"The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination was established to promote an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of creativity and the imaginative process." To this end they hold regular roundtable discussions, streaming videos of which are available online. Some past highlights include: [more inside]
Ecstasy's long-term effects revealed. "Enough time has finally elapsed to start asking if ecstasy damages health in the long term. According to the biggest review ever undertaken, it causes slight memory difficulties and mild depression, but these rarely translate into problems in the real world. While smaller studies show that some individuals have bigger problems, including weakened immunity and larger memory deficits, so far, for most people, ecstasy seems to be nowhere near as harmful over time as you may have been led to believe." [Via]
Addiction: thousands of studies have been done claiming that it is a disease, often using rats in isolated cages with a bar-press system of delivery, showing they will repeatedly get high even if it means starving to death. Bruce Alexander was a skeptic, questioning the ecological validity of all such results: "They were said to prove that these kinds of dope are irresistible, and that’s it, that’s the end of the addiction story right there," and after delivering one particularly fruitless seminar in 1976, he decided to build Rat Park to conduct his own studies... [more inside]
What real-life bad habits has programming given you? "This has actually really happened to me. I was trying to hang a glass picture frame on the wall and accidentally dropped it. And in the shock of the moment, I loudly yelled 'Control Z!' Then the glass hit the floor and smashed."
Three psychology experiments that raise ethics questions because of the danger they posed to the research assistants. (via) [more inside]
How Google Is Making Us Smarter: Humans are "natural-born cyborgs," and the Internet is our giant "extended mind."
“It would be completely unethical to give the drug to someone else,” he said, “but if you’re in a marriage and want to maintain that relationship, you might take a little booster shot yourself every now and then. Even now it’s not such a far-out possibility that you could use drugs in conjunction with marital therapy.”
The Economist on Drugs -- Scientists in North America, Europe and Israel are studying the use of MDMA, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and other banned psychoactive substances in treating conditions such as anxiety, cluster headaches, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are supported by private funds from a handful of organisations: the Beckley Foundation in Britain; the Heffter Research Institute and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in America. [related]
How the president-elect tapped into a powerful—and only recently studied—human emotion called "elevation." Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley, studies the emotions of uplift, and he has tried everything from showing subjects vistas of the Grand Canyon to reading them poetry—with little success. But just this week one of his postdocs came in with a great idea: Hook up the subjects, play Barack Obama's victory speech, and record as their autonomic nervous systems go into a swoon....It was while looking through the letters of Thomas Jefferson that Haidt first found a description of elevation. Jefferson wrote of the physical sensation that comes from witnessing goodness in others: It is to "dilate [the] breast and elevate [the] sentiments … and privately covenant to copy the fair example." (via Geek Press) [more inside]
The Archipelago of Fear. "International surveys show that the more people trust their neighbours, strangers, and their government, the more likely they are to help strangers, to vote, and to volunteer. If better streets, sidewalks, walls, and buildings all improve the ways people engage with one another, then the reverse should also be true: antagonistic architecture can corrode trust and fuel hostility. Kabul just might be a laboratory of toxic urbanity."
Some of you might know the story of Heidi Erickson, better known to most as the Beacon Hill Cat Lady. After being evicted from her Boston apartment upon the discovery of over 100 cats, some alive, more dead, in her home, Erickson soon took up residence in a Watertown apartment. The saga soon played itself out again. [more inside]
"Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others’. This, according to the theory, increases a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later on, as well as mood problems like bipolar disorder and depression."
Tolerance over Race can Spread, Study Says. ...psychologists have been able to establish a close relationship between diverse pairs — black and white, Latino and Asian, black and Latino — in a matter of hours. That relationship immediately reduces conscious and unconscious bias in both people, and also significantly reduces prejudice toward the other group in each individual’s close friends. This extended-contact effect, as it is called, travels like a benign virus through an entire peer group, counteracting subtle or not so subtle mistrust. A matter of hours...hmmmm... that might explain the subject of this thread.
