All posts for the topic: Mind, Psychology and Consciousness

Project claims to map global happiness using tweets

I adore maps and so usually enjoy I Fucking Love Maps on Facebook. Every now and then they post something infuriating. Because one of the best ways to bypass people’s bullshit detectors is to put your bullshit on a map. They’ve recently shared a project about “Mapping Global Happiness And Sadness In 2015” (project page here). [Source] I’ve looked before at the problems with compiling “global” indexes of happiness/well-being etc. There’s enough opportunity for bias and confounding factors in these studies. Here, the bias is on steroids. Here are just some of the ways this project, while being pretty useful […]

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Bringing Science to Wellness Panel at Sydney Science Festival

Here’s a belated liveblog of the panel, which I thought would be focussed on making our definition of wellness more scientific but was actually about the wellness (ie. CAM) industry. There’s also a podcast about the panel on Radio National. DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS ON THAT PAGE! The panelists were: Natasha Mitchell from Radio National as the moderator (NM in this post) Professor Margaret Allman-Farinelli, a nutritionist (MAF) Christopher Zinn, a consumer advocate (CZ) Dr Sarah McKay, a neuroscientist turned science blogger (SM) Liz Graham, editor of body+soul (LG) Italics are comments from me. NM: How many of us […]

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When PSAs take advantage of prejudice, bias or ignorance

[CN: Racist imagery below] ……………………………… What does the image above make you think? While there’s a wide range of possible reactions, I predict the vast majority of people would be simultaneously repulsed by the racist imagery while possibly agreeing with the actual messages of the poster (ie. car safety and minimising waste). I hope most people wouldn’t consider this as an acceptable way to make a public service announcement or that the benefit of the announcement outweighs the splash damage. This is because the splash damage here is so apparent to us because it’s “vintage” and taken from another cultural […]

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How to use bad science to trash ereaders

Studies of ereading Studies about how reading paper books compares to reading electronic devices like a Kobo have gotten some attention in the media. Which makes sense because it’s often a chance to have a great moral panic about how technology is now ruining reading, or maybe even cognition. I’ve posted about technology panics before but ereader stories deserve a special, dishonourable mention. Here’s the story from August 2014 in the Guardian: Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds. I’ll quote a large chunk to set the context. A new study which found that readers using a […]

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Atheists don’t exist (if you’re misleading enough)

This is an oldie (from 2014) but a goodie. A legit science website (Science 2.0) publishes an blog post entitled Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke by Nury Vittachi. It’s a great example of what happens when you try to be so nuanced and sophisticated that your head gets sucked up into your own ass. The overall premise of the article is that studies seem to show that all people may tacitly hold religious beliefs. And hence people who identify as atheists may not be “true” atheists because subconsciously they still engage in religious […]

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Will selfies turn you into a psychopath? (No.)

A few weeks ago, there was an item in international media that is a perfect example of what happens when you get a combination of bad science reporting, bad science and moral panics. The story was that apparently research has shown that men who take selfies show more signs of psychopathy (and therefore cut the selfies out). The reporting There were lots of stories online but here are 3 I picked non-randomly: From Huffpo, Men Obsessed With Selfies Could Have Psychopathic Tendencies, Reveals Study From Sydney Morning Herald, Men who take a lot of selfies ‘show strong links to psychopathic […]

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How would a world with trigger warnings work?

Last week, I posted a defence of trigger warnings/content notes (and an attack on the anti-arguments). This is unfortunately where the debate is at – whether the culture should be more accommodating of people who want to know a few extra things about a piece of content before they consume it with informed consent. A much more interesting discussion is the practicalities of how this could be implemented, how it would start up. Here, I’ll try to propose something concrete. Ad-hoc labelling by content creators This is a content creator who wants to create a content note out of their […]

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Trigger Warnings/Content Notes: An Epic in Two Acts

Because the internet NEEDS another opinion on trigger warnings/content notes! Act 1 A long time ago in a parallel universe, writing was AuthenticTM. A host of manly men created great literature and disseminated them to the public. Everything was great and everyone got a true cultural experience. Along came an agitator. “You know what would be great?” the agitator whined entitledly. “There should be a short description of what each text contains as a teaser. You know, a little preview or blurb (maybe at the back of a book?) so we can decide what’s likely to appeal to our tastes […]

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The moral cost of living where you live

When I was travelling recently, I realised that living in any particular country has a certain moral cost associated with it. A majority (or even everyone) who lives there pays the cost. It spans practical and ideological lines because it touches on the very basics that we all use for living. When you live in a place, unless your life is extremely traumatic, you will tend to normalise the way the place works. This includes the terrible stuff you don’t agree with. No matter how much you might fight against it, our brain can’t help but respond to it as […]

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Near death experiences are evidence for materialism

Near death experiences happen to many people when they’re near clinical death and survive. They’re often profoundly meaningful or life-changing to those who have them. They’re also frequently used to argue that there is an afterlife, a spiritual realm or “something more” out there than scientific materialism posits. A recent Intelligence2 debate on the existence of the afterlife (which I recommend everyone watch) had nothing but the testimony of a neurosurgeon about his near death experience as the case for the for side. I think near death experiences can be pretty good at convincing people that our consciousness is not […]

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