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On the nature of creepiness (study)

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

“Surprisingly, until now there has never been an empirical study of ‘creepiness’ “

This situation was rectified by Professor Francis T. McAndrew  and Sara S. Koehnke of the Department of Psychology, Knox College, Galesburg, US, in a 2016 paper for the journal New Ideas in Psychology. The team stopped short of giving an exact definition of ‘creepiness’ – nevertheless, they were able to generate a list of the perceived ‘creepiness’ ratings for various professions :       

See: ‘On the nature of creepiness’ New Ideas in Psychology 43 (2016) 10 -15

Bonus Assignment [optional] Are there any more ‘creepy’ professions that could be added to the table – if so, where would they appear in the list?

The Legendary Dr Fox Lecture — Footage Found!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Reto Schneider, curator of the WeirdExperiments.com web site (and Reto is also Improbable Research’s Swiss Desk Chief), has made a happy discovery. Full details are on his site. Here’s how he begins the tale:

Several years ago when I first wrote about the famous Dr Fox lecture I thought the original footage was lost forever. When I recently learned that it is still around I tracked down one of the researchers Don Naftulin who was kind enough to send it to me. Below is an edited version of what has become one of the most unusual experiments in psychology.

The lecture that Myron L. Fox delivered to the assembled experts had an impressive enough title: ‘Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education’. Those responsible for running the University of Southern California School of Medicine’s psychiatry department’s continuing education programme had taken themselves off to Lake Tahoe in northern California for their annual conference and a continuing education program. There, Fox – who was billed as an ‘authority on the application of mathematics to human behaviour’ – presented the first paper. His polished performance so impressed the audience of psychiatrists, family doctors and general internists that nobody noticed that the man standing at the lectern wasn’t really Myron L. Fox from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine but Michael Fox a movie actor who though having considerable experience in playing doctors in TV shows didn’t know the first thing about game theory. (According to the Internet Movie Data Base Michael Fox was the reason Michael J. Fox from back to the future fame inserted the ‘J’ into his name, as the Screen Actors Guild only allows one person of each name to be registered).

Fox was trained to give this talk only the day before. He was given an article from „Scientific American“ on game theory and worked up a lecture from it that was intentionally full of imprecise waffle, invented words and contradictory assertions….[click here to read the rest of the story]

And for additional details read this extended chapter about the Dr Fox lecture in The Mad Science Book by Reto U. Schneider. And of course, read the Dr Fox study.

Improbable Research