Tag Archives: Emotion

Have you met a psychopath?

The Death of Sylvia Browne

by via The Soap Box

sylviamontel_250pxYesterday one of the world’s most famous fake psychics (I know, that’s redundant) died.

Sylvia Browne, who had made many appearances on TV (most notably The Montel Williams Show and Larry King Live) died yesterday at the age of 77 (she had predicted should would die at age 88).

Now being a skeptic and someone whom believes that all psychics are frauds (apart form those that are mentally ill and really do believe that they have psychic powers) many people might assume that I am rejoicing, and perhaps even celebrating her death (especially those who believe that people can have psychic powers, or just people who don’t like skeptics).

To be quiet honest I’m not sure how I should feel about her death, because there are just so many feelings I have about it that I can’t seem to focus on one to just go with.

On the one hand I am sort of glad that she’s gone because now she can no longer hurt people and mess with their emotions with her stage magician like “readings” while at the same time exploiting those people for fame and money.

On the other hand I’m also a bit angry, not only because of her exploitation that she basically got away with up until she died, but also because she would never would come clean about being a fake, despite the numerous failed readings and predictions she has had. Now that she’s dead, she never will.

Yet on the other hand I also feel a tad bit sad for her . . .

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10 Weird Ways Your Brain Is Tricking You

Gregory Myers via Listverse

Our brain decides how we perceive everything around us. It informs our decisions, guiding us carefully through the fog that is the world around us . . . except for when it lies to us. You see, our brains are fickle friends and love to play games. Often, what we think is true is actually just our brains messing with us.

10 • Semantic Satiation

Semantic-e1382262909875_200pxHave you ever repeated a word several times and found that, after a while, it started to lose meaning? If you have, you needn’t worry—scientists have studied this phenomenon and call it semantic satiation. Studies found that as you repeat a word, your brain becomes satiated and you start to get confused about what the word even means. You see, normally when you say a word (e.g., “pen”), your brain finds the semantic information for a pen and connects the two things together. However, counter-intuitively, if you repeat the word a number of times in quick succession, your brain becomes less able to connect it with that semantic information each time.

Researchers have found practical uses for this information beyond just amusing themselves with how easily we trick ourselves—by using semantic satiation in a controlled environment, they have been able to help those who stutter, and in one case were able to help someone with coprolalia, the uncontrollable cursing sometimes associated with Tourette’s syndrome, by having him repeat his favorite curse words over and over.

9 • Peripheral Theory Of Emotion

Fear-e1382262952591_200pxLet’s say you finally get to go on that camping trip you’ve been putting off for a long time. You enjoy a long day of hiking, fishing, and other activities, then go to your tent to get some rest for the next day. When you wake up in the morning, you realize that something is horribly wrong—to be more precise, there is a bear in your tent. You might imagine that the first thing you’d feel is fear, which would result in a rapid heartbeat. But, once again, your brain is deceiving you.

According to James Lange’s theory of emotion, it actually works the other way around. His peripheral theory states that when you see the bear, your heart starts to beat faster, and only then does your brain start to think it must be afraid and send out fear signals. Those who study emotion have not been able to disprove the theory thus far, although some believe emotional responses are more of a loop.

8 • Earworms

Earworm-e1382263255348_200pxHave you ever had something incredibly terrible yet catchy stuck in your head for days at a time? Well, now you have a name for this horrible phenomenon, which scientists have dubbed an “earworm.” The explanation some scientists give basically involves your brain getting stuck in a loop. You probably remember one verse of whatever catchy song you are stuck with almost perfectly, but don’t know the rest of the song as well. After singing the first verse, your brain tries to move on to the next, but doesn’t know the rest of the song. Because your brain likes to go back to unfinished thoughts, it gets stuck in a loop, continually trying to start again and finish the song. After presumably struggling to get the Spice Girls out of their heads, a group of scientists were determined to find out how to break this spell. After a lot of study, their advice is a sort of Goldilocks philosophy—you need to focus on a cognitive activity that isn’t too easy or too hard. They suggest solving anagrams or reading a novel.

7 • Moral Dumbfounding

Moral-e1382262990179_200pxMost of us have strong opinions on issues like cannibalism and incest, with the majority of us considering them to be morally wrong. However, researchers have found that, when asked about these issues, most people’s brains sit there sluggishly, unable to come up with an appropriate response, even though the behaviors in question are considered taboo by most modern societies. This phenomenon is termed moral dumbfounding—quite simply, the subjects were “struck dumb” and unable to properly explain why they felt so strongly about an issue.

One of the scenarios described someone working with a body that was going to be cremated anyway and taking a small chunk of flesh home with her to eat. She made sure to cook it thoroughly to remove any diseases. Another told of an adult brother and sister who were on vacation and decided to get freaky, making sure they used protection. The participants were asked if what these people had done was wrong, then asked to explain why. The researchers found that people felt very strongly that these behaviors were morally wrong, but struggled mightily to verbalize their reasoning. Research has not yet explained why this response occurs. It may be that society’s taboos are simply ingrained into our consciousness so deeply that we feel a powerful moral drive against them even though we cannot logically explain why.

6 • The GPS Effect

GPS-e1382263076492_200pxDo you rely on your GPS to get everywhere? Do you even use it to navigate to familiar places? If so, perhaps you might want to consider using it less. It turns out that using GPS is an easy way to lull ourselves into a false sense of security and lose our sense of direction—too much use of GPS actually makes it harder for us to create spatial maps. Even worse, some researchers believe that if we don’t use our spatial abilities regularly, it could lead to a higher risk of early-onset dementia. The researchers suggest that we use GPS only when we don’t know the route, and use it more as a tool than a crutch.

On a more positive note, it turns out that constantly using our spatial abilities makes our brains stronger. London cabbies have to go through an extremely rigorous process to learn their routes, which only cover a 9.5-kilometer (6 mi) radius but include 25,000 streets with 320 separate routes and about 20,000 different points of interest. Researchers studying London cabbies found that not only seasoned veterans but also those who had only just taken the training had an increase in grey matter in the brain. Scientists believe the more important implication of this study is that it shows the human brain is extremely good at adapting well into adulthood.

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