The Secret of El Dorado. BBC - Horizon -

BBC - Horizon - The Secret of El Dorado
48 min 55 sec - 16 May 2007
New evidence that advanced societies flourished in the Amazon Basin before the arrival of Europeans
It was the most notorious wild-goose ... all » chase in history: the Conquistadors’ search for El Dorado, a fabulous kingdom of gold that Indians said lay hidden in the jungles of the Amazon Basin. But now, at last, archaeologists have uncovered the truth behind that myth. They have found evidence of a huge society, as advanced as the Egyptians or the Incas, right in the heart of the rainforest. And this is more than the story of a lost world rediscovered.
For it seems that the people of the real El Dorado possessed a secret with the power to transform our world and their secret in the soil could be the solution to solving famine in the thrid world and other nations once and for all

Afghanistan 1989 video

: ""

1980's 26 movies trailers

Risky Business



Out of Africa

The Untouchables

Revenge of the nerds

Karate kid

The blues brothers

The empire strikes back


Raiders of the lost ark

ET The extraterrestrial

Conan the barbarian


National Lampoon's Vacation


The terminator

Back to the future

Top gun

The fly

Empire of the sun

The last emperor

Full metal jacket

Lethal weapon

Die hard



From Wikipedia
The Dreamachine (or Dream Machine) is a stroboscopic flicker device that produces visual stimuli. Artist Brion Gysin and scientist Ian Sommerville created the dreamachine after reading William Grey Walter's book, The Living Brain.
In its original form, a dreamachine is made from a cylinder with slits cut in the sides. The cylinder is placed on a record turntable and rotated at 78 RPM or 45 RPM. A light bulb is suspended in the center of the cylinder and the rotation speed allows the light to come out from the holes at a constant frequency, situated between 8 and 13 pulses per second. This frequency range corresponds to alpha waves, electrical oscillations normally present in the human brain while relaxing.
A dreamachine is "viewed" with the eyes closed: the pulsating light stimulates the optical nerve and alters the brain's electrical oscillations. The "viewer" experiences increasingly bright, complex patterns of color behind their closed eyelids. The patterns become shapes and symbols, swirling around, until the "viewer" feels surrounded by colors. It is claimed that viewing a dreamachine allows one to enter a hypnagogic state.[citation needed] This experience may sometimes be quite intense, but to escape from it, one needs only to open one's eyes.
Link to a full screen Dreammachine:

A dreamachine may be dangerous for people with photosensitive epilepsy or other nervous disorders. It is thought that one out of 4,000 adults will experience a seizure while viewing the device; about twice as many children will have a similar ill effect.
Brion Gysin and the dream machine are the subject of a feature length documentary film by Nik Sheehan called FLicKeR. It is co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and features Genesis P-Orridge, Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithfull, John Giorno, DJ Spooky and Kenneth Anger, and is currently in the final stages of post-production.

Our Explorers

On the very same footsteps of Polo, Mallegan, Colon, Vasco de Gama, Cook and many others, our explorers of today share the same hunger for discovery.

At about 100 meters from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger, Bruce McCandless II was further out than anyone had ever been before. Guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), astronaut McCandless, pictured above, was floating free in space. McCandless and fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an "untethered space walk" during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984.

Waking Life - full movie

1 hr 38 min 0 sec - May 7, 2007
A boy has a dream that he can float, but unless he holds on, he will drift away into the sky. Even when he is grown up, this idea recurs. ... all » After a strange accident, he walks through what may be a dream, flowing in and out of scenarios and encountering various characters. People he meets discuss science, philosophy and the life of dreaming and waking, and the protagonist gradually becomes alarmed that he cannot awake from this confusing dream.

Central Market, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

: ""

Thailand Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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Taiwan unusual foods, National Geographic

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Brazil Umbanda Religion. National Geographic

In Brazil, requests to kill a husband, and remove a curse are all part of a unique religion.
YouTube - Umbanda Religion: ""

Sierra Leone Rebels Ambush

Step inside Sierra Leone's war-torn territory--armed rebels ambush the Irish Rangers.


