“At some point in their lives, about 5 percent of people hear voices or see things that others cannot perceive.”

John McGrath / the Queensland Brain Institute:

We used to think that only people with psychosis heard voices or had delusions, but now we know that otherwise healthy, high-functioning people also report these experiences. Of those who have these experiences, a third only have them once and another third only have two-to-five episodes across their life. These people seem to function reasonably well. So it’s incredibly interesting that not only is hearing voices more common than previously thought, but it’s not always linked to serious mental illness.

Hallucinations are surprisingly common [Futurify]

May 29, 2015  |  

Total Fertility Rate by Religion 2010-2015

Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman – well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population.6 Christians are second, at 2.7 children per woman. Hindu fertility (2.4) is similar to the global average (2.5). Worldwide, Jewish fertility (2.3 children per woman) also is above replacement level. All the other groups have fertility levels too low to sustain their populations: folk religions (1.8 children per woman), other religions (1.7), the unaffiliated (1.7) and Buddhists (1.6).

However:

Over the coming decades, Christians are expected to experience the largest net losses from switching. Globally, about 40 million people are projected to switch into Christianity, while 106 million are projected to leave, with most joining the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated.

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050 [Pew]

May 28, 2015  |  

Avon Products (AVP): May 14, 2015

Avon Products (AVP) stock today. Yep, fake reports and algo traders can do wonders.

Reuters:

Shares of Avon Products Inc soared as much as 20 percent after an apparently non-existent firm incorporated in a remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean offered to buy the cosmetics company for almost three times its market value.

Avon said it had not received any such offer.

The purported acquirer, which identified itself as PTG Capital Partners, said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday it would pay $18.75 per share for Avon.

Shares of Avon peaked at $8 and ended up 6 percent at $7.07 even after many traders doubted the veracity of the offer. About 69.5 million shares changed hands, mostly after news of the filing broke, on the stock’s busiest day since March 20.

Who’s calling Avon? Shares spike on mystery takeover bid [Reuters]

No position.

Why People Are Irrational About Politics

Michael Huemer:

The problem of political irrationality is the greatest social problem humanity faces. It is a greater problem than crime, drug addiction, or even world poverty, because it is a problem that prevents us from solving other problems. Before we can solve the problem of poverty, we must first have correct beliefs about poverty, about what causes it, what reduces it, and what the side effects of alternative policies are. If our beliefs about those things are guided by the social group we want to fit into, the self-image we want to maintain, the desire to avoid admitting to having been wrong in the past, and so on, then it would be pure accident if enough of us were to actually form correct beliefs to solve the problem.

[…]

Based on the level of disagreement, human beings are highly unreliable at identifying correct political claims. This is extremely unfortunate, since it means that we have little chance of solving social problems and a good chance of creating or exacerbating them. The best explanation lies in the theory of Rational Irrationality: individuals derive psychological rewards from holding certain political beliefs, and since each individual suffers almost none of the harm caused by his own false political beliefs, it often makes sense (it gives him what he wants) to adopt those beliefs regardless of whether they are true or well-supported.

The beliefs that people want to hold are often determined by their self-interest, the social group they want to fit into, the self-image they want to maintain, and the desire to remain coherent with their past beliefs. People can deploy various mechanisms to enable them to adopt and maintain their preferred beliefs, including giving a biased weighting of evidence; focusing their attention and energy on the arguments supporting their favored beliefs; collecting evidence only from sources they already agree with; and relying on subjective, speculative, and anecdotal claims as evidence for political theories.

Why People Are Irrational about Politics [UCO]

May 10, 2015  |  

City Layouts

Luis Dilger:

I didn’t only want to show these structures in the conventional way from above, but also including the exact three-dimensionality of topography and buildings – a real world visualisation. The OpenStreetMap data enabled me to visualize the satellite-based information using DEM Earth in Cinema 4D. The results are some extraordinary views of large capitals and small towns.

[Behance / Society6]

May 3, 2015  |  

DEA Approves Study of MDMA in Treatment of Seriously Ill Patients

The move suggests the DEA may be questioning its long-held position that the psychedelic compound, which can be a component in street drugs like Molly or Ecstasy, has no accepted medical use.

Brad Burge, communications director for MAPS:

In a psychotherapeutic context, MDMA has been reported to help subjects lower their psychological defenses and enhance their ability to process difficult emotions. It may also increase the sense of trust between subjects and the therapist.

DEA Approves Study Of Psychedelic Drug MDMA In Treatment Of Seriously Ill Patients [HuffPost]

April 30, 2015  |