Category Archives: Psychology

The Blue-Black/Gold-White Dress

I was still wondering how much my eyes or brain are deceiving me when looking at The Dress. So, here’s a breakdown of the two main sections from

I spent more time on the section that some people see as gold (or, to put it more colorfully, as “shit gold”) because that seems less clear-cut to me than the blue section.
Even if we’re generous and translate “very dark grayish red” as “gold,” we come up with 71% of the “gold” sections that contain only black and 28% that are sort of gold.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more on this important topic in roughly another 8 months.

The Original
The Original

Analysis of "gold" sections.
Analysis of “gold” sections.

Spreadsheet breakdown of "gold" sections.
Spreadsheet breakdown of “gold” sections.

Analysis of "white" sections.
Analysis of “white” sections.

Sleep and Temperature


Recommending a specific range is difficult, Downey and Heller say, because what is comfortable for one person isn’t for another (explaining how Roy’s wife slept blissfully in the chilly 60-degree room). While a typical recommendation is to keep the room between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, Heller advises setting the temperature at a comfortable level, whatever that means to the sleeper.

Doheny, K. (2010). Can’t Sleep? Adjust the Temperature. WebMD. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from

Looking at the available research, most studies agree that a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleeping, with temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees disruptive to sleep.[][] Body temperature has also been linked to the amount of deep sleep an individual gets during the night, with cooler body temperatures leading to more deep sleep.[][] Sleeping in a hot environment has also been shown to increases wakefulness and decreases slow wave sleep. The addition of high humidity can intensify the effect of heat.[]

Winter, C. (2013, October 10). Choosing the Best Temperature for Sleep. Huffington Post. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from,

“Temperature regulation is a significant factor in each of the two types of insomnia. The difference is when the insomnia occurs. People with sleep onset insomnia have difficulty initiating sleep at the beginning of the night, taking two to four hours each night in the worst cases….”

“Studies of sleep onset insomniacs show that they consistently have a warmer core body temperature immediately before initiating sleep, when compared with normal healthy adults. This results in a state of heightened arousal that prevents them from falling asleep when they go to bed, probably because they have to wait for their bodies to lose the heat that’s keeping them awake. We’re only talking about a half to one degree but that small temperature change can result in significant differences in arousal between insomniacs and people without sleeping problems,” Dr Van den Heuvel says.

Hinter, G. (2004). Getting to the core of insomnia. UniSANews. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from

Studies have found that in general, the optimal temperature for sleep is quite cool, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. For some, temperatures that fall too far below or above this range can lead to restlessness.

O’Connor, A. (2009, August 3). The Claim: Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from

Extreme temperatures at either end of the range can affect sleep. A hot room (more than 24° C [75.2° F]) can cause restless body movements during sleep, more nighttime awakenings, and less dream type sleep. A cold room (less than 12° C [53.6° F]) can make it difficult to get to sleep and can cause more unpleasant and emotional dreams. We recommend room temperature to help promote sleep for most people is, therefore, around 18° C [64° F].

Morin, C.M. (2003, June 30). Insomnia: A Clinician’s Guide to Assessment and Treatment. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 51.

Research shows that the ideal temperature range for sleeping varies widely among individuals, so much so that there is no prescribed best room temperature to produce optimal sleep patterns. People simply sleep best at the temperature that feels most comfortable. That said, extreme temperatures in sleeping environments tend to disrupt sleep. REM sleep is commonly more sensitive to temperature-related disruption. For example, in very cold temperatures, we may be deprived entirely of REM sleep.

Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. (2007). External Factors that Influence Sleep. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from

Image credit: Kiyo and Jean-Paul

Onen SH, Onen F, Bailly D, Parquet P. Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation of sleeping habits. Presse Med.1994; Mar 12; 23(10): 485-9.
National Sleep Foundation: The Sleep Environment
Murphy PJ, Campbell SS. Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset? Sleep. 1997 Jul; 20(7): 505-11.
Jordan J, Montgomery I, Trinder J. The effect of afternoon body heating on body temperature and slow wave sleep. Psychophysiology. 1990 Sep; 27(5): 560-6.
Okamoto-Mizuno K, Mizuno K. Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. J Physiol Anthropol. 2012 May 31; 31: 14.

