David Ropeik

Who's in Charge, Your Mind or Your Brain?

Do we consciously think for ourselves, or does our brain subconsciously do our thinking for us? A fun test with a famous intellectual raised, but failed to answer, the question.

Fear Trump? Fear Muslims? Or fear HOW we fear, itself

Some fear President Trump. His supporters fear Muslims and immigrants and 'others'. Our radically different fears reveal something truly scary about human cognition.

Paranoia About Immigrants, The Danger of Fear

Fear protects, but it can also endanger when it's an overreaction to the evidence.

The Real Fear That Elected Donald Trump

Donald Trump played on our fears, not of immigrants or terrorists or globalization, but the deeper fear of losing control over our lives and futures.
courtesy Pew Research Center

A 28th Amendment, a New American Declaration of Independence

The need for control over our own lives explains why Americans would probably support a 28th Amendment to limit money in politics and return control of government to the people.
courtesy: Twitter

The Psychology of Our Post-Factual Presidential Election

A foolish mistake by a campaign worker that got little attention reveals a lot about how seemingly irrational we can be when it comes to politics.

The Real Cause of Brexit, and Why It Threatens Us All

Around the world people feel like they are losing control over their lives and futures. That produces deep vulnerability and fear, and all sorts of divisive and harmful behaviors

GMO Science Denial: The Danger of Affective Risk Perception

Evidence finds that GMOs pose no human or environmental health risk, yet many deny that mountain of evidence. Why, and how does such science denial create real danger?

A Hidden Threat to Human and Environmental Health

We aren't worried enough about climate change. We are too worried about nuclear radiation. Both of those Risk Perception Gaps put us at greater risk.

The Great Zika Freaka, Lessons in Risk Perception

Some friends have recently canceled travel to places with Zika virus, even though they are not in the at-risk population of pregnant or soon-to-be-pregant women. Why the fear?

The Dangerous Ups and Downs of Our Terrorism Fear

We sometimes worry too much about terrorism, and sometimes not enough.
Pew Research Center

What Is the Real Fear That Fuels TrumpMania?

Donald Trump can so easily play on our fears because deep down, millions are worried that they are losing control over how their lives are going—economically and morally.

The Great Zika Freak Out and the Psychology of Fear

Zika virus has several psychological traits that make it particularly frightening, possible even more so than the disease itself actually merits.

Two Letters to President Obama on Gun Control

The fight over gun control is really about fear. And both sides are afraid.

How Fear Makes Us Bigots and Raises Our Risk

Our groups provide a reassuring sense of safety and empowerment.

Gun Control Advocates' Secret Weapon: Antonin Scalia

The ruling by the Supreme Court granting the individual right to own guns is full of language saying that reasonable gun controls are still constitutional.
Globe Scan

The Paris Climate Talks. COP21, or Cop Out?

The Paris climate change talks reveal how lack of deep public concern means insufficient political pressure to get governments to take the big steps that are necessary.

The Syrian Refugee Issue: Why Does Fear Turn Us Into Bigots?

Humans have historically become tribal and bigoted towards others during times of peril. As much as we lament how ugly we behaved in hindsight, we are doing it again toward Syrian refugees. The psychology of risk perception explains why this behavior is so instinctive.
Terrorism: Why It Frightens and Unites Us

Terrorism: Why It Frightens and Unites Us

Why do some terrorist attacks anywhere, frighten all of us, everywhere?

Bacon, Cell Phones, Glyphosate. Which Carcinogen Is Scarier?

Lessons from the bacon scare. How disproportionate fear of some risks can get us into trouble

New Mammography Recommendations, Fighting Cancer Phobia

Early or excessive screening for various cancers can turn up false positives or equivocal results that aren't cancer but scare us into treatments we don't really need. New breast cancer screening recommendations are trying to reduce those risks.

The Gun Fight: Fear of Loss of Freedom Trumps Fear of Guns

How does a tiny minority always win in the shoot out over gun control. They fear the loss of their freedom more than the majority fears guns.

Can People With Different Views Get Along? One Hopeful Case

We identify by various group labels, but the basic human social instinct to bond together in the name of comfort, safety, and survival, can trump those tribes.

Who's More Rational, Human Animals or NON-human Animals?

Discoveries about animal intelligence and emotion, and about human cognition, are challenging our views of which species on the Tree of Life are more rational.

Berkeley's Harmful Pandering to Fear of Cell Phone Radiation

Berkeley has required cell phone retailers to warn shoppers of a health risk from cell phone radiation, despite overwhelming evidence that no such risk exists. Policy making pandering to fear is dangerous in and of itself

Scalia's Dissent; A Direct Attack on American Democracy

In his outrageous dissent in the gay marriage ruling by the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia directly states in several ways that American's should not trust the Supreme Court, and should question American Democracy itself.

Ecomodernism's Promise of A Good (Great!) Future? Too Rosy

The Ecomodernist promise that human wisdom and its technologies can spare us a dystopian future is correct. But the promise of a good, even GREAT future, ignores our survival instincts to place ourselves and the immediate over the greater common good and the future. We're just not as wise as the Ecomodernists propose.

GMO Labels May Encourage Sales, Not Scare Them Away

Mandatory GMO labels on food, by giving consumers choice, may not scare buyers off as much as GMO opponents hope.

Environmental Values Don't Justify Ignoring the Facts

How one liberal community made a brave choice, choosing an objective review of the evidence rather than letting environmental passions determine policy on two hot-button 'green' issues.

On the Persistence, and Underlying Causes, of Vax-O-Noia

Understanding the psychological roots of fear of vaccines is important if we are going to reduce the threat to public health posed by those fears.