Meetings are bad for you; empathy is neuron-based

From the Guardian, we learn something many of us, I'm sure, have always suspected was true: too many meetings that are way too long make us tired and overworked. A study at UNC-Charlotte shows that "a general relationship between meeting load and the employee's level of fatigue and subjective workload was found". And an interesting tidbit from some research almost thirty years ago found that you managers out there spend most of your day in meetings. So, next time your boss calls a meeting, show them the research and let them know you're looking out for their mental health by cancelling. (Thanks to Slashdot for the tip.)

Next up, via BoingBoing, is an excerpt from an essay on Edge.org by neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran showing that human empathy has a scientific basis:


Researchers at UCLA found that cells in the human anterior cingulate, which normally fire when you poke the patient with a needle ("pain neurons"), will also fire when the patient watches another patient being poked.

The mirror neurons, it would seem, dissolve the barrier between self and others. [1] I call them "empathy neurons" or "Dalai Llama neurons". (I wonder how the mirror neurons of a masochist or sadist would respond to another person being poked.)

Dissolving the "self vs. other" barrier is the basis of many ethical systems, especially eastern philosophical and mystical traditions. This research implies that mirror neurons can be used to provide rational rather than religious grounds for ethics (although we must be careful not to commit the is/ought fallacy).

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