Friday, December 30, 2016

A LIFE-CHANGING ENCOUNTER

The other night I ran into a boy who was trying to get warm inside Rite-Aid. He was sitting in the waiting room inside the pharmacy near the blood pressure machine, eating a bag of chips. I was standing there reading a label on the back of a jar of cream. My back was to him, but he spoke to me: "It's pretty cold tonight," he said. I turned slightly to look at him. He told me he would be sleeping outside tonight. "I'm homeless," he told me. He seemed embarrassed. Then I realized I was wearing a USMC Marine Corps hat that a Marine (Shon Olson) had given me from the "Big Red Challenge." No wonder I was getting so much respect that night! So this kid almost saluted me. Anyway, this boy didn't "look" homeless; he looked like a bright-eyed teenager wearing a football jacket, eating potato chips. He was part Hispanic and spoke English. I told him to get to the shelter. He said the shelter closed at 3 PM and they had no beds left.

Apparently there is only one shelter in the entire Antelope Valley and it only has 37 beds. It gets down to 20 degrees here now, and there is snow on the mountains. I looked at him, looked in his eyes and saw that he didn't appear to be on drugs, didn't have "meth-face," and looked pretty clear-eyed. He must have been starving; he sure was devouring those chips. He told me he was looking for a job, and got "jumped" and tried to go to ER so he could sleep in the waiting room, but they kicked him out. He kept pointing to splatters of blood on his sleeve, but it looked like coffee. He seemed desperate for someone to let hm just sleep inside. I had an intuition that I must help him -- at least give him enough to get a motel room, maybe Motel 6. I had cash on me -- my son had given me money for Christmas to get my data recovered from the crashed hard drive. So I went to the pharmacist cashier and broke a $100 dollar bill. The cashier, Linda, an African American woman told me that she felt so sorry for the kid. She had bought him that bag of chips. When I told her I was going to give him enough to eat and find a room, she got tears in her eyes and said "God Bless you." I went over to him and handed him enough to cover his expenses and hopefully get a room for the night. (Not sure you can get a room without a credit card deposit though.) I ended up giving him almost the entire amount so he could really eat a decent meal too. He was so grateful he hugged me and then told me he was going to join the Marines. (I am hoping to encourage anyone who reads this, to please help anyone you can when the spirit moves you. I don't always give to the homeless on the street but there are times you do what you can.) Last night i went back to that pharmacy to pick up Mom's prescription and spoke to Linda again. I asked if she had seen the boy again. She said "No, but did you see the woman crying outside the store, face down on the pavement? The hospital had dropped her off here and she was sobbing, didn't know how to get home to Mojave." I had not seen the woman; maybe she got a ride to Mojave. I just hope she wasn't picked up by someone who would take advantage of her. Linda told me her heart breaks for people and that her dream is to open a homeless shelter. I got chills, because I always wanted to open one too - a "Loving Home" for people who are in dire straits. Women on the street are especially vulnerable to being raped and abused. We are going to have lunch and discuss it. Linda had once been homeless too, and someone gave her a chance. Maybe we'll call our shelter 'TLC House of Hope" or as Rob Deutchman said "Hope House." 

Please donate to a shelter like this:https://www.covenanthouse.org/homeless-kids

Thursday, December 29, 2016

HEAVEN IS CROWDED ~ CELEBS WE LOST 2016 ~ REST IN PEACE 2016


Personally, I lost friends and two family members, as well as several celebrity friends in 2016: Patty Duke, Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall, Garry Shandling, Alan Thicke,  Glen Frey (whom I met several times with Don Henley); Robert Vaughn (we were not close but I attended several celebrity trips with him to Chicago and we had dinner a few times.)


My stepsister Marianne and her husband both died within one week of each other in September. Earlier we lost my sweet friends Euan Purves, Ron Bard, Bill Zucker, Iva Franks-Singer, and Mark Swope.

