Naïve realism is the psychological condition in which people believe they see the world objectively and their opponents as uneducated, biased, or illogical.

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Speaking with the other side of the political aisle is almost impossible at this point.

In 1954, researchers showed students from Dartmouth and Princeton a football match between their schools. They saw the same footage, yet they couldn’t agree on what they saw. Each side was more likely to notice the other team’s fouls and bad behavior and more likely to miss their own team’s. Both groups felt the referees favored the other team and were biased against theirs. Their perceptions of objective reality differed because they were on different teams and all were confident they were correct.

This should sound familiar to anyone that’s been paying attention to politics for the last few years. Democrats and Republicans witnessed the same events, yet they can’t agree on what happened. For example, the US has one of highest Covid-19 rates in the world, but a new poll from Pew Research Center shows that 76% of Republicans believe the pandemic was handled successfully vs. only 29% of Democrats. Likewise, on January 6th, 2021, alt-right fascists stormed the Capitol. Both sides saw the same speeches given beforehand, the same pictures, and the same footage. However, some Republicans believe it was actually radical leftists or that Trump and other conservative mouthpieces didn’t help incite it. Democrats were so sure Trump was guilty they impeached him for a second time, while the vast majority of Republicans in the House voted against it. …


After the insurrection on January 6th, 2021, it’s clear the United States has a fascism problem. This is how they think.

On January 6th, rioters overwhelmed the police and stormed into the US Capitol
On January 6th, rioters overwhelmed the police and stormed into the US Capitol
Insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 in an attempt to disrupt the electoral process. (Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0)

The word “fascist” gets thrown around a lot these days by both liberals and conservatives, though few use it correctly. Fascist movements, though, have been studied for decades, and this word has specific meaning.

Robert O. Paxton, a professor at Colombia University and prolific author, spent most of his life studying the rise of fascism. In his 2004 book “The Anatomy of Fascism,” he identified 7 characteristics of budding fascist movements. …


With the Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out, many are refusing to get one, leaving some states pondering making them mandatory. This is not a new issue, and yes, mandatory vaccinations are constitutional.

Mandatory vaccinations are constitutional due to the 10th Amendment.
Mandatory vaccinations are constitutional due to the 10th Amendment.
Mandatory vaccinations are constitutional due to the 10th Amendment. (Image Credit)

Pew Research Center just released an alarming statistic: “About four-in-ten (39%) say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine.” Participants in this study said their refusal was based on mistrust of science, mistrust of government, and the belief that they are an exception, due to their personal health and hygiene practices.

If only 61% of the population gets vaccinated, then we will likely not reach herd immunity. While the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity with Covid-19 has not yet been firmly established, new research claims “A re-evaluation of the findings and numbers available, using the new mathematical models, shows that COVID-19 HIT estimates are as high as 60 to 80 percent.” For comparison, measles requires 95%, polio requires 80%, and smallpox requires 80%. All of these were controlled by reaching herd immunity thresholds through mass vaccinations. …


Pardons have been controversial from the beginning. But in the last few decades, presidents have used them for political and personal gains, making them a sick joke on democracy.

Presidents have the power to hand out pardons like get out of jail free cards.
Presidents have the power to hand out pardons like get out of jail free cards.
Presidents have the power to hand out pardons like get out of jail free cards.

Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution gives the president the power to grant “Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The only limitation on this power is that it only applies to federal crimes, not state crimes. Because of this, Trump wasn’t able to pardon former senior advisor Steve Bannon for state level fraud charges in his We Build the Wall Campaign, yet he was allowed to pardon ally Roger Stone for lying to Congress and six other felony charges.

It’s arguable if the president can pardon himself. It’s a constitutional grey area, and a judicial precedent has yet to be set, as no president has had the gall to try it. Though, if there every was a president that would try it, Trump would have been the one. …


Einstein’s Relativity tells us the speed of light is the universal speed limit. Distant galaxies, though, are moving away from us much faster due to the expansion of spacetime, which will eventually rip the universe apart.

The universe’s final state is an infinitely stretched wasteland, in which no structure of any sort can exist.
The universe’s final state is an infinitely stretched wasteland, in which no structure of any sort can exist.
The universe’s final state might be an infinitely stretched wasteland, in which no structure of any sort can exist.

Way back in 1638, Galileo tried to measure the speed of light. He stood on one mountain top, and his assistant stood on another. Galileo uncovered his lantern, and when his assistant saw the flash, he uncovered his. Galileo believed he could time how long it would take for the returning light to reach him. Needless to say, it didn’t work, and he concluded that light “if not instantaneous, is extraordinarily rapid.”

