Another week, another round-up. We’re now a full week into March, and deep into some COVID-19 anxieties. To keep my own mind focused on less terrible things, I turned to podcasts (and books, and audiobooks, and Netflix, and…you get it). Instead of going down the rabbit hole of fatality rates by countries like I already did this weekend, dive into these 5 other things I learned this week.
Hidden Brain: Did you know that it’s actually really easy to trick yourself into believing you did something that you actually did not do? In one study, researchers asked people to imagine doing weird and bizarre things, like rubbing lotion on a chair or licking a magnifying glass. The more times they imagined these things, the more likely they were to say they had actually done them It’s easier to distort people’s memories when the action is plausible, but not impossible to distort or create more bizarre memories. Think about the implications that seeing a hundred Tweets about something that didn’t happen has on whether you think it actually did. Yeah. Scary.
Hidden Brain: There is such a thing as a memory athlete. Basically they memorize long strings of numbers, paragraphs of text, or even the exact order of playing cards. The cool thing is that we all — in general — have the capacity to hone our memory like this. It’s not like being a regular athlete, where you have the right body type or amount of fast-twitch muscle fiber or whatever. You just have to train your mind like you’d train your body.
The Femails: Now, this one kind of pissed me off. It’s called the Femme Fatal Effect. Basically, it’s been proven that highly attractive businesswomen are seen as less trustworthy, less truthful, and more deserving of being fired. Highly attractive men, on the flip side, don’t suffer from that same pitfall. Of course. The researcher on the podcast theorized that attractive women being seen as untrustworthy is actually an evolutionary outcome. When it came to mating in the early days, highly attractive women were seen as ideal mates. But they also came with a lot of risk. They were highly sought after. So one day, they might be yours. But the next? They’ve moved onto the next guy with bigger…we’ll say bigger muscles.
Unobscured: The theosophy movement started in the 1890s as the next phase of Spiritualism. Theosophy basically brought a ton of leaders and gurus from eastern religions to America. And from there, Spiritualists picked and chose the parts of those religions they liked. Instead of focusing on activism and helping the downtrodden (Spiritualists were leaders in both the Abolitionist and Women’s Suffrage movements, for example), the focus shifted toward the inner self and transformation. I feel like we’re seeing a resurgence of theosophy now, with the commercialization of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, and the common idea that to help others, first you must help yourself. But where does one draw the line between healing your own wounds and affecting real change in a chaotic world? How does me paying $35 to go meditate in a pretty room help anybody but myself?
Unobscured: On the other hand, you can thank Spiritualism for neurology and psychology. In rebelling against both religion and science, Spiritualism actually helped bridge the gap between them. Religion had held domain over the past, and science focused on the future and innovation. Now science was looking into how the past impacted the mind, and thus influenced the actions you took and the future you created for yourself.
There you go. Reading through these, my podcasts seemed to have made me kind of annoyed this week! But in the best way possible, right? Right?!
Stay healthy out there.