‘What does a woman want?’ –Freud

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[T]he patient was a woman who, although she was being examined in my office at New York Hospital, claimed we were in her home in Freeport, Maine. The standard interpretation of this syndrome is that she made a duplicate copy of a place (or person) and insisted that there are two. […]

This woman was intelligent; before the interview she was biding her time reading the New York Times. I started with the ‘So, where are you?’ question. ‘I am in Freeport, Maine. I know you don’t believe it. Dr Posner told me this morning when he came to see me that I was in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. […] Well, that is fine, but I know I am in my house on Main Street in Freeport, Maine!’ I asked, ‘Well, if you are in Freeport and in your house, how come there are elevators outside the door here?’

The grand lady peered at me and calmly responded, ‘Doctor, do you know how much it cost me to have those put in?’ […]

Because of her lesion the part of the brain that represents locality is overactive and sending out an erroneous message about her location. The interpreter is only as good as the information it receives, and in this instance it is getting a wacky piece of information.

{ NeuroDojo | Continue reading }

Better where she is down there: away. Occupy her. Wanted a dog to pass the time. Might take a trip down there.

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Journalists consider the importance of events and the audience’s interest in them when deciding on which events to report. Events most likely to be reported are those that are both important and can capture the audience’s interest. In turn, the public is most likely to become aware of important news when some aspect of the story piques their interest.

We suggest an efficacious means of drawing public attention to important news stories: dogs. Examining the national news agenda of 10 regional newspapers relative to that of the New York Times, we evaluated the effect of having a dog in a news event on the likelihood that the event is reported in regional newspapers.

The “dog effect” is approximately equivalent to the effect of whether a story warrants front- or back-page national news coverage in the New York Times. Thus, we conclude that dogs are an important factor in news decisions.

{ Cambridge University Press | PDF }

‘Truth is always strange—stranger than fiction.’ –Lord Byron

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We all resist changing our beliefs about the world, but what happens when some of those beliefs are based on misinformation? Is there a right way to correct someone when they believe something that’s wrong? […]

The first thing their review turned up is the importance of “backfire effects” — when telling people that they are wrong only strengthens their belief. […]

If you try and debunk a myth, you may end up reinforcing that belief, strengthening the misinformation in people’s mind without making the correct information take hold.

What you must do, they argue, is to start with the plausible alternative (that obviously you believe is correct). If you must mention a myth, you should mention this second, and only after clearly warning people that you’re about to discuss something that isn’t true.

{ Tom Stafford/BBC | Continue reading }

The time is out of joint

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O’Brian oversees America’s master clock. It’s one of the most accurate clocks on the planet: an atomic clock that uses oscillations in the element cesium to count out 0.0000000000000001 second at a time. If the clock had been started 300 million years ago, before the age of dinosaurs began, it would still be keeping time — down to the second. […]

At the nearby University of Colorado Boulder is a clock even more precise than the one O’Brian watches over. […] This new clock can keep perfect time for 5 billion years.”It’s about the whole, entire age of the earth,” says Jun Ye, the scientist here at JILA who built this clock. […]

But this new clock has run into a big problem: This thing we call time doesn’t tick at the same rate everywhere in the universe. Or even on our planet.

Right now, on the top of Mount Everest, time is passing just a little bit faster than it is in Death Valley. That’s because speed at which time passes depends on the strength of gravity. Einstein himself discovered this dependence as part of his theory of relativity, and it is a very real effect.

The relative nature of time isn’t just something seen in the extreme. If you take a clock off the floor, and hang it on the wall, Ye says, “the time will speed up by about one part in 1016.” […] Time itself is flowing more quickly on the wall than on the floor. These differences didn’t really matter until now. But this new clock is so sensitive, little changes in height throw it way off. Lift it just a couple of centimeters, Ye says, “and you will start to see that difference.” […]

The world’s current time is coordinated between atomic clocks all over the planet. But that can’t happen with the new one.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

photo { Petra Collins }

‘Principle is OK up to a certain point, but principle doesn’t do any good if you lose.’ –Dick Cheney

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Crimes such as bribery require the cooperation of two or more criminals for mutual gain. Instead of deterring these crimes, the state should disrupt them by creating distrust among criminals so they cannot cooperate. In a cooperative crime with two criminals, the state should offer amnesty and a bounty to the criminal who first secures punishment of the other criminal. When the bounty exceeds the bribe, a bribed official gains less from keeping the bribe than from confessing and receiving the bounty. Consequently the person who pays the bribe cannot trust the person who takes it. The game’s unique equilibrium is non-cooperative and bribes disappear.

{ Review of Law & Economics }

‘We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.’ –La Rochefoucauld

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Flattery—the art of offering pleasing compliments—is one of the oldest and most commonly used of persuasion methods. Research in this area provides a reason for the popularity of this tactic. Put simply, flattery works. Various studies have shown that the target of the flattery evaluates the flatterer positively because human beings have a basic desire to believe in good things about themselves.

What happens, however, in situations in which the flattery is “bogus”—that is, when the recipient knows that the flatterer is offering an insincere compliment, presumably driven by an ulterior motive? Instances of insincere flattery abound in the marketing context, such as the salesperson who offers prospective customers profuse compliments on how an expensive outfit makes them look. […]

In cases such as these, in which the prospective consumer is aware of a clear ulterior motive underlying the compliment, both research and intuition suggest that recipients will discount the flattering comments and correct their otherwise favorable reactions. Though in partial agreement with this premise, the current investigation proposes that despite such correction, a positive impact of flattery may still be observed. […]

The authors show that even when flattery by marketing agents is accompanied by an obvious ulterior motive that leads targets to discount the proffered compliments, the initial favorable reaction (the implicit attitude) continues to coexist with the dis- counted evaluation (the explicit attitude). Furthermore, the implicit attitude has more influential consequences than the explicit attitude, highlighting the possible subtle impact of flattery even when a person has consciously corrected for it.

