Category Archives: psychology

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 […]

What have you changed your mind about?

UPDATE: I’d forgotten, but perhaps not completely, that John Brockman edited a book in 2009 in which he asked Science Heavy Hitters the exact question above.  This was based on a 2008 Edge Question, and you can find a lot of the answers here. I don’t think I contributed to that annual question (I’ll be […]

Psychology studies may be more reproducible than we thought

On September 3 of last year, I described a paper by the Open Science Collaboration (OSC; reference and link below) that tried to estimate the reproducibility of studies published in high-quality psychology journals. It was a complicated paper, but its results were deemed sufficiently important to be published in Science. And those results were in the main disheartening: only […]

Does seeing things from God’s point of view make you less biased?

Does seeing things as if you were God rather than yourself make you less biased towards members of outgroups? Acccording to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Jeremy Ginges et al. (reference below, free access, and Scott Atran is a co-author), the answer is “yes.” This was the result of […]

American students become more fragile, less emotionally resilient, and more traumatized

Psychology Today sometimes publishes some pretty wonky stuff, but this article, about the emotional resilience of American college students—or rather its decline—rings true from the kind of incidents (granted, anecdotes) documented on this site. Further, its author, Peter Gray, a psychologist at Boston University and expert in educational psychology, has impeccable credentials. In his piece, “Declining student […]

On the poor reproducibility of psychology studies

I wrote a short post yesterday about a huge attempt to answer the question, “What proportion of results reported in psychology journals can be repeated?” This was a massive study in which dozens of psychology researchers simply went and repeated 100 studies published in three respectable experimental psychology journals: Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, […]

Another failure to replicate a much-cited study on free will and cheating

There’s been a lot of press about a study just published in Science in which a large consortium of researchers tried to replicate 100 studies published in psychology journals, and managed to get significant results in only 36% of the replications. Further, investigators who repeated the earlier studies judged subjectively that they had replicated the […]

On the hair-trigger sensitivity of today’s college students, and how to fix it

The cover story for the September issue of The Atlantic is a curious one, a long one, and well worth a read. “The coddling of the American mind” has two authors, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. Lukianoff is president of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), and has done great work trying to […]


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