Empathy Movement Magazine
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Empathy Movement Magazine
The latest news about empathy from around the world - CultureOfEmpathy.com
Curated by Edwin Rutsch
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Obama calls for 'widespread movement' for immigration reform

Obama calls for 'widespread movement' for immigration reform | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
President Barack Obama continued his push for immigration reform Thursday, calling the need for change an economic, security and moral imperative both for "millions of people who live in the shadows" and for the country as a whole.

This is a subject that can "expose our raw feelings," Obama told an audience at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. But we need to "show empathy to our brothers and sisters and try to recognize ourselves in one another."
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World Truth Today: Modern science is psychopathic in its applications

World Truth Today: Modern science is psychopathic in its applications | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Like most conventional scientists, Hawking believes that human beings are not conscious beings. Thus, we are incapable of empathy; incapable of love,pain, suffering or making our own decisions based on free will.

This utter lack of recognition of the value of consciousness in living beings is the core principle of evil upon which most of modern science is built. It is the lack of empathy itself that gives rise to great evil.

Interestingly, this is precisely the conclusion of a member of the scientific community– Cambridge University psychology professor Simon Baron-Cohen, who has written a new book in which he concludes that evil originates with a failure of empathy. He explains that psychopaths have “zero degrees of empathy,” meaning they do not recognize nor value the thoughts and feelings of others.
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Botox Patients Worse at Recognizing Emotion - Effects Empathy: Wall Street Journal

Botox Patients Worse at Recognizing Emotion - Effects Empathy: Wall Street Journal | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Botox patients don't just have trouble expressing emotions with their faces: They have trouble recognizing how others are feeling.

Physical mirroring heightens empathy and understanding: Without always realizing it, we widen our eyes when our conversational partners express surprise and crease our brows when they’re worried.
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STUDY: Embodied Emotion Perception: Amplifying and Dampening Facial Feedback Modulates Emotion Perception Accuracy

STUDY: Embodied Emotion Perception: Amplifying and Dampening Facial Feedback Modulates Emotion Perception Accuracy | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
How do we recognize the emotions other people are feeling? One source of information may be facial feedback signals generated when we automatically mimic the expressions displayed on others’ faces.

Supporting this “embodied emotion perception,” dampening and amplifying facial feedback signals, respectively, impaired and improved people’s ability to read others’ facial emotions...

Accordingly, when the skin was made resistant to underlying muscle contractions via a restricting gel, emotion perception improved, and did so only for emotion judgments that theoretically could benefit from facial feedback.
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New Zealand Conservative: Redefining evil - it's just a lack of empathy

New Zealand Conservative: Redefining evil - it's just a lack of empathy | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
So those who are going to be attracted to the idea that evil is just lack of empathy, are probably those that will be the most insensitive to God. An inability to even call evil what it is, something that we do freely because we want to, not because we don't know how the other person feels, is a huge lie that many will want to believe.

Just as they want to believe that God doesn't exist, or that they get reincarnated or absorbed into the oneness when they die, or even that they cease to be when they draw their last breath. It's all a lie that leads to torment for eternity if people don't turn towards God. Which is really the end that we were made for.

God made us for Himself, to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. He just wants us to want to be there. Redefining evil is just another way of thwarting that, and thwarting God.

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Simon Baron-Cohen Wants To Treat Empathy Deficiency

Simon Baron-Cohen Wants To Treat Empathy Deficiency | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
My take: while a lack of empathy combined with some other traits can cause humans to harm and kill others it would be a mistake to believe that we should make everyone equally empathetic and much more empathetic.

Too often empathy causes people to enable others to be lazy, destructive, and irresponsible. The tendency to experience very strong emotional desires, of any form, clouds the mind and blocks development of needed understanding.
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Natural Child, Natural Society

Natural Child, Natural Society | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Empathy has no religious, philosophical or ideological roots. Empathy is an emergent quality of the Natural Human being. As such it is a biological imperative; it is not a question, therefore of belief, but of a direct perception of the natural world, and guided by that intrinsic empathy material experiential knowledge appropriate to the nurturance of life is acquired: that is the basis for an truly healthy natural human being.

