You are not using a standards compliant browser. Because of this you may notice minor glitches in the rendering of this page. Please upgrade to a compliant browser for optimal viewing:
Internet Explorer 7
Safari (Mac and PC)
Recent Comments
Comment by sugar mummy website in Poking a barking dog with a big stick.
May 07, 2020, 12:42pm
Apr 06, 2020, 1:59pm
Comment by Nick wick in Madwriting
Apr 06, 2020, 12:52pm
Comment by Nick wick in Madwriting
Apr 06, 2020, 11:59am
Comment by antivirussupport in Poking a barking dog with a big stick.
Nov 20, 2019, 1:46am
Comment by antivirussupport in Poking a barking dog with a big stick.
Nov 20, 2019, 1:45am
Comment by antivirussupport in Poking a barking dog with a big stick.
Nov 20, 2019, 1:45am
Comment by antivirussupport in Poking a barking dog with a big stick.
Nov 20, 2019, 1:44am
Comment by antivirussupport in Poking a barking dog with a big stick.
Nov 20, 2019, 1:43am
Comment by Devayani Kaur in Remembering People We Loved and Lost
Jun 28, 2019, 6:47am
Author: Psycasm | Views: 704 | Comments: 16
Last by Nikkilina on Oct 15, 2010, 3:56pm

[Wherein our hero lights up, and discusses why smoking is good. Do you smell the controversy?]

Smoking is bad. Right?


It's a filthy habit, it smells, it's addictive.

It kills.

Smoking's bad, right?

Yes... but...

I like smoking. It feels good. It makes my ideas flow quicker and it takes the edge off when I'm overloaded. It goes great with a few beers, and is a way to bond with others. Having said that I smoke less than 2 cigarettes a month, at a stab. I'm not addicted, but I'd sure as hell smoke more if I it wasn't going to kill me in an horrific manner. I'd smoke more if it didn't cripple my cardio ability. I'd smoke more if it wasn't so damn anti-social and my girlfriend didn't object. But the kicker, above all else, is that smoking kills.

Let me say that once more, before you read the body of my post.


And yet we continue to smoke. I contine to smoke. For all I know, You continue to smoke. It's easy to say 'Oh, it's addictive', but those who start smoking aren't already addicted; and those who aren't addicted sometime indulge. T . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 294 | Comments: 3
Last by Jason Goldman on Oct 15, 2010, 11:10am
DonorsChoose, eh?

It's difficult for me to make a 'think of the children' plea, when I'm not the US, and others have better, more righteous arguments and I.

Instead let's imagine what the future would be like if kids just didn't learn science...

...It's 2021, science is no longer taught in class rooms, in place of more accepted disciplines like Homeopathy and Creationism. In universities country wide a degree in accounting makes you a bona fide mathematician. Why, after all, do people need to know how to model the universe in a computer? When we know that the world is flat and is the centre of all we see? Our houses are sustained by magic - 'lectricity' - some kind of fluid, liquid stuff that runs through wires but is so small we can't see it. And it's getting pretty hot, thanks to global warming, but in a way it's ok - since the average life expectancy has dropped because vaccines do more damage than good - smallpox, measels, polio have all returned and single out the weak. There's no-one left to cure cancer, or alzeihmers, because everyone who once might have had the capacity is busy trying to turn water into the oil - the holy grail of the alchemical processes...


Wow, that's not a future I like. Inspire kids towards science and keep the cu . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1160 | Comments: 6
Last by Jason Goldman on Oct 11, 2010, 7:17pm

[Wherein our hero explores how best to overcome a creative impasse, and how best to generate insight to a variety of problems]

There are things considered by some (and sometimes many) to be enjoyable which I just do not understand.

Doing Burnouts Eating Chocolate Riding Rollercoasters Then there are somethings which I find enjoyable, which many might walk away from.

Fighting Blogging Reading Non-Fiction (almost exclusively) But there is one thing that I love doing nearly more than anything else. It's one thing that gives me an unparalleled natural high. It's something that I wish more people did, and which they are all capable of.

