Category Archives: Biographical

The Scourge of Internet Memes, and Believing Everything You See

Have we become a society of gullibility? Anyone who has a large enough network on social media has been able to see an increase in recent years of pictorial internet memes, such as in the image above. Typically, this is with the face of the individual who said it, along with a quote, often used to inspire, make a joke, or simply make a solid and concise argument. However, it seems that we are beginning to believe things a little too easily nowadays; and in a time of rampant “fake news,” this is becoming a problem.

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6 Ridiculous Fake News Stories of the Past Year

Donald Trump sends his own plan to transport stranded marines, ISIS endorses Hillary Clinton and she sold them weapons, and Rage Against the Machine gets back together. Yep, this year had more fake news than fact-checkers had ever seen before, thanks to the gullibility of the American public, the absurdity of Trump, and the efforts of people who have been working hard to create fake news for the purpose of exploiting those first two things. This article talks briefly about 6 brief stories that fooled enough people to cause a news-storm. It wasn’t pretty… but it was ridiculous.

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The REAL Story Behind the Quote “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” – P.T. Barnum’s most famous words. He is widely considered to be one of the best purveyors of entertainment in history – a genius in sales and marketing – and these words have become somewhat of a legacy. But did he ever really say them? As it turns out, we may be suckers for believing this after all.

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What Really Happened to Phineas Gage? – Psychology’s Most Famous Case Study

Phineas Gage close-up

If you have ever studied psychology, you probably know the name “Phineas Gage.” He was an American railway worker whose life changed dramatically on September 13, 1848. He was removing rocks so a railway to be laid, which sometimes requires drilling holes into the big boulders that can’t be pushed aside, and pushing in gun powder with an iron rod before exploding them from a safe distance. That day, however, he accidentally scraped the boulder which ignited the gun powder, projecting the rod into the air. It went straight through his head… but he lived. His legacy lives on as psychology’s most famous case study; but his legend is usually distorted in myth.

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Edward Snowden: A Man of Peace

Thank you Snowden bus

Edward Snowden has just been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – an award that has certainly lost credibility because of some of the recent recipients, including U.S. President Obama. Snowden is a man who gave up his cozy life snooping on the private data of people within and outside of his country, and was smart enough not to stick around to see what kind of damage the American government would do to him, like they did to others who blew the whistle on illegal behaviour. Though there are indeed others who also deserve such praise, I hope at least the nomination helps Snowden’s cause.

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The 2013 Round-Up

Anime digital tokyo skyline

2013 was a hectic year, but it has finally ended. Actually, it ended several days ago; but as you can imagine, things were hectic. The news cycle never stopped and the stories kept coming in, which is why I updated my existing articles a lot more than write new ones. But that doesn’t explain everything, which is why I’ll take the opportunity to do so below. Along the way, I’ll also mention the top Skeptikai articles of the year.

 

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America’s Most Outrageous Legal Decision of 2013

affluenza

There have been many profoundly unjust decisions in the United States this year. One of the worst would have to be the setting free of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, who committed absolutely no crime and was literally trying to run away from Zimmerman, who was wielding a gun. Yet, an even more outrageous case has surfaced recently, which I can only succinctly  describe as: the worst legal decision of the entire year.

Posted in Abnormal & Clinical Psych, Biographical, Culture, Legal Issues, Psychology | 1 Comment

Everything You Need to Know About Prism, Internet Freedom, and Edward Snowden (Updated)

This is Edward Snowden

The case of Edward Snowden has not only polarized the United States, but it has raised concerns from people all over the world. But it’s not just the US – the UK is now getting a lot of attention for creating a fake internet cafe just to steal passwords of foreign diplomats at the 2009 G20 summit in London. Some are even arguing that they have even more access than the American NSA (National Security Agency); but the NSA is understandably getting the most heat, especially from places outside of the US. I say “especially from places outside” because the mainstream US news is clearly on the side of the government. Indeed, it seems that the narrative within the  mainstream media is not about the message so much as the messenger. This post aggregates news programs outside the US to tell the real story of exactly what’s going on with Edward Snowden and the NSA.

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Exorcism, the Human Stun Gun, and Suggestion

Pope Exorcism

When the world ended last year, I pointed out the there is a certain degree of relativism to the apocalypse. That is, you, the reader, must have been impervious to the apocalypse. Why? It’s simple – you never believed it. And therefore, it didn’t happen. Unfortunately, many people do believe in things for which there is no evidence, including the end of the world. In the Vatican City, new Pope Francis has nothing to say about the end of the world, but he may have just performed his first exorcism as Pope, which is yet another phenomenon for which there is no evidence. And it reminds me of the “Human Stun Gun.”

Posted in Abnormal & Clinical Psych, Biographical, Culture, Japan, Psychology, Science, Skepticism | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inattentional Blindness and the Invisible Violinist

Anime violinist ao blue

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? It would be hard to prove if you weren’t there to notice it. But what if you were there… and you still didn’t notice it? This is something we experience every day. Even cavemen couldn’t possibly focus on all the stimuli around them at once – from the rustles in the bushes, to the winds blowing by, to the tribesmen hunting for food – so what chance do we have, in our world of constant advertisements vying for our attention? Our most natural coping mechanism is to (justifiably) unconsciously tune out most of the stimuli around us; but the case of the Invisible Violinist begs the question: What are we missing?

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