Weekly news: is this the real life?

I WAS interested to see some research published this week on the ‘Truman Show delusion’, having recently had a conversation with a teenager about this very subject. In the 1998 movie The Truman Show, the eponymous hero is adopted from birth by a TV company which manipulates every aspect of his existence and broadcasts his life 24 hours a day to a worldwide audience measured in billions.

I’m sure many people have, at some point, wondered if the rest of the world really exists or whether they personally are the only ‘real’ person in existence. At a basic level this could be simple narcissism – ‘the universe revolves around me’ – and is a typical adolescent response to the world.

The view of the researchers Joel Gold and Ian Gold, whose paper in the open-access journal Cognitive Neuropsychiatry is published this week, is that the rise of so-called reality TV has boosted the incidence of the delusion. They open their paper with a quote from Andy Warhol: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, but might instead have chosen Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”.

The point about the delusion is that it is practically impossible to disprove. “I know I exist, but I think you are just an actor or a computer simulation designed to trick me”, says the teenager. “Ah, but I think you are the actor”, comes the response, “and that is just what you would say to try to make me think otherwise”.

Which brings us back neatly to the starting point. This research acknowledges the growth of the delusion, but does nothing to persuade those suffering from it that they are deluded. In fact, if they actually were the subject of a Truman-style conspiracy, this is exactly the sort of obstacle that the perpetrators would set up to try to convince the victim that their world is genuine, and not a set-up.

I hope you find the LabHomepage website, and this weekly newsletter, useful. Comments and feedback are always welcome: thesecretlabproject@gmail.com. Please help us build our circulation base by forwarding this to any friends that might like it, and suggest they subscribe at http://eepurl.com/itOV2

best wishes

Russ Swan



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This week’s top stories: 22 June 2012


1. Top tips for gene silencing and delivery

A RAPIDLY growing area of genomics research is the field of gene silencing, particularly through the use of short interfering RNA (siRNA). This has become a useful tool for understanding…



2. Autoprep boosts research into single cell genomics

THE EMERGING field of single-cell genomics is enabling scientists to study previously unavailable genomic signatures from a single cell. Fluidigm believes its C1 system will…



3. Plate reader includes on-board camera for well imaging

DESCRIBED as an evolution of its first dynamic light scattering (DLS) plate reader, Wyatt Technology’s new DynaPro Plate Reader II includes an onboard camera to take pictures of…



4. Nanoparticle tracking analysis to characterise microvesicles

THE YIN research lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, is working at the interface of chemistry, biology, and engineering to study structure-based drug design…



5. Digging deeper into images for biomedical research

THE UPDATED version of Definiens Image Miner, just released, promises to give life sciences researchers deeper biological insights by integrating data analysis with images…



6. Sterility testing workstation offers modular flexibility

LAUNCHED this week at Achema is a new workstation for sterility testing, the Bioquell Qube, which will help laboratories in their increasingly-important sterilisation,…



7. Centrifuge tubes can stand alone

COMBINING chemical resistance and high speed tolerance with practicality, Porvair Sciences 50ml centrifuge tubes incorporate a circular collar on the base to enable them to…



8. Measure viscosity at high shear with E chip

MEASURING viscosity at high shear rates is a challenge with conventional instruments, as the instigation of turbulent or unstable fluid flow makes measurements unreliable…



9. HPLC columns enhance protein and peptide separations

AVAILABLE in analytical, micro, and nano formats, the new Accucore 150-C18 and 150-C4 columns from Thermo Fisher Scientific are designed to improve protein and peptide…



10. Eleven laser wavelengths in a single package

AVAILABLE in free-space or fibre-coupled configurations, the new line of Excelsior One lasers from Spectra-Physics deliver eleven different wavelengths and up to…



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