Cognitive Daily

Archives for October, 2008

Science is hard

Yesterday we tried to replicate the effect that John Eastwood, Daniel Smilek, and Philip Merikle observed — that negative facial expressions distract us from even the simplest tasks more than positive facial expressions. Hundreds of our readers watched one of two videos and were charged with counting the number of “upturned arcs” or “downturned arcs.”…

Here’s a really interesting experiment that we may be able to replicate online. Take a look at this very short video. You’ll be shown a set of 12 arcs. Some of the arcs will be upturned and some of them will be turned downward, as in the example below. You’ll have about 2.5 seconds to…

Last week we asked our readers about an illusion (created by Nobuyuki Kayahara) that’s been circulated very widely recently: While the illusion can’t actually determine whether you’re “right-brained” or “left-brained,” we were curious about what actually affects people’s perception of the illusion. Over 1,600 readers took our online survey about the illusion. What’s interesting about…

Take a look at this video: You may have seen it before — it’s the work of a CGI animation studio that takes the motions of human actors and turns them into animated models, giving them the ability to put incredibly realistic figures in impossible situations, like on Mars, or swimming in lava, or whatever…

When Sarah Palin was introduced to the country, most Americans had never heard of her — but many people noticed that she looked very similar to the then-more-famous actor Tina Fey. Can you tell which is which? Let’s make this a poll: Which one is Sarah Palin? ( polls) We’re amazingly good at recognizing the…

You’ve probably seen the “spinning woman” illusion as it circulated around the internet, complete with bogus claims that it can somehow be used to determine whether you’re “right-brained” or “left-brained” (themselves concepts of amorphous meaning and validity). But nonetheless it’s an interesting illusion, and vision scientist Michael Bach (who has a great illusions page) suggested…

You’re at a bar, club, or church social and you’ve just met an absolutely stunning member of the opposite sex. You’re single and available, and you detect no signs of romantic commitment in your new conversation-partner. Could he/she be interested in you too? Or you’re walking down a poorly-lit street in an unfamiliar city. It’s…

When Jim was 12 or 13, he seemed to want to watch almost every R-rated movie that came out. PG-13 movies were okay, and PG and G-rated movies were beneath his dignity. Was he simply interested in these movies because they were forbidden (as we contended), or was he somehow more drawn to the content…