Tag Archives | Psychology

The Fascinating Psychology of People Who Know the Real Truth About JFK, UFOs, and 9/11

9.11.11Sept11Attacks10thAnniversaryByLuigiNovi24William Saletan suggests that conspiracy theorists aren’t really skeptics, at Slate:

To believe that the U.S. government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you’d have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans. To believe that explosives, not planes, brought down the buildings, you’d have to imagine an operation large enough to plant the devices without anyone getting caught. To insist that the truth remains hidden, you’d have to assume that everyone who has reviewed the attacks and the events leading up to them—the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, scientific organizations, peer-reviewed journals, news organizations, the airlines, and local law enforcement agencies in three states—was incompetent, deceived, or part of the cover-up.

And yet, as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl points out, millions of Americans hold these beliefs. In a Zogby poll taken six years ago, only 64 percent of U.S.

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Liberals Show ‘Truly False Uniqueness’ According to Psychological Study

SnowflakesWilsonBentleyPolitical liberals falsely assume that other liberals don’t hold their views, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science:

Via EurekaAlert:

Liberals showed what the researchers call “truly false uniqueness,” perceiving their beliefs as more divergent from the beliefs of other liberals than they actually were. Moderates and conservatives, on the other hand, showed evidence of “truly false consensus,” perceiving their beliefs to be more similar to those of other members of their political group than they actually were.

Data from a second study suggest that the relationship is driven by participants’ desire to feel unique: Liberals reported a stronger desire for uniqueness than did moderates or conservatives.

Surprisingly, these trends even emerged among nonpolitical judgments, such as preference for coffee: Liberals believed their preferences were more different from those of other liberals than they actually were, while conservatives believed their preferences were more similar to those of other conservatives than they actually were.

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What It Feels Like to Be Suicidal

398px-Hofmann_Lehrbuch_suicide_stabbingInteresting piece on suicidal ideation in Scientific American.

Scientific American:

In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions, not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are evaluated critically. And, as I mentioned in last week’s column on the evolutionary biology of suicide, from a psychological science perspective, I don’t think any scholar ever captured the suicidal mind better than Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister in his 1990 Psychological Review article , “Suicide as Escape from the Self.” To reiterate, I see Baumeister’s cognitive rubric as the engine of emotions driving deCatanzaro’s biologically adaptive suicidal decision-making. There are certainly more recent theoretical models of suicide than Baumeister’s, but none in my opinion are an improvement. The author gives us a uniquely detailed glimpse into the intolerable and relentlessly egocentric tunnel vision that is experienced by a genuinely suicidal person.

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Medical, Military, and Ethics Experts Say Health Professionals Designed and Participated in Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment and Torture of Detainees

The documentary “Doctors of the Dark Side” revealed the issues highlighted in the report.

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession’s press release, below, summarizes the report “Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror” that is causing a massive stir in the media. Let’s hope it ends up affecting policy…

New York, NY — An independent panel of military, ethics, medical, public health, and legal experts today charged that U.S. military and intelligence agencies directed doctors and psychologists working in U.S. military detention centers to violate standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm. The Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers (see attached) concludes that since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIA improperly demanded that U.S. military and intelligence agency health professionals collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in U.S.

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“Real” positive thinking

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Swami Lego Ver explains the benefit of letting go of pessimistic fears.

via Anxiety Culture

Once upon a time, people performed ritual sacrifices in an attempt to avert natural disasters. Nowadays, the most popular ritual for avoiding disasters is to accumulate money. Our ancestors didn’t know when to stop spilling blood, as their gods never announced: “That’s enough”. Modern people can’t stop accumulating money for a similar reason.

A conviction (or suspicion) that the world is essentially hostile probably underlies this behaviour. In which case, no amount of sacrifice or money will remove the underlying sense of insecurity. No burglar-alarm can make you feel safe, if you believe the neighbourhood is dangerous enough to require it.

Feeling safe requires an alteration of your belief-system to remove the archaic “programming” concerning the hostile/dangerous “nature” of things. The gimmick is to do this without offending your sense of “reality” (which might be difficult if you live in a war zone).

