Homo Normaticus

‘Tis the season for taking a look at social norms and why we – blindly – follow them.

Text-ing

The interpretation of text is the enterprise of the humanities. Psychology rests on experiment and observation. Can the two meet? Here’s a modest proposal.

Creativity Between Chaos and Constraint

Creativity is born of the conflict between mastery of the old (the box) and the desire for the new (outside). Much as you can’t have a rebel without a cause, you can’t have creativity without convention.

Draw!

Why draw if you can take photos?

Flatus Interruptus

Everyone enjoys a good laugh but some of us are embarrassed by some of the things that make them laugh. Consider the psychology of the funny fart.

Meta Prezzo

Returning from the Low Country, I brought memories of art and tortured academic reasoning.

Dutch Design

Creative design can be found at every turn in the Netherlands. There’s variation, originality, beauty, and functionality. I give a few examples to whet your appetite for a trip. Alas, even the Dutch struggle in the quest for the perfect shower design.

Tutto a Posto

This is the last post (for a while) with an Italian title. There is no handy translation for Tutto a Posto. Everything’s fine, a-ok, no worries. But bloggers and other intellectuals worry. I am periodically worried about a page in Kierkegaard that I first read when I was in college. Here’s an update.

The Spirit of Giving

Volunteering is typically seen as morally good, and that is a fair perception under most circumstances. But there are some difficulties. Volunteering can undercut one’s peers and it can be hard to hide your intentions when you don’t want to be exploited.

Gravitas in Space

Gravity, the movie, takes humanity out of its element to reveal its deepest hopes and fears. Technically brilliant, the movie reconnects with old themes. And then there’s Mr. Clooney of course.

Psychology For Peace

Psychology can contribute to a more peaceful world. A special issue in the American Psychologist shows how.

Caveman Rationality

In their new book “The Rational Animal,” Doug Kenrick and Vlad Griskevicius argue that the ancient mammalian mind is smarter than the cortically educated. A bold claim, convincingly made. And then there’s Bishop Tebartz-van Elst.

Letter From Delhi

In the interest of intellectual hygiene, I propose a thought experiment for those who have balked at my criticism of the Dalai Lama. Let us consider a text that we might all find troubling. Or will we?

Dawes's Last Paper

Unstructured interviews are a popular but ineffective tool to make specific predictions.

Creativity Without Purpose

Perhaps you are taking too much credit for your creative achievements. But not to worry. There is a Darwinian beauty to the creative imagination that we did not even imagine we had.

Brutto Tempo

Brutto tempo means ‘bad weather’ in Italian. So here’s another selection of psychological issues that led to head-scratching on my part. I wonder what you think. Am I overreacting?

Do What You Want

Some prominent psychologists make a good case for human volition and agency. When they flirt with the metaphysics for free will, however, their arguments unravel.

Hell of a Society

Abrahamic religions (and perhaps others) can both scare and reassure. Some evolutionary psychologists believe that this state of affairs is all for the better. It keeps crime rates down and us safe.

Maslow on Creativity

Maslow’s theory of creativity is interesting, non-mainstream, and incoherent. Why bother to take a second look?

Busted

I recommend the book “Brainwashed: The seductive appeal of mindless neuroscience” by Satel & Lilienfeld. In this essay, I focus on one disagreement I have with the authors regarding their conclusion that justice must be retributive.

Dami Cinque

I return to some of my favorite themes (briefly): Free will, enlightenment, carnivory, ablutophobia, and critical thinking.

A Hysterical Critique of Psychological Science

Is Barbara Fredrickson's overplay of her data grounds for questioning psychological science as a whole? There’s a rhetorical question! Libertarian philosophy-dabbler Wilkinson thinks so, though.

Stupid People

If madness has method, so does stupidity – according to a new study. But please, don’t read this post. It’s academic. You already know that you are above average.

Dalai Lama, Scientist

I looked for evidence for the Dalai Lama’s science-mindedness in his encyclical on reincarnation. I found none.

Buddha Begs the Question

A TV special and Richard Gere’s soothing voice got me to thinking about Buddhism. What’s in it for us?

Rumpelstiltskin in Psychology

Once you’ve understood what I am telling you in this post, little will have changed.

Scientists, Games and Chicks

Scientists are respected, feared, misunderstood, ridiculed, and called in as expert witnesses. Most of them are underpaid. Why do they keep on doing what they do?

Whoa of Aggregation

Personality predicts entrepreneurship. Big data show this relationship even at the level of states. Oregon scores high; Rhode Island scores low.

Moral Convicts

Finally someone did a study on the prisoner’s dilemma using actual prisoners as participants. Turns out that prisoners are much like university students when it comes to strategic reasoning. Are they not less moral (as I think you might think)?

In Memoriam

Some of your strange (paranormal?) experiences you just have to live with. Here's mine.

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