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A reptile brain sits deep within us. How much of our behaviour comes from primal instinct? 20 page comic on supernormal stimuli and ‘reptile brains’.
I wrote two blog posts reflecting on Supernormal Stimuli:
A classic behavioural psychology experiment. In the 1970s, researchers took eight strangers and shut them inside a dark room for an hour. What happened next?
A classic study into the impact of television on a community. In 1973, researchers studied the last remaining Canadian town without TV reception, and ran ‘before’ and ‘after’ experiments.
Thomas Jefferson invented the dumbwaiter to hide the slaves that he used to run his mansion. Today, we use the 'dumbwaiter' of globalisation to hide the dark parts of our supply chains.
Hi. I have been reading your comics for many years. Real eye-openers. Thank you very much.
Thank you for amazing comic !
Thank you for this wonderful work.
I see it in Korea
Hello Stuart! I love, love, LOVE this one! Also, I'm also an illustrator (and I've started doing comics to!) and I wonder what model of wacom you use? Can you recommend it? Best, /Charlotte
Ps. I just followed you on insta ('monstersweshare'). You should post more (ok, not "should", I don't like the word "should", but it would be aweome to see more of your art and working process there! There is so much superficiality at insta today so it would be great to see some thoughtful and genuine art there as yours! Plus I think more people would find you and your art that way. Keep up the great work! :)
[…] brain cartoon by Stuart McMillen – page 14 of comic Supernormal […]
Awesome comic. I'm fighting everyday to push instinct away from myself to focus more on things but im surrounded with distractions that I can't even enjoy because I know I shouldn't, because I have college work. Even when I don't have work I stress that I might have something. I give into doing nothing resting these days because it's not fun but it's still a waste of time... Idk Love the comic! I make comics too but nothing meaningful or teaching anything yet
where is the data regarding humans being affected in this way? citations, please.
[…] Sidenote: Here is a good comic on supernormal stimuli (Link to comic) […]
Thank you very much for this wonderful work
Stuart this is amazing work! Thank you for your time and generosity.
Epigenetics rewrites phylogeny.
So well put. I am an At Large educator, focusing on critical thinking, Logic, and Human self knowledge.
Epigenetics has allowed me to say, " your DNA does not have the instructions to build you, it has the instructions to build 10, 000 variations of you, depending on what signals reach you as you develop.
We, as linguistic creatures may even have our genetic expression altered, by our intellectual environment as well as our physical one.
i would like to know if it would be possible, to take your excellent materials and make the available as a video/slideshow. voice over or no voice over, suitable for posting on video hosting sites. I am an At Large educator, and this lessons is the most universally accessible have found. I would HAPPILY volunteer for this project.
[…] Supernormal Stimuli Dies ist das erste Mal, dass ich einen Cartoon in der Wochenschau verlinke. Doch Supernatural Stimuli von Stuart McMillen ist so gelungen, dass ich mir das nicht nehmen lasse. Er illustriert mit eindrucksvollen Bildern, welchen unnatürlichen Reizen der Mensch des 21. Jahrhunderts ausgesetzt ist, und welche Probleme das aufwirft. Die Lösung: Solche Reize erkennen und richtig bewerten. […]
Evolutionary biology, genetics, evolutionary psychology, etc have barely scratched the surface of the nature of their studies. I say this as epigenetics isn't widely known or taught yet. When I took ap bio, there wasn't even a mention of it. Evolution was described as an essentially random process, that a gecko that looks exactly like a leaf got there by random genetic mutations, but epigenetics shows out environment has a direct effect on our gene expression. Epigenetics rewrites phylogeny, especially among the diverse life in the sea, where coral have animal dna, buy can have plant rna. It is responsible for many differences between closely related species, and the muted expression of certain genes I. Domesticated organism, see many experiments in foxes, or more obviously, dogs, and humans.
Wow! Thank you!
This is a great comic! I'd like to review and promote your work in my newspaper, the Meadowlark Herald. How should I submit a request to interview you?
Excellent piece which perfectly captures the concept of supernormal stimuli. Thank you.
Enjoyed your post! Cheers
you are the best mate.your stuff is the future love it and inspired
[…] I picked up a term recently that stemmed from Niko Tinbergen?s research in animal behavior, about supernormal stimuli– which he used to manipulate animals? behavior- and I think you see a lot of that in […]
This is by far my favourite comic strip ever. So much truth presented in such a badass manner!
[…] nostru reptilian î?i spune cuvântul. Iat? aici o band? desenat? care explic? de ce func?ion?m […]
Being aware is so important, and learning how to be authentic to yourself ( to act on your own instinct) and unfollow the crowd is not easy but is achievable - small steps! Loved the comic!
[…] Stuart McMillen comics | Supernormal Stimuli reptile brain cartoon […]
[…] Our brain’s pleasure center can now get all the pleasure it wants without much effort – it’s like getting a participation trophy or earning achievement points just for turning the game on. Everything is out of whack! Stuart McMillen does a great job of explaining this in a comic. […]
Absolutely amazing. You just put it all so simple and clear. Love it.
Great message! Very empowering for those who will choose to remember it! :)
[…] examples of naturally occurring stimuli, he could manipulate the behavior of various animals. This comic explains it in beautiful detail, but one of his experiments included constructing unrealistically […]
Liked the artwork and evolutionary commentary.
