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Medicine Science

Study: Stop Being So Cynical, You Could Give Yourself Dementia 153

Posted by timothy
from the yeah-right-grandma dept.
concertina226 (2447056) writes "Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland have found that people who have high levels of cynical distrust are three times as likely to suffer from dementia in later life, than those who have more faith in other people. Their study is the first of its kind to look at the relationship between cynicism and dementia. Entitled: 'Late-life cynical distrust, risk of incident dementia, and mortality in a population-based cohort', it is published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology. Over a period of eight years, the researchers studied 1,499 people, who all had an average age of 71. The participants were given tests for dementia and a questionnaire to measure their level of cynicism, based on the Cook-Medley Scale."
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Study: Stop Being So Cynical, You Could Give Yourself Dementia

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  • by Morphine007 (207082) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:15AM (#47118971)
    ... but is it cause and effect? Or effect and effect? Could the very high levels of cynical distrust be a result of some malady that eventually causes the dementia?
    • It's probably because the robots stole their medicine.

      • Look, everyone knows robots eat old people's medicine for fuel. If they didn't have an Old Glory plan, that's their problem.
    • The study ends with "more research needed", so it really hasn't proven anything, let alone cause and effect.

      Of course, that doesn't prevent people from mentioning correlation and causation to feel smarter. Obviously the headline is from the article author, and has nothing to do with the study. Just as obviously, "could" is used precisely because the link is only demonstrated, not understood.

      That said, cynical people rarely exercise their brains to understand the world, and that lack of use mirrors other pat

      • That said, cynical people rarely exercise their brains to understand the world,

        Care to expound on that? Because it seems dubious - from what I can tell, even Einstein was a fairly cynical dude:

        “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.” [goodreads.com]

      • by uncqual (836337) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @12:01PM (#47120163)

        You are confusing being "cynical" with having a "closed mind".

        I suspect cynical people likely think things through more than those who are very trusting.

        Those that are very trusting don't see a need to question and think deeply about things other people say, do, or offer (which is why they end up falling for various scams) until after they get screwed and then, in my experience, they don't learn much from it. Cynics, on the other hand, don't accept something to be true just because someone said it and therefore have to evaluate and think about most everything they hear -- making them think and exercise their brains. Also, when they get screwed in spite of their due caution, they tend to think back as to what they missed about the situation that would have prevented them from getting into it.

        Of course, you probably shouldn't trust my insight on this as, being a cynic, I am probably biased (but only cynics will understand that or care about that).

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Non-cynical people are also known as "gullible".

          They probably believe silly things like "the US government is the 'good guys'", "the police are good guys with just a few bad apples and don't violate peoples' rights on a regular basis", "corporations are run by good people who want to improve society", etc.

          • Or perhaps they're willing to give all of the above a chance first rather than outright assuming they're inherently up to no good at every possible turn.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              They've already proven over and over again that they're up to no good at every possible turn.

              • I think that statement is every bit as accurate for individual people as it is for all of the above groups you mentioned.

                These groups are every bit as capable as being good or bad as individuals. That isn't being gullible, that is just reality. If you only choose to acknowledge the criminal element, then THAT truly is cynicism.

                If you accept that one of them is just as likely to rip you off as they are to help you as your neighbor is, then you aren't being gullible, you're being reasonable.

                If the study holds

                • by Grishnakh (216268)

                  I haven't seen the US government help anyone except the 0.01%ers in quite a while. This isn't true of every government in the world; there's lots of countries that seem to do OK with regards to the regular people in their populations, but not the US. (Those countries are in Western Europe BTW, and as a result, they rank at the top of the quality-of-living indices year after year.) The government here only screws over the common people. I don't see how that's one bit cynical; it's just recognizing realit

                  • On the contrary, having a view that the so called 1% are your enemies is not only cynical, it also means you're very greedy.

          • Oh yeah, you're totally right. How do you feel now, cynical or gullible?
        • I think you are confusing cynicism with skepticism.
          Skeptics say "no, I won't take your word for it" while cynics say
          "if you don't know somebody, assume they're an asshole".
      • That said, cynical people rarely exercise their brains to understand the world

        What makes you think so? People often call me cynical, but really, I just take history and logic into account. When I decide if it would be a good idea for the government to have a certain power, I recall some history to see if anything similar was abused in the past, or if the power would be easily abused.

        It seems people often accuse people who use their brains of being "cynical."

