Archive for the ‘ Tyler ’ Category

Art as Propaganda

As it turns out, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was using artwork from the abstract expressionist (AbEx) movement to glorify the freedoms afforded under a non-communist government during the Cold War years (link). Work from the main-stays of the AbEx movement (e.g. Pollock & De Kooning) were on tour throughout Europe in at least one show known as “The New American Painting.” A complete list of the artists included can be found here (Wiki link).

Would be interesting to know more about the effectiveness of such a campaign, or the effectiveness of similar propaganda efforts. I do know that Psychological Operations units still exist in the military.

Seated Woman (J. Tworkov)

The Name I (B. Newman)

– Posted by Tyler

“Folie a Deux”

I’ve always been fascinated by Folie a Deux, a psychological disorder characterized by two people sharing the same delusion(s). Considering the recent behavior of actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evi Quaid, people are starting to consider whether or not the disorder could be an explanation (link).

Remember when Mr. Quaid was just Cousin Eddie from National Lampoons? I do.

-posted by Tyler

Jobs of Affective Scientists are safe, for now

The Fox TV show Lie to Me is based loosely on the work of Dr. Paul Ekman. Actually, to say it is loosely based on Ekman’s work is probably an overstatement. Ekman is a psychologist known for his research on emotions, namely the universality of basic emotions (i.e. happy, sad, fear, anger, disgust, surprise).

In contrast, the main character of the show is a entrepreneur-scientist who solves crimes based on emotional clues of witnesses and suspects. Paul Ekman actually has a weekly blog about the show, and he says that “most of what you see is based on scientific evidence,” but admits that the show takes poetic license.

Now get this, research is being done on a TV show based on research! How Meta! The executive summary of the research reported here is that the jobs of affective scientists are safe.

Lie to Me appears to increase skepticism at the cost of accuracy,” reports a research team led by Timothy Levine, a professor of communication at Michigan State University. Its study, published in the journalCommunication Research, finds watching the drama increases suspicion of others even as it reduces one’s ability to detect deception.

-Posted by Tyler

The Limits of Democratizing Data Collection

There is an interesting article by Gary Wolfe at NYTimes (link) about people’s self-tracking behavior and the data that is accumulated. People count calories, document fitness regimens, keep calendars, and on and on and on. People have long tracked their behavior but now, rather than using pencil and paper, it is digital, often widely available (e.g. through Facebook, Twitter, 4square, MyFitnessPal), and it’s in a form that can be analyzed. This last piece is crucial, while the accumulated data is in a form that can be analyzed, some people might not have the knowledge to do so — a point made in the piece and the focus of this post.

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Multi-Task Supers: What’s so Special about These People?

There is a glut of evidence that shows divided attention leads to decreased performance. Using a cellular phones and texting while driving have been particularly hot news topics, one of our own bloggers posted on this recently (link). But even more recently several news outlets (Nat. Geo., Time, MSNBC) have run articles about a new study showing a small group of people that can ACTUALLY multi-task without performance detriments.

Who are these Supertaskers? and what’s so special about them? Strayer had this to say about this specialness during one interview:

There is clearly something special about the supertaskers. Why can they do something that most of us cannot? Psychologists may need to rethink what they know about multitasking in light of this new evidence. We may learn from these very rare individuals that the multitasking regions of the brain are different and that there may be a genetic basis for this difference.

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Aliens are Just Like Us — Lazy

If extra-terrestial life is so probable given the amount of planets there are in the universe, then why haven’t we (SETI) made contact with any?

The answer is simple to Geoffrey Miller of SEED magazine, he says we’re lazy and so are the aliens (link). In a nutshell, he claims we’ve become so interested in virtual technology and self-stimulation that we’ve lost the “cosmic plot” and the motivation to search.

-Posted by Tyler

Note. I had scheduled an appointment to go skydiving over spring break but the weather thwarted me, rather than rescheduling, I got an iPod. Call me lazy.

Understanding the Brain

TIME magazine has a nice interactive feature about the various and oft parallel attempts to understand the brain. Ancient beliefs (e.g. trephination), to Anatomy (Phineas Gage), to Psychology’s contributions, to Disorders and Neuroscience are all included.


-Posted by Tyler