Tag Archives: Social Sciences

Could the pyramids be 28 million years old?

Answer: No.

by via The Soap Box

ancientaliens03a_300pxRecently I read an article on a website that promotes Ancient Aliens and trying to rewrite history in the strangest way possible about how the Pyramids in Egypt are 28 million years old (read the article here).

Now the article tries to link a comet that allegedly exploded over the region 28 million years with the creation of the pyramids, but really when I tried to read it, it just sounded like a bunch of nonsense. Infact most of it made no sense what so ever and was actually hard to read at points.

At the end of the article it makes it sound like aliens might have built the pyramids due to the sheer fact that humans were not around 28 million years ago (atleast they got the fact that humans weren’t around 28 millions years ago right).

So, are the pyramids 28 million years ago?

Not a chance.

First, if these structures were 28 million years old, then the only parts that would be left of them would be the foundations, and what ever was underneath the pyramids. Everything above would have eroded away by now.

Infact many of these pyramids are in various states of erosion due to where they are located and are almost gone. Some of them don’t even look like human made structures anymore, and look more like hills or small mountains out in the middle of the desert.

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Pyramid of Amenemhat III (Dahshur)

Pyramid of Amenemhat III (Dahshur)

Lost Secrets of Construction

▶ Lost Secrets of Construction – YouTube.

From Stonehenge to the pyramids, researchers in the modern era are uncovering fascinating information about ancient construction techniques. But is there any ancient structure that still defies explanation?

Ancient Aliens

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

For centuries, the achievements of the past baffled modern societies. How could ancient empires build architectural marvels like the pyramids or the Nazca lines? Tune in and learn more about the theorists who think they’ve found the answer.


Also see:

Ancient Aliens Debunked

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Mind Control – Brainwashing

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Mind control is the successful control of the thoughts and actions of another without his or her consent. Generally, the term implies that the victim has given up some basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes, and has been made to accept contrasting ideas. ‘Brainwashing’ is often used loosely to refer to being persuaded by propaganda.

conceptions & misconceptions of mind control

HypnotizeAnimatedThere are many misconceptions about mind control. Some people consider mind control to include the efforts of parents to raise their children according to social, cultural, moral and personal standards. Some think it is mind control to use behavior modification techniques to change one’s own behavior, whether by self-discipline and autosuggestion or through workshops and clinics. Others think that advertising and sexual seduction are examples of mind control. Still others consider it mind control to give debilitating drugs to a woman in order to take advantage of her while she is drugged. Some consider it mind control when the military or prison officers use techniques that belittle or dehumanize recruits or inmates in their attempt to break down individuals and make them more compliant. Some might consider it mind control for coaches or drill instructors to threaten, belittle, physically punish, or physically fatigue by excessive physical exercises their subjects in the effort to break down their egos and build team spirit or group identification.

mindcontrol 858_200pxSome of the tactics of some recruiters for religious, spiritual, or New Age human potential groups are called mind control tactics. Many believe that a terrorist kidnap victim who converts to or becomes sympathetic to her kidnapper’s ideology is a victim of mind control (the so-called Stockholm syndrome). Similarly, a woman who stays with an abusive man is often seen as a victim of mind control. Many consider subliminal messaging in Muzak, in advertising, or on self-help tapes to be a form of mind control. Many also believe that it is mind control to use laser weapons, isotropic radiators, infrasound, non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse generators, or high-power microwave emitters to confuse or debilitate people. Many consider the “brainwashing” tactics (torture, sensory deprivation, etc.) of the Chinese during the Korean War and the alleged creation of zombies in Voodoo as attempts at mind control.

Finally, no one would doubt that it would be a clear case of mind control to be able to hypnotize or electronically program a person so that he or she would carry out your commands without being aware that you are controlling his or her behavior.

[ . . . ]

the government and mind-control

mind control 857_200pxThere also seems to be a growing belief that the U.S. government, through its military branches or agencies such as the CIA, is using a number of horrible devices aimed at disrupting the brain. Laser weapons, isotropic radiators, infrasound, non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse generators, and high-power microwave emitters have been mentioned. It is known that government agencies have experimented on humans in mind control studies with and without the knowledge of their subjects (Scheflin 1978). The claims of those who believe they have been unwilling victims of “mind control” experiments should not be dismissed as impossible or even as improbable. Given past practice and the amoral nature of our military and intelligence agencies, such experiments are not implausible. However, these experimental weapons, which are aimed at disrupting brain processes, should not be considered mind control weapons. To confuse, disorient or otherwise debilitate a person through chemicals or electronically is not to control that person. To make a person lose control of himself is not the same as gaining control over him. It is a near certainty that our government is not capable of controlling anyone’s mind, though it is clear that many people in many governments lust after such power.

ElectroshockIn any case, some of the claims made by those who believe they are being controlled by these electronic weapons do not seem plausible. For example, the belief that radio waves or microwaves can be used to cause a person to hear voices transmitted to him seems unlikely. We know that radio waves and waves of all kinds of frequencies are constantly going through our bodies. The reason we have to turn on the radio or TV to hear the sounds or see the pictures being transmitted through the air is that those devices have receivers which “translate” the waves into forms we can hear and see. What we know about hearing and vision makes it very unlikely that simply sending a signal to the brain that can be “translated” into sounds or pictures would cause a person to hear or see anything. Someday it may be possible to stimulate electronically or chemically a specific network of neurons to cause specific sounds or sights of the experimenter’s choosing to emerge in a person’s consciousness. But this is not possible today. Even if it were possible, it would not necessarily follow that a person would obey a command to assassinate the president just because he heard a voice telling him to do so. Hearing voices is one thing. Feeling compelled to obey them is quite another. Not everyone has the faith of Abraham.

paranoid02There seem to be a number of parallels between those who think they have been abducted by aliens and those who believe their minds are being controlled by CIA implants. So far, however, the “mind-controlled group” has not been able to find their John Mack, the Harvard psychiatrist who claims that the best explanation for alien abduction claims is that they are based on alien abduction experiences, not fantasies or delusions. A common complaint from the mind-controlled is that they can’t get therapists to take them seriously. That is, they say they can only find therapists who want to treat them for their delusions, not help them prove they’re being controlled by their government. Thus, it is not likely that the “mind-controlled CIA zombies” will be accused of having delusions planted in them by therapists, as alien abductees have, since they claim they cannot get therapists to take their delusions seriously. In fact, many of them are convinced that their treatment as deluded persons is part of a conspiracy to cover up the mind control experiments done on them. Some even believe that False Memory Syndrome is part of the conspiracy. They claim that the idea of false memories is a plot to keep people from taking seriously the claims of those who are now remembering that they were victims of mind control experiments at some time in the past. It is hard to believe that they cannot find a wide array of incompetent New Age therapists willing to take their claims seriously, if not willing to claim they have been victims of such experiments themselves.

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Understanding Coincidence

By Kyle Hill via randi.org

Many people have a legitimate fear of numbers, equations, and probability. This “math anxiety” keeps much of the lay public from ever willfully learning about mathematics; indeed, ignorance in this regard is often touted. Commonly used phrases like “I’m not a numbers person” and “I hate math” betray that fact that a good portion of society does not understand math and consciously avoids it.

Comprehending this deficit and doing something about it should be taken up within our school system; we should engage students with math early, often, and more rigorously.

23 peopleBut mathematical illiteracy plays a role in perpetuating not just equation ignorance, but pseudoscience. Not understanding just how much of your life is governed by randomness generates many a fallacious belief about the way that the world works. It should be clearly understood that randomness creates coincidence. That is to say, if there were no coincidences in life, we could speculate that some outside force is controlling the events in our lives. However, with true randomness comes the expectation that coincidences will happen: there will be cancer clusters, your friend will call you just when you were thinking about them, and last night’s dream will have somehow “predicted” the events of the following day. It is with the last example, predictive dreams, which I would like to press on with. With a short lesson in randomness and probability, we can see that so-called predictive dreams (and any other event “too amazing to be a coincidence”) are nothing more than random happenings. You don’t have ESP, it’s not fate, and it’s not magic.

“I Dreamt This Would Happen!”

The purpose of this example is to show that many pseudoscientific ideas about the way the universe works are driven by a misunderstanding of randomness and probability. While predictive dreams are harmless, I would suspect that this belief characterizes the kind of thinking that underlies pseudosciences like astrology, ESP, and parapsychology.

coincidence invented

Let’s overcome our math anxiety with a dreaded word problem. Let’s stipulate that the chance of a dream to some extent matching the events of the following day is 1 in 10,000. This means that out of 10,000 dreams, the vast majority, 9,999, will not match any future events. Let’s also assume that having a non-matching dream one night will not affect the dream of the next night, so each night is independent from one another. So given these stipulations, the odds of having a dream that does not match any real life event is 9,999/10,000. When people speak about predictive dreams, it is not as though they have them every night. If this were happening, we might consider it to be more than coincidence. However, anyone who has experienced this phenomenon (myself included) will probably tell you that they do not hit a homerun every night. It is this fact, that an amazingly serendipitous event only happens once in a while, that alludes to chance as the rational explanation.

Remembering the odds above, the chance of having a dream that does not match any real life event for two nights in a row will follow the multiplication principle of probabilities, meaning that the probability is (9,999/10,000)*(9,999/10,000). Likewise, the probability that you will have a dream that does not predict anything for three nights in a row is (9,999/10,000)*(9,999/10,000)*(9,999/10,000). Following this principle, the chance that you will have successive dreams that do not match reality can be expressed as (9,999/10,000)N, where N is the number of nights. As I said above, I don’t think that anyone would say that these predictions are a common occurrence, so let’s consider a time period of one year. The probability that you will have successive dreams every night for a year that do not predict anything would be (9,999/10,0009)365, with N equal to the number of days in a year. This results in a 96.4 percent chance that people who dream every night of a year with not have any predictive dreams. 57 peopleThis of course means that over a period of one year, 3.6% of people who dream every night will have at least one dream that matches reality in some way. Consider that for a moment. Even though coincidences like these can drive people to believe in fate, precognition, ESP, etc., using our definition here we can say that these probabilities in large population would produce literally millions of predictive dreams each year! Even if we relax our standards and make a predictive dream a one-in-a-million event, it would still produce thousands upon thousands of predictive dreams each year by chance alone.

