Charisma Inhibits Higher Brain Function In Believers.

Unfortunately this study only covered religious subjects, but its lessons can be applied pretty much anywhere. “Experts” are trotted out every night on news programs, to justify the most heinous of activities, or just to instill fear in the population. Politicians and other rulers practice being charismatic because it saves them having to be truthful. The voluntary and NGO sector is full of “conference dragons”, and so on.

The study found that a religious person, anticipating a person who has a reputation as a charismatic literally shuts down his highest brain functions in the charismatic’s presence. That doesn’t happen in the brains of non-believers.

An article on OpEdNews.com does some interesting speculation about this (archived as pdf: Power_of_Charisma) but again is limited by only looking at religious matters. The full study is available at intl-scan.oxfordjournals.org and pdf is archived here:
Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci-2011-Schjoedt-119-27

See also:  The science of charismatic voices on phys.org for some studies using politicians’ speeches.
(archived as pdf: phys.org-The_science_of_charismatic_voices )

Edit, 22 Nov 2014: Found a similar study that focuses on experts rather than religion:

Expert Financial Advice Neurobiologically Offloads Financial Decision-Making under Risk

Power Can Corrupt Even The Honest

When appointing a new leader, selectors base their choice on several factors and typically look for leaders with desirable characteristics such as honesty and trustworthiness. However once leaders are in power, can we trust them to exercise it in a prosocial manner?

To investigate this the authors used experimental methods to distinguish between the situational and individual component; and determine if power corrupts or if corrupt individuals are drawn to power. The findings showed that those who measured as less honest exhibited more corrupt behaviour, at least initially; however, over time, even those who initially scored high on honesty were not shielded from the corruptive effects of power.

“Organisations should limit how much leaders can drink from the seductive chalice of power.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoLLPNZLBAo?autoplay=0&controls=0&showinfo=0&rel=0&modestbranding=0&playsinline=1&origin=http%3A%2F%2Fphys.org&enablejsapi=1]

The article abstract etc is at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1048984314000800 but it costs $20 to download.

Avaaz – non-profit warmongering

‘Activism’ and ‘human rights’ foundation Avaaz blames the Houla massacre on Assad and calls for foreign intervention. A peek into the background of Avaaz explains its pro-empire position, and who is really behind it.

Avaaz: Empire Propaganda Mill Masquerading as Grassroots Activism

Archived here: Avaaz_Empire_Propaganda_Mill_Masquerading_as_Grassroots_Activism.pdf

 

Red Cross Screws Donors And Victims Again

Whenever there is a tragedy, the American Red Cross revs up its fundraising machines. The public is inundated with slick television commercials and the money pours in. So much money that very often the American Red Cross receives 70% of ALL the donations made by the public to help the victims in any given high profile event.

Where does all that money go? Be prepared to be shocked. Here’s how bad it is:  The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a “trade secret.” Red Cross: “We’re not answering any questions about anything” – See more at:  propublica.org.
Archived here as pdf.

Update 1 Nov 2014: Red Cross diverted funds for hurricane relief to their own PR campaign
Through internal documents obtained by journalists and interviews conducted with those close to the Red Cross’ response to those emergencies, the reports published this week by both media outlets conclude that evidence depicts “an organization so consumed with public relations that it hindered the charity’s ability to provide disaster services.”

U.K. Aid Used to Build Luxury Housing

An investment branch of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) aid agency has come under fire for subsidizing Avance Ingenieros to build elite housing projects in El Salvador at the expense of the UK taxpayer, according to an investigation by the Guardian newspaper. This is not an accident or mistake, it’s policy. http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15954

See also British aid money invested in gated communities and shopping centres which shows that this is not an isolated case.

The “Sustainable Forest Management” Scam.

Patrick Alley at TEDxExeter talks about how the logging industry and governments have conned people into believing that legal logging is ok and that organizations like the WWF are helping to improve the state of our forests.

There’s an article on the redd-monitor site that’s worth reading too.

 

Prince Harry Charity in boarding school fees scandal

pigs-at-the-troughOne of Britain’s biggest charities, whose patron is Prince Harry, has used hundreds of thousands of pounds of donors’ money to pay the boarding school fees of its chief executive’s children. The Halo Trust, whose trustees include the actress Angelina Jolie, has sanctioned the payment of tens of thousands of pounds a year for more than a decade to fund the private education of Guy Willoughby’s four children.

Most importantly, the practice has been in place at Halo for more than a decade although no mention is made of the arrangement in the charity’s accounts or on its website. This shows the need for fully open accounting, which we should be demanding before giving any money out at all.

More in the Telegraph article here

Archived as pdf: Charity_school_fees_scandal

Green Climate Fund Junket

The U.N’s Green Climate fund has so far received 7.5 million dollars in funds from a small number of countries. What do you think a bunch of dull, grey conference types would do with it? Sure enough they spent it all on their own salaries, offices, travel and finding new ways to be boring. Try to read their catchy slogan without yawning, more in an article at whatsupwiththat.com

archived here: Long_Green.pdf

 

REDD does not reduce emissions, nor halt deforestation.

REDD, or reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is one of the most controversial issues in the climate change debate. The basic concept is simple: governments, companies or forest owners in the South should be rewarded for keeping their forests instead of cutting them down. The devil, as always, is in the details. More details in redd-monitor.org’s intro page.

In August 2013, the No REDD in Africa Network met in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. The members of the Network, which was launched at the World Social Forum earlier this year, produced a short statement, posted in full below.

In the past few weeks, REDD in Africa has hit the headlines several times. In Madagascar, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the government of Madagascar announced that 705,588 carbon credits are certified for sale from the Makira REDD+ Project. WCS estimates that the 400,000 hectare project will prevent emissions of 32 million tons over the next 30 years.

“The sale of these carbon credits has triple bottom-line benefits; it helps wildlife, local people, and fights climate change,” said Todd Stevens, Executive Director of Global Initiatives at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Stevens clearly hasn’t considered what happens when carbon credits are sold. Of course the Makira forest should be protected, but the sale of carbon credits ensures that somewhere else emissions will continue, thus cancelling out any reduction in Makira.

Much more in full article: No REDD in Africa Network Maputo Statement: “REDD does not reduce emissions, REDD does not halt deforestation”

Archived here: No_REDD_in_Africa_Network.pdf