Monthly Archives: January 2009

How does it feel?

Our Bullshit Blue Monday competition is so popular, even the PR company that promote the day have entered! In a comment to our original post, one of the founders of Green PR has entered a formula into the competition, and includes a long-winded rant suggesting that our criticisms of the nonsense formula are “snide”, a […]

Freud and the Uncanny Realm of the Unconscious

Chrome Fetus Comics has a wonderfully bizarre online comic entitled ‘Sigmund Freud and the Uncanny Realm of the Unconscious’ where our intrepid psychoanalyst battles the dark forces of the planet psyche. It actually makes a pretty good stab at describing Freudian theories, or, as well as can be expected in the 50s sci-fi comic book […]

Learning Makes Itself Invisible

This month I am guest blogging at School of Everything, the website that helps people who want to learn meet people who want to teach. I’ll be posting here and there about what psychologists know about learning. Below is my first post… Once you have learnt something you see the world differently. Not only can […]

Remote Diagnosis Disorder

I’ve just found this funny post on ‘Remote Diagnosis Disorder’, satirising the tendency for people to diagnose each other with mental disorders on the basis of nothing but whims and prejudice. People afflicted with this personality disorder suffer from an uncontrollable urge to diagnose individuals as suffering from one or more psychological disorders, specifically individuals […]

‘Human terrain’ style teams to deploy in Africa

Wired reports that social scientists are being sought as contractors by the US Military to support their Africa Command in the form of a “socio-cultural cell”. Rather than being directly employed by the US Army, as with members of the existing Human Terrain System (HTS), the cells look like they’ll be operated by risk management […]

The dialectics of the borderline

Time magazine has an interesting piece on borderline personality disorder (BPD), a sometimes stigmatised diagnosis that implies the patient has unstable impulsive emotional reactions and tumultuous relationships. In contrast to popular perception, the ‘borderline’ part doesn’t imply the condition is between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ but that the patient is on the borderline between a psychotic […]

Predictably Irrational and relative value

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind just broadcast an interesting interview with behavioural economist Dan Ariely, where he discusses some of his fascinating work on our cognitive biases and why we find it so difficult to judge what will benefit us most. I’m pretty sure it’s a repeat, but I mention it as I’ve […]

Personal genomics as a psychological mirror

Psychologist Steven Pinker explores the impact of personal genome sequencing services and how this information may help us understand our behaviours and preferences in an article for The New York Times. Pinker is known for advocating that many psychological traits and cognitive abilities are highly heritable. He’s recently volunteered to have his entire genome sequenced […]

The morbid attractions of sweet anaesthesia

The New Republic magazine has an excellent article about drug addiction among anaesthetists. It tracks the story of one rising star in the speciality who became addicted and discusses discussing why opioid dependence is still a problem in the field. It’s probably worth stressing that while anaesthetists have the highest rates of opioid addiction among […]

I struggle, fight dark forces in the clear moon light

A study just published online by the journal Schizophrenia Research has found a marked relationship between insomnia and paranoia in both the general public and in patients with psychosis. The study, led by psychologist Daniel Freeman, was cross-sectional, meaning they just looked at whether the two things were associated and so it can’t say for […]

2009-01-09 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: A free Critical Neuroscience <a href=" “>conference is being held in Berkeley UCLA on Jan 30th. Check the link for more information or see this jpg poster. BPS Research Digest looks at interesting research suggesting that Tetris might work as a ‘cognitive vaccine’ against […]

Bullshit Blue Monday a downer on Wikipedia

Is this the most incompetent Wikipedia edit ever? Green Communications, the PR company who promotes the Blue Monday ‘worst day of the year’ bullshit festival, recently tried to ‘anonymously’ delete criticism from the Blue Monday Wikipedia page without realising their IP address was a complete giveaway. This obviously failed, and they just tried to paste […]

Inside the mind of an autistic savant

New Scientist has an interesting interview with Daniel Tammet, a young man with with Asperger’s syndrome, synaesthesia and amazing savant memory skills. Tammet has also been the subject of scientific investigation, with a 2007 study published in the journal Neurocase examining how activity in his brain is related to his exceptional recall. Tammet is interesting […]

Laughing gas increases imagination, suggestibility

A new study has found that laughing gas, a common anaesthetic used by dentists, increases the vividness of imagination and also increases suggestibility, making people slightly more likely to experience hypnosis-like suggestions. The study, just published in the medical journal Psychopharmacology, stems from the informal observations of dentists that patients under laughing gas (nitrous oxide) […]

The attractive face unmasked

Science News has an excellent cover article discussing the psychology of facial attractiveness and rounds-up some of the latest cognitive science research in the area. It covers research on quite well-worn areas, such as symmetry, masculinity and femininity in faces, but also picks up on some of the new developments that have been tackled only […]

The science of ‘voodoo’ brain correlations

The Neurocritic has an excellent post explaining the science of why some of the most widely reported brain scanning studies on social interaction are flawed. The new analysis has been led by neuroscientist Edward Vul and we reported on this bombshell last week, but this new post clearly explains the problems for those not wanting […]


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