It’s not magic, it’s not fate, it’s not a spiritual connection with someone else; if there’s a likelihood that something will happen, however small, it is explained by chance alone that it is bound to happen to some people at some time. Look at what happened with the supposedly prophetic Nostradamus. He threw out a claim that had to do with two towers coming down and . . .

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… the show “Ancient Aliens”

Via The Soap Box

Ever watch the show “Ancient Aliens“, the History Channel show that claims that humans were visited by aliens in the past? Well I have, and there are some things that I have noticed about that show.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about the show “Ancient Aliens”.

5. Their answer for everything is “Aliens”.

Ancient aliens 823_300pxAccording to the “experts” on that show, almost everything we have built in the ancient world was built by aliens.

It doesn’t matter if it is a giant structure like the Great Pyramid of Giza, or some mundane but interesting object like the Baghdad Battery, or even something that was proven to be made in modern times, such as the Crystal Skulls, according to the experts on the show, they were all either built by aliens, or their construction was guided by aliens.

Heck, even our own existence is, according to them, the result of aliens messing with our genes a long time ago.

4. The “experts” have a “pics, or it didn’t happen” type mentality.

All of the “experts” on that show apparently want exact details about how a megalithic structure was built, and if they don’t have those exact details, they assume that aliens built it, not humans (where as with most scientists or archaeologists, it’s the other way around).

This is somewhat similar to the phrase “pics, or it didn’t happen” where when someone makes a claim on the internet that they did something pretty awesome, if someone is skeptical of the claim they will sometimes say “pics, or it didn’t happen”. Although some might argue that this is more of a reverse of that…

3. They get their facts way wrong.

Many of the “facts” that are presented on that show are just down right wrong. A great example of this would be many of the claims they make about Pumapunku that simply aren’t true.

According to the show Pumapunku is 14,000 years old, when in fact it’s closer to 1,500 years old. Also, according to show, the stone blocks at the site are basalt and granite. In fact the site was constructed using andesite and red sandstone.

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Also see …

Ancient Aliens Debunked

Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Mind Control

via The Soap Box

HypnotizeAnimatedEver feel like someone else is controlling your mind?

Well, that simply could be the result of stress. Or maybe you have some psychological issues. Or maybe someone else really is controlling your mind…

Yes, there really are some people out there that really do believe that their minds are being controlled by someone else, and I’m not just talking about “brain washing” either (which is very real) but actual mind control, in which someone’s mind is being directly controlled by an outside source (as oppose to brain washing, being more of an indirect control of another person’s mind, and can be broken using therapy, or just an individual’s own will power).

While there are multiple things in the world that people who claim to be victims of mind control (Target Individuals  or T.I. for short, as they tend to call themselves) claim that certain shadowy groups are using to execute this mind control, the two most common forms are telepathy, and radio waves.

Now the telepathy one is easy to explain: It doesn’t exist.

There have been multiple studies to see whether or not telepathy is real, and all of those studies have shown that, despite being popular for comic books and science fiction novels, it is not real, and that we cannot control other people’s thoughts and actions simply with our own minds.While several governments have actually tried to use people who claimed to telepathic (or train people to become telepathic) for the use of espionage purposes (which includes the US government), most of the time these programs are abandoned simply because these programs produce no results, and become they are a big waste of time and money.

mindcontrol_640px_200pxAs for the claim that radio waves (in particular, extreme low frequency radio waves) can control a person’s mind, this one also seems very highly unlikely that this would work as well (even if it could be proven to work in the first place).

For one thing, we are constantly being bombarded by radio waves from multiple sources (including natural sources), and they don’t affect us one bit, most especially our minds. Also, all studies into ELF waves have shown that (despite popular belief by T.I.s, and other conspiracy theorists) they do not affect the human minds, otherwise it would be affecting all of us all the time because many things around us give off ELF waves (one of the most common being power lines).

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Your Sixth Sense

Perhaps you’ve lived this moment before. Perhaps you’re seeing yourself at a distance, as never before. Anomalous experiences are real and life-changing. That doesn’t mean they occur outside your own head.

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By Matthew Hutson via Psychology Today

Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve felt someone staring at you. Maybe you were at the grocery store.looking-back-over-my-shoulder_300px Maybe walking along the sidewalk. Maybe sitting on a bus. And sure enough, when you turned your head to look, the suspect’s eyes met yours.

You just had an anomalous experience.

The job of the conscious mind is to form a story out of all our sensations and reflections. Life as we experience it is not just a series of unconnected thoughts and events; it’s a coherent narrative unfolding in an orderly universe. But sometimes we have experiences that don’t fit our expectations and may even contradict what science has taught us is possible. In our attempts to accommodate such outlier phenomena, we often turn to unproven forces or entities. We start to believe in the paranormal.

Anomalous experience of this sort ranges from sensing a strange vibe in a room to feeling outside your own body. We often explain such experiences using concepts related to spirits, luck, witchcraft, psychic powers, life energy, or more terrestrial (and extraterrestrial) entities. Such explanations are often more appealing, or at least more intuitive, than blaming an odd experience on a trick of the mind.

astralt_250pxOne of the most common anomalous experiences is the sense of being stared at. When you see someone gazing directly at you, emotions become activated—it can be exciting or comforting or creepy—and this visceral charge can give the impression that gazes transfer energy. Further, if you feel uncomfortable and check to see whether someone is looking at you, your movement may draw attention—confirming your suspicions.

Another common experience is déjà vu, a phenomenon two in three people report. Most of us shrug it off as a mental hiccup. Indeed, researchers propose it’s a sense of familiarity without a recollection of why something is familiar, or perhaps a timing issue in the brain where thoughts are experienced twice because of a slight wiring delay, lending the second occurrence an odd sensation of repetition. But some people believe it’s a glimpse into a past life.

While anomalous experiences may be associated with stressful circumstances, personal pathologies, or cognitive deficits, the experiences themselves may not always be so bad, and may actually be healthy inventions. They’re just our attempts to make sense of a weird situation. After all, there’s nothing the mind likes better than a good story.

Meaningful Coincidences

photoalbum_250pxAlex and Donna Voutsinas were leafing through family photo albums a week before their wedding in 2002 when one picture caught Alex’s eye. In the foreground was Donna, five years old, posing at Disney World with one of the Seven Dwarves. Behind them was Alex’s father pushing a stroller. And in the stroller was Alex. The boy’s family was visiting from Canada, and the two children would not meet until 15 years later. When he saw the photo, Alex said, “I got chills. It was just too much of a coincidence. It was fate.”

Nearly anyone would get chills in such a situation, but it takes a lot less—hearing the same new word twice in an hour, meeting someone who shares our birthday—to make us pause and say, “Well, how about that!” Such moments occur when we spot patterns, an ability (and compulsion) built into the brain from the earliest stages of perception. Pattern-finding lets us make sense of sensory input (those four legs are part of a table) and to predict regularities in our environment (apples fall down, not up; they’re often tasty; and throwing them makes people mad).

Pattern-finding is so central to survival and success that we see patterns everywhere, even in random data—a phenomenon called apophenia. We spot faces in clouds and hear messages in records played backward. And while we expect some level of order in the world, on occasion our pattern-spotting gets away from us and makes a connection we wouldn’t expect. When that happens, we demand, at least subconsciously, an explanation.

It turns out that our favorite kinds of explanations involve “agents”—beings capable of intentional action. The agent could be a person, a god, or a superintelligent robot. We’re biased to blame even simple events on agents—spotting them or their footprints allows us to manage them if they are dangerous: It is better to mistake a twig for a snake than to mistake a snake for a twig.

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The Straight Dope: Do tinfoil helmets provide adequate protection against mind control rays?

By Cecil Adams via The Straight Dope

Dear Cecil:

Some people believe that wearing a tinfoil helmet will protect them from mind control rays (or other forms of secret coercion). But if their intent is to create a “Faraday cage” to protect the brain from intrusive electromagnetic rays, wouldn’t it be more effective to use something a little more solid — say, an infantry helmet? And even then, wouldn’t it have to be grounded to work? Admittedly, looking for logical consistency in a conspiracy theory isn’t the wisest thing in the world, but usually they have a semblance of internal coherence.

tin-foil-hat03_200pxA lot of people probably think helmets to ward off mind control rays were invented by some smart-ass having a little fun with the feebs. Uh-uh. Check out the detailed instructions for creating your own helmet (using metal window-screen mesh) at http://multistalkervictims.org/mcf/starshld.htm (Archived here – PDF).

“What I did was make a hood like you see on a hooded sweatshirt,” inventor Leia Jessira Starfire writes, “and to make this thing look ‘natural’ you can actually attach this hood to a sweatshirt so that you don’t stand out like a sore thumb and look like a dork. The more odd we look the easier it is for others to justify their claims that we are just a bunch of loonies making this all up. Even if we do have miles of evidence and X-ray proof.  I also put a drawstring under this as well to cinch the back down because this is the important area where most transmitter/receivers seem to be.” One more thing: “Duct tape — very important.

ALEXJONESFOIL_250pxMs. Starfire says the shield works. “For me this has been such a relief. As for the telepaths, I have learned to recognize them and ignore them and without their transmitters to force me to acknowledge them and force me to open up to them I can keep all the voices out because of the [radio frequency] shield hood!!!”

