Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video]

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video]
Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video] by Peter M Vishton
Course No 1670 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 80 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 3.12GB

What if you aren’t as in control of your actions as you think you are? What if your subconscious is driving your decisions without your approval? Is there a way to “hack” your brain to perform better, live healthier, and break your bad habits? We all can think of things about ourselves we’d like to change, but as neuroscientists are coming to realize, changing our behaviors isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Many of our everyday decisions are rooted in the subconscious, which means we have to “outsmart” our own brains to see results.

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You will give you insights into how your mind works and the tools you need to make lasting change. Taught by Professor Peter M. Vishton, Associate Professor of Psychology at William & Mary, these 24 exciting lectures give you a wealth of practical strategies for enhancing your thinking and improving your well-being. You’ll see how the subconscious guides much of our behavior, leading to a kind of autopilot through much of life, including when it comes to making important decisions.

The brain is an amazing instrument, and neuroscientists today have more information than ever about how it works—as well as strategies for helping us live better every day. The surprising thing is just how counterintuitive some of these strategies can be. For instance, the best way to combat procrastination is often to…do nothing for 20 minutes. By forcing yourself to do nothing, you won’t get caught up in time-sucking avoidance behaviors like checking email. After 20 minutes, you’ll find yourself focused and ready to get to work.

Neuroscientists have stumbled onto countless insights for living better, many of which go against the grain of what you might think you know. Examine why exercise is less helpful for weight-loss than we had previously believed (but is valuable in other ways), why talent is an overrated predictor of success, how the effects of mindfulness meditation have benefited us since our hunter-gatherer days, what procrastination can do for your creativity, and more.

Whether we’re distracted by too many tasks, being influenced by crafty marketers, or simply living in a rut of bad habits, our conscious brains aren’t always guiding us toward the best actions. Fortunately, Professor Vishton offers the latest in scientific research to outsmart the automatic workings of your brain. Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You empowers you take charge of your life and harness your brain’s full potential.

Uncover Evidence-Based ‘Hacks’ For Your Brain

One common misconception is that we only use 10 percent of our brains. In fact, Professor Vishton explains, it’s clear that we use much more than that, but we may only understand 10 percent of our brains. The good news is that recent years have seen an explosion of knowledge about the brain, and with that knowledge comes new opportunities to perform better. One key theme running through Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You is that a few simple practices really can offer dramatic results in our performance, creativity, physical health, and mental well-being.

From the myth of multitasking to the mechanisms behind falling—and staying—in love, Professor Vishton shows you what is happening inside your brain, which will help you achieve your goals like never before.

  • Improve Your Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health: Curb your unhealthy snacking, unlearn your phobias, improve mindfulness, and combat depression. These things are easier said than done, but brain-based strategies for living healthfully offer immeasurable dividends.
  • Master the Mental Game: Researchers have discovered that simply imagining yourself performing an exercise can make as big an impact on your strength as physical practice. From how language shapes your brain to the practice of “monotasking,” encounter ways to improve your performance.
  • Hone the Subtle Art of Persuasion: Learn the tricks of the salesperson’s trade, from after-dinner mints at a restaurant to the pricing strategy at your local watering hole. Researching the art of persuasion will empower you in your negotiations and make you a savvier consumer.
  • Uncover the Key to Happiness: If money doesn’t buy happiness, where do you turn for a fulfilling life? Based on longevity studies, see why valuing your time and deepening your friendships might be the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Build a Toolkit of Strategies for Better Living

When you complete this course, you will have an abundant list of practical, everyday ways to strengthen your creativity, improve your problem-solving, enhance your health, and generally operate on a higher level:

  • Examine why keeping a notebook might be the easiest way to shake bad habits such as biting your fingernails.
  • Delve into the psychology of anger and emotional mirroring, which will help you better diffuse interpersonal tensions.
  • Perform a bit of time travel to outsmart your “present self” to make life better for your “future self.”
  • Consider eating fermented foods next time you feel the blues and need an emotional pick-me-up.
  • If you want to boost your creativity, try taking a walk—preferably in a nice outdoor green space.

