Archive for the 'Psychology' category

The Cult of Christ

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The following video is an instructional parody on the program, "How to be a cult leader." This video is interlaced with real footage of Christians engaging in behavior that is identical to brainwashed cult members.

Although the vast majority of Christians do not engage in the extreme behavior depicted in this video, the kinds of abuse propagated in the name of Christianity must be brought to the attention of moderate Christians everywhere.
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The Internet

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The video trailer of this theatre performance, The Internet, looks very interesting, but as usual with anything interesting, I have to be in NYC to see it. If you are in NYC, please do go see it and report back to me what you thought of it, okay?
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Phil Plait: Don't Be A Dick

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In late July 2010, Bad Astronomer and skeptic, Phil Plait, gave a thoughtful public presentation called "Don't Be A Dick." This presentation discusses how one presents their skepticism to the public and how they discuss it publicly. There was a lot of positive reaction to the talk, but also some criticism.
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Laurie Santos: How Monkeys Mirror Human Irrationality

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A monkey economy is as irrational as our human economy. Why do people make irrational decisions in such a predictable way? Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. This video documents a clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" showing how some of the silly choices we make are made by monkeys, too.
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Distressed Ravens Show That Empathy Is For The Birds, Too

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Common Raven, Corvus corax, showing off at Bryce Canyon National Park, USA.
Image: United States National Park Service (Public Domain) [larger view]

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for

Humans have long tried to distinguish themselves from other animals on the basis of characters that are perceived to be unique, such as tool design and use, planning for the future and the seemingly "human" capacity for empathy. But one by one, these "unique" characters are found to be shared with other animals. For example, early research shows that making and using tools is shared with our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. Since we have a shared evolutionary ancestry, this is not terribly surprising. But when a distantly related animal, such as the New Caledonian Crow, Corvus moneduloides, demonstrates that they also are very capable tool-makers and users [DOI: 10.1126/science.1073433], evolutionary biologists sat up and took note. As if that wasn't enough, once again, another feature of human "uniqueness" is being called into question because new research has documented what many bird watchers have known for decades; ravens apparently console their friends after an aggressive conflict with a flockmate.

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TEDTalks: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy: Inside a School for Suicide Bombers

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Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy takes on a terrifying question: How does the Taliban convince children to become suicide bombers? Propaganda footage from a training camp is intercut with interviews of young camp graduates. A shocking vision.

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Did Religion Have an Evolutionary Value?

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Richard Dawkins argues that humanity's historical predisposition towards religion and supernatural beliefs may have held an evolutionary utility. "The rule of thumb: 'Believe whatever your parents tell you,' quite clearly could have survival value," says Dawkins.

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Scientology Beliefs On Soul

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This is an interview with Tommy Davis, international Scientology spokesman, regarding the tragic death of Jett Travolta due to the medical neglect that their cult demands from its adherents, including Jett's parents. Davis is very scummy because he never gives a straight answer to any question asked. I also have embedded some other videos of Davis, where he reveals his less than angelic side.

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TEDTalks: Daniel Kahneman Talks About The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory

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Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness.

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The Psychology Behind Wrapping Paper [Reprise]

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Besides bright lights, my favorite thing about the holidays is wrapping gifts. I love covering a boxed gift with colored papers (or even with plain brown paper bags), I get tremendous satisfaction from folding the paper so it makes precise corners and then I especially enjoy decorating the wrapped gift with bows, ribbons and toy flowers and birds, christmas ornaments or other decorations. I also enjoy figuring out how to wrap unusually shaped objects. However, my most favorite thing to do is to place a wrapped gift inside a series of wrapped boxes, so the eventual discovery of the gift inside is postponed for as long as possible. I enjoy wrapping gifts so much that I sometimes think I should open a small business that focuses specifically on doing this.
But what does gift-wrapping do for the recipient? Is all this effort worth it for the recipient? For example, do recipients actually like gift-wrapped presents more than unwrapped gifts?

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