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Herpes Medication Produces “Walking Corpse Syndrome”

pillsVia New Scientist, the bizarre, unintended side effect of a cold sore medication suggests that it may be possible to engineer a drug that induces the living-dead mental state:

Pharmacologists have discovered a mechanism that triggers Cotard’s syndrome – the mysterious condition that leaves people feeling like they, or parts of their body, no longer exist. With the ability to switch the so-called walking corpse syndrome on and off comes the prospect of new insights into consciousness.

Acyclovir – also known by the brand name Zovirax – is a common drug used to treat cold sores and other herpes infections. However, about 1 per cent of people who take the drug orally or intravenously experience some psychiatric side effects, including Cotard’s. These occur mainly in people who have renal failure.

One woman with renal failure began using acyclovir to treat shingles. She ran into a hospital screaming. After an hour of dialysis, she started to talk: she said the reason she was so anxious was that she had a strong feeling she was dead.

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Why The News Is A Waste of Your time

fear_tvIt’s not what’s important; it’s what’s selling.

How does the news keep your attention? With negativity, shock, and sensationalism.

Warren Francke, a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, designed a study that revealed just how essential negative storylines were to editors of newspapers. That study was described in the book Sensationalism, where the authors wrote:

Francke’s study found sensational content was printed for entertainment and in order to sell newspapers, but editors rarely admitted that these were the reasons for including sensational content. An interesting finding in Francke’s study was that if crime news came in without grotesque details, the editors often would add them. Most criminal cases were not seen firsthand, so the editors would imagine the crime scene and would add in “the rotting body” or “brains thrown throughout the room.”

In addition to Francke’s research, I have also heard a popular tale about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.… Read the rest

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Snacking Makes Movie-Goers Resistant to Advertising

Let's_All_Go_to_the_LobbyHeard you don’t want to be affected by ads that want you to eat junk food, so we got you a bag of junk food to eat while you watch commercials that want you to junk food. They’ve got you coming and going. You’ll want a soft drink with that popcorn, right?

Via Discover Magazine:

Popcorn and movies are inextricably linked—like cotton candy and county fairs, or coffee and the morning commute. Equally ubiquitous in theaters is the reel of advertisements that show before the film.

New research suggests the two are at odds: popcorn actually makes advertisements ineffective.

Researchers in Germany sent 96 people to the cinema. Some of the movie-goers got free popcorn (score!) while the others were given a sugar cube (for real?!). Before the film, participants watched advertisements for unfamiliar products—things like Scandinavian butter.

When the researchers brought participants back into the lab a week later and asked them to rate various products (those advertised at the theater among them), the sugar-cubers showed a preference for the advertised products whereas popcorners did not.

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Everyone Is Self-Deluded But Me

1649928_300John Horgan writes at Scientific American’s Cross-Check blog:

In 1995, I critiqued evolutionary psychology in “The New Social Darwinists,” an article in the December issue of Scientific American. Afterwards I got a scathing letter from Robert Trivers, whose work on altruism, parent-offspring conflict and other tendencies helped lay the foundations for evolutionary psychology, which like its precursor sociobiology attempts to explain human thought and behavior in Darwinian terms. Trivers called my article “shallow” and accused me of “acting out the old Scientific American‘s long-standing inability to look at human sociobiology objectively.” I was annoyed at the implication that I was just parroting the magazine’s party line. And yet the letter stung, not because I agreed with Trivers but because I respected him; unlike some of the hacks who jumped on the Darwinian bandwagon, he is a truly original thinker.

I recalled that letter when I reviewed Triver’s book The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life (Basic Books, 2011) for The New York Times.

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The Decline In Children’s Freedom And Rise In Mental Disorders

children_playVia Aeon Magazine, psychologist and researcher Peter Gray writes that children’s free time to play is an essential form of learning which is  now being denied them:

For more than 50 years now, we in the United States have been gradually reducing children’s opportunities to play. By about 1900, the need for child labour had declined, so children had a good deal of free time. But then, beginning around 1960, adults began chipping away at that freedom by increasing the time that children had to spend at schoolwork and by reducing children’s freedom to play on their own, even when they were out of school and not doing homework. Parents’ fears led them, ever more, to forbid children from going out to play with other kids unsupervised.

Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing. It’s not just that we’re seeing disorders that we overlooked before.

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