See, scoffers? It works. Every bit as effective as homeopathic pills. Still, you have to wonder whether this is truly a cost-effective solution. As Straight Dope Science Advisory Board stalwart Jill notes, “I just ignore the telepaths. The worst thing you can do is block them and piss them off. When it gets to be too much, I put my fingers in my ears and sing, ‘FLINTSTONES, MEET THE FLINTSTONES.'”

Moreover, from an engineering standpoint, the Starfire shield frankly bites. What these people need is professional help.

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The Halo Effect

via Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking

halo_effect 1126The halo effect refers to a bias whereby the perception of a positive trait in a person or product positively influences further judgments about traits of that person or products by the same manufacturer. One of the more common halo effects is the judgment that a good looking person is intelligent and amiable.

There is also a reverse halo effect whereby perception of a negative or undesirable trait in individuals, brands, or other things influences further negative judgments about the traits of that individual, brand, etc. If a person “looks evil” or “looks guilty” you may judge anything he says or does with suspicion; eventually you may feel confident that you have confirmed your first impression with solid evidence when, in fact, your evidence is completely tainted and conditioned by your first impression. The hope that the halo effect will influence a judge or jury is one reason some criminal lawyers might like their clients to be clean-shaven and dressed neatly when they appear at trial.

The phrase was coined by psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1920 to describe the way commanding officers rated their soldiers. He found that officers usually judged their men as being either good or bad “right across the board. There was little mixing of traits; few people were said to be good in one respect but bad in another.”* The old saying that first impressions make lasting impressions is at the heart of the halo effect. If a soldier made a good (or bad) first impression on his commanding officer, that impression would influence the officer’s judgment of future behavior. It is  very unlikely that given a group of soldiers every one of them would be totally good or totally bad at everything, but the evaluations seemed to indicate that this was the case. More likely, however, the earlier perceptions either positively or negatively affected those later perceptions and judgments.

The halo effect seems to ride on the coattails of confirmation bias: once we’ve made a judgment about positive or negative traits, that judgment influences future perceptions so that they confirm our initial judgment.

Some researchers have found evidence that student evaluations of their college instructors are formed and remain stable after only a few minutes or hours in class.  If a student evaluated a teacher highly early on in the course, he or she was likely to rank the teacher highly at the end of the course. Unfortunately, for those teachers who made bad first impressions on the students, their performance over the course of the term would be largely irrelevant to how they would be perceived by their students.

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The Science Of Lucid Dreaming

via LifesLittleMysteries.com

A lucid dream occurs when the dreamer is aware of the events happening during the dream. Studies suggest that a person can learn to lucid dream by some simple steps outlined in this video. Lucid dreams are strongly associated with REM sleep. REM sleep is more abundant just before being awake. Other ways to practice are to keep a dream journal or practice reality checks like turning on a light switch.

Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams

via Listverse

dreams-max10241_250pxThis afternoon I had a (very rare) nap. During that nap I had a lucid dream (most of which I no longer remember). As I was waking up, I was thinking about my dream and thought that it would be a great idea to write a list about dreams for the site. So, here are the top 10 amazing facts about dreams.

• 10. Blind People Dream

People who become blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are born blind do not see any images, but have dreams equally vivid involving their other senses of sound, smell, touch and emotion. It is hard for a seeing person to imagine, but the body’s need for sleep is so strong that it is able to handle virtually all physical situations to make it happen.

• 9. You Forget 90% of your Dreams

Within 5 minutes of waking, half of your dream if forgotten. Within 10, 90% is gone. The famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, woke one morning having had a fantastic dream (likely opium induced) – he put pen to paper and began to describe his “vision in a dream” in what has become one of English’s most famous poems: Kubla Khan. dream-mirror-dreams-can-come-true-31082814-900-900_300pxPart way through (54 lines in fact) he was interrupted by a “Person from Porlock“. Coleridge returned to his poem but could not remember the rest of his dream. The poem was never completed.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
[…]

Curiously, Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the story of Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde whilst he was dreaming. Wikipedia has more on that here. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also the brainchild of a dream.

• 8. Everybody Dreams

Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder) but men and women have different dreams and different physical reactions. Men tend to dream more about other men, while women tend to dream equally about men and women. In addition, both men and women experience sexually related physical reactions to their dreams regardless of whether the dream is sexual in nature; males experience erections and females experience increased vaginal blood flow.

• 7. Dreams Prevent Psychosis

17paddedcelljune5-tm_250pxIn a recent sleep study, students who were awakened at the beginning of each dream, but still allowed their 8 hours of sleep, all experienced difficulty in concentration, irritability, hallucinations, and signs of psychosis after only 3 days. When finally allowed their REM sleep the student’s brains made up for lost time by greatly increasing the percentage of sleep spent in the REM stage. [Source

• 6. We Only Dream of What We Know

Our dreams are frequently full of strangers who play out certain parts – did you know that your mind is not inventing those faces – they are real faces of real people that you have seen during your life but may not know or remember? The evil killer in your latest dream may be the guy who pumped petrol in to your Dad’s car when you were just a little kid. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces through our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.

