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Things You Cannot Unsee (And What That Says About Your Brain)

Things You Cannot Unsee (And What That Says About Your Brain)
We're going to rewire your brain. Are you ready? I want to show you something simple your mind can do, which illustrates a fascinating emerging theory about how the brain works. First, look at this logo of the World Cup this year. The idea of the emblem is obvious: This is an illustration of a trophy with an abstract soccer ball on top. Now consider this tweet from copywriter Holly Brockwell, which got 2,400 thousand retweets: "CANNOT UNSEE: the Brazil 2014 logo has been criticised for 'looking like a facepalm.'" You know, a facepalm: With this new cue—to see the logo as a facepalm—the yellow part becomes an arm with its hand pressed into a green head. People report this kind of thing all the time, and they use this same phrase: cannot unsee. But usually the image hasn't changed; only what we think about it has. I couldn't find anyone who studies the really specific cannot-unsee phenomenon that I'm talking about here. See it yet? It's a dalmatian, camouflaged. What do you see? 1. 2. 3.

Eyewitness Testimony Overshadowed by Forensics The American legal system offers few moments as dramatic as an eyewitness to a crime pointing his finger across a crowded courtroom at a defendant. The problem is that decades of studies show eyewitness testimony is right only about half the time — a reality that has prompted a small vanguard of police chiefs, courts and lawmakers to toughen laws governing the handling of eyewitnesses and their accounts of crimes. Reform advocates say procedures long regarded as solid police work, from bringing a witness to a crime scene where he might see a suspect in handcuffs to the subtle encouragement of a detective during a police lineup, can fundamentally alter what someone believes they saw. "It's not the case that eyewitnesses are inherently unreliable," said Gary Wells of Iowa State University, who has researched the field of eyewitness identification since the 1970s. "We joke in the office that it's like climate change," she said. The U.S. They saw Jerrin Hickman in court two years later.

Why every face you draw looks a little Neandertal Let’s try an experiment: Draw a face. Nothing fancy, just an oval with eyes, nose, mouth, some hair. What you’ve produced probably looks like a cartoon Neandertal. Just about everyone tends to draw faces with the eyes too high on the head, resulting in a low forehead and a rather cretinous look. It’s not just a matter of artistic talent. In reality, your eyes are right about in the middle of your head, measured vertically. “Even in painting courses, people start with exactly this bias,” Carbon says. In an experiment, people drew the eyes unnaturally high (average shown in red) when trying to draw faces from memory (top row). C.C. So Carbon and his colleague Benedikt Emanuel Wirth, both at University of Bamberg, started by asking people to draw a face in a blank box. Sadly, they only did a little better by copying. Finally, Carbon and Wirth looked at depictions of faces in research papers by three well-known researchers who study face recognition.

The Hidden Brain: How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases by Maria Popova “Those who travel with the current will always feel they are good swimmers; those who swim against the current may never realize they are better swimmers than they imagine.” Biases often work in surreptitious ways — they sneak in through the backdoor of our conscience, our good-personhood, and our highest rational convictions, and lodge themselves between us and the world, between our imperfect humanity and our aspirational selves, between who we believe we are and how we behave. In the introduction, Vedantam contextualizes why this phenomenon isn’t new but bears greater urgency than ever: Unconscious biases have always dogged us, but multiple factors made them especially dangerous today. Underpinning his exploration isn’t a pointed finger but a compassionate understanding that our flaws make us not bad but human — and give us the opportunity to be better humans. One of the most pernicious and prevalent unconscious biases Vedantam explores has to do with gender.

How to live longer: Find your purpose in life - Science - News According to the researchers, their results suggest that creating a purpose for yourself could promote healthy ageing throughout adulthood. “Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” says lead researcher Dr Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada. Purposefulness has previously been found to be one of the strongest predictors of longevity, but this is the first study in which this effect has been isolated from other psychological and social influences on lifespan. It is also the first to include younger age groups. Having a sense of purpose was consistently linked to longer life across all age categories, leading Dr Hill to believe that “the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur."

The Barrister Magazine - Unconscious Bias at Play behind Closed Doors By Snéha Khilay, Professional Development Consultant Blue Tulip Training “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Organisations who have taken into account the changes in the Equalities legislation have placed a greater emphasis on policies, procedures and inclusive practices. According to United Nations, 'Discriminatory behaviour takes many forms but all involve some form of exclusion or rejection'. Biases are found in situations where individuals have the power to influence outcomes through their decision and actions. Tackling assumptions and acknowledging attitudes is a powerful agent for change. We all hold biases and prejudices and these are manifested in our behaviours towards certain people who look, act and dress differently from us. About Snéha Khilay

The Art of Wisdom and the Psychology of How We Use Categories, Frames, and Stories to Make Sense of the World by Maria Popova The psychology of how we use frames, categories, and storytelling to make sense of the world. “It’s insulting to imply that only a system of rewards and punishments can keep you a decent human being,” Isaac Asimov told Bill Moyers in their magnificent 1988 conversation on science and religion. And yet ours is a culture that frequently turns to rigid external rules — be they of religion or of legislature or of social conduct — as a substitute for the inner moral compass that a truly “decent human being” uses to steer behavior. So what can we do, as a society and as individual humans aspiring to be good, to cultivate that deeper sense of right and wrong, with all its contextual fuzziness and situational fluidity? Schwartz and Sharpe write: External rules, while helpful in other regards, can’t instill in us true telos. People who are practically wise understand the telos of being a friend or a parent or a doctor and are motivated to pursue this aim. The world is gray.

