Question: At the end of the 1942 film classic "Casablanca," Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman stand on the tarmac as she tries to decide whether to stay with the man she loves or to board the plane and leave with her husband. Bogey turns to her and says: "Inside we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon and for the rest of your life." What might a psychologist today say about Bogart's heart-wrenching advice?
Answer: He was eloquent but wrong, and dissonance theory how we handle our contradictory beliefs tells us why, say Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson in "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)." Bergman would have found reasons to justify either choice, along with reasons to be glad she did not make the other.
The scene is among the most memorable in the history of cinema because most of us have stood on that same runway from time to time, says Dan Gilbert in "Stumbling on Happiness." "Our most consequential choices whether to marry, have children, enter a profession are often shaped by how we imagine our future regrets."
But studies show that nine out of 10 people regret more the things they haven't done than things they have, including not having gone to college, not grasping profitable business opportunities and not spending enough time with family or friends.
Bogart's admonition led Bergman to board the plane and fly away with her husband. Yet, concludes Gilbert, "had she stayed with Bogey in Casablanca, she would probably have felt just fine. Not right away, perhaps, but soon and for the rest of her life."
Question: Can you name the major league baseball performance-enhancing drug of choice, that works by exciting certain of the brain's neurotransmitters while inhibiting others. It also causes a release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain's reward centers, bringing on feelings of well-being and euphoria. Though severe side effects come from long-term use, the medical consensus is that the drug can be used in moderate doses without creating an undue level of risk. Got a "fix" on it? Clue: Think about it through the fans' eyes.
"Diluted medical-strength beer" is already sold at many a major league venue, enhancing the fans' perception of the performance of just about everyone on the field, says Bennett Foddy, PhD, in "Your Brain on Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans." If you're one of those imbibers, just be careful driving home!
Question: RADAR you know about but who or what has used SOFAR, and what does the acronym stand for?
Answer: A fascinating feature of ocean water is that it transmits sound at widely varying speeds, depending on depth and temperature, says Mark Denny in "How the Oceans Work." These variables create a region of minimal sound speed, the so-called SOFAR channel for "sound fixing and ranging."
This "oceanic sound pipe" is located 600-1200 meters below the ocean's surface, where it can go to work on a whale's cry, causing it to stay at that depth and to travel thousands of kilometers and still be heard.
Actually, SOFAR is a term of the U.S. Navy. If a pilot had to ditch his plane at sea, he lowered a small explosive into the channel and detonated it. The sound could then be picked up by remote hydrophones and the pilot's location determined. The Navy also used the channel to monitor foreign activity. "During the Cold War, the Navy submerged hydrophones in the SOFAR channel off the California coast and was able to listen to the sounds made by the propellers of ships leaving Vladivostok Harbor in Russia."
Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at [email protected].