I first took Ritalin in first grade. I went off it soon after but tried it again in high school and have been reliant upon it and other psychoactive medications for the last 14 years--nearly half my life. Do i feel artificial? Do I feel like I'm cheating? Do I feel like I'm not being the real me? Those aren't even questions I ask myself anymore. After much experimentation with various molecules and dosages and life situations, I've made peace with my drug dependence, and now when pondering a prescription refill or an individual pill in my hand, instead of asking which me is the real me--chemically modified or au natural--I ask which me I prefer.
Despite the popularity of caffeine and alcohol, not everyone feels the same, and new research (that I covered in the August issue of Psychology Today) maps out our fears regarding artificial cognitive enhancement.
A recent analysis of 20 studies over the last 30 years indicates that between 31% and 57% of women have rape fantasies, and these fantasies are frequent or preferred in 9% to 17% of women. Considering that many people are ashamed to report rape fantasies, these stats are most likely lowball figures.
I recently spotted a paper (pdf) in the July 2008 issue of the influential journal Psychological Science with the following title: "Objects on a Collision Path With the Observer Demand Attention."
Hey, you think I should pay attention to that thing headed for my face? Leave it to scientists to require grant funding to figure out what they were supposed to pick up in gym class by like first grade.
Seriously, those guys would not stand at chance at Mentalball.
(Super-seriously, there are some new findings in the paper. Don't let the cool kids tell you science is not cool.)
In the current issue of Psychology Today, I wrote a little piece about personality and body modification
(titled "The Body Mod Squad" in the paper version.) I already have a
pierced tongue and some scarification, but for the servicey sidebar
(titled "Rebel Without a Commitment") I reviewed some more softcore
ways to stand out. (And actually tried them; yes we are better than Maxim.)
I've written some recent posts about bullshit for Brainstorm.
The first one defines bullshit and describes Hunter S. Thompson's use of it on the campaign trail in 1972. And mentions a bullshit lecture on statistics I saw that was actually titled "Not Always Bullshit: A Simple Explanation of Statistics."
The second one relays what Harry Frankfurt, author of On Bullshit, had to tell me about the use of bullshit by Hillary and others on the campaign trail in 2008.
The third describes a bullshit music review in Maxim magazine, asks whether I committed the same sin in Psychology Today, and ties in material from the book How to Talk about Books You Haven't Read.
Magical thinking--typically considered an archaic mode of cognition that populates the world with animistic forces, hidden dimensions, and evocative incantations--may actually serve us well in the future as we navigate an existence increasingly mediated by digital information.
In 1937, a long-lost Vermeer was revealed at auction, heralded by experts as one of the Dutch painter's greatest works. Only it wasn't a Vermeer at all. A man named Han van Meegeren had produced this and many other expensive forgeries. Once he stepped forward, their value dropped like the jaws on his customers. Why?
My latest feature article has just been published in Psychology Today. It's about everyday magical thinking and how even the most hard-core skeptic thinks magically--believing in karma, luck, curses, tempting fate, etc. And it's loaded with coverage of studies that involved voodoo dolls, royal spoons, dart boards, and Mr. Rogers's sweaters. Check it out.