Recent Dream

I recently engaged in sexual congress with Shirley MacLaine and woke up mid-climax. This is not something I would normally share so publicly, but it’s something that I found too fascinating to keep to myself. I subsequently engaged in some googling with my computer regarding wet dreams and found out little except that they seem to be common in both men and women. One source I read claimed that there’s friction involved: you’re dreaming of a sex act while also stimulating yourself, unconsciously, out there in real-life.

But, hold on a second: is it not the case that our most dream-filled sleep occurs during the REM phase? And, is it not also the case that during REM sleep our bodies produce chemicals that paralyze us?

Now, I can’t be sure but I don’t think that there was any real-world friction involved in my tryst with Ms. MacLaine. This idea has prompted me to keep revisiting the experience and to wonder if it’s possible, generally, to achieve orgasm without external stimulation.

Now, consider a scene in the recently-released movie Her in which the main character, Theodore, has sex with Samantha (aka OS1), a manufactured, disembodied consciousness. Staring at the giant, black rectangle in the theater, fully engrossed in the story, I found this love scene perfectly convincing, especially in light of my recent dream. Save for skin-on-skin contact, the relationship between Theodore and Samantha is, of course, fully realized before the movie ends.

Skin-on-skin contact. Skin. Do we need either? I’ve read some comments on-line suggesting that at least some people were disturbed by Her’s unorthodox relationship. Among other things, they found Theodore pathetic for apparently being unable to connect deeply with flesh-and-blood people, echoing the sentiments of his ex-wife. I’m inclined to think that connecting with another consciousness is probably more important than connecting with another flesh-person. Theodore seems to genuinely do this. Because I bought their relationship (allowed myself to buy it?), I found myself both jealous of Theodore and of Samantha. Both the chance to fall in love in a new way and the chance to experience existence in a new way (and perhaps extend my life) are very appealing prospects to me.

I’ve read that Steven Soderbergh gave Her’s director, Spike Jonze, important editing suggestions which ultimately helped Jonze whittle his initially three-hour movie down to two. I’m not surprised that Jonze would turn to Soderbergh given the latter’s work on Solaris, a story that legendary Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky felt needed a nearly three-hour run-time to tell and that Soderbergh felt needed only about an hour and a half.

Actually, Her’s story and Solaris’s have at least one other connection: both deal with humans who, in some way, ultimately choose fantasy over reality. Theodore, I would argue, imagines a physical relationship with Samantha in Her; Chris imagines an entire reality in which his ex-wife is alive and healthy in Solaris. (Incidentally, I do heretically prefer Soderbergh’s version of Solaris to Tarkovsky’s coma-inducing version.)

To some extent, Theodore and Chris are both in love with aspects of their own respective conscious or unconscious minds.

This brings me back to Ms. MacLaine. Research exists — thanks primarily, it seems, to the work of Stephen LaBerge — suggesting that lucid, controllable dreaming is possible. So far, it doesn’t seem that many people have been successful in exploring the possibilities suggested by LaBerge’s research.

An interesting question might be, though, what would happen if it were easy for the average person to act out really convincing fantasies within the safety of his or her own mind? Has somebody out there gotten good enough at lucid dreaming to conjure up Dreamy MacLaine on a regular basis? If so, have they ever felt in danger of falling in love with her? I would guess that such unbridled access to one’s unconscious would be selected against. After all, what need would someone have of, for example, procreating if they could just dream, convincingly, satisfyingly, that they were doing these things?

And, what need would someone have of procreating if they had a devoted consciousness (such as OS1) to provide convincing, satisfying companionship?


* * *

“We like to be in love because it allows us to feel idealistic about ourselves. The other person ennobles, inspires, redeems. Our lover deserves the most wonderful person alive, and that person is ourselves.”
–Roger Ebert, from his review of All the Real Girls

Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

The cosmos is about 13.8 billion years old.
The human is about 200,000 years old.
The first recorded marriage involving a human occurred about 2,674 years ago.

Marriage contracts were first recorded in the Late Period (661-332 BC), and continued until the first century AD. They were often drawn up by the husband to establish the rights of both parties to maintenance and possessions. The law did not require a marriage to be recorded.


Appeal to Tradition

The argument supports a position by appealing to long-standing or traditional opinion, as if the past itself were a kind of authority.


Marie  I suppose you don’t consider Adam and Eve to’ve been married?
Mark  Did you snope this already? j/k
Joseph  Whoa whoa whoa … I thought everything was only 6,000 years old. Check your facts, heathen.
Clifton  Marie, this hadn’t actually occurred to me. From what I can gather, the thinking behind such a position is that Eve was "wed" to Adam because she was taken from a part of his body and then added back to him to complete him. If that is what it takes, then I would imagine that no marriage since has been valid. No?

Mark, I didn’t. As always, I am open to contradiction. I claim no expertise. Incidentally, Snopes generally does an excellent job of avoiding the argument from authority, which seems to me to be one of the human’s most abused fallacies.

Joseph, I’m glad you responded. I always wonder why my irreligious friends get married. Perhaps you can explain it to me. From my perspective, if you want to be with somebody, you will do that. Fidelity shouldn’t be a problem because you both agree to certain terms prior to formally entering into your relationship. Continue reading Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

Whore’s Glory

I had nine customers today. All nine were really fine. They were perfect gentleman with me. It always depends on the man’s family. If he comes from a good family, he has good manners; if he comes from a bad family, he has bad manners. … But it depends on my behavior too. If I treat him badly, he treats me badly. If a girl behaves badly, she gets a bad reputation quickly. … If I lose a customer, then his friends stop coming too. I treat my customers right so they keep coming back. Otherwise, I would be left with nothing. A customer would come once and then never again.

Man with Broca’s Aphasia

ZD YouTube FLV Player

Most neuroscientists would agree that the foundations of modern neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience were laid by the French surgeon, anatomist and anthropologist, Paul Broca, in the 1860s.

Broca was consulted about a 51-year-old patient by the name of Leborgne with multiple neurological problems, who had been without any productive speech for many years. Every time Leborgne attempted to utter a phrase or respond to a question, he could only produce a single repetitive syllable, “tan”. He could vary the intonation of the sound but was not able to produce any recognizable words or phrases. Broca saw Leborgne’s lack of speech as a test case for the question of language localization in the frontal lobes, since the patient clearly had no productive language. Leborgne died of his ailments several days later and, at autopsy, a lesion was found on the surface of the left frontal lobe as Broca had suspected.

A few months later, Broca encountered a second patient, Lelong, who also exhibited reduced productive speech as the result of a stroke 1 year before. This 84-year-old patient could say only five words, “oui” (“yes”), “non” (“no”), “tois” (a mispronunciation of “trois” (“three”)) which he used to represent any number), “toujours” (“always”) and “Lelo” (a mispronunciation of his own name). At autopsy, Lelong was also found to have a lesion in approximately the same region of the lateral frontal lobe as the first case, and Broca reported it to the Anatomical Society as an important case, confirming the localization of speech to this area.


Albert Fish

About the age of fifty-five, Fish started to experience hallucinations and delusions. “He had visions of Christ and His angels….he began to be engrossed in religious speculations about purging himself of iniquities and sins, atonement by physical suffering and self-torture, human sacrifices….He would go on endlessly with quotations from the Bible all mixed up with his own sentences, such as ‘Happy is he that taketh Thy little ones and dasheth their heads against the stones.”

Fish believed that God had ordered him to torment and castrate little boys. He had actually done so a number of times.