Great Job! I love it!
I've read a lot about supernormal stimuli, yet never had it explained as clearly as in this comic. Fantastic art work that captures the essence of the concept and even induces critical thinking!
Excellent comic. $2? Yoink. By the way I suggest calling it a "minimum donation" of $2. You might get more money that way! I'll be back to read more.
Awesome! Great piece.
Amazing explanation, terrific comic. Thanks for this.
[…] bergambar dari Stuart Mcmillen ini bisa menyingkat banyak narasi tekstual tentang riset nobelis Niko Tinbergen dan Konrad Lorenz, […]
Love the glasses/"They Live" reference
Evolutionary biology made simple enough for a child to understand and relate to. Simplicity is a rarity. I'd be interested in seeing more psychological-based comics such as this..
Anyway time to watch some porn and eat a twix :P
[…] a bit more clearly: what exactly is a supernormal stimulus? Comic artist Stuart McMillen has a great comic to explain the concept. You should definitely read it first to get a good understanding of what a […]
Thank you for making this comic. I have never been able to work through this thought process so fully. Thank you for the new word and a more understanding perspective. :)
A very thought-provoking comic/article ! Nice work.
A very articulate and well thought out article, with the added bonus of it being an exceptionally drawn comic strip as well! I'm very curious about anything to do with the mind, be it psychology, psychotherapy, neuroscience, habits & behaviours etc and using a stimuli as captivating as this is a great way to learn basic to complex concepts of the subjects you showcase. Keep up the great work, Stuart!
Thank you so much for this mind-opening comic.
Can I translate it to Japanese?
First I've seen of yours, thanks to a Facebook share. Very impressed. As a psychotherapist, I help people use their rational brain to override the Limbic, (reptilian) brain, so I'm intimately aware of this. Thanks for making it so accessible.
This is golder than gold thank you!
Facking DYNOMITE! My reptilian brain likes this stimulus
I guess in humans the primal brain part also gives us searching for super stimuli in greatness such as in gods and miracles, no?
That was fantastic! I was already familiar with the science, so I'm talking solely about the way your art made me engrossed in something I already know. :)
This is the best one of yours I've read so far! Well thought out, funny and thought provoking, and don't think I didn't catch the They Live reference!!
As many others have posted...
Thank you, thank you, thank you Stuart!
[...] and thematically, Rat Park will be a mix between St Matthew Island, Supernormal Stimuli and War on Drugs. It is a story I have researched, but have not yet been able to write or draw [...]
A very good read. Bookmarked.
[...] Supernormal Stimuli describes the studies of Dutch biologist Niko Tinbergen, who sought to understand the root of animal instincts. Tinbergen’s experiments showed that instinctual behaviour could be triggered by specific sensations, such as colours, shapes or smells. Surprisingly, the animals would still respond with the full behavioural response even if the stimuli was exaggerated beyond realistic limits. [...]
[...] An explanation to these questions may be found in my latest comic – Supernormal Stimuli. [...]
Thank you, Stuart. Thank you. You made me think!
Well done Stu! Loved it.
oooh shiny colorful icons? must? buy? pdf?
we sleep - THEY LIVE
Great to be with you on your new site. Exciting to see the evolution of your work over the past 20 years - can you believe that! As thought provoking and informative as ever. We await the next. Warm wishes.
Excellent work, Stuart. Quite thought-provoking :)
Absolutely amazing! Great artwork and story! Very impressed!
Unbelieveable! This is fantastic!
excellent as per usual Stubart. I await the next.
Great work. Best yet. Cheers J
Great work Stu, I loved it. You are truly gifted.
Its exciting to see some new work from you. Great as always. I like the new site too.
This installment of You Are Not So Smart (http://youarenotsosmart.com/2012/04/17/ego-depletion/) is extremely relevant to the issue of primal stimuli and the reserves of willpower we need to resist them. I encourage you to take a look at it.
After having read your research section, I had to add that I loved the solution to this problem of supernormal stimuli, which is 'Get of the plaster egg' !!
Well said. :-)
*Loved* this one. Brilliant! But oh-so-many philosophical and scientific issues it brings up... for example, is it realistic to argue that we can over-ride our instincts and attraction for the supernormal stimuli when the planet is groaning under the weight of the west's obesity, and porn makes up an absurdly high % of web traffic? All signs point to 'no' I think ;-) ...but then again a small percentage of people do seem to be able to ignore the fast food and porn... and yet... one of the defining characteristics of Homo sapiens is our curiosity and thirst for knowledge... who's to say that the internet, and libraries before that, are not to be considered 'supernormal stimuli' -i.e. the web as information-porn.... I'm certainly guilty of that 'abusing' that instinct!
The other issue is the rigidity of our brains... I'm not arguing against this attraction to supernormal instinct, but I did read a book recently called The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, and it argues that our brains are far more 'plastic' than medicine or science previously thought... and that we're far less 'hardwired' than we ever thought. Which is good and bad news perhaps, in hat if those supernormal attractions do manage to reel us in, they really could shape our brains to be far more 'maladjusted' (I would argue), than if we *were* more hardwired.... if that makes sense. Anyway, I really enjoyed this, and keep up the good work!
I love this. Real life makes for good comics!
I like the way you philosophically present facts without forcing an agenda down anyone's throat. It's lovely food for thought :)