Do you have Asperger's Syndrome? Answer these questions and find out. I'm skeptical about this, but I find it fascinating. For years, I've suspected I'm an Aspie, and, as it turns out, I answered the questions exactly the way the researchers predict an Aspie would answer them. My "normal" wife answers them they way "normal" people do. I am almost incapable of understanding the "normal" answer. To me, the Aspie answer is obviously correct. Here is a great discussion about the research. Here is the original research paper (MS Word file). [more inside]
Brain's 'Hate Circuit' Identified. "People who view pictures of someone they hate display activity in distinct areas of the brain that, together, may be thought of as a 'hate circuit', according to new research by scientists at UCL (University College London)."
Link found between physical and emotional warmth l Metaphors of the Mind: Why Loneliness Feels Cold and Sins Feel Dirty. "Our mental processes are not separate and detached from the body". Sensory metaphors l The Metaphor Observatory, top 10 metaphors of 2007.
First Person Plural. "An evolving approach to the science of pleasure suggests that each of us contains multiple selves—all with different desires, and all fighting for control. If this is right, the pursuit of happiness becomes even trickier. Can one self bind another self if the two want different things? Are you always better off when a Good Self wins? And should outsiders, such as employers and policy makers, get into the fray?" [Via]
Dr. Joe Z. Tsien has previously created a strain of mice unable to form memories, one with much improved memory - "Doogie" mice - and can now erase single mouse memories. "Our work reveals a molecular mechanism of how that can be done quickly and without doing damage to brain cells." Remembering to forget....
"You aren't in as much control as you think you are." Buyology by Martin Lindstrom. Cigarette Health Warnings Stimulate Smoking. Subconscious Encounters: How Brand Exposure Affects Your Choices . A sign is anything that can be used to tell a lie. [more inside]
Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead, too? Examining self-consciousness and mortality.
Of Jock Straps and Conspiracy Theories. A new study looks at how lacking control increases the tendency for magical thinking and illusory pattern perception. [Via]
Psychology Group Changes Policy on Interrogations. The American Psychological Association has adopted a measure prohibiting its members from participating in interrogations of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other military prisons where detainees have been tortured (previously). [Via Paper Chase]
A Short Course In Behavioral Economics, an "Edge Master Class" from Richard Thaler and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman. [more inside]
Who you are is what you listen to: Prof. Adrian North of Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University recently published results of what the Beeb calls "the largest study of its kind" linking music listening habits to personality characteristics. His breakthrough conclusions? Heavy metal listeners, contrary to public perception, are not a "suicidally depressed" or a "danger to themselves and society in general. But they are quite delicate things." [more inside]
More good stuff for people who like visual ("optical") illusions (previously): A nice Scientific American article, a particularly creepy illusion, and a link to the "Best visual illusion of the year" contest. Given that the eye/mind/brain is so easy to trick, a person might wonder what's really out there in the world.
Cleaning hotel rooms is a strenuous business. However, when Alia Crum and Ellen Langer talked to 84 maids, most were under the impression that they did not get enough exercise. Furthermore, when they were measured for tests such as BMI and blood pressure, their results were typical of couch potatoes. The researchers let half the group in on the knowledge that they were getting more than enough of a daily workout and kept the rest in the dark. After a month results showed the former group were healthier on every single one of the objective health measurements tested - despite claiming to have been doing no more exercise or to have changed their diet. The study raises the possibility that mindset alone can influence our metabolism. Christopher Shea in the New York Times and Ben Goldacre in The Guardian have articles discussing the original paper.
David Brooks, Social Psychologist, Mark Liberman at Language Log looks at the science behind David Brook's latest column in which he claims there is a fundamental differences between the thought processes of individuals in Asian "collectivist" societies and Western "individualist" ones. (via)
A New State of Mind. "New research is linking dopamine to complex social phenomena and changing neuroscience in the process."