These are just a few of the many tips and strategies Professor Vishton offers to help you overcome your brain’s hardwiring.

In each lecture, he backs up each of his strategies with evidence from psychological studies and the recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience. You’ll explore some of the classic experiments in psychology, from John Watson’s behaviorism to Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies. Thanks to research with EEGs, fMRIs, and other technologies, you’ll go inside the brain to find out how our neurochemistry drives our behaviors—and what we can do about it.

Participate in Each Lecture

One thing that makes this course so unique is that not only do you walk away with practical tips, you also get the chance to put these tips into practice during the lectures. How do you use a five-gallon and a three-gallon jug to measure out exactly four gallons? How do you connect two ropes hanging from the ceiling if they’re more than an arm’s width apart? Professor Vishton gives you ample opportunities to test your creativity and problem-solving skills with engaging puzzles, brainteasers, word games, and more. These mental calisthenics are sure to get your neurons fired up.

Whether you are looking for a mental stimulus or want increased clarity for the challenges of everyday life, Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You offers a satisfying blend of theoretical knowledge and practical know-how to help you jumpstart a more productive and fulfilling life.

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video]

The Darwinian Revolution [TTC Video]

The Darwinian Revolution [TTC Video]
The Darwinian Revolution [TTC Video] by Frederick Gregory
Course No 1527 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.59GB

Published 150 years ago, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species—the text that introduced the world to natural selection—is among a handful of books that have changed the world.

Born amid a ferment of speculation about evolutionary scenarios in the early 19th century; vilified and later pronounced dead at the turn of the 20th century; and spectacularly confirmed by discovery after discovery in succeeding decades—natural selection ranks with the theories of Copernicus and Newton for its iconic stature in science.

But the route to that status has been surprisingly circuitous and uncertain. Darwin's profoundly revolutionary message has often been misunderstood, and so have his own views on evolution, the intellectual background that led to them, and the turbulent history of their reception.

Consider the following points:

  • Although Darwinism and evolution are often equated, evolution was debated long before Darwin's time. Darwin's innovation was to propose an astonishingly powerful process for how evolution took place: natural selection.
  • By 1900, Darwin's theory was near death, superseded by the widely accepted view that evolution did indeed occur, but under a purpose-driven mechanism that had little to do with natural selection.
  • In the 1930s, Darwinism made a stunning comeback as researchers realized that the small variations required by natural selection were indeed driving evolution. The resulting "evolutionary synthesis" reigns to this day.

The Darwinian Revolution—24 absorbing lectures by award-winning Professor Frederick Gregory of the University of Florida—introduces you to the remarkable story of Darwin's ideas, how scientists and religious leaders reacted to them, and the sea of change in human thought that resulted.

Perhaps more than any other idea in science, Darwin's theory of natural selection shows how a strikingly original concept can break the bounds of its discipline to influence society at large—in religion, politics, philosophy, and other spheres.

Intellectual Dynamite

Natural selection is the elegantly simple idea that those members of a species that happen to be most well adapted to their surroundings and are best equipped to survive will tend to outlast others; and that over time, species change as a result.

How did Darwin arrive at this theory? Professor Gregory shows that he did so slowly and cautiously, since he was well aware that natural selection was intellectual dynamite, implying that no divine intervention was needed to populate the Earth with a rich diversity of life forms.

In working out the details of the theory, Darwin built on his own observations and on the insights of others, but he also made amazing leaps in the face of apparently contrary evidence.

These are some of the steps to natural selection that you investigate in The Darwinian Revolution:

  • Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology argued that the forces that shaped Earth's surface were slow-acting over eons, rather than operating quickly through planet-wide catastrophes, in accord with biblical views. Lyell's theories suggested that the Earth was much older than commonly believed at the time. Darwin took Lyell's book on his exploring voyage aboard HMS Beagle.
  • Darwin's five-year expedition around the world on the Beagle was the most important event in his life, introducing him to a diverse panorama of flora and fauna that far surpassed his expectations, and which he spent years trying to understand.
  • Darwin was well acquainted with the ability of breeders to promote desirable traits in animals and plants. He took the next crucial step of asking whether this process did not also occur in the wild, under the pressure of the struggle for survival.

