Thursday, January 30, 2014

Empathisers can't read faces? Well who would have thought that?

"More surprisingly, warm-hearted and generous people are very poor judges of personality in faces - the best judges are those who report themselves to be somewhat cold-hearted and callous." 

This is an excerpt from the book In Your Face: The New Science of Human Attraction 
by David Perrett FBA FRSE, Professor of Psychology at the University of St Andrews

Lili's thought for the day

The thing that shocks me about the Edward Snowden thing is not the stuff that he revealed or the reaction that he got, it's the countless other people who knew just the same stuff that he knew, but didn't blow the whistle. That's the scary bit. 

He does deserve a Nobel Peace Prize, but I'm sure that won't happen. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lili's thought of the day

In Australia today we construct physical descriptions in terms of fat distribution ("That lady there with the beefy arms" "The assailant had abdominal obesity...").

Lili's drowning in a sea of stupid thought for the day

"Thank you for your reply. Maybe it is the hot weather that is affecting all of us, but I'm still pretty amazed that you are the third customer service person that I have dealt with today who has given me an answer to a question that they thought or assumed I'd asked, not the specific question that I actually asked. I'd like to know........"

No joke readers, I had this done to me in person, by email and also over the phone that day. Every channel of communication jammed with stupid. Stupid coming at me from all directions. I wish I was that stupid, then I could get a job in customer service.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Is there an inverse relationship between credibility and popularity in neuroscience books pitched at a general readership?

"He uses this lifelong passion for neurology to strip away the falsehoods." This is a quote from a rave reader review at Amazon of the new book We Are Our Brains: A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer's by Dick Swaab, who is a Dutch physician and a past director of the Dutch Institute for Brain Research, but I have been advised in a comment to this blog that the book includes unsceptical discussion of Daniel Tammet, who is arguably the most sus neuropsychological case study subject in the history of neuroscience. A quick search of the book's contents via Amazon seems to confirm this tip. Tammet is discussed in this book in the section on savants. What were you thinking, Dick Swaab?

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to see Prof. Dick Swaab giving Tammet positive or uncritical coverage in his book. They have both appeared at least once on the same TV show, and it is probably a fair comment that they both complement the fame of the other in Dutch popular culture. I think this is one reason why so many so-called journalists, scientists and television personalities have failed to blow the whistle on Tammet - because his established fame casts a rosy glow on anyone who appears beside him in the mass media.

Unfortunately, it appears that a clip of the TV episode detailed below is no longer available for viewing on the internet. Notably, Tammet's appearance on this show provided a stunning clue in plain sight that his repeated claims of being impaired in face recognition are questionable. 

Below is a small excerpt from my fabulous book Daniel Tammet: the Boy with the Incredible Story.

Pauw and Witteman. Season 2, Episode 16 Episode #2.16 Broadcast September 24th 2007.
[Tammet appeared on this Dutch current affairs talk show. Other guests test Tammet’s ability to give days of the week for past dates, and later on he asks questions about himself. Tammet is interviewed in English and segments of the Brainman doco are shown and discussed. The Dutch professor of neurobiology Dick Swaab is part of the discussion, speaking in Dutch and holding a model of a brain. At around 30 minutes Tammet explains how he knew that he was in love for the first time, by quoting what is supposed to be a passage from the children’s book The Little Prince “Love is when you look in a sea of a million faces, and you see only one face, then you know that you are in love.”]

Lili's thought of the day (with homage to Douglas Adams)

Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to show you where the Bryce Courtenay novels are kept. Call that job satisfaction, 'cause I don't.

Lili's thought for the day

Is Morrissey a poet? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lili's prescriptive thought for the day

Don't do the 13 week course on how to do it, just do it. Life is short. 

Lili's summer-time thought for the day

Every Australian child should be given the opportunity to learn how to swim, and every Australian child should be given the opportunity to see a peacock doing it's tail feather display. Do you know where to find a peacock in your city, town or region?  

Monday, January 06, 2014

Lili's thought of the day

You have had a tattoo done around the back of your neck in case one day you forget the names of your children. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014