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Empathy + Placebo = Healing? - Neuroskeptic

Empathy + Placebo = Healing? - Neuroskeptic | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Psychotherapy, voodoo, and complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) are all cut from the same cloth; they are 'healing methods' that relieve symptoms becau
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Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots
Our brains have many glitches that interfere with honest self-awareness and accurate self-assessment
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Noam Chomsky: Why the Internet Hasn't Freed Our Minds—Propaganda Continues to Dominate

This article originally appeared in Byline.com and is reposted here with permission.

Three decades ago, Professor Noam Chomsky, who is seen by some as the most brilliant and courageous intellectual alive and by others as an anti-US conspiracy theorist, penned his powerful critique of the Western corporate media in his seminal book Manufacturing Consent, with co-author Edward S Herman. The book had a profound impact on my perception of the mainstream media in my teenage years, and was crucial in some ways to my decision to start Byline with my co-founder Daniel Tudor. By cutting out the advertiser and political bias of the proprietor, we believed that crowdfunding had the potential to democratise the media landscape and support independent journalism.

In “Manufacturing Consent,” Noam Chomsky posits that Western corporate media is structurally bound to “manufacture consent” in the interests of dominant, elite groups in society. With “filters” which determine what gets to become ‘news’ – including media ownership, advertising, and “flak”, he shows how propaganda can pervade the “free” media in an ostensibly democratic Western society through self-censorship. However, lot has changed since then. We now have the Internet. The so-called legacy media organisations which have been “manufacturing consent” according to Chomsky are in massive financial trouble. Has any of his analysis changed? I recently interviewed Noam Chomsky at his MIT office, to find out his views on the current media landscape.
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About us - PERFECT

About us - PERFECT | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it

This project is funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant (ERC-2013-Co-G) awarded to Professor Lisa Bortolotti in order to explore the Pragmatic and Epistemic Role of Factually Erroneous Cognitions and Thoughts (PERFECT). The project started in October 2014 and will run for five years. The project will feature three post-doctoral fellows, two PhD students, and the participation of Dr Michael Larkin from the School of Psychology.

PERFECT aims to establish whether cognitions that are inaccurate in some important respect can ever be good from a pragmatic or an epistemic point of view. Can delusional beliefs, distorted memories, and confabulatory explanations, which are frequent in the non-clinical population and also listed as symptoms of psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and dementia, have redeeming features?

Aims

Challenge current frameworks of epistemic evaluation in order to acknowledge that cognitions can contribute to knowledge and self-knowledge without meeting the standards of truth and accuracy, and to take into account constraints on cognitive capacities (perception, reasoning, and memory).
Challenge current accounts of delusions, memory distortions, and confabulations in the psychological literature in order to move towards accounts which are sensitive to the potential epistemic benefits of such cognitions and to their role in supporting a unified and coherent sense of agency.
Inform clinical interventions on people with psychiatric disorders on the basis of the role of delusions, memory distortions, and confabulations in the preservation and acquisition of relevant knowledge and in the development of a self-narrative which supports agency.
Provide strong theoretical reasons to challenge the perceived discontinuity between normal and abnormal cognition and show that a demarcation between normal and pathological cannot be meaningfully based on the epistemic features of delusions, memory distortions and confabulations.

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America Could Have Been One Giant Sweden -- Instead It Looks a Lot Like the Soviet Union

America Could Have Been One Giant Sweden -- Instead It Looks a Lot Like the Soviet Union | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Imagine an alternative universe in which the two major Cold War superpowers evolved into the United Soviet Socialist States. The conjoined entity, linked perhaps by a new Bering Straits land bridge, combines the optimal features of capitalism and collectivism. From Siberia to Sioux City, we’d all be living in one giant Sweden.

It sounds like either the paranoid nightmare of a John Bircher or the wildly optimistic dream of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, however, this was a rather conventional view, at least among influential thinkers like economist John Kenneth Galbraith who predicted that the United States and the Soviet Union would converge at some point in the future with the market tempered by planning and planning invigorated by the market. Like many an academic notion, it didn’t come to pass. The United States veered off in the direction of Reaganomics. And the Soviet Union eventually collapsed. So much for “convergence theory,” which like EST or cold fusion went the way of most crackpot ideas.
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How will Congressmen vote? Just look at their social circles, study finds

How will Congressmen vote? Just look at their social circles, study finds | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
U.S. Congress members' social circles are more important in how they vote than their liberal or conservative beliefs or constituents' opinions, according to a new model of voting behavior created by Dartmouth College researchers.
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Why Boys With Sisters are More Likely to Be Republicans

Why Boys With Sisters are More Likely to Be Republicans | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Parents beware: how you delegate household labor among your kids could affect the political trajectory of our nation.

