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Polygraph & Lie Detection Part 1

Can the polygraph machine really scientifically measure if someone is lying, or are all those graphs and numbers just pseudoscience in the service of law enforcement? Can we tell if someone is lying to us by their body language or facial expressions? Michael Shermer puts both the polygraph and lie detection to the test in this dramatic episode that features O.J.’s jury consultant lie detection expert.

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Polygraph & Lie Detection Part 2

Can the polygraph machine really scientifically measure if someone is lying, or are all those graphs and numbers just pseudoscience in the service of law enforcement? Can we tell if someone is lying to us by their body language or facial expressions? Michael Shermer puts both the polygraph and lie detection to the test in this dramatic episode that features O.J.’s jury consultant lie detection expert.

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Weirdonomics & Quirkology

How the curious science of the oddities
of everyday life yields new insights
magazine cover

Using an index finger, trace the capital letter Q on your forehead. Which way did the tail of the Q slant?

What an odd thing to ask someone to do. Exploring weird things and why people believe them, however, is what I do for a living. Coming at science from the margins allows us to make an illuminating contrast between the normal and the paranormal, the natural and the supernatural, and the anomalous and the usual. The master at putting uncanny things to the experimental test — the man I call the Mythbuster of Magical Thinking — is University of Hertfordshire psychologist Richard Wiseman. His new book, Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things (Basic, 2007), presents the results of his numerous (and often hilarious) experiments on all matters peculiar. (continue reading…)

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Bad Apples & Bad Barrels

Lessons in Evil from Stanford to Abu Ghraib
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The photographs of prisoner abuse from Abu Ghraib shocked most Americans. But social psychologist Philip Zimbardo had seen it all 30 years before in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford University, where he randomly assigned college students to be “guards” or “prisoners” in a mock prison environment. The experiment was to last two weeks but was terminated after just six days, when these intelligent and moral young men were transformed into cruel and sadistic guards or emotionally shattered prisoners. (continue reading…)

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The Prospects for Homo economicus

A new fMRI study debunks the myth that
we are rational-utility money maximizers
magazine cover

Imagine that your child’s private school tuition bill of $20,000 is due and the only source you have for paying it is the sale of some of your stock holdings. Fortunately, you got in on the great Google godsend and purchased 100 shares at $200 each, for a total investment of $20,000, and the stock is now at $400 a share. (continue reading…)

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