Monday Miscellany: Milgram, McCandless, & Radioactive Spiders

This is a link to play Set online. It is endlessly addictive, and if you can forgive the occasional typo, the instructions are simple and easy to understand.

I’m not sure I would go as far as this article does, to say that “the Milgram experiments—however suggestive they may appear at first blush—are absolutely useless.” But, this is new information about the famous conformity research. Well worth reading.

I had this plan to write a blog about failed social programs…but luckily I googled about first and found out that someone else had already written it.

s.e. smith on the ways we endorse problematic police behavior in the media.

Television is the land of nebulously legal police searches. We often see them used, in fact, as the crux of a case, and they’re generally presented in a positive light, as something that viewers should view as completely acceptable. After all, they allow our heroes to solve the crime and end up on top, bringing the bad guy in for punishment. They certainly aren’t something we should question or feel uneasy about, and the evidence uncovered during such searches should absolutely be valid in court because it was discovered in pursuit of justice.

Except that search and seizure isn’t about justice and who’s heroic.

Education needs more radioactive spiders. (Bear with me, this metaphor is excellent and involves very few actual arachnids.)

Now, Peter Parker was a good student. He had a real knack for chemistry, mathematics, mechanics, biology, physics, and photography. But he lacked confidence, drive, and self-belief. He was bullied constantly by the other students. He was lonely, shy, and socially isolated.

One day in high school, he attended a science exhibition about radiology. In a moment, something happened that forever transformed him.

He got bit by a radioactive spider.

This changed everything. He suddenly realized he had all these powers. He was much stronger and quicker than he ever realized.

I’m convinced that there is so much more possibility in all students than we realize. Imagine what would happen if educators helped all students see in themselves what is possible, and then helped them integrate that into the core of their identity?

I bet we’d have a lot more superheroes.

Speaking of bugs, this one has a gear in its leg!

The IgNobels happened! I’m quite proud of psychology for winning with “Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder’: People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive.”

We talk a lot around here about how skepticism and atheism need feminism. But it’s not a one-way street. Feminism needs skepticism. And if it results in articles like this: Dissecting “Sweetening the Pill,” a Completely Frustrating New Book on Birth Control…then, yesplz.

I like the skeptic movement. But I think th best thing we can offer the world is more work like this–using research to improve how we approach persuasion–in this case, convincing parents to vaccinate their children by understanding their motivations.

At nearly every atheist conference I attend, someone brings up cats. Yes, cats. Most particularly, why do all the atheists we know love (and own several) cats? Oh, we have research on that?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here, but I do contract work for the Secular Student Alliance. (yes, they’re amazing. yes, even more awesome than you think.) It’s been an especially great week because we’ve appeared in the Southern Poverty Leadership Center’s blog, and The Atlantic. Oh, and this happened.

How Chris McCandless Died. Decades after writing Into the Wild, Krakauer pursued the question, testing his own conclusions, and eventually finding them to be incorrect. This article is his update.

What have you been writing recently?


  1. Onamission5 says

    Not only is media terrible when it comes to promotion of illegal searches and seizures, but also with promotion of the ideas that only guilty people ask for lawyers so nobody else needs one, and only guilty people refuse to answer questions so everyone else ought to “cooperate.”

  2. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    This is a link to play Set online. It is endlessly addictive, and if you can forgive the occasional typo, the instructions are simple and easy to understand.

    Red and green! There are so many other colors but every single one of these online card games use red and green.

    I am disappoint!

    • lpetrich says

      An alternate set of contrasting colors is yellow and blue. Its contrast is even stronger, since it also has good intensity contrast.

      It’s also good for people with various sorts of color blindness. The most common types are red-green types, protanopia and deuteranopia, and people with that deficiency see red and green as yellow. Yellow and blue stay yellow and blue, however. Much rarer is tritanopia, and while people with that deficiency can resolve red and green, yellow and blue look like different shades of gray to them.

      Dogs also have red-green color blindness, as to most other mammals. Our color vision originated about 35 million years ago with a color-receptor gene duplication that turned yellow into red and green. It’s shared with apes and Old World monkeys.

      I’ve found numerous color-blindness simulators online, and I’ve written one myself.

  3. Walton says

    What have you been writing recently?

    A post for The Feminist Hivemind about the rampant abuse and neglect at the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, and how it fits into the racism, sexism and homophobia of the immigration enforcement system. [TW on the link: sexual violence, child abuse and neglect, hyperskepticism, violence against immigrants.]

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