Via diane gusa
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diane gusa's curator insight, May 25, 11:39 PM

The researchers found that boys raised with sisters are more likely to hold socially conservatives views of gender roles later in life, which many of them express in their politics via affiliation with the Republican party

when boys see girls doing household labor, and the parental expectations that they also do this work are not equal, they are effectively taught ideas about appropriate behavior and roles based on gender, and these grow into socially conservative views.

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New Facebook Study Reveals Psychological Motivation Behind Status Updates

A new study has reinforced what many already suspected – people who constantly post Facebook status updates about their relationships are insecure, while people who post about their gym sessions and healthy meals are egotistical.
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Researchers combat bias in next-generation DNA sequencing

Researchers combat bias in next-generation DNA sequencing | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Ever since scientists completed mapping the entire human genome in 2003, the field of DNA sequencing has seen an influx of new methods and technologies designed to help scientists in their search for genetic clues to the evolution of disease and...
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Glancing at a grassy green roof significantly boosts concentration

Glancing at a grassy green roof significantly boosts concentration | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
A University of Melbourne study shows that glancing at a grassy green roof for only 40 seconds markedly boosts concentration.
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Evil Geniuses Who Just Want To Watch The World Burn

Evil Geniuses Who Just Want To Watch The World Burn | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
These people have taken trolling to the next level. | From absurdfun
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No, the rise of the emoji doesn't spell the end of language

No, the rise of the emoji doesn't spell the end of language | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
The emoji has become one of the fastest growing forms of communication in history.
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Don't Get Too Excited If a DNA Test Says You Have Royal Ancestors

Don't Get Too Excited If a DNA Test Says You Have Royal Ancestors | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
People love finding out that they have a famous relative, or they’re descended from royalty. Thanks to genetic testing services like 23AndMe , it’s easy to send your spit away and get a rundown of your potentially regal DNA.
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Uncomfortably numb: The people who feel no pain

Uncomfortably numb: The people who feel no pain | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Researchers have identified a third gene that causes congenital insensitivity to pain when mutated
Being unable to feel pain may sound appealing, but it would be extremely hazardous to your health.
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Gelman had a sense about the dubious Science article - Decision Science News

Gelman had a sense about the dubious Science article - Decision Science News | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Statistician Andrew Gelman had a sense that something was up with dubious Science article soon after it was published.

As you probably know, the well-known Science article on attitudes toward gay marriage by LaCour and Green has been called into question (even by its second author) and will likely be retracted by the journal.

We were amazed and impressed to learn today that statistician Andrew Gelman had a sense that something was up with the article soon after it was published. In a December comment in the Washington Post, Gelman was flabbergasted by the size of the claimed result:

What stunned me about these results was not just the effect itself—although I agree that it’s interesting in any case—but the size of the observed differences. They’re huge: an immediate effect of 0.4 on a five-point scale and, after nine months, an effect of 0.8.

A difference of 0.8 on a five-point scale . . . wow! You rarely see this sort of thing. Just do the math. On a 1-5 scale, the maximum theoretically possible change would be 4. But, considering that lots of people are already at “4” or “5” on the scale, it’s hard to imagine an average change of more than 2. And that would be massive. So we’re talking about a causal effect that’s a full 40% of what is pretty much the maximum change imaginable. Wow, indeed.

 


Via Alessandro Cerboni
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British Philosophical Association – representing professional philosophers in the UK

British Philosophical Association – representing professional philosophers in the UK | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
The British Philosophical Association and Society for Women in Philosophy (UK) are pleased to announce the launch of our Good Practice Scheme. The Scheme aims to assist UK philosophy departments, learned societies and journals in ensuring that they have policies and procedures in place that encourage the representation of women in philosophy. A list of participating institutions will appear on this site from September 2014.
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Imperfect Cognitions: Perfect Language for Imperfect Cognitions: an Example

Imperfect Cognitions: Perfect Language for Imperfect Cognitions: an Example | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
This post is by Michele Tinnirello, a PhD student in Philosophy at University of Messina. His research covers the pragmatics of acts of communication within philosophy of language and its relationship with philosophy of mind, neurolinguistics, and artificial intelligence. 

