education mind world

Monkey’s Uncle

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Creationist student owned by Dr. Tim White

Harvey Mindess in Makers of Psychology: The Personal Factor reviews behaviorist B.F. Skinner’s book, Walden Two:

A Utopian novel set in contemporary America, Walden Two is the story of a visit by a small group of academics to an extraordinary community run along strictly behaviorist lines. They are variously impressed and repelled by what they see. The community was founded by a man named Frazier, a former psychologist turned reformer, whose belief in operant conditioning knows no bounds. He shows Walden Two to his visitors…keeping up a running commentary on its virtues, at first in a fairly objective manner, but eventually with all the fervor of a zealot.

At the beginning of their visit, for instance, he takes the group out for a walk. “This is our lawn,” he says. “But we consume it. Indirectly, of course — through our sheep. And the advantage is that it doesn’t consume us.… We soon found that the sheep kept to the enclosure and quite clear of the fence, which didn’t need to be electrified. So we substituted a piece of string, which is easier to move around.… [The lambs] stray,” Frazier conceded, “but they cause no trouble and soon learn to keep with the flock.” The curious thing is that most of these sheep have never been shocked by the fence. Most of them were born after we took the wire away. It has become a tradition among our sheep never to approach string. The lambs acquire it from their elders, whose judgment they never question. It’s fortunate that sheep don’t talk,” said [one of Frazier’s visitors]. “One of them would be sure to ask ‘Why?’ The Philosophical Lambkin”.…

The incident seems innocuous enough, but the reader soon learns that it is a prototype for the rest of the story. Not only the animals but also the people at Walden Two have been conditioned to be of service to the community and to carry out their appointed duties without complaint and without question. The resultant peacefulness and efficiency of the place becomes captivation to some of the visitors, but it disturbs others,…who continually raise[] the issue of human beings being deprived of their freedom of choice.

Frazier’s counterargument, like his author’s, is that so-called freedom of choice is an illusion. We are all controlled by our environments, he says. We make continual efforts to control each other — teachers to control their students, students to control their teachers; parents to control their children, children to control their parents; friends and lovers, governments and citizens, all are engaged in this enterprise — but we do it poorly, haphazardly, because we don’t understand what we’re doing and even refuse to acknowledge the truth of our behavior.

Five Monkeys
Peter Zaza Some things will never change

What can five wet monkeys teach us about creativity?

Chimpanzee shares banana

Moral behavior in monkeys
Frans de Waal’s TED Talk Cooperation and Fairness

Capuchins – The Monkey Puzzle

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education life mind world

Don’t get scammed

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Snake Oil: Life’s Calculations, Misdirections, and Manipulatiojns Jim Rose

“The problem with getting a real street education is that you have to go through a lot of hard knocks and pain for the degree,” notes a review of Jim Rose and his Circus. “Rose has remedied that dilemma for the masses by contributing monthly to Punk Globe Magazine.”

Snake oil, ladies and gentlemen, is the art of the gyp, hoodwink, shuck, sandbag. Identify a weakness or susceptibility and manipulate to your personal advantage. The term originates from traveling “salesmen” in the 19th century who peddled a concoction, usually giving it an exotic name like snake oil, promising to cure all ills. Of course, it was a big scam and eventually the term snake oil came to represent any deceptive product or enterprise.… The art of selling snake oil is constantly being reinvented, bastardized and ultimately improved in a perpetual, strangely perverse evolution.

Junky Scam Cracking the Con Game

Amazing mind reader reveals his ‘gift’ See how easily freaks can take over your life

Debunking Psychics – Derren Brown Penn Jillette Debunks Psychic Cold Reading

James Randi exposes Uri Geller and Peter Popoff James Randi – Secrets of the Psychics Documentary

James Randi Debunks the World James Randi – Psychic Investigator

Barnum Effect P.T. Barnum Documentary – Success Story

There’s a sucker born every minute

“P.T. Barnum is most often associated with the circus sideshow and the display of freaks,” notes R.J. Brown for the HistoryBuff.com website.

