Posts Tagged ‘Psychology

Believing Is Seeing

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Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer and colleagues have reported research that demonstrates a notable improvement in what test subjects were able to see without the use of spectacles, contact lenses, or any physical changes to the subjects eyes.

The method of improving vision was no more than using suggestion to make the subject believe they were able to see more than they previously could.  Participants in the study who were predisposed to believing their vision could be enhanced showed particularly strong improvement in what they were able to see.

Another study conducted at MIT demonstrated similar results.

For more on the psychology of vision, see’s article.


Written by Aaron Nee

May 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Televised Evening With The Dead

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A while back Derren Brown hosted a televised séance on the UK’s Channel 4.  Unfortunately for those of us in the US, Channel 4’s content can be hard to come by.  Most of the time we have to hope someone will post the show on YouTube or Google Video.  Lucky for us, someone has done just that.  Derren Brown’s séance is available to view in its entirety on YouTube, so catch it before it is removed.

An outspoken skeptic of all things paranormal, Brown has on more than one occasion recreated miracles and psychic wonders using, “Psychology, misdirection, magic and showmanship.”  Despite stating openly that he was using psychological manipulation, cold reading and other trickery, the séance participants managed to get royally spooked, as did viewers who called into the show testifying to paranormal happenings in their home while watching the séance.

In the tradition of master magician James Randi, Derren Brown uses his skills to demonstrate how the frauds work their wonders, or at least shows that the marvels can be recreated without appear to the supernatural.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Written by Aaron Nee

April 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Knowing How We Know What We Know

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If you are interested in understanding how we understand things, then you will probably enjoy a podcast called “Brain Science”.  Here is a little blurb about the host and the podcast from the show’s site:

Dr. Campbell is an experienced emergency physician with a long-standing interest in mind-body medicine, the brain, and consciousness. In this podcast she shares recent discoveries from the world of neuroscience in a way that people of all backgrounds can enjoy. Dr. Campbell believes that understanding how the brain works gives us insight into what makes us human. She is also committed to showing how the scientific method has unravelled many long-standing mysteries.

Written by Aaron Nee

March 21, 2010 at 2:35 am