The chaplain then explained how he had spoken with the dead man’s wife, who related a vivid dream she’d had that night of her husband standing next to her bed, apologizing and explaining that he had been in a car accident, and that his car was in a ditch where it could not be seen from the road...They recovered the body 20 minutes later. Most scholars have no idea what to do with such poignant, powerful stories, other than to dismiss them with lazy words like "anecdote" or "coincidence."...We should put these extreme narratives, these impossible stories, in the middle of our academic table. I would also like to make a wager, here and now, that once we put these currently rejected forms of knowledge on our academic table, things that were once impossible to imagine will soon become possible not only to imagine but also to think, theorize, and even test. Professor Jeffrey Kripal
explains why the humanities needs to expand its field of acceptable topics for investigation.
posted by shivohum
on Apr 2, 2014 -
What goes on in our minds when we see someone naked?
A 2011 study
[PDF] led by Kurt Gray revealed a curious fact about how people perceive other people when they take their clothes off: What emerged was that we see the capacity for feelings, whether pleasure or pain or happiness or anger, as distinct from the capacity for intellectual thought and planning. Namely, that we treat those we objectify as less intelligent, yet simultaneously we endow them with a
greater ability to
posted by Cash4Lead
on Nov 13, 2013 -
It took me nine minutes to notice that the shape of the boy’s ear precisely echoes that of the ruff along the squirrel’s belly—and that Copley was making some kind of connection between the animal and the human body and the sensory capacities of each. It was 21 minutes before I registered the fact that the fingers holding the chain exactly span the diameter of the water glass beneath them. It took a good 45 minutes before I realized that the seemingly random folds and wrinkles in the background curtain are actually perfect copies of the shapes of the boy’s ear and eye, as if Copley had imagined those sensory organs distributing or imprinting themselves on the surface behind him. And so on. What this exercise shows students is that just because you have looked at something doesn’t mean that you have seen it.
posted by shivohum
on Oct 23, 2013 -
Positive psychology superstars Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada had put forward a theory, seemingly with experimental confirmation, that was bolder than bold: that mankind, whether working alone or in groups, is governed by a mathematical tipping point, one specified by a ratio of 2.9013 positive to 1 negative emotions. When the tipping point is crested, a kind of positive emotional chaos ensues—“that flapping of the butterfly’s wing,” as Fredrickson puts it—resulting in human “flourishing.” When it is not met (or if a limit of 11.6346 positive emotions is exceeded, as there is a limit to positivity), everything comes grinding to a halt, or locks into stereotyped patterns like water freezing into ice. Nick Brown smelled bull
posted by shivohum
on Oct 17, 2013 -
Most people, including social scientists, think about poverty in one of two ways. Either they view the behaviors of the poor as rational, "calculated adaptations to prevailing circumstances", or as the result of deviant values and character flaws stemming from, and perpetuating, a "culture of poverty".
A third view is emerging in which "the poor may exhibit the same basic weaknesses and biases as do people from other walks of life, except that in poverty, with its narrow margins for error, the same behaviors often manifest themselves in more pronounced ways and can lead to worse outcomes."
"It's not that foolish choices make you poor; it's that poverty's effects on the mind
lead to bad choices." (original research, pdf
) [more inside]
posted by AceRock
on Aug 30, 2013 -
Most work in the psychological and social sciences suffers from a lack of conceptual rigor. It’s a bit sloppy around the edges, and in the middle, too. For example, “happiness research” is a booming field, but the titans of the subdiscipline disagree sharply about what happiness actually is. No experiment or regression will settle it. It’s a philosophical question. Nevertheless, they work like the dickens to measure it, whatever it is—life satisfaction, “flourishing,” pleasure minus pain—and to correlate it to other, more easily quantified things with as much statistical rigor as deemed necessary to appear authoritative. It’s as if the precision of the statistical analysis is supposed somehow to compensate for, or help us forget, the imprecision of thought at the foundation of the enterprise.
posted by AceRock
on Aug 22, 2013 -
Psychologists recount a valuable lesson about the fragility of statistical validity and the state of publishing.
"Two of the present authors, Matt Motyl and Brian A. Nosek, share interests in political ideology. We were inspired by the fast growing literature on embodiment that demonstrates surprising links between body and mind to investigate embodiment of political extremism. Participants from the political left, right, and center (N = 1,979) completed a perceptual judgment task in which words were presented in different shades of gray. Participants had to click along a gradient representing grays from near black to near white to select a shade that matched the shade of the word. We calculated accuracy: How close to the actual shade did participants get? The results were stunning. Moderates perceived the shades of gray more accurately than extremists on the left and right (p = .01). Our conclusion: Political extremists perceive the world in black and white figuratively and literally. Our design and follow-up analyses ruled out obvious alternative explanations such as time spent on task and a tendency to select extreme responses. Enthused about the result, we identified Psychological Science as our fallback journal after we toured the Science, Nature, and PNAS rejection mills. The ultimate publication, Motyl and Nosek (2012), served as one of Motyl’s signature publications as he finished graduate school and entered the job market.
The story is all true, except for the last sentence; we did not publish the finding." [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest
on Jul 29, 2013 -
A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via
posted by zarq
on Jul 19, 2013 -
Your parent dies. You hurt. You weep. You mourn. You do and say the necessary things even as your daemon’s disciplined askesis has you (against your will) coldly taking notes on what the emotion feels like, how others around you react to the death, what the corpse of your parent looks like, how you feel while looking down at it, what voids there are in that feeling, what pretenses, what posturings
. It's all part of finding your daemon that dwells perpetually in the Condition of Fire
. Other entries in Dan Simmons'
series On Writing Well
posted by shivohum
on Jun 11, 2013 -
Clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message
for twentysomethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives 3 pieces of advice for how twentysomethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.
(copied from description on TED website
). [more inside]
posted by myriad gantry
on May 17, 2013 -
Behavioral Economics for Kids
[pdf] is a free ebook from the Ivey School of Business that illustrates (to adults, really) the basic principles of behavioral economics, including the Endowment Effect
(we value what we have more than what it is worth), Hyperbolic Discounting
(the time we wait for rewards influences value in non-linear ways), the dishonesty of honest people
, and Base Rate Neglect
(why we make bad assumptions based on inherent biases). Though the findings are well-established, the labeling is subject to change, as many social psychologists argue, this is not behavioral economics, it is well-established psychology
posted by blahblahblah
on May 16, 2013 -
UBC psych prof Dr. J. Kiley Hamlin: "Across two experiments with combined samples of more than 200 infant participants, we found that 9- and 14-month-old infants prefer individuals who treat similar others well and treat dissimilar others poorly." Popularization
at The Atlantic. Full paper
(Psychological Science, paywall). Researcher profile
posted by seanmpuckett
on May 16, 2013 -
Is Psychometric g a Myth?
- "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth
approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g
." [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Apr 11, 2013 -
Sian Jarvis, the supermarket’s head of corporate affairs, had undermined her claims to care about the health of her customers and let slip one of the secrets of a multi-billion-pound industry ... she revealed that one in three Asda checkouts “are what we call guilt-free checkouts”. Jarvis insisted “guilt-free” was merely “a term that’s commonly used in retail”. But it was too late, and her “guilt” gaffe quickly invited scorn in the industry and among public health professionals. Whatever the damage, she had already opened a door to the arcane science of supermarket psychology. To the designers of the modern store, shoppers are lab rats with trolleys, guided through a maze of aisles by the promise of rewards they never knew they sought The Secrets Of Our Supermarkets [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Apr 10, 2013 -