And that process starts from within the womb. The greatest Sacred Site is the mind of a Child. Corneilius Crowley
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Conference Science of Empathy Spirit of Compassion » University of Winchester, UK

Conference Science of Empathy Spirit of Compassion » University of Winchester, UK | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
The conference will be focusing on empathy and compassion through the lens of the emerging science of empathy, which is demonstrating that we are actually wired for empathy and compassion. Rather than seeing human beings as an outcome of the selfish gene, knowing that empathy potential exists at a neurophysiological level gives us a completely different understanding of human nature.

To explore this reality we have brought together a distinguished panel of presenters. The well-known writer Karen Armstrong has been a leading proponent of the Charter for Compassion, which she will introduce. Iain McGilchrist will explore the neurophysiology underpinning empathy –the social brain - and its association with the right hemisphere.
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Evil is the absence of empathy - What meditation really is

Evil is the absence of empathy - What meditation really is | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
The view that the urge to destroy, to compete, profit and come out on top, no matter what the price is simply human nature is a very commonly held belief. We might not find extreme selfish behaviour or ‘evil’ justifiable, but it is to be expected, because we assume it is what we are. In this climate, the idea of developing an attitude of love and compassion towards the world and its inhabitants can seem hopelessly idealistic.

Does it actually matter what society feels about whether the human potential for evil is inherently part of our nature, or whether we are more naturally disposed love and compassion?
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Further Scientific Evidence That Empathy is Physical, Too

Further Scientific Evidence That Empathy is Physical, Too | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
In Wired to Care, we discuss how special cells in our brains called mirror neurons allow us to experience what other people are feeling — not just in an imagined way, either. Repeated tests have shown that both people performing an activity and people observing an activity experience identical brain activity. And new research shows that this goes far beyond our minds. Researchers in Europe recently went to the Spanish village of San Pedro Manrique to look at how mirror neurons respond to a particularly extreme physical test — ritualized fire-walking.

The empathic implications of this are quite remarkable. When we view someone else as being like us, whether through family ties, friendship, or simple identification, we are capable of literally syncing our physiology to them — feeling what they are feeling. ...
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I was searching for the nature of evil - Evil is the absence of Empathy!

"I told you once that I was searching for the nature of evil, I think I've come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It's the one characteristics that connects all the defendants. A genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil I think, is the absence of empathy." From Nuremberg (2000) Nazi Leaders on trial.
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The Problem With 'Evil'

The Problem With 'Evil' | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Simon Baron-Cohen, a psychologist at Cambridge, argues that we can do better than the concept of evil as an explanation for cruel behavior.

But it is a profoundly naïve work of moral philosophy, one whose conclusions suggest the natural limitations of Mr. Baron-Cohen's approach. The trouble with taking great issue with "evil," not the thing but the word, is that it misunderstands why such terms exist in the first place. Most people who use the word would agree that malicious actions usually have causes. Evil is something rather separate, having to do with the effects those actions produce, not their causes. The reason that the concept of evil recurs in religious belief is not that it exceeds the bounds of rational consideration. It is that wickedness throws a troubling wrench in any attempt, religious or otherwise, to consider the world systematically. Raymond Zhong
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Scientist seeks to banish evil, Empathy is a skill like any other human skill

Scientist seeks to banish evil, Empathy is a skill like any other human skill | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Simon Baron-Cohen has been battling with evil all his life. As a scientist seeking to understand random acts of violence, from street brawls to psychopathic killings to genocide, he has puzzled for decades over what prompts such acts of human cruelty. And he's decided that evil is not good enough.

"I try to keep an open mind. I would never want to say a person is beyond help," he explains. "Empathy is a skill like any other human skill -- and if you get a chance to practice, you can get better at it."

Simon Baron-Cohen: Empathy Expert Page: http://bit.ly/jlHrf7
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Obama says Empathy is Source of Morality in Immigration Reform

So, yes, immigration reform is a moral imperative, and so it’s worth seeking greater understanding from our faith. As it is written in the Book of Deuteronomy, “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” To me, that verse is a call to show empathy to our brothers and our sisters; to try and recognize ourselves in one another...

