How I Met Your Mother, Personalitywise

Continuing the quest to understand the personalities of fictional TV characters we turn to How I Met Your Mother. If Barney is awesome, what does that mean in terms of The Big Five? We throw in the Dalai Lama and the observers’ selves to get context.

Battle of the Exes

Coordinating one’s actions with the actions of others is hard when there is no communication. It is even harder when we are trying to do whatever the other person is not doing, that is, when we try to achieve negative coordination.

Trusting Leaders

If you want people to trust you, you have to trust them. It is more easily said than done, particularly if there is a power differential.

Got Meat?

I consulted His Holiness’s autobiography to get the scoop on the menu. His account of how he abandoned vegetarianism is medium rare.

I Don't Care About the Dalai Lama

The success of the Dalai Lama is a social psychological phenomenon. A simple monk who made good.

Weiss' Bescheid (trite and true)

Another dip into the stream of consciousness.

Comments on Dalai Lama Post

Responding to some "how-dare-you" comments to the post on the Dalai Lama, I take another look at the ethics.

The Dalai Lama as a Brand

Many believe the Dalai Lama can do no wrong, that he represents compassion, wisdom, humor, and serenity in its purest form. Not everyone agrees, and after reading Colin Goldner’s streitschