Category Archives: psychology

Bill Nye screws up when tackling a question about free will

The wheels fell off the Science Guy juggernaut a long time ago, but Bill Nye still tries to heave the ungainly cart forward, desperately trying to remain relevant. As you know, I haven’t been a fan of his “comeback,” for his attempts to sell science have been ham-handed and embarrassing. (See some of my criticism […]

Is decreasing empathy causing increased disruption on campus?

This short paper on the NPR website (click on screenshot) describes research suggesting that the empathy of young Americans has decreased over the past fifty years. I’m not familiar with this research, but will provisionally assume that the results described are correct. Here are a few quotes (it’s a short article): . . . more […]

New study: Belief in free will doesn’t make you act better

Is belief in free will necessary, as many claim, to keep society harmonious? The idea behind that claim is that if you’re a determinist, you’re going to be immoral, criminal, or nihilistic. But is there data supporting that claim? A couple of previous studies have found a positive association between “prosocial” (i.e., good) behavior and […]

How observant are you?

Matthew sent me this video, which will prove to you that when your attention is fixed on one or a few things, you can completely ignore big changes in the other things:

Hoax paper published in predatory journal purports to show that butt-wiping hand is correlated with one’s politics

A reader who shall remain unnamed sent me a link to a paper (below, link here or at screenshots) that is a hoax sent by the reader’s friend who also wishes to remain anonymous (I don’t know the author’s name). The journal is a predatory one, Psychology and Psychotherapy: Research Study, produced by Crimson Publishers. […]

I had a dream today. . .

I usually forget my dreams, as I have them in the middle of the night. If I wake up and try to embed them in my memory, they’re gone by morning. (I think I should keep a notebook by my bed.) But if I have a dream right before I wake up, then I often […]

A new hypothesis about consciousness

In my view, there are two big problems of consciousness. The first is mechanical: how does it work? (This is called “The Hard Problem of Consciousness”.) What configurations of neurons create “qualia”, the sensation of conscious experience that includes pain, pleasure, self-awareness, and so on? Many theologians and obtuse academics maintain that we’ll never be […]

Does hate have a home?

I’ve heard that, since Trump’s election, signs like these have sprouted all over the U.S. (a reader pointed this out the other day): Now I understand the reasons for these signs: they’re addressing hatred towards groups of people, like Muslims, gays, African-Americans, and so on. (I doubt, however, that they mean that there’s no hatred of […]

On illness, dreams and encatment

About a third of the time I make long-distance trips, it seems, I come down with a cold or sore throat at the far end. This time I’ve got both, and I blame it on airplane contamination. As one expert at io9 notes, it’s not the “recycled air” that’s to blame for such illnesses (cabin air […]

Is there anything good about Freud’s legacy?

Lately I’ve been talking about Fred Crews’s new 600-page critique of Freud, Freud: The Making of an Illusion, and you can find my take (postive) here. The book, in concert with Crews’s earlier work, and many other critics, pretty much demolishes not only the scientific pretensions of psychoanalysis, once Freud’s big gift to the world, but also the […]