Skeptikai Notices (Sep11) – 9/11, Hackers, Psychology, and more

9/11:

The international news media has been writing extensively about 9/11, because of the 10-year anniversary of the incident. I couldn’t possibly reproduce all of the articles about it, but here are some of the pieces that stood out for me…

Internet archive shows Sept. 11 coverage – A website has gathered international news broadcasts on the 9/11 attacks, totaling over 3,000 hours of television. This is useful for researchers, and it’s interesting to compare the news from different perspectives, from America, to the UK, to Japan, etc.

9/11 links round-up – The British Psychological Society (BPS) put together a list of recent articles that talked about the psychological aspects of 9/11. Some of those were very interesting.

Manhattan memory project: How 9/11 changed our brains – One piece the BPS missed was this article, which talks about the memory aspects of the attack. While memories seem to fade in many older people, events like 9/11 are remembered just as well in young as in old people. This is a good primer on memory in the context of memorable events, such as terrorism.

Did the U.S. Overreact to the 9/11 Attacks? Undoubtedly – A controversial piece from Scientific American that has been getting a lot of attention.

Hackers:

“How Tough Is It to Tell Who Launched a Cyber Attack?” – It’s not necessarily easy, but these experts say it’s certainly not impossible to track hackers. This is a concise three-minute video. More support for this opinion is provided by the next link…

Two arrested over shared Anonymous and LulzSec hacker identity – More LulzSec members (two people managed the alias “Kayla”) have been arrested. I guess they’re really not so anonymous.

Image searches ‘poisoned’ by cybercriminals – People are getting scammed even when searching for harmless pictures. But I think the author of this article missed the real story. Scamming people online has been happening since the internet first took off. What people (especially older individuals who are not accustomed to the internet) need to know is how to identify such scams.

Psychology:

Scientists find they can control how people react to group pressure“The researchers found they were able to control whether volunteers conformed to social pressure by using powerful electromagnetic pulses that changed the activity of a small part of the brain.” The research method was clever, and the results are interesting, but I wonder how far outside the laboratory these findings can really go.

Psychologists who tweet – This is a list of virtually every psychologist who is an active member of twitter, including all the big names you may have heard of, and the much less famous ones.

The Obedience Experiments at 50 – Stanley Milgram’s famous “Obedience to Authority” is one of the best-known social psychology studies ever created. 50 years ago, Milgram shocked the world with his brilliant design of simple pressure (“you must continue the experiment”), in an attempt to understand more about the system of obedience that characterized the Nazi regime from virtually every level of authority. What surprises me most is how few people in the general public actually know about this study. I know because people still – successfully – replicate these studies from all over the world, yielding the same results as half a century ago.

Think You’re An Auditory Or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It’s Unlikely – There is no such thing as an “auditory” or a “visual” learner. This is always something I always strongly doubted, and reading some of the research on this topic (the first of which I read about a year ago) confirmed my suspicions. This new research is of a review of such articles, finding no evidence for different learning styles. Teachers should not waste time on gearing classes towards these false distinctions, and instead make their classes full of variety.

Misc:

International community fails in Haiti, again – This is a fairly shocking article about the international community’s role in the deaths of Haitians. What’s so sad is that they only mean well, giving billions of dollars and sending UN troops. But in some ways, it might have been better if those UN troops had never come.

7 Ruthless Criminals Who Turned Good When Nobody Was Looking – Fascinating and funny article about 7 criminals who did good (I wouldn’t exactly say “turned good”) after planning an ordinary crime (though I wouldn’t say “ruthless” either).

Boy? Girl? Now You Can Decide, but Should You? – We now have the technology to detect the sex of a baby after 7 weeks. Social psychologist Susan Newman writes about the controversy that surrounds that decision… or whether there should even be a decision allowed.

Monogamy on the Rise – Data from 1975 to 2000 has found a marked decrease in self-reports of sexual activity outside the relationship. If the trend has been continuing, then we can say this: Chances are… we’re cheating less, or lying more.

Unbreakable: The women’s track and field record book needs to be expunged – One writer believes that it would be best to expunge the track & field record book because of the unfairness of the current record.

UK lifts ban on gay men giving blood – So it took us until 2011 to realize that there’s no such thing as gay blood.

Everything You Need to Know About Hitler’s “Missing” Testicle – An interesting article that debunks the rumour that Hitler had only one testicle, and an argument for why we should not believe it, and stop spreading it. Without having read this, I would have went on believing the rumour too. This is well-written and well-researched.

Former Iceland PM Geir Haarde goes on trial – The former prime minister of Iceland is in a special court for his role during the 2008 economic crisis. “Public opinion is divided, with some people seeing the trial of Mr Haarde as scapegoating, and others arguing that public accountability is essential following the country’s financial collapse.”

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