Author Archives: vaughanbell

Spike activity 03-07-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: It is Time to Temper Our Artificial Intelligence Hysteria says PSFK Oxford academic warns humanity runs the risk of creating super intelligent computers that eventually destroy us all in The Telegraph. Fusion reports on how artificial intelligence is evolving to recognise porn. BBC Radio […]

Pope returns to cocaine

According to a report from BBC News the Pope ‘plans to chew coca leaves’ during his visit to Bolivia. Although portrayed as a radical encounter, this is really a return to cocaine use after a long period of abstinence in the papal office. Although the leaves are a traditional, mild stimulant that have been used […]

Never mind the neuromarketing

I’ve got an article in The Observer about the state of neuromarketing – where companies pay millions of wasted dollars to apply brain science to marketing. The piece looks at the three forms of neuromarketing – advertising fluff, serious research, and applied neuroscience. The first is clearly bollocks, the second a solid but currently abstract […]

Spike activity 26-06-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Picture This? Some Just Can’t. The New York Times covers a new study on people without visual imagery – that science writer Carl Zimmer helped discover. New Republic on how the Romans understood hallucinations. “They did not have a single concept of ‘hallucination’ until […]

Hold infinity in the palms of your hand

A rare documentary about three people who have had hallucinatory and profound revelatory experiences is now available online. Those Who Are Jesus examines the borders between revelation and psychosis and hears people recount their intense experiences while looking at how they can be understood in terms of sociology, neuropsychiatry, religion and radical mental health. Julian […]

Compulsory well-being: An interview with Will Davies

The UK government’s use of psychology has suddenly become controversial. They have promised to put psychologists into job centres “to provide integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions” but with the potential threat of having assistance removed if people do not attend treatment. It has been criticised as ‘treating […]

Wanted: political diversity in social psychology

A fascinating article on why social psychology needs more political diversity is due to be published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Sadly the full article is locked behind a paywall but the abstract gives an excellent summary of the article and the wider problem itself. Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science. Duarte JL, Crawford […]

Spike activity 12-06-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The New York Times has a fascinating piece about the three waves of ancient peoples who arrived in Europe to found the modern population. I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that the UK Government are deliberately side-lining their own scientific advisors to implement […]

Context Is the New Black

The New Yorker has one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the Stanford prison experiment – the notorious and mythologised study that probably doesn’t tell us that we ‘all have the potential to be monsters’. It’s a study that’s often taught as one of the cornerstones of psychology and like many foundational stories, […]

Hallucinating children

I’ve got an article in The Observer about childhood hallucinations which are much more common than we previously imagined. You tend to get one of two reactions when you discuss children hallucination: that’s obvious – children live in a fantasy world, or that’s horrendous – there must be something very wrong with them. The answer […]

Spike activity 05-06-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Fusion has an oddly fascinating piece on the AI of dick pic detection which turns out to be a surprisingly hard problem (matron). Uber poaches 40 people from Carnegie Mellon’s robotics researcher community wanting to boost their autonomous car technology according to the Market […]

The thin white line of future drug control

The UK Government have announced they want to change the drugs law and ban “[any] substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect”. It’s a fairly clumsy attempt to tackle the wave of ‘legal highs’ but there’s a little psychopharmacological gem, hidden away, in the Home Secretary’s letter that accompanies the proposed changes. There’s […]

Another angle on the Human Brain Project

An important interview with the neuroscience laboratory manager from the Human Brain Project revealing some previously unknown details about the running of this important scientific endeavour. via @jpeelle

Spike activity 29-05-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Psychologist has a great piece by leading neurosurgeon Henry Marsh on mistakes, mystery and the mind. When Does Consciousness Begin and End? Interesting piece from PBS. The Lancet Psychiatry has a great piece on a unique suicide crisis resolution house in London. Who […]

An alternative history of the human mind

Nautilus has an excellent article on a theory of consciousness that is very likely wrong but so startlingly original it is widely admired: Julian Jaynes’ theory of the bicameral mind. Based on the fact that there is virtually no description of mental states in the Ancient Greek classic The Iliad, where the protagonists are largely […]

John Nash has left the building

So goodbye John Nash, brilliant mathematician and beautiful mind, who has sadly just passed away after being involved in a taxi crash with his wife. Nash was famous for many things, but was probably most well-known for being the subject of the biopic A Beautiful Mind – an Oscar-winning production that sugar-coated the details although […]

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