All posts filed under: Myths

An apple didn’t fall on Newton’s head, lemmings do not commit mass suicide, and a duck’s quack actually does echo. Sorry.

Rethinking daydreaming

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Health / Myths / Psychology

Your mind often escapes when you’re in a boring meeting or washing the dishes. Previously considered undesirable and unhealthy, science has come around to the silver linings of letting our thoughts drift. Driven to distraction (in a good way) Daydreaming, otherwise called mind-wandering or self-generated thought, often gets a bad rap as something indulgent, unwanted and unproductive. It distracts us from the task immediately at hand and can result in errors. In extreme cases, called […]

Time flies, but why?

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Health / Myths / Psychology

Time is meant to be one of the few completely reliable and objective things in life. But it seems to slow down when we are afraid — think of a slow-motion car crash. And time flies when we’re having fun. Why is it that time seem to pass more quickly the older we get? Does our ability to assess the passing of time change as we age? I remember vividly as a child the last […]

Blame it on the full moon

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Astronomy / Health / Myths / Psychology

Tomorrow is Halloween, which leads to thoughts of ghosts, witches, vampires and scary pumpkin faces. But year round, many people believe a full moon is linked with other spooky stuff. Crime rates, psychiatric hospital admissions, emergency room visits, dog bites, sporting injuries and hyperactivity in kids are all said to increase during a full moon. Is there any truth to the rumours? Bad moon rising Also known as the Transylvania Effect, the idea that people […]

Is it just me, or is it the Barnum Effect?

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

Let me tell you about yourself: You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. Neither they, nor I, can really read your mind. Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash.   Did you read the above statements and […]

Why you (probably) can’t multitask

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Myths / Psychology

How many different things are you trying to do right now? Reading this blog post while listening to a podcast, posting on Instagram and checking email? It’s easy to think you’ll be more productive by doing lots of things at once. But it turns out for almost all of us, effective multitasking is an illusion. You’re not really multitasking With the possible exception of texting while driving, you probably think multitasking is something to aspire […]

The reality of the Uncanny Valley

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Anthropology / Evolution / Myths / Psychology

Technology has made making extremely human-like robots a reality. But is this a good thing? Tara Bautista delves into the unease that many people experience with things that are almost – but not quite – human. Welcome to the ‘Uncanny Valley’. When realistic isn’t pleasantly real enough Last weekend I started watching a new fantasy show on Netflix called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. You could say it’s a cross between Game of Thrones […]

The who, why and how of Stonehenge

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Anthropology / History / Myths

Legend has it Stonehenge was created by the wizard Merlin with the help of giants. Meanwhile, scientists have been studying the monument for centuries. What do we know about who built Stonehenge, and why? Giants and aliens Stonehenge, located on Salisbury Plain, is the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.  It was built around 5,000 years ago by people who left no written record. As a result, it’s become one of our favourite mysteries: there are […]

Songs on repeat

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Myths / Psychology

We all do it: find a new favourite song that then gets heavy rotation on our playlists. Mine’s currently a Postmodern Jukebox’s 50s prom style cover of Closer by The Chainsmokers. Tara Bautista on the science behind why we choose to play songs on repeat and what happens when we do.   Play it again, Sam Sixty percent of participants in a study last year admitted they immediately re-listen to their favourite song, some even […]

How super is your superfood?

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Health / Myths

Chia seeds, goji berries, kale, blueberries, turmeric, green tea, quinoa, açaí (which I’ve now learned is pronounced ‘ah-sah-ee’). There’s no shortage of so-called superfoods. But what does that term mean, and are superfoods worth your money? All in a name Need to lose weight? Want to slow down ageing? Want to minimise your risk of cancer and other diseases? These days you could be forgiven for thinking all you need to do is eat the […]

The low down on the sunk cost fallacy

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Evolution / Myths / Psychology

Waiting in line at the grocery, you hesitate to move to another counter when it opens up. Even though you’re not looking forward to seeing it, you head to a movie you’ve already paid for. You stay in a career or relationship that no longer ‘sparks joy’. Tara Bautista asks why we cling on when we should let go. Going down with the ship Humans are weird creatures. We prize our supposedly unrivalled ability to […]