The forensic laboratories that are paid per conviction | Neurobonkers A disquieting paper has been published in the journal Criminal Justice Ethics, that suggests the decisions of forensic scientists are being influenced by payments for convictions. The authors Roger Koppl and Meghan Sacks, cite as an example one laboratory for which collection of court costs following guilty verdicts is the only stable source of funding. According to the paper, in Washington those found guilty following forensic evidence against them must pay a $100 fee, in Kansas the fee is $400, in North Carolina there is a fee of $600 for those found guilty following DNA evidence, similar rules apply in Alabama, New Mexico, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois and Michigan. It's not difficult to see how this situation creates a perverse incentive, but what make this case so incredibly worrying is how intrinsically vulnerable evaluation of forensic evidence is to bias. The paper in question is paywalled but you can find a preprint here. References Itiel, D., & Hampikian, G. (2011).

Body Language of the Hands “Among all species, our human hands are unique -- not only in what they can accomplish, but also in how they communicate. Human hands can paint the Sistine Chapel, pluck a guitar, maneuver surgical instruments, chisel a David, forge steel, and write poetry. They can grasp, scratch, poke, punch, feel, sense, evaluate, hold and mold the world around us. Our hands are extremely expressive; they can sign for the deaf, help tell a story, or reveal our innermost thoughts.” (“ What Every Body is Saying , ” Harper Collins) No other species has appendages with such a remarkable range of capabilities. And yet if you asked most people about the nonverbals ( body language ) of the hands, they would be hard pressed to tell you all the things the hands reveal. It is interesting that our brain gives a disproportionate amount of attention to the fingers, and hands, as compared to the rest of the body. Our human need to see hands is so important you can try a simple experiment. .

Evidence-based justice: Corrupted memory Image Slideshow Since her first case in 1974, Elizabeth Loftus has testified in and advised on hundreds of criminal cases, often urging judges and jurors to consider the fallibility of memory.Brad Swonetz/Redux/Eyevine 1976: Ted Bundy was put on trial for attempted kidnapping, and Loftus testified on his behalf. Bundy was found guilty, but escaped custody. Loftus has been involved in dozens of other high-profile cases, including those of the 'Hillside Stranglers', Kenneth Bianchi (pictured left) and Angelo Buono (pictured right) as well as O. In the early hours of 9 September, 1984, a stranger entered Mrs M's California home through an open living-room window. Officers cruising her neighbourhood spotted someone roughly matching that description standing beside his car a block away from the house. At Pacely's trial a few months later, memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus testified on his behalf. Free podcast Pacely was acquitted. Malleable memories Digging up the past Battle ground

Forensic Experts Pick Sides, Research Shows One of the Original Rorschach Ink Blots. Image made by Hermann Rorschach. Courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsForensic psychologists and psychiatrists are ethically bound to be impartial when performing evaluations or providing expert opinions in court. But new research suggests that courtroom experts’ evaluations may be influenced by whether their paycheck comes from the defense or the prosecution. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings reveal that experts who believed they were working for prosecutors tended to rate sexually violent offenders as being at greater risk of re-offending than did experts who thought they were working for the defense. “We were surprised by how easy it was to find this ‘allegiance effect,’” says psychological scientist Daniel Murrie of the Univ. of Virginia. “Demonstrating that allegiance is a problem is the first step towards solving the problem,” Murrie concludes.

Studies Show Possible Bias With Forensic Experts And Crime Labs September 1, 2013 redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online Two new, recently published studies are calling into question the ethics about forensic experts and state crime labs, showing how bias could impact these two vital cogs in the law enforcement machine. One paper, published August 22 in the journal Psychological Science, demonstrates how forensic experts who are expected to be 100 percent impartial while giving expert testimony actually tend to show favoritism to the side which employs them, according to Nick Collins of The Telegraph. As part of their study, the University of Virginia authors recruited 118 forensic psychologists and psychiatrists and asked them to evaluate the case files of violent sex offenders. They alternately told the experts the work was either for the prosecution or the defense attorneys, Collins said. “Most expert witnesses believe they perform their job objectively. Source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

You Are Not So Smart: A Field Guide to the Brain's Guile by Maria Popova The science of why 600 Facebook “friends” are an illusion, or why brand loyalty is a product of the ego. We spend most of our lives going around believing we are rational, logical beings who make carefully weighted decisions based on objective facts in stable circumstances. The original trailer for the book deals with something the psychology of which we’ve previously explored — procrastination: And this excellent alternative trailer is a straight shot to our favorite brilliant book trailers: Despite his second-person directive narrative, McRaney manages to keep his tone from being preachy or patronizing, instead weaving an implicit “we” into his “you” to encompass all our shared human fallibility. From the greatest scientist to the most humble artisan, every brain within every body is infested with preconceived notions and patterns of thought that lead it astray without the brain knowing it. Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Share on Tumblr