Wednesday, September 22, 2010

International: Blink and you'll miss it (depending, of course, on your religious beliefs)


Blink and you’ll miss it (depending, of course, on your religious beliefs)

Posted: 21 Sep 2010 03:16 PM PDT

The attentional blink is another of those weird and wonderful cognitive blind spots with which the human race is afflicted. Flash up two images in close succession, and we find it really difficult to even notice the second, let alone figure out what it is. That’s basically because our brains are still engaged in processing the first one.

In another recent study by Lorenzo Colzato (she also did the “big picture” study from a couple of posts ago), atheists and Dutch Christian Calvinists have had their attentional blinks assessed.

The set up is pretty simple. A series of single-digit numbers flash up on the screen, then a letter, then a few more numbers, then another letter. The task is to identify the two letters.

Now, getting the second letter right is easy if you weren’t paying attention to the first one. So the key is to look for those people who got the first one right. If you get the first one right, and the second wrong, you have a long attentional blink. If you get the first right and the second right too, then you have a short attentional blink.

Lorenzo found that the atheists she tested had a shorter attentional blink than the Calvinists. In fact, as the figure shows, there actually seems to be a fairly direct relationship between how often the people in her study prayed, and the length of their attentional blink.

She thinks that this is related to her earlier finding (that Calvinists are ‘detail’ people rather than ‘big picture’ people). Calvinists are trained from birth to focus on a narrower, rather than a bigger context, and Lorenzo thinks that this have widespread effects on their style of information processing – when compared to individuals who are raised with a broader, more complex worldview (including religious people).

Now, I have no idea whether a long attentional blink is a good or bad thing. I guess it depends a lot on the circumstances. It is, however, interesting to note that an earlier study, which showed that meditation can shorten your attentional blink, came down firmly on the side of believing this to be a good think.

Colzato, L. (2010). Religion and the Attentional Blink: Depth of faith predicts depth of the blink Frontiers in Psychology DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00147

This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.

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2.      Pew Study: Youth Less Affiliated with Religious Bodies, but No Less Faithful

3.      What values motivate the non-religious in the UK?

Zogby, Gallup both find Democrats in Congressional lead

Posted: 21 Sep 2010 03:08 PM PDT

For the first time in months, Democrats lead Republicans in the “generic Congressional ballot” polling. By one point.

Both Zogby and Gallup, in their latest polls, found the “generic Democrat” ahead of the “generic Republican” by a single point — within the respective polls’ margins of error.

In the latest Zogby Interactive poll, September 17-20, Zogby found that 44% of American voters favored the generic Democrat, and 43% the generic Republican. This is a significant shift from the previous week’s poll, in which 41% preferred the generic Democrat, and 47% the Republican.

Gallup’s results are similar for the week of September 13-19, with 46% preferring the generic Democrat over 45% the Republican. Gallup reflects a similar shift, with the previous poll showing 43% Democratic and 48% Republican.

Click for a larger version. Image: Gallup

Gallup’s poll is based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Sept. 13-19, 2010, with a random sample of 2,925 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. Gallup uses both landline and cell phone lines, and conducts interviews in Spanish and in English.

Zogby’s poll consisted of 2,068 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/-2.2%, using a sample of Zogby’s online panel.

Why the shift? Are the victories of Tea Party candidates, many of whom espouse radical social views demanding a “Christian nation”, scaring off moderate voters? Is the success of the Tea Party turning out to be the “Republican suicide” some establishment Republicans are calling it?

Related articles:

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2.      Gallup: Conservatives outnumber liberals 2:1, church attendance rising

3.      Brown (R) Takes Massachusetts Senate Seat. Your Thoughts?

Christine O’Donnell, victim of Moral Activists

Posted: 21 Sep 2010 11:08 AM PDT

Yes, it's a Ford Fiesta. Just like prom night.

Christine O’Donnell, a virtual unknown until only a few days ago, recently blew onto the scene like a premature ejaculation in the back seat of a Ford Fiesta on prom night ’87. Liberal smear-artist Rachel Maddow showed a video of a twenty-something year old O’Donnell trying to promote teen purity on her daily broadcast and since then the young GOP challenger from Delaware has become an overnight Youtube phenomenon.

Folks, we’ve all seen the videos… multiple times. We have every line of corny scripted dialogue, every bad early 90s hairdo, and every unflattering camera angle ingrained in our subconscious where it will sit in our Rolodex of things that we will never unsee. For those reasons there’s no point in posting the videos yet again.

The left has been having a field day with these videos and frankly I feel sorry for the girl. Obviously these tapes were a mistake. She was fresh out of college, couldn’t find a job, had student loans to pay off and saw a way to make some quick money. Maybe she met a guy at the Dennys while she was waiting tables, maybe he told her he had an acting gig for her and maybe she saw it as a quick way to earn a couple of bucks– how she got in this situation doesn’t matter. Obviously she was taken advantage of, obviously things got out of hand and obviously she was made to do things no woman should ever have to do on camera.

She said she was young, and needed the money.


What was supposed to be a short student film about a single mother working two jobs to find a better life for her autistic albino son quickly turned into a sleazy attempt to get this young lady to do degrading things on film.

It’s a sad reality that young and desperate women that are down on their luck and out of money are being disgraced and taken advantage of by the absolute lowest form of human scum on this planet: Moral Activists. They get you in that room with the phony potted plant, sit you down on that filthy stained couch, shine a light in your face and instruct you to read horribly-written pieces of dialogue like “if he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself… then why am I in the picture?” I mean the idea of a woman trying to single-handedly stop fourteen-year-old boys from using their penises like the fire hoses those cops used to shoot black people with during the Civil Rights movement is more far-fetched than three sorority sisters having a 4-way with a pizza delivery guy because they can’t pay for their pizza. Really, you don’t have $10 between the three of you?