2016 has been a tough year in losing those we loved. Some we grew up with, some we were just getting to know, on the big screen, the little screen, in music, on the ice.  ~ Lori Grondin, my friend on Facebook. Thank you Lori for compiling this list. 
Patty Duke, actor
Carrie Fisher ,actor
Debbie Reynolds,actor
David Bowie,musician
George Michael , musician
Zsa Zsa Gabor ,socialite, actor
China Machado ,,model
Craig Sager, sports announcer
Bernard Fox, actor
Alan Thicke, actor
E.R.Braithwaite, author
John Glenn, astronaut
Fidel Castro, dictator
Ron Glass, actor
Florence Henderson, actor
Colonel Abrams, musician
Sharon Jones, musician
Mose Allison,musician
Gwen Ifill, journalist
Leon Russel, musician
Robert Vaughn, actor
Leonard Cohen, musician, poet
Janet Reno, former US Attorney General
Rod Temperton, musician
Oscar Brand, musician
Gloria Naylor, author
Arnold Palmer, golfer
Kashif, musician
Bill Nunn, actor
Buckwheat Zydeco, musician
Edward Albee, playwright
Gene Wilder, actor
Juan Gabriel, musician
Bobby Hutcherson, musician
Kenny Baker, actor (played R2D2)
John Saunders, sportscaster
David Huddleston, actor
Gerry Marshall, director
Noel Neill, actor
Elie Weisel, writer, political activist, professor
Michael Cimino, director , screenwriter
Pat Summit, basketball coach
Bill Cunningham, photographer
Ralph Stanley, musician
Muhammed Ali, boxer
Burt Kwouk, actor
Morley Safer, journalist
Guy Clark, musician
Billy Paul, musician
Prince, musician
Gato Barbierie, musician
Doris Roberts, actor
Merle Haggard, musician
Bill Henderson, musician
Keith Emerson, musician
Ernestine Anderson, musician
George Martin, music producer
Nancy Regan, former First Lady
Pat Conroy, author
Harper Lee, author
Denise Matthews, musician, actor, model
Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice
Maurice White, musician
Paul Kantner , musician
Abe Vigoda, actor
Glenn Frey, musician
Monte Irivin, athlete
Alan Rickman, actor
Natalie Cole, musician
Paul Bley, musician
Gordie Howe, hockey player
Anton Yelchin, actor
2016, you can stop taking people now. You have enough for this year. 
May you all rest in peace. May your families, find peace in 2017, and smile when they think of you. Your fans will always remember you, and they will always smile when they think of you...............

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WILD DAYS ~ Lydia Cornell Memories of Carrie Fisher, Alan Thicke, Garry Shandling, Trump

LIVE from the Virtual Lounge ~ Lydia Cornell shares memories of her friends and costars Carrie Fisher Alan Thicke, Garry Shandling, Garry Marshall, and George Michael and the WILD DAYS on Beats and Eats (iTunes) 

💗


My storage hard drive crashed but I'm trying to find al my photos with Alan Thicke, Carrie, Garry Shandling, and all the other celebs I used to hang with who have now passed away, as morbid as it sounds. In searching for pics, I came across others below, of Aaron Spelling, Ted Knight (died way too soon), Sony Bono (I mentioned his tennis tournament in Maui in this podcast where I played with Alan Thicke), and the group photo on Election Night with the comedians -- Before the Apocalypse :) 

Ed Marinaro (Hill St. Blues), Lydia Cornell, Alan Thicke

Just found this old pic of Alan Thicke, Ed Marinaro and me in Maui at Sonny Bono's tennis tournament. That's Ed Marinaro from "Hill Street Blues" on the left. Still can't believe Alan Thicke is gone. I have footage from my appearance on his first talk show "Thicke of the Night," as well as more recent photos of us. Haven't had time to find them yet since my hard drive crashed.


With Garry Marshall in L.A.

With Sonny Bono in Maui

Election Night with the comedians -- Before the Apocalypse :) 

My TV Family: Audrey Meadows, Ted Knight, Nancy Dussault, Lydia Cornell 

Aaron Spelling 





Friday, December 23, 2016

TRUMP MUST NEVER TWEET ABOUT NUKES AGAIN

America has an embarrassing history of dropping bombs on people, but always assuming everyone knows we’re still the good guys. This is how an abusive lover acts. When in a love-hate relationship, it often takes leaving to really win. 

