Posts Tagged ‘Brainwashing’

The human mind: Links & comments 2/16/15

February 16, 2015

education-in-liberal-artsHow to Convince Someone They’ve Committed a Crime by Nathan Collins for Pacific Standard.

Brainwashing, which is my worst nightmare, may in fact be possible.  Evidently people can be made not only to confess to crimes they haven’t committed, but to come to falsely believe they actually have committed them.

Believing that life is fair might make you a terrible person by Oliver Burkeman for The Guardian.

People like to believe that the arc of the universe bends toward justice.  Faced with injustice they can’t do anything about, people tend to blame the victim.

Psychology: the man who studies everyday evil by David Robson for the BBC.

An experimental psychologist has confirmed that there are people who’ll pay a price just for the pleasure of inflicting pain on others.

The plight of the bitter nerd: Why so many awkward, shy guys end up hating feminism by Arthur Chu for Salon.  [Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist]

It’s natural, but wrong, to blame other people for your internal problems.  That’s a different thing from the external threats faced by many women from misogynists.

Could You Go 40 Days Without Being Mean? by Sarah Miller for New York magazine.

The author experimented with being soft-spoken for 40 days and found, to her surprise, that it made her happier.

Race, IQ and Wealth by Ron Unz for the Unz Review.

The scientific evidence indicates that differences in IQ between nations and ethnic groups have much to do with affluence and development, and very little to do with heredity.

Brains Make Decisions the Way Turing Cracked Codes by Devin Powell for Smithsonian magazine.

Interesting and important work is being done on how the brain works, but this is not a solution to the mystery of consciousness.

Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness?  by Oliver Burkeman for The Guardian.

I can’t even imagine what a solution to the mystery of consciousness would consist of.

Brainwashing and mind control are possible

June 4, 2014

Elizabeth Loftus, the psychologist and memory researcher, has documented a disquieting success in implanting false memories by simply suggesting to a subject that he has experienced a fictitious event.

Such pseudo-events, invented by psychologists, may vary from mildly upsetting or comic incidents that, for example, as a child, one was lost in a mall to more serious incidents that one was the victim of a serious animal attack, or a serious assault by another child.

After initial skepticism “I was never lost in a shopping mall”, and then uncertainty, the subject may move to a conviction so profound that he will continue to insist on the truth of the implanted memory, even after the experimenter confesses that it never happened in the first place.

via Oliver Sacks | The New York Review of Books.

It is possible to remember things that never happened.   It is possible for a skilled psychiatric professional to implant false memories in people.

And now research with rats indicates that it is possible to work on the brain so as to delete—and restore—memories by physical means (but so far only in rats).

As an old guy who is starting to suffer from loss of memory, and whose greatest fear is dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, I think research on memory is a good thing, not a bad thing.

But a world in which memory deletion, memory activation and memory falsification were understood is a science-fiction dystopia.  It means that it is technically possible for a future government to exercise totalitarian control over the individual to an extent that Hitler, Stalin and Mao only dreamed of doing.

These far outweigh the possible benefits of these techniques, such as in treating post-traumatic stress syndrome.  And even there, I expect that, just as with psychiatric drugs, many therapists would use memory deletion techniques without fully understanding their limitations and wider effects.

LINKS

How to erase a memory—and restore it: Researchers activate memories in rats in Science Daily.  Hat tip to naked capitalism.

Speak, Memory by Oliver Sacks in the New York Review of Books.  A report on false memories.

How Memory Speaks by Jerome Groopman in the New York Review of Books.  A review of research on the neurological basis of memory.

Johnny Mnemonic by William Gibson.  Science fiction.