Author Archive | Nick Margerrison

A Serious Challenge to the Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments

“Authority allows two roles: the torturer and the tortured” – V for Vendetta, Alan Moore.

Picture: PaulR (CC)

A serious challenge to theories regarding human behaviour based upon the ground breaking Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments has been reported. Humans who choose to follow roles given them by authority figures actually relish the process more than was previously imagined, even when it involves gross acts of cruelty, according to The Telegraph:

Professor Stephen Reicher, Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of St Andrews, and Professor Alex Haslam of the University of Queensland, Australia, have published [a] paper in the journal PLos-Biology on the nature of tyranny and evil.


Professor Reicher said: “In short, people do harm not because they are unaware that they are doing wrong, but because they believe that they are doing right.

“It is this conviction that steels participants to do their dirty work, and that makes them act energetically and creatively to ensure its success.”

The study began when the two researchers ran their own prison experiment, which was broadcast by the BBC in 2002.

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The Tendency to Go Bananas When Reaching Middle Age…

A curious story has emerged which suggests new research shows chimps and orang-utans also have a ‘midlife crisis’. The Daily Telegraph picks up the story:

Human behaviour studies have revealed the well-established trend that our level of happiness declines after childhood until middle age, when we gradually begin to feel more content again.

Now researchers have found that the same “u-shaped” pattern is also seen among chimpanzees and orang-utans, who are most satisfied with life in their earliest and latest years but reach a “nadir” in middle age.


The researchers examined behavioural reports on more than 500 captive apes compiled by their keepers, researchers or other volunteers who were familiar with them throughout their lives.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, they reported that the animals’ happiness was generally high in youth, declined in middle age and rose again into old age.

While the study does not rule out the influence of cultural forces on our mood, it suggests biological factors could partly explain the distinctive u-shaped pattern.

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Why Cannabis Doesn’t Make Most People Psychotic

Picture: Psychonaught (PD)

If you sit toking on carrot sized joints all day every day it’s almost inevitable you will encounter problems when trying to live a productive life. However, it’s an often noted fact that plenty of people live that lifestyle and do not go round the proverbial bend. For years this has confused people when, on the other hand, there are some who clearly lose the plot after getting into the habitual ‘wake and bake’ mentality.

Lies and disinformation are a fact of life when it comes to illegal recreational substances. However, this story from Live Science, has a certain ring of truth about it:

People who smoke pot may be at increased risk for psychosis if they have a certain genetic marker, a new study finds.

The results show people with this genetic marker who use cannabis are twice as likely to experience psychosis compared with those who use the drug but do not have the genetic marker.

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Alan Moore Interview

Picture: Loz Pycock (CC)

Here’s an interview I did with Alan Moore a few years back:

I think it features the only full audio version of his demonic possession story which has gained a certain level of notoriety in occult circles because, as you’d expect, it’s really well told.

Alan Moore is the reason I first gave the world of occultism any serious attention and so I selfishly draw him into the subject in quite some detail once we’ve chatted about comics.

The podcast also features an interview, recorded on the same day, regarding Mr Moore’s dislike of film conversions of his work. It wasn’t possible to broadcast this interview in its full form so it features like this here for the first time.

I hope my fellow Disinfonaughts will forgive me such a blatant plug, I try to put up as many interesting stories as possible on here so every now and then it’s nice to push something like this.… Read the rest

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Romney: The Rise of the Twitterbots

Picture: todo tiempo pasado fue mejor

The controversey surrounding Mitt Romney’s twitter account continues. According to The Guardian, in July of this year, Mitt commanded around half a million followers compared to Barack’s 18 million. Then suddenly all that changed and thousands of adoring fans emerged, as if by magick, from the digital wilderness:

a couple of students at the Oxford Internet Institute asked themselves a question: what’s the probability that Romney’s new followers are genuine? Their account of the researchmakes fascinating reading. They started from the empirical observation that fake accounts created by Twitterbots tend to have few or no followers. Then they picked 20 Twitter accounts comparable in size to Obama’s and Romney’s and examined the statistical properties of the 150,000 newest followers in each. What they were looking for, of course, was the proportion of new followers who had few or zero followers and were therefore likely to be the product of bots.

