• Sander van der Linden, in a Scientific American post, reviews the environment of conspiracism and psychology detailing the correlates with adhering to the conspiracist world-view as: believing in other contradictory conspiracies; “higher-order beliefs” (such as general distrust of authority);  rejection of mainstream science; and disengagement from society and politics, which they attribute (to some degree) to “fundamental attribution error,” where people are biased towards seeing most events as intentional.

    Sander makes an interesting point about conspiracy memes and culture, softening the negative correlates in the article:

    Yet, such pathological explanations have proven to be widely insufficient because conspiracy theories are not just the implausible visions of a paranoid minority. For example, a national poll released just this month reports that 37 percent of Americans believe that global warming is a hoax, 21 percent think that the US government is covering up evidence of alien existence and 28 percent believe a secret elite power with a globalist agenda is conspiring to rule the world.

    This ties in with my recent paper on psychological religious disorders, where I found that clinicians could only diagnose belief as delusion if it wasn’t one “…ordinarily accepted by other members of the individual’s culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith).”

    Interesting read. Check it out:

  • In what the FBI’s lawyers call the “going dark” problem, they claim without mandatory “wiretapping backdoors” the FBI would be forced to shut down investigations, with proposals for “…a kind of digital-age wiretap that could read, for instance, Facebook messages or Gchats.”

  • In the most interesting anthropological / american history article I’ve read in a while, Joseph Stromberg of Smithsonian Magazine details how English settlers in the  ”American”  Jamestown colony resorted to cannibalism during the “Starving Time,” for the first time giving physical evidence to written allusions of cannibalism [and explicit mentions of consuming dug-up corpses] by the settlers themselves, via the remains of a 14-year-old girl bearing the marks of butchering.

  • Josh Gerstein at Politico:

    The decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces came on a bid by journalists to gain access to legal filings and court orders in the court martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who’s accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

    In a sharply divided ruling, the appeals court ruled, 3-2, that it had no jurisdiction to consider such a complaint from parties other than the government or the defendant in a particular case.

  • “Hackers from the group Anonymous have claimed responsibility for an attack on Westboro Baptist Church’s Facebook page as retribution for the group’s call to picket and protest funerals for the Boston bombing victims.”

  • Declan McCullagh:

    CISPA is controversial because it overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” including privacy policies and wiretap laws, companies may share cybersecurity-related information “with any other entity, including the federal government.” It would not, however, require them to do so.

    That language has alarmed dozens of advocacy groups, including the American Library Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Reporters Without Borders, which sent a letter (PDF) to Congress last month opposing CISPA. It says: “CISPA’s information sharing regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like Internet records or the content of e-mails, to any agency in the government.” President Barack Obama this week threatened to veto CISPA.

  • Maia Szalavitz:

    When the brain is under severe threat, it immediately changes the way it processes information, and starts to prioritize rapid responses. “The normal long pathways through the orbitofrontal cortex, where people evaluate situations in a logical and conscious fashion and [consider] the risks and benefits of different behaviors— that gets short circuited,” says Dr. Eric Hollander, professor of psychiatry at Montefiore/Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York. Instead, he says, “You have sensory input right through the sensory [regions] and into the amygdala or limbic system.”

  • Live Science:

    People in the United States who want to have children have been able to purchase donated sperm and eggs separately for some time, but the relatively recent practice of selling embryos introduces new ethical and legal issues that should be addressed, experts say.

  • Consumer Reports details how retail stores leverage your in-store and out-of-store data such as where you look (products and duration), the collective heat map of your cellphone signal to track paths, and data-mine your facial expressions, government ID’s and license plates to tailor ad experiences, maximize their profits, and open the door to gender and ethnicity biased price-points.

  • Earth First:

    Harvard roboticists are developing a solution to the [bee] crisis: swarms of tiny robot bees made of titanium and plastic that can pollinate those vast dystopian fields of GMO cash crops.