Monthly Archives: June 2009

Awesome vintage hypnotist posters

The ephemera assemblyman blog has a mesmerising gallery of last century stage hypnotist posters that are an irresistible combination of camp send-up, schlock horror and roll-up roll-up razzmatazz. If you’re familiar with the history of hypnosis you’ll notice more than a few passing references to George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby, titled after a beautiful […]

Neuropod on stress, genes, hobbits and hearing

The latest edition of the neuroscience podcast Neuropod has just hit the tubes and has sections on stress, genetics and culture in birdsong, the ongoing debate about homo florensis and hearing. One of the most interesting sections is the part on stress, and accompanies a special collection of articles on stress in Nature Reviews Neuroscience. […]

The English and the magical properties of tea

From p312 of anthropologist Kate Fox’s entertaining book Watching the English: Tea is still believed, by English people of all classes, to have miraculous properties. A cup of tea can cure, or at least alleviate, almost all minor physical ailments and indispositions, from a headache to a scraped knee. Tea is also an essential remedy […]

Revenge is sweet but corrosive

Revenge may be a dish best served cold but it will probably leave you with a nasty aftertaste, at least according to an article in the latest edition of the American Psychological Society’s Monitor magazine. The piece looks at some of the growing number of studies on the psychology of retribution, examining cultural differences in […]

The benefits of blushing

The New York Times has a short-but-sweet article on the social function of blushing, looking at several studies that have found that a flushed face has a placating and cohesive effect on those around us. The article reports on studies where blushing has been found to soften other people’s judgements of bad or clumsy behaviour […]

What makes a headline suicide?

There’s good evidence that media reporting of suicide can have an influence on the likelihood of further suicides, something known as the ‘copycat suicide effect’. In light of this, a new study examined what makes a suicide likely to newsworthy and whether media reporting reflects the actual demographics of people who kill themselves. The researchers, […]

The Psychologist on virtuality, siblings, giftedness

The June issue of The Psychologist has been made freely available online and has articles on psychology in virtual worlds, sibling rivalry, the neuroscience of giftedness and Albert Bandura’s plan to apply psychology to global problems. The interface is a little bit clunky (you need to click on a page to see it in readable […]

Underworld rituals through the lens of autopsy

An upcoming article for the Journal of Forensic Sciences gives a fascinating insight into the rituals and methods of the Sacra Corona Unita (United Holy Crown) Mafia group from Southern Italy through the post-mortem examination of the bodies of their victims. Many of the victims are members of the Sacra Corona Unita themselves, giving an […]

Warning: brain underload

The Times has a long and tiresome article about how the ‘digital overload’ is affecting our brains which is only notable for one thing, it mentions not a single study on how digital technology affects the brain. Imagine that. You can write 2,000 words for one of the world’s leading newspapers without a single established […]

Rapture of the deep

When scuba divers start swimming deep under water they can sometimes start feeling dreamy, light-headed and mentally fuzzy, an effect nicknamed ‘rapture of the deep’ but better known as nitrogen narcosis. It is caused by changes in the way nitrogen, one of the gases in the divers’ air tank, dissolves in the body when under […]

Scintillating zigzags and surrealism

I’ve just found this interesting 1988 article from the British Medical Journal on how surrealist artist Giorgio de Chirico took inspiration from visual distortions he experienced as part of his migraines. According to the article, he clearly recorded experiencing the symptoms of migraine, including the marked visual disturbances, and these can be seen in some […]


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