Archive for the 'Psychology & The Mind' Category

The Night Demon Awaits

Have you experienced sleep paralysis? If so, imagine for a moment that you are living in ancient times, with no scientific explanation for such terror. To what or whom would you attribute the experience? Demons? Witches? Angry souls of the dead? The hallucinations are often accompanied by a distinct sense of impending doom – a dread so palpable that you are absolutely positive you are about to die.


Could it be possible that the science we have now is merely attempting to explain the more sinister or paranormal nature of these experiences?  Do scientists really know the answer?


If you’ve ever had sleep paralysis, one thing is for certain, it feels as real as real can get.


Here is one of the best articles we’ve seen on the phenomenon in terms of offering a scientific explanation:


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Understanding Sleep Paralysis: A Terrifying But Unique State Of Consciousness
by Dan Denis (ifls)


“I awake in bed … In the corner of the room there are two men. I cannot see them but I know that they are there, and what they look like. I can hear them talking. They are talking about murder. I cannot move. One of the men comes and stands directly above me … He spits, and his spit lands in the socket of my closed eye. I can feel the impact, the wetness, the trail of slime.”


This may sound like a scene from the X-Files, but it is actually a personal account of a real experience – told as part of a project on sleep paralysis. This is an unusual condition where one wakes up in the night, unable to move, and often experiences a wide range of bizarre and terrifying hallucinations.


On October 9 a new documentary, The Nightmare, directed by Rodney Ascher, is being released in the UK. The film tracks eight people’s experiences of sleep paralysis, brilliantly recreating their terrifying visions on screen. However, it does not touch on the increasing amount of scientific study into the condition. This is a shame, as researchers are slowly getting closer to unravelling its mystery….”


For the rest, click here.


Click here for a very fascinating video on the subject.




New discovery of an early human ancestor…

Did this previously unknown human ancestor invent the concept of burying their dead?


 Photo credit: A reconstruction of Homo naledi’s head by paleoartist John Gurche, who spent some 700 hours recreating the head from bone scans. University of the Witwatersrand, National Geographic Society and the South African National Research Foundation.

Photo credit: A reconstruction of Homo naledi’s head by paleoartist John Gurche, who spent some 700 hours recreating the head from bone scans. University of the Witwatersrand, National Geographic Society and the South African National Research Foundation.


New Species Of Human Discovered In South Africa
by Justine Alford (IFLS)


“Brace yourself: this discovery is huge. So huge that its profound implications will shake up our very own family tree. The University of Witwatersrand, in collaboration with National Geographic, is proud to announce a remarkable story of human heritage. The discovery of an early human ancestor that sits beautifully within our own genus of Homo. I ecstatically present to you, Homo naledi.


This incredible fossil find comes from the richest single hominin assemblage so far discovered in Africa. A gift that keeps on giving, the species not only enlightens us on the origins and diversity of man, but also seems to display a behavior long believed to be unique to humans, even perhaps a defining feature of our species: deliberately disposing of its dead in an isolated chamber. The discovery has been published in two papers in the open access journal eLife.


A textbook-worthy accident, H. naledi was first stumbled upon two years ago by amateur cavers during an exploration of a cave system known as Rising Star, located within South Africa’s famous Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. From this, the Rising Star Expedition was born, starting in November 2013 with a 21 day exploration involving a team of 60 scientists and volunteer cavers. Expecting to recover a single skeleton, just three days in they realized they had much more than that, “something different and extraordinary,” research leader Lee Berger said at a press event IFLScience attended.


That something different turned out to be not several, but 15 individuals from a single hominin species, represented by more than 1,500 fossil elements found within a single chamber in total darkness some 90 meters (295 feet) from the entrance….”


For the rest and more photos, click here.


Neil Gaiman’s talk on How Stories Last

Neil Gaiman spoke about stories recently in San Francisco. Enjoy!


Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last
by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)


“Stories … are genuinely symbiotic organisms that we live with, that allow human beings to advance.”


“Stories have shapes, as Vonnegut believed, and they in turn give shape to our lives. But how do stories like the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm or Alice in Wonderland continue to enchant the popular imagination generation after generation — what is it that makes certain stories last?


That’s what the wise and wonderful Neil Gaiman explores in a fantastic lecture two and a half years in the making, part of the Long Now Foundation’s nourishing and necessary seminars on long-term thinking.


Nearly half a century after French molecular biologist Jacques Monod proposed what he called the “abstract kingdom” — a conceptual parallel to the biosphere, populated by ideas that propagate like organisms do in the natural world — and after Richard Dawkins built upon this concept to coin the word “meme,” Gaiman suggests stories are a life-form obeying the same rules of genesis, reproduction, and propagation that organic matter does…”


The audio for the talk is here, or click the image below.


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See the rest, as well as transcribed highlights here.




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