He is also the founding force behind one of America’s…Barnum & Bailey Circus. Barnum is also affiliated with the famous quote “There’s a sucker born every minute.” History, unfortunately, has misdirected this quotation. Barnum never did say it. Actually, it was said by his competitor.…

From 1866 until 1868 Mr. George Hull, of Binghamton, New York studied archeology and paleontology. Over this period of time Hull contemplated how to pull off a hoax. It seems that many an evangelist at the time had been preaching that there were giants in the earth. In June of 1868 Hull traveled back to Fort Dodge, Iowa where there was a gypsum quarry he had recalled seeing two years earlier. Even then, he had noticed that the dark blue streaks running through the soft lime rock resembled human veins. Realizing this its appearance was tailor-made for his hoax and it was easy to carve, Hull…had [a] slab of gypsum shipped by rail to Chicago where he had hired a stone cutter named Edward Burghardt to carve a giant. Burghardt and his two assistants, were sworn to secrecy.… The instructions were to carve the giant as if it had died in great pain, and the final result was an eerie figure, slightly twisted in apparent agony, with his right hand clutching his stomach. All of the details were there; toenails, fingernails, nostrils, sex organs and so forth. Even a needlepoint mallet was used to add authentic-looking skin pores. When the carving was done, sulfuric acid and ink were used, possibly smudged like printer ink, to make the figure look aged.…

Hull then had the figure shipped by rail to the farm of William Newell,… [and] in the dead of night, Hull, Newell and his oldest son buried the giant between the barn and house.… One year after burying the giant, Hull sent word to his cousin on October 15, 1869, to start the next stage of the hoax. Newell hired two laborers to dig a new well near his home. Newell directed them to the exact spot he wanted the well dug and went back into the house to wait – anxiously. Sure enough, well into the day, the two laborers rushed up to the house to announce their discovery: a giant turned to stone!…

Hull sold two-thirds interest in the giant for $30,000 to a five-man syndicate in Syracuse, the head of which was a banker named David Hannum.… The Cardiff Giant was the most talked about exhibit in the nation. Barnum wanted the giant to display himself while the attraction was still a hot topic of the day.… Barnum hired a crew of workers to carve a giant of his own. Within a short time, Barnum unveiled HIS giant and proclaimed that Hannum had sold Barnum the original giant and that Hannum was now displaying a fake! Thousands of people flocked to see Barnum’s giant. Many newspapers carried the version that Barnum had given them; that is, Hannum’s giant was a fake and Barnum’s was authentic. It is at this point that Hannum — NOT BARNUM — was quoted as saying “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Hannum, still under the impression that HIS giant was authentic, was referring to the thousands of “fools” that paid money to see Barnum’s fake and not his authentic one.

Hannum brought a lawsuit against Barnum for calling his giant a fake. When it came to trial, Hull stepped forward and confessed that the Cardiff Giant was a hoax and… the judge ruled that Barnum could not be sued for calling Hannum’s giant a fake since it was a fake after all. Thereafter, Hannum’s name was lost to history while Barnum was left…being the one to say “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

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education life software

Good night’s sleep

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A number of years ago an inventor’s group was heavily advertising on local television, so I hopped the three busses it took to get there to pitch my idea for a new product. I certainly wasn’t in any financial position to create my product which is why I told them to freely share it with other inventors so that it gets made. At one point he asked me if I’d use it, and I told him I would if I ever needed to use an alarm clock again.

I wanted a device that would read brain waves while we’re asleep and provide feedback to how we slept. I stressed that it should know when to wake you up based on your sleep cycle rather than the actual time that was set, such that if the alarm’s set for 6am but light sleep is achieved 15 minutes before that, it’d wake you up rather than wait until you’ve gone deeper into sleep again. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being woken by my alarm while I’m in the middle of a dream. I knew it could be done with an antenna rather than any kind of headgear, and again I stressed that I wanted them to tell every inventor so that my smart alarm got built.

A year or so later in 2011, I was flipping channels and caught an episode of Gadget Girlz report on such a new device. While the Zeo Sleep Manager offered brain wave reading to monitor sleep patterns, the device required a headband and seems to have lacked the smart part about when to wake someone up. It also required a computer to access all the data. New releases started sending data directly to a smartphone instead of the clock display, and although athletes praised the system for helping improve their performance, by 2013 the company decided to close up shop.

Now a new crowdfunded project is releasing its version of a sleep monitor called Sense. Packaged in a stylish compact unit, this device also uses a smaller “pill” that attaches to the pillow to monitor movement in order to determine sleep activity. Sense monitors the environment in your bedroom, watching for noise, light, temperature, particulates in the air, and more.

Ideally, someone will package a device that uses an antenna in the pillow to monitor neural activity, and offers the best features of products on the market. It could even add NASA’s subvocal speech recognition to record what we’re saying in our dream that would otherwise be inaudible.

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