Eps 60: The Science of the Imagination and Fascination


This week Spark My Muse has hit a milestone. 30 episodes of Soul School and 60 regular Episodes! It also marks a big shift for things moving forward. The show will be far more collaborative and listener-driven.

This week, I have posed some specific questions for listeners/supporters to help decide some new and  important directions and decisions for the show. More questions will follow in the weeks to come. To participate, co-create, collaborate, give input, make suggestions, and be a part of this new era, put some skin in the game. It only takes $1 and you can make BIG difference.

Decide on guests, events, swag, and a lot more. You make the calls.

Ready? Here’s the link.


This week, I welcome Jim Davies, an associate professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University. He is the Director of the Science of Imagination Laboratory, and the Author of “Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe.”

You can share an audio snippet by clicking the red and white clammer logo below.



MIN 1:20
Where do the pictures in our visual imagination come from?

Do blind people have a visual memory?

MIN 6:00
The literal details and the meaning and symbol parts of the brain

Can computers imagine or learn to?

MIN 9:30
3D Environments

Neuro modeling simulation of thoughts and imagination.

MIN 14
Jim’s book called “Riveted”

Rules of art form and folk wisdom are they backed by science?

Cognitive science of religion and why we find anything interesting.

MIN 19
The genetics behind the desire for connecting with something greater.

MIN 22:00
What surprised him most in his research?
60% of religiosity is determined.

MIN 23:00
Groups that have religion outcompete groups that don’t
Moral code so you don’t cheat your neighbors.

The Kibbutz secular vs religious

Prayer and meditation helps you cope with stress.

MIN 27
Why jokes make us laugh.
Social signals about danger.

MIN 28
about why offensive jokes might be funny

EPISODE 30 on the Science of humor

MIN 30
Our brain doesn’t really sense what is fiction or reality 100%

The “Finding Nemo” story

Jim’s TEDx talks

Planning bias and completion times


Thank you for listening today!

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What is Content Marketing? (A New Go-To Guide)



I’m so excited to release another Sparky Go-To Guide!

This is is only available on Kindle.

(Remember using the Kindle app is Free and it can be used on the computer or smartphone.)

The Go-To guide is UNDER 2 Bucks, too!

What? Yes. Crazy!

Everything in tradition communication has changed because of 3 seismic shifts.

This quick go-to guide will give you those reasons and the lay of the land now, so you can make the kinds of connections that will matter most.


Ever wonder why magazine and newspaper ads, or even television and radio advertising are foolhardy wastes of money now?

Wonder no more.

The ad men of Madison Avenue (MadMen) are extinct and  reason will surprise you (and it has nothing to do with smoking or martinis).

Many people have noticed the 3 shifts on a certain level, but most haven’t understood what to really do about about it when they want to get their message out.

If you have a ministry,

a group,

a book,

a creation of some sort,

or you want to make some side money and aren’t sure how to spread the news,

get wise to this Go-To Guide. 

It will likely save you a lot of wasted time and money.

Click below to read a short sample at Amazon, right now!

Decoding (Canine) Body Language with Funny Dog Drawings


Don’t you just love that great illustration by Lili Chin to help decode your dog’s attempts to communicate?

(This is a creative commons work. Be sure to check out Lili’s site! She deserves the recognition.)

Did any of them surprise you?

One of them really did for me.

All this time I thought my chocolate lab, Luna was giving me the cold shoulder (by sitting with her back to me)… she was actually giving me respect and trust.

(I feel like such a jerk about it now because sometimes I would mention it to her (disparagingly) and tell her that I felt sort of offended. Sweetheart that she is, she never seemed to hold it against me.)


Here’s a never-before-made-public excerpt from the book Luna helped inspire!


People who love and prefer cats, “cat people”, will tell you that cats are superior to dogs because they can take care of themselves. Cat people may flaunt the fact that felines don’t have some inferior gene that forces them to depend on others.
The sort of separation antics and hysterics don’t seem to happen to cats like they do with dogs. A cat may greet you, but it will hardly hang on your every word. Instead of nervously crying at the window like a dog does, a cat will get even. And it won’t get even because you left, but because you have overstepped your bounds.
It will pee on your pillow, for instance. It’ll turn on you in an instant with claws and teeth as you pet it. It will serve revenge ice cold.
“Dog people” prefer to be a dog’s reason for living rather than being a cat’s loyal subject. The biggest bruise to the human psyche comes from this situation: For the privilege of being a feline’s vassal it will tolerate you. 

Have you read the short book I wrote with Doug Jackson called “Dog in the Gap”?

There are 11 stories, tons of great photos, and a bunch of funny extras!

It is available on Kindle only. Installing the Kindle Reader App for your computer or smartphone is free. 



