Blog Archives

Inspirations: Bringing the science of fear up to date with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder often affects people after traumatic experiences. Assault, sexual or nonsexual, is the trauma most likely to cause PTSD. Men are more likely to have traumatic experiences but more women have PTSD. High oestrogen levels or injections of

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Inspirations: Can we bomb our readers into euphoria?

We use horror and suspense in fiction because people love to be afraid. JT MacCurdy described psychological responses to being bombed during World War Two. ‘Near misses’ were emotionally devastating, but ‘remote misses’ made people feel invincible. Does reading or

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification, Writing

Non-fiction Review: Headhunters by Ben Shepherd

In April 1898, Alfred Haddon led his expedition off the Duke of Westminster steamer on to Thursday Island, in the Torres Straits archipelago between Australia and New Guinea. They carried the latest tools for assessing psychology and perception, and the

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Inspirations: The psychology of a city under fire

9/11 and the Blitz both showed the fortitude of civilian populations under attack. Both contradicted assumptions that attacks would lead to mass panic. Behaviourist Solly Zuckerman documented civilian resilience during the Hull Blitz. Zuckerman’s work gives a more realistic picture

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Greater Minds: How Isaac Asimov designed a brainstorm

Isaac Asimov described a process for generating original ideas for his friend, Arthur Obermayer. An idea generator must understand their field, make connections and be resistant to criticism. He suggested ideas would come from small groups in which some foolishness

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Posted in Greater minds, Wednesday Pontification

Availability Heuristic

“How was your day, darling?” asked Olivia. Stuart groaned. “Three bipolar, two PTSD and one so batty I don’t even know what to call it,” he said. “Don’t they have to have a diagnosis before they send them to you?”

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

Greater Minds: Elizabeth Pisani on rational stupidity and AIDS

Elizabeth Pisani is an HIV epidemiologist and author of The Wisdom of Whores. Her studies show us how decisions that may appear stupid were arrived at rationally. She has explored the decision making processes of drug addicts and politicians alike.

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Posted in Greater minds, Wednesday Pontification

Creativity and mental illness

A recent study found that creative people have more genetic markers for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder than everyone else. The media overstated the findings, which only show very weak associations. There is no association between depression and creativity. There is

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification

Inspirations: Lies and how to spot them

Deception is an essential part of social interaction. People are detect lies better when they cannot see body language. Understanding what gives away a lie may help people to lie better. Fictional characters are more realistic when they are as

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Inspirations: Does believing in a just world make the world less just?

People who believe the world is inherently just are likely to blame victims for their victimhood. The same people act to help victims when they can. Believing the world is just may help people to rationalise suffering they cannot alleviate.

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Posted in Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification
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