psychology

Alien Abduction Experience, Part 2

What are we to make of alien abduction experiences? Scientific investigation points to a barrage of logical explanations for abnormal sensory experience, from sleep paralysis and temporal lobe anomalies to false memory encoding. Interpret it all within the confines of a sci-fi narrative and you have a revealing, kaleidoscopic view of the 20th century zeitgeist in all its wonder, hope, anxiety and yearning. Join Robert and Christian for this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-part examination of paranormal experience in the space age.

Alien Abduction Experience, Part 1

What are we to make of alien abduction experiences? Scientific investigation points to a barrage of logical explanations for abnormal sensory experience, from sleep paralysis and temporal lobe anomalies to false memory encoding. Interpret it all within the confines of a sci-fi narrative and you have a revealing, kaleidoscopic view of the 20th century zeitgeist in all its wonder, hope, anxiety and yearning. Join Robert and Christian for this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-part examination of paranormal experience in the space age.

Cultural Appropriation

We’ve all heard charges of cultural appropriation in everything from fashion and music to personal world view, but what’s actually at stake here? What is cultural misappropriation, when does it have negative consequences and how does it fit into our historical and scientific understanding of the human experience? Robert and Christian explore.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.