Ogi Ogas

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Ogi J. Ogas
Born Johnathan Raymond Ogas
Around 1971 (age 43–44)
Nationality American
Occupation Blogger, writer, theoretical neuroscientist
Known for Game show contestant

Ogi Jonathan Ogas (born ca. 1971)[1] is an American computational neuroscientist, science book author, and game show contestant.

Early life and education[edit]

Ogas grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and is a graduate of Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] Ogas graduated from Boston University in May 2009 with a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience. The United States Department of Homeland Security funded his studies.[1][2][3]


Game show appearance[edit]

$1 Million (15 of 15) - No Time Limit
Which of these ships was not one of the three taken over by colonists during the Boston Tea Party?
• A: Eleanor • B: Dartmouth
• C: Beaver • D: William
Ogas's $1,000,000 question

Ogas won $500,000 on an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire that aired on November 8, 2006, using his cognitive science research to guide his game strategy.[1][4]

Ogas had a quite strong hunch on his $1,000,000 question about the Boston Tea Party (shown), tentatively eliminating three of the choices, but ultimately decided to walk away because of the large amount of money at risk ($475,000 of his $500,000). His hunch was correct.[5][6] Since playing, he has appeared 22 times as the syndicated show's "Ask The Expert" Lifeline.

Ogas was also a contestant on Grand Slam, which aired in August and September 2007.[7] He stated that after feeling the intense emotional pressure on Millionaire, he developed a new suite of cognitive techniques for Grand Slam, including calming techniques as well as mathematical, verbal, and mnemonic heuristics derived from his brain research.[8] He defeated former Millionaire contestant Nancy Christy in his first-round game, and defeated then all-time game show winnings record holder and Jeopardy! champion Brad Rutter in his second round of play. Ogas then defeated David Legler in the semifinals before losing to Ken Jennings in the final. More recently, he has appeared on ABC's newest game show 500 Questions as one of the challengers.

Book: A Billion Wicked Thoughts[edit]

May 2011 saw the release of a pop-psychology book by Ogas and his colleague Sai Gaddam, A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire (Dutton Adult, a division of Penguin Books, ISBN 978-0-525-95209-1).

The book was marketed as a study on "the private activities of millions of men and women around the world, unveiling a revolutionary and shocking new vision of human desire that overturns conventional thinking" by "two maverick neuroscientists" who used "the world's largest psychology experiment--the Internet" for their research.[9] A Billion Wicked Thoughts originally had the working title of Rule 34: What Netporn Teaches Us About The Brain.[10]

Prior to publication, the book and its authors were criticized by some bloggers for their non-standard research methodology, aspects of their core premise, and lack of institutional review.[11][12][13][14] The authors addressed this after publication, saying, "IRB oversight applies to human subjects research with federal funding, or that takes place at an institution with federal funding. We intentionally conducted our research outside of academia, without federal funding, in order to remain independent from the fierce tempest of ideological, social, and political pressures that besets the contemporary study of sexuality."[15]

Upon publication, the book received widespread media attention and a polarized response from reviewers.[16][17][18][19][20][21] Kirkus Reviews described A Billion Wicked Thoughts as an "enjoyable, exhaustive and often insightful look at what turns on."[22] The New York Times suggested that the book was valuable "not as a scientific tract, but as a cultural document.".[23] Discussing the research's scope, a review stated "The researchers wrote a computer program to capture sexual queries in publicly listed catalogs of Web searches. They later categorized the searches and did some number crunching. They estimate that their research reflects the online behavior of 100 million people. The survey also avoids the usual guinea pigs: undergrads looking for college credit. There are limitations to this mode of sex research, though. The results reflect people's fantasies -- not necessarily sexual acts that they engage in. Also, it's worth keeping in mind that this data exposes the erotic minds of those who seek out titillation on the Web; we don't hear from those who explore their sexual imagination offline."[24]

