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psychology

Hook Suspension and the Complexity of Pain

Hook suspension challenges our perceptions of pain. We see practitioners, pierced through the flesh with hooks, suspended by chains and yet smiling as if lost to a state of bliss. What are they feeling? Where does this practice come from and how does it fit into the larger human experience? Join Robert and Christian as they explore this most-outsider form of masochistic performance art. See more »

Push the Frontier

You’ve seen enough Westerns and Game of Throne episodes to know a frontier when you see it, but what exactly is this boundary between the laws of your world and the promise or threat of another? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss the membranous nature of frontier in world-systems theory, as well as Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential thesis on the American frontier. See more »

The Demon-Haunted Mind

Demons exist only within the human imagination, but that doesn’t make them harmless. If positive religious world views can result in a more positive state of mind, then might belief in soul-clawing, life-wrecking horned Hell fiends edge one closer to the edge of madness? Join Robert and Christian as they explore a recent study on the topic, and they might even summon a demon or two from the realms of myth. See more »

Into the Uncanny Valley

From bad CGI characters to creepy humanoid robots, everyone knows the uncanny valley effect when they see it. But where did this idea come from and to what extent is it actually a thing? Join Robert and Joe as they descend into the uncanny valley and explore just what's going on in our minds when we lock eyes with less-than-human simulacrums. See more »

Sexbots: From Objectification to Therapeutic Surrogates

Sex between humans and machines is nothing new in the world of science fiction. Their forms range from angelic mechanoids to victimized humanoids, but the robotic lover is almost always an expression of purely human anxieties. Yet as real-world technology advances, we’re left to ponder the emerging form of the sex bot -- and the possibilities range from mere animate fetishes to therapeutic surrogates. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian consider arguments for and against the embrace of synthetic paramours. See more »

Fertility, Ovulation and Consumer Decision Making

For 50 percent of the population, ovulation plays a role in human behavior -- but to what extent? Marketing researcher and social psychologist Kristina Durante contends that ovulation plays a large role in the decision making process of fertile females. If her research holds true, then it means corporations and even political parties are already attempting to game ovulation for their own benefit. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian examine and discuss the research. See more »

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

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

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

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 »