Boing Boing 

We've evolved to disbelieve evolution


Experimental psychologists find that humans prefer explanations for events that have certainty and a sense of purpose over undirected randomness.

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Watch this great documentary about people who think they are gods

"Those Who Are Jesus" is Steven Eastwood's fascinating 2001 documentary about three people who have true delusions of grandeur based on "profoundly religious or revalatory experiences."

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GCHQ psychological operations squad targeted Britons for manipulation


The once-secretive, now-notorious Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group ran its online propaganda and manipulation operations at home as well as abroad.

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Poverty is a tax on cognition

In an outstanding lecture at the London School of Economics, Macarthur "genius award" recipient Sendhil Mullainathan explains his research on the psychology of scarcity, a subject that he's also written an excellent book about.

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The life of an amnesiac

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In the New Yorker, my friend Dan Zalewski reports on Lonni Sue Johnson, a 64-year-old with profound amnesia—and new research into how her brain, and memory, works.

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Utilitarianism versus psychopathy

A classic thought experiment asks you to choose between doing nothing and letting an out-of-control trolley crash into a schoolbus, or pushing a fat man into the trolley's path, saving the kids but killing the bystander.

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Police interrogation techniques generate false memories of committing crimes


Psychologists terminated a study that showed the ease of implanting false memories of committing terrible, violent crimes in the recent past in their subjects -- the experiment was terminated because some subjects couldn't be convinced that they hadn't committed the crime after they were told the truth.

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How poker players’ language gives them away

Verbal Poker Tells reveals how players use words to bluff, intimidate, and probe the minds of their opponents.

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We listen to sad music to feel nostalgic

If sadness is an unpleasant emotion, then why are we at times so drawn to sad music? By Dan RudermanRead the rest

Why people believe things you don't believe

Why do Holocaust deniers, young Earth creationists, people who think they’ve lived past lives as famous figures, people who claim they’ve been abducted by aliens, and people who stake their lives on the power of homeopathy believe things that most of us do not? David McRaney investigates.Read the rest

Willpower as a rechargeable battery

In this episode of You Are Not So Smart David McRaney explores ego depletion and all the things that can cause it, from feeling rejection to holding back tears to avoiding the temptation of cookies.Read the rest

Oxytocin: "the biological basis for the golden rule"

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Here's the transcript at Medium of a deeply fascinating Aspen Ideas lecture by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, author of The Moral Molecule, about the chemical reason why the vast majority of us feel good helping others. Those who don't? Psychopaths, mostly.

Why do you sabotage yourself when trying to break bad habits?

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Why do we bite our nails?

Over at Mind Hacks, Tom Stafford looks at the scientific literature around onychophagia, aka nail-biting:

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Why did we blow on Nintendo game cartridges?

And what are the ramifications of rubbing a beard with an infected chicken before conducting lab work? Tune in to the latest episode of You Are Not So Smart to find out!Read the rest

Cognitive bias in software development considered harmful


Books like Predictably Irrational (and its sequel, Upside of Irrationality) painstaking document the ways that we fall victim to our own cognitive biases, tripping over our own brains.

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Study: People prefer electric shocks to being alone with their thoughts


Matthew writes, "A new paper in Science reports that when people are asked to entertain themselves with their own thoughts for 15 minutes, many resort to giving themselves painful electric shocks they'd previously said they'd pay to avoid."

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