That sense of connection, that sense of empathy, that moral compass, that conviction of what is right is what led the National Association of Evangelicals to shoot short films to help people grasp the challenges facing immigrants. It’s what led the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to launch a Justice for Immigrants campaign, and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to advocate across religious lines. It’s what led all the Latino pastors at the Hispanic Prayer Breakfast to come together around reform...

I’m asking you to help us recognize ourselves in one another.
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Barack Obama talks Empathy at 2011 Teachers of the Year Event

For me, one of those people was my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Hefty. When I walked into Ms. Hefty’s classroom for the first time, I was a new kid who had been living overseas for a few years, had a funny name nobody could pronounce. But she didn’t let me withdraw into myself. She helped me believe that I had something special to say. She made me feel special.

She reinforced the sense of empathy and thoughtfulness that my mother and my grandparents had tried hard to instill in me -- and that’s a lesson that I still carry with me as President.

Ms. Hefty is no longer with us, but I often think about her and how much of a difference she made in my life. And everybody has got a story like that, about that teacher who made the extra effort to shape our lives in important ways.
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The Empathy Trap: The dangers when the president tries to show empathy.

The Empathy Trap: The dangers when the president tries to show empathy. | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Presidents must show empathy during difficult economic times. It's in the office handbook. There's only so much any one president can do though about the immediate condition of the economy, and he must be careful not to exaggerate his impact.

So he emphasizes that he understands the plight of regular Americans. The problem with empathy, however, is not just that there's never enough of it to go around. It's that by offering it, presidents raise unrealistic expectations of a different sort.
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Osama, Obama, Al Qaeda, America: First they felt no empathy

Osama, Obama, Al Qaeda, America: First they felt no empathy | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
However violently Osama bin Laden may have acted, celebrating his death requires the silencing of our own empathy. Empathy is a noble gas. We can’t attach political complexities to it—when we designate one person worthy of empathy, another unworthy—what we’re really doing is switching empathy on or off, heeding it or silencing it.

And what all acts of violence have in common—all acts of violence—is the silencing of empathy. When Obama killed Osama, he first felt no empathy. When Osama attacked the towers, he first felt no empathy. ..

That’s why it makes no sense to me to silence our own empathy to celebrate. Empathy is what we need, more than anything, to cultivate, and we know—too well—what happens when we silence it.
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Evil will not be restrained by pity : The Science of Evil

Evil will not be restrained by pity : The Science of Evil | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
No amount of “rebranding” can diminish the horrors of child sacrifice, infant genital mutilation, random acts of disfigurement and amputation or the systematic abduction of children in order to force them into sex slavery and involuntary military service.

Whether we say the perpetrators are “empathy deficient” or “evil,” they have to be stopped and we can’t get sentimental about why they do what they do. Until we get these people under control, culpability is immaterial. A raging fire in the neighborhood isn’t making choices. It’s not responsible. But that doesn’t matter. Savagely destructive forces can’t be allowed to destroy and disfigure the innocent. Period.

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Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty

Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Simon Baron-Cohen, the eminent researcher into autism, has set himself a mission. He wishes to convince us to jettison talk of "evil", and focus instead on the concept of empathy deficiency. For him, this represents a shift from a position that is woolly and permeated by theological assumptions towards something much more objective and scientific...

Baron-Cohen concludes by saying that "unlike religion, empathy cannot, by definition, oppress anyone". The trick lies in that phrase "by definition". From whose standpoint is oppression to be judged? Who decides what is the correct response to another person's thoughts and feelings? He is grappling with one of the most important questions for our times, and although his answers are partial, they are sophisticated. The debate will certainly continue.
Joanna Bourke

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Women’s Brains are Wired for Compassion

Women’s Brains are Wired for Compassion | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Nearly everyone agrees that women, on the whole, are more compassionate than men. In a 2008 Pew research poll, 80 percent of Americans expressed that view.

