Sleep deprivation as the torture of choice in Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon’

[My book ‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’ (Harvard UP) can be preordered from Amazon (.com) – more details at end of post] Orwell, in a 1944 essay on Koestler’s great novel of the show trials, “Darkness at Noon”, observes that the main protagonist, Rubashov “confesses because he cannot find in his own mind any reason for not doing… Read More

(Some) animal rights philosophers say the darndest things!

Originally posted on Speaking of Research:
Cheryl Abbate is a self-described feminist, philosopher and military officer.  She is currently a Philosophy PhD student at Marquette University and obtained her MA in Philosophy with Bernard Rollin at Colorado State University. She was one of the animal rights activists who asked  me questions during the discussion of my…

Electroconvulsive shock and transcranial stimulation as torture methods in George Orwell’s 1984

[My book ‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’ (Harvard University Press) is available now from Amazon (.com) – more details at end of post] I first read George Orwell’s 1984 while in hospital for a minor operation in my early teens. It horrified me at the time, and it continues to exert a powerful hold on… Read More

Physical Activity and the Prevention of Depression: A Systematic Review of Prospective Studies

Important systematic review evidence for the efficacy of physical activity on mood, adding further to the evidence base that exercise plays a very positive neuroregulatory role (see also this Cochrane systematic review downloadable here; and some of our own work here). Am J Prev Med. 2013 Nov;45(5):649-57. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.08.001. Physical activity and the prevention of depression: a systematic… Read More

Torture methods employed for perceptual, personality and behavioural modification in Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon’

[My book ‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’ (Harvard UP) can be preordered from Amazon (.com) – more details at end of post] George Orwell and Arthur Koestler  were perhaps the most important and celebrated political novelists of the mid-20th century. They were very different individuals, having lived very different lives. Koestler was a restless Hungarian émigré who spent time under… Read More

Resistance to Disconfirmation: Easily my favourite cognitive bias – some thoughts on why it persists

There are lots of cognitive biases – systematic deviations from logic and rationality present across a wide range of human information processing domains, including perception, judgement and reasoning. Resistance to disconfirmation is one of the most fascinating biases, where individuals and groups simply will not or can not believe that some belief they hold is simply, manifestly  and verifiably untrue. It… Read More

Economics may be a science, but it is not one of the sciences

Originally posted on neuroecology:
(Begin poorly-thought-out post:) Raj Chetty wrote an article for the New York Times that has been being passed around the economics blogosphere on why economics is a science: What kind of science, people wondered, bestows its most distinguished honor on scholars with opposing ideas? “They should make these politically balanced awards…