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Mayan End of the World Countdown

End of the World 2012 Countdown Timer

December 21, 2012: Some predict the end of the world, some predict the beginning of a new era. The basis for these claims is based on the Ancient Mayan calendar. It may seem silly to base a prediction off an ancient civilization‘s calendar but the Mayans were a highly mathematically advanced civilization. Their calendar is not only mathematically complex, it is also highly accurate…

http://www.worldend.org/2012/clock-countdown.html

Eyewitness to the Paranormal: The Experimental Psychology of the ‘Unexplained’

via CSI | The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

Research in experimental psychology has shown that many paranormal sightings fall directly within the realm of eyewitness memory. Experiments reveal that such “sightings” derive from the psychology of the observers rather than from supernatural sources. Experiments show these proclivities.

If many sources on cable TV and the Internet are to be believed, the world is currently under attack by a variety of supernatural forces, apparently acting in concert.

Such reports are ubiquitous. Aliens appear at night on deserted country roads. The ghosts of hoary and defunct Scottish peers turn up on castle battlements, demanding retribution for ancient defeats at the hands of the Sassenach. Bigfoot, all eight or nine feet of him, runs past a given cabin on his way to some cryptozoological tryst—and all of it winds up on television.

What, exactly, is going on?

There is a difficulty in explaining many of these paranormal “sightings.” At first, one might expect that the witnesses to these phenomena would be residents of the wilder shores of psychological instability; however, many of the people who report these things are sober, educated, reasonable individuals. Many are ac­tively adverse to publicity, and an ap­preciable fraction of them passes polygraph tests. In short, many of these witnesses—in fact, probably the majority of them—are neither lying nor mentally ill. They have normal nervous systems, and they are convinced that they have experienced something extraordinary.

Logically, therefore, there are only two viable explanations for the events these people claim to experience. Either Bigfoot, the ghosts, and the Gray aliens actually exist, or the individual witnesses to these exotic beings have actually observed and misinterpreted relatively prosaic phenomena. If the latter is the case, then these misinterpretations are very literally eyewitness errors and, as such, are governed by the same psychological principles that operate in eyewitness processes in the forensic world.

Eyewitness Memory and the ‘Paranormal’

On average, most of us think of eyewitness memory in relatively narrow terms, such as criminal identification via police lineups. In fact, the eyewitness field has much broader significance both in the criminal justice system and beyond. Every human phenomenon involving reportage—from recall of childhood memories in psychotherapy to the observation of a planetary transit—coalesces around some kind of account of some variety of human experience. This means that the processes involved in eyewitness cognition per se are continually operating, albeit at a relatively subtle level, through the entire fabric of human existence.

Unfortunately, eyewitness memories are frequently wrong. In my own work I have found that people, including and perhaps especially jurors, tend to think of the human nervous system as some kind of digital recorder, faithfully reproducing what we’ve actually seen when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Eighty years ago (Bartlett 1932) it was demonstrated that human memories become reconfigured—changed in terms of gist, brevity, and personal belief. Our memories lose detail; they become shorter; and what we think we’ve seen frequently replaces what we’ve actually seen. These aspects of human memory have been reconfirmed by modern studies (e.g., Ahlberg and Sharps 2002) and have been shown as far back as the 1970s to be directly important for eyewitness memory; for example, Loftus (1975) showed that witnesses will typically “remember,” and confidently re­port, the color of a barn in a given scene as red even when there is no barn in the scene to be observed. This illustrates the effect of personal belief on an individual’s memory. People generally expect barns to be red; therefore, when Loftus asked experimental witnesses for the color of the barn they had seen, their imaginations obligingly provided the most typical color even though no actual barn had been presented to them.

Our recent experimental research has underscored this effect (Sharps et al. 2009; see also Sharps 2010). In studies of witness errors derived from a violent crime scene, the most prevalent error
(an average of nearly two errors of this type per witness) was a mistake in the physique or clothing of a gun-wielding perpetrator. However, the second most prevalent error (an average of 1.25 errors of this type per witness) was one of “inference, extrapolation, or imagination”: in other words, the average witness simply made up, out of whole cloth, one and one-quarter nonexistent “facts” about a given violent crime.

‘Seeing’ the Supernatural

Human memory, therefore, is malleable: what you see is not necessarily what you get. This concept has obvious relevance to sightings of the “unexplained.” It is clearly possible for a human being …

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Headache-Inducing Spiral Illusion Explained

Four Circles Illusion

By Natalie Wolchover via LifesLittleMysteries.com

Warning: This optical illusion might give you a headache. At a glance, the swirls of tilted black-and-white squares create the perception of a spiral. Look more closely and you realize that the squares don’t form a coil at all; they trace out four perfectly round, concentric circles. The cognitive dissonance between your overall impression of spiraling and your recognition of individual circles … well, it hurts.

