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

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.

Selfish Politicization of Vaccination is Dangerous

Making vaccination a political issue is selfish, dishonest, and dangerous.

The Greatest Threat of All: Human Instincts Overwhelm Reason

2014 was the hottest year on record. Air pollution in Beijing is higher than any health chart calculates. The Earth is experiencing a mass extinction of species. These changes threaten our survival as a species, and - irrationally - we are the cause. Why? Because our subconscious instincts for survival are more powerful than intelligent conscious decision making.

Are These Dangerous Times, or Do They Just Feel That Way?

We worry too much about many things, including the future in general. What do those fears do to us?

Civil Debate on GMOs Is Still Possible For Open Minds

Surveys show that most Americans may have heard about genetically modified food, but still have open minds. A recent debate about the issue encouragement that that civil arguments about the evidence can help the facts play more of a role than emotion in shaping people's perceptions about risk.

EU Drops Science Adviser: Some Didn't Like Her GMO Advice

When environmental groups in Europe didn't like what the EU's chief science adviser said about the evidence regarding genetically modified food - that the scientific consensus is that there is no harm to human health - they lobbied to have the whole office of independent science adviser to the EU President scrapped. The EU has caved, and eliminated the position.

Why We Are So Easily Manipulated by the Polticis of Fear

The instinct to protect ourselves easily overwhelms the rational thinking our brain also does, as we shape our choices about who and what to vote for, or against.

The Paleo Movement: The Naivete of Idealizing the Past

It is appealing to wish we could go back to a less spoiled past, a way to dream that the mess we've made of the natural world could somehow be undone. But it's naive, and dangerous, because it leads us to oppose modern technologies and progress that has great benefits, as well as harms.

The Psychology of Vaccine Choice: Two Examples, One Warning

Choosing whether to vaccinate ourselves or our kids is an emotional choice, based not just on the facts but how we feel about those facts. Those emotions are valid, even when the choice flies in the face of the evidence. Nonetheless, some choices that feel right may put us and our neighbors at risk.

Science Advice? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Science Advice!

More and more, societies are rejecting factual evidence that runs counter to their values. Now environmentalists in Europe, upset that the European Commission science adviser's independent review of evidence on genetically modified food found no evidence of human harm, want the EC to eliminate the office of independent science adviser altogether.

Ebola: We Need to Vaccinate Ourselves…From Fear

The chance of getting Ebola is practically zero, yet many are worried. It's an example of how our fears can exceed the facts. In many cases, those MISperceptions can be a risk all by themselves.

Is Organic Food Healthier? Who Can Tell With All the Spin?

As risk issues grow more and more complex we need more and more trustworthy information to figure them out. But some scientists are not neutral. Advocates use the internet and social media to spin and distort. And the modern news media oversimplify and shorten–and leave things out–as never before.

Experts Who Offer Psychology Advice Need to Heed Their Own

The are dozens of smart people who offer advice on A recent experience teaches me, and all of us, that it's sometimes easier to offer advice, than heed it. And in some cases, failing to heed it can be really dangerous.

Don't Trust the Supreme Court (Says One of Its Own Justices)

Two separate rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court limiting women's ability to get insurance coverage for contraception because of their employer's religious views are based on different reasoning, and one dissenting Justice says this suggests that the public should not trust the U.S. Supreme Court!

How Passions About Soccer and Polarized Issues Are the Same

Our passions for soccer or any sport or team come in part from the same psychological motivation as our passions over religion, or issues, or any conflict between tribes. We identify with OUR group in the name of safety and survival!

Godzilla and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism

The re-release of Godzilla brings renewed focus on the essential question the movie asks; do the benefits of modern technologies outweigh their harms?

Depressing News in the Fight Against Climate Change

If the proposed carbon emissions reduction regulations are the best America can do, it does not signal hope that the world's biggest per capita polluter will ever get close to doing what is really needed to fight climate change

Think You Are in Charge of Your Thinking? Think Again!

In an ingenious test of the Trolley Problem, study subjects gave different answers when the dilemma - would you kill one person so you could save five - was posed in non-native languages than when posed in the person's native tongue. Unfamiliar languages require translation, which triggers more analytical cognitive processes, which leads to more quantitative reasoning.