Tag Archives | Psychology

The Conspiracy Effect

Sander van der Linden, Ph.D., a social psychologist in the Department of Psychology at Princeton University, explains why exposure to popular conspiracy theories can make you less “pro-social” (whatever that means) at Psychology Today:

Is the government covering up evidence of alien existence? Are powerful elites plotting a New World Order? Is global warming a hoax? Are lizard people taking over the planet? And are vaccines really the government’s attempt at mass mind-control?

secrets of the founding fathers

There seems to be something inexplicably compelling about the nature of conspiracy theories; over 50% of Americans now believe in at least one conspiracy theory. You might think that even although substantial minorities of people endorse these type of “eccentric” beliefs, conspiracy ideation mostly seems harmless fun, food for those who are palpably out of touch with reality.

Think again! In a new study, I find that mere exposure to a popular conspiracy theory can make you less pro-social and less likely to accept established scientific principles.

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The Verdict is in: Guess Who’s The Worst President in US History?

Mark Rain (CC BY 2.0)

Mark Rain (CC BY 2.0)

Jeff61b via HubPages:

Americans of all stripes love to debate which president was best or worst. This is a subject that is too important to rely on opinion polls, which are skewed by individual bias and political views. While It’s difficult to rate how good or bad any president may have been in comparison to another, a careful look at the facts shows one president failed in virtually every aspect of the job to a degree unrivaled by any other.

When you review the facts below and consider his impact on our economy, foreign policy, and domestic policy, by almost any standard, it’s difficult to find any president who did more harm and left the country in worse shape than George W. Bush.

At the same time that Bush was leaving office with a 28% job approval rating, 61% of historians rated George W. Bush’s presidency as the worst in history.

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GOP’s Favorite Socialist Program Lost $8.5 Trillion And Will Bankrupt America

Pentagon
Rmuse via Politics USA:

For several years, if not decades, Republicans have, and still do, claim that any American who is not anti-government, anti-taxation, anti-women’s rights, anti-immigration, anti-theocracy, and anti-democracy is a raving socialist. Yesterday Ted Cruzaccused Hillary Clinton of being a “wild-eyed socialist” who will do serious damage to America, and it is so typical for a Republican to use that term because they know most Americans are ignorant of what socialism entails. Socialism is simply “an economic and political system where all major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual companies or people, or a societal system in which there is no private property.” Obviously, neither Hillary Clinton, nor any Democrat supports or advocates for socialism, including SenatorBernie Sanders who claims to be a democratic socialist. In fact, democratic socialism isa political ideology involving a combination of political democracy with government ownership and control of all major industries.

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A Transcendental Ride

eye

It was a dark and stormy, clear summer’s day around high noon, as I rolled through the Elysian Fields that is the Mission District of San Francisco, when,

“Cha-ching! – 186 Liberty. Quigley. Dispatch.”

I ‘Accept’.

And I zoom across 20th Street, passing that majestic view of the city over Dolores Park, before turning a quick right onto Dolores proper, and then an immediate left up high on Liberty. As I pull up to 186, I witness what I believe to be my “Quigley” wrestling out in front of a florally manicured Victorian with several large Hefty bags.

I veer to a stop and yell out of my taxi’s shotgun window to the middle-aged woman all caked in layers of vibrant make-up and adorned with large ornate brass earrings that dangle down over her flowing, paisley-patterned robes. She’s huffing up a storm and wincing with each limping tug at her bags, as multiple necklaces of various lengths of colorful concentric rings of turquoise, crystal and earth-toned wood beads repeatedly flop against them, failing in their collective work to hold down the fort that is my potential passenger’s more than ample chest.

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Noam Chomsky: Why America Is the Gravest Threat to World Peace

Jackie (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jackie (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Noam Chomsky via Alternet/TomDispatch:

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com  here.

Throughout the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely.”

There are, however, striking exceptions to the general enthusiasm: the United States and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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Vibrant online communities? Or cesspools of abuse? Have comments had their day?

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via BBC:

Vibrant online communities? Or cesspools of abuse? Have comments had their day?

The debate about comment sections on news sites is often as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently outlets such as The Verge and The Daily Dothave closed their comments sections because they’ve become too hard to manage. And they’re far from alone. Moderating comments is a full-time job (or several full-time jobs) at many news organisations. Officiating comments on a BBC News story requires knowledge of more than a dozen different disqualifying categories. Alongside shouting, swearing and incivility, comment sections can also attract racism and sexism. BBC Trending recently found evidence of the latter when looking at live streaming app Periscope.

That’s the downside. But it’s also worth remembering that many news organisations – including the BBC – have used comments sections to make real connections with audiences, find stories, and turn what was once a one-way street into a multi-headed conversation.

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How Muzak Shaped A Conformist America

Tonya Riley via All That is Interesting:

Although it might be easier to ignore in an age where nearly ever American carries thousands of songs in their pocket, the unmistakable sound of Muzak still haunts us all. An estimated 100 million people (nearly a third of America’s population) are exposed to Muzak’s background music each day, whether in an elevator, on hold with the cable company or elsewhere. Although the Muzak brand technically went bankrupt in 2009 and lost its name in 2013 after new owners moved in, its technology set the stage for almost a century of bland, instrumental music that became the soundtrack to postwar America and continues to this day.

Muzak was founded in 1934 by former Army General George O. Squier, who had led the U.S. Army’s communication efforts during World War I. Squier was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1919 after his patented multiplexing system allowed for multiple signals to be transferred over one phone line.

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The Joy of Conspiracy Denial

Tim (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tim (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From 2009, Carol Cleveland writing at OpEdNews:

Recently I read another stinging rebuke of the 9-11 conspiracy theorists for their frightful mishandling of evidence, their will to believe only what gives them psychological comfort, and their general state of delusion. It was not the first I had read, nor will it be the last. The writer held unwaveringly to the party line: all those who seek to discredit the official, announced version of the events of 9-11 are “conspiracy theorists”- and should not be listened to. That this position constitutes an attempt at prior censorship does not seem to bother the deniers, nor the fact that the central tenets of conspiracy denial are an ad hominem attack. We are told that conspiracy theorists are crazy, or at least cowardly clingers to delusions that they find comforting.

It occurred to me that I haven’t seen anyone examine the mental comforts of conspiracy denial, using the handy tools of amateur psychology.

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the nAiL

There’s a nail in the wall.
Well, no. Actually, it’s in a beam.
Across the alley on my neighbor’s roof.

I always liked that nail.
Sticks out about three inches.
It’s just so straight. So carefully hammered. With Love.

Sometimes, you can see its shadow on the beam, as the sun creeps across the sky over our roofs.
A jealous sundial.

Except, it’s not jealous.
It’s a nail.

www.AlexSacK.com

Check out Alex’s book San Francisco TAXI: A 1st Week in the ZEN Life…
And Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for your non-practicing Buddhist one-offs. 

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First They Ignore You: The APA and Torture

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. — Mahatma Gandhi

Ten years ago this month, the American Psychological Association (APA) announced to its members that it supported psychologists assisting detainee interrogations in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and CIA black sites. APA officials asserted — against all evidence — that “operational” psychologists helped keep the interrogations “safe, ethical and effective.” Rank and file psychologists criticized the policy as providing legal cover for the Bush administration and began to organize petitions and withhold their APA dues in protest. Hundreds have spent years researching and writing papers, holding conferences, and fighting for legislation to reverse the policy. Thousands of members formally voted against it to no avail as the referendum was buried in an “implementation” committee.

Most critics were ignored by APA officials, while particularly effective dissidents were dismissed with snide comments about their mental health.… Read the rest

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