How Mass Persuasion Works

The UC San Diego Library presents a fascinating talk by Dr. Joel Dimsdale, distinguished professor emeritus in the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry.

Dimsdale discusses his latest book “Dark Persuasion: A History of Brainwashing from Pavlov to Social Media,” which traces the evolution of brainwashing from its beginnings in torture and religious conversion into the age of neuroscience and social media.

When Pavlov introduced scientific approaches, his research was enthusiastically supported by Lenin and Stalin, setting the stage for major breakthroughs in tools for social, political and religious control. Tracing these developments through many of the past century’s major conflagrations, Dimsdale explores the history of different methods of interrogation and how Nobel laureates, university academics, intelligence operatives, criminals and clerics all populate this shattering and dark story—one that hasn’t yet ended.

Joel E. Dimsdale is distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego. He consults widely to government agencies and is the author of numerous other works, including “Anatomy of Malice: The Enigma of the Nazi War Criminals.”

Watch Dark Persuasion – The History of Brainwashing from Pavlov to Social Media with Joel Dimsdale .

New CARTA Series: From Molecules to Societies

The latest series from CARTA explores the development of several important distinctly human characteristics that range from molecules, to metabolism, anatomy, disease, and behavior.

In Episode One, UC San Diego professor Carol Marchetto discusses how a comparative gene expression analysis of human and non-human primates revealed differences in the regulation of a class of transposable elements LINE1 retrotransposons between species; University of Southern California professor Joseph Hacia discusses studies profiling phytanic acid levels in red blood cells obtained from humans and captive non-human primates all on low phytanic acid diets; and Emory University professor James Rilling discusses the difference of arcuate fasciculus between human and non-human primate brains and how the specialization of speech has helped humans evolve.

In Episode Two, Emory University professor Dietrich Stout discusses an evolutionarily motivated definition of technology that highlights three key features: material production, social collaboration, and cultural reproduction; UC San Diego professor Pascal Gagneux discusses how recent comparative genome studies have revealed that this polymorphic system is ancient and shared between humans and non-human primates, this despite the fact that none of the great ape species carries all four ABO blood types; and University of Utah professor James O’Connell discusses food sharing, evaluates one hypothesis that focuses on males acquiring big game meat and marrow to provide for mates and offspring. The other hypothesis surrounds how certain kinds of savanna plant food set up the forager interdependence which propelled all aspects of life history change.

In Episode Three, Arizona State University and University of Utah professor Polly Wiessner addresses intergroup ties between humans, chimpanzees and bonobos and explores some of the possible evolutionary developments that contributed to the human disposition to form mutually supportive external bonds, and then discusses the impact of social ties on coalitionary action; UC San Diego professor Rafael Nuñez discusses the comparative analysis of “quantity” and “number”, and the implications it has for debates about the origins of other human special capacities such as geometry, music, and art; and UC San Diego School of Medicine professor Nissi Varki discusses the incidence of carcinomas, including the rarity of occurrence of common human carcinomas in captive chimpanzees.

Explore these programs on more, visit CARTA: Comparative Anthropogeny: From Molecules to Societies.

Staying Accountable for Climate Commitments

Leaders from around the globe have gathered at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in the United Kingdom to focus on efforts being made to reduce the human impact of climate change. Those impacts and the urgency to act have not gone unnoticed in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

As world leaders gather at COP26, The Institute of the Americas (IOA) has released a policy white paper (Nationally Determined Contributions Across the America: A Comparative Hemispheric Analysis) to better assess progress made to date by countries across the Americas in delivering on their climate commitments. The white paper provides a timely snapshot of progress while also highlighting the serious funding gaps that remain if LAC countries are going to deliver on their previously agreed upon climate pledges.

Watch Institute of the Americas Climate Nationally Determined Contributions Report.

Meet a Mathematician

Ever wonder what a scientist does all day? Do they sit in a lab full of bubbling beakers? Are they locked away in a dark room full of reference books? Science Like Me answers those questions, dispels some myths, and more. Saura Naderi, an engineer with a passion for creativity, talks with scientists across UC San Diego about how they found their way into the world of research. Hear about moments from their childhood that sparked their love of science, how they spend a typical day, and what keeps them motivated to learn more and keep science moving forward.

In a recent episode, Naderi spoke with Alex Cloninger, PhD about his path to becoming a mathematician. His current work is in the area of geometric data analysis. His path towards a career in science was set in motion during a childhood trip to a planetarium with his parents. “That, I think, was the first aha moment. Not necessarily that I wanted to go into math, but that science was neat, and surprising, and that I didn’t understand how something happened, and I just wanted to figure it out.”

Cloninger views math as a skill everyone can master with the right tools. “I hate the phrase of someone not being a math person, because I really see learning math and getting to understand math is really just about practice, and about having people that are there to support you in that practice,” he says. He also disagrees with the idea that math is a solitary endeavor. “I think the most surprising thing is how fun and social research can be, and talking with colleagues can be – and that we all have this kind of common interest, maybe not in math, or in physics, or in a particular question, but in curiosity, right? …One of the things that I had no concept of before getting further into math, and even becoming a professor, was that the curiosity of a question can always be fun.”

To learn more about Cloninger’s research and day-to-day life in academia, watch Science Like Me: Meet a Mathematician. Interested in more scientific journeys? Check out the rest of the Science Like Me series.

Daughter of the Holocaust

In the summer of 1942, 22-year-old Franci Rabinek began a three-year journey that would take her from Terezin, the Nazis’ “model ghetto,” to the Czech family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, to slave labor camps in Hamburg and finally to Bergen Belsen. Trained as a dress designer, Franci survived the war and would go on to establish a fashion salon in New York.

“Franci’s War” is her memoir of life in Nazi-occupied Europe. Rabinek’s daughter, Helen Epstein, a prolific journalist and author, introduces and discusses the memoir and explores her childhood and her relationship with her mother.

Besides contributing to major dailies such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, Epstein has published several books, including her highly acclaimed Holocaust trilogy that begins with the volume “Children of the Holocaust.” Her work has been published in numerous languages.

Watch Franci’s War – with Helen Epstein – Holocaust Living History Workshop.