[ASC-list] COSMOS 28: Mass delusions and the madness of crowds
Wilson da Silva
wfdasilva at gmail.com
Tue Jul 28 13:48:51 UTC 2009
*In the August/September 2009 issue of COSMOS, Australia’s #1 science
*ARE OUR BRAINS WIRED FOR DELUSIONS?
* In a special 21-page report, COSMOS explores delusional behaviour,
from the global financial crisis to alien abductions. We look at the
phenomena of sleep paralysis and the placebo effect. Plus, find out why
presidents fear NASA’s James Hansen; why gamma-ray bursts are the biggest
bang since the big one; why New Zealand is a ticking bomb; and read the
article that got Simon Singh sued by chiropractors.
From wild speculation in financial markets to believing that aliens are
visiting us, humans are prone to all sorts of personal and mass
delusions – and have been for centuries, says *Wilson da Silva*.
Crop circles, alien abductions, psychic surgery and homeopathy – many
people harbour a secret belief in these strange phenomena, despite a
lack of evidence, says *Lauren Monaghan*. And it has more to do with human
psychology than with reality.
*MADNESS OF CROWDS*
Mass delusions and hysterical outbreaks have plagued humanity throughout
history. *Robert E. Bartholomew* and *Erich Goode* show us the variety, the
longevity and the effects of the best documented delusions.
*THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES*
Sleep paralysis creates a very real waking nightmare – conjuring up
images of aliens and evil entities – but it’s all a trick of the mind,
finds *Bruce Bower*.
*THE PLACEBO EFFECT*
It’s the most fascinating and misunderstood aspect of human healing,
says physician *Ben Goldacre* – it’s counterintuitive, it’s strange, it’s
the true story of
mind-body healing: welcome to the placebo effect.
First detected by spy satellites, then reported as evidence of
intergalactic alien warfare and now held responsible for a mass extinction
on Earth. What, asks
*Robin McKie*, is a gamma-ray burst?
*PROFILE: MESSENGER OF DOOM*
Studying the hellish conditions on Venus led James Hansen to realise
Earth could one day suffer a similar fate. He is now the world’s most
respected climate scientist, and the most outspoken one, too – even
presidents fear his wrath.
*ESSAY: UNDER THE RADAR
* When political leaders fail to understand science, they put the health
of democracy at risk, argues this year’s Science Week international tour
guest, *Lawrence M. Krauss*, in an exclusive article for COSMOS.
*TRAVELOGUE: ISLANDS OF FIRE
* Lying on the Pacific Ring of Fire, New Zealand is a ticking time bomb.
The daring *Heather Catchpole *visits its slumbering supervolcano.
*OPINION: BEWARE THE SPINAL TRAP
* “Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the evidence suggests
otherwise.” Read the article for which *Simon Singh* is being sued by
chiropractors, especially republished in COSMOS in the first of a worldwide
campaign of support for the noted British science writer.
*All in the latest issue of COSMOS, official sponsor of National Science
Week and the Prime Minister's Science Prizes. *
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