people are most easily accesible. And resources are limited, so in some cases, there is a choice between using WEIRD people or not do the study at all.

Finally, most behavioral and psychological research is done by and for WEIRD people. We can take just about any study published in psychological journals, ask who benefits from this research?, and find that WEIRD people benefit the most. It’s good to notice and be honest about this, not the least because it may help us question our priorities.


The World’s Happiest Countries

1 Denmark Europe 82 17 1 7.9
2 Finland Europe 75 23 2 7.8
3 Norway Europe 69 31 0 7.9
4 Sweden Europe 68 30 2 7.9
4 Netherlands Europe 68 32 1 7.7
6 New Zealand Asia 63 35 2 7.6
6 Costa Rica Americas 63 35 2 8.1
8 Switzerland Europe 62 36 2 7.6
8 Israel Asia 62 35 3 6.4
8 Australia Asia 62 35 3 7.5
8 Canada Americas 62 36 2 7.6
12 Brazil Americas 58 40 2 7.5
12 Panama Americas 58 39 3 8.4
14 Austria Europe 57 40 3 7.7
14 United States Americas 57 40 3 7.3
16 Belgium Europe 56 41 3 7.3
17 United Kingdom Europe 54 44 2 7.4
18 Mexico Americas 52 43 5 7.7
18 Turkmenistan Asia 52 47 1 7.5
20 United Arab Emirates Asia 51 48 1 7.

The five happiest countries in the world–Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands–are all clustered in the same region, and all enjoy high levels of prosperity…..

“The Scandinavian countries do really well,” says Jim Harter, a chief scientist at Gallup, which developed the poll. “One theory why is that they have their basic needs taken care of to a higher degree than other countries”…..

A reminder that egalitarian societies tend to have the highest levels of happiness. When our basic needs are taken care of – health care, free education, economical safety net – we are free from many of the most basic survival fears, and free to live our lives in a more meaningful and joyful way.


Ongoing processing



It is something we all are familiar with from daily life:

The brain continuously processes and digests undigested material – whether it is new information, beliefs in friction with reality, unresolved situations, or conundrums of any sort.

The signs are plenty, for instance when something is resolved without much conscious processing. The process may be started consciously, then left to digest on its own, and the result presents itself in its own time.

Attention is naturally drawn to undigested material, inviting and allowing processing and digestion, as noticed through everyday attractions, aversions, ruminations, and day dreaming.


Quick boost in well-being from outdoors activities


Just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim.

There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being.

In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.

– from the BBC article Green exercise quickly boosts mental health

We all (or most of us!) know this from our own experience. And yet, it is good to have it conformed by research, and also explore it in more detail. For instance, through these studies they found the most benefit from the first few minutes of outdoor activities, an additional boost if there is water nearby, and the largest effect for young people and those with mental health problems (they have more room for improvement as well).

Another article is available from Environmental News.

Magic Mushroom Research


Scientists are especially intrigued by the similarities between hallucinogenic experiences and the life-changing revelations reported throughout history by religious mystics and those who meditate. These similarities have been identified in neural imaging studies conducted by Swiss researchers and in experiments led by Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins. …..

Since that study, which was published in 2008, Dr. Griffiths and his colleagues have gone on to give psilocybin to people dealing with cancer and depression, like Dr. Martin, the retired psychologist from Vancouver. Dr. Martin’s experience is fairly typical, Dr. Griffiths said: an improved outlook on life after an experience in which the boundaries between the self and others disappear.

In interviews, Dr. Martin and other subjects described their egos and bodies vanishing as they felt part of some larger state of consciousness in which their personal worries and insecurities vanished. They found themselves reviewing past relationships with lovers and relatives with a new sense of empathy.“It was a whole personality shift for me,” Dr. Martin said. “I wasn’t any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people. You have a feeling of attunement with other people.”


Values in Action


Values in Action (VIA) comes from positive psychology, and is a way to rank our individual character strengths. What is important to me? What am I good at? How can make use of it in everyday life? What ranks lower for me? How can I strengthen those?

The VIA test can be taken at the Institute for Character website, or at Authentic Happiness which has a wide range of tests.

Here is my current Values in Action score. I have guesses how it relates to NEO PI in parenthesis.

