Brain and Behavior

Category archives for Brain and Behavior

Religion people oppose torture

Tom Rees reports on a smart new study which tests the effect of religiosity on attitudes toward torture in the US. Using two different large surveys, the researchers first simply examined the correlation between religiosity and support for permitting torture. Realizing that conservative political ideology can also induce greater support for torture and can itself…

The importance of being median

Peter Freed wants to you to know that Jonah Lehrer is Not a Neuroscientist. Lehrer doesn’t claim to be, of course. He’s a journalist and science writer who covers developments in neuroscience, and a good one at that. Freed is concerned about how Lehrer handled a recent study on “the wisdom of crowds” in a…

Via USA Today, we learn about a study showing that people who meditate frequently behave in a more rational manner than non-meditators, and they do so because different parts of their brain take charge of certain kinds of decisions. The study was based around a common test of rational behavior called the Ultimatum Game. Two…

Several of the blogs have pointed to the Disco. Inst.’s shameful abuse of the suicide of Jesse Kilgore in an end-of-year fundraising pitch. Kilgore, a college student who had recently returned from military service in Iraq, had been challenging aspects of his upbringing, and his father (a fundamentalist pastor) concluded that reading Richard Dawkins’ The…

The business of psychics

My high school buddy James Grimmelmann unleashes on Newsweek: Tony Dokoupil manages to write 1,200 words in Newsweek about professional psychics without once telling his readers the single most relevant fact: Psychic powers don?t exist. Would Newsweek run an interview with the Easter Bunny? Would it let Jane Bryant Quinn suggest investing in perpetual motion…

The Chinese Room is a thought experiment in artificial intelligence. John Searle proposed it as a way to falsify the claim that some computer algorithm could be written which could mimic the behavior of an intelligent human so precisely that we could call it an artificial intelligence. Searle proposed that we imagine a log cabin…

Oy versus argh

While writing an email lamenting that there aren’t more hours in the day, or at least fewer smart people saying interesting things on the intarweb and the literature, I signed off “Oy.” Then, as I was doing a last editing pass, I thought of changing it to “Argh.” Or perhaps even “Arrrrrgh.” Which got me…

But there some nice people there, too

Study finds regional differences in US serial killings: Did you know that people living in the Western region of the United States are more likely to become victims of a serial killer than people living in the Northeast? Ah, science. The study by University of Connecticut Emeritus Sociology Professor James DeFronzo examined male serial killers…

In Russia, whips drug YOU

Yes, I’m stealing Yakov Smirnoff jokes, but it’s true. According to Improbable Research, Russian scientists have tested a theory: If a depressed individual receives a physical punishment, whipping that is, it will stir up endorphin receptors, activate the ?production of happiness? and eventually remove depressive feelings. Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping…

The first bill filed for next year’s state senate session would ban thimerosal in vaccines. Thimerosal is a preservative formerly used in many vaccines, now mostly found only in flu vaccines. Because it contains a form of mercury, people have tried to link its use in childhood vaccines with rising autism rates. As the Lawrence…