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Holiday update: My tech dieting


I read a post….called…wait for it…

One Month with No Phone — How to Go Phoneless in a Major US City

at Tim Ferriss’ site that made me want to laugh and cry and then shake my head and then sigh…and now…confess.

So, it’s like this…

A whole generation can’t imagine what it’s like to live without a mobile phone and miraculously guest writer, Lane Wood…(sounds like a bowling alley product, right?) managed a whole month without one. He got around it with tons of technology and had to acquire a lot of patience. But, he’s still alive and everything.

But…Um. We do remember that just a few years ago most people didn’t have smart phones, right? Yes? Even you youthful Millenials?

Duh. Not even ten years ago we had stupid phones. Now the phone have a distinct intellectual edge, obviously.

I’m not a ancient relic, but I remember when “communication technology” was finding a creepy phone box thing that eat quarters and held you hostage with its strong metal cord. I would tell the operator, or the computer, my name was “Pick Me Up” so my dad would fetch me from Volleyball practice. The only people who had mobile phones were doctors, and most of them still had pagers. (If you’re clueless here, Google it up, okay.) Things have changed so much in so little time. I can barely remember a time that I wasn’t somehow attached to tech like I am now. CRAZZZZY.


Having no money makes you creative apparently, and now Lane’s an evangelist warning us that tech is cramping our lives and making us less human. No, it’s not big news, but I’m glad it’s getting more “air time” anyhow. Seriously.


I’m not posting now to pass judgement. Nope. I have changed to adopt the norms this guy has (seemingly) only ever known. Guilty. as. charged. Lane, I thank you. But, it is sort of sad, all of it.

Now to the good news:

In the last few days, because my kids have been on vacation, I have gone on a major diet…not with food…I was bad on that front. No, I haven’t used my phone, Facebook, twitter, Buffer, on been on my blog or or anyone else’s almost at all.

It’s been…NICE!

It’s like being able to breathe again. Lane, I’m with you!

Have you been on any sort of diet this season?

How long could you last without technology?

And I’m curious…what did you think of Lane’s article? Let me know.

27 Things to Talk About At Thanksgiving Dinner


There’s no place like home for the holidays…

It can be fun, it can be World War III, or something in-between…but there’s no place like it!

I checked around and found out some people are counting on one thing to get them through Thanksgiving this year.

• Food? No.

• Gratefulness? No.

• Football? No.

• Shopping? No.

What then?

That’s right, the medicine that’s kept family feasting bearable since the dawn of time. Even cave-dwellers were digging up their stashes of mead before gathering with the clan around the family fire pit and feasting on wooly mammoth, or what-have-you.

Some families don’t drink alcohol, of course. This is no time for hair-splitting. You’ve come here for help. Scroll down for the resource!

For introverts holiday gatherings can be tedious, but it’s more than that. It seems that most of us are less used to conversing face-to-face. It’s a lost art. We get itchy so soon now to numb out or escape on smartphones, tv, and the computer and then time for connection is wasted. Or, the discomfort of connecting (or misconnecting) has us looking for the exits. I’ve been there!

Here’s the truth: When extended families get together there’s usually baggage, off-limit topics, old wounds, jealousies, and enough backstory to create torrents of anxiety. That’s the side of the holidays that doesn’t make it to the commercials.

No, it’s not always like this.
Sometimes it’s just family fun and favorite foods, and good times from start to finish, but that isn’t really the way things go typically. At the very least there’s the stress of the adding obligations and scheduling everything will wind things up.

Here’s some help!
Rather than zone out or make guests uncomfortable, which is also time-tested family tradition in many homes too, try these conversation starters as you feast and holiday! Recycle them for other days if you had fun with it, or think of some of your own. Don’t put pressure on anyone to play, but use this quick download as an excuse to to try something different.  It really doesn’t take much to upgrade your holiday.

You might want to implement a 2 hour technology fast. This seems like a great idea…then you do it and 20 minutes later your nerves start to fry. (That’s what I mean about a lost art!) This can help with that.

Feel free to view, download or print the file below.

Other tips:
• You might want to place a printed question under each plate, or into a hat to draw from. Feel free to have duplicate questions circulating too.

• A person can answer the question that they get or they can swap with a previous question (your house rules can be different–just have fun with it. The point is to have fun).

• Remember keep the whole thing chilled out and enjoyable.

Not sure how to start?

Just say, “Hey, everyone, I thought this year instead of just asking everyone what they are thankful for, I thought we could play a game while we eat!

• If it doesn’t work out, just blame the game. Easy-peasy.

Click here to read, download, and print.
(It’s also a good way to get your kids involved and keep them busy.)

27 Things to talk about:

(FILE) Tabletalkgame DOCUMENT

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’d love to hear how things went.

Let me know! and stop back to hear the audio podcast released twice per week.

Know someone who might need some holiday help?
Please share !