Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Swearing to reduce pain

It’s already well known that swearing reduces the amount of pain you feel, but so far we did not know why.  It turns out it has to do with aggression, hence playing a shoot’em-up video game works just as well. If you want to read more about how that works, check out Emma Byrne’s book  Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language.

You can find an illuminating excerpt here:

The Science of Why Swearing Physically Reduces Pain

Emma Byrne | 01.24.18 | Wired



January 28, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, emotions, health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

If there is an emotion involved in acquiring a belief, there is a much lower chance of changing it, even if it is a false belief.  And the excitement of getting a new social media  message seems to be a perfect way to cement information, true or not.  Think about it — do you have false beliefs that cannot be corrected by data?

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot has been investigating what determines whether someone can be persuaded by an argument. You can read about it in her book, The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, or check out this article for a taste of what you can do to avoid getting stuck with false beliefs:

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

By TALI SHAROT | September 19, 2017 | Time magazine

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January 20, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

Your Biology Runs on Feelings

From Damasio’s new book, an interesting explanation of the importance of feelings. Not an easy read, but worth the trouble to get through it.

Why Your Biology Runs on Feelings

By Antonio Damasio | January 18, 2018 | Nautilus

Think feelings are important? You’re more right than you know.

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January 18, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, emotions, neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Two related articles on how people end up with such divergent views from the same set of facts, and how the gap between the two sides keeps getting larger.

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Tali Sharot | September 19, 2017 | Time Magazine

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September 19, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, information, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Feeling down? Take a hike.

Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature

Study finds that walking in nature yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce risk of depression.
Rob Jordan | June 30, 2015 | Stanford News

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February 17, 2017 Posted by | brain, emotions, psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angry Men Are More Influential Than Angry Women

In case you thought gender is no longer an issue — wrong!

Why Angry Men Are More Influential Than Angry Women

Belinda Luscombe |Oct. 27, 2015 | Time Magazine

Jurors change their minds when guys fume

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October 28, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, emotions | , , , , | Leave a comment

The strange case of the man with two hearts

Before you read the article, try counting your heartbeat based solely on the feelings within your chest — don’t take your pulse or put your hands on your heart, just use the feelings inside you.  If you think you can feel it (majority won’t), check it against your actual pulse — how close were you?

Now read this article.

The strange case of the man with two hearts

When a man was fitted with a new heart, his mind changed in unusual ways. Why? The answer reveals a surprising truth about all our bodies, says David Robson.
David Robson | 5 December 2014 | BBC Future

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December 5, 2014 Posted by | brain, decision making, emotions, psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why do we smile?

An evolutionary explanation of why we laugh and smile and cry the way we do.  Seems very convincing and eye-opening. Make sure you get to the last paragraph.

From the excellent aeon magazine:

The first smile

Why do laughter, smiles and tears look so similar? Perhaps because they all evolved from a single root

by 13 August 2014 | aeon magazine

Michael Graziano is a neuroscientist, novelist and composer. He is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. His latest book is Consciousness and the Social Brain.

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October 21, 2014 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour, emotions, evolution | , , , , | Leave a comment

What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

Our innate instincts to recognize the probabilities of dangers are not always accurate (or useful) in our modern world.  But if you understand this, you can use your rational mind to try to alter your behaviour accordingly.  From Discover magazine, July-August 2011 edition:

What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

Humans have a perplexing 
tendency to fear rare threats such as shark attacks while blithely 
ignoring far greater risks like 
unsafe sex and an unhealthy diet. Those illusions are not just 
silly—they make the world a more dangerous place.

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September 12, 2011 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, statistics | , , | 1 Comment

Rational financial decision making

We don’t make rational decisions, and that’s especially bad for us when it comes to our financial health.  The article below, from Benefits Canada, explores this:

Keeping feelings out of financial decision-making

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September 28, 2010 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, emotions, investing, psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment