1. Klint Finley

    Adam Alter writes:

    According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images, or fantasies on the subject of transition into work life, graduating from university, looking for and finding a job.” Two years later, they approached the same students and asked about their post-college job experiences. Those who harbored positive fantasies put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers, and ultimately earned lower salaries. The same was true in other contexts, too. Students who fantasized were less likely to ask their romantic crushes on a date and more likely to struggle academically. Hip-surgery patients also recovered more slowly when they dwelled on positive fantasies of walking without pain.

    Full Story: The New Yorker: The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking

    See Also:

    The cult of “positive thinking” – Barbara Ehrenreich discusses her new book on Democracy Now

    Smile or Die: Bright Sided as a 10 Minute Marker Board Cartoon

    Beyond Growth – Technoccult interviews Duff McDuffee and Eric Schiller

  2. Klint Finley

    BBC reports:

    A high-profile Indian anti-superstition activist, who was campaigning for a law to ban black magic, has been shot dead in the city of Pune, police say.

    Narendra Dabholkar, 71, was attacked by two gunmen on motorbikes while he was taking his morning walk.

    He was known for founding the Committee for the Eradication of Blind Faith more than 20 years ago.

    Full Story: BBC: India anti-superstition campaigner Narendra Dabholkar shot dead

  3. Klint Finley

    Palm reader turned cognitive scientist Ray Hyman wrote:

    As we have seen, clients will readily accept stock spiels such as those I have presented as unique descriptions of themselves. Many laboratory experiments have demonstrated this effect. Forer (1948) called the tendency to accept as valid a personality sketch on the basis of the client’s willingness to accept it ‘the fallacy of personal validation.” The early studies on personal validation were simply demonstrations to show that students, personnel directors, and others can readily be persuaded to accept a fake sketch as a valid description of themselves. A few studies tried to go beyond the demonstration and tease out factors that influence the acceptability of the fake sketch. Sundberg (1955), for example, gave the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (known as the MMPI) to 44 students. The MMPI is the most carefully standardized personality inventory in the psychologist’s tool kit. Two psychologists, highly experienced in interpreting the outcome of the MMPI, wrote a personality sketch for each student on the basis of his or her test results. Each student then received two personality sketches– the one actually written for him or her– and a fake sketch. When asked to pick which sketch described him or her better, 26 of the 44 students (59 percent) picked the fake sketch!

    Sundberg’s study highlights one of the difficulties in this area. A fake, universal sketch can be seen as a better description of oneself than can a uniquely tailored description by trained psychologists based upon one of the best assessment devices we have. This makes personal validation a completely useless procedure. But it makes the life of the character reader and the pseudo psychologist all the easier. His general and universal statements have more persuasive appeal than do the best and most appropriate descriptions that the trained psychologist can come up with.

    Full Story: Skeptical Inquirer: Cold Reading: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them

    See also: The Forer Effect

    An open source personality testing system

  4. Klint Finley

    The Neoist Alliance attempts to levitate the  Pavilion Theatre in protest of Ian Stuart's performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Harlequin

    In 1993 the Neoist Alliance protested Ian Stuart’s performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Harlequin, promising to levitate the Pavilion Theatre 25 feet off the ground. Thee Temple Ov Psychic Youth (TOPY), however, lead a counter protest to stop the levitation, concerned that the levitation could create “a negative vortex would be created which could seriously damage the ozone layer.”

    As the handful of individuals who’d decided to cross the picket line arrived for the concert, they were met with chants of ‘Boycott Stockhausen’ from our ranks, to which the TOPY activists replied with cries of ‘Stop The Levitation’. The counter-demonstrators pleaded with concert-goers to remain outside the building so that they could participate in a set of breathing and visualisation exercises designed to prevent the levitation. Once the concert began, the two sets of demonstrators prepared themselves for a psychic battle outside the theatre. These street actions drew a far larger crowd than the Ian Stuart recital inside the building. Passers-by were reluctant to step in front of the waves of psychic energy we were generating and soon much of the street was at a standstill. The Brighton and Hove Leader of 20/5/93 quoted one shaken concert-goer as saying, ‘I definitely felt my chair move. It shook for a minute and then stopped.’ The Neoist Alliance also received reports of toilets overflowing and electrical equipment short-circuiting, although these went unreported by the press.

    While TOPY were adamant that their actions prevented the Pavilion Theatre being raised 25 feet into the air, the Neoist Alliance considers the protest to have been a complete success.

    Full Story: The Stewart Home Society: OUR TACTICS AGAINST STOCKHAUSEN

    (via Peter Bebergal)

  5. The great and powerful internet auction house eBay has henceforth banned all sales of wizardly enchantments and magic spells, even if you have a vacuum cleaner’s worth of gold to offer.

    Indeed, the company knows not what it does, unaware that the hour of the dragons grows near. Not only has eBay banned the sale of spells, but it has also prohibited the sale of potions. Yes, that even includes the +2 Potion of Dragonslaying — the fools! Psychic readings are similarly forbidden.
    Read more at http://www.tecca.com/news/2012/08/15/ebay-magic-potion-psychic-reading-ban/#HhbovxHjcM6L82FJ.99

    Tecca: Alas! eBay to ban sale of magic spells, potions

    See also: Square prohibits its service from being used for “occult materials.”

  6. From Science Daily:

    In basic neurological terms, synesthesia is thought to be due to cross-wiring in the brain of some people (synesthetes); in other words, synesthetes present more synaptic connections than “normal” people. “These extra connections cause them to automatically establish associations between brain areas that are not normally interconnected,” professor Gómez Milán explains. New research suggests that many healers claiming to see the aura of people might have this condition. […]

    Many local people attribute “paranormal powers” to El Santón, because of his supposed ability to see the aura of people “but, in fact, it is a clear case of synesthesia,” the researchers explained. According to the researchers, El Santón has face-color synesthesia (the brain region responsible for face recognition is associated with the color-processing region); touch-mirror synesthesia (when the synesthete observes a person who is being touched or is experiencing pain, s/he experiences the same); high empathy (the ability to feel what other person is feeling), and schizotypy (certain personality traits in healthy people involving slight paranoia and delusions). “These capacities make synesthetes have the ability to make people feel understood, and provide them with special emotion and pain reading skills,” the researchers explain.

    Full Story: Science Daily: Synesthesia May Explain Healers Claims of Seeing People’s ‘Aura’

    (via Matt Staggs)

    I’ve long suspected this to be true. I’ve met a couple of people who claimed to be able to see auras and didn’t seem to be liars or crazy.

  7. Talking with Gods

    Talking with Gods, the Grant Morrison documentary, is now available on DVD or for download from the Halo Eight Online Store or DVD from Amazon.com.

    Update: There’s also a new expanded two disc version. If you already bought the original, you can also buy disk two separately, both on DVD or as a digital download.

    Also, Wired has an interview with Morrison on his new Batman, Inc. series which sounds pretty interesting (perhaps he’ll get to incorporate his ideas from his aborted Wildcats series):

    Superheroes have always been about becoming whatever we’ve needed them to be at any given time. Lately, we’ve made them like Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates, weaponized supersoldiers working for the military-industrial complex, which then grew into Iron Man, who is a superhero celebrity, an everyone-is-a-star kind of thing. But give it another five years and it could be cosmic seekers again, because of the new drugs coming onto the market. Or it could be something else entirely. They’ll take the form of whatever our dreams or ideals happen to be. […]

    Most corporations seem pretty demonic. Corporations as entities are strange things. Because no one person is really in charge, we’ve conjured some predatory, ravenous entities. But Batman, Inc. is an attempt to reimagine what a good corporation can be. It’s not the first time this has happened in comics: Joe Casey tried to imagine the same thing with Wildcats. But this will be Bruce Wayne’s attempt, and I think it’s going to be quite progressive.

    Wired: Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. Births Comics’ First Zen Billionaire

    I think a case could be made that Adrian Veidt (himself based on Tibetan Buddhist Peter Cannon) as the first comics’ first “zen” (used loosely) billionaire.

  8. I think this is the original Channel 4 Disinfo show segment. There doesn’t appear to be any Morrison here that doesn’t appear on The Disinformation: Complete Series DVD, but it is a different edit.

    Update: Richard Metzger writes that this segment is “quite a bit” longer than the version release on DVD.

    (via Phase II).

  9. IGN’s notes from the event.

    CBR’s notes from the event.

  10. Barbelith is running a frickin’ huge interview with Grant Morrison. I haven’t had time to read much of it yet, but it sounds pretty interesting.

    Suddenly I thought, ‘What the Hell is Disney?’ Walt Disney’s dead now but Disney persists as a concept and people who were born after the death of Walt Disney grow up and assume positions within Disney. What are they assuming positions within? It’s in this really devotional way too. What makes you grow up to wear a Mickey Mouse head and go round scaring children? Or ‘I’m going to end up on the Board of Directors of Disney?’ Why, why do these things occur? So I was just seeing them as in the way the Demons in the old Grimoires were seen which was kinda aggregates of power to which people could adhere themselves to or join in cultish fashion so I began to think I could talk to them like that and use ceremonial magic methods to talk to corporations and found there were ways of doing it - that’s why I’m wearing a suit - this is my magical garb for this working. That_s why we evoked gmWORD Ltd. They’re very powerful, ravenous weird things -corporations, strange to deal with.

    Barbelith: Interview with an Umpire

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