2001 Taliban Prision Uprising

One of the most dramatic stories captured on camera as TV crews become caught in the crossfire of a savage siege.
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Islam and the West - Stage6 video

Islam and the West documetary 50 ,in.

Galileo, The Day The Universe Changed

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Cheater caught on radio - Watch more free videos

A documentary on the Nazi Holocaust

52 min 59 sec - Apr 17, 2007
A film the British Government deemed too grisly for release after World War II - has received its public debut on British television. ... all » Fifteen minutes of the black-and- white film, which was shot by the armed forces after the war, were televised by the Independent Television News.

The West Wing

Galileo V
: ""
Margareth and Leo

2 Cathedrals

Sept 11, Why they hate us ?

"What the hell are you doing, now we're both in the hole!"

Free Trade

Abraham sons, 9-11 tribute

Brothers in Arms. Finale 2nd season

25th. Finale 4rd season

Opening credits

The incredible machine

Ingenuity to build complicated systems

: ""


Big Tornados Videos

Tornado McConnell AFB 1991
YouTube - Very Close Tornado: ""

National Geographic videos

F5 Tornado in Oklahoma - May 3, 1999
Oklahoma tornado outbreak in May 3, 1999. A Doppler radar detected winds of 301 +/- 20 mph inside the tornado, a world record for winds at ground level. The video shows different angles of the tornado and the destruction

Big Storms of Tornado Alley, 2005

June 24 2003

Harrier Pilot ejects over beach - Stage6

Slow motion high FPS compilation

Stage6 · Incredible videos · Slow motion high FPS compilation - Video and Download: ""

The Wealth of Nations

43 min 34 sec - Feb 6, 2007
An Inquiry Into the History and Morality of Capitalism and Socialism
"This informative and entertaining video presentation explains ... all » exactly why capitalism has always brought prosperity and why socialism has always brought poverty and suffering.

The Wealth of Nations

(ca. 1943) Relocation Camps Video Office of War Information

9 min 9 sec - Jan 15, 2007
A short propaganda film created by the US government & the 'Office of War Information - Bureau of Motion Pictures'
"Following the ... all » outbreak of the current war, it became neccessary to transfer several thousand Japanese residents from the Pacific Coast to points in the American interior. This is an historical record of the operation, carried out by the United States Army and the War Relocation Authority. The narrator is Milton S. Eisenhower, who was director of the War Relocation Authority during the initial period of the transfer."

Relocation Camps (ca. 1943)

Body Language

Body Language Expert Robert Phipps (Phippsy) on BBLB (Big Brothers Little Brother) with host Dermot O'Leary, anayzing housemates behaviour.
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Body language, Fox news experts

clip 2: ""

How to Read Body Language Secrets

: ""

Learn to Speak Body & BodyVox Dance Co. present a language instructional video. But instead of Bosnian or Burmese, this teaches the grammatical intricacies of body language. Yes, in just a few easy lessons you too can learn to speak body just like humans do. See more comedies at and find out about BodyVox at

Body Language How to tell things abouth her

YouTube - How to tell if she thinks you're sexy: ""

Evolution Of Computer Commercials Video

Evolution Of Computer Commercials -

16K RAM Card (old ad)

The New 16K RAM Card That Turns Your Computer Into A Working Giant

Who wrote the Bible?

History Channel 2 hour special. Stage 6 video

Human All Too Human: Sartre: the road to freedom

48 min 18 sec - Jun 23, 2007
An excellent documentary about the life and work of the Existentialist, Jean Paul Sartre.

Uncertain Principles

BBC Documentary
28 min 53 sec - Jul 3, 2007

True story of Che Guevara

Germany at war - Documentary

1950s Budweiser Ad

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The 2003 Atlas of Faith from Encyclopedia Britannica

So many Gods... !

Placebo Effects Prove the Value of Suggestion

by Charles E. Henderson, Ph.D.
Placebo 1. A substance with no medicinal properties which causes a patient to improve because of his belief in its efficacy. 2. (Experimental) A substance administered to a control group in an experiment in which the experimental group receives a drug in order to eliminate the effect of the act of administering the drug.
—Wolman, Dictionary of Behavioral Science
Could a little bit of sugar keep you from catching colds, cure a skin disease, or even make a cancer disappear? Make you drunk? All of these (and much, much more) have been reported as "placebo" effects in the scientific literature. In fact, there is hardly any human characteristic or problem that has not been shown to be affected by placebos in one research or other.