Science Hack is a unique search engine for science videos focusing on Physics, Chemistry, and Space. For example, things to do with sulfur hexafluoride. Still growing, the editors are presently indexing other scientific fields of study including Geology, Psychology, Robotics and Computers. Ever wonder why things go bang?
Battlemind: Armor for Your Mind is a U.S. Army website designed to help, in part, families deal with deployment, including a series of cartoons and videos intended for children whose parents may be sent to or be returning from warzones. Part of the Army's Behavioral Health program, these give intriguing insight into military culture. [more inside]
According to Ilechukwu, an epidemic of penis theft swept Nigeria between 1975 and 1977. Then there seemed to be a lull until 1990, when the stealing resurged. “Men could be seen in the streets of Lagos holding on to their genitalia either openly or discreetly with their hand in their pockets,” Ilechukwu wrote. “Women were also seen holding on to their breasts directly or discreetly, by crossing the hands across the chest. . . . Vigilance and anticipatory aggression were thought to be good prophylaxes. This led to further breakdown of law and order.” In a typical incident, someone would suddenly yell: Thief! My genitals are gone! Then a culprit would be identified, apprehended, and, often, killed.
Sexual Healing. "Sad stories and otherwise freaky tales from Florida's last sexual surrogate." A longish article, and fascinating.
The Milgram Experiment Today? "Students commonly assume that, even if Milgram’s famous experiment sheds important light on the power of situation today, were his experiment precisely reproduced today, it would not generate comparable results. To oversimplify the argument behind that claim: The power of white lab coats just ain’t what it used to be. Of course, that assertion has been difficult to challenge given that the option of replicating the Milgram experiment has been presumptively unavailable — indeed, it has been the paradigmatic example of why psychology experiments must be reviewed by institutional review boards ('IRBs'). Who would even attempt to challenge that presumption? The answer: Jerry Burger, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University. With some slight modifications, Burger manage to obtain permission to replicate Milgram’s experiment — and the results may surprise you." [Via MindHacks]
Suppose you have a problem with your thinking, your mood, or your relationships. Come in, sit down, and let the internet help. Meet MoodGym and its newer sister site, e-couch. [more inside]
In 1961 Albert Bandura published a study titled "Transmission of Aggression through Imitation of Aggresive Models," better known as the Bobo Doll Experiment, in which young children were shown video of a woman beating up on an inflatable Bobo doll in various ways, the video of the woman and the results is quite interesting/shocking and sums up the general experiment quite nicely if you don't want to do too much reading.
FaceStat, a new startup from crowdsourcing consultants at Delores Labs bills itself as "market research for the individual." You upload a photo of yourself, and "within a couple hours, you will have detailed statistics about how people feel about the picture you provide." Oh, and it's powered by creepers like you, using Amazon's Mechanical Turk (previously posted about here). [more inside]
Of forty participants in Milgram's first experiment on obedience to authority, fifteen refused to continue at some point. An insight into the thoughts of one man who refused to obey Milgram's immoral orders.
Blue, green and grey must have a calming effect. Elsewhere, discussions can be...ignited. Flame Warriors. via
Are you batshitinsane? Viruses and/or bacteria may be the cause.
The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it’s not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there’s a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology." The NY Times' John Tierney reports on new research into cognitive dissonance as examined through the famous Monty Hall Problem. [A previous MetaFilter thread about the Monty Hall Problem: Let's Make A Deal!]
In 1975 a young divorced mother named "Gloria" volunteers, in an attempt to find some answers to the problems in her life, to be videotaped being a client to three rather new psychotherapies: Person-Centered Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, and Gestalt Therapy. Not only is she filmed participating in each therapy, she receiving the therapies from the respective founders of each therapy, Carl Rogers (Part 1, sadly it's cut short), Fritz Perls (Part 2), and Albert Ellis (Part 3). They all take the time before each therapy to explain their methods and there beliefs and how the therapy will go.
Biblical Entheogens: a Speculative Hypothesis. Psychology Professor Benny Shannon speculates that Moses may have been tripping when he saw God on Mount Sinai. [Via Mind Hacks.]