The phenomenon known as ‘mass psychogenic illness’ (MPI) – in which a group of people starts feeling sick with similar symptoms in the absence of a clear physical reason – is nothing new. Indeed, the historical record dates back to medieval Europe – including one notorious case in which nuns were reported to be meowing in unison like cats. In Believing Is Seeing, Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist at the University of Auckland, argues that our exceedingly interconnected world of social media is just as conducive for social panics as secluded medieval convents once were. Focusing on a trend in which tic disorders seem to spread via TikTok videos, Bartholomew breaks down why this ‘placebo effect in reverse’ can still cause genuine illness, as well as why he believes that social media should come with more guardrails. Believing Is Seeing is part of the 2022 short film collection from the New Zealand filmmaking initiative Loading Docs.
Director: Sophie Black
Producer: Nikhil Madhan
Technology and the self
Greetings from Green Bank – the small town where modern technology is banned
Far from frivolous, cuteness is a powerful – and still mysterious – force of nature
On a whirlwind morning, a couple learns if they’re facing an unplanned pregnancy
Philosophy of mind
Do we have good reasons to believe in beliefs? A radical philosophy of mind says no
In the search for life, might alien ocean worlds be a better bet than Earth-like planets?
Love and friendship
When drawing your muse hundreds of times becomes an exercise in love
Thinkers and theories
Is simulation theory a way to shirk responsibility for the world we’ve created?
A dazzling slice-by-slice exploration of wood exposes hidden patterns and hues
In Rwanda, Sébastien finds traces of personal history in the wake of national tragedy