The Harvard University Hope Experiment

During the 1950’s, Dr. Curt Richter from Harvard University performed a series of experiments using water, buckets, and both domesticated and wild rats which resulted in a surprising discovery within the field of psychology. In the first experiment, Richter placed his test subjects into large buckets half filled with water with even those rats which were considered above average swimmers, giving up and dying within a few short minutes. In the second experiment, Richter pulled each rat out just as it was about to give up due to exhaustion and let them rest for a few moments. Upon inserting the rats back into the bucket of water, Richter found that the rats continued to struggle to survive for up to 60 hours as the rats now believed that if they continued to push forward with enough effort put forth, eventually they would be rescued once again. Richter recorded in his notes, “after elimination of hopelessness, the rats do not die”

The Italian Concept of Caffè Sospeso

Italian-suspended-coffeeIn Italy, cafes often allow customers to purchase a suspended coffee, which is a drink paid for and donated to be consumed by a future customer at no cost, referred to as a “caffè sospeso” which means “suspended coffee” in Italian. This act of charity and humanitarianism does not allow the purchaser to know who consumes their donation, and does not allow the receiver to know who provided it, as the barista decides who should receive said gift. This act of kindness started in the 1930’s when poverty was rampant in Europe, as it was believed that a coffee provided at no charge revitalized an individual and made their entire day better, more so because of the act itself, rather than the coffee or money involved

The Test Subject and Scientific Experiment Which Proved the Fear Response in Human Beings Does Not Solely Reside Within the Amygdala

SM Amygdala MRIJustin Feinstein is one of the few scientists who have been able to study a woman who has zero fear response. To protect the woman’s identity, this subject is known only as “S.M.”, and Feinstein has had the opportunity to work with her under laboratory conditions and in real world scenarios (e.g. coffee meeting, sporting event, professional conference etc.) for the past 15 years as of 2018. S.M.’s lack of fear has had unexpected consequences within her life, as she displays no sense of typical fear induced scenarios (e.g. personal space, feeling completely comfortable being nose to nose with a complete stranger as the concept of personal space and discomfort has no meaning), heightened by the fact that S.M. does not produce typical signals of distrust when interacting with a novel person. S.M. lacks fear because she is without her amygdala, a physical trait observed in very few human beings, making S.M. one of the only people in the world to produce this physiology. S.M. has no amygdala because she has been diagnosed with Urbach-Wiethe Disease (pronounced “urr-bock vee-they”). The underlying etymology of Urbach-Wiethe Disease is still unknown but in patients with the condition, specific portions of the brain, in both hemispheres, can become subject to selective calcification which erodes the ability to function as designed. The amygdala acts as a sentry for potential fearful stimuli, and produces a response accordingly. The removal of or inability of the amygdala to work correctly results in a complete and total lack and/or loss of fear. This condition has caused S.M. considerable difficulty during her life as she has experienced dangerous interactions with those participating within the illicit drug trade. Upon one occasion, a stranger ran up to S.M., placed a firearm against her temple, and yelled “bang!”. Neighbors witnessed this event and notified law enforcement which puzzled S.M. as she did not view the event as dangerous or alarming and therefore did not expect to be contacted by the police. When the human body detects the intake of too much carbon dioxide, it can become pushed into a state of alarm. Feinstein wanted to better understand what would occur if he interfered with S.M.’s respiratory system, using 35% carbon dioxide during the first trial run. Feinstein found that S.M. was immediately fearful after a single intake breath, despite his original hypothesis of no fear response being observed. S.M. displayed an immediate and dramatic fear response with S.M. herself describing it as the “most intense fear ever felt” during her entire life. This single breath was revolutionary for neurology as it definitively proved that the amygdala is not the only region of the brain which controls and is related to fear

The Accidental Liberation of the Soviet Union and the Tearing Down of the Berlin Wall

Günter-SchabowskiPrior to Mikael Gorbachev, every decade or two, resentment would foment within the Soviet Union and an uprising would commence with the Soviets clamping down, killing dissidents, and repressing ideology so as to continue to hold power. The reason this did not occur in 1989 is because change came not externally through dissidents, but rather internally, particularly from the center, through Gorbachev. The collapse of the Berlin Wall however, was actually a mistake, as Soviet Press Officer Günter Schabowski did not fully understand the content he was speaking in reference to during a press conference as he had been elsewhere smoking during the meeting which would have briefed him. Schabowski pulled out documents which he was not supposed to read, read them aloud, and read them incorrectly which turned Gorbachev from a reformer into a revolutionary over the course of a few short moments, with the Berlin Wall falling shortly after, liberating and uniting East Germany and West Germany with the ultimate fall of the Soviet Union occurring within short proximity afterward