This “intertwining illusion” sends the brain conflicting cues.
CREDIT: Pinna & Gregory, 2002

The illusion — called the “intertwining illusion” — has been a hit on social media recently, and it also happens to be the subject of study by researchers around the world. Because optical illusions harness the shift between what the eyes see and what the brain perceives, teasing out how that shift happens enables scientists to understand the inner workings of the human visual system.

When confronted with an optical illusion, or any other scene, “the visual system is interested in inferring what regions of an image are part of the same object or were made by the same process,” explained Alvin Raj, a researcher in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who uses spiral illusions to study peripheral vision mechanisms.

But in this case, the visual system receives conflicting cues: Some say “circle,” and some say “spiral.” At the periphery of your vision, the spiral cues win.

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Researching a Non-Issue | Bright Mind (NLP – lying eyes)

How Incompetent Trainers Have Allowed Facts to Be Misrepresented

via Bright Mind Blog

Some time back I went to a training presented on detecting deception (and a few other related topics).  The trainer was a retired police officer who taught several different approaches and perspectives, including one strategy that I, myself, had come up with some years ago (independently) based on one of Sun Tsu‘s principles.  However, mid-way through, when talking about ways to recognize deception, he told a room full of 60+ counselors, correction officers, and managers, that NLP teaches that if people look up and to their right, they’re lying.

I have to admit, I got really agitated, because he was wrong in OH! so many ways! I thrashed around in my chair and at the next break, went up to speak with him, but he made it clear he wasn’t interested in having his facts (which were wrong on multiple levels) corrected.  I had people coming up to me afterwards for clarification because they knew something was wrong with what he was saying, and I had to explain over and over what was going on.

He’s not alone in this.  The movie The Negotiator from 1998, while dramatic as all get out, oversimplified the concept of eye accessing painfully and reinforced a popular myth about NLP and detecting lies, one that has become so pervasive that researchers in the UK felt it needful to debunk that myth with actual research.  And I have to say, I do not blame them, not really.  They’re wrong in that NLP does NOT claim a person who looks up and to the right is lying, but ignorant people who don’t really know NLP DO claim that NLP claims a person who looks up and right is lying.  Sadly, there are more people that are ignorant of this than there should be.

The premise is this: people move their eyes as they speak or think because they are accessing different parts of their brain.  A person who is is right handed will usually look up and to his left if he’s remembering a picture (note that I said usually–there are several categories of exception) and will frequently look up and to his right if he’s doing something with the pictures in his mind other than remembering them whole.  He might be looking only at a cut-out in his mind’s eye, or he might be imagining cartoon characters, but he is somehow tweaking the pictures in his mind.  Usually.  Thus, when that fellow looks up and left, we say he’s accessing Visual Remembered and when he looks up and right we say he is accessing Visual Creative.

Here’s where people who were eager for an easy way to detect lies went and messed the whole thing up.

Keep reading: Researching a Non-Issue | Bright Mind.

NLP and reading people’s eyes

via Examiner.com

NLP or neuro linguistic programming is a controversial area of psychology that deals with how our thought processes relate to our bodies and our body movements. One of the most interesting aspects of NLP has to do with the subject of “eye accessing cues”. According to NLP theory the human eye moves in unique ways depending on what a person is thinking about.

American psychologist William James first suggested the idea that eye movements might be related to our thought processes in 1890. Robert Dilts, Richard Bandler, and John Grinder later expanded upon the theory in the 1970s.

According to the neurological research conducted by Dilts, Bandler, and Grinder our eyes move both laterally (left and right) and vertically (up and down) depending upon what types of thoughts our brain is processing.

NLP defines various quadrants or directions of human eye movement. When our eyes move laterally to the left, it is called “visual remembering” and it means we are attempting to recall or remember something. For example, if someone were asked, “What color was your first car?” we would expect their eyes to move the left, actually to the left and slightly upwards, since they are recalling an “image”. (The upward movement in the eye indicates that the information that is being recalled is “visual” or some type of image.)

Keep Reading: NLP and reading people’s eyes – Philadelphia Mental Health | Examiner.com.

Conscious Continuity: Ourselves, Others and Oddities

by via Mysterious Universe

Have you ever seen someone you thought you knew, maybe from a short distance, and you thought for certain that you were seeing a friend? The hair, the height, the way they walked, and even the clothes they wore… all these things seemed to match the person you thought you were seeing… until that is, you get close enough to realize that it was actually somebody else who merely looked like the friend or acquaintance y0u thought you’d seen.

This kind of phenomenon has lent itself to a variety of interpretations of what might be called doppleganger phenomenon, as well as philosophical notions of what exactly consciousness is, and how we use it to relate to others around us. Often, it seems that there is something fundamentally deeper about the nature of the human experience, and that rather than just being physical bodies moving around and interacting with one another on a day-to-day basis, there indeed might be more to the proverbial pie than just the aroma we’re able to catch from time to time… especially when it comes to strange phenomena.

