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psychology

One-Armed Bandits: The Science of Slot Machines

 One-Armed Bandits: The Science of Slot Machines

You may call it a slot machine, a fruit machine or a one-armed bandit, but the reality is the same: an algorithmically precise machine designed to drain the human gambler of all his or her earnings. Where did these insidious machines come from? How do they ensorcell us? In this classic episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the science and psychology of slot machine gambling behavior. See more »

The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 2

 The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 2

In the second of two episodes, Christian and Joe continue their discussion of animal cognition, including animal morality, tool use, mental time travel, culture, and other strange clues to the intellectual complexity of our cousins in the animal kingdom. Afterwards, they speak to Dutch-American primatologist Frans de Waal about his book and his thoughts on the future of animal intelligence research. See more »

The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 1

 The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 1

In the 18th century, David Hume wrote that “no truth appears to me more evident than that beasts are endow’d with thought and reason as well as men.” Yet animal cognition has remained a controversial subject in science ever since. In the first of two episodes, Christian and Joe discuss the work of Dutch-American primatologist Frans de Waal, and ask the question of not just whether animals are smarter than we understand, but why the evidence of animal cognition is often so difficult for we humans to grasp. See more »

Exorcism/Adorcism

 Exorcism/Adorcism

You’ve likely never attended an exorcism, but popular culture ensures that you know what one is. Yes, we’re talking the forced removal of a demonic entity from the human psyche, but what else can we glean about this paranormal experience from shamanistic rites of exorcism and the psychological principles of dissociative identity disorder and cognitive dissonance? As “The Exorcist” creeps in on its 43rd anniversary, Robert and Christian discuss the real and imaginary forces at work in the demon-haunted mind. See more »

What Mind Control Feels Like

 What Mind Control Feels Like

If mind control is possible, whether enabled by hard neurotechnology or good old fashioned social and linguistic suggestion, what does it feel like? What is it like to be controlled by a will other than your own? Would you even know it was happening? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind. See more »

Monster of the Week: The Illithid 'Mind Flayer'

 Monster of the Week: The Illithid 'Mind Flayer'

Robert Lamb discusses the Ilithid 'Mind Flayers' of Dungeons and Dragons within the context of real-world biology, computing and human psychology. See more »

The Nature of Heroism

 The Nature of Heroism

Heroes permeate our culture, from mythic archetypes and pop-culture superheroes to real-life humans who risk their lives for others. But from where does heroism emerge? Robert and Christian explore the question in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind Podcast. See more »

The Creep

 The Creep

You've all witnessed and been witnessed by the Creep, but what attributes compose this unsettling character? Why do we fear the creep and what, indeed, are we to make of the Creep in the mirror? Join Robert and Joe for an autopsy of this most unsavory archetype. See more »

Is social media driving us insane?

 Is social media driving us insane?

If our collective social, cultural and political angst may be compared to a fire, then social media often seems the kiln that contains it. But are resources such as FaceBook and Twitter mere vessels for the blistering heat, or are they complacent in the flame’s intensity? Robert and Christian explore in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast. See more »

Only Child Syndrome: Brats, Myths and Little Emperors

 Only Child Syndrome: Brats, Myths and Little Emperors

What sort of behavior, personality and life can we expect from an only child? A lot of cultural expectations persist about the singleton, from the spoiled Veruca Salt of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” to the “little emperors” who rose up in the wake of China’s One Child Policy. But what’s the truth of the matter? Robert and Christian explore in this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind. See more »