The theory that eventually emerged from these reflections was rushed to publication when Darwin got a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist in Indonesia who had reached similar conclusions. But, despite the hurry, Darwin's resulting work, On the Origin of Species, was a meticulously argued case that led to one of the greatest paradigm shifts in the history of science.

The Darwin Debate

Professor Gregory recounts the vigorous scientific criticisms that met Origin, including these objections:

  • On the basis of the rate at which the Earth was cooling, physicist William Thomson calculated that the planet could not possibly be old enough to harbor life forms that evolved by natural selection.
  • Engineer Fleeming Jenkin argued that, contrary to Darwin's theory, favorable characteristics in an individual would have no chance of spreading through a much larger population.
  • Philosopher Ludwig Büchner praised Darwin's commitment to the concept of evolution but saw a fatal flaw in natural selection due to its purposelessness—its failure to account for progress in nature.

You learn how each of these arguments was eventually answered, including the deep mystery that puzzled Darwin himself: What are the actual "atoms" of inheritance that are passed from generation to generation and that initiate evolutionary change? The answer would come long after Darwin's death with the discovery of DNA as the genetic blueprint.

Religious Reactions

But the scientific controversies that Darwin encountered were overshadowed by the firestorm of criticism that he faced from religious thinkers, a reaction that has scarcely subsided to this day. Religious attacks on Darwin were inspired by a wide range of theological perspectives. However, most critics agreed with Darwin's contemporary, the theologian Charles Hodge, that what was original with Darwin was a mechanism that resulted from unintelligent causes; that was the core of Darwin's theory of natural selection, and that was what was unacceptable.

Ironically, the notorious Scopes "monkey" trial in 1925 focused on evolution in general, an idea that was widely accepted by many Christian thinkers. Natural selection, the radical theory that implied atheism in the eyes of many, hardly came up during the proceedings. Professor Gregory points out that the trial was a publicity stunt designed to promote the town of Dayton, Tennessee—not the persecution of a brave teacher for freely speaking out.

A noted authority on the development of modern science, Professor Gregory is uniquely qualified to probe the religious dimension of this subject, since he holds a degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in addition to a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard University. In The Darwinian Revolution, he brings the controversy up to date by carefully examining the claims of intelligent design, which is the latest and most sophisticated attempt to challenge Darwin on religious grounds.

Far-Reaching Questions

"We have every right to feel enormous pride at what evolutionary scientists have accomplished," Professor Gregory says. But he notes that Darwin's theories raise far-reaching questions about the nature of human identity, society, and the demarcation between science and the supernatural that defines the limits of human knowledge.

Explore the fascinating story of evolution in The Darwinian Revolution and let a remarkable teacher reveal the astounding implications this provocative theory has had on both science and society.

The Darwinian Revolution [TTC Video]

Classics of Russian Literature [TTC Video]

Classics of Russian Literature [TTC Video]
Classics of Russian Literature [TTC Video] by Irwin Weil
Course No 2830 | AVI, XviD, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.24GB

Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul. These 36 half-hour lectures delve into this extraordinary body of work under the guidance of Professor Irwin Weil of Northwestern University, an award-winning teacher at Northwestern University and a legend among educators in the United States and Russia.

Professor Weil introduces you to such masterpieces as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems by Russian authors.

You will study more than 40 works by a dozen writers, from Aleksandr Pushkin in the 19th century to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the 20th. You will also investigate the origin of Russian literature itself, which traces to powerful epic poetry and beautiful renderings of the Bible into Slavic during the Middle Ages.

All of these works are treated in translation, but Professor Weil does something very unusual for a literature-in-translation course. For almost every passage that he quotes in English, he reads an extract in the original Russian, with a fluent accent and an actor's sense of drama.

You may not understand Russian, but there is no mistaking the expressive intonation, rhythm, and feeling with which Professor Weil performs these passages. At one point, reciting verses from Russia's most famous poet, he advises: "Listen to it once as a piece of music, and you will sense the linguistic genius of Pushkin."

