You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you

We’re culturally programmed to admire people who stick to their principles. We want strong leaders, not wishy-washy ones. It’s funny to think of scientists marching in a rally shouting, “What do we want? Evidence-based change! When do we want it? After peer review!” This comic carefully walks through the way the brain accepts or rejects new information. This is a comic about the backfire effect. —The Oatmeal

How cult leaders brainwash followers for total control

With each other as validation, we began to articulate the real, dismal and frightening story of life in The O, which had as its unlikely recruiting grounds the 1970s food co-ops of the US Midwest. After a dramatic exit, I wrote the memoir Inside Out (2002). The book was an effort to understand how I, an independent, curious and intelligent 26-year-old, could have been captured and held by such a…

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Actors can’t play Hamlet as simply mad in world of mental health awareness, actor says

As a teacher, I have for decades approached Hamlet like this: If everyone in the audience agrees that Hamlet was sane or Hamlet was mad, then the production was a failure; Shakespeare’s text was ambiguous, and a good production should preserve that ambiguity. The director should guide the actor to make conscious choices about what motivates this line or this action, so the *actor* should know what’s going on in…

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The Language of Gender Violence

Oppressors deny their own agency and dehumanize their victims by using the passive voice. I want my students to recognize this deliberate strategy, and to look for hidden actors and dehumanized recpients of injustice. (I try to teach about active and passive verbs in a more lighthearted way, but I only bothered to photograph and caption sillly Lego scenes becuase I wanted more of my students to pay attention to…

Liberals and conservatives dislike reading opposing views

Most research subjects, when offered the chance to win $10 and read essays that opposed their views, or $7 and read essays that confirmed their views, chose comfort over the higher potential prize. Liberals and conservatives reacted basically the same–with liberals slightly less willing to read conservative views. (I changed the click-baity headline, which sensationalized the issue as people having “zero interest in opposing views,” which is not what the numbers actually demonstrate.)…