        Jumping to the obvious "cos corporate interests" or "duh NSA" is no brain work at all.

        And yet, for some things, that is probably the answer.

    • Think of all the governments, corporations and rich people that'd profit from THIS!

    • by bluegutang (2814641) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:36AM (#47119919)

      I'd guess that cynical or distrustful people end up with lesser social connections to other people, a factor which has already been linked [alz.org] to dementia.

      • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:04PM (#47122753)

        I'd guess that cynical or distrustful people end up with lesser social connections to other people, a factor which has already been linked [alz.org] to dementia.

        I'd guess that the cynicism is an early manifestation of dementia in the people who manifest dementia!

        How do we tell who is right in proper peer-reviewed fashion?

        • How do we tell who is right in proper peer-reviewed fashion?

          Well, my comment got modded up higher than yours... :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by XARG (188455)

      ... but is it cause and effect? Or effect and effect? Could the very high levels of cynical distrust be a result of some malady that eventually causes the dementia?

      You have just increased your dementia chances.

    • No, there is no cause and effect relationship determined. It seems likely to me that the same condition that predisposes one to mental stresses/cynicism also could impact overall health.

      In order to demonstrate cause and effect, they would need a control group of cynics, half of which somehow changed their outlook to a positive/trusting one, the other half remaining cynics, and then see if results differ. I somehow doubt that can be pulled off.
    • The brain suffers atrophy when not exercised. So when a person becomes cynical, they become pessimistic and and eventually apathetic. I believe that apathy is what causes atrophy of the brain. Just let go... Nothing else matters.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Apathy is what happens when the cynical person gets old enough to realize they have no power to change things for the better. The root of the problem is the non-cynical people who support the corruption in society, causing the cynical people to be cynical in the first place and eventually give up.

    • by matbury (3458347)

      ...and the divorce rate in Maine correlates directly with margarine consumption, and the number of people who drowned by falling into a swimming pool correlated with the number of films Nicholas Cage appeared in, etc.

      Correlation isn't causation: http://www.fastcodesign.com/30... [fastcodesign.com]

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, here's one possible effect and cause scenario that occurred to me.

      Start with a healthy person who has a generally positive view of humanity. That doesn't mean he believes every human is good and honest; he relies on his critical thinking to know when an offer is too good to be true and his social perception to sense when someone is trying to put one over on him.

      Now give him some brain damage so that his critical thinking and social perception don't work so well any longer. How does he react? He fall

      • I try to become more cynical every day, but lately I just can't keep up. -- Lily Tomlin (She's only 74 but sharp as ever. YMMV)

        Well, here's one possible effect and cause scenario that occurred to me.

        Start with a healthy person who has a generally positive view of humanity.

        Above the threshold reached at the age of reason (mental age ~7) when we begin to see the flaws in ourselves and others, I think it takes more mental energy to have a generally positive view of humanity than to fall back on cynicism. I agree with others that we may be seeing an indicator of pre-dementia rather than a cause of dementia.

        I've lived over fifty years in this country and cynicism is at an all-time high. But strangely enough, so is credulity.

        You've lived for fifty years in Finland?

        We've become a nation of cynical suckers.

        Oh, you'

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      I agree - and another question is what about being cynical for certain subjects - like politics?

    • by TeknoHog (164938)
      Well, maybe [xkcd.com].
    • How about the hallmarks for what qualifies as dementia...

      It's dementia when they are stealing your medicine.

      It's sweet old lady / kind delusions when they tell you how much they love the cake you brought them last week for their birthday (who is this person? --just go with it).
  • Seems these people and the OP have already given themselves stupidity...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463)

      Seems these people and the OP have already given themselves stupidity...

      To be fair, the causation implied by the idiotic headline in both the summary, and TFA, did not come from the study [neurology.org]. The authors were very careful to say that the effects were only "associated".

      • Seems these people and the OP have already given themselves stupidity...

        To be fair, the causation implied by the idiotic headline in both the summary, and TFA, did not come from the study [neurology.org]. The authors were very careful to say that the effects were only "associated".

        Presumably, the same way owning a car and getting audited by the IRS are "associated."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:18AM (#47119007)

    Reading about bogus 'studies' like this makes me more cynical than ever, thus giving me dementia.

  • Meh (Score:5, Funny)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:27AM (#47119097)
    Just about all studies are crap anyway. Why would this one be any different?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... all those cynical bastards were faking dementia just to fuck with the study.

  • Why should one not be cynical? The human race has never given cause for one to be otherwise. Besides, cynicism is not necessarily related to hostility or anger, which makes the Cook-Medley test nonsensical.

    Unless, of course, that the study calls 'cynicism' is not cynicism at all.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree. Humans are shitty evil little things. I don't trust them one bit. I don't even talk to them anymore. At least, not in person.
    • A prejudice towards cynicism, that is pre judgement before the facts are known, robs you of the opportunity to process and analyze new info. If every fact were dismissed as "selfish bastards", you would be in the same pattern of disuse as anyone else on the path to dementia.

      Controlling for various thing means that of the people who use their brain in similar ways, cynics who process less information developed more symptoms of disuse.

      Dismissing these results without consideration may have been humor, but it

    • I don't have cynical distrust, I have cynical disdain. I believe incompetence explains more of the problems that we have than actual malignant evil. That's not to say that Human Society and the Entire World is not being ruined by them, but its only a very few doing the real harm.

  • Or ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:47AM (#47119313) Homepage

    Maybe people who blindly trust everyone never get identified as having dementia, because they just go along with everything you say?

    Now get off my lampshade!

    • Maybe people who blindly trust everyone never get identified as having dementia, because they just go along with everything you say?

      Yea, OK, that sounds good...

    • Wish I had points. I thought exactly that. I've know Alzheimer's victims that weren't diagnosed till very late due to people ignoring cynical me, while viewing them with mindless uncriticality. Same thing happens with happy idiots in general, either conformists or pretty/charming/etc. socially-privileged types. They just get away with their idiocy, even actively inflicting it on unspecial others, while the consequences are generally out right denied, and anyone calling them on it is immediately attacked and
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        I thought exactly that. I've know Alzheimer's victims that weren't diagnosed till very late due to people ignoring cynical me, while viewing them with mindless uncriticality.

        A couple of years ago, I had a relative who just didn't seem right.

        It had been a few years since I'd seen her, but she was quiet, almost wooden, and neither laughed nor told jokes, and surely didn't exhibit her usual acerbic wit. She was almost docile.

        The first thing I said to several people are "what the heck is wrong with her, she's

  • Wait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xdor (1218206) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:05AM (#47119543)

    So critical thinking leads to dementia?

    Or do we notice more when people with high mental function lose it than those who never had good thinking skills in the first place?

    • Re:Wait (Score:4, Informative)

      by emacs_abuser (140283) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:09AM (#47119579)

      Critical thinking is not the same thing as being cynical.
      You can be skeptical without being cynical.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      So critical thinking leads to dementia?

      Well, see, you use up all of your brain's lifespan by using it too much.

      So by the time you get older, your brain is all worn out.

      By not applying critical thinking, you save up your brain for later in life. ;-)

      (NOTE: this is sarcasm for those of you who can't think critically)

      • (NOTE: this is sarcasm for those of you who can't think critically)

        The smiley at the end already said so. But of course this is Slashdot, so stating it twice may be appropriate. ;-)

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      You keep using that word but I do not think you know what it means.

      Critical Thinking == "You should try this water it has smaller molecules so it hydrates you faster!". Ummmm No it doesn't smaller molecules and no it will not.

      Cynical == most what people post in the comments of slashdot. It is almost and example of critical thinking or higher mental functioning.

      Stupid == We need solar and wind to reduce our dependance on foreign oil.

      • Stupid == We need solar and wind to reduce our dependance on foreign oil.

        No, equalling that statement with "stupid" is stupid.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          And thank you for playing.
          Less than 1% of the electricity generated in the US is from oil. Solar and Wind only generate electricity.
          So well under 1% of all oil is used to generate electrical power. It was less the 2% of all oil in 2004 and has gone down to under 1% of the oil used in the US.

          http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/... [eia.gov]

          And you just flunked your skeptic and critical thinking test.
          1. You assumed you knew the truth.
          2. You failed to question the truth.
          3. spouted off without doing any research.
          4. You truste

          • Less than 1% of the electricity generated in the US is from oil. Solar and Wind only generate electricity.
            So well under 1% of all oil is used to generate electrical power. It was less the 2% of all oil in 2004 and has gone down to under 1% of the oil used in the US.

