biology brain cognition cognitive style communication fear introversion law enforcement mental flexibility mental health personality physical environment psychology risk analysis speech stress

Introversion’s potential risks – temporary language blindness

During the past two weeks, I’ve enjoyed rich conversations with some creative, insightful friends—introverts all. As an introvert with many interests, I can occupy myself with research and other projects for weeks on end without feeling the need to engage directly with others beyond my wife. A few years ago I became more aware of research finding introverts, to be optimally healthy, need to deliberately cultivate regular social interaction with others. We can do this without violating our other needs. Introversion entails both health boosters and detractors. On the downside, according to Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., introverts

  • may experience more stress in social situations or even when thinking about social situations and avoiding social opportunities may erode health
  • be more realistic about negative realities or fixate on them, presenting more opportunities for negative moods or depression
  • may be less emotionally adaptable to open or crowded living or working environments (introverts tend to prefer living in less populated areas where they can be outdoors without being crowded, as in many mountainous areas)
  • may not benefit as much from fitness and other activities that are organized to emphasize socialization (think Cross Fit or many other popular fitness programs)
  • may have less effective immune systems, though the effect is small
  • may require more time and effort to think through decision scenarios (possibly due to the denser gray matter in their brains)
  • are more easily aroused by sensory stimuli, which can make them seek situations with less stimulation
  • may avoid risk-taking, which can have positive and negative effects (they’re unlikely to become gambling addicts but are also more likely to miss significant opportunities that require them to take chances)
  • may ignore negative health indicators and delay speaking with health care providers about potential health issues
  • may experience slower situational comprehension and response times in loud environments or situations with intensified sounds or urgency signals, such as when exposed to alarms, vehicle horns, or other people yelling commands (think of the spate of recent episodes of police excessive force against people the claim were not obeying their screamed orders)

Regarding the last point above, an introvert friend worries she’ll not be capable of understanding the screamed commands of a threatening policeman and will be arrested, injured, or even killed because of it. There is probably a clinical or technical name for such a temporary inability to process language. I’m unaware of any law enforcement training specifically addressing this issue. If you know more about it, please post a comment.

brain brain imaging cognitive bias conservatism environmental influence fear liberalism neuroplasticity political orientation political science rationality risk analysis

Mass and activity of brain structures correlate with political perspectives

Brain imaging research indicates some aspects of individual political orientation correlate significantly with the mass and activity of particular brain structures including the right amygdala and the insula. This correlation may derive in part from genetics, but is also influenced by environment and behavior.

“there’s a critical nuance here. Schreiber thinks the current research suggests not only that having a particular brain influences your political views, but also that having a particular political view influences and changes your brain. The causal arrow seems likely to run in both directions—which would make sense in light of what we know about the plasticity of the brain. Simply by living our lives, we change our brains. Our political affiliations, and the lifestyles that go along with them, probably condition many such changes.”

Thanks to member, Edward, for recommending this article: 

In a similar vein, Bob Altemeyer conducted and reported on some seminal social science research and theory on political dispositions. See Note the free book link on the left.


battery technology chemistry energy energy production energy storage environment existential risks global climate change global warming government nuclear energy nuclear waste pollution renewable energy research and development

Exciting emerging energy technologies

Two promising energy technologies received press coverage recently. The University of Bristol developed a process for capturing the radioactivity from nuclear wastes into diamonds, thereby stabilizing and reducing the risks associated with waste from fission reactors while also creating batteries that have no moving parts, are safe to handle, and have a productive life of at least 5,000 years.

First, the University of Bristol developed a process for capturing the radioactivity from nuclear wastes into diamonds, thereby stabilizing and reducing the risks associated with waste from fission reactors while also creating batteries that have no moving parts, are safe to handle, and have a productive life of at least 5,000 years.

Second, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) developed a highly efficient process for converting CO2 to ethane, which can be used to store energy generated by renewable sources (wind, solar, etc.). A much greater benefit could be derived if this technology were combined with atmospheric CO2 extractors. DOE claims it has the potential to draw atmospheric CO2 level down to an environmentally safe level.

In both cases, the technologies will have to surmount hurdles before the large-scale implementation that would be needed to have significant positive impacts.

Also, for their benefits to transfer globally, such publicly-funded technologies must remain under public ownership and control. Licensing the non-exclusive use of technologies could be a way for governments to shift part of the burden of revenue generation away from general taxation, which would doubly benefit citizens. For universities, non-exclusive licensing could build endowments to fund additional research and breakthroughs. Unfortunately, government- and university-developed innovations with potential to mitigate public health and other existential dilemmas often end up in the hands of private corporations that then set the costs of products and services too high for the broader benefits of the breakthrough to be realized.