Why It's Healthy to Think of Your Pet as a Human

You can become a crazy cat lady if you abandon actual people in your environment and just focus on your pets or your stuffed animals or your live doll or whatever you have.  

We have this biased anthropomorphized thing that leads us to treat inanimate objects as alive or to treat things that are alive like pets as if they are more conscious or more intelligent than they actually are.  And so you can become a crazy cat lady if you abandon actual people in your environment and just focus on your pets or your stuffed animals or your live doll or whatever you have.  


But it can also be helpful.  There is research showing that pets increase people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.  I actually visited a VA hospital in DC where they made use of the robotic baby seal.  It’s a $6,000 robot that’s white and fluffy and the people at the hospital, they hold it in their laps and it purrs and it responds to your touch.  And these guys, they knew that it’s just a robot, they know that it’s not alive, but still, their magical thinking and their anthropomorphizing leads them to treat it as if it’s a real companion.  And they speak to it and it helps them and it gives them comfort.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less