Monthly Archives: January 2013

What is Rakugo?

Rakugo

Rakugo isn’t a word the English-speaking world knows; but if one Canadian can help it, the Western hemisphere will know it soon enough. The 42-year-old “Katsura Sunshine,” as he’s known, is trying to bring English rakugo to stages all around the world. Rakugo has a long history, dating back hundreds of years. It was first used to entertain lords and aristocrats, and eventually evolved into the long form of rakugo we can see today. But… what exactly is it?

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How Many Teenage Daughters Are Meeting Strangers from the Internet Offline?

Hot teen girl with laptop

A new study has just come out which reveals something about the relationship between technology and our social lives. At no time in history have we been so technologically connected to one another. We can get and stay in contact with people at any hour of the day from virtually anywhere on the planet. The reason I’m saying this is because I don’t want you to be too shocked when I tell you the percentage of teenage girls are meeting people offline.

Posted in Culture, Japan, Psychology, Science, Sex and Sexuality, Social Psych, Technology | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Vaccine Psychology – Part 1: Vaccine Price Influences Perceived Risk of Infection

Money Syringe

Even the adults who are rational enough to know that vaccines are a good thing (as opposed to the horribly misguided anti-vaccination movement) are still susceptible to the irrationalities of our own psychology. A study published earlier this month from Tulane University in New Orleans, America, has found that the cost of getting vaccinated influences people’s perception of how likely they are to contract a virus.

Posted in Medicine & Health, Psychology, Science | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Can the Colour of the Cup Change the Flavour of What’s Inside?

Coffee mug

Researchers haven’t found that the colour of a cup actually changes the taste of a cup of hot chocolate… but they have found that it influences your gustatory experience of it. That is to say, your brain sees the colour of the cup, which influences the way it processes the actual taste of the hot chocolate. This is a simple psychology study that nicely adds to the research literature that shows how ignorant we are of things that influence us.

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Skeptikai Turns Two Years Old!

Overhead jpn BG art

The blogging on Skeptikai started two years ago, and I’m happy to say things have been going well since then. I’m always learning new things, and the site itself has been growing faster than I had expected. If you’re a recurring reader, I encourage you to leave a comment on what things you like/dislike about the site. I’ll do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like if I can. Anyways, here are my thoughts, achievements, and failures, regarding the past year of blogging.

Posted in Blogging | 10 Comments

The Brain is Not Simply Split into Two Totally Separate Halves, and Other Lessons on Skepticism

left brain right brain WRONG

One year ago, I wrote an article that skewered the infographic that one website had been sending to the public. I showed the evidence that contradicted what was claimed, and I ended up busting two persistent myths in that article. The first myth was that the two hemispheres of the brain (right and left) were radically different sections of the brain; the second myth was that people have distinct learning styles, which make some people “visual learners,” while others are “audial learners,” etc. I don’t mind explaining this stuff to laypeople, but there’s something unnerving about the email I got from one of the creators of the infographic.

Posted in Blogging, Media, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science, Skepticism | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Egyptian Satirists Are in Serious Danger of Angering the Authorities

Bassem Youssef with Morsi pillow

If you watch any of the English-subtitled videos of Bassem Youssef, you get the distinct feeling that his TV show “AlBernameg” is the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. This is by no means a coincidence, because Youssef, an Egyptian satirist, modelled his show after the American comedian’s. In fact, Youssef has even been on Stewart’s show before. But unlike Stewart, Youssef does not live in a country where free speech is a constitutional right. That’s why he is now at threat of being prosecuted for insulting the highest authority in the country.

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In-Laws Bring A Couple Together… or Tear Them Apart

Meet the Parents lie detector with Greg and Pam's dad

A new study has shed some light on the influence in-laws can have on a relationship, and what kinds of dynamics are positive and negative. There are many surprising things about this study, but one thing I want to emphasize right from the start is that the study was a 26-year longitudinal study. That is really fantastic. Let’s get to the goods.

Posted in Culture, Psychology, Science, Social Psych | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Tortured Confessions – The Science of Waterboarding, Torture, and “Intense Stress”

zero-dark-thirty

ResearchBlogging.org With the new movie “Zero Dark Thirty” raising a lot of eyebrows with its depiction of waterboarding, there has been a lot of talk regarding the veracity of such techniques. Namely, does torture yield the intended results? Did the results assist in the hunt for Osama bin Laden? There are the anecdotes that make this an interesting case to look at, but we also have the science to give a more conclusive answer to the question of whether or not waterboarding works.

Posted in Culture, Media, Medicine & Health, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment