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
In 1973, entrepreneurs Richard and Christine Braunlich launched a business called Conversation. The idea was that it would allow people to pay to have a conversation with an expert "conversationalist." $5 for the first half-hour, and $3 for each additional half-hour. Some details from the SF Examiner (Feb 11, 1973):
The couple rented space in a commercial building at 445 Colusa Ave. in October, invested their entire savings, and spent hours redecorating and rebuilding the interior...
So far, however, the talkers have been few and far between — only about 40 customers have dropped in since Conversation opened.
About 60 percent of the customers have been women, the Braunliches report, and they talk about subjects ranging from poetry to small family problems.
Sitting in one of 14 tiny booths, customers can talk to one of 20 employees, who are called, appropriately enough, conversationalists.
And more details from the Moline Dispatch (Feb 13, 1973):
The conversationalists, who work part-time, collect half of a client's fee. The other half of the fee goes to the business. One of the first customers was a lonely divorcee new to the area, according to Engel Devendorf, a marketing executive now working at Conversation.
"She left her two kids at a movie and was here when the door opened," he said. "She just wanted to chat with somebody alive, warm and wiggling. Boy, did she want to talk."
Another woman explained that her husband was a nice guy but boring, and she needed to converse with somebody else once in a while...
"Lots of people with problems don't need professional help, but they do need to talk them over," Devendorf said. "They can go to the hairdresser, a bar or a coffee shop, but some are too shy."
At Conversation, persons with serious psychological difficulties are referred to professionals.
One of the classic examples of this is provided by the Invisible Gorilla experiment, in which test subjects were asked to watch a video showing a group of people passing a basketball back and forth. Asked to count the number of times the ball was passed, half completely failed to notice that a man wearing a gorilla suit walked through during the middle of the scene.
A recent viral video provides another example. Popular Youtuber Sushi Ramen Riku tied himself to the ceiling of his grandmother's apartment and waited to see how long it would take for her to notice him. Even though he's perfectly visible to her the entire time, in her peripheral vision, she simply doesn't notice him, for over ten minutes. Evidently she didn't expect her grandson to be strapped to the ceiling.
I’ve been saying for years that there’s always room for dessert, because dessert goes to a different part of your stomach. I feel vindicated to find out that there is some scientific basis to this claim. From the Huff Post:
According to Russell Keast -- a professor in sensory and food science and the director of the Centre for Advanced Sensory Science at Deakin University -- there's a scientific reason for the phenomenon called sensory specific satiety, or 'dessert stomach'.
"A major part of the reason is a phenomenon known as sensory specific satiety. Basically, this is what we experience when we eat one food to fullness. Our senses tell us we are no longer wanting to eat any more of that specific food. In other words, we are full," Keast told The Huffington Post Australia.
"Part of the response is actually sensory boredom -- the food that excited us with promise of flavour delights is now boring. We are getting satiated, but combine this with the fact that our flavour sensing system is overloaded with the food's flavour helps us stop eating.
"Then you present a dessert, a new flavour experience, a different profile to what we are bored with. It may look and smell good and (from experience) we know sweet is appealing. No more boredom with the food and the anticipation creates appetite -- hence the dessert stomach."
Given the lack of info, I suspect that the entire story might be an urban legend — one of those fake news stories that often made their way into early magazines and newspapers. However, the story has inspired author Alix Nathan to use fiction to fill in the blanks... imagining what might have happened in her recent novel The Warlow Experiment. As reported by the Guardian:
Nathan tried to discover more about Powyss and the outcome of his experiment, but without success. Nothing of either remained. Instead she turned to fiction, writing a pair of short stories that imagined the peculiar undertaking, the first from Powyss’s point of view, “An Experiment: Above”, and then, in “An Experiment: Below”, from the solitary subterranean perspective of his confined subject... Despite this, Powyss and his story continued to nag at Nathan; she could not shake the sense that it “deserved fuller consideration”. The result is The Warlow Experiment [amazon link].
An outbreak of mass vomiting at a school in North Carolina is being attributed to some kids getting upset stomachs from eating a combination of fruit juice and spicy chips, and then a bunch of other kids being triggered into “sympathetic vomiting.” That's when people vomit in response to seeing other people vomit. According to wisegeek.com, biologists suspect that the phenomenon has its roots in our evolutionary history:
The smell of vomit is widely considered to be one of the worst in the world, and may induce nausea in anyone nearby. While this may be simply a reaction to a malodorous aroma, it is possible that the body has a subconscious reaction to the smell or sight of the vomit itself. Because of the possibility that something the sick person has consumed has made them ill or poisoned them, your body may chemically decide to rid itself of potentially poisoned contents as well. In groups of apes, group or sympathetic vomiting has been observed after one animal becomes ill after eating. Since the other animals in the tribe have likely eaten the same things, sympathetic vomiting may be used as a survival tactic.
In January 1995, Macarthur Wheeler and Clifton Johnson robbed a bank in Swissvale, Pennsylvania. However, they had a plan to avoid detection: they rubbed lemon juice on their faces. Their reasoning was that lemon juice can be used to make invisible ink, so surely it would conceal their faces from surveillance cameras as well. They even tested this hypothesis by taking polaroid pictures of each other smeared with lemon juice, and it seemed to work.
Unfortunately, they showed up just fine on the bank's cameras, and they were identified and arrested several months later when the footage of the robbery was broadcast on a local news show.
This odd crime has an interesting postscript. The psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University read about it, and it inspired them to start thinking about the problem of stupidity: this being that stupid people often don’t realize they’re stupid. In fact, they think they’re quite smart, which leads them to do incredibly dumb things. This phenomenon (of dumb people not being able to recognize the limits of their competence) is now known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. In the journal article in which they introduced the concept, Dunning and Kruger cited the lemon-juice bandits as their inspiration.
To reappraise a prior study of hangover signs and psychosocial factors among a sample of current drinkers, we excluded a subgroup termed Sobers, who report "never" being "tipsy, high or drunk." The non-sober current drinkers then formed the sample for this report (N = 1104). About 23% of this group reported no hangover signs regardless of their intake level or gender, and the rest showed no sex differences for any of 8 hangover signs reported. Using multiple regression, including ethanol, age and weight, it was found that psychosocial variables contributed independently in predicting to hangover for both men and women in this order: (1) guilt about drinking; (2) neuroticism; (3) angry or (4) depressed when high/drunk and (5) negative life events. For men only, ethanol intake was also significant; for women only, being younger and reporting first being high/drunk at a relatively earlier age were also predictors of the Hangover Sign Index (HSI). These multiple predictors accounted for 5-10 times more of the hangover variance than alcohol use alone: for men, R = 0.43, R2 = 19%; and for women, R = 0.46, R2 = 21%. The findings suggest that hangover signs are a function of age, sex, ethanol level and psychosocial factors.
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.