science
The Woman Who Turned Psychological Testing Into a Science

“I don’t have time for this,” psychologist Anne Anastasi reportedly said in 1987, before hanging up the phone on a call from Ronald Reagan’s White House. The call, according to Harold Takooshian, a psychology professor at Fordham University, was to inform her that she had won the first National Medal of Science for psychology. It took another phone call—which Anastasi again declined—and then a call to the Fordham University psychology department’s secretary to convince Anastasi that she had in fact received the honour. Read More >>

science
Is the Butterfly Effect Real?

Is the 2004 Ashton Kutcher vehicle The Butterfly Effect a good movie? Definitely not, no—but try telling that to me at age thirteen. And then wrap your head, once more, around the fact that if you had told me that, you might have set in motion the utter annihilation of the human race—the whole notion of the butterfly effect being that small-scale events (telling a credulous thirteen-year-old he has bad taste in movies) can generate massive, unforeseen consequences (World War III, nuclear apocalypse, etc.). Read More >>

memory
Can You Forget Things on Purpose?

Memory’s ungovernable, a ceaseless shaming pain: you’re either scrambling to retrieve it (rooting around for keys, or the name of some acquaintance) or you’re scrambling away from it, wishing it wouldn’t toss up, for the seven hundredth time, this or that miserable incident (deaths, bad dates, awkward elevator talk, trauma beyond the scope and tone of this parenthetical, etc.). Eternal Sunshine posited a medical remedy for this latter scourge – but is such a thing actually possible, outside of twee pseudo-indie movies from the early aughts? Can you actually forget things on purpose? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out a number of psychologists with different viewpoints to find out. Read More >>

science
Why Do People Believe in Pseudoscience?

It’s difficult to change someone’s mind if they have anything like a strong opinion on the risks of vaccination, or the usefulness of orbs and essential oils in the treatment of late-stage liver cancer. But if you’re ever going to stand a chance of doing so, you’re going to need to wipe the rage-spittle off your face and set about the hard, not especially rewarding work of trying to understand these people. And so for this Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of psychologists and historians who’ve studied the issue to figure out why people believe in pseudoscience. Read More >>

memory
Why Do We Forget?

To live is to forget – account numbers, names, the precise locations of keys and wallets, friends from childhood, peripheral characters from prestige TV shows, inside jokes, past ambitions, U.S. history, much else. Goldfish with guns: that’s the human race. But every frailty, we know, serves some larger adaptive purpose. So it is worth asking, as we wrack our brains for whatever it was we know we were supposed to do today: why must things be like this? Why do we forget? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of neuroscientists and psychologists to find out. Read More >>

science
The Psychology of Faking Your Own Death

Why would anyone fake their own death? Some seek a departure from royalty, a career as a pirate, or a quiet life after taking down the Third Reich. Usually, they’re chasing an escape from bankruptcy or bad marriages. But for some, it may seem that staging their own death is the only way to feel like they’re alive. Read More >>

dreams
Why Do We Remember Some Dreams but Not Others?

If you’ve ever woken up on the brink of a heart attack, drenched in sweat and convinced you’ll never live down the shame of sprinting nude through downtown Pittsburgh, you know that some dreams are more memorable than others. Most dreams, in fact, seem totally unmemorable – at least in the sense that we can’t remember them. And yet every now and then a dream will linger into breakfast and well into the day, or month, or year – will become a memory like any other. Read More >>

science
Would Perfect Memory Be a Burden or a Superpower?

The ability to remember every moment of your life sounds like an amazing proposition, but for the very few people who actually have this ability, it comes at a cost. Read More >>

animals
Do Dogs Forget Their People?

Let’s say your long-term relationship totally implodes. Browsing for a new apartment, or a therapist that takes your insurance, you hear your dog bark in the other room – and realise, with a start, that it’s not actually your dog. Once you’re all moved out, the dog will be out of your life, too. Stewing in self-pity you think – and subsequently become convinced – that this dog, who you’ve fed and bathed who knows how many times, and coined several adorable nicknames for, will forget you ever existed by the start of next spring. Read More >>

giz asks
Does Your Cat Actually Hate You?

Dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves; cats – or at least some cats, some of the time – can spend years at your side without making it totally clear that they know, or care, who you are. An expression vaguely resembling contentment flits across their face and you think, triumphantly: see! My cat doesn’t despise me. Read More >>

science
Study Links a Happy, Peaceful Mind to Sweet Dreams

I tend to have very vivid dreams. I recently dreamed that I hit a home run at Wrigley Field as a member of my favourite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, for example. But I also dreamed the clown from It came to haunt me at the top of every hour as I roamed a crowded casino. Read More >>

science
Why Your Brain Can’t Let Go of a Grudge

We humans are masters of resentment — a characteristic that can be traced back to the beginnings of recorded history. Feuds seem to be an indelible aspect of the human condition, but why should this be? We spoke to the experts to find out why we love to hold a grudge, and the importance of letting go. Read More >>

environment
How Supposedly ‘Eco-Friendly’ Products Trick You

There are few things more fashionable these days than being “green”, but separating a truly eco-friendly bottle of sunscreen from a bottle of emerald-tinted snake-oil can be tough even for the shrewdest of consumers. Read More >>

drugs
The Psychedelic Drug DMT Can Simulate a Near-Death Experience, Study Suggests

Not everyone who is close to death—or thinks they are, at least—has a “near-death experience.” But those who do often hallucinate that they leave their bodies, meet otherworldly beings, see bright flashes and tunnels of light, and more. Those who take the psychedelic drug dimethyltryptamine, or DMT— a compound found in the hallucinogenic Amazonian brew known as ayahuasca—experience many of the same things. Read More >>

robots
Robot Peer Pressure Is the Newest Tech Threat to Children

New research shows that children are more likely than adults to give in to peer pressure from robots, a disturbing finding given the rapidly increasing rate at which kids are interacting with socially intelligent machines. Read More >>