The Situationist

Situationism in the Blogosphere – August 2009 Part II

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 22, 2009

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Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during August 2009 (they are listed in alphabetical order by source).

* * *

From Frontal Cortex: “Health Insurance”

“Why do people buy insurance? On the one hand, the act of purchasing insurance is an utterly rational act, dependent on the uniquely human ability to ponder counterfactuals in the distant future. What if my a fire destroyed my house? What if my new car got totaled? What if I get cancer and require expensive medical treatments? We take this cognitive skill for granted, but it’s actually profoundly rare.” Read more . . .

From Garden of Forking Paths: “Consciousness, control and responsibility”

“I thought Gardeners might have fun grappling with a recent paper by Christopher Suhler and Patricia Churchland, […]. They argue against what they call the “Frail Control” hypothesis advanced by philosophers such as John Doris, which has it that people are far less in control than they suppose, given the influence of unconscious situational factors (lots of experimental data on this). Instead, Suhler and Churchland say that we should expand our notion of responsibility-conferring control to include unconscious and automatic processes, which they point out are robust, ubiquitous, “smart,” and essential for effective behavior.” Read more . . .

From Mind Hacks: “Placebo has strength in numbers”

“The term ‘placebo effect’ is used to refer to two things in the medical literature. The first is a statistical concept and it refers to the improvement in patients given an inactive treatment in a drug trial in comparison to those given the actual drug. The second is a psychological concept and it refers to improvement due to expectancy and belief. If you’re not sure how these are different, you may be surprised to learn that you don’t need a mind to demonstrate the placebo effect – in fact, even rocks can show it.” Read more . . .

From Neuronarrative: “I Must Be Guilty – the Video Says So”

“A minor landslide of research from the past few years points to a dismaying fact about memory — it can be manipulated, far more often and extensively than previously thought. One implication of this realization is that eyewitness testimony, a stanchion of our criminal justice system, is no longer beyond reproach. Another is that in a world dominated by endlessly plyable electronic media, you can never be 100% sure that what you’re seeing is what really happened.” Read more . . .

From Neuronarrative: “Judgments Get Heavy When Weight is on Your Mind”

“Over the course of multiple experiments, researchers investigated whether judgments of importance are tied to an experience of weight.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click here.

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