Thinking Not in that pretentious I'm an intellectual kind of way, but in a practical (and hopefully creative) way.
It's generating an Insight. Busting a problem wide-open with a single flaming idea. Being so engaged with a concept that you forget to eat; something so compelling you need to find a pen and paper right now. Something, once conceived, that literally prevents you from sleeping.

That feeling is right at the top of my list. But sadly one cannot call . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 2068 | Comments: 8
Last by Evie on Oct 08, 2010, 5:56pm

[Wherein our hero, sleepy from all his blogging, decides to take a nap. But is a siesta such a good idea?]

Here in Australia it's just getting into Summer. And the trick with 'getting into summer' is enduring the brief but painful transition from cool to hot. It usually only last a few weeks, but it's a few weeks characterised by sleeplessness, crankiness and trying to get used to not having a doonah anymore...

And the beauty of being a Uni student (even one who tries to work hard) is that I can afford to nap. Simply put, naps are awesome. Just from a indulgent perspective - if you haven't had a siesta is a few years, have one today, it will rock.

But lets start at the beginning of the day. Your alarm screams at you and you get that sickly feeling in your gut that comes just from associating waking with an alarm (does anyone else get that?). Is it better to hit the snooze, to plan on a siesta, or better to plan on our chemical friend - caffiene. First, a few definition - a snooze was defined as 'an extended sleep' <90 mins (where the mean was 74 minutes), a Nap was standardized at 20 mins, and coffee was standardized at 150 mg.

Horne, Anderson & Pl . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 438 | Comments: 14
Last by Evie on Oct 06, 2010, 3:00pm
What would I be doing if I wasn’t doing this? This question has two answers for me – one constrained by circumstance, the other by my imagination.

I’ll start with circumstance, because that’s where everything starts…

Three or Four years ago a finished a degree in Business with an extended Major in Advertising. I don’t have much evidence to support the following statement, but I think it was the truth - I was good in Advertising. In fact I maintain that I am no better in Psychology than I was in Advertising. The only difference is that this time round I’m doing a better job of reflecting it in my grades, reflecting it in the people I work with, the networks I make, and the goals I set.

Some part of me back then – the unmylenated adolescent, presumably – believed my raw talent would carry me over the line. These days I recognise what I thought of as ‘raw talent’ was in fact ego. At the very least, I think, I carried the Ego well.

And so I set out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed into the world of advertising. Step by small step. I worked in an Agency for a while – but they were small and didn’t give me one iota of training, and when I inevitably made mistakes it reflected poorly and – to make a long story short – I . . . More
Author: genegeek | Views: 8118 | Comments: 6
Last by JanedeLartigue on Oct 06, 2010, 5:46pm
This post is in honour of 007, the unbeatable secret accountant, who is getting ready to join the Terry Fox Challenge - after she finds out about options for chemo.

I have several friends around the world who are dealing with cancer diagnoses and they have had some general questions about the treatment options. None of them are science experts and instead of writing the same email to everyone, I thought I would try a general post.

Warning: this post is not advice for anyone and it is a general introduction to the topic. I won't try to explain the specifics of any particular drug because that is beyond my level of expertise.

What is chemotherapy? Why take it?

It depends who you ask. Many patients will say, 'poison'. But really, the term means 'drug therapy' although we generally use it in Canada to mean drugs to kill cancer cells. Please note that chemo is used in many diseases but I'll focus on cancer applications as that is where most of the questions have started.

In cancer treatment, chemo is usually offered when there is a concern that there might be tumour cells that were not or can not be removed with surgery or radiation. For ex . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 2401 | Comments: 20
Last by Pascal Wallisch on Nov 04, 2010, 1:10am

[Wherein our Hero considers the consequences of being Blonde. Notes for femme fatale bank-robbers...]

So this was a topic I received via twitter, or perhaps I was being alerted to a finding via twitter... in any event I've decided to run with it.