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No Room for a Belly Laugh About This One

Picture: Gilberto Santo Rosa (CC)

My personal opinion is that it’s important in life to remind yourself that some things are not funny even if they might make you laugh. The story of a woman who got her sexy belly button ring stuck while swimming in a pool is a current example. Huffington Post reports the story, which is quite clearly not funny:

GREELEY, Colo. — Firefighters in Colorado say a woman’s belly button ring became entangled with a drain cover in a shallow splash pool but that she was freed without injury.

Authorities say the woman became stuck Wednesday as she floated on her stomach with her child in a shallow pool at the Greeley Family Funplex.

Firefighters tried to turn the ring to free her but then started to drain the pool while working to manipulate the ring.

They said Thursday that she eventually was freed and she wasn’t hurt in the process.

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Breaking God’s spel?

Users of magick are pretty hot on the idea that the bedrock of their reality manipulation techniques are linguistic. If words are thought control and if you want to become a good spell caster it’s vital you brush up on your articulacy. That includes the basics such as, err, spelling. So, if The Gods really are magick users who manifest their intent with language I suspect this story will annoy them a little more than their followers here suspect. From Oklahoma’s NewsOK:

A Ten Commandments monument is up on the grounds of the state Capitol, but it didn’t pass spell check.

“Remember the Sabbeth day, to keep it holy,” reads one.

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidseruent,” reads the last one.

Rep. Mike Ritze, whose family paid for the monument that was put up Thursday, said the monument company has been contacted and will correct the errors to the words Sabbath and maidservant.

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Hilarious ‘Satirist’ Pushes the Envelope Too Far?

Satire is the art of pretending to adopt a position you wish to ridicule and then, with apparent sincerity, aping opinions you consider absurd. A good satirist never drops his mask in public and leaves not a single chink in his characterisation. The trick is to go as far as possible without it ever being too obvious you’re acting the fool. In other words, ‘credibility’ is the key. Could it be possible that this noble art is being enacted by the current Director of “Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy” at the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer?

If so his daring comedic style extends to the following breath-taking nonsense, according to him, the bastards who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 were “agents of God’s wrath” because it is they who inspired “God Bless America” to be sung at Major League Baseball games. His topper to these edgy lines are that singing this song is “one of the reasons we haven’t been hit since 9/11.”

Now, Disinfo likes a laugh as much as anyone but even we’re a little unsure about all this.… Read the rest

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We Aren’t Anonymous, We Are Legion

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The debate regarding internet anonymity continues. boingboing reports:

Over on his Google+ account, Kevin Kelly says:

The major impact of the Petraeus affair has nothing to do with the military, sex, or celebrity — it is that there is no such thing as anonymous, and that the US government is able to access internet and credit card records without warrants, just because they ask to. Your digital life is not private from the government, ever; therefore, your life is not private. Read the details in this important reporting by +Andrew Leonard:

“[This] debacle confirms something that some privacy experts have been warning about for years: Government surveillance of ordinary citizens is now cheaper and easier than ever before. Without  needing to go before a judge, the government can gather vast amounts of information about us with minimal expenditure of manpower. We used to be able to count on a certain amount of privacy protection simply because invading our privacy was hard work.

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“Living The Dream”

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“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”

– How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later, Philip K. Dick

Part 2, Essays for the Discordian occultist: inducing a magickal state of consciousness

Magick is a highly subjective skill. According to the occultist, Ramsey Dukes, as a discipline it lies somewhere alongside ‘art’, ‘science’ and ‘religion’ [1]. All of these pursuits require a certain state of mind. The magick user who entirely excludes the possibility of magick from his worldview is like a cleric who knows no God, an artist with no appreciation for art or a scientist who refuses to accept the laws of mathematics. It’s not necessarily the case that you will be unsuccessful but it’s significantly less likely. So, for as long as is comfortable[2], it’s time to allow magick to be part of your reality.… Read the rest

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