This is how I used to act with an ex-boyfriend. I’d try to control him like a dictator, but I only pushed him away. Trying to control people never works because it’s fear-based behavior. People are never interested when you push yourselves on them. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. 

But I really believe in a power greater than ourselves and I know we're going to be all right. God did not give us a spirit of fear. Thankfully I have the Twelve Steps, where I learned to at least see my part in a conflict and to say I’m sorry. In the words of Stuart Smalley, “It's easier to wear slippers than to carpet the whole world.”

*************
"No problem can be solved at the same level it was created on." – Albert Einstein

What I've discovered is that the solution to any material problem is never at the level of the problem. It is always above the problem or challenge. It is always by “letting go” and looking away from the problem, never by fighting it on its level. It is always a spiritual solution.

No human power can relieve alcoholism. More alcohol cannot cure it. Nor can therapy, psychoanalysis or dissecting the brain heal the "dis-ease" of alcoholism.

Past Notes from the War in Iraq; No military power can solve any conflict.  We can’t fight fire with fire; we need to go above the problem and approach it from a diplomatic or spiritual solution. This is what Trump, Putin, and other bullies and warmongers don't understand. Fighting ones enemies never resolves anything, as the Great Peacemaker said. More military might only escalates the conflict. All great spiritual leaders know that what Christ taught creates peace: a soft answer turns away wrath. Withdraw our energy from the situation and the situation will solve itself. We must take care of our own side of the street.


*********

We are all one race: Human. People who look different than us are not children of a lesser God; we are all children of the same God.  

*********


THE VOICE IN THE TREES ~ AN ENCOUNTER THAT CHANGED MY LIFE * MERRY CHRISTMAS *

Today I was walking the dog behind Trader Joe’s and I passed a shady alcove bordering the alley, in the center of which was a large tree. I peeked into the bushes, and saw a grocery bag. This seemed like a private place for a homeless person to rest, but just as I was thinking this, I glimpsed a pair of shoes attached to legs in camouflage pants, standing behind the tree, hiding inside the tree — as if they were hoping not to be seen, trying to blend in with the shrubs. I could hear the owner of this pair of legs trying desperately not to breathe. Was it a homeless person, or just someone who was trying to go to the bathroom in the bushes?

As I passed by, I said to the bush: “God Bless you.” I kept walking. Then I realized that I was holding in my hand two sticks of Mozarella string cheese, so I circled back to the bush and offered it to the person hiding in the trees. “Would you like a piece of cheese? It’s wrapped in plastic, it has its own wrapper," I said. A woman’s voice, shaking, rang out, “No, no thank you.” Then, the voice said: “You're very sweet.” I could see a pair of glasses and dark hair through the leaves.

I walked away and said, “You are sweet too.”

Then I started crying; I couldn't stop. The same way I cried on Sunday when they talked to us about the homeless and how it can happen to anyone, and how there are over 23, 000 homeless women and children in Los Angeles County alone.  Can you imagine what it’s like to have no place to rest, no privacy in going to the bathroom or shower ... no clean, safe, or soft place to lay one’s head. No place without bugs or flies, mosquitos or rats… no place to get dressed, to bathe, or to bring friends home for ice cream. No place to do homework. No place to have dinner or play Monopoly or take piano lessons. No dinner. God bless these poor lost little souls.

You can help by donating here: downtownwomenscenter.org or  myfriendsplace.org.

In light of Christmas it is a good idea to understand what the Prince of Peace stood for. He commanded us "to love your neighbor as yourself, to take care of the poor, to give your cloak to someone if he asks you — in Christ's words to take care of "the least among us" - the poor, the weak, frail, helpless, handicapped and those who seem different, the "outcasts."  I don't always succeed but I try to bless my enemies and love those who persecute me.