The tweet was referencing the degree of eye-contact men make with women who have different coloured hair. Though I couldn't find an article addressing that direct question it seems that the implication is that hair colour influences the perceived attractiveness of women in men. I think the folk wisdom is that, yes, it certainly does; but the bigger question is how might such a difference manifest in the real world. Ok, so men are nicer to women who they find more attractive? There are some good (evolutionary) reasons why this might be the case; and I would also suggest that women are nicer to men they find more attractive.

But again, so what?

Well, apparently there are some pretty big differences. Let's begin with those who receive tips during their work. It seems tips increase with breast size, and hip-to-waist ratio, but start to decline if the ratio is too large or the breasts are too far either side of some 'optimum' t . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 841 | Comments: 8
Last by yannisguerra on Oct 01, 2010, 11:45am
The other day I ran my very first experiment. Here, in the company of the Bona Fide scientists, I'm sure someone will understand it's significance. However, I'm not entirely sure how the learning process of science between more tangible biologicial disciplines and psychology vary. And so, just for interests sake, and for every person interested in becoming a Psychologist, a scientist or a student of science I'll put to paper my experience.

Undergrad Psychology is a fairly dry affair - it would be a fair comparison to say that Psychology is more like High School Modern History and/or Sociology than it is like one of the other sciences. I took chemistry in High School and at least once a week we were mixing something up, setting something on fire, or trying to turn lead into gold. Whereas in the social sciences we learned about what other people had been doing and were told to commit it to memory.

Psychology is a little bit like that. We cover hundreds of classic studies and contemporary findings, we write research reports, we read, we talk - and it's interesting. But we don't really cover the science of psychology. Since I began my studies I have conducted 2 or 3 'studies' that might generously be called science. It's just not practical to have a couple hundred . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1157 | Comments: 8
Last by Evie on Sep 30, 2010, 6:08pm

[Wherein our hero stumbles upon the worlds very first Synesthete, and quiety wishes that he too had super powers...]

This is not the kind of post I normally make, but in doing some research for another subject I came across something that's quite fascinating.

But first, a preamble.

Every first year Psych students becomes familiar with a number of case studies. The most famous is probably Phinaes Gage. Gage (1823 - 1860) worked on a railroad early in his adult life - he was a responsible, sensible and dilligent man and was recognized so - he was the foreman of construction with his own rail crew. Then, one day, while tamping a hole full of explosives with an iron rod, the black powder ignited and - in what can only be described as a probability that is a single decimal place followed by many, many, zeros - the iron rod blasted up through his cheek, his frontal lobe, out the top of his head and sent Gage flying. Reported, he stood up and walked away. After the incident Gage was an impulsive, irrational, aggressive man. A changed man. Gage changed the course of our understanding of Neuroscience and Brain Function.

There is also HM - After suffering for many years of dibilitating siezure . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 4213 | Comments: 9
Last by Psycasm on Oct 06, 2010, 2:53pm
Editor's Selection Icon

I'm a purist, and I don't know why. I see people jogging on the street with their Ipods and it feels like they're cheating. I honestly can't explain this irrationality. It might stem from the days when I used to go to the gym and I would be hill-climbing on an excercise bike while watching a room full of soft, barely sweating over-weight house-wives toddle on a treadmill while watching MTV.

My only response when trying to explain this view is 'own your pain, own your workout - don't remove yourself from the situation', in my mind, it's the present frame of reference that makes you mentally harder. Of course, not everyone wants to be 'harder' and not everyone has the same aims in working out.

And so I think it's time I confronted this bizarre, irrational little prejudice of mine. What benefits can listening to music bring when working out? Bishop, Karageorghis and Kinrade (2010) took a bunch of tennis players (who ranged in proficiency from local to international ranks) and gave them a virtual tennis task that was designed to measure Arousal and Reaction-Time. They varied the tempo and the intensity of the music across cond . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 2259 | Comments: 2
Last by Psycasm on Sep 24, 2010, 7:55am
In my last post [here] all were invited to make judgements about my personality variables based only on a photo of my head and shoulders, and (implicitly) the post associated with it.

It had been suggested by Neumann and colleagues (200) that people can accurately do this - according to their methodology. While my post was a far cry from lab conditions people still made predictions, which is interesting in and of itself. I took the following Big-5 test test - at what appears to be a reputable and academic free online hosting. It was posted by Dr. Tom Buchanan, Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, UK. Click here. A quick explanation as to what the Big-5 are (and my accompanying scores) lifted directly from Dr. Buchanan's site:

Factor I : Extraversion (AKA Surgency) This trait reflects preference for, and behavior in, social situations. People high in extraversion are energetic and seek out the company of others. Low scorers (introverts) tend to be more quiet and reserved. Compared . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 2574 | Comments: 5
Last by microbiologist xx on Sep 26, 2010, 8:15am
I'm going to preface this by saying that I am not a medical expert. I don't even begin to pretend I know anything about medicine or how to cure diseases. I do watch those cheesy "Untold stories of the ER" shows on Discovery and TLC though, and sometimes I partially remember things they say about diagnoses.

This story begins back when I was finishing up my PhD at Iowa. I had successfully defended my thesis (thank god) and was out on a drinking excursion with "the boys" the weekend before I was moving down to Florida to start my new job. The evening started out just like any other, we pregamed at my buddy's apartment drinking cheap beer, cooking up some quick dinner and bullshitting about how much being a graduate student sucks. You know, the typical poor graduate student routine.

We finally got a cab and made it down to "downtown" which in Iowa City consists of 3 businesses and 75 bars filled with helplessly drunken co-eds. I swear it wasn't more than 15 minutes into the night when my buddy, who shall be referred to as "Dr. Millner" from here on out, started hiccuping. These weren't your normal "Hiccup for 10 minutes and be done with it" type of hiccups, these things were going to last for hours. Of course, being a medical student an . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 1302 | Comments: 14
Last by Psycasm on Sep 22, 2010, 5:42pm
Since I accepted an invitation to write for LabSpaces I’ve been wondering how best to make my debut. For those not familiar with my blog (and I take that to be the exceeding majority) I approach a topic that arises in my everyday life, and find an explanation for it from the Psychological literature. To be completely honest, it’s really a self-serving exercise – I’m usually trying to find a method that allows me to manipulate the situation to my advantage.

And so, when considering how best to make my mark here, I came to the art of first impressions.

First, however, I’m at a disadvantage – you can’t see me. And although it’s common wisdom that we all make first impressions based on physical appearance, my goal in beginning Psycasm was to question such assumptions and find out what the science actually says. I’m like mythbusters without the explosions. Or the moustache.

According to Naumann and Colleagues (2009), yes, we do make these assumptions. They stripped down the whole situation and presented subjects with a number of photographs – some of which were posed and some of which we unconstrained. When people viewed the posed condition they were able to accurately estimate levels of Self-Estee . . . More
Author: genegeek | Views: 1084 | Comments: 4
Last by yannisguerra on Sep 02, 2010, 7:58am
Recently, Lab Spaces has had some interesting posts about gender roles in science: Lab Mom has some interesting thoughts about her young daughter's experience at science camp and Disgruntled Julie has asked why we push women into the (physical) sciences if they aren't interested? As someone who does a lot of science outreach for teens, I spend some time thinking about these issues. But this post is not really about that (sorry).

How much does society shape genders?
Warning - this is anecdote-based, not a scientific review...

First, the difference between sex and gender. Sex is biology and gender is the attitudes, beliefs, and identity of masculine or feminine. Most of the time these things agree and we often use the words as synonyms. I'm not going to discuss these words anymore but I thought I should add in something 'educational'. If you want more information on sex/gender, check out Separating Gender from Sex.

I know you are wanting th . . . More