For instance, from a rather personal perspective, I’ve often likened various past loves that have come and gone to being repeated manifestations of a single sort of greater feminine archetype I’ve encountered, rather than merely being individuals I’ve known over the years. Sometimes, I’ve even encountered strange sorts of synchronicity and other manifestations of a curious nature in this regard: one girl I had known, for instance, took to calling me by a nickname which a previous girlfriend had used for me, with no prior knowledge of that nickname being appended to me in the past. Granted, I’m not literally suggesting that every girl I’ve dated over the years has been the same woman in some surreal, cosmic sense. However, I think that in terms of Jungian psychology, there are from time to time various “manifestations” of things that are familiar to us, shades of which might occasionally pour through the fabric of physical existence between people we know, revealing themselves in startling ways.

I bring up Carl Jung here since it was he who first supposed that all people might be interconnected by a greater “collective subconsciousness”, as he called it.

Keep Reading: Conscious Continuity: Ourselves, Others and Oddities | Mysterious Universe.

Seeing Sound, Tasting Color: Synesthesia

“There are many different forms,” says David Eagleman, a neuroscientist known for his ability to garner important insights into the nature of perception and consciousness through idiosyncratic methods. “Essentially, any cross-blending of the senses that you can think of, my colleagues and I have found a case somewhere.”

Seeing Sound, Tasting Color: Synesthesia – YouTube.
See Also: Synesthesia – The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking: inattentional blindness

Inattentional blindness is an inability to perceive something that is within one’s direct perceptual field because one is attending to something else. The term was coined by psychologists Arien Mack and Irvin Rock, who identified the phenomenon while studying the relationship of attention to perception. They were able to show that, under a number of different conditions, if subjects were not attending to a visual stimulus but were attending to something else in the visual field, a significant percentage of the subjects were “blind” to something that was right before their eyes.

Because this inability to perceive, this sighted blindness, seemed to be caused by the fact that subjects were not attending to the stimulus but instead were attending to something else … we labeled this phenomenon inattentional blindness (IB).*

Mack and Rock go on to argue that, in their view, “there is no conscious perception without attention.” We might add that visual perception does not work like a video or any other kind of recorder. Objects or movements may occur in the visual field that are not attended to and may not be consciously or unconsciously perceived. Things can change in the visual field without our being aware of the changes. Perception, like memory, is a constructive process, and it seems that the brain builds its representations from a few salient details, often determined by our purposes or desires. Thus, two people may witness the same events but see and remember quite different things, even if both are good observers paying close attention to what is going on.

Read More: Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking: inattentional blindness.

Where’s the science in the search for Sasquatch?

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency recently issued a statement indicating it knew of no evidence of the existence of “aquatic humanoids.”

This remarkable statement was prompted by calls from viewers of Animal Planet’s “Mermaids: the Body Found,” which claimed such creatures exist. A swarm of television programs, listed as “scientific” and “reality based,” perpetuate similar pseudoscientific ideas that are gobbled up by viewers, especially kids.

This incident illustrates a dangerous trend: Viewers’ acceptance of claims made by untrained laypeople as authoritative, and their simultaneous rejection of work done by experts in science, history and politics. This idea argues that egg-headed specialists — with a lifetime of focused academic work, peer-reviewed scholarship and study — are hiding the “truth” from us so that the only way to get answers is from down-home folks with little schooling but good sense. In other words, formal education is bad.

Keep Reading: Where’s the science in the search for Sasquatch? | NJ.com.

2012 apocalypse

The 2012 apocalypse is the belief that civilization as we know it will come to an end in 2012. This bizarre idea was inspired by the Mayan calendar,[1] which completes a cycle on the day corresponding to our Gregorian calendar date of December 21st 2012 CE. Some authors try to tie this all in with Christian, Jewish and Muslim end times beliefs. But it is not going to happen so we don’t have to worry about it.

Emotional breakdown and even suicide among people who take all this seriously is feared. [2]

The belief that this is a prediction of the world ending is something akin to believing the world is going to end on December 31st 1999 because the year 2000 starts with a 2 instead of a 1. An even more apt description is that it is the equivalent of believing the world will end on December 31 because you have to throw away this year’s calendar, and go out and buy a new one for next year.

A number of pop culture books and websites have tried to give this idea some scientific support,[3] but as per normal with pseudoscience, only the evidence that fits the belief is cited.

Keep Reading: 2012 apocalypse – RationalWiki.

Notion That Liars Glance to the Right Debunked

Conventional wisdom has it that when people talk, the direction of their eye movements reveals whether or not they’re lying. A glance up and to the left supposedly means a person is telling the truth, whereas a glance to the upper right signals deceit. However, new research thoroughly debunks these notions. As it turns out, you can’t smell a liar by where he looks.

Researchers in the United Kingdom investigated the alleged correlation between eye direction and lying after realizing it was being taught in behavioral training courses, seminars and on the Web without the support of a shred of scientific evidence. The idea has its roots in a largely discredited 1970s theory called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a set of techniques intended to help people master social interactions.

Keep Reading: Notion That Liars Glance to the Right Debunked | LifesLittleMysteries.com.
Related: The eyes don’t have it: New research into lying and eye movements.

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