If we would all follow the law of love, the Golden Rule we'd have very few problems in the world.

Maybe some Christians don't realize that Christ is the root of the word Christianity because the vowel sounds are different. 

I believe in the actual healing power of the Truth, and have had many tangible healing 'miracles'. But according to quantum physics, miracles are just natural laws. 

Please donate to one of your favorite charities that benefit the poor.  Not only are there over 15,000 homeless children in Los Angeles, but many senior citizens across our rich nation don't have enough to pay their electric bills and have no heat. 

My favorite charities are Feed the Children, Imagine L.A., Union Rescue Mission and Candy Christmas' "Under the Bridge Mission" in Nashville, which you can read about in recent threads.

NEVER FIGHT ENEMIES, DISARM THEM WITH A SECRET TOOL

FIGHTING YOUR ENEMIES ONLY MAKES THEM STRONGER

Even in the midst of tragedy, there is a spiritual law of surrender: when you let go and accept whatever is happening in this very moment — when you stop worrying, stop stressing, start appreciating and start giving more than you receive — magic begins to happen in your life. No matter what is going on, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes you have to lose your life to save it. Sometimes you have to lose everything to gain what's really valuable.

It's a spiritual law: the more you give, the more you receive. Wayne Dyer, in his bestselling book You’ll See it When You Believe It, says that the magic of giving actually is a law in the universe and works like clockwork. Every single time he sent out 10% to charity of any income that came in, his income doubled, tripled and rose exponentially.

All sorts of wonderful things opened up when I started giving, tithing, caring about others and giving things away. In the debauched 80's, I even offered to drive a friend to the airport — an unheard of gesture in L.A. during that time. No one drove anyone to the airport; it was considered a huge imposition. But everytime I would give time or money, both time and money would expand. Soon, an abundance of riches flowed into my life.

This is how we can change the world. It will happen on a community level. The other day I heard a woman on the radio say that she was at Trader Joe's, and just as she was checking out, she realized she had forgotten her wallet. Instead of sending her away, the cashier offered to pay for her groceries — and when she gushed apologies, he refused to let her pay him back. It wasn't that much, she had only purchased a few items, but still — this kind of generosity in "paying it foward" could change the world. This is how we'll win over corporate greed.

What has always, always seemed wrong to me is excess consumerism. It has never seemed natural to have so many stores, so much pavement, so many products. The other day I was driving back from Palm Springs where I did a wonderful TV show and I wandered into an outlet mall. People were shopping mindlessly, staring at "things" and never looking at each other. It's so bizarre, this shopping mentality — as if "stuff" can really fill you up. We have been programmed to be shoppers, always searching for something material to fill us. But it never does.

We are snowballing toward chaos and excess for one purpose -- to force us to look within.

Finally.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

FREEDOM FROM FEAR

Freedom from Fear 
by 
Lydia Cornell

(Originally published in Script Envy Magazine

Lydia Cornell on writer's block.

In March, during the storms after my divorce, faced with looming book deadlines, I had been avoiding work, sitting in a catatonic state, staring at the TV, watching episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. I must have watched forty episodes in a row of the brilliant David Suchet and his mustache. Now I have to enter a 12-step program for addiction to this detective mystery that plants clues backwards and rarely has a linear plot. Poirot of all things!

For the love of all that is holy,” my son said in his best imitation of Family Guy “stop watching that boring show Mom. Aren’t you supposed to be writing your book?”


Teenagers are not nice people.


After a horrifying, week of watching the Japanese nuclear reactor meltdown, our TV finally stopped working. The rainstorms had knocked out both Internet and cable —  and now I had no excuse not to write. It would have been a good thing if I had only used the storm properly. The day started out gray and cloudy and perfect! A wonderful, dark, rainy writing day. I was so excited, I kept repeating to myself: “I’m going to start writing in a minute... any minute now I’m going to start writing.”


“Okay, I’ll start after I get another cup of coffee.”


That’s when I accidentally wandered into the garage and found another set of unwatched DVDs buried inside a box of Christmas gifts I had forgotten to return.


