Thanks to everyone who is placing a pre-order for Skepchick and/or Skepdude calendars! Keep spreading the word through your blogs, web sites, and personal face-to-face interaction, if anybody still does that anymore.
On to more skeptical stuff, thanks to reader Rav for shooting me this cool article about how a simple current can make your brain go crazy. To be more specific, it’s about researchers who discovered an area of the brain that when stimulated, causes a patient to sense a “shadow” person that mimics the patient’s movements. It’s actually (probably) the person sensing her own body but without the understanding that it IS her own body. Freaky! It might be the scientific explanation for out of body experiences. The article even goes on to mention an incident where a current caused a woman to experience the textbook example of an out of body experience — when the brain was stimulated, she said she was at the ceiling looking down at her legs, and when the stimulation ceased, she said she was back on the table.
I foresee this being the next wave to follow recreational drug use. Kids will hide out in their parents’ basements secretly hooking wires to their angular gyruses and floating around the room.
Absolutely fascinating. Research like this makes me think of Larry Niven's science fiction. In his "future history", an invention mentioned several times was electronic stimulation of the brain's pleasure center, "wireheading".
Niven postulated and explored the implications of such technology. He made a convincing case that such stimulation would become addictive, and "wireheads" would neglect exercise, bathing and eating in preference to experiencing such direct, unadulterated pleasure.
I'm also intrigued by the possibilities of using the kind of stimulation discussed in the article for treating epilepsy, schizophrenia and the like. We are living in a very interesting age of discovery.
If you really want to have your mind blown, grab a copy of "Phantoms in the Brain" by VS Ramachandran. It's just full of jaw-dropping revelations about the brain (and more precisely, when the brain make huge errors.)
By the way, hello! I've been reading your blog for just a few weeks now and it's such a pleasure to "meet" you!
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