Monthly Archives: May 2008

Know the lifesaving facts about stroke detection

To coincide with stroke awareness month, a new report from the US Government’s Center for Disease and Control and Prevention has highlighted that less than half of people surveyed could identify the potentially life-saving early warning signs of stroke. A stroke, known medically as a cerebrovascular accident, is where the blood supply to the brain […]

2008-05-09 Spike activity

Fascinating article in the New York Times on lying, deception and why exaggeration seems the same but is psychologically quite different. UK government returns to pissing in the wind over drug classification. Prime Minister feels that having wet trousers will “send a message”. New Scientist covers a new study on old news that hallucinations and […]

Warping court memories with subtle suggestions

The legal system works on a principal of innocent until proven guilty by the evidence presented in court, but Cognitive Daily covers several studies that shown our memory of the evidence is affected by moral judgements of the person in question. With their trademark clarity, CogDaily discuss a study [pdf] by psychologist David Pizarro that […]

Male body symmmetry, more female orgasms

The link between attractiveness and facial symmetry seems to hold across both black and white faces, but also in non-human primates, according to a study just published in the open-access science journal PLoS One. One of the most striking studies in sex and symmetry research isn’t mentioned, however. A 1995 study found that the likelihood […]

The history of the brain

BBC Radio 4’s legendary history of ideas programme In Our Time takes an in-depth and fascinating look at the history of the brain. The programme tracks the earliest Western ideas on the function and purpose of the brain from the times of the ancient Greeks. What’s most fascinating is how some completely false ideas about […]

In full flow

“Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary […]

The man who defied Milgram’s conformity experiment

Jewish Currents has an interesting first person account from one of the people who took part in Stanley Milgram’s famous conformity experiment where 65% of participants were ordered to fatally shock another participant. This article is written by one of the minority who refused to continue. The learner, said the professor, would be in an […]

Soft money in psychiatry muddies manuals, airwaves

Mental health blog Furious Seasons has just alerted me to some recent revelations about conflicts of interest in psychiatry. More than half of the new committee members in charge of the next edition of the psychiatrists’ diagnostic ‘bible’, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), have ties to the drug industry. Furthermore, an […]

On the benefits of thinking about the apocalypse

A wonderful poem called ‘Survivor’ from the playful English poet, Roger McGough: Survivor by Roger McGough Everyday, I think about dying. About disease, starvation, violence, terrorism, war, the end of the world. It helps keep my mind off things. McGough has a talent for blending the fanciful with the poignant, as demonstrated in a poem […]

A rough guide to self-harm

The New York Times has a concise article that discusses adolescents who self-harm through cutting, burning or deliberately damaging themselves. Self-harm is curious because it is one the most psychologically complex of behaviours and yet we have a simple but largely inaccurate cultural stereotype – attention seeking teenagers. There are many, many types of self-harm, […]

CIA guide to optimised thinking

The CIA have released the full text of a book on the psychology of analysing surveillance data. While aimed at the CIA’s analysts, it’s also a great general guide on how to understand complex situations and avoid our natural cognitive biases in reasoning. I’ve not read it all, but it aims not only to give […]

Brain trends exposed in ‘state of the neuron’ study

A fascinating study on the social trends in neuroscience research has found that New York is happening but Boston is hot, dementia researchers are the most influential, high-level processes are hip and that neuroscientists need to practice professional ‘birth control’ to avoid mass starvation. The results come from a paper just published in PLoS One […]

A pessimist is never disappointed

Purveyors of the delightfully cynical, Despair Inc, have created a wonderful drinking vessel that makes it absolutely clear when your glass is half empty. If you feel The Pessimist’s Mug doesn’t quite get the message across, you can always try this Threadless t-shirt which illustrates the basic psychology behind the metaphor. Personally, I’ve always preferred […]

Vengeance and the recycle of violence

Two recently published articles on inter-group violence highlight the how the cycle of vengeance is remarkably similar across two different cultures: one in tribal peoples from New Guinea, the other in street gangs from Chicago. In an article for The New Yorker Jared Diamond writes about the cycles and social customs surrounding vengeance in New […]

Sexual PsyOps

We’ve covered some of the historical archives of propaganda material before on Mind Hacks, but ex-US PsyOps Sergeant Major Herbert Friedman has created an archive of historical propaganda that was specifically themed to target sexual insecurities. The page is not the easiest to read owing to the rather rough and ready formatting, but it has […]

Uncanny valley of the dolls

Human-computer interaction scientist Karl MacDorman has produced a fantastically illustrated video lecture on the psychology of the ‘uncanny valley‘ – the effect where androids become creepy when they’re almost human. It comes in seven 3-4 minute sections, each of which is packed with some completely fascinating science and some wonderful examples of humanoid androids in […]


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