"Gang stalking" victims who believe they are targets of mind control


Last year, the Richmond, California city council passed a ban on space-based weapons that are secretly causing physical and psychological damage against people via "remote transmission." This legislation was driven by a community of people who have banded together to fight the "operatives" they believe are targeting them and ruining their lives with mind-control weapons. Today's New York Times reports on the phenomenon, called "gang stalking" and the people who claim to be "targeted individuals (T.I.s)."

Dr. Lorraine Sheridan, who is co-author of perhaps the only study of gang-stalking, said the community poses a danger that sets it apart from other groups promoting troubling ideas, such as anorexia or suicide. On those topics, the internet abounds with medical information and treatment options.

An internet search for “gang-stalking,” however, turns up page after page of results that regard it as fact. “What’s scary for me is that there are no counter sites that try and convince targeted individuals that they are delusional,” Dr. Sheridan said.

“They end up in a closed ideology echo chamber,” she said.

In instructional tracts online, veteran T.I.s explain the ropes to rookies:

• Do not engage with the voices in your head.

• If your relatives tell you you’re imagining things, they could be in on it.

• “Do not visit a psychiatrist...."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the (T.I.) community is divided over the contours of the conspiracy. Some believe the financial elite is behind it. Others blame aliens, their neighbors, Freemasons or some combination.

The movement’s most prominent voices, however, tend to believe the surveillance is part of a mind-control field test done in preparation for global domination.

Read the rest

Why we are unaware of how unaware we are


Each one of us has a relationship with our own ignorance, a dishonest, complicated relationship, and that dishonesty keeps us sane, happy, and willing to get out of bed in the morning.

Part of that ignorance is a blind spot we each possess that obscures both our competence and incompetence.


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In the case of singing, you might get all the way to an audition on X-Factor on national television before someone finally provides you with an accurate appraisal. David Dunning says that the shock that some people feel when Simon Cowell cruelly explains to them that they suck is often the result of living for years in an environment filled with mediocrity enablers. Friends and family, peers and coworkers, they don’t want to be mean or impolite. They encourage you to keep going until you end up in front of millions reeling from your first experience with honest feedback. Read the rest

Magic: Conjurers' audiences are most suspicious of extra effort


The Jerx (previously) gave an audience at a magic show an app that let them tap when their suspicions were aroused.

Read the rest

If you could choose to find out your death date, would you?

Today we travel to a future where everybody knows exactly when they’re going to die. Read the rest

Behavioral economist on why Americans freak out when you attribute their success to luck

Rich-Kids-of-Instagram-008JPG (1)

Cornell economist Robert Frank drew the ire of the nation's business press when he published an article that said something most economists would agree with: hard work and skill aren't enough (or even necessary) to succeed; but luck is. Rather than back down from the angry reception, he's expanded the article into a book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which came out last month. Read the rest

Listen: thought experiments about who or what has a mind


Rick Kleffel sends us his latest podcast (MP3), "A conversation with one of the authors of a wonderful and strange book; science-fiction thought experiments ('robot versus baby') informed by social psychology experiments of fascinating design, part ethics, philosophy, neuroscience, the minds of god and the dead and machines... authentically mind-boggling. And Fun!" Read the rest

How to: apologize


In An Exploration of the Structure of Effective Apologies , written by business school academics from Ohio State and Eastern Kentucky U and published in Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, the authors report on two studies that trace the reactions of 755 subjects to apologies based and report on the six factors most likely to assuage a wounded party. Read the rest

People who feel out of control of their lives are more likely to believe in conspiracies


Like you, I know some people who are really hampered by an irrational belief that the people around them are judging them; I've long thought that these beliefs were linked to a sense that their lives were out of their control, and that this turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy -- the more paranoid compulsions they expressed, the more their lives were made worse. Read the rest

After we make peace with robots doing all the work, will our lives have meaning?


Philosopher John Danaher's new paper "Will life be worth living in a world without work? Technological Unemployment and the Meaning of Life" assumes that after the robots take all our jobs, and after the economic justice of figuring out how to share the productivity games can be equitably shared among the robot-owning investor class and the robot-displaced 99%, there will still be a burning question: what will give our life meaning? Read the rest

Heatmaps of the human body in varying emotional states


Disappointingly, these heatmaps of human bodies whose owners are experiencing various emotional states were not produced with infrared cameras, but rather with self-reporting by subjects being asked to say where they were experiencing more and less sensation while watching videos and seeing words intended to trigger those emotions. Read the rest

The truth about writer's block

writers block

Studies have found writer's block to be a simpler problem—unhappiness—than the legends around it suggest. But there are different kinds of unhappiness, and it's the blockee's job to be honest about which one they're suffering from.

