Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are two rather different negative emotions which are often confused. In both cases, people feel bad about themselves—but that is where the similarity ends.

George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” at 70

Seventy years ago, between Animal Farm and 1984, George Orwell published his famous essay, Politics and the English Language—a work that has relevance for our upcoming election.

Understanding Airport Screening’s 95% Failure Rate

The TSA’s airport screening failure rate in detecting fake explosives and weapons is 95%. Given the magnitude of the task, we should be surprised that it isn’t even higher.

Is Fascism Coming to America?

What is fascism and to whom does it appeal? How can we evaluate claims that fascism is on the rise in the United States and Europe?

How Not to Die

How Not to Die by Michael Greger discusses ways that a whole food plant-based diet can prevent, ameliorate, or reverse the fifteen leading causes of death in the United States.

Is China Creating Brilliant Yet Damaged Future Leaders?

Extremely young children of the Chinese elite are being sent to boarding school—a massive experiment that could produce a generation of brilliant but crazy leaders.

Is Psychologists’ Code of Ethics Immoral?

Laws and figuring out how to avoid being sued have displaced to a significant degree psychological knowledge and ethical reasoning in how psychologists are being trained to think.

High Profits

High Profits is an 8-part series about Colorado’s marijuana legalization law. It shows the actual issues that arose, which differed from the ones commonly hypothesized or feared.

The Hidden Message of the University of Missouri Scandal

Was the University of Missouri scandal, leading to the President's and Chancellor's departure, about racism? Political correctness? Student activism? Or something more important?

In One Person

In One Person, a novel by John Irving, is written as a memoir of a bisexual man growing up and then living in the American LGBTQ world during the second half of the 20th century.

Redesigning the Dollar

The recent discussion of putting a woman on the $10 bill to replace Alexander Hamilton (though others have suggested replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 instead) have made this an opportune moment to consider making more extensive changes in our currency.

How Much of the World Has Been Governed by a Woman?

What proportion of the world’s population has been governed by women? It turns out that, even if you exclude queens and empresses, who inherited their power, and limit consideration to the 20th century, or even 1950 to the present, this is not an easy question to answer.

Therapy Classics

This piece acknowledges some of the leading therapy innovators of the last century and their influential books that, sadly, are now gathering dust.

The American Discussion of Race Is Ethnocentric

The American "discussion of race," prevents new insights and limits proposals to a few alternative courses of action. It is as if the only place that exists is the United States today; the only ways of thinking about race are American ways; and there is nothing we can learn from other cultures that could contribute to our understanding.

What Race Is Rachel Dolezal?

Rachel Dolezal says she is black, but many others--whites and blacks, liberals and conservatives--disagree. What race is she really? How should we react to her claim?

Looking in the Cultural Mirror at 100, The Top 10

Five years ago I began writing pieces for Looking in the Cultural Mirror. While psychology may define itself as the science of behavior, when it comes to people it often seems more like the science of American behavior than of human behavior everywhere. This, my 100th piece, discusses the blog’s background and aims. It offers links to most popular 10.

Should Anonymous Comments Be Banned on Blogs?

Would banning anonymous comments keep Internet trolls away? What are the arguments for and against a ban?

Iran is Very Big

If the attempt to negotiate and ratify a nuclear agreement with Iran fails, an escalation in our confrontation is likely, possibly leading to war. Before contemplating war with Iran, we need to get a sense of the size of the country.

Looking in the Cultural Mirror at 100, the Top 10

Five years ago, I began writing pieces for Looking in the Cultural Mirror. While psychology may define itself as the science of behavior, when it comes to people it often seems more like the science of American behavior than of human behavior everywhere. This, my 100th piece, discusses the blog’s background and aims. It offers links to the most popular 10.

Gone with the Wind and Xica: Two Myths of Slavery

Seventy-five years ago, Gone with the Wind was released, a movie that romanticized slavery with stereotyped images of African-Americans that remain familiar to this day. Slavery in Brazil was more widespread and lasted longer than in the U.S. The Brazilian movie Xica is also about slavery, but its stereotypes of Afro-Brazilians are very different from the American ones.

A University Is Not Walmart

In the modern university, run as a business, students are getting good grades and piling up debt but aren’t learning that much. The professors feel powerless and alienated, but the administration looks at the bottom line, smiles, and says all is well.

Should the Media Show the Charlie Hebdo Cartoons?

Following the murders in Paris of cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, there has been a debate over whether the media should publish the humor magazine’s cartoons lampooning Muhammad and Islam. The debate so far has been between freedom of expression and cultural sensitivity; but I believe the matter is more complex.

Psychologists and Torture

The Senate report on the CIA torture program revealed that psychologists played a key role in its design and execution. What role did the American Psychological Association play, and how will it respond to these revelations?

Surprising Lessons From Marijuana Legalization Votes

Marijuana legalization victories in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia follow in the footsteps of previous ones in Colorado and Washington. Already we are learning unexpected lessons as the new policies are implemented; and the issues we are encountering are quite different from the ones many had feared.

Psychology’s Scientism and Anthropology’s Anti-Science

Over the past few decades, the scientific study of culture has become marginalized, in very different ways, in both psychology and anthropology. Social phenomena exist at a social level of organization; but scientistic and anti-science trends impede progress in understanding them.

The War on Drugs and College Student Debt

A lot has been written about the War on Drugs and about college student debt, but rarely are the two issues connected. I would argue, however, that the transfer of funds from higher education to the War on Drugs is one of the main causes of the dramatic rise in higher education student debt.

Visiting Brazil: “We’re Not In Kansas Anymore”

The World Cup created a lot of interest in Brazil, where I used to live. I went back this past winter, and–as always happens–within a few days something occurred that couldn’t possibly happen here in the States. Such events always cause a smile of recognition that, as Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Edward Snowden, the War on Terrorism, and the War on Drugs

Much of the debate triggered by Edward Snowden’s leaks is about deciding on the proper level of electronic surveillance. While important, this discussion involves a static view of the problem. I would like to call attention to a dynamic aspect of the relationship among government surveillance, security crackdowns, and leaks.

How Millions of Americans Changed Their Race

A person’s race is supposedly a fixed biological fact, right? So how is it possible for millions of people to change their race? And what lessons do these changes teach us about society and culture?

Studying Marital Infidelity

Suppose you wanted to get an insider’s view of extramarital affairs. How would you go about doing it, and what ethical problems might you encounter?

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