Based on the poor production quality, the awful haircuts, the cheesy music, the unbelievable premise and the cringe-worthy dialogue I think it’s obvious this video was meant only to be seen by a very small cross section of America’s most vile and detestable citizens. Limited to small book and video shops next to liquor stores in strip malls located in the bad part of town where men hiding inside trench coats and sunglasses look both ways to make sure no one is watching before slipping inside to quench their despicable habits, it’s apparent this video was never meant to be seen by normal, well-adjusted and functioning members of society.

When she was talked into performing in this tape Christine had no idea that one day a series of tubes would bring the world instantly to our fingertips and any motion picture caught on video or film would gain a world audience. When Christine regrettably decided to participate in this degrading video there was no way of knowing one day her parents, her friends, and the entire world would see it and feel ashamed for her.

We all make mistakes, maybe we don’t go on Politically Incorrect and say that it was wrong for people to lie to Nazis about hiding Jews in their homes, but we all have lapses in judgment that we hope no one else sees. How would you feel if your lowest moment was caught on tape and played on every major news show in America? These videos were obviously never supposed to be seen by people like us and I want to personally reprimand the disgusting, vile, maladjusted, bottom-feeding scumbags that lure down-on-their-luck girls to say and do deplorable things on camera for the titillation of only a few fat, ugly, girlfriend-less, perverted, mentally-ill Values Voters.

Shame on you!

While I like to believe O’Donnell has learned her lesson and will never appear in an embarrassing video again, the revelations that she has been living off campaign donations and has racked up thousands in debt by not paying her staff lead me to believe that if things don’t rapidly get better for the spunky young Senatorial candidate from Delaware we may see another shameful video of her on the internet spearheading a campaign to make it illegal to have sex with the lights on.

Related articles:

1.       Who is Christine O’Donnell?

2.      O’Donnell “a crook”, says formal complaint

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O’Donnell “a crook”, says formal complaint

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 11:14 PM PDT

A political watchdog group has filed a formal Federal complaint against Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell, alleging that she has used funds from multiple campaigns to pay personal expenses.

On Monday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed complaints with the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against newly-minted Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell (R) for using campaign funds for personal living expenses. By misusing campaign funds, CREW asserts, Ms. O’Donnell committed the crime of conversion; by lying about her expenditures on forms she filed with the FEC, she committed false statements; and by failing to include the campaign funds she misappropriated as income, she committed tax evasion.

While it is fairly common knowledge that O’Donnell is presently living in a rented townhouse which is divided between her personal living space and her campaign headquarters, her misuse of campaign funds is not a new thing.

CREW’s complaint is based, in part, on the affidavit of former campaign aide David Keegan. Mr. Keegan explained that in 2009, when Ms. O’Donnell was out of money, she paid her landlord, Brent Vasher, two months rent out of her campaign funds. On FEC forms, Ms. O’Donnell called the expenditures “expense reimbursements.” Mr. Keegan also attested that Ms. O’Donnell routinely used campaign funds for meals and gas, and even a bowling outing. This is not surprising given that Ms. O’Donnell has not held a steady job or had a discernable source of income for many years.

Keegan isn’t the only former O’Donnell aide pointing the finger. O’Donnell’s 2008 campaign manager, Kristin Murray, recorded a “robocall” for the Delaware Republican Party asserting that O’Donnell “was living on campaign donations — using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt. She wasn’t concerned about conservative causes. O’Donnell just wanted to make a buck.”

This is reinforced by O’Donnell’s disclosure of her income from March 2009 – July 2010: A paltry $5,800, of which she donated more than half to her own campaign. What was her means of support? Donors? Nobody knows, and O’Donnell isn’t talking.

Melanie Sloan, CREW Executive Director, comments:

Christine O’Donnell is clearly a criminal, and like any crook she should be prosecuted. Ms. O’Donnell has spent years embezzling money from her campaign to cover her personal expenses. Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on much these days, but both sides should agree on one point: Thieves belong in jail, not the United States Senate.

Before her primary victory last week, O’Donnell’s campaign fund had dropped to just above $20,000. In the days following, it has swelled to nearly $1M.

In related news, while O’Donnell has tried recently to convince voters that her views on sexuality are within the mainstream, a 2006 interview, and other earlier comments, paint a different story:

“People are created in God’s image. Homosexuality is an identity adopted through societal factors. It’s an identity disorder,” she told Wilmington News Journal reporter Victor Greto.

O’Donnell told TV talk show host Phil Donahue in 2002 that “condoms will not protect you from AIDS.” And in a 2006 appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” she said efforts to promote condom use are “anti-human.”

Perhaps O’Donnell will look to her own comment, made on “Politically Incorrect”, when Eddie Izzard asked her how she felt about the transgendered. “Well, I think you have to look on someone’s heart,” O’Donnell said. “What we do behind closed doors will be seen by God… our life needs to be consistent.”

For more information:

CLICK HERE to read CREW’s letter to Delaware U.S. Attorney David C. Wiess, requesting an investigation.

CLICK HERE to read CREW’s letter of complaint to the FEC regarding Christine O’Donnell.


O'Donnell at a Family Research Council event. Image: AP

to see CREW’s exhibits of evidence regarding Christine O’Donnell.

Related articles:

1.       Who is Christine O’Donnell?

2.      ChristianChirp Founder's Fraud Complaint

3.      Christine O’Donnell, victim of Moral Activists


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