A review in Evolutionary Psychology described the book as a "provocative and informative read." [25] A review in the Archives of Sexual Behavior described the arguments presented in the book as "compelling explanations", but with some examples being a "clunky fit within this explanatory framework". The reviewers suggested that "women readers might gain a greater understanding of why certain types of sexual stimuli...are nirvana for many men."[26] Ogas and his co-author, Sai Gaddam, have since given talks about A Billion Wicked Thoughts and presented related research at academic and general-interest conferences.[27][28][29][30]


  1. ^ a b c d ""Final Answer" Pays Off Big Time for Former DHS Fellow", ORISE News (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education), November 15, 2006 
  2. ^ Boston University Graduate Student Named One Of First 100 Homeland Security Fellows In Nation, Boston University, September 4, 2003 
  3. ^ Ogi Ogas, Ph.D., Psychology Today, retrieved December 17, 2014 
  4. ^ "The Decider", Boston Globe, November 11, 2006 
  5. ^ "OK, Ogi! Waltham man wins $500K on game show", Boston Globe, November 8, 2006 
  6. ^ "Who Wants To Be A Cognitive Scientist Millionaire? A Researcher Uses His Understanding Of The Human Brain To Advance On A Popular Quiz Show", Seed Magazine, November 9, 2006 
  7. ^ Gonzalez, John (October 2007), "The Gonz Show: Ogi Ogas", Boston Magazine 
  8. ^ GrandSlamShow.com discussion boards 
  9. ^ Marketing copy at book overview page at Penguin US website.
  10. ^ See comment at Pitching An Agent: Nonfiction Books That 'Change Lives' at MediaBistro.com, June 30, 2009, and Rule 34: What Netporn Teaches Us About The Brain at Neurocritic, September 5, 2009
  11. ^ Wearing the Juice: A Case Study in Research Implosion by Nate Peperell at Rough Theory, September 2, 2009
  12. ^ The curious case of the game show neuroscientists, or how NOT to research an online community by Alison Macleod, September 3, 2009
  13. ^ Sex, Lies and IRB Tape: Netporn to SurveyFail by Daniel Lende at Neuroanthropology.net, September 6, 2009.
  14. ^ SurveyFail redax: Downey adds to Lende by Greg Downey at Neuroanthropology.net, September 7, 2009.
  15. ^ The Neuroscience Behind Sexual Desire: Authors of A Billion Wicked Thoughts Answer Your Questions post at the Freakonomics blog, May 28, 2011.
  16. ^ McLellan, Diana (July 15, 2011). ""A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire" by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  17. ^ Landau, Elizabeth (May 9, 2011). "Inside women's sexual brains, preferences and porn". CNN.com. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ Bennett, Jessica (April 24, 2011). "Surfing for Sex: What Does It Reveal About Desire?". Newsweek. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  19. ^ Szalavitz, Maia (May 19, 2011). "Q&A: The Researchers Who Analyzed All the Porn on the Internet". Time. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  20. ^ Schaub, Michael (June 7, 2011). "Insane Science: 5 New Books That Explain The Brain". NPR. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  21. ^ Kennedy, Brendan (May 10, 2011). "What we want when nobody's watching?". The Toronto Star. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Kirkus Review". Kirkus Reviews. February 23, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  23. ^ Yang, Wesley (July 29, 2011). "Sex, Lies and Data Mining". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  24. ^ What the Internet reveals about sexual desire by Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon.com, May 2, 2011
  25. ^ Shackelford, Todd. "What Our Sexy Past Reveals About Our Erotic Present" (PDF). Evolutionary Psychology 11 (1): 238–242. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  26. ^ Vasey, Paul; Abild, Miranda. "A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships". Archives of Sexual Behavior (Springer) 421 (6): 1101–1103. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0170-5. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  27. ^ Shouldering Responsibility: Making Society Safer (PDF). Chicago, Illinois, USA. November 1, 2013. 
  28. ^ Ideacity 2012. Toronto, Canada. June 18, 2012. 
  29. ^ INK 2012 In Association With TED. Pune, Maharashtra, India. October 12, 2012. 
  30. ^ SSTAR: Sex Research And Therapy In Transition (PDF). Baltimore, Maryland, USA. April 5, 2013. 

External links[edit]