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 PsychologyToday.com. 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.

The Surprising Reason We Don't Help and Why We Should Anyway

The positive emotions we get as we consider donating to those in need are dampened by negative feelings we get when we are made aware of those we can't help. As a result we care less, and give less. Recognizing this barrier can help us overcome it.

The Great Portland Pee: The Psychological Power of Disgust

A man caught on video urinating into a public reservoir illustrates the psychological problems discouraging wastewater recycling.

What We Don't Know About Risk Can Hurt Us

Three current examples of how we worry about some things too much, or worry about some things too little, and how that gets us into trouble.

The Oso Mudslide: Why Do We Live in Harm's Way?

Around the world, hundreds of millions of people live in harms way of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, mudslides, forest fires, and other deadly natural events...by choice. WHY?

Challenging Advocates When Their Values Would Do US Harm

Passionate advocates who want to impose their values on society put us all in danger by ignoring the tradeoffs their choices often involve. This is true for genetically modified food, climate change, childhood vaccination, gun control, and many issues.

Multitasking and Mardi Gras: More in Common Than You Think!

We multitask not because we have to but because we CAN, literally seduced by how the brain intrinsically operates, always looking to avoid the heavy lifting/calorically expensive work of focused purposeful thinking.

More Religious, Less Intelligent—and Vice Versa

A new meta analysis of studies on the relationship between how intelligent you are and how religious you are finds that the more you are one the less you are to be the other. And it offers some intriguing explanations for why.

A Great New Tool That Makes Global Climate Change Local

We care more about risks that will affect us personally. Climate change doesn't feel that way to many people, even the majority already convinced it's a real problem. This tool could start to change that.

Why We Really Celebrate New Year's Day

Most days change from one to the next with no fanfare. Not so New Year's Day. Why is the celebration of this one daily shift so meaningful across cultures and history? Because it's rooted in the deep imperative we all have to survive.

Not Going to Finish Your Vegetables? Can you blame your DNA?

Has evolution ingrained into our DNA an innate wariness of plants?

exFEARience. A Stinging Satire on the Truth, that Fear Sells

A satirical ad hits some deep truths; that fear easily overwhelms reason, and sells products, politics, news.

Our Dangerous Blind Faith in Anything "Natural"

If there were fake or toxic ingredients in pharmaceuticals, the public would rightly scream bloody murder. There would be investigations, headlines, fear. Then why is there no such reaction when fake and toxic ingredients show up in natural medicines, biologically active substance sold to impact your health? Because they're natural, and 'natural' doesn't scare us as much.

An Open Letter to Big Ag CEOs

Big AgTech and food companies spent millions to win a vote in Washington that rejected a citizen petition that would have required labeling of genetically modified foods. But labeling such foods may actually be the key to acceptance.

Could the War of the Worlds Happen Again? It Already Does!

We scoff at the irrational panic caused by the Orson Welles radio play The War of the Worlds 75 years ago. Yet the conditions that led to that panic are mirrored in many conditions today, and the seemingly irrational way we respond to threats has happened many times since then, and continues.

Explaining the Irrationality of the Shutdown-ers

What explains the irrationality of the extremist ideologues behind the shutdown of American government, taking hostage a country they profess to love, rejecting a Constitution they profess to worship, damaging public support for the movement the claim to lead? In a word, fear.

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