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Metaphysics & Psychology

The psychology behind Cambridge Analytica

The psychology behind Cambridge Analytica 86

Cambridge Analytica talks a big talk. “We can use ‘big data’ to understand exactly what messages each specific group within a target audience need to hear,” Alexander Nix, the organization’s chief executive, said at a marketing conference last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Documents circulated by SCL Elections, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, claimed to be “experts in measurable behavioral change.” The firm claimed its own methodology, “enables us to understand how people think and identify what it would take to change their mindsets and associated voting patterns.”

Online behaviour is indicative of a massive amount of information and it is perfectly possible to analyze Facebook activity to determine everything from health and character type, to political leanings and openness to vote. If the firm did obtain a thorough set of consumer information from Facebook, as has been reported, then it might have gotten exceptional insight to what makes people vote and how. “Facebook allowed them to combine different data sources in a way that allowed them to understand voters maybe better than voters themselves did,” states Dietram Scheufele, science communication scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Such understanding would allow for exact, targeted advertisements, which, of course, is precisely what Facebook sells its advertisers, such as Procter & Gamble. “Using Facebook words and likes, I can tell a lot about your political orientation, and hence show you an ad you’re likely to respond to (what’s your biggest concern: guns, gays, greens),” Lyle Ungar, a University of Pennsylvania professor who researches the psychology of social media use, writes in an email.

But following understanding the nuances of people and paying for exactly targeted advertising, do these ads change minds? It’s improbable. We’re not as manipulatable as Cambridge Analytica might love to think. “They showed in the 1940s that most campaign effects are really reinforcement effects,” he describes. Once somebody holds an opinion, they will buy into messages which encourage their preexisting perspective. But advertisements do not actually make us start thinking otherwise. After all, the early primaries could be determined by a relatively small number of voters, and mobilizing certain groups may have a critical effect. But, contrary to what Cambridge Analytica could imply, there is no exact and thorough science which indicates that in the event that you show specific adverts to specific character types at a particular period, then it will definitely have a potent impact. After all, Cambridge Analytica, hired by the Ted Cruz campaign, failed to make him president.

The research conducted by Cambridge Analytica can’t be replicated at a scientifically good fashion, states Scheufele, not least because both the information and calculations that it used are continuously changing. Facebook changes its algorithm consistently, and users leave and join all the time. “There’s little scientific research. There cannot be. If I wanted to replicate the kind of work that Cambridge Analytica claims to have, I wouldn’t be able to. The algorithms that led to their conclusions no longer exist. The data has changed, the population has changed and so on.”

No commendable academic paper would offer the basis for Cambridge Analytica’s hints that it relies on psychological techniques to convince people to vote for a specific candidate. Psychologists from the area have well-educated guesses concerning the particular papers the Cambridge Analytica scientists depended upon–and not one of them suggest that the amount of manipulation the data firm promised is possible.

Much of Cambridge Analytica’s work was tried by other political groups, notes Scheufele–such as Barack Obama. His 2012 campaign hired “predictive modeling and data mining scientists,” according to job advertisements, which read: “Modeling analysts are charged with predicting the behavior of the American electorate. These models will be instrumental in helping the campaign determine which voters to target for turnout and persuasion efforts, where to buy advertising and how to best approach digital media.” Obama’s team put advertisements inside video games during the 2008 election.

The fundamental idea behind targeting particular groups is very old: Proctor and Gamble sponsored the production of  “soap operas,” states Scheufele, since the provider quite literally wanted to sell soap to some certain audiences–girls doing housework at home– and so created the shows to attract a particular demographic.

Cambridge Analytica—also Facebook itself—only takes this to another level. It knows about our social groups–that is critical, as social contagion has a huge influence on behaviour. “That’s why Google has forever tried to buy some social network that was actually successful,” states Scheufele. “They tried Orkut, they tried Google Plus, they bought Waze for a billion dollars even though they already had Google Maps. Why? Because they want not just data on me but on all the friends surrounding me because that allows me to target much more precisely my potential vulnerabilities.”

Social media has enabled advertisers to target people and learn more about people than ever before. “It’s the sociology and the psychology together,” states Scheufele. “We’re no longer targeting segments, we’re targeting individuals.” But the psychological techniques used to affect us are neither as precise nor as strong as Cambridge Analytica supervisors have promised.

Source: Quartz

Metaphysics & Psychology

What people see after clinical death: Stories from survivors that they would rather forget

What people see after clinical death: Stories from survivors that they would rather forget 99

Humanity still does not know much about death. Of course, it’s easy to write it off as “nothingness,” but what if in reality everything is a little more complicated? In the selection below – ten creepy stories “from the other world” from people who survived clinical death.

Recently, the user Aidanmartin3 asked near-death survivors on Reddit to describe what it was like. The post quickly went viral, with hundreds of people sharing their stories in the comments.

I was about fifteen years old. Climbed onto the kitchen counter to grab something from the top cabinet, but slipped and fell headlong onto the marble floor. The next thing I remember is walking barefoot on water. Then I look to the right, I see a very bright light and a hand, as if calling me. I go to her and suddenly realize how peaceful and relaxed I am. Like the best deep sleep ever. Then I said to myself: “Dude, this is so cool, I would never wake up.” And then all of a sudden everything disappears, and I wake up because of my mother, who is crying over me.By that time, I was already numb, cold, pulseless and even managed to urinate in my pants. As an atheist who does not believe in all this, I often think about that case.

Cule4444

My father died for a short while and then said that at that time he was walking along a long corridor to the door. But when he was about to open it, his father felt himself being “sucked” into his own body

Whiskeynostalgic
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He died of an overdose for several minutes.In reality, there was nothing. It’s just darkness and an incomprehensible period of time. It was almost like waking up after hanging out all night and feeling like a horse kicked in the chest.

Th30xygen

It seemed to me that I was kind of floating in a long tunnel and I felt very tired. I remember how I fell asleep then and had a dream that I was in the kitchen of my childhood home, and dad was preparing breakfast. I heard turmoil and chaos at one end, and at the other, there was a warm light that seemed soothing. But then all of a sudden I ended up in the chaos of the emergency room.

Free_Hat_McCullough

The story of my ex-girlfriend’s mom. Her heart stopped for 28 minutes. The doctors had already told the family that she had left, and even brought in a priest to bless the room. But in the end she returned. She said that she recalls running around the field with a little girl, who, according to the woman, was her niece, in the dress in which she was buried.

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I heard a loud, high-pitched noise telling me that I am still too young to die. Then he got even higher, and I saw a bright light and woke up. The ambulance driver was shining a flashlight in my eyes

Workerhard62

Anaphylactic reaction to the deadly sting of the Irukandji jellyfish. I saw this white glow and how I soared up, then my family and the doctors and nurses who were saving me. Came back and felt a lot of pain

Georgestarr

It felt as if my body was being filmed on a CCTV camera from a third person. Then the camera gradually moved away and rose. I became very cold and began to hear loud clanking sounds. Woke up in an ambulance to the sound of a gurney bouncing on a rough road. It was so surreal. Since then I have not been afraid of death, to be honest. It was almost six years ago, but I still think about that case several times a month.

Hemptations
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I was hit by a car. I could see everything, blood had not yet got into my eyes. I heard all the commotion. I felt myself being pushed in the back, and then doing artificial respiration … After that I felt only the first beats of the heart and how the blood flowed through my body. The pain began to build up with renewed vigor, and then everything went black

Outsider531

I was pronounced dead three times. But “after death” I have never seen anything. At least i don’t remember

Amihuman159

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an ‘experimental’ patient

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an 'experimental' patient 100
Image: Giphy.com

US doctors described the story of a man who tried to relieve depression with psilocybin mushrooms in an unconventional way. He injected an intravenous infusion of mushrooms, causing the mushrooms to continue to multiply in his blood and cause multiple organ failure. The case was reported in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.

Many drugs that people traditionally use as psychedelics are increasingly becoming the focus of medical attention. Some of them have already been repurposed and started clinical trials: for example, micro-doses of LSD have proven to be at least safe in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, and psilocybin has helped patients with  migraines and  depression. Often in such experiments we are talking about microdosing – that is, the mass of the substance is not enough for a psychoactive effect.

The story of an American who decided to experiment on his own was described by doctors led by Curtis McKnight of Creighton University School of Medicine. According to relatives, the 30-year-old American suffered from bipolar disorder, but shortly before the incident stopped taking his prescribed medications and suffered from alternating states of mania and depression.

When he stumbled upon research on the potential benefits of psychedelics, he boiled psilocybin mushrooms and injected the filtered solution into his vein. A few days after this experiment, relatives found him in a lethargic state with jaundice, diarrhea and bloody vomiting and took him to the hospital.

Doctors discovered the patient had a problem with multiple organs at once: acute renal failure, liver damage, tachycardia, and low blood saturation and ionic imbalance. He was prescribed droppers to normalize the composition of the blood, vasoconstrictors to raise blood pressure, antibiotics and antifungal drugs. Despite this, he developed septic shock and DIC (excessive blood clotting) and needed plasmapheresis. Only eight days later he was discharged from the intensive care unit, and at the time of publication of the article he had already been in the hospital for 22 days.

In the patient’s blood tests, in addition to the Brevibacillus bacteria , there were also Psilocybe cubensis fungi  – the same ones from which he injected himself intravenously. Apparently, due to insufficient filtration of the solution, the fungi entered the bloodstream and multiplied there, causing intoxication and multiple organ failure.

Psilocybin mushrooms sprout in the blood of an 'experimental' patient 101

The authors of the work note that this is not the first such case – at least in the 80s of the 20th century, doctors already described a patient with similar symptoms after an intravenous injection. Therefore, McKnight and coauthors warn their colleagues: since psychedelics are increasingly used as a medicine (at the end of 2020, they began to legalize it in the United States), it is important to remind patients of the inadmissibility of self-therapy. Intravenous administration can be dangerous – doctors still do not know if it has the same psychoactive effect as the classical methods of administration.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

A part of a person’s essence accompanies him throughout his life: this is confirmed by a brain scan

A part of a person's essence accompanies him throughout his life: this is confirmed by a brain scan 102
Photo: pixabay.com

A new method of scanning the human brain has produced amazing results. It turns out that in every person there is a certain part of his essence, which accompanies him all his life from the moment of birth to death.

Scientists believe that this is the core of a person’s self-awareness. It combines memories of the past with fleeting sensations of reality and provides a basis for anticipation of events in the future.

It turned out that a certain part of a person’s consciousness is consistent as they grow older and older.

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been interested in the question: can this sense of “personal self” be stable throughout life? A new psychological study with the results of a brain scan made it possible to conclude that a certain part of a person’s consciousness really accompanies him throughout his life.

It is consistent as it gets older and older. Miguel Rubianes, a neuroscientist at the Complutense University of Madrid, says the aim of the study was to answer the question: Are we the same person throughout life? In combination with the results of other studies, scientists have concluded that there is a certain component that remains stable from birth to death.

The other part of consciousness remains susceptible to current changes. The scientists recognized independence as the basis of identity. And every time a person uses the word “I”, he means a thread that connects together all the events and experiences that have occurred in life.

Experience gained over the years changes a person, changes the components of his identity. Each case associated with personal experiences, a broken heart, a successful career step, expected or unexpected failure lead to the fact that a person compares himself to himself before and after these events. It is a neurological programming scheme that involves visual self-knowledge as an indicator of connection with your impressions of yourself.

This effect makes it possible to cope with memories and recognition of information when it is associated, for example, with one’s own photograph of an infant. Although this principle has a lot of evidence, scientists believe that the very mechanism of the brain involved in this remains a mystery.

This study was published in the journal Psychophysiology.

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