The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science Illustration: Jonathon Rosen "A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. Read also: the truth about Climategate.At first, the group struggled for an explanation. From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call "affect").
Programmes | Happiness Formula | Searching the brain for happiness For thousands of years people have pursued happiness, but the problem has been that it has always been seen as a kind of fuzzy concept. But now, in a new BBC Two series called The Happiness Formula, neuroscientists say happiness is tangible and the result of brain activity - you can see it and even measure it. Dr Kringelbach is a contributor to the programme. In November 2005 the Dalai Lama was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington DC. While this event was not without controversy, his speech was generally well received and surprised many scientists with his remarkable open-mindedness, particularly concerning the validity of neuroscientific enquiry. The Dalai Lama described a normal person's mind as "a troublemaker" and confessed that he "still feels anger and fear". Meditation, he said, can help. The pursuit of happiness is a preoccupation for many of us and has probably been since the dawn of mankind. Pleasure centre Wanting and liking
Deindividuation The Misconception: People who riot and loot are scum who were just looking for an excuse to steal and be violent. The Truth: You are are prone to losing your individuality and becoming absorbed into a hivemind under the right conditions. Source: Improv Everywhere When a crowd gathers near a suicidal jumper something terrible is unleashed. In Seattle in 2001, a 26-year-old woman who had recently ended a relationship held up traffic for a little too long as she considered the implications of leaping to her death. As motorists began to back-up on the bridge and become irate, they started yelling “Jump, bitch, jump!” Cases like this aren’t unusual. In 2008, a 17-year old man jumped from the top of a parking garage in England after 300 or so people chanted for him to go for it. In San Francisco, in 2010, a man stepped onto the ledge of his apartment window and contemplated dropping from the building. Within a crowd like this many will retain their sense of right and wrong. Source: El Destructo
How Great Entrepreneurs Think What distinguishes great entrepreneurs? Discussions of entrepreneurial psychology typically focus on creativity, tolerance for risk, and the desire for achievement—enviable traits that, unfortunately, are not very teachable. So Saras Sarasvathy, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, set out to determine how expert entrepreneurs think, with the goal of transferring that knowledge to aspiring founders. While still a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, Sarasvathy—with the guidance of her thesis supervisor, the Nobel laureate Herbert Simon—embarked on an audacious project: to eavesdrop on the thinking of the country's most successful entrepreneurs as they grappled with business problems. Sarasvathy identified 245 U.S. entrepreneurs who met her criteria, and 45 of them agreed to participate. Sarasvathy concluded that master entrepreneurs rely on what she calls effectual reasoning. Do the doable, then push it Here's another: Woo partners first And:
Exploding head syndrome Exploding head syndrome (EHS) is a form of hypnagogic auditory hallucination and is a rare and relatively undocumented parasomnia event in which the subject experiences a loud bang in their head similar to a bomb exploding, a gun going off, a clash of cymbals, ringing, an earthquake, or any other form of loud, indecipherable noise that seems to originate from inside the head. This noise usually happens at the onset of sleep or within an hour or two of falling asleep, but is not necessarily the result of a dream. Although the sound is perceived as extremely loud, it is usually not accompanied by pain. Attacks appear to change in number over time, with several attacks happening in a space of days or weeks, followed by months of remission. Sufferers often feel a sense of fear and anxiety before and after an attack, accompanied by elevated heart rate. Causes Related phenomena These loud noises are a common feature of out-of-body experiences. Symptoms See also Notes
Mirror neuron A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate species. Birds have been shown to have imitative resonance behaviors and neurological evidence suggests the presence of some form of mirroring system. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex. The function of the mirror system is a subject of much speculation. Discovery Further experiments confirmed that about 10% of neurons in the monkey inferior frontal and inferior parietal cortex have "mirror" properties and give similar responses to performed hand actions and observed actions. Origin In monkeys In humans
Consistently Inconsistent Robert Kurzban's Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind is a book about how our brains are composed of a variety of different, interacting systems. While that premise is hardly new, many of our intuitions are still grounded in the idea of a unified, non-compartmental self. Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite takes the modular view and systematically attacks a number of ideas based on the unified view, replacing them with a theory based on the modular view. Chapter 1: Consistently Inconsistent (available for free here) presents evidence of our brains being modular, and points out some implications of this. As previously discussed, severing the connection between the two hemispheres of a person's brain causes some odd effects. But what happens when you ask the patient to explain why they pointed to those objects in particular? Now one asks, what did ”the patient” think was going on? Not convinced by weird cases of brain damage?