A placebo, as used in research, is an inactive substance or procedure used as a control in an experiment. A placebo effect occurs when the placebo, which cannot on its own merit have any affect, does in fact have the same or similar affect as the experimental substance or procedure.
For example, consider the body of research that has been conducted on human response times as affected by alcohol. Subjects are given measured doses of alcohol at certain time intervals and their responses are tested following each "drink." But to make sure nothing else is causing any of the changes that may occur, it is necessary to have a "control" group. This is a group of subjects for whom everything is identical except one thing: in this case, they get no alcohol. They are treated the same way and they are given a beverage which they believe to be alcohol under the same conditions and with the same schedule.
In other words you take a group of subjects and do the same thing for all of them, except half of the group (unbeknown to anyone except the researchers) get a non-alcoholic beverage.
As you might expect, those subjects who receive alcohol begin, at some point, to show a change in their responses. And of course given enough of the alcoholic beverage many of them get plastered.
What you might find surprising, though, if you are not familiar with this research, is that some of the placebo-drinking subjects—those receiving shots of a liquid prepared to taste and kick like alcohol, but which in fact is basically just water—acted tipsy and sometimes even drunk. These subjects for whom the suggestion of drinking alcohol produced inebriated-like behavior were exhibiting a placebo effect.
Placebo effects are of particular interest to us here because they are another phenomenon that illustrates the strength of suggestion. These placebo effects frequently demonstrate a potency of suggestion which we normally think of as residing only in drugs.
The placebo effect has been reported in just about every research situation in which placebos were used, and in many circumstances where the use of placebos was not intended but the effect was the same anyway.

Placebo Effects Prove the Value of Suggestion

The Placebo Prescription

A sugar pill for the mildly depressed. Sham surgery for a bum knee. A hand to hold for the flu-stricken. Placebos aren't real medicine, but they can often help patients heal. So why not exploit their power? By MARGARET TALBOT
n the summer of 1994, a surgeon named J. Bruce Moseley found himself engaged in an elaborate form of make-believe. Moseley had 10 patients scheduled for an operation intended to relieve the arthritis pain in their knees. The patients were men -- most of them middle-aged, all former military guys -- and they weren't ready to consign themselves to the rocking chair yet. So they had decided to take a risk and volunteer for a study that must have sounded, when Moseley first told them about it, rather peculiar. All 10 would be wheeled into an operating room at the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center, draped, examined and anesthetized. All 10 would be dispatched to the recovery room and sent home from the hospital by the next morning equipped with crutches and a painkiller. But there the similarities ended. For while two of the men would undergo the standard arthroscopic surgery for their condition -- the scraping and rinsing of the knee joint -- and three would have the rinsing alone, five would have no recognized surgical procedure at all. Their surgery would be a placebo, an exercise in just pretend.
Moseley would stab the placebo patients' knees three times with a scalpel -- to make it feel and look real, there had to be incisions and later, scars -- but that was it. And he couldn't break character. If he knew in advance which kind of surgery he was to perform, he might somehow give it away, so it wasn't until he entered the gleaming O.R., scrubbed and in his greens, that he opened an envelope telling him whether he was doing a real procedure or a fake one that time. Only the anesthetist and the nurse assisting him were in on the secret.
In some ways, Bruce Moseley was an unlikely actor for such a role. As a surgeon and a team physician for the Houston Rockets, he wasn't the kind of doctor given to woolly introspection about the Mind-Body Problem. He was simply skeptical about the specific benefit of arthroscopic surgery for arthritis of the knee and wanted to test its efficacy. Then Moseley started talking with a doctor named Nelda Wray who had been put in charge of health care research at the Houston V.A., and she asked him a startling question: How did he know that whatever benefit came from this surgery wasn't a product of the placebo effect -- that is, that those who improved did so not because the operation actually healed the knee joint but because they expected it would?
"I said: 'It can't be,'" Moseley recalls. "'This is surgery we're talking about.' And she said: 'You're all wrong. The bigger and more dramatic the patient perceives the intervention to be, the bigger the placebo effect. Big pills have more than small pills, injections have more than pills and surgery has the most of all.'"