My philosophical background concerns mainly the most famous debates within the philosophy of mind and language as well as the relationships with other branches of cognitive science. I am now focusing on the most recent accounts of the semantics/pragmatics debate, in order to achieve, or at least try to achieve, a stronger and global view of how our mind is able to shape and understand meaning. 

This, of course, involves not just philosophical questions and speculation, as it requires contributions from a lot of different fields like, e.g., psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. Actually, I believe that a multidisciplinary approach is absolutely preferable when it comes to understanding how our mind works and project PERFECT seems a very a good example of this kind of research.

As we know, following most of all Freud as the pioneer of this methodological stance, pathological situations can be used as magnifiers of the non-pathological functioning. For instance, thanks to a lot of cases of aphasias we now know more about Broca’s or Wernicke’s area's roles in language processing, the independence of syntactic and semantic elaboration, and even selective impairments regarding just inanimate rather than animate objects and so on.
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Climate change debate fueled by 'echo chambers,' study finds

Climate change debate fueled by 'echo chambers,' study finds | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
A new study from researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) demonstrates that the highly contentious debate on climate change is fueled in part by how information flows throughout...
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New data on gender-segregated sociology

New data on gender-segregated sociology | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it

Four years ago I wrote about the gender composition of sociology and the internal segregation of the discipline. Not much has changed, at least on the old measures. Here’s an update including some new measures (with some passages copied from the old post).

People may (or may not) want to be sociologists, they may or may not be accepted to graduate schools, thrive there (with good mentoring or bad), freely choose specializations, complete PhDs, publish, get jobs, rise to positions of leadership, and so on.  As in workplaces, gender segregation in academic sociology represents the cumulative intentions and actions of people in different institutional settings and social locations. It’s also the outcome of gender politics and power struggles. So, very interesting!

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Roberto Unger on What is Wrong with the Social Sciences Today?

Roberto Mangabeira Unger has spent his academic life at Harvard writing about abstract areas of law, politics, philosophy, and teaching – among others – one Barack Obama. But he’s also had a life outside the ivory tower in politics. He wrote a political manifesto and was a minister in Brazil.

His theoretical ideas are difficult to pigeonhole, but this one  is clear: he’s a vociferous critic of the entire discipline of social science – at least as it is currently practiced.

In the latest edition to Social Science Bites, Roberto Unger discusses what is wrong with the social sciences today, arguing that they have degenerated into a pseudo-science.

Click HERE to download a PDF transcript of this conversation. The full text also appears below.

To directly download this podcast, right click HERE and “Save Link As.”

Social Science Bites is made in association with SAGE. For a complete listing of past Social Science Bites podcasts, click here.
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There is evidence that Hume existed, at least

There is evidence that Hume existed, at least | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Aww, I got mentioned in a paper published in Philosophia Christi. I’m only an afterthought, brought in at the very end — the paper is primarily a criticism of Richard Dawkins — but it’s always nice to be remembered.
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Self-awareness. Acquire it.

Self-awareness. Acquire it. | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
There’s a game called “Rust” in which you play a character in a wilderness. When it first came out, everyone was assigned the same avatar: a white dude. As we all know, “white dude” is the default everywhere, so no one complained.
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How the brain makes decisions

How the brain makes decisions | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Some types of decision-making have proven to be very difficult to simulate, limiting progress in the development of computer models of the brain.
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The coming merge of human and machine intelligence

The coming merge of human and machine intelligence | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
For most of the past two million years, the human brain has been growing steadily. But something has recently changed. In a surprising reversal, human brains have actually been shrinking for the last 20,000 years or so.
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Astrobiology students explore alien environment on Earth

Astrobiology students explore alien environment on Earth | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Sonny Harman never thought he'd be able to travel far enough to do field work. That's because the Penn State doctoral student studies atmospheres on other planets.
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The cruel sham that is “right to try” continues to spread

The cruel sham that is “right to try” continues to spread | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Last year, I did several posts on what I consider to be a profoundly misguided and potentially harmful type of law known as “right-to-try.” Beginning about a year and a half ago, promoted by the libertarian think tank known as the Goldwater...
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Strong ethics are more than their own reward

Strong ethics are more than their own reward | Brain Tricks: Belief, Bias, and Blindspots | Scoop.it
Leaders of every organisation, whether it is corporate, not for profit, government or academic, ignore the health of its ethical culture at their peril.

Via NANCY PETERS
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