Classics of Russian Literature explores Russian masterpieces at all levels—characters, plots, scenes, and sometimes even single sentences, including:

  • Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, which has one of the most famous first sentences in all of literature, setting the stage for a novel that probes the tragic dimension of a subject—adultery—that had traditionally been treated as satire.
  • Gogol's Dead Souls, with a concluding passage beloved to all Russians, in which the hero flees the scene of his fiendishly clever swindle in a troika—a fast carriage drawn by three horses—to the author's invocation, "Oh Rus' [Russia], whither art thou hurtling?"
  • Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, whose long chapter "The Grand Inquisitor" is a gripping, haunting, mystifying parable that is often studied on its own, but that is all the more powerful in this great novel, which addresses faith, doubt, redemption, and other timeless themes.

The Golden Age and After

The central core of the course covers the great golden age of Russian literature, a period in the 19th century when Russia's writers equaled or surpassed the achievements of the much older literary cultures of Western Europe. The age commenced with Pushkin, developed with the fantastic and grotesque tales of Gogol', and grew to full flower with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—who at the time were considered in Europe to be lesser writers than their talented contemporary Turgenev. As the 20th century approached, Chekhov's exquisitely understated plays and stories symbolized the sunset of the golden age.

Gorky straddled the next transformation, linking the turmoil preceding the Russian Revolution with the political oppression that affected all artists in the newly established Soviet Union from the 1920s on. You examine the brilliant revolutionary poet Maiakovsky; the novelist Sholokhov, who portrayed the revolution as a tragedy for the Cossack people; the satirist Zoshchenko, who used Soviet society as food for parody; and Pasternak, who produced beautiful poems and a single extraordinary novel. Your survey ends with Solzhenitsyn, who became the most influential literary voice speaking out against the tyranny of the Soviet system.

Inside, Outside, and Behind the Scenes

Professor Weil uses intriguing details to bring these authors and their works to life. For example, readers of English translations are probably unaware of the symbolic names that Russian writers routinely give their characters, names that are especially evocative in Russian:

  • Roskol'nikov, the protagonist of Crime and Punishment, is named after the term for "schism," signifying a person who is separating himself from society. Dostoevsky gives other characters names that mean "mud puddle" and "intelligence," again, representing the person's inner nature.
  • Iurii Zhivago, the hero of Doctor Zhivago, has a family name that is an older Russian form of the word "alive." Pasternak uses a grammatical case that emphasizes the animate nature of the noun, signifying life as it should be experienced.

In addition to such internal details that enrich your understanding of the text, Professor Weil also points you to outside resources, from films and operas to recommended attractions that you may wish to see if you travel to Russia:

  • In order to get a sense of the powerful rhythms of Pushkin's masterpiece Eugene Onegin, readers who don't know Russian can turn to Tchaikovsky's famous operatic adaptation, which magnificently catches the meter and texture of the poem.
  • A trip to Moscow should include a visit to Tolstoy's house, now preserved as a museum. There you will get a vivid sense of the contradictions in this man's life—in the marked contrast between the comfortable Victorian furnishings preferred by his wife and family and the Spartan austerity in which he closeted himself to write, a style that came increasingly to define his life.

Professor Weil also recounts behind-the-scenes stories, many of which relate to his own experiences in Russia. These anecdotes add a new dimension to your appreciation of the works covered in this course:

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Solzhenitsyn's moving novella about life in a Soviet forced labor camp, might never have appeared in print had not the mercurial Soviet premier Khrushchev found the story spellbinding. After reading the manuscript, Khrushchev admitted that it was one of the few literary works that he had managed to finish without sticking himself with pins to stay awake. The resulting publication stunned the Soviet reading public and the world.
  • "The History of an Illness," a short story by Zoshchenko, gently lampoons the Soviet health care system, with which Professor Weil has personal experience from his visits to the country. He describes some of the maddening features of Soviet medicine, including a propensity to treat every illness with vodka.
Classics of Russian Literature [TTC Video]

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