{ Journal of Marketing Research | PDF }

Every day, the same, again

53.jpg Man freed after being trapped between two walls of Colorado store

Businesses cash in as women chase bigger butts Gym classes that promise a plump posterior are in high demand. A surgery that pumps fat into the buttocks is gaining popularity. And padded panties that give the appearance of a rounder rump are selling out.

The mathematician who proved why hipsters all look alike

People’s beliefs about their physical attractiveness (self-perceived attractiveness) can also influence whether people will support or reject inequality.

Some people may know what is being said even though the auditory hallucinations may only consist of nonverbal sounds.

When We Don’t Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

Human tetrachromacy is the purely theoretical notion that a woman might, through a rare mutation on one of her two X chromosomes, end up having four different types of cones in her retina instead of the usual three, and therefore be uncannily sensitive to differences in color.

According to a new study, sad music trigger emotions and experiences beyond sadness.

Why people cry when they are happy

Cremations as a percentage of deaths (Japan: 100%)

A new study says the population could hit 12 billion by 2100, though it doesn’t take into account the effects of climate change, food shortages, disease, or conflict.

75 to 90 percent of the world’s natural sand beaches are disappearing, due partly to rising sea levels and increased storm action, but also to massive erosion caused by the human development of shores. [NY Times]

Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colorful history, new research has found. [via Sunday Reading]

Now 90 percent of all internet thinkpieces are dedicated to explaining why you should have a problem with something you originally had no problem with.

Amy Li Sets Up a Gallery in Her Father’s Button Shop

Genesis and maintenance of a long-track EF5 tornado embedded within a supercell thunderstorm [Researchers Simulate Monster EF5 Tornado]

The Survival Condo is a 15-story building underground that can house up to 75 people

a pregnancy diary that grows with the mother’s belly

Warning Signs of Satanic Behavior. Training video for police, 1990

‘Tout le bonheur des hommes est dans l’imagination.’ —Sade

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{ Tramp stamps gallery | Playboy }

Every day, the same, again

35.jpgPenguin Robot infiltrates Penguin colony

Two Chinese officials bought corpses from grave robbers to meet government cremation quotas

Google Wants to Store Your Genome

China Builds Anti-Drone Laser Tech

Airport security agents using a new conversation-based screening method caught mock airline passengers with deceptive cover stories more than 20 times as often as agents who used the traditional method of examining body language for suspicious signs

Once dominated by correlational studies, face-perception research is moving into the realm of experimentation—and gaining tremendous insight.

Misattribution of Arousal

A man’s likelihood of obtaining a woman’s phone number increases three-fold when accompanied by a dog

How can a sequence of dance steps best be learned?

Can Anatomical Brain Images Alone Diagnose Psychiatric Illnesses?

The Public Find Neuroscience Irrelevant and Anxiety-provoking

Life satisfaction dips around the age of 45, after which it starts going up again beyond the age of 54

Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health

The Effects of Subtle Misinformation in News Headlines

English has recently developed a new intensifier, ass, which means something very close to very, is marked as vulgar and colloquial, and appears in cases such as in: That is a big-ass chair, It is a cold-ass night [PDF]

In politics we’re familiar with the non-apology apology (well described in Wikipedia as “a statement that has the form of an apology but does not express the expected contrition”). Here’s the scientific equivalent: the non-retraction retraction.

The 36 People Who Run Wikipedia

How did Amazon—which was once seen as the book industry’s savior—end up as Literary Enemy Number One? And how much of this fight is even about money?

The Influence and Legacy of Larry Sultan

A Feather and a Bowling Ball Dropped Together Inside the World’s Largest Vacuum Chamber

Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin

Cleaning a vinyl record with wood glue. This trick works because the glue and record are somewhat chemically similar, so the glue only sticks to stuff that’s not supposed to be there.

ShitExpress

The carbon is extracted from the cremated remains, then heated and turned into graphite, then transformed into a diamond.

Happy birthday!

Gritted my teeth for ya, G-G-G-G for ya

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The 24th Ig Nobel prizes were announced on September 18. The prizes annually award scientific research that “first makes people laugh and then makes them think.” […]

The prize went to Kiyoshi Mabuchi of Kitasato University for his work “measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor”. Also tested were apple peels and orange skin – found to be less dangerous. […]

Creatures of the night are, on average, “more self-admiring, more manipulative and more psychopathic” than people who habitually wake up early in the morning, according to Peter Jonason of the University of Western Sydney and colleagues.

{ The Conversation | Continue reading }

image { Akiyoshi Kitaoka | more }

‘The freaks of chance are not determinable by calculation.’ —Thucydides

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An interesting idea is that the universe could be spontaneously created from nothing, but no rigorous proof has been given. In this paper, we present such a proof based on the analytic solutions of the Wheeler-DeWitt equation.

{ arXiv | Continue reading | more }

Just boob it

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In a series of 7 experiments we demonstrate that women perceive men to be more attractive and sexually desirable when seen on a red background and in red clothing. […] The influence of red appears to be specific to women’s romantic attraction to men: Red did not influence men’s perceptions of other men, nor did it influence women’s perceptions of men’s overall likability, agreeableness, or extraversion.

{ APA PsycNet | Continue reading }