Category Archives: Togetherness

Is school performance less heritable in the USA?

A recent twin study looked at educational achievement in the UK and found that genetic factors contribute more than half to the difference in how students perform in their age 16 exams. But this may not apply to other countries. Twin studies look at the balance between environmental and genetic factors for a given population […]

Where data meets the people

Ben Goldacre might be quite surprised to hear he’s written a sociology book, but for the second in our series on books about how the science of mind, brain and mental health meet society, Bad Pharma is an exemplary example. The book could essentially be read as a compelling textbook on clinical trial methodology with […]

Hallucinated voices and the community inside us

I’ve long been fascinated by the experience of ‘hearing voices’ and long been baffled by the typical scientific approach to the experience. As a result, I’ve just had a paper published in PLOS Biology that focus on one of the most striking but ignored aspects of hallucinated voices. Here’s how I describe the central paradox […]

A life in the day of a medical morphine addict

AddictionBlog has an amazing article by a doctor and recovering morphine addict that describes the experience of injection, rush and withdrawal. It’s wonderfully written to the point of being painful and if you’re not good with needles, you’ll probably feel a bit queasy when reading it. Heroin, by the way, is just the prodrug of […]

Neuroscience and its place in the social world

This is the first of three posts that will cover three important books about how the science of mind, brain and mental health, interfaces with society at large. First off, I want to discuss an excellent book called Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind published this year by sociologists of […]

You are a data series in a profit-making algorithm

If you only read one psychology article in the next few months, make it the startling and unsettling Atlantic piece on how ‘people analytics’ is being applied to managing, selecting, and promoting employees. The idea behind people analytics is that job performance can be measured and predicted by analysing the huge amount of behavioural data […]

A ray directly from “Delhi University”

A series of ‘bizarre delusions’ from patients diagnosed with schizophrenia described in a new paper just published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine: “Some rays are there in me, which create magnetic field and I have the power to affect TV signals. Body is producing charge; whenever I touch anything I get electric current. […]

A universal difference

The author of Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters, has written an excellent article on whether there’s such a thing as ‘human nature’ for the latest edition of Adbusters. The piece tackles how scientific assumptions about the ‘universals’ of the human mind are having to be revised and discusses research which has shown how people from […]

A man called Dad

An eye-opening 2005 paper estimated the number of children who are not the biological offspring of their presumed father. Looking at studies from around the world, it concluded that the median number of kids who are not the children of the person they call ‘dad’ is 3.7% with studies typically finding a rate of between […]

Seeing synaesthetic stars during sex

A study in Frontiers in Psychology asked people who have emotional synaesthesia – they see colours when they have certain emotions – about what they experience during sex. There is a particularly lovely table that illustrates these experiences through the different stages of the sexual response cycle: Appentance phase “This phase has an orange character” […]

US Military PsyOps video appears online

A US Military PsyOps video has found its way onto the YouTubes and gives a interesting but clunky guide to ’90s psychological operations. It’s called The Invisible Sword and it’s a bit like watching a cable TV infomercial for psychological warfare complete with cheesy easy listening background music and stilted dialogue. “It all gets put […]

A tour through isolation

The BBC World Service just broadcast an amazing radio documentary on the experience of isolation – talking to people who have experienced intense remoteness from other humans including polar base residents, astronauts, prisoners and people who completed the Mars-500 simulated mission. Firstly, it’s just beautiful. If there’s such a thing as an ambient documentary, this […]

Jazz no longer corrupting young people

A study published in the journal Pediatrics looked at the link between music preferences at age 12 and adolescent delinquency – finding that an early liking for ‘rebellious’ music predicted small scale anti-social behaviour like shoplifting, petty theft and vandalism. Rebellious music turns out to be defined as variations of rock, hip-hop and electronica. But […]

18 minutes of trauma

I’ve just found one of the best discussions on the importance and limits of the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder on a programme from the Why Factor on BBC World Service. It’s a brief programme, only 18 minutes long, but packs in a remarkably incisive look at PTSD that tackles its causes, its cultural limits […]

A war of biases

Here’s an interesting take on terrorism as a fundamentally audience-focused activity that relies on causing fear to achieve political ends and whether citizen-led community monitoring schemes actually serve to amplify the effects rather than make us feel safer. It’s from an article just published in Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology by political scientist Alex […]

A technoculture of psychosis

Aeon Magazine has an amazing article on the history of technology in paranoid delusions and how cultural developments are starting to mirror the accidental inventions of psychosis. It’s by the fantastic Mike Jay, who wrote The Air Loom Gang, an essential book that looks at one of the most famous cases of ‘influencing machine’ psychosis. […]

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