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Ten minutes of uninterrupted eye contact causes hallucinations and other important things 

Monday, September 28, 2015
posted by Douglas Keene

five minutesThere are many things we read and discard rather than sharing them (and our take on them) with you, but other things we read and grin and think you might want to know. We’ve described these before as odd facts for sharing over drinks or dinner or around the office. It isn’t the most pivotal research we’ve read, but it is usually amusing. These are not the really “important” things, but they might make you grin and result in others looking at you with awe (or at least curiosity).

Altered consciousness using the person next to you (if they will cooperate)

Tina Fey and Steve Martin did this in a fairly unmemorable movie, but only for five minutes. However, if you want to go beyond “rewarding” someone with five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact, you can actually experience “dissociation and hallucinations”. Is that cool or what? The lights must be dim to better bring on a “natural” altered state and if you choose to question whether this is a real study, the citation is at the bottom of this post.

An easy test to see if your new friend is secretly a psychopath

We’ve written before about psychopaths but never seen such a quick-and-dirty test to see if your new friend is someone from whom you want to quickly distance yourself. According to a new study from researchers at Baylor University, people with psychopathic tendencies are less likely to be “affected by contagious yawning”. Yes. You know how when someone yawns and then you yawn back? It’s contagious. Except, the act itself is apparently based in empathy (which the psychopath does not have). The researcher cautions us to NOT presume that “if you yawn and someone else doesn’t, the other person is a psychopath”.

Another way to tell if someone is suicidal

In 2012, we wrote up a study that seemed strange to us on being able to simply look at someone’s face and determine if they were suicidal. Here’s another one where they look at blood tests to assess changes in genes that appear to indicate suicidal thoughts. According to a press release, a questionnaire and blood test together predicted with 92% accuracy which of 108 men receiving psychiatric treatment would develop suicidal feelings over the next year. That is pretty accurate.

Fool people into thinking you are younger than you really are (online anyway)

We’ve all heard the saying “no one knows you’re a dog on the internet”—although, we told you back in 2012 that common wisdom really isn’t true. But this is a way to fool people online into thinking you are younger than your real age. LOL is often used as internet shorthand for “laughing out loud”. By old people anyway. Researchers analyzed Facebook posts for how people expressed laughter and as it turned out, LOL is used by old folks. If you want to be seen as young and tuned in—remove LOL from use and write “haha” or “hehe” instead. Read the researchers blog post here.

Strangers in your mirror and Donald Trump in your refrigerator?

Here are two odd things. One, if you ever see a stranger (who closely resembles you) in your mirror—there’s a name for that: Capgras syndrome for ones own mirror image. A recent publication highlights a case study of a man who came to believe the reflection in the mirror was someone else who lived behind the mirror glass (because he talked to the stranger and the man knew an awful lot about him). And if that isn’t weird enough for you—did you hear about the woman who saw Donald Trump in her refrigerator? Apparently it was pretty shocking for her when she opened a new tub of spreadable butter and saw Donald Trump’s face on her butter. Researchers call this “pareidolia”—it’s when we see familiar patterns that really do not exist or when we see faces in random patterns. They say it’s like the people who see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in their food. Somehow we think the Donald would like joining this small but highly regarded group.

Caputo, G. (2015). Dissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through interpersonal gazing Psychiatry Research, 228 (3), 659-663 DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.04.050

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