The First Musician to Routinely Break Their Instrument on Stage

Franz-Liszt19th century Hungarian composer Franz Liszt created the modern concept of the single musician concert as prior to this, a single musician (e.g. pianist, violinist, flautist etc.) had never played an entire concert by themselves. Liszt often broke his pianos on stage due to his vigorous style of play, making him the first musician to routinely destroy their own instrument while performing, a full century prior to the rock artists of the 1960’s onward

The Indigenous People of Tanna Island, Vanuatu and Their Religious Cult Honoring and Deifying the U.S. Military

Tanna-Island Vanuatu-Religious-CultOn Tanna Island, Vanuatu, every year on February 15th, residents of the Pacific Ocean island chain engage in a military parade with the term “USA” painted in red or tattooed upon the chest of men who carry large bamboo spears with red tipped, pointed ends, a tradition which began more than 60 years ago, inspired by events which took place during World War II, when the U.S. military descended upon the island with modern machinery and supplies (e.g. canned food and cotton clothing etc.). The native inhabitants were in awe of these technologies which lead them to believe that the Americans were in possession of magic. Science fiction author Arthur Charles Clarke’s Third Law states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. When World War II ended, the U.S. closed its bases in Vanuatu and left seemingly overnight, taking their technologies and goods with them. In honor of U.S. soldiers in the hope that it would entice them to return, the indigenous people created a cult which honored those who had appeared from beyond the horizon. These inhabitants started to create replica U.S. military items (e.g. wooden bandolier designed to mimic artillery shell bandoliers, straw aircraft, U.S. military insignia shoulder patches denoting rank which are painted onto skin etc.). Virtually all religions begin with a miraculous event (e.g. comet in the sky fortelling of calamity) followed by the creation of monuments which exemplify the event observed (e.g. large statue of the Buddha as a deity). Religions developed by cultures which worship other beings which have descended upon them are often referred to as a “cargo cult”

The Scientific Reason Conspiracy Theories are Subscribed to

social-media-appsConspiracy theories are adopted because those who believe them, produce an alternate frame of reality which tends to make sense out of a scenario in a manner which coincides with the world view of the person believing the propaganda. Within the discipline of cognitive psychology, a phenomenon referred to as the “Illusory Truth Effect” exists in which hearing a statement repeatedly, makes the statement appear more plausible. Scientists have examined this principle by having subjects read news stories, then distracting the subjects with unrelated material (e.g random surveys), then once again exposing the subjects to more news stories. Scientists found that when subjects are asked to rate the accuracy of news stories read during the second round, they are much more likely to rate information as credible if having seen it once before. For a news article or headline which has not been observed before, these snippets of information are only rated as true 18% of the time but for a news article or headline which has been observed before (e.g. prior to the intermission random poll), subjects are more likely to identify this information as factual 24% of the time. Social media is a great example of this principal being exploited. It’s not that logic and reason are being hijacked when people utilize social media to obtain news, it’s that participants within the social media ecosystem are not bothering to apply logic and reason in the first place, applying intuitive gut responses to news consumed. Surprisingly, scientists have found that when subjects stop judging intuitively, and begin using logic and reason, with evidence based argument and rationales, they become substantially better at determining truth from misinformation

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s Racist Remarks

Winston-Churchill-altWinston Churchill once said, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion”. This is of course not true in the slightest, and was a marked example of prejudice and racism. Up to 3,000,000 (3 million) people starved to death while British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies into India as Churchill bluntly refused. Churchill raged that it was the Indian populations own fault for “breeding like rabbits”. Churchill was known for being blunt, once stating that the “bubonic plague was merrily culling the population”

The Christian Adaptation of the Pagan Ostara Festival Which Became Easter

German-goddess-OstaraJust as Christmas replaced the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, Easter replaced the pagan holiday of Ostara, a festival celebrating the pagan goddess of spring, a time of renewal, fertility, and birth. The Catholic Church strategically adopted the pagan seasonal calendar to fit its own narrative, rebranding the winter season of scarcity with a time of purification for Christians, entitling this period as “Lent”