Category:
Psychology

October 9, 2008

The Glass Delusion

An unusual psychiatric disorder swept through Europe during the late Medieval period. Many people came to believe they were made of glass "and therefore likely to shatter into pieces." Historians call this the Glass Delusion.

A typical sufferer might have believed he was "a urinal, an oil lamp or other glass receptacle, or else he might himself be trapped within a glass bottle." (A "urinal" during the middle ages referred to a small flask... essentially a glass pee pee bottle.)

One famous early sufferer: the French king, Charles VI, who refused to allow people to touch him, and wore reinforced clothing to protect himself.

A 1561 medical account describes a patient "who had to relieve himself standing up, fearing that if he sat down his buttocks would shatter... The man concerned was a glass-maker from the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain, who constantly applied a small cushion to his buttocks, even when standing. He was cured of this obsession by a severe thrashing from the doctor, who told him that his pain emanated from buttocks of flesh."

In modern times, the glass delusion has disappeared. "Surveys of modern psychiatric institutions have only revealed two specific (uncorroborated) cases of the glass delusion. Foulché-Delbosc reports finding one Glass Man in a Paris asylum, and a woman who thought she was a potsherd was recorded at an asylum in Meerenberg."

One sign of the glass delusion's vanishing is that there's not much information about it on the internet. Not even a wikipedia entry about it. The above factoids came from "An odd kind of melancholy: reflections on the glass delusion in Europe," by Gill Speak, published in 1990 in the History of Psychiatry.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 09, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: History, Psychology

October 1, 2008

Tongue Jutting

The FiveThirtyEight blog noted the frequency with which McCain stuck out his tongue during last Friday's debate. The behavior is known as "tongue jutting." It's a well-known "tell" that professional interrogators and poker players look for. According to retired FBI agent Joe Navarro, this is what it means:

Tongue-jutting behavior is a gesture used by people who think they have gotten away with something or are “caught” doing something... This behavior has several meanings – depending on specific situations – but is usually associated with one of these: I got caught (taking candy from a drawer), gleeful excitement (look at what I just did, Mom), I got away with something (and I didn’t get caught), I did something foolish, or I am naughty.

I'll add that tongue jutting (or tongue protrusion) is also a behavior often seen in the animal world. Reptologists have developed the "tongue flick attack score" which is "a common method for quantifying predatory behavior in squamate reptiles." A higher score (i.e. more tongue flicks) indicates a greater predatory response.

Tongue protrusion is also a form of sociosexual behavior that has been observed in nocturnal Owl Monkeys. It is part of a range of mating behavior that includes lip-smacking, squinting, partner-marking, and urine-drinking.

So the question is, was McCain's tongue jutting more reptilian or primate? i.e. was it more predatory in nature, or sociosexual? I'll leave that to you readers to decide.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Oct 01, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Psychology

September 26, 2008

Dion Fortune

image
Collecting novels of the fantastic as I do, I eventually and inevitably came across those of Dion Fortune, and bought a few. To this day, they remain untracked by my eyes. Nonetheless, I was sensitized to her name, and could spot her non-fiction selection Psychic Self-Defence readily on the shelf of a used-book store and snatch it up. A bargain at $5.00, I'm sure!

I haven't read it yet, but I'm much looking forward to learning how to protect myself against various types of intrusive mind assaults. Sample a few pages yourselves below.

And thanks to Google Books, you can read the whole thing online here.




image

image

Posted By: Paul - Fri Sep 26, 2008 - Comments (8)
Category: New Age, Paranormal, Self-help Schemes, Psychology, Books, 1930's

September 11, 2008

World D

image
Here's another strange book I purchased but have not yet read. The real author is Joseph K. Heydon, using the pen-name of Hal Trevarthen. Time has swallowed up all details related to Heydon and his book, leaving us only with the text itself.


image
Here's the description from the amazingly ugly dustjacket.


image
Here's the title page, followed by a sample of the actual bafflegab inside.


image Posted By: Paul - Thu Sep 11, 2008 - Comments (11)
Category: Aliens, Eccentrics, Government, Inventions, Literature, Books, Science Fiction, Writers, Nature, New Age, Paranormal, Pop Culture, Science, Psychology, Self-help Schemes, Foreign Customs, 1930's, Yesterday's Tomorrows

September 5, 2008

One Touch of Homer Makes the Whole World Kin

image
In this NEW YORK TIMES article from today, scientists reveal their latest findings about which brain cells are excited during the recall of memories, and how closely memory tallies with literally re-enacting the events. And they use a tantalizing example:





After briefly distracting the patients, the researchers then asked them to think about the clips for a minute and to report “what comes to mind.” The patients remembered almost all of the clips. And when they recalled a specific one — say, a clip of Homer Simpson — the same cells that had been active during the Homer clip reignited. In fact, the cells became active a second or two before people were conscious of the memory, which signaled to researchers the memory to come.


Why is Homer Simpson singled out as the test case? Obviously because the human brain has specific neurons that emulate or actually induce and compel Homer-Simpson-style behavior.

And there in a nutshell you have the whole basis for ninety-nine percent of the contents of WEIRD UNIVERSE.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Sep 05, 2008 - Comments (13)
Category: Celebrities, Science, Experiments, Psychology, Stupidity, Television, Husbands, Cartoons

September 4, 2008

Candid Camera

Candid Camera was, in my opinion, the greatest TV show about psychology ever made, and this is one of its classic segments: Group behavior in elevator. It speaks volumes about the human need to conform.



Another segment I like is "The Interpreter," from the British Candid Camera. Watch as the interpreter never questions the romantic advances the woman makes toward him, even though her "fiancee" is sitting beside him.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 04, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Television, Video, Psychology

August 27, 2008

Help Zimbardo Study Helping

Dr. Phil Zimbardo, famous for conducting the Stanford Prison Experiment which revealed how quickly average college students will embrace the roles of sadistic prison guards and passive prisoners, and most recently author of The Lucifer Effect, is now turning his attention to helping behavior. From the hero workshop blog (via boing boing):

The goal is to discover how individuals perceive the behavior of helpfulness.
The first step is to conduct a survey with as many participants as possible. That’s where you come in. The survey takes about 30 minutes and can be found at www.socialpsychresearch.org.

I took one look at the length of time and thought, "30 minutes! I don't want to take a survey for that long!" I'm basically unhelpul and selfish. But this made me realize that the only people taking the survey will be those that are more helpful than most. It'll be a biased sample.

Zimbardo and his co-researchers are very smart people, so I'm sure they realize this. I'm guessing that the real purpose of the survey may be to find out how many people actually take it, versus how many visit the link. That could provide a quick snapshot of how many helpful people there are on the internet. (Thanks to Joe Littrell!)

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 27, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Science, Experiments, Psychology

August 26, 2008

Head Canting


Have you ever noticed that some people, when their picture is taken, tilt their head to the side? The behavior is called head canting. I never knew this until I stumbled upon an article titled "Head Canting In Paintings: An Historical Study" in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior (Spring 2001).

Some factoids about head canting:

• Researchers speculate that it's a submissive gesture. The sociologist Erving Goffman described it as "a form of ingratiation or appeasement achieved by reducing one's overall height."

• The authors of the "Head Canting in Paintings" article examined 1498 figures in the works of 11 painters from the 14th to the 20th centuries. They concluded that, throughout history, head canting has been associated with submissiveness:

religious and mythological figures exhibited much more head canting than commissioned portraits. This finding supports the idea that head canting is strongly connected with the expression of submission, appeasement, ingratiation, and request for protection... In contrast, in paintings portraying nobles, professionals, and artists, head canting was minimal or absent.

Some googling about the subject also uncovered a bit of trivia:

Head-tilting was a signature cue of method actor James Dean. Dean's head-tilts seemed to say, as East of Eden director, Elia Kazan put it, "Pity me, I'm too sensitive for the world."

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 26, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Photography and Photographers, Psychology

August 22, 2008

Listening to Reverse Lyrics

Are musicians placing hidden (often Satanic) reverse lyrics in their music? It's an old controversy, but also one that can offer an interesting psychological demonstration of the power of perceptual expectation. Which means, in plain English, that our brain makes our ears hear what it expects to hear.

Check out Jeff Milner's site devoted to backmasking. He has samples of popular songs. First play the songs forward. Then listen to them reversed. They probably sound like gibberish.

But next click the button to reveal the reverse lyrics that you're supposed to be able to hear and listen to the reversed music again. You should now be able to "hear" the reverse lyrics... because your brain is expecting to hear them. The British Psychological Society's blog writes:

Once the expectations for what to hear are in place, they can't be undone. You can't unhear the devilish lyrics once you know about them. This is a powerful demonstration of how our perceptual experiences are based not just on what is served up by our senses, but also on what our brains bring to the table.

My favorite reverse lyric was the one in Pink Floyd's Empty Spaces.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 22, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Music, Psychology

August 14, 2008

The Smoke-Filled Room

If you were sitting in a waiting room and smoke began to billow out of a vent in the wall, you'd probably do something about it. At least, you'd report the problem to someone. Or maybe not.

In a famous experiment conducted by John Darley and Bibb Latané during the 1960s, Columbia University students were invited to share their views about problems of urban life. Those who expressed an interest in participating were asked to first report to a waiting room in one of the university buildings where they would find some forms to fill out before being interviewed. They had no idea that the urban-life study was just a cover story. The real experiment occurred in the waiting room.

As they filled out the forms, smoke began to enter the room through a small vent in the wall. By the end of four minutes, there was enough smoke to obscure vision and interfere with breathing. Darley and Latané examined how the students reacted to this smoke in two different conditions.

In the first condition, the students were alone. When this was the case, they invariably investigated the smoke more closely and then went out into the hallway to tell someone about it.

But in the second condition, the students were not alone. There were two or three other people in the room, who were secret confederates of the researchers. They had been instructed to not react to the smoke. They would look up at it, stare briefly, shrug their shoulders, and continue working on the forms. If asked about it, they would simply say, "I dunno."

In this setting, according to Darley and Latané, "only one of the ten subjects... reported the smoke. the other nine subjects stayed in the waiting room for the full six minutes while it continued to fill up with smoke, doggedly working on their questionnaires and waving the fumes away from their faces. They coughed, rubbed their eyes, and opened the window -- but they did not report the smoke."

That's the power of group pressure.

If you ever get the chance, check out Darley and Latané's book The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn't He Help? It's not easy to find because it's out of print, but it's full of strange experiments like the smoke-filled room one.

Also check out this youtube video based on the smoke-filled room experiment. It's not the original study, but a later replication of it.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 14, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Science, Experiments, Psychology

Page 5 of 6 pages « First  <  3 4 5 6 >
Custom Search





Get WU Posts by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


weird universe thumbnail

Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is best known as the curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the weird news "expert" at about.com.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Chuck Shepherd
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
May 2016 • April 2016 • March 2016 • February 2016 • January 2016

December 2015 • November 2015 • October 2015 • September 2015 • August 2015 • July 2015 • June 2015 • May 2015 • April 2015 • March 2015 • February 2015 • January 2015

December 2014 • November 2014 • October 2014 • September 2014 • August 2014 • July 2014 • June 2014 • May 2014 • April 2014 • March 2014 • February 2014 • January 2014

December 2013 • November 2013 • October 2013 • September 2013 • August 2013 • July 2013 • June 2013 • May 2013 • April 2013 • March 2013 • February 2013 • January 2013

December 2012 • November 2012 • October 2012 • September 2012 • August 2012 • July 2012 • June 2012 • May 2012 • April 2012 • March 2012 • February 2012 • January 2012

December 2011 • November 2011 • October 2011 • September 2011 • August 2011 • July 2011 • June 2011 • May 2011 • April 2011 • March 2011 • February 2011 • January 2011

December 2010 • November 2010 • October 2010 • September 2010 • August 2010 • July 2010 • June 2010 • May 2010 • April 2010 • March 2010 • February 2010 • January 2010

December 2009 • November 2009 • October 2009 • September 2009 • August 2009 • July 2009 • June 2009 • May 2009 • April 2009 • March 2009 • February 2009 • January 2009

December 2008 • November 2008 • October 2008 • September 2008 • August 2008 • July 2008 • 

Weird Universe Categories
1900's - 1910's - 1920's - 1930's - 1940's - 1950's - 1960's - 1970's - 1980's - 1990's - 2000's - 2010's - Accidents - Actors - Addictions - Advertising - Africa - Agriculture - AI, Robots and Other Automatons - Air Travel and Airlines - Alcohol - Alex - Aliens - Amateurs and Fans - Ambiguity, Uncertainty and Deliberate Obscurity - Animals - Anniversary - Annoying Things - Anthropology - Anthropomorphism - Antiques, Anachronisms and Throwbacks - Antisocial Activites - Appliances - Archaeology - Architecture - Armageddon and Apocalypses - Armed Forces - Art - Asia - Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters - Australia - Authorities and Experts - Avant Garde - Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests - Babies - Babies and Toddlers - Backyard BBQ - Bacon - Bad Habits, Neuroses and Psychoses - Bathrooms - Baths, Showers and Other Cleansing Methods - Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues - Bicycles and Other Human-powered Vehicles - Billboards - Birth Control - Blood - Boats - Body - Body Fluids - Body Modifications - Body Painting - Bodybuilding - Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers - Bombast, Bloviation and Pretentiousness - Books - Boredom - Brain - Brain Damage - Buildings and Other Structures - Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople - Bus - Business - Busybodies, Snoops and Kibitzers - Butt - Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults - Can't Possibly Be True - Candy - Cannibalism - Caribbean - Cars - Cartoons - Cats - Celebrities - Censorship, Bluenoses, Taboos, Prohibitions and Other Cultural No-No's - Central America - Centuries - Ceremonies - Certificates, Diplomas, and Other Testaments of Achievement - Charities and Philanthropy - Charity - Child Prodigies - Children - Chindogu - Chocolate - Chuck - Civic Duties - Clowns - Clubs, Fraternities and Other Self-selecting Organizations - Coffee and other Legal Stimulants - Collectors - Comedians - Comics - Comments - Communications - Computers - Confusion, Misunderstanding, and Incomprehension - Conspiracy Theories and Theorists - Contest - Contests, Races and Other Competitions - Conventions - Cops - Corporate Mascots, Icons and Spokesbeings - Corrections - Cosmetics - Costumes and Masks - Couples - Crafts - Crime - Criticism and Reviews - Crossovers and Mashups - Crowds, Groups, Mobs and Other Mass Movements - Cryptozoology - Cult Figures and Artifacts - Culture and Civilization - Curmudgeons and Contrarianism - Curses - Curses, Slurs, Insults, Vituperation, Libel and Slander - Customs - Dance - Daredevils, Stuntpeople and Thrillseekers - Death - Decades - Delusions, Fantasies and Other Tricks of the Imagination - Design and Designers - Destruction - Detectives, Private Eyes and Other Investigators - Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers - Dieting and Weight Loss - Differently Abled, Handicapped, Challenged, and Otherwise Atypical - Dinners, Banquets, Parties, Tributes, Roasts and Other Celebrations - Dinosaurs and Other Antediluvian Creatures - Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Creatures - Diplomacy and Foreign Relations - Disabilities - Disasters - Disease - Diseases - Disguises, Impersonations, Mimics and Forgeries - Dismemberment - Divorce - Documentaries - Dogs - Domestic - Double Entendres and Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Wink - Dreams and Nightmares - Drones - Drugs - Eating - Eccentrics - Education - Eighteenth Century - Elderly - Elderly and Seniors - Emigrants, Immigrants and Borders - Emotions - Engineering and Construction - Enlargements, Miniatures, and Other Matters of Scale - Entertainment - Environmentalism and Ecology - Ethics and Morals - Ethnic Groupings - Etiquette and Formal Behavior - Europe - Evil - Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough - Excrement - Exercise and Fitness - Experiments - Experts and Authority Figures - Exploitation and Grindhouse - Explosives - Eyes and Vision - Face and Facial Expressions - Facial Hair - Fads - Fairs, Amusement Parks, and Resorts - Family - Fantasy - Farming - Fashion - Fate, Predetermination and Inevitability - Feet - Feminism - Fetishes - Fey, Twee, Whimsical, Naive and Sadsack - Fictional Monsters - Fireworks and Pyrotechnics - Fish - Flags - Flatulence - Flight - Food - Foreign Customs - Forteana - Frauds, Cons and Scams - Freaks, Oddities, Quirks of Nature - Freebies, Come-ons and Loss Leaders - Furniture - Futurism - Gambling, Casinos, Lotteries and Other Games of Chance - Games - Garbage, Trash, Waste and Other Detritus - Geeks, Nerds and Pointdexters - Gender - Gender-bending - Genitals - Geography and Maps - Giant People in Ads - Gods - Goofs and Screw-ups - Goths - Government - Graffiti - Graphics - Guess the Scientist - Guns - Hair and Hairstyling - Hair Styling - Head - Headgear - Headlines - Health - Hermits - Highways, Roads, Streets and Traffic - Hillbillies, Country Bumpkins, Ruralism and Flyover Country - Historical Figure - History - Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators - Hobbies and DIY - Holidays - Hollywood - Homages, Pastiches, Tributes and Borrowings - Horror - Horticulture and Gardens - Hospitals - Hotels - Human Marvels - Humor - Hunting, Trapping and Other Wilderness Activities - Husbands - Hygiene - Imitations, Forgeries, Rip-offs and Faux - India - Industry, Factories and Manufacturing - Inebriation and Intoxicants - Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art - Infantilism - Injuries - Innuendo, Double Entendres, Symbolism, Nudge-Nudge-Wink-Wink and Subliminal Messages - Insects - Insurance - Intelligence - Interior Decorating - Internet - Inventions - Jabberwocky, Scat Singing, Nonsense Verse and Glossolalia - Jewelry - Jobs and Occupations - Johnson Smith Catalog - Jokes - Journalism - Judges - Junk Food - Juvenile Delinquency - Kitsch and Collectibles - Landmarks - Landscaping - Languages - Law - Lawsuits - LGBT - Libraries - Lies, Dishonesty and Cheating - Literature - Little People - Love & Romance - Love and Romance - Mad Scientists, Evil Geniuses, Insane Villains - Magazines - Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand - Marriage - Martial Arts - Mass Transit - Medicine - Men - Mental Health and Insanity - Middle East - Midwest Divisions Friday Feast - Military - Mining - Misbehavior, Rebellion, Acting-out and General Naughtiness - Mistranslations - Money - Monuments - Moral Panics and Public Hysteria - More Things To Worry About - Motor Vehicles - Motorcycles - Movies - Museums - Music - Myths and Fairytales - Name That List - Native Americans - Natural Resources - Natural Wonders - Nature - Nausea, Revulsion and Disgust - New Age - New Zealand - Newspapers - NGOs - Nineteenth Century - Noises and Other Public Disturbances of the Peace - North America - Not Clear On The Concept - Nudism - Nutrition - Obesity - Obituaries - Obscenity - Obsessions - Oceans and Maritime Pursuits - Odd Names - Officials - Opera - Outrageous Excess - Outsider Art - Overpriced Merchandise - Pain, Self-inflicted and Otherwise - Parades and Festivals - Paradoxes, Enigmas and Other Conundrums - Paranormal - Parents - Parody - Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil - Patriotism - Paul - Performance Art - Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents - Perfume and Other Scents - Pests, Plagues and Infestations - Pets - Philosophy - Photography and Photographers - Pirates - Poetry - Police and Other Law Enforcement - Political Correctness - Politics - Pop Art - Pop Culture - Postal Services - Posters - Power Generation - Pranks - Pranks and Revenge - Predictions - Pregnancy - Prisons - Products - Propaganda, Thought Control and Brainwashing - PSA's - Psychedelic - Psychology - Public Humiliation - Public Indecency - Public Utilities - Publicity Stunts - Puns and Other Wordplay - Puppets and Automatons - Quizzes - Racism - Radio - Rants, Warnings, Jeremiads, Prophecies and Cassandra-like Figures - Reader Recommendation - Real Estate - Really Bad Ideas - Recreation - Recurring - Reformers, Do-gooders, Agitators and SJWs - Regionalism - Regulations - Religion - Restaurants - Retail Establishments - Retailing - Riots, Protests and Civil Disobedience - Rituals and Superstitions - Robots - Roleplayers and Re-enactors - Romances - Royalty - Rube Goldberg Devices - Russia - Sadness - Scams, Cons, Rip-offs, and General Larceny - Scary Criminals - Scatology - Scholarship - School - Science - Science Fiction - Screams, Grunts and Other Exclamations - Screwups - Seasonal - Self-help Schemes - Seventeenth Century - Sex - Sex Lives Worse Than Yours - Sex Symbols - Sex Toys - Sexuality - Shoes - Shopping - ShowBiz - Sightseeing - Signage - Sixteenth Century - Skin and Skin Conditions - Skulls, Bones and Skeletons - Slang - Slavery, Bondage and Indenture - Sleaze and Sleazeballs - Sleep and Dreams - Smoking and Tobacco - Soda, Pop, Soft Drinks and other Non-Alcoholic Beverages - South America - South Pacific - South Pacific and Polynesia - Space Travel - Space-age Bachelor Pad & Exotic - Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy - Spies and Intelligence Services - Spies and Secret Agents - Spies and Secret Agents - Sports - Stamps - Statues, Monuments and Memorials - Stereotypes and Cliches - Stomach - Stop-motion Animation - Strange Candidates - Strange Websites - Stupid Criminals - Stupidity - Subcultures - Subways - Success & Failure - Suicide - Superheroes - Superstition - Surgery - Surrealism - Swears - Swimming, Snorkeling, and Diving - Synchronicity - Synchronicity and Coincidence - Tattoos - Taxidermy - Technology - Teenagers - Teeth - Telephones - Television - Terrorism and Terrorists - Testing and Ranking - Theater and Stage - Time-travel - Tobacco and Smoking - Tools - Torture - Tourists and Tourism - Toys - Tradesmen, Manual Laborers, and Skilled Workers - Tragedy and Pathos - Trains - Trains and Other Vehicles on Rails - Transportation - Travel - Trucks - TV News - Twentieth Century - Twenty-first Century - Twins, Lookalikes & Doppelgangers - Underwear - Universities, Colleges, Private Schools and Academia - Unsolved Mysteries - Urban Life - Utilities - Utilities and Power Generation - Utopias and Dystopias - Vaudeville - Vegetables - Vegetarians and Vegans - Video - Videogames - Videogames and Gamers - Vigilante Justice - Violence - War - Weapons - Weather - Weddings - Weddings and Marriage - Weird Names - Weird Studies and Guides - Weird Theory - Weird Universe - Wild West and US Frontier - Wimps, Milquetoasts and Cowards - Wives - Women - Work and Vocational Training - World - World Records - Wrestling - Writers - Yesterday's Tomorrows - Your Daily Jury Duty - Your Daily Loser




This page has been viewed 43313679 times.