Is this a sexist stereotype? Apparently not. Newly published brain-imaging research suggests that in this case, conventional wisdom is correct.
Rachel AB's comment May 11, 2011 6:21 PM
Interesting. In his very own book, Frans DeWaal writes: "None of this denies male empathy. Indeed, gender differences usually follow a pattern of overlapping bell curves: Men and women differ on average, but quite a few men are more empathy than the average woman, and quite a few women are less empathic than the average man. With age, the empathy levels of men and women seem to converge. Some investigators even doubt that in adulthood there's much difference left." (The Age of Empathy,67-8). Of course one big question: IF there is a difference, so what? Imo, and i suspect yours, too, it's more important to figure out how we can all grow empathy - whether some have more "naturally" than others is not that relevant then... <br/>
Rachel AB's comment May 11, 2011 6:39 PM
His take on the topic in the video starts at about 11:48 - talking about deeper levels of empathy. Since empathy originates in female care for the young, women have learned a deeper form of empathy - maybe this means men need to get involved in childcare ;-)

Thanks for pointing me to this interview! I really enjoyed it! Great questions, too.
Edwin Rutsch's comment, May 11, 2011 7:23 PM
yes, growing empathy is what I'd like to do..

I was a bit surprised when Frans was talking about how it's easy for men to turn off empathy for revenge or whatever.. he was so adamant about it.. I've seen that in women as well. ;-)

thanks for the comments Rachel.
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Scientist seeks to banish evil, boost empathy

Scientist seeks to banish evil, boost empathy | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Simon Baron-Cohen says tales of Nazi horror motivated him to deconstruct human cruelty, sees empathy as worlds most valuable but ignored resource.

Psychopaths, narcissists, and people with borderline personality disorder sit at the bottom end of the scale -- these people have "zero degrees of empathy".

But rather than labeling them as evil, Baron-Cohen says they should be seen as sick, or "disabled", and we should seek to understand why they have such an empathy deficiency and help them replace it.

Baron-Cohen shies away from saying that psychopaths can be "cured" of extreme behavior, but he argues strongly against locking them up and saying there is nothing society can do.

Simon Baron-Cohen: Empathy Expert Page: http://bit.ly/jlHrf7
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Of Evil and Empathy > New English Review

Of Evil and Empathy >  New English Review | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Does Baron-Cohen’s theory illuminate mass outbreaks of evil, such as in Lenin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany. Pol-Pot’s Cambodia, or post-Habyarimana’s Rwanda, for example? I think the answer is no.

In Rwanda, for example, if accounts are to be believed, thousands of perfectly ordinary people, of no apparently psychopathic tendencies, took up machetes and other instruments and killed their neighbours, then enjoying their goods and feasting on their food, celebrating what they had done.

What would Baron-Cohen say about this (he does not use this example in his book)? Well, he would say, in certain circumstances – fear, mass hysteria, or whatever – some circuits in the brain overwhelm other circuits in the brain, those for example that are necessary for the expression of empathy. Remember that people are on a continuum of empathy: as circumstances grow more and more dire, so a bigger and bigger percentage of the population loses its capacity for empathy. > Theodore Dalrymple

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Happiness Through Connection, Compassion and Empathy with Others.

Happiness Within Reach Conference at Stanford University 2011.
Link to Slides http://bit.ly/euLB6m
Real and deep happiness comes from connection, compassion and empathy with others. Emma Seppala
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Can Evil Learn Empathy?

Can Evil Learn Empathy? | Empathy Movement Magazine | Scoop.it
Does Simon Baron-Cohen's new book, The Science of Evil, offer a perspective on evil that leads to more questions... This begs the questions: Is evil treatable? And is lack of empathy the defining factor of evil? The philosophical questions are perhaps, in this day and age, more pressing than the psychological ones.

One interesting point the author seems to make is that empathy can and should be taught to evil people. But how? And by whom? We don’t know for sure*, but there is evidence that psychopaths and other “evil” people are created by both nature and nurture combined. In order to study the process of their development we must first identify those most likely to become evil–is there an evil gene? Is it a mutation? Or, is evil a flaw or defect?

Simon Baron-Cohen: Empathy Expert Page: http://bit.ly/jlHrf7
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Living Compassion in Community with the Dalai Lama Center

Ric Matthews and Jannet Ann Nordemann speak at the Vancover, BC, Canada, Dalai Lama Centre event "Living Compassion in Community"
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