Scientists unlock methods for testing evil

For better or worse, we've been trying to find ways to gauge human intelligence for hundreds of years.

A century ago, Charles Spearman twigged to the notion that no matter what methodology one uses to figure out exactly how much cheese is on someone's mental cracker, the results from test to test, provided each of the methods employed are of equal complexity, should be the same. This is a very simple way of explaining the "g factor:" which Wikipedia describes as "...a variable that summarizes positive correlations among different cognitive tasks, reflecting the fact that an individual's performance on one type of cognitive task tends to be comparable to that person's performance on other kinds of cognitive tasks." So, if you're wicked good at putting together Ikea furniture using nothing but the crap instructions that come in the box, chances are you'll also be good at solving other puzzles, too.

A group of scientists from Germany and Denmark feel that this same principle can also be used to judge exactly how evil a given individual is: if you're a malicious jerk in one corner of your life, the chances are very good that you'll be a sociopath about stuff in other areas as well. They're calling this crosshatching of shitty tendencies a "D-Factor":

From Scientific American:

Morten Moshagen and his colleagues proposed that a D-factor exists, which they define as the basic tendency to maximize one's own utility at the expense of others, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications for one's malevolent behaviors.

Read the rest

Los Angeles: Freaky "Boogeyman"-themed occult art show (opens Saturday!)

Tomorrow night, the Boogeyman descends on Los Angeles's Nicodim Gallery for an eerily compelling group art show, titled Omul Negro ("The man in black"). The theme is an exploration of evil, madmen, monsters, darkness, and the faceless (and multi-faceted) "Boogeyman" as a cultural archetype.

Above is Los Angeles artist/filmmaker/occultist Brian Butler with his "Circle and Triangle of Art for the Evocation of Bartzabel, the Daemon of Mars" that's included in the show. Brian says that the artwork was designed "in the tradition of the late British occultist Aleister Crowley" and first used in a ritual performance in 2012, of which you can enjoy the video evidence below. Brian promises that he has "activated the Work, and the demon Bartzabel will be in full effect for the opening reception tomorrow - Saturday, August 6th." The show will be on view until August 20.

Curated by Aaron Moulton, Omul Negro also includes work by:

Daniel Albrigo, Will Boone, Mike Bouchet, BREYER P-ORRIDGE, Gunter Brus, Church of Euthanasia, John Duncan, Damien Echols, Brock Enright, Bob Flanagan, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Adrian Ghenie, Douglas Gordon, John Houck, Jim Jones, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Ted Kaczynski, Daniel Keller, Mike Kelley, Marco Lavagetto, Lazaros, Lionel Maunz, Asger Kali Mason Ravnkilde Moulton, Alban Muja, Ciprian Muresan, Steven Parrino, Hamid Piccardo, Ana Prvacki, Jon Rafman, Sheree Rose, Sterling Ruby, Benja Sachau, Max Hooper Schneider, Richard Serra, Robert Therrien, Ecaterina Vrana, and Zhou Yilun.

From the show description:

Spanning forty artworks, Omul Negru is an anthropological occurrence, one comprised of both cultural enactment and ritual embodiment, invoked to explore the varied notions of the Boogeyman.

Read the rest

Zebra is a minimalist maze game that will mess up your mind

Bennett Foddy, of QWOP and Sportsfriends fame, has already destroyed your brain with Zebra. Though a very simple implementation of the classic "3D maze" genre, it renders the walls as alternating angles of zebra pattern, ensuring you'll have a skullcrushing headache within seconds. Good luck! Read the rest

Your favorite horror icons as evil vinyl figures

Just in time for Halloween, check out these cool vinyl figures of some of the most iconic characters in the horror genre, courtesy of A Large Evil Corporation. Read the rest

Obedience and fear: What makes people hurt other people?

Stanley Milgram's "Obedience to Authority" experiments are infamous classics of psychology and social behavior. Back in the 1960s, Milgram set up a series of tests that showed seemingly normal people would be totally willing to torture another human being if prodded into it by an authority figure.

The basic set-up is probably familiar to you. Milgram told his test subjects that they were part of a study on learning. They were tasked with asking questions to another person, who was rigged up to an electric shock generator. When the other person got the questions wrong, the subject was supposed to zap them and then turn up the voltage. The catch was that the person getting "zapped" was actually an actor. So was the authority figure, whose job it was to tell the test subject that they must continue the experiment, no matter how much the other person pleaded for them to stop. In Milgram's original study, 65% of the subjects continued to the end of the session, eventually "administering" 450-volt shocks.

But they weren't doing it calmly. If you read Milgram's paper, you find that these people were trembling, and digging nails into their own flesh. Some of them even had seizure-like fits. Which is interesting to know when you sit down to read about Michael Shermer's recent attempt to replicate the Milgram experiments for a Dateline segment. Told they were trying out for a new reality show, the six subjects were set up to "shock" an actor, just like in Milgram's experiments. Read the rest

Villain hair

"Possession of a terrible haircut is the Hollywood litmus test for evil" [The Awl] Read the rest