The first, more anxious group felt unmotivated because of excessive self-criticism—nothing they produced was good enough—even though their imaginative capacity remained relatively unimpaired. (That’s not to say that their imaginations were unaffected: although they could still generate images, they tended to ruminate, replaying scenes over and over, unable to move on to something new.) The second, more socially hostile group was unmotivated because they didn’t want their work compared to the work of others. (Not everyone was afraid of criticism; some writers said that they didn’t want to be “object[s] of envy.”) Although their daydreaming capacity was largely intact, they tended to use it to imagine future interactions with others. The third, apathetic group seemed the most creatively blocked. They couldn’t daydream; they lacked originality; and they felt that the “rules” they were subjected to were too constrictive. Their motivation was also all but nonexistent. Finally, the fourth, angry and disappointed group tended to look for external motivation; they were driven by the need for attention and extrinsic reward. They were, Barrios and Singer found, more narcissistic—and that narcissism shaped their work as writers. They didn’t want to share their mental imagery, preferring that it stay private.

I bet group 1 (self-critics) account for most, though. Turn off your inner editor—and if necessary, move to a medium (longhand, typewriter) that deprives you of editorial tools Read the rest

Study: people who believe in innate intelligence overestimate their own


In Understanding overconfidence: Theories of intelligence, preferential attention, and distorted self-assessment, an open access paper published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, psych researchers from Washington State U, Florida State U and Stanford report on their ingenious experiments to investigate how subjects' beliefs about intelligence affect their own intelligence. Read the rest

How to spot and avoid the "No True Scotsman" fallacy


When your identity becomes intertwined with your definitions, you can easily fall victim to something called The No True Scotsman Fallacy.

It often appears during a dilemma: What do you do when a member of a group to which you belong acts in a way that you feel is in opposition to your values? Do you denounce the group, or do you redefine the boundaries of membership?

In this episode, you will learn from three experts in logic and argumentation how to identify, defend against, and avoid deploying this strange thinking quirk that leads to schisms and stasis in groups both big and small.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the third in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.


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This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with The Fundamentals of Photography filmed in partnership with The National Geographic and taught by professional photographer Joel Sartore. Read the rest

Hear the world's most prolific sleep-talker on record


Dion McGregor (1922-1994) was a songwriter who penned a hit for Barbra Streisand but he has cult (and now scientific) fame as a prolific sleep-talker, or rather sleep-storyteller. While asleep, McGregor would narrate his strange, creepy, and sometimes risque dreams in great detail. Have a listen below! In 1964, Decca Records released an album of recordings of McGregor's sleep-talking, The Dream World of Dion Mcgregor - He Talks in His Sleep, with cover art by Edward Gorey. A book of transcripts, also illustrated by Gorey, was also published that year with the same title, The Dream World of Dion McGregor. Numerous CDs have followed and the entire body of work has become a great source of data for sleep researchers at Harvard Medical School. They're published a new paper about McGregor in the journal Imagination Cognition and Personality. From the British Psychological Society:

The researchers think there are two explanations for the differences between McGregor's somniloquies and typical dream content. One is that much sleep talking does not occur during dreams, and in fact people's brain waves during sleep talking are distinct from those usually seen during dreaming, featuring fewer waves in the alpha frequency range, which they explained could be a sign of more frontal brain activity. The researchers further describe this as "an unusual state midway between waking and sleeping" (backing this up, there is a McGregor interview in which he says a sleep researcher recorded his brain activity during sleep talking and found a mix of sleep and waking brain wave patterns).
Read the rest

Man missing for 30 years realizes that he's someone else

This is Edgar Latulip of southwestern Ontario. The developmentally disabled man has been missing since 1986 but was just found about 120 kilometers from his hometown. Or rather, he found himself. Latulip had lost his memory due to a head injury after he disappeared and had created a new identity. Last month, he realized he wasn't who he thought he was. From CBC:

On Jan. 7, Latulip met with a social worker and told her he thought he was somebody else, Gavin said. The social worker found his missing persons case file and police were then called in. Latulip volunteered to have a DNA test done and on Monday, the results came back indicating he was Latulip.

Gavin said it is an unusual, but happy resolution to the case.

"When someone goes missing for an extended period of time, they don't want to be found and they're off the grid and we don't find them," Gavin said. "Or the other option, sadly, is sometimes people are deceased. I've never heard of something like this where someone's memory has come back and their identity is recovered.

"It is absolutely a good news story," Gavin added. "I try not to only think about his mother's side, but also Mr. Latulip's side where for 30 years you've learned a certain way and someone tells you and confirms to you that's not who you are. That's a lot to take in, personally, right, so there's interesting pieces for him as well."

"Ontario man missing 30 years suddenly remembers own identity" (CBC) Read the rest

Psychological resiliency, defined


Before resiliency was a buzzword, it was an area of serious psychological study. Read the rest

Hunger is a mood: the psychology of weight loss and self-control


Michael Graziano, a psychologist, lost 50 lbs in 8 months by experimenting on himself to see how different dietary choices affected his feelings of hunger, reasoning that the major predictor of weight control isn't calories consumed versus calories burned -- but the extent to which your unconscious mind exerts pressure on you to eat more and exercise less. Read the rest

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