Pizza Hut is testing a new "subconscious menu" in some of its UK restaurants. Just look at the food choices on the screen of the tablet, and the eye-tracking technology will determine which food your eyes are lingering over longest. [wash post]
This made me think of Paul's post from a few days ago about the octopus in the farm yard, which demonstrated that our eyes "dwell on objects that are discrepant with expectations." So if there's an octopus on the menu, you'll just have to eat octopus pizza.
Kate Smith was a rat trained to raise a small American flag. It was trained by Kelly Buckwalter of Santa Barbara High School as "an experiment in operant conditioning" for her chemistry and psychology classes.
Upon a moment's reflection, the creepiness of this product becomes apparent, explaining why it never caught on. The notion of one's own voice pleasantly or angrily cajoling the sleeper to awake is straight out of some Philip K. Dick dystopia, in which the hero's brain has been split into two separate personalities. "Wake up, Paul, wake up! Today is the day you must assassinate the ambassador from Rigel Nine!"
On occasion, Japanese citizens who travel to Paris suffer episodes of extreme depression. The depression can be so severe that it leads to hallucinations and psychosis. The Japanese psychiatrist Hiroaki Ota named this condition "Paris Syndrome." He speculated that it's caused by the difference between the idealized view of Paris that the travelers held and the reality that confronted them.
Recently, filmmaker John Menick created a short documentary about this syndrome. He describes it as:
a short, cinematic essay analyzing the cultural implications of travel-related mental illnesses. The project places the syndrome within an ongoing history of cross-cultural relations; the emergence of a global tourist industry; and the creation of psychiatric schools of thought devoted to inter-cultural relations. In addition to the Parisian illness, Paris Syndrome also looks at a number of related issues: Stendhal Syndrome, an ailment experienced by traveling viewers of art (identified in Florence, Italy); the history of psychiatric portraiture; 19th-century mad travelers; and the changes in travel-related mental illnesses throughout history.
A study recently published in the American Journal of Political Science (pdf) found that patients suffering from profound amnesia can still make pretty good voting decisions. That is, even though the patients couldn't remember who the candidates were, or what their positions on issues were, they still somehow picked out the ones whose political views were similar to their own. From the abstract:
We report here that amnesic patients, despite not being able to remember any issue information, consistently voted for candidates with favored political positions. Thus, sound voting decisions do not require recall or recognition of previously learned associations between candidates and their issue positions. This result supports a multiple memory systems model of political decision making.
I'm not sure whether these results have any relevance to the American electorate. After all, the amnesic patients once knew the candidates' positions, but forgot them. But what about voters who don't know the positions and issues to begin with?