Stereotype lowers math performance in women, no one noticed

Originally posted on Lunatic Laboratories:

stereotypes

Stereotypes about people can affect how we look at a person, but sometimes it causes other problems. Gender stereotypes about women’s ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men and women wrongly believe those stereotypes will not undermine women’s math performance — but instead motivate them to perform better.

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Interview with a Torturer

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

Rithy Panh with Christophe Bataille | Translated by John Cullen | The Elimination: A survivor of the Khmer Rouge confronts his past and the commandant of the killing fields | Other Press | February 2013 | 44 minutes (12,355 words)

Below is an excerpt from the book The Elimination, by Rithy Panh, as recommended by Longreads contributor Dana Snitzky.

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Radical embodied cognition: an interview with Andrew Wilson

Originally posted on Mind Hacks:

adw_headshot_squareThe computational approach is the orthodoxy in psychological science. We try and understand the mind using the metaphors of information processing and the storage and retrieval of representations. These ideas are so common that it is easy to forget that there is any alternative. Andrew Wilson is on a mission to remind us that there is an alternative – a radical, non-representational, non-information processing take on what cognition is.

I sent him a few questions by email. After he answered these, and some follow up questions, we’ve both edited and agreed on the result, which you can read below.

Q1. Is it fair to say you are at odds with lots of psychology, theoretically? Can you outline why?

Psychology wants to understand what causes our behaviour. Cognitive psychology explanations are that behaviour is caused by internal states of the mind (or brain, if you like). These states are called mental representations, and they…

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Cover Art for my new book with HUP – Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation

I have a new book due to appear (Autumn/Fall 2015) with Harvard University Press. Here’s the cover art (which is copyrighted HUP, so usual warnings apply regarding reproduction):

image002

Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation

Shane O’Mara

Torture is banned because it is cruel and inhumane. But as Shane O’Mara writes in this account of the human brain under stress, torture should never be condoned because it does not work the way torturers assume it does.

In countless films and TV shows such as Homeland and 24, torture is portrayed as a harsh necessity. If cruelty can extract secrets that will save lives, so be it. CIA officers and others conducted torture using precisely this justification. But does torture accomplish what its defenders say it does? For ethical reasons, there are no scientific studies of torture. But neuroscientists know a lot about how the brain reacts to fear, extreme heat and cold, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, and immersion in freezing water, all tools of the torturer’s trade. These stressors create profound problems for memory, mood, and thinking, and sufferers predictably produce information that is deeply unreliable—and, for intelligence purposes, even counter-productive. As O’Mara guides us through the neuroscience of suffering, he reveals the brain to be much more complex than the brute calculations of torturers have allowed, and he points the way to a humane approach to interrogation, founded in the science of brain and behavior.

Torture may be effective in forcing confessions, as in Stalin’s Russia. But if we want information that we can depend on to save lives, O’Mara writes, our model should be Napoleon: “It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.”

Bio

Shane O’Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College, Dublin, and Director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

More details to follow. Text is c. 93.6k words.

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Worried about the ‘zero risk’ approach to childhood? Relief is now just a click away

Originally posted on Rethinking Childhood:

Cover image for No FearI am pleased to announce that my 2007 book No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society can now be downloaded direct from this website as a pdf, thanks to my publishers Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

I am also pleased to announce that the mighty Playscapes playground design blog will be offering No Fear as a free-to-download resource. The offer coincides with that blog’s publication of the first of a series of design-related pieces of mine which are to be reposted on the blog.

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Blurb for my new book with HUP – Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation

I have a book due to appear (Autumn/Fall 2015) with Harvard University Press.  My Editor is Ian Malcolm, who has been a wonderful help and great source of advice and sound judgement the whole way through. Lots of difficult terrain is navigated – ethical, instrumental, psychological, epistemological, physiological, deontological, neuropsychiatric and neuropsychological to name a few.

Front quote:

“One did not know what happened inside the Ministry of Love, but it was possible to guess: tortures, drugs, delicate instruments that registered your nervous reactions, gradual wearing-down by sleeplessness and solitude and persistent questioning.”

(George Orwell, 1984)

The blurb:

Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation

Shane O’Mara

Torture is banned because it is cruel and inhumane. But as Shane O’Mara writes in this account of the human brain under stress, torture should never be condoned because it does not work the way torturers assume it does.

In countless films and TV shows such as Homeland and 24, torture is portrayed as a harsh necessity. If cruelty can extract secrets that will save lives, so be it. CIA officers and others conducted torture using precisely this justification. But does torture accomplish what its defenders say it does? For ethical reasons, there are no scientific studies of torture. But neuroscientists know a lot about how the brain reacts to fear, extreme heat and cold, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, and immersion in freezing water, all tools of the torturer’s trade. These stressors create profound problems for memory, mood, and thinking, and sufferers predictably produce information that is deeply unreliable—and, for intelligence purposes, even counter-productive. As O’Mara guides us through the neuroscience of suffering, he reveals the brain to be much more complex than the brute calculations of torturers have allowed, and he points the way to a humane approach to interrogation, founded in the science of brain and behavior.

Torture may be effective in forcing confessions, as in Stalin’s Russia. But if we want information that we can depend on to save lives, O’Mara writes, our model should be Napoleon: “It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.”

Bio

Shane O’Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College, Dublin, and Director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

More details to follow.

Text is 93.6k words (approx 240 references; some of them below)

2015-02-21 17.21.19

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SCIENCE GALLERY PODCAST: Science Gallery Dublin, Episode 7: Brain For Business

The human brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. Brain For Business is a new series of events at Science Gallery that explores the latest findings from neuroscience and psychology and applies them to the world of business and entrepreneurship. Hosted by Jess Kelly from Newstalk, the first installment featured neuroscientist Shane O’Mara in conversation with Stephen McIntyre, MD of Twitter Ireland.

Music by Concretism.

Sound Design by Maurice Kelliher.

Produced and Presented by Shaun O’Boyle.

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