Category Archives: psychology

The Lost Mariner: a short video inspired by Oliver Sacks

Well, I confess that I’ve taken something from Brainpickings, but only because it was tweeted approvingly by Jennifer Ouellette. “The Lost Mariner” is a 6-minute film centered on a patient described in Oliver Sacks’s popular book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. You can find more information about the personnel involved, and all the prizes […]

Richard Gunderman at The Conversation: our ability to lie shows that the mind is physically independent of the brain (!)

UPDATE: As the first comment in the thread (by Coel) shows, I was correct in assuming there’s a religiosity to Gunderman’s argument: he’s a trustee of the Christian Theological Seminary. Further, someone who once knew him emailed me and described him as “ultra religious.” ________________________ The motto of the site The Conversation is “academic rigor, […]

Templeton-funded study shows that avoiding spiritual struggles worsens mental health

A new paper by Carmen Oemig Dworsky et al. in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (reference below; only abstract available though I’ve got the whole paper) deals with the effects of spiritual struggle and its avoidance on people’s mental health. It’s a long read, but in short the authors surveyed 307 people (recruited from […]

Second most popular TED talk of all time, on “power posing”, disavowed by senior author

The second most popular TED talk of all time, with over 32 million views on TED, is by Harvard Business School associate professor Amy Cuddy, called “Your body language shapes who you are”. (You can also see the talk on YouTube, where it has over 10 million views. Cuddy appears to be on “leave of absence.”) […]

Big Think: 3 questions will tell you how religious you’re likely to be

UPDATE:  The Gervais and Norenzayan paper mentioned here should be considered inconclusive in light of later work. Go here for the explanation under “update.” _______________ I’m not so sure that “The Big Think” (TBT)  website deserves its name, as the Thinks there are often pretty small. But this headline caught my attention (click on screenshot to […]

ID advocates mock determinism, insist on libertarian free will and human exceptionalism

The boys over at the Discovery Institute (DI) spend a lot of time mocking me online, but I rarely pay attention. And when I do, I’m sort of flattered, and for two reasons: they think that what I write here is important enough to attack, and because when those creationist mushbrains go after me, I know I’m doing […]

Mass murderers: mental illness or extreme ideology?

Anders Breivik is the Norwegian white supremacist who killed 77 of his countrymen in 2011: 8 in a car bomb in Oslo, and then 69 later that day in a worker’s camp on an island. Many of the dead were young people. Before the murders he had written manifestos about his opposition to Muslims in his […]

Who would you trade places with?

I don’t know why, but this question struck me as I was taking a walk yesterday.  And I suppose all of us ponder it sometimes: we see some famous person, or courageous person, or person doing good works, and think, “Boy, I’d like to trade places with him/her!” I don’t think about that often, as […]

Bear and Bloom: An experiment on the illusion of conscious will

“Because it lags slightly behind reality, consciousness can “anticipate” future events that haven’t yet entered awareness, but have been encoded subconsciously, allowing for an illusion in which the experienced future alters the experienced past.”  —Adam Bear In discussions about our idea of “agency” (or, if you will, “choice” or “free will”), I’ve described experiments showing that […]

Google Doodle celebrates Freud (I don’t)

I’m not a big fan of Freud; in fact, I’m not even a tiny fan. He regarded psychoanalysis as a “science”, but it was really a pseudoscience, designed as a self-contained, airtight system of explanation rendered immune to disconfirmation by its slippery acolytes and its ability to explain everything—thereby explaining nothing. And there’s no evidence that […]