It wasn’t until 1675 that we gained some sense of how rapid light actually is. Ole Roemer noticed differences in the transit of Jupiter’s moons at different times of the year and estimated the speed of light to be around 200,000 km/s. In 1849, Hippolyte Louis Fizeau sent beams of light through rotating wheels and came surprisingly close at 313,000 km/s. In the years following, scientists refined their experiments, and today the speed of light is known to be 299,792.458 …


The pursuit of long-lasting happiness is almost entirely mental. Happiness from external stimuli is fleeting due to the peculiarities of human neurochemistry.

Human happiness comes from getting off the hedonic treadmill.
Human happiness comes from getting off the hedonic treadmill.
Human happiness comes from getting off the hedonic treadmill.

In the 2006 film, “The Pursuit of Happyness” (yes, that’s how it’s spelled), Will Smith’s character is a poor, unhappy salesman. Through hard work and a bit of luck, he lands a high paying job as a stockbroker, is then able to afford everything he wants, and therefore becomes happy. It’s the same old premise: external stimuli make you happy. We’ve seen it in countless other stories, and it shapes most of our lives.

However, chasing external stimuli doesn’t work as well we think, due to the principle of hedonic adaptation. …


When astrophysicists peer into the universe, they see a nearly perfect rainbow spectrum of stars, from cooler red ones on one side to hotter blue ones on the other. In the center of the spectrum, they should see green stars, but they don’t due to the nature of stars and the limitations of the human eye.

A picture of stars, with no green stars
A picture of stars, with no green stars
Astrophysicists can see virtually every color of star, except green.

Let There Be Light

A star begins its life as a cloud of hydrogen gas. Due to gravity, the cloud condenses. If the cloud is big enough, it will have enough gravity to create the temperature and pressure needed in its core to fuse hydrogen together ( along with the help of quantum tunneling). The original hydrogen atoms have slightly more mass than the helium they fuse into, and this missing mass is converted into energy, as shown by Einstein’s E=mc^2. Small amounts of mass (m) are converted into incredible amounts of energy (E) when multiplied by the speed of light squared (c^2), about 9 x 10 16m^2/s^2. …


Plants convert sunlight into energy with 99% efficiency, but biologists are puzzled because classical mechanics suggests this should be far less. A quantum phenomenon known as superposition might be the solution to the riddle.

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The common explanation of photosynthesis is that plants take sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water and turn them into sugar, oxygen, and energy. This is the formula: 6CO 2 + 6H 2O + sunlight → C 6H 12O 6 (glucose) + 6O 2 + energy. All of this happens inside a plant cell’s chloroplasts, which contain layers of thylakoids, which in turn contain pigment called chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is where the whole process begins. These green pigments are mostly made up of long chains of carbon and oxygen, with some areas composed of a magnesium atom surrounded by nitrogen and carbon. This configuration results in the magnesium atom having a single valence electron, and when a photon from the Sun enters the chlorophyll, it knocks it loose. When this happens, the outer shell of the magnesium atom develops a positively charged gap due to the loss of a negative election. This positively charged gap and the negatively charged electron can form a pair called an exciton. Excitons store energy much like a battery, as they have both a positive and negative pole. However, to release this energy, the excitons need to be transferred to a reaction center that can split the pair. …


Nuclear fusion requires 100 million degrees Kelvin, yet the Sun’s core can only reach 15 million. How then does it create light? A quantum phenomena known as quantum tunneling is the answer.

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Students are taught that a star has enough gravity from its immense size to create high enough pressure and temperature to overcome the natural repulsion of protons in hydrogen atoms and fuse them into helium. The helium weighs slightly less than the original hydrogen atoms, and the missing mass is released as an enormous amount of energy, as dictated by Einstein’s E=mc^2. According to this equation, even a tiny amount of mass (m) becomes a lot of energy (E) when multiplied by the speed of light squared (c^2), which is roughly 9 x 10 16m^2/s^2.

While this sounds like a solid explanation, there’s a massive problem: the Sun’s core doesn’t get anywhere near hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur. Here on Earth, our fusion reactors, which may actually power the grid soon, need much higher temperatures. …


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Trump’s tumultuous presidency reminded us yet again why the rights of the states need to be protected against an encroaching federal government. In only 4 years, the states sued his administration 138 times, far more than any other president.

Where to draw the line between the powers of the federal government and those of the states has been a major issue in American politics from day 1, with the debate being just as fiery today as it was in the beginning. …

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The Happy Neuron

Stimulating articles to make your brain happy. www.thehappyneuron.com

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