“Okay, I’ll start writing after one more Poirot episode. 


It was hours before I came out of the garage, having gone on a berserk treasure-hunting binge. We were out of red licorice (the 96 oz size) so I decided to go to Costco in Van Nuys, the end of the civilized world. I was so tired by the time I pulled into the parking lot that I climbed into the backseat of our minivan and took an hour-long nap.


Somehow, despite my son’s judgmental nagging, the writer’s block brought us closer. He actually hung out with me that week, did his homework in my room, and succumbed to the strange pull of Poirot. I think he liked the fact that I surrendered to TV-watching like a zombie, a droid, a neurosis-free blob of a mom. 


It’s a good thing he didn’t know the truth: I was so deeply depressed and in such a dark place, I was losing faith in myself. What made it worse was that there were people in Japan who had lost everything, but they had more enthusiasm for life than I had.


At that moment, I sat up in bed and heard a voice, an inner voice, as if it was the most important question in the universe: What are you afraid of? 


Writing is a spiritual process of letting go of fear of being judged. Embrace your defects; they are your greatest teachers


So now I view writer’s block as an important part of writing itself. Maybe we should rename it “gestation.” Thinking, going to the fridge, musing over ice cream flavors, watching Poirot it’s all part of the birthing process.


But in the mortal realm, here is some practical advice: when you’re on a deadline, just sit down and turn on a kitchen timer. Set it for 20 minutes, and do not move until you’ve written a sentence, a paragraph or a page. Act as if a benevolent force of love exists that is always guiding you. Ask this force, the Universe, your Source, your loving higher Power, your inner-self, for the next indicated sentence. Write down the first thing that comes into your mind. 


This will help you to let go, face your writer’s block, and get back on track.


Heaven for writers must be a place where we get all our unfinished projects done in peace; a place where no ego exists, no burden of self, where we can write without worrying about selling our work. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? All the scripts, novels, plays, and children’s books left in closets and drawers that have been haunting us could be set free, if we could write without fear of being judged.

AFI Best Actress nominee and People's Choice Award winner Lydia Cornell is best known for her starring role on the hit ABC series Too Close for Comfort. She is currently working on a series of books, which will be out in 2017.  She wrote, produced and directed the film Venus Conspiracy, a short version of her longer script, which will soon be a feature film. Recently seen on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm and starring in the new Kelsey Grammer Comedy Hour, she has her own channel and live talk show. Cornell is an award-winning blogger, writer, comedienne, talk show host, teen mentor and inspirational speaker. Her articles have appeared in A&E Biography, Huffington Post, Editor & Publisher, Macon Daily, and Lone Star Icon. 



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HOW TO REDUCE DEPRESSION, STRESS AND FEAR

INNER PEACE, LOVE and (yes, even religious thoughts) trigger reward systems like love, drugs


(CNN)Most Americans, about 89%, say they believe in God, and some have felt God's presence while listening to a sermon or sensed time stand still while they were in deep prayer or meditation.
Now, a new study shows through functional MRI scans that such religious and spiritual experiences can be rewarding to your brain.
    They activate the same reward systems between your ears as do feelings of love, being moved by music and even doing drugs, according to the study, which was published in the journal Social Neuroscience on Tuesday.
    "These are areas of the brain that seem like they should be involved in religious and spiritual experience. But yet, religious neuroscience is such a young field -- and there are very few studies -- and ours was the first study that showed activation of the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain that processes reward," said Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, a neuroradiologist at the University of Utah and lead author of the study.
    "Billions of people make important decisions in life based on spiritual and religious feelings and experiences. It's one of the most powerful influences on our social behavior," he said. "Yet we know so little about what actually happens in the brain during these experiences. It's just a critical question that needs more study."