Mirror Neurons Mirror Neurons PBS air date: January 25, 2005 ROBERT KRULWICH: Hello again. We humans are really good at reading faces and bodies. Ask yourself, "Why do people get so involved, so deeply, deeply involved, with such anguish, such pain, such nail biting tension over football?" COMMENTATOR: The Cleveland Browns are gambling on defense. ROBERT KRULWICH: Why are we such suckers for sports? Well, as it happens, scientists have an explanation for this strange ability to connect. DANIEL GLASER: It had never been found on a cellular level before. ROBERT KRULWICH: A set of brain cells, found on either side of the head, among all the billions of long branching cells in our brain, these so-called "mirror neurons," have surprising power. DANIEL GLASER: What we've found is the mechanism that underlies something which is absolutely fundamental to the way that we see other people in the world. (NEURON FIRING): Clack, clack, clack. ROBERT KRULWICH: ...whenever the monkey would grab for a peanut. V.S. V.S.
Sleep Paralysis: page 2 Sleep Paralysis as an Anomalous REM and Dreaming: A major distinction of sleep states, for close to a half century, has been accepted between REM and NREM sleep (Aserinsky & Kleitman, 1953; Jouvet, 1967). REM periods are characterized by desynchronized cortical characterized by low-voltage fast EEG patterns with synchronized hippocampal activity characterized by slow (4-8 Hz) theta activity (e.g., Culebras, 1994). It is also widely accepted that dreaming is more common and more vivid during REM than during NREM sleep (Dement & Kleitman, 1957). In addition to the characteristic desynchronized cortical low-voltage fast EEG activity, there are numerous physiological, behavioral, and sensory features associated with REM such as muscle atonia, gating of sensory input, rapid eye and middle ear movements, as well as heart rate and respiration changes (Carskadon & Dement, 1989; Symons, 1993). Back to Table of Contents
Ads Implant False Memories | Wired Science My episodic memory stinks. All my birthday parties are a blur of cake and presents. I’m notorious within my family for confusing the events of my own childhood with those of my siblings. I’m like the anti-Proust. And yet, I have this one cinematic memory from high-school. It’s an admittedly odd detail for an otherwise logo free scene, as if Coke had paid for product placement in my brain. So where did this sentimental scene starring soda come from? A new study, published in The Journal of Consumer Research, helps explain both the success of this marketing strategy and my flawed nostalgia for Coke. The experiment went like this: 100 undergraduates were introduced to a new popcorn product called “Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Fresh Microwave Popcorn.” One week later, all the subjects were quizzed about their memory of the product. The scientists refer to this as the “false experience effect,” since the ads are slyly weaving fictional experiences into our very real lives.
Karpman drama triangle Classic drama triangle The drama triangle is a psychological and social model of human interaction in transactional analysis (TA) first described by Stephen Karpman, M.D., in his 1968 article "Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis". The drama triangle model is used in psychology and psychotherapy. The three roles The model posits three habitual psychological roles (or roleplays) which people often take in a situation: Of these, the rescuer is the least obvious role. ... the Victim is not really as helpless as he feels, the Rescuer is not really helping, and the Persecutor does not really have a valid complaint. The situation plays out when a situation arises and a person takes a role as victim or persecutor. Melodrama often features a central, triangle cast. The game is similar to the melodrama of hero, villain, and damsel in distress (such as Dudley Do-Right, Snidely Whiplash, and Nell Fenwick). Rescuer Overview and theory See also References
Why Does Beauty Exist? | Wired Science Over at the always excellent Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong summarizes a new investigation into the neural substrate of beauty: Tomohiro Ishizu and Semir Zeki from University College London watched the brains of 21 volunteers as they looked at 30 paintings and listened to 30 musical excerpts. All the while, they were lying inside an fMRI scanner, a machine that measures blood flow to different parts of the brain and shows which are most active. The recruits rated each piece as “beautiful”, “indifferent” or “ugly”.The scans showed that one part of their brains lit up more strongly when they experienced beautiful images or music than when they experienced ugly or indifferent ones – the medial orbitofrontal cortex or mOFC.Several studies have linked the mOFC to beauty, but this is a sizeable part of the brain with many roles. On the one hand, it’s not exactly shocking that beauty can be sourced to the cortex. But why does beauty exist? Photo: Courtesy of aclintonb, via Flickr