This post seemed appropriate for Valentine's Day, since it's about an engineer's attempt to use machine logic to improve the "ambiguities of the woman/man relationship".
James F. Hollander was a patent attorney with a degree in electrical engineering. In the late 1970s he invented and patented what he called the "Human Relationship Simulator". It consisted of a box with various dials.
Even after reading his patent, and an article about his invention, I'm not exactly sure how the thing operated. From what I can gather, if a couple were having an argument, or needed to make a decision (such as where to go for dinner), they could both adjust dials on the Simulator, and it would give them an answer. And measure the intensity of their feelings.
Here's more info from a 1977 article in the Asbury Park Press:
Taking a hypothetical issue, such as a man and woman deciding whether or not to go out to dinner, information is fed into the panels. One represents the man; the other, the woman.
Each subject uses dials that represent four areas — compliance with society, attention to own desire, social pressure and personal inclination. The personal inclination and social pressure gauges are intricately detailed to show adamant 'yes' or 'no' responses, or degrees such as strong preference, or very much or some.
Attention to desire is measured in readings of low, medium and high, as is compliance with society.
As the subjects feed this information into the panels, other gauges measure tension, feelings, guilt or pride, emotional independence, like and dislike, and influence, based on each decision.
The machine does the thinking, lights a decision of 'yes' or 'no' and tells the subjects their emotional responses....
In a marriage situation, Hollander said the device could show the individuals why something is going wrong in the relationship if arguments are portrayed and feelings defined.
"I wanted to pick out the ambiguities of the woman/man relationship," he pointed out.
Asbury Park Press - Aug 29, 1977
If that doesn't seem entirely clear, then here's a sample from Hollander's patent:
The decision voltage output of the man-simulator is connected to the threshold detector of the woman-simulator via a sense port. Similarly, the woman-simulator has a decision voltage output port connected to a sense port and input to the level threshold detector of the man-simulator. A switch interrupts each output so that the effect of relationship can be shown. By adjustment and interpretation of the dial settings and decision indications, paradoxes and problems in man-woman relationships are demonstrated.
In 1957, advertiser John P. Cunningham came up with the concept of an "Index of Boredom" in an attempt to quantify how bored TV viewers were while watching shows. His research team studied 160 viewers in New Brunswick, NJ, and concluded that the most boring show on TV was Milton Berle, while the least boring show was "I Remember Mama".
But they also came across an unexpected finding: people would continue to watch TV shows even if they found them boring.
Perhaps the strangest fact to emerge from the reports was that people watch programs even though they are tired of them. Some of those surveyed were quite hostile to the spate of westerns on TV, but they watched westerns anyway.
Assuming this woman was telling the truth, and she really thought she was a camel, then her case would be an example of the very rare condition known as clinical zoanthropy. That is, the belief that one has turned into an animal.
Following the 1973 release of The Exorcist, six people who saw it had to be admitted to a Chicago hospital "straight from the theater." Psychiatrist James Bozzuto examined four of them and concluded they were suffering from "cinematic neurosis" — a term he coined. Basically, this was neurosis caused by watching a movie. Symptoms of this condition included "anxiety, helplessness, sleeplessness and repetitive post-traumatic dreams."
San Francisco Examiner - Dec 14, 1976
The 1975 release of Jaws also caused an outbreak of cinematic neurosis. Here's a description of a case from a December 1975 Knight News Wire article:
Three months ago, a 17-year-old girl from a small town in western Kansas was admitted to Wichita's Wesley Medical Center with a strange malady. Her neck was stiff, her hands trembled, and she was periodically seized by fits of terror. She would jerk her arms spasmodically and scream, "Sharks! Sharks!"
During these attacks, which always occurred at night, she appeared to be unaware of the world around her, and she didn't respond when people spoke to her.
Over the next three days, while doctors ruled out the possibility that she had meningitis or some other neurological problem, she had five of these attacks.
In between these episodes of terror, she talked with neurologist Arnold Barnett about her problem.
It seems that three days before admission, she had seen the motion picture "Jaws," movie history's biggest money-maker, which chronicles the bloody activities of a shark that terrorizes swimmers off the shores of Long Island.
Later that evening, after discussing the film with her friends, she became frightened and upset. She had her first attack the next day.
Barnett treated the girl with sedatives and reassuring conversation. He emphasized the unlikelihood of a shark attack in western Kansas.
A recent issue of the Dutch journal Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie (Journal of Psychiatry) reports on the case of a woman who believed she was a chicken. From the report (via Google translate):
Patient A, a 54-year-old woman, consulted the emergency department with her brother for acute attacks of deviant behavior, expressing the belief that she was a chicken and displaying behavior reminiscent of it.
Clinically, we saw a lady profusely sweating, trembling, blowing her cheeks and displaying stereotypical behavior in which she seemed to imitate a chicken, such as clucking, cackling and crowing like a rooster. After ten minutes, she seemed to tense the muscles for a few seconds, her face flushed and she did not respond for a short time. These symptoms repeated at intervals of several minutes, between which anamnesis was possible. The patient's consciousness was fluctuating, attention was hyper-reactive and the patient was disoriented in time and space. Her memory could not be tested objectively, but she could adequately tell her history.
She said she had barely slept since five days and wandered barefoot and dressed in a dressing gown on the street at around 4 a.m. the previous night. A general feeling of unwellness had been present for several days, as well as a strange feeling in the limbs, as if they no longer fit her body and flapped uncontrollably. The patient expressed the thought of being a chicken and that they had been forgotten to roost her.
Patient's brother added that he found her in the garden in the same condition as we saw her now. Between that moment and the registration with us, the bizarre behavior in attacks occurred.
The researchers note that clinical zoanthropy (the belief that one has turned into an animal) is an extremely rare delusion. Apparently there have been only 56 cases of this reported between 1850 and 2012. Some of the animals people believe they have become include "a dog, lion, tiger, hyena, shark, crocodile, frog, bovine, cat, goose, rhinoceros, rabbit, horse, snake, bird, wild boar, gerbil and a bee."
While participants without any dieting experience seemed to be unaffected by the bitten dessert, those with dieting experience who viewed the bitten dessert responded more favorably (higher purchase intentions, desirability evaluations, etc.) than those who viewed the cut and whole desserts. These findings were expected as research has shown that dieters differ from non dieters in their responses to food cues (Frank, Kim, Krzemien, & Van Vugt, 2010)...
These findings explain that the bitten dessert is percieved as more real and authentic in comparison to the cut and whole dessert, and, thus, these perceptions of realness resulted in its positive evaluations. After the bitten dessert, the cut dessert was perceived as being the next most real, with the whole dessert being viewed as the least real of the three.
A field experiment was conducted in which a single male, a single female, or a male-female couple attempted to hitch rides at four different traffic locations, under conditions in which the hitchhikers either stared at or looked away from oncoming drivers...
In the stare conditions, E stared at the driver of the target vehicle and attempted to fixate on the driver's gaze and maintain this gaze as long as possible until the driver either stopped his vehicle or drove on. In the comparison conditions, E looked anywhere else but at the driver. Thus, on some trials E looked in the general direction of the car; on other trials E looked at his feet, the road, the sky, etc. Es were specifically instructed to neither smile nor frown, and to maintain a casual (neither rigid nor slouching) body postural orientation while soliciting rides.
The two hitchhikers were described as, "both 20 years of age and both dressed in bluejeans and dark coats. The male had short, curly blond hair, and the female, straight, shoulder length blond hair. Both could be described as neat, collegiate, attractive in physical appearance, and of an appropriate age to be hitchhiking."
A hitchhiker in Luxembourg - Aug 1977 (source: wiktionary.org) (not one of the hitchhikers in the study)
Staring is often interpreted as a threat. So the researchers anticipated that staring at oncoming drivers might result in fewer rides. But the opposite turned out to be true. Which is a useful tip to know if you ever need to hitchhike. But what really helped get a lot of rides was being a single female. From the study:
it seems that the effect of attempted eye contact and sex of hitchhikers were such that a staring female got the most rides and a nonstaring male the least, with a staring male and a nonstaring female in between.