Your Top Strength

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality (may be similar to high in Openness to Experience in the NEO PI)
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Your Second Strength

Love of learning (related to high in Openness and Conscientiousness)
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.


TV: Replicating Milgram


A French TV documentary features people in a spoof game show administering what they are told are near lethal electric shocks to rival contestants….

Although unaware that the contestants were actors and there was no electrical current, 82% of participants in the Game of Death agreed to pull the lever.

Programme makers say they wanted to expose the dangers of reality TV shows.

They say the documentary shows how many participants in the setting of a TV show will agree to act against their own principles or moral codes when ordered to do something extreme.

Source: BBC – French TV contestants made to inflict ‘torture’

As the article points out, this is a replication of the famous Milgram experiment from the 60s: when ordered to inflict pain on others, most people will do so even if it causes them considerable distress.

There are many ways of explaining this.


Research: Meaningful conversations make people happier


Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life — and less time talking about the weather?

It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject….

But, he proposed, substantive conversation seemed to hold the key to happiness for two main reasons: both because human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives, and because we are social animals who want and need to connect with other people…..

Next, Dr. Mehl wants to see if people can actually make themselves happier by having more substantive conversations.

“It’s not that easy, like taking a pill once a day,” Dr. Mehl said. “But this has always intrigued me. Can we make people happier by asking them, for the next five days, to have one extra substantive conversation every day?”

– NY Times blog, Talk Deeply, Be Happy?

It may be that happiness prompts us to deeper and more meaningful conversations. Or, as the researcher suggests, that deep conversations leads to happiness. They help us find meaning in our life, and connect with others in a more meaningful and intimate way.

And it may well be that this is another tool for happiness: A prescription of one more meaningful conversation in a day.


Why does attention go to what bothers us?


When I get a small rock in my shoe, attention goes there allowing me to notice it and do something about it.

And that is an example of a much more general pattern. Attention goes to what bothers me, so I can notice it and do something about it.

Sometimes, I do something about it in the world, like removing a pebble from my shoe. Other times, I notice and inquire into a belief. Or there is a combination.

So why does attention to go what bothers us?

In an immediate sense, it is easily explained. Something feels off, so attention goes there so we can do something about it. If it is resolved, attention moves on. If it is not resolved in a satisfying way, attention will tend to return.


Brain and boundaries


By observing brain cancer patients before and after brain surgery, researchers in Italy have found that damage to the posterior part of the brain, specifically in an area called the parietal cortex, can increase patients’ feelings of “self transcendence,” or feeling at one with the universe. The parietal cortex is the region that is is usually involved in maintaining a sense of self, for example by helping you keep track of your body parts. It has also been linked to prayer and meditation.
Discover Magazine blog

Its a rich and interesting field, finding physiological correlates to whatever goes under the “spiritual” umbrella: A sense of awe, gratitude, compassion. A widened sense of “us”. A stronger and more mature sense of ethics. A reduced sense of boundaries, or recognition of boundaries as imagined. Effects of meditation or prayer practice, such as a more stable attention, improved self-regulation, and recognition of thoughts as thoughts. States of various kinds. And much more. Each of these are most likely related to short- and long-term changes in different and specific brain regions, and also the endocrine system, immune system, cellular function, and so on.


Research on The Work


The Work shares much with cognitive therapy, and has also many similarities with forms of inquiry found in Buddhist and Advaita traditions. In some ways, The Work is a Buddhist flavored form of cognitive therapy, or a cognitive therapy flavored form of Buddhism.

There is a great deal of research on cognitive therapy, of course. And also on Buddhist forms of meditation. There is very little, or perhaps no, research on inquiry as found in Buddhism or Advaita.

And there is nearly or actually no research on The Work. A quick Google Scholar search only turned up a general overview.

Why do research on The Work? There are many reasons. It would make it interesting to more therapists. It would gain sufficient support so it can be included in interventions, including large scale interventions to increase health and well-being and prevent illness. It would give it a foothold in the academic world, opening up for further research into The Work and similar approaches.


Mysticism Scale


I came across this mysticism scale which I believe is from some decades back. There are probably more updated ones out there.

Questionnaires are notoriously difficult to construct. They need to be clear, appropriate to the topic/culture, refined through studies and research, and even then, it is usually possible to interpret the questions in many different ways.

1. I have had an experience which was both timeless and spaceless.

Even such an apparently simple statement runs into problems quickly. Timeless and spaceless, yes, although a timelessness that allows for (the appearance of) time and a spacelessness that allows for (the appearance of) space. And is it really an experience? Isn’t it really what experiences happens within and as? And what about the “I”? Is there an “I” there that it happens “to”? Isn’t that “I” also content of experience? That which happens within the timeless/spaceless?


Stable attention


Inviting attention to stabilize is a potato among practices. It can be used for almost anything.

A more stable attention helps with other practices such as prayer, shikantaza/choiceless awareness, inquiry, self-inquiry, yoga, and service in the world.

And a more stable attention helps us with just about anything in daily life.

Already now, there is research on some of the effects of a more stable attention.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if that is not going to be a growing field of research in the future. Especially since a more stable attention can be invited in through very simple practices that just about anyone can do independent of age, religious background, education and so on. And since it – most likely – can support just about any aspect of our lives, and can be combined with just about any other tools and approaches.

For instance, what are the effects of a more stable attention on well-being, physical and mental health, learning, work life, adhd, athletic performance, addiction prevention and interventions, self-regulation, anger management, sleep problems, anxiety, relationships, experience of physical symptoms, and so on. The list is endless.

Maybe more importantly, what is the effect of a more stable attention on these things when it is combined with other – often more traditional – tools and approaches?


Support of torture among the faithful


The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.
Source: CNN

This is a small study so not much can be said based on the data, but it would be interesting if other studies looked into it further.

I wonder – based on my own prejudices – if not self-righteousness is related to support of torture. The more certain we are that we are right and others are wrong, or even worse, that we are good and others are bad/evil, the easier it is to dehumanize them in our own mind and justify torture. (And ignoring the obvious: Torture gets people to say what they think you want to hear, whatever it may be.)

The question with these things is always: How does this relate to me? How do I find it in myself and my own life?

When do I think I am right and others are wrong? What happens then? What am I afraid of would happen if I didn’t see myself as right and them as wrong?


Aware = free will?


I read a Discover article called could an inner zombie controlling the brain?

The topic is interesting, and the article also reminded me about a few things.

First, journalists don’t always trust that stories are interesting enough on their own, so they give them a helping hand. In this case, by pretending that something we all know from daily life is a new discovery, and by using metaphors more for attracting attention than accuracy. (Nothing wrong in that. It does attract readers, at least for a while, until they catch on and some chose to go to publications that treat their readers in a more fair way as more intelligent. But good to notice.)

The gist of the story is that we sometimes go on autopilot. When a task is familiar to us, and simple enough to go on autopilot, it often does, and that frees our attention to go elsewhere. At times, it may go into daydreaming or spacing off, but other times, it may go to something quite practical and functional.

We all know that from daily life, so that part is not new. But the research mentioned is interesting and sheds more light on it.

Then, a couple of other things. For instance, the word consciousness is used to mean content of experience, and in particular some of the workings of the psyche. This seems a little odd to me. It is unnecessary, for one, since we have perfectly good words for those dynamics. And also, it uses up the word for content of experience so it is not available for that which content of experience happens within and as.

And then another assumption: Autopilot means no free will (fair enough), and bringing attention to something means free will (hm…).

There is no denying that bringing attention to certain dynamics and workings of our mind can (apparently) lead to real life changes in how we chose and act. It has a very practical value.

I may notice I go to the fridge when I am stressed, and by noticing this, I can (apparently) chose another strategy to deal with that stress. I may go for a walk instead. Talk with a friend. Deal with a situation I have put off dealing with. Find a belief and inquire into it.

So there may be a sense of free will here. Attention is brought to a particular dynamic. There appears to be a choice between going on autopilot again, acting in familiar ways, or acting differently. Then choosing and acting on that choice. Or not.

But is there really a free will there?

When I look for myself, I find infinite (plausible) causes for any actions and choices, whether on autopilot or not, so no free will is needed. (This assumes causality, of course.)

Also, I find that it is all happening on its own, so again no free will. There seems to be no “one” needed with a free will.

And that the sense of a doer, which may seem so real and substantial, is a gestalt, a combination of sensations and images. That any connection between a choice or action and this doer is yet another image and story. And that any idea of causality is just that, an idea. I can find correlations, but no causality anywhere.