    Mulling over Mormon MRIs

    For the study, 19 devout young adult Mormons had their brains scanned in fMRI machines while they completed various tasks. 
    The tasks included resting for six minutes, watching a six-minute church announcement about membership and financial reports, reading quotations from religious leaders for eight minutes, engaging in prayer for six minutes, reading scripture for eight minutes, and watching videos of religious speeches, renderings of biblical scenes and church member testimonials.
    Pastor Joel Osteen on the power of prayer
    Pastor Joel Osteen on the power of prayer 01:44
    During the tasks, participants were asked to indicate when they were experiencing spiritual feelings.
    As the researchers analyzed the fMRI scans taken of the participants, they took a close look at the degree of spiritual feelings each person reported and then which brain regions were simultaneously activated.
    The researchers found that certain brain regions consistently lit up when the participants reported spiritual feelings. 
    The brain regions included the nucleus accumbens, which is associated with reward; frontal attentional, which is associated with focused attention; and ventromedial prefrontal cortical loci, associated with moral reasoning, Anderson said.
    Spiritual feelings trigger a reward circuit in the brain, as shown in this MRI. Courtesy of the University of Utah Health Sciences
    "I appreciated how they went about trying to ascertain the degree of spiritual experience that a person has. Of course, there is always a subjective component to it, but they seemed to capture it relatively well," said Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neurotheologian and professor of emergency medicine and radiology at Thomas Jefferson University who was not involved in the study.
    He added that the new study further supports previous research that has associated spiritual and religious experiences with complex neural networks.
    "It is also interesting to see the changes occurring in the frontal attentional areas and the nucleus accumbens. These are actually areas we have hypothesized to be involved in religious practices and experiences over 10 years ago," Newberg said. "It also corroborates our prior studies of various prayer and meditation practices that found changes in the attentional areas of the brain and also the striatum," a part of the brain associated with the reward system.
    Since the study results were seen only in Mormons, Anderson said, more research is needed to determine whether similar findings could be replicated in people of other faiths, such as Catholics or Muslims.
    "I think that it's still an open question, to what extent there is a common network of brain regions that is active across faith traditions and types of experiences. We expect that there are differences," he said. "In other words, does it feel the same way in the same regions of the brain for a Lutheran woman in Minnesota studying the Bible as for someone in Syria contemplating religiously motivated violence?"
    More research is also needed to determine the potential health benefits of such experiences, Anderson said.
    The scientific literature on health-related effects of spiritual experiences is growing, said Newberg, who wrote the book "How God Changes Your Brain."
    "Generally, religious and spiritual beliefs and practices reduce depression, stress and anxiety and provide people a sense of meaning and purpose," he said.
    "Additionally, it is also important to understand the potential negative consequences," he said. "For example, would this study yield similar or different results if the subjects were members of ISIS and provided religious quotes and videos supporting those beliefs? That could be a fascinating study."

    'This is one of the things that make us human'

    Reward systems in the brain might activate during religious or spiritual experiences in part because they reinforce whatever faith-based beliefs you may have, said Jordan Grafman, director of brain injury research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and a professor at Northwestern University.
    "Reinforcing your beliefs makes you feel a little bit better and secure," said Grafman, who was not involved in the new study. 
    Join the conversation
    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebookand Twitter.
    He added that studying religious beliefs can reveal a lot about the human brain.
    "Well, this is one of the things that make us human, right?" Grafman asked. 
    "There are not too many other species, as far as we know about, that have a religion," he said. "If you're simply interested in what distinguishes us as creatures, this is a great example, and that's why it's important to study the brain basis, not only of how religion affects the brain, but the brain basis of religious beliefs and how that corresponds to other kinds of cognitive processes."

    Saturday, November 19, 2016

    SLEEPOVER NIGHT

    This is pretty funny:

    Monday, November 14, 2016

    WHAT EXPLAINS TRUMP, BREXIT AND THE RISE OF FAR RIGHT FASCISM? ~ NEUROSCIENCE

    From New Scientist: 

    What explains Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right?