Contrary to popular belief and hitchhiking folklore , it was no easier for a male-female couple to hitch a ride than a single male, and a mixed sex couple was less successful at soliciting rides than a single female hitchhiker. Although the generality of this conclusion is limited by the fact that it is based upon results obtained by one male and one female E, it is probably the case that couples are less successful hitching rides because of space limitations in the cars they approach. That is, it is more likely that the driver will have room for one additional passenger than that he will have room for two or more additional passengers in his car.
Incidentally, the experimenters never actually ever got in a car with anyone: "After a motorist stopped to pick up one of the hitchhikers, he was politely thanked and given a printed description of the nature of the experiment. No driver expressed any discomfort when he learned that the hitchhiker did not actually want a ride."
Public health warnings have been printed on cigarette packs since 1966 (in the U.S.). But recently, public health researchers have been wondering whether altering the appearance of the cigarettes themselves might be more effective. In a study published in the 2016 issue of the journal Tobacco Control, New Zealand researchers tested the response of smokers to a variety of “dissuasive cigarettes.”
One of these cigarettes had a “smoking kills” warning printed directly on it. Two others were unpleasant colors: "slimy green" and "faecal yellow-brown." The fourth was printed with a graphic depicting "15 minutes of life lost."
The researchers found that the smokers they surveyed reacted negatively to all four of the dissuasive cigarettes, but had the strongest negative reaction to the "15 minutes of life lost" cigarette:
Respondents were least likely to select an option where the stick featured the 'minutes of life lost' graphic. Relative to the 'typical' stick (the most common and most preferred stick), the 'minutes of life lost' stick was 80% less likely to be chosen (OR=0.21) and nearly four scale points less appealing (-1.32 cf. 2.66)
Science has devoted considerable thought and experimentation in the hope of devising a reliable lie detector, and some interesting results have been announced in various directions.
The latest researches have been made known by Dr. Boris Orlov, a Russian psychologist, now living in Paris. Professor Orlov asserts that modern fashions, by exposing women’s necks, have incidentally exposed their minds. When a woman is not telling the truth, he insists, she will blush in the area just below the breast bone.
Dr. Orlov calls this telltale area the “zone of veracity,” and his book, “La Pseudologie Humaine Normale et Anormale,” offers a number of other interesting tips for the casual detection of untruthfulness. This “zone of veracity,” Dr. Orlov says, is a sort of window through which certain well-disguised feminine mental processes may be seen…
“When a woman lies,” Dr. Orlov continues, “there is inevitably a nervous tension inside her. During the mental stress of lying, this tension is communicated to the vasomotor nerves which control the arteries and capillaries in the skin.
“Blushing in any part of the body is produced by an increased flow of blood into the capillary vessels serving the parts where the blush extends. The area affected is not only reddened, but there is a perceptible increase of heat there.
“The interaction between mind and body is close. A nerve filament from the sympathetic system lies along the sheath of and parallel with each artery and capillary, controlling the expansion and contraction of the muscular coat of the vessel. This is the vasomotor nerve. The mental agitation produced by lying causes temporary vasomotor paralysis and an ensuing rush of blood into the capillary vessels of the skin, which we call blushing.
“A self-controlled deceiver can inhibit blushing in the face. But the feminine fibber’s throat, her upper thoracic area, will visibly palpitate and redden. A throbbing or fluttering will be seen in the area about the breast bone. The blushing will usually cover a space two to three inches in diameter. In many cases, this section of the throat or bosom will redden though not a trace of a blush will color the cheek.”
In Oct 2013, the chewing gum company Beldent gathered five sets of identical twins. In each set, one twin was instructed to chew gum while the other sat motionless. Visitors to the Buenos Aires Museum of Contemporary Art were then asked questions about the twins.
Their answers indicated that 73 percent of people had a more favorable impression of the gum chewing twins. Beldent claimed that this disproved the "chewing gum stigma."
Though I disagree. I think gum chewing does turn off some people. What the experiment showed was that there's an even greater stigma attached to being expressionless, showing no emotion at all
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.