            What you say may be true. As non-American I'm not terribly interested in the details of the American energy mix. Indeed, before that post, I couldn't even know which county you are from, so even with perfect knowledge of the American energy mix I

            • by LWATCDR (28044)

              This is Slashdot which is a US based website so the assumption should be US. I also doubt that many other nations are use the argument that solar replaces foreign oil the way the US does. Most other nations seem to use the more logical argument that it reduces greenhouse gases.
              Unless your are in the middle east or a small island nation, odds are very high that only a tiny % of your electricity is from oil.

              " "Stupid" is not the same as "uninformed", "misinformed" or "wrong"."
              Making an incorrect statement ove

  • by freezin fat guy (713417) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:16AM (#47119665)
    What's their angle?
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:21AM (#47119733)
    that guy blathers extremely cynical conspiracy theories 24/7/365 and all those poor fools stupid enough to listen are doomed to dementia
  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:38AM (#47119943)
    I might posit that cynicism is a coping mechanism for the dementia-impaired.
  • by Atrox666 (957601) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:52AM (#47120079)

    If you're optimistic in this world you are already delusional so how would they tell if you're suffering from dementia?

    • That's a very good comment, though some people seem to live charmed lives, so it's understandable that they would be optimistic.
    • Whether for happiness reasons or Seligman's optimism ratio, optimism is clearly better for almost everyone. It doesn't matter if you're an idiot who doesn't know any better... or someone who creatively finds an optimistic way to perceive the tragic mess that is life. ;)

  • Eastern Finland have found that people who have high levels of cynical distrust are three times as likely to suffer from dementia

    But can you trust the Finns?

  • What is exercised the most becomes the strongest.

    • by cellocgw (617879)

      What is exercised the most becomes the strongest.

      Sadly, about half the population has learned they have one muscle which never gets stronger (or bigger) no matter how much they exercise it.

      OK, I'll stop with the Jr. High School humor.

  • by Simulant (528590) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @12:38PM (#47120577) Journal
    Tell you what... If you stopping making up misleading headlines I'll try and not be so cynical about them.
  • I might just be cynical [har har har], but there is something about a group saying "hey, if you don't just trust what people are telling you, you will one day become crazy". I would rather end up a little crazy in my later life than become too optimistic. A little bit of cynicism keeps you from being taken advantage of too much.

    It's like the government funding a study that finds that if you question what the government says or does, you're more likely to end up with Alzheimers. So you better stop comp
  • by mschaffer (97223) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @12:44PM (#47120661)

    Just keep drinking the Kool-Aid. Apparently they put anti-dementia meds in it.

  • Keep your hippy happy bullshit to yourself. Seriously, fucking die screaming.

  • Call my cynical, but I don't trust any studies from the University of Eastern...refrigerator!

  • I'm screwed.

  • People are always telling me I'm "cynical", whatever that means. I mean, either you're right or you're wrong; and if you're right, how is that "cynical"?
                    -- Gary Brecher, the War Nerd

  • Stop Being So Cynical, You Could Give Yourself Dementia

    Yeah, right.

  • So in other words.. You'd better drink societies Kool-Aid and smile all the time or else they'll start calling you crazy.

    * Cynical interpretation of TFA.

  • I'm reminded of similar studies showing that by various members, people suffering from depression tend to have more accurate assessments of themselves and others, are better at predicting the results of a particular plan, etc.

    Being aware of what is actually going on is just a recipe for personal misery. Delusional mooncalves may be less successful, but they're a lot happier.

  • "Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland have found that people who have high levels of cynical distrust are three times as likely to suffer from dementia in later life, than those who have more faith in other people."

    In other words, they're trying to pin the blame on someone other than dealing with the same issues they have in the first place like any other country on it's way to first-world status.

    Yea, good fucking luck, assholes.

  • I don't buy into this optimism/cynicism dichotomy. I buy into a truth/honesty vs bullshit/lies dichotomy. Reality is how it is, and while it is malleable in some ways, it is not in others. Many times people equate the latter as bad news or 'cynicism' rather than a reality check, and don't listen.

  • ... dementia is the highest level you can achieve of not giving a shit about anything anymore.

  • I call bullshit!

  • From the Devil's Dictionary: Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are not as they ought to be.

    Too much poorly-buffered contact with harsh reality probably wears your mind down.

  • Perhaps it is that for the sort of person who actually trusts their fellow human, it is hard to tell when dementia strikes.

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