    Brain Scanner is Simon Oxenham's weekly column that sifts the pseudoscience from the neuroscience

    When people are anxious, they make bad decisions. Anxiety suppresses neurons in the pre-frontal cortex region of the brain, which is involved in decision-making.
    https://www.newscientist.com/…/2095975-what-explains-b…/sift the pseudoscience from the neuroscience

    To many, the rise of Donald Trump in the US and the UK’s vote to leave the European Union have come as a shock. It is feared that right-wing movements may now rise across Europe, including Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France. Why is the face of global politics changing so quickly, and could we have predicted this rightwards shift?
    Some studies suggest so. Over a period of nearly 150 years, we have seen that every financial crisis was followed by a 10-year surge in support for far right populist parties, as shown by a recent analysis of more than 800 elections by German economists. Interestingly, they did not see the same right-shift reaction in response to recessions or macroeconomic shocks that formed part of the normal cycle of economic rises and falls and weren’t explicitly sparked by a financial crash. The UK is now eight years on since its last financial crisis – although it should be returning to pre-2008 levels of far-right support around about now.

    Bad decisions

    Public-health researcher Christopher Simms of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, argued last month that when people are anxious, not only do they fail to make good decisions, but they also seem to make particularly bad ones. He cited recent research showing that anxiety suppresses neurons in the pre-frontal cortex region of the brain, which is involved in decision-making.
    This may help to explain a lot of what is happening in the world right now. The Global Risks Report 2016 details a worldwide rise in catastrophic events, ranging from involuntary migration to natural disasters. When such crises occur, people look for someone to blame, and often immigration and minorities become an easy scapegoat for a problem that is far less visible in origin – as is the case with financial crises.
    Immigration itself has been shown to have an effect on right-wing views – but not in the direction you might expect. The two show a negative correlation: in the places where immigration is the highest, support for right-wing parties is lowest. For example, it has been shown that it is the perception of immigration levels in a local area, rather than the actual change in numbers, that is linked to votes for UKIP.
    This effect may be explained by the contact hypothesis – the theory that, in the words of psychologist Thomas Pettigrew at the University of California, Santa Cruz, “all that’s needed for greater understanding between groups is contact”. Pettigrew has authored a meta-analysis of more than 500 studies on this subject.

    Emotion and autonomy

    “Never before in history has so much deception been unmasked so quickly and with so little shame,” says Stephan Lewandowsky, a researcher on misinformation at Bristol University in the UK, in regards to the UK’s referendum on membership of the EU.
    Campaigns to leave the EU ultimately depended on stoking fears of migrants, echoing Donald Trump’s campaign in the US. What has made these fear campaigns so effective?
    According to the influential behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University, the leave campaigns used arguments that were based on emotion rather than rational analysis – a triumph of System 1 over System 2 thinking, as described in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.
    Another psychological explanation is that the leave campaigns capitalised on a person’s fundamental need for autonomy, says psychologist Paul Redford of the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. Leave voters typically have less wealth and power, so their vote to leave the EU may have been an attempt to increase their scope for self-determination.

    Showing support

    Since the referendum result, the National Police Chief’s Council has reported a rise in reports of hate crime in the UK. In the week following the vote, an online reporting site received 331 reports of hate crime, a fivefold increase from the weekly average of 63.
    A wealth of psychological research into conformity has shown that this could be a dangerous situation. A widely replicated study in 1955 by Solomon Asch showed that when people were asked to judge whether lines of the same size were really the same length, most people could be led to profess the belief that the lines were actually different lengths. All it took to persuade people was having a group of actors all say that the lines were of different lengths. The study shows how easily people can be pushed to change their views to match those of the people around them.
    In the wake of the rise in hate-crime reporting, a viral campaign has sprung up to express opposition to racism. By wearing a safety pin attached to their lapels, some people are hoping to express their support for the people in the UK who are now feeling victimised or under threat. Clinical psychologist Miriam Silver says that showing solidarity in such a way, and connecting with those who are experiencing hostility, are small steps that people can take to support those under threat.
    As for media reports of “Bregret” – leave voters who now regret their choice – Kahneman has argued that most won’t regret their decision, because regret is rare. Instead, people find ways to explain what is happening around them that lay the blame with someone else.

    More on these topics: