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· Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False Flag Terror Attacks by Joe Quinn and Niall Bradley

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings. The official story of what happened on that day and during the subsequent 'man-hunt', is full of inconsistencies and outright lies, all of which are exposed in this must read book. Quinn and Bradley also dissect several other high profile 'terror attacks' in the USA and France and reveal a common modus operandi that strongly suggests that state actors are the true masterminds of "global terrorism".

Also available on Kindle!

Science of the Spirit


Date Rape: A Mother's Story Of Survival For Our Daughters

© Unknown
"The thing about being murdered," writes William Langewiesche in May's issue of Vanity Fair, "it usually comes as a surprise."

The same can be said of date rape. When I awoke that bright spring morning of March 21st, 1986 in a pensione in Venice, Italy, I didn't expect the day to end on a dark, deserted beach with a boy I'd just met pinning me to the ground hissing in my ear that he had "un coltello" (a knife) and that "ho intenzione di ucciderti" (he'd kill me) if I didn't "f--k" him.

Getting dressed that morning I didn't know I'd have an out-of-body experience where I seemed to float above the scene, looking down at the two bodies grappling on the sand below feeling profoundly sad that my mom might never know what happened to me after I died on that beach so far from home.

I'm a mother now. My daughters are 8 and 9. The thought of them ever being in a similar situation is intolerable. Bad things can happen no matter how prepared and careful we are. But when my girls are old enough I'm going to share this story with them and hope they'll see the warning signs I missed.

Spider Phobia Cured With 2-Hour Therapy

Tarantula on Hand
© Shane Wilson Link | Shutterstock
Can you imagine yourself holding this tarantula?

Getting up close and personal with a furry tarantula is probably the very last thing someone with a spider phobia would opt for, but the encounter may be the ticket to busting the brain's resistance to arachnids.

A tried-and-true exposure therapy, this one lasting just hours, changed activity in the brain's fear regions just minutes after the session was complete, researchers found.

"Before treatment, some of these participants wouldn't walk on grass for fear of spiders or would stay out of their home or dorm room for days if they thought a spider was present," said lead study author Katherina Hauner, postdoctoral fellow in neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement.

After a single therapy session lasting up to three hours, "they were able to walk right up and touch or hold a tarantula. And they could still touch it after six months," Hauner said.

Spider phobia is a type of anxiety disorder called specific phobia, which also includes phobias of blood, needles, snakes, enclosed places and others. About 9.4 percent of the U.S. population has experienced a specific phobia at some point in their lifetime, Hauner said.

Hauner told LiveScience she hopes people who have specific phobias, particularly of spiders, will realize that successful treatments are out there, and that their phobias can take just hours to cure (though some cases can take a couple weeks to cure, she noted). "It's still not easy. It involves being motivated to overcome your fear."
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Is Facebook Turning Us All Into Narcissists?

© The Happy Hermit
While the financial world deliberates on whether Facebook's newly issued stock is a sage buy, academics have been looking at a slightly different aspect of the social-media megalith.

A recent New York Times blog post cited a number of studies concerned with mental health and Facebook usage. Researchers at Western Illinois University have just published a report in the medical journal Personality and Individual Differences, which examines the level of self-involvement in 292 Facebook users.

The findings determined those who actively engaged their Facebook account -- constantly updating their status, tagging themselves in pictures, and unrelentlessly pushing their friend count higher and higher -- had more narcissistic qualities than others.

A correlation between Facebook and narcissism, no kidding? Who would have thought that people who pretend to be more important than they actually are, persistently brag about and exaggerate their achievements, and are outrageously envious of others would employ a tool like Facebook to fuel their psychological malady?

Another study conducted at York University in Toronto, found narcissists spent in excess of an hour a day on the site. Here they're more likely than non-narcissists to "showcase" themselves, utilizing digitally altered photos and self-centered language.

On Facebook, apparently self-love is in the air.

Why Great Ideas Come When You Aren't Trying

© Jeremy Mayes/Getty Images
Archimedes made his breakthrough discovery of displacement while relaxing in the bath.
History is rich with 'eureka' moments: scientists from Archimedes to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are said to have had flashes of inspiration while thinking about other things. But the mechanisms behind this psychological phenomenon have remained unclear. A study now suggests that simply taking a break does not bring on inspiration - rather, creativity is fostered by tasks that allow the mind to wander.

The discovery was made by a team led by Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler, psychologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The researchers presented 145 undergraduate students with two 'unusual uses' tasks that gave them two minutes to list as many uses as possible for everyday objects such as toothpicks, clothes hangers and bricks.

After the two minutes were over, participants were given a 12-minute break, during which they rested, undertook a demanding memory activity that required their full attention or engaged in an undemanding reaction-time activity known to elicit mind-wandering. A fourth group of students had no break. All participants were then given four unusual-uses tasks, including the two that they had completed earlier.

Those students who had done the undemanding activity performed an average of 41% better at the repeated tasks the second time they tried them. By contrast, students in the other three groups showed no improvement. The work will be published shortly in Psychological Science1.

"We've traditionally found that rapid-eye-movement sleep grants creative insight. That allowing the mind to wander does the same is absolutely fascinating. I think they are on to something really interesting here," says Sara Mednick, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside.

Are Humans Becoming More or Less Psychopathic?

Readers of this blog know that I've started to develop a bit of a fascination with psychopathy. It all got started after attending the Moral Brain conference at NYU last April. The more I look into this subject, the more I understand why so many neuroscientists are making such a big fuss about it.

The one statistic that has stuck with me is the observation that 1-2% of the general population is psychopathic. As previously noted, psychopathic traits don't always lead to crime or violence. In fact, studies have shown that 3-5% of business-minded persons are psychopathic; the realization that ruthlessness and indifference can lead to an interest and/or proclivity in business shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. What I would like to know, however, is whether or not there is a correlation between psychopathy and business success. Any bets that there isn't?

On a similar note, I'd like to know what degree of psychopathy exists amongst politicians and those who seek influence. I'm sure that, historically speaking, psychopathic traits have worked well for those hell bent on attaining and maintaining power.

The 1-2% figure also got me thinking about genetics. This ratio is exceedingly high, an indication that this trait is more than just the result of random mutation. Humans, it would seem, are predisposed for psychopathy. It's a personality condition that may have some adaptive qualities to it. The question we need to ask now, therefore, is: are we evolving out of it, or into it?

A strong case can be made for both. But whatever the answer, we will increasingly be able to do something about it through the use of neurological interventions and genetic engineering.

Emotionally Intelligent People Are Bad at Spotting Liars

People who rate themselves as having high emotional intelligence tend to overestimate their ability to detect deception in others. They were overconfident in assessing the sincerity of others.

Although emotional intelligence, in general, was not associated with being better or worse at discriminating between truths and lies, people with a higher ability to perceive and express emotion (a component of emotional intelligence) were not so good at spotting when people were telling lies.

"Taken together, these findings suggest that features of emotional intelligence, and the decision-making processes they lead to, may have the paradoxical effect of impairing people's ability to detect deceit," study researcher Stephen Porter, of the University of British Columbia, Canada, said in a statement. "This finding is important because emotional intelligence is a well-accepted concept and is used in a variety of domains, including the workplace."

The study was published today, May 18, in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology.
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Can a Kid Be a Psychopath?

© unknown
Child psychopath from the movie The Bad Seed
The groundbreaking HBO documentary Child of Rage years ago showed how horrific abuse and neglect could leave a child unable to bond with other people, turning them into children "without conscience, who can hurt or even kill without remorse." In other words: the child becomes a psychopath.

But what about the kids who aren't abused? What about the ones who, for no discernible reason, do horrible things to other people?

"I've always said that Michael will grow up to be either a Nobel Prize winner or a serial killer," his mother, Anne, tells Jennifer Kahn in a recent shocking New York Times Magazine article. At age 9, her son has an extreme temper, lashing out violently and deliberately and showing no empathy or remorse. He's intelligent, cold, calculating, and explosive. "It takes a toll," she says, explaining her comment. "There's not a lot of joy and happiness in raising Michael."

How Neuroscientists and Magicians Are Conjuring Brain Insights

© Flip Phillips
Apollo Robbins (right) in action removing the wristwatch of Mariette DiChristina.
"I see you have a watch with a buckle." Standing at my side, Apollo Robbins held my wrist lightly as he turned my hand over and back.

I knew exactly what was coming but I fell for it anyway. "Yes," I said, trying to keep an eye on him, "that looks pretty easy for you to take off, but my rings would be harder." He agreed, politely, while looking down at my hands and then up into my eyes: "Which one do you think would be hardest to remove?"

While I considered the answer, he had already removed my watch and put it on his own wrist behind his back, unseen. He isn't called the "The Gentleman Thief" for nothing.

Robbins had just skillfully managed my attentional spotlight - that is, the focus of awareness at any given moment. To conceal his pilfering, Robbins had employed what is generally called "misdirection": he got me to attend to the wrong things, added to my brain's cognitive load with his humorous patter, created a distracting internal dialogue in me by giving me a question to answer, and generally flummoxed me all the while by pressing here and there on a shoulder or wrist. Adding insult to injury, Robbins had just described what he does - and shown his techniques while swiftly lifting another watch and emptying the pockets of the amiable Flip Phillips of Skidmore College. Still, I never stood a chance. My response to being fooled so easily? I laughed out loud. (Watch Robbins work in this Scientific American video, "Magic and Science Together Again at Last" and learn more in this blog post.)

Sexy Women in Ads Seen as Objects

Woman Running
© Shutterstock
When men and women look at sexy ads depicting women in their underwear, their brains process them as objects, not people, a new study suggests. Interestingly, men and women see men in their underwear as people.

This reaction, called sexual objectification, has been well studied, but most of the research is about looking at the effects of this objectification. The new study, published in the May 2012 issue of the journal Psychological Science, gets a grip on what humans actually do objectify - and finds that both men and women view images of sexy women's (but not men's) bodies as objects.

"What's unclear is, we don't actually know whether people at a basic level recognize sexualized females or sexualized males as objects," study researcher Philippe Bernard, of the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, said in a statement. "What is motivating this study is to understand to what extent people are perceiving these [images] as human or not."

Psychological research has worked out that our brains see people and objects in different ways. For example, while we're good at recognizing a whole face, but just part of a face is a bit baffling. On the other hand, recognizing part of a chair is just as easy as recognizing a whole chair.
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Why Women Choose Bad Boys

© Dreamstime
Women choose bad boys because their hormones make them, new research suggests. When ovulating a woman's hormones influence who she sees as good potential fathers, and they specifically pick sexier men over obviously more dependable men.

"Previous research has shown in the week near ovulation women become attracted to sexy, rebellious and handsome men like George Clooney or James Bond," study researcher Kristina Durante, of The University of Texas at San Antonio, said in a statement.

"But until now it was unclear why women would ever think it's wise to pursue long-term relationships with these kinds of men."

The study was published today, May 14, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The researchers had women view online dating profiles of either a sexy man or a reliable man during periods of both high and low fertility. Participants were asked to indicate the expected paternal contribution from the men if they had a child together based on how helpful the man would be caring for the baby, shopping for food, cooking and contributing to household chores. Near ovulation women thought that the sexy man would contribute more to these domestic duties.