The Placebo Prescription

MDD The Mysterious Placebo Effect

Understanding it can help avoid flawed study designs.
Mandrake root, powdered mummy, comb, spider web, ants, scorpions, bone, teeth, crab’s eyes, viper’s flesh, worms, and pearls. These are just a few of the ingredients from the premodern pharmacopoeia, some of which were still in use at the turn of the century. No one would question the fact that they worked as a placebo, if at all. But how many drugs in our current pharmacopoeia also might be ineffective? We rely on double-blind placebo-controlled trials to tell us, but the answers may not always hold true with clinical experience.
The word placebo (“I will please” in Latin) entered the English language by way of a peculiar mistranslation of the 116th Psalm that read, “I will please the Lord” rather than “I will walk before the Lord”. In the medieval Catholic liturgy, this verse opened the Vespers for the Dead; because professional mourners were sometimes hired to sing vespers, “to sing placebos” came to be a derogatory phrase describing a servile flatterer. By the early 19th century, “placebo” had come to mean a medicine given “more to please than to benefit the patient” (1).
Outside the context of modern clinical trials, “placebo” has been a term reserved for characterizing the substandard practices of other less ethical or knowledgeable healers, if not outright quacks and frauds. Few doctors admit to knowingly using placebos (1). In fact, some off-label uses or suboptimal dosing of active medication may act only as a placebo, and the much-criticized but common practice of prescribing antibiotics for viral colds and flu is evidence that use of placebos still flourishes in contemporary medicine (2).
In recent decades, the reputation of placebos as a deceitful fraud has undergone considerable reconstruction. To alternative medicine practitioners, placebo response represents the mysterious self-healing forces generated by the mind–body connection. Mainstream physicians now urge their colleagues to make more effective use of placebo-based healing by more empathic and attentive interactions with their patients (3). Researchers still may be inclined to view placebo effects as a nuisance or as a background noise that complicates clinical trial design. Understanding the basis of placebo effects, however, can help in filtering out noise and avoiding flawed study designs.

MDD July/August 1999: The Mysterious Placebo Effect

The Mysterious Placebo (Skeptical Inquirer)

John E. Dodes
One of the most significant but widely misunderstood phenomena is the placebo effect. Research shows that the placebo effect can be greater and is far more ubiquitous than commonly thought.
If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't.
-Tweedledee, in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass

One of the questions that skeptics are asked most persistently is to explain how acupuncture, homeopathy, faith healing, Qigong, and other treatments work. Skeptics often use the placebo effect-a response to the act of being treated, not to the treatment itself-as an answer, but usually to no avail. I believe that's because most people, both logical and fuzzy thinkers, don't truly understand what the placebo effect is.
Spontaneous remission and the placebo effect, which are known as nonspecific effects, are significant phenomena that have great impact on consumers and health-care professionals. Recovery from illness, whether it follows self-medication, legitimate treatment, or avant-garde therapies, may lead one to conclude that the treatment received was the cause of the return to good health.
A common saying is that if you treat a cold it will last a week, but if you leave it alone it will be gone in seven days. Even serious diseases have periods of exacerbation and remission; arthritis and multiple sclerosis are prime examples. There are even cases of cancers inexplicably disappearing. The major logical error in plotting disease progress is: post hoc, ergo propter hoc ("after it, therefore, because of it"). This common fallacy credits improvement to a specific treatment just because the improvement followed the treatment.
H. K. Beecher's seminal paper "The Powerful Placebo" (Beecher 1955) is among the most frequently cited and was undoubtedly responsible for the double-blind study design having been adopted as the universal standard. Beecher reported on twenty-six studies and arrived at an average placebo response rate of 32.5 percent. From this figure comes the often cited statement that a fixed fraction (one-third) of the population responds to placebos. But this is a myth. A recent paper (Roberts et al. 1993) concluded that "under conditions of heightened expectations, the power of nonspecific effects (placebos) far exceeds that commonly reported in the literature."
The paper, "The Power of Nonspecific Effects in Healing," is fascinating. The authors analyzed data for treatments that met the following criteria:
(a) strong positive reports by at least two groups of investigators;
(b) at least one well-controlled negative report;
(c) the treatment had been abandoned as ineffective; and
(d) data from a major portion of the positive studies were presented in a manner that permitted reliable classification into categories of excellent, good, or poor outcomes.
The treatments that were studied included: glomectomy (the surgical removal of a small, normal mass of tissue called the carotid body that is found on the carotid artery) for the treatment of asthma; levamisole (an immunomodulatory drug) for the treatment of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV); organic solvents (ethyl ether and chloroform), also for HSV; and gastric freezing for duodenal ulcers. In all the cases the doctors and the patients expected the treatments to work. The results for all the positive studies combined showed an excellent or good outcome in 69.8 percent of the almost seven thousand cases studied. These results led to the conclusion that a treatment outcome "is always due to some interactive combination of specific and nonspecific effects."
Research also illustrates how difficult it is to separate valid treatments from apparently valid ones. In other words, we're never without some level of nonspecific effects.
A number of other myths are associated with placebos. Try to answer the following questions:
Does a positive response to a placebo mean the patient's problem is imaginary?
Does a patient have to believe in the therapy for a placebo effect to occur?
Are placebos harmless?
The answer to all three questions is no. Placebo responses can occur in patients with real disorders; the subjective symptoms can resolve while the objective ones remain. Belief in the treatment only appears to explain a portion of the placebo effect (Jarvis 1990). It appears that belief, operant conditioning, and suggestibility all play important roles. In an interesting experiment, a man experienced pain and exhibited marked depression of a specific part of his heartbeat while being monitored by an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine during a treadmill diagnostic test. This occurred at a treadmill setting of 44. For a second test, when the treadmill number was miscounted so that the patient exercised less, he exhibited the same pain and ECG depression as at the setting of 44 (Jarvis 1990). This dramatically demonstrates the power of suggestion.

The Mysterious Placebo (Skeptical Inquirer January 1997)

Navy boats collision

Mars Rover's Milestone from Discovery Channel

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Mars Rover's Milestone from Discovery Channel

Independent Argument About Global Warming

Interesting Argument About Global Warming

Apache engage footage ""

Red Bull Air Race World Series

Amazing footage and amazing pilot skills at the Red Bull Air Race World Series ""

Earthquake in Japan

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Explosion IED Factory - IED Factory: ""

US Marine Weapons Cache search

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Iraq War, Inside The Surge

Rarely seen on our News programs. ABC News showed a cut of this report on 7-16-07, the Guardian Unlimited has the full report and it was shown on British TV.

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The Semantic Web

In this interview PhD student at DERI Galway, Eyal Oren, presents his view of the Semantic Web. Using simple and concise explanations Eyal explains how the Semantic Web will work with the current Web and how data on the Web will be used more efficiently. He also introduces the viewer to the Semantic Desktop one of the projects he is currently working on and discusses the project procedure at DERI

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In this short interview, Dr John Breslin, subcluster leader of the Social Software group at DERI, Galway gives his view on what the Semantic Web is. He introduces what DERI is about and discusses the projects he is working on, in particular the SIOC project and explains what Social Software is.

Tim Berners Lee on the Semantic Web

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Tim Berners-Lee, father of the WWW

...comments on Net Neutrality and the Freedom of the Internet.
From Wikipedia: Sir Timothy "Tim" John Berners-Lee (born June 8, 1955 in London) is the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, which oversees its continued development. Informally, in technical circles, he is sometimes called "TimBL" or "TBL".

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Web X

Web X is a term referring to the Web, the Internet, and all connecting networks. It was developed to take over for similar terms such as "Web 2.0" "Web 3.0" "Semantic web" and "Synergetic Web". The term Web X should be used universally. Hopefully by using one universal term these ideas will become more clear and better understood. Web X refers to the past "webs", the current "web" as well as all future advances to come. By defining Web X in such a way we eliminate the need for "new", changing terms (We 2.0, Web 4.0, Web 2345.0, .....) to describe that which has already existed. It also eliminates the problem of multiple terms with the same meaning.
Web X will stand for whatever current "version" of the Web is in its existing sate. Web X is the END version. This END version of the Web will be as the Internet, network frames and platforms should be; non-static, constantly changing, and dynamic.
At the moment there are many limitations to the devices, machines, we can currently use to reach each specific network, but with more work the internet will begin to blend itself with other networks just as social networks are begining to blend themselves. In doing this a giant (wired & wireless) network will be created thru which all previous forms of data can be transferred, As well as all present data, AND future changes updates and additions. Web X is the overall conglomeration of systems, platroms, networks, Devices, and ALL FUTURE devices, Machines, Biomorphic Robotics, etc..., As well as the User and their interactions. Web X includes all of these as well as the CONTENT & FORMAT-(organization, etc.).
Web X is the multiple platform integration over a wide range of separate but connected networks that includes all of the Data, the Content, the Format, and all of the resulting updates and changes generated by both human and device interaction. Additionally,
Web X refers to the physical, mental and mechanical processes involved to create these interactions and interconnectivity.

