‘Il se trouve autant de différence de nous à nous-mêmes que de nous à autrui.’ –Montaigne


{ Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments | PDF }

The one with the bells on it


Why Scientific Studies Are So Often Wrong: The Streetlight Effect

Researchers tend to look for answers where the looking is good, rather than where the answers are likely to be hiding.

{ Discover | Continue reading }

with his halluxes so splendid


Revisiting Depression Contagion […] A Speed-Dating Study.

After four minutes of interaction with partners with high levels of depressive symptoms, participants did not experience increased negative affect; instead, they experienced reduced positive affect, which led to the rejection of these partners.

{ Clinical Psychological Science | Continue reading }

‘To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.’ —Nietzsche


Many laboratory experiments show that people are often altruistic or care for fairness. We present data that reveal a darker side of human nature. We introduce the joy-of-destruction game. Two players each receive an endowment and simultaneously decide on how much of the other player’s endowment to destroy. Subjects play this game repeatedly. In one treatment, subjects can hide their destruction behind random destruction. In this treatment, money is destroyed in almost 40% of all decisions. We attribute this behavior to a visceral pleasure of being nasty. Under full information destruction is also observed, but rare. In this treatment, acts of destruction are followed by immediate retaliation.

{ Faculty of Economics and Management Magdeburg | PDF }

How the world appears to us in certain forms imposed by our brains


Is our perceptual experience a veridical representation of the world or is it a product of our beliefs and past experiences? Cognitive penetration describes the influence of higher level cognitive factors on perceptual experience and has been a debated topic in philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

{ Consciousness and Cognition | Continue reading }

photo { Can you think a thought which isn’t yours? A remarkable new study suggests you can }

‘We may also attack simply to become aware of our own strength.’ —Nietzsche


We found that women experience more jealousy toward women with cosmetics, and view these women as more attractive to men and more promiscuous.

{ Perception | Continue reading }

photo { Bon Jane }

‘The first principle of all action is leisure.’ —Aristotle


The publication of Richard Krafft-Ebbing’s masterwork Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886 represented a landmark in thinking about human sexuality and the bizarre forms that it can take. In addition to describing different types of sexual expression that the author regarded as “perverse” (usually any form of sex that didn’t lead to procreation), it quickly became one of the most influential books on human sexuality ever written and introduced numerous new terms into common usage. One of these terms was “masochism,” which Krafft-Ebbing defined as the opposite of sadism (which he also coined). While the later is the desire to cause pain and use force, the former is the wish to suffer pain and be subjected to force.  

one person in particular who was less than pleased with the new term was the Austrian author, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Krafft-Ebbing justified naming this new sexual anomaly after the prominent author whom he described as “the poet of Masochism” due to his erotic writings and because of his own eccentric personal life. […]

Venus in Furs, the short novel for which Sacher-Masoch is best known, was published in 1870, and has become an erotic classic in its own right. In this book, the hero Severin asks to be treated as a slave and to be abused by Wanda (the “Venus in furs” of the story). The fact that Sacher-Masoch often acted out these fantasies in real-life with his wives and mistresses was not well-known. […]

It may be a coincidence that his health went into a decline shortly after Psychopathia Sexualis came out but by March of 1895, he was delusional and violent. After attempting to kill his then-wife Hulda, she arranged for him to be discreetly moved to an asylum in Lindheim, Hesse. Although his official obituary states that he died that year, there are claims that Sacher-Masoch lived on as an anonymous asylum inmate and actually died years later.

{ Providentia | Continue reading }

cloaked in the pall of the ace of spaces


With tens or even hundreds of billions of potentially habitable planets within our galaxy, the question becomes: are we alone?

Many scientists and commentators equate “more planets” with “more E.T.s”. However, the violence and instability of the early formation and evolution of rocky planets suggests that most aliens will be extinct fossil microbes.

Just as dead dinosaurs don’t walk, talk or breathe, microbes that have been fossilised for billions of years are not easy to detect by the remote sampling of exoplanetary atmospheres.

In research published [PDF] in the journal Astrobiology, we argue that early extinction could be the cosmic default for life in the universe. This is because the earliest habitable conditions may be unstable. […] Inhabited planets may be rare in the universe, not because emergent life is rare, but because habitable environments are difficult to maintain during the first billion years.

Our suggestion that the universe is filled with dead aliens might disappoint some, but the universe is under no obligation to prevent disappointment.

{ The Conversation | Continue reading }

previously { Where is the Great Filter? Behind us, or not behind us? If the filter is in our past, there must be some extremely improbable step in the sequence of events whereby an Earth-like planet gives rise to an intelligent species comparable in its technological sophistication to our contemporary human civilization. }

still { The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951 }

‘You speak an infinite deal of nothing.’ –Shakespeare


The present study investigated whether gut feelings — commonly reported visceral sensations that are virtually synonymous with intuitive hunches — may involve information gained by nonordinary means.


Objective: Investigate whether the gut feelings of one person, as measured with an electrogastrogram (EGG), respond to the emotions of a distant person.


This experiment suggests that some somatic feelings may be associated with perceptions transcending ordinary sensory capabilities. Of course, it would be imprudent to assume that all gut feelings necessarily contain intuitive information, as on occasion visceral sensations reflect little more than a bad burrito. But assuming that future studies can successfully replicate the present results, it may turn out that the “belly brain” is more perceptive than previously suspected, and that common reports of gut feelings having special intuitive qualities may have a basis in fact.

{ The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medecine | PDF }

image { thanks Tim }

Little pig, little pig, let me come in


Scientists in the United States are trying to grow human organs inside pigs.

They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.

The embryos are part of research aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of transplant organs.

The team from University of California, Davis says they should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

photos { Christien Meindertsma, PIG 05049, 2009 | Meindertsma has spent three years researching all the products made from a single pig }

Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease?

Neil Harbisson, an artist with colorblindness, has a chip implanted in his head and antenna attached to his skull that allows him to hear a different frequency of sound for each color.

Meanwhile, his artistic partner Moon Ribas has an implanted magnet that allows her to feel the tremors of earthquakes around the world.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles


Most people in industrialized societies grow up in core (parents only) families with few if any siblings. Based on an evolutionary perspective, it may be argued that this environment reflects a mismatch, in that the tribal setting offered a larger number of close affiliates. The present project examined whether this mismatch may have a negative impact on mental health. […]

The number of household members correlated with scores on good mental health at all ages tested (3, 5 and 8 years). […] Living with a single mother did not make any difference compared to two parents. Girls were slightly more responsive to the presence of siblings than boys. Household pets did not have any appreciable impact.

{ BMC Psychology | Continue reading }