All About Magic

Think you don't believe in magic? Think again. Our brains are designed to pick up on patterns: Making connections helped our ancestors survive. You're not crazy if you're fond of jinxes, lucky charms, premonitions, wish fulfillment, or karma. You're just human.

Recent Posts on Magical Thinking

Make Skepticism, Not Gullibility, Your Habit

Everyone knows someone who believes in some form of unscientific science. After all, if such-and-such helped so-and-so, it should help you, right? Not so fast.

Does Reading Harry Potter Books Reduce Prejudice?

According to a recent study, young people who identify with Harry Potter are less likely to be prejudiced against minority groups.

The Art of Art Therapy Shapeshifting

Shapeshifting, also known as transmorgrification and transformation, is found throughout the realms of myth and folklore. Art therapy, a field that embraces the symbolic world and the process of transformation, has its own shapeshifting tales to tell, too.

Ivan Denisovich vs Ants

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn admitted that Russians were occasionally like insects. But he didn't like it.

God, Humans, and the 20th Century

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on April 16, 2015 in The Secular Life
More humans died from diarrhea than all genocides combined.

Food Hypocrisy

If you eat rice cakes all day, you will not be happy, especially if it’s not rice cakes that you crave. And who craves rice cakes?

How to Fix Any Problem: The 3 Step Approach

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on April 08, 2015 in Fixing Families
While the content of the problems we are forced to deal with every day constantly changes, the basic approach we need to put the problem to rest is always the same. Here are the three steps.

Confront Your Nightmares with Lucid Dreaming

By Michelle Carr on April 08, 2015 in Dream Factory
Lucid dreaming is the process of becoming aware in a dream. Once lucid within a nightmare you realize that there is no real danger, so you can choose to safely confront your fears.

Why Are There So Many Religions?

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on April 07, 2015 in Excellent Beauty
There are thousands of religions on Earth today. The best explanation for this puzzlingly high number is that being religious is an evolutionary adaptation.

Atheists Love Aliens

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on April 02, 2015 in More Than Mortal
Many atheists would argue that they do not believe in something unless there is a good reason for doing so. But is this true?

The Ordinary Hero's Journey: Part I

You may be wondering why a psychoanalyst is writing about the hero’s journey—isn’t that the domain of Joseph Campbell, the stuff of mythology, religion, literature, and History channel documentaries? Well, the reason is simple.

The Attractiveness of Personality Traits

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on April 02, 2015 in A Sideways View
Some traits are more attractive than others. But there are downsides to all extreme scorers. Is there a downside to being a sociable extravert or a highly agreeable person?

5 Epic April Fool’s Pranks and the Psychology Behind Them

There are psychological reasons why we fall for April Fool's pranks, and these 5 are among the best.

Surprise

By The Book Brigade on March 26, 2015 in The Author Speaks
Surprise is good for the brain, great for relationships, and adds a certain frisson all around. Without it, life is lackluster. So why don't more people embrace the unexpected? They run from it or try to subdue it when they should instead roll with it.

5 Steps to Optimal Illusion

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 23, 2015 in Ambigamy
Self-deceptively, most people consider themselves more realistic than average and consider it a virtue to only want the truth. Fact is, none of us do. It's more realistic to admit you're not always realistic. Here's a guess at the path to optimal illusion, kidding ourselves where it helps, not where it hurts.

The Blissful Torture of Unrequited Love

Whether fast or slow, it comes on hard—as powerful as a bludgeon, but one covered in the softest velvet. It’s two-faced as well, like an optical illusion. And it’s also supremely paradoxical. How can an unreturned love engender such ecstatic, sublime feelings? Yet the chemical dynamics of reciprocation fantasies can be incredibly powerful...

Empowered by Love

By Diana Raab Ph.D. on March 16, 2015 in The Empowerment Diary
In honor of National Women's Month, the focus is on empowering women and humanity. Empowerment means to unlock your inner voice and to affect change to self and others. In order for the process to begin, love for self and humanity must be present.

When Love Kills

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on March 16, 2015 in A Swim in Denial
In 1850s Rome, cloistered nuns got entangled in fraud, murder, sexual hijinks, and what the investigators “false holiness.” The Inquisition kept the scandal buried until 1998. Now the story’s out and it has much to tell us about love, hero-worship, crime, and neoteny.

5 Ways That Being Positive Can Backfire

While looking for the silver lining has many benefits, an overly optimistic outlook can actually become detrimental.

Myths and Misconceptions in Psychology

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on March 12, 2015 in A Sideways View
In their wonderful book Lilienfeld and colleagues list 250 myths and misconceptions from the world of psychology. In a study we tested to what extent ordinary people thought them to be true. The results are surprising.

How to Decide Who’s a Conversational Bully

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 09, 2015 in Ambigamy
Debating with people who are closed-minded and just out to win is a waste of time. But quickly and falsely accusing our opponents of just being out to win is its own kind of closed-mindedness. Here are some simple tips for deciding who is just out to win.

From Industrial Hell to Digital Paradise

Electronics factories can be hell to work in--toxic, soul-killing, and life-threatening. But without them there would be no digital paradise for high-tech companies and consumers. Though the technology has changed over the centuries, the basic relationship between worker hell and privileged paradise has remained unchanged. Take a look at 19th century papermaking...

The Big Mistakes of Religion and Secularism

People have a choice about religion and spirituality: to conform more or less rigidly to accepted teaching, or to think and act independently. Both bring problems, but the issues resolve spontaneously as we grow more mature and find a true set of values to follow

Mourning – Death, Loss, Trauma, and Psychotherapy

Mourning is the process by which we heal from grief. I’ve heard people say, “What’s the point of grieving, you can’t bring a loved one back from the dead.” That of course, is true, but it is what allows us, the survivors, to return back to the land of the living and resume our lives.

Self-Regulation of Creative Behaviors

Psyching yourself to be creative.

Are People Naturally Scientific?

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Hot Thought
Some social and developmental psychologists have claimed that people—even children—naturally think like scientists. I find this claim implausible because: people are naturally religious rather than scientific; everyday thinking frequently deviates from scientific reasoning; and science is a relatively recent cultural development.

Do Friends Shame You For Not Believing Them?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on February 24, 2015 in Ambigamy
We have freedom of speech, but we have to earn our audience and credibility. The sooner we realize this, the freer we become and the more responsibility we take for getting heard and winning hearts and minds.

Personality Disorders Explained 2: Origins

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on February 24, 2015 in Feeling Our Way
Every cognitive map of the social world also defines a role for the person to play; a personality disorder implies a limited number of acceptable roles.

Want to Damage Your Relationship? Here Are 2 Easy Ways

By Douglas LaBier Ph.D. on February 24, 2015 in The New Resilience
Troubled couples who seek therapy often show patterns of withdrawal and silent expectation when dealing with conflict; a kind of dance that deepens the damage to their relationships. New research shows how that happens.

What’s Behind Women’s Intuition?

By Audrey Nelson Ph.D. on February 22, 2015 in He Speaks, She Speaks
The ability to decode nonverbal cues is ultimately valuable and essential for effective communication. So women must ask themselves, how can we use these skills to enhance our effectiveness instead of letting them divert us? Women must not focus on others for a definition of what is “normal” or acceptable behavior; they must define it for themselves.