Here is a short write-up of psychologist Jessica Witt’s research on vision, (mis)perception and athletic performance–which I pegged to this week’s US Open. It’s fascinating work on how the way we see the world is shaped by our ability to succeed in that world. I go into much more detail on the topic in On… Read more
This is a very gratifying review to read. It’s good to know that, on balance, this teenage critic finds these idea accessible and fun to read about. Some fair criticism, too.
Here is a nice piece from Scientific American on our “behavioral immune system,” in which psychologist Mark Schaller describes how our ancient and adaptive aversion to germs leads to all sorts of social prejudices. I cover some of this same territory in On Second Thought‘s chapter on the Cooties Heuristic, which I excerpt here: “Mine… Read more
I wish this study had been available when I was writing On Second Thought. The subtitle of the book is Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits, but frankly, the science is thinnest when it comes to actual strategies for trumping our automatic tendencies. Here is a very smart series of experiments from Peter Gollwitzer of NYU,… Read more
Sarah Palin is clearly (and defiantly) confused about her Revolutionary War history and the role of the patriot Paul Revere. But surely she understands the psychology of how a poem like Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” works to prime the mind’s scarcity heuristic and boost patriotism.
Is there a childlike sense of ownership and property rights? Here are two reports suggesting that may be true. The first, a Science News report
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that the world is coming to an end tomorrow, May 21. According to doomsday forecaster Harold Camping, Armageddon will occur at 6:00 PM, though apparently there is a little confusion about the timezone. In any event, if Sunday dawns and there is still no rapture, Camping… Read more
I’ve decided, in honor of Friday the 13th, to post this longish excerpt from the On Second Thought chapter on The Cooties Heuristic: Contagion and Magical Thinking. Some of our quirky superstitions have ancient roots in our fears of contagion: “Mine is a tea drinking family, and I will sometimes sweeten my cuppa with an… Read more