Cognitive Dissonance: The Engine of Self-justification

It's fascinating, and sometimes funny, to read doomsday predictions, but it's even more fascinating to watch what happens to the reasoning of true believers when the prediction flops and the world keeps muddling along. Notice that hardly anyone ever says, "I blew it! I can't believe how stupid I was to believe that nonsense"? On the contrary, most of the time they become even more deeply convinced of their powers of prediction. The people who believe that the Bible's book of Revelation or the writings of the sixteenth-century self-proclaimed prophet Nostradamus have predicted every disaster from the bubonic plague to 9/11 cling to their convictions, unfazed by the small problem that their vague and murky predictions were intelligible only after the event occurred.
Half a century ago, a young social psychologist named Leon Festinger and two associates infiltrated a group of people who believed the world would end on December 21. They wanted to know what would happen to the group when (they hoped!) the prophecy failed. The group's leader, whom the researchers called Marian Keech, promised that the faithful would be picked up by a flying saucer and elevated to safety at midnight on December 20. Many of her followers quit their jobs, gave away their homes, and dispersed their savings, waiting for the end. Who needs money in outer space? Others waited in fear or resignation in their homes. (Mrs. Keech's own husband, a nonbeliever, went to bed early and slept soundly through the night as his wife and her followers prayed in the living room.) Festinger made his own prediction: The believers who had not made a strong commitment to the prophecy—who awaited the end of the world by themselves at home, hoping they weren't going to die at midnight—would quietly lose their faith in Mrs. Keech. But those who had given away their possessions and were waiting with the others for the spaceship would increase their belief in her mystical abilities. In fact, they would now do everything they could to get others to join them.
At midnight, with no sign of a spaceship in the yard, the group felt a little nervous. By 2 a.m., they were getting seriously worried. At 4:45 a.m., Mrs. Keech had a new vision: The world had been spared, she said, because of the impressive faith of her little band. "And mighty is the word of God," she told her followers, "and by his word have ye been saved—for from the mouth of death have ye been delivered and at no time has there been such a force loosed upon the Earth. Not since the beginning of time upon this Earth has there been such a force of Good and light as now floods this room."
The group's mood shifted from despair to exhilaration. Many of the group's members, who had not felt the need to proselytize before December 21, began calling the press to report the miracle, and soon they were out on the streets, buttonholing passersby, trying to convert them. Mrs. Keech's prediction had failed, but not Leon Festinger's.
The engine that drives self-justification, the energy that produces the need to justify our actions and decisions — especially the wrong ones — is an unpleasant feeling that Festinger called "cognitive dissonance." Cognitive dissonance is a state of tension that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent, such as "Smoking is a dumb thing to do because it could kill me" and "I smoke two packs a day." Dissonance produces mental discomfort, ranging from minor pangs to deep anguish; people don't rest easy until they find a way to reduce it. In this example, the most direct way for a smoker to reduce dissonance is by quitting. But if she has tried to quit and failed, now she must reduce dissonance by convincing herself that smoking isn't really so harmful, or that smoking is worth the risk because it helps her relax or prevents her from gaining weight (and after all, obesity is a health risk, too), and so on. Most smokers manage to reduce dissonance in many such ingenious, if self-deluding, ways.
Dissonance is disquieting because to hold two ideas that contradict each other is to flirt with absurdity and, as Albert Camus observed, we humans are creatures who spend our lives trying to convince ourselves that our existence is not absurd. At the heart of it, Festinger's theory is about how people strive to make sense out of contradictory ideas and lead lives that are, at least in their own minds, consistent and meaningful. The theory inspired more than 3,000 experiments that, taken together, have transformed psychologists' understanding of how the human mind works. Cognitive dissonance has even escaped academia and entered popular culture. The term is everywhere. The two of us have heard it in TV newscasts, political columns, magazine articles, bumper stickers, even on a soap opera. Alex Trebek used it on Jeopardy, Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and President Bartlet on The West Wing. Although the expression has been thrown around a lot, few people fully understand its meaning or appreciate its enormous motivational power.
In 1956, one of us (Elliot) arrived at Stanford University as a graduate student in psychology. Festinger had arrived that same year as a young professor, and they immediately began working together, designing experiments to test and expand dissonance theory. Their thinking challenged many notions that were gospel in psychology and among the general public, such as the behaviorist's view that people do things primarily for the rewards they bring, the economist's view that human beings generally make rational decisions, and the psychoanalyst's view that acting aggressively gets rid of aggressive impulses.
Consider how dissonance theory challenged behaviorism. At the time, most scientific psychologists were convinced that people's actions are governed by reward and punishment. It is certainly true that if you feed a rat at the end of a maze, he will learn the maze faster than if you don't feed him; if you give your dog a biscuit when she gives you her paw, she will learn that trick faster than if you sit around hoping she will do it on her own. Conversely, if you punish your pup when you catch her peeing on the carpet, she will soon stop doing it. Behaviorists further argued that anything that was merely associated with reward would become more attractive — your puppy will like you because you give her biscuits — and anything associated with pain would become noxious and undesirable.
Behavioral laws do apply to human beings, too, of course; no one would stay in a boring job without pay, and if you give your toddler a cookie to stop him from having a tantrum, you have taught him to have another tantrum when he wants a cookie. But, for better or worse, the human mind is more complex than the brain of a rat or a puppy. A dog may appear contrite for having been caught peeing on the carpet, but she will not try to think up justifications for her misbehavior. Humans think; and because we think, dissonance theory demonstrated that our behavior transcends the effects of rewards and punishments and often contradicts them.
For example, Elliot predicted that if people go through a great deal of pain, discomfort, effort, or embarrassment to get something, they will be happier with that "something" than if it came to them easily. For behaviorists, this was a preposterous prediction. Why would people like anything associated with pain? But for Elliot, the answer was obvious: self-justification. The cognition that I am a sensible, competent person is dissonant with the cognition that I went through a painful procedure to achieve something — say, joining a group that turned out to be boring and worthless. Therefore, I would distort my perceptions of the group in a positive direction, trying to find good things about them and ignoring the downside.

BBC: How the world is changing

While the effect of human activity on the global climate is hotly debated, physical signs of environmental change are all around us.
Some scientists say an increase in the rate of melting of the world's glaciers is evidence of global warming.
Argentina's Upsala Glacier was once the biggest in South America, but it is now disappearing at a rate of 200 metres per year.
Other scientists say its reduction is due to complicated shifts in glacial dynamics and local geology.

American photographer Gary Braasch has been documenting images of environmental change since 1999.
The image on the left is from an 1859 etching of the Rhone glacier in Valais, Switzerland, and shows ice filling the valley.
In 2001, the glacier had shrunk by some 2.5km, and its 'snout' had shifted about 450 metres higher up.

This is a section of shoreline at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina in the USA, pictured in 1999 and 2004. The southern United States and Caribbean region were battered by a series of powerful hurricanes last year.

This image shows Mount Hood in Oregon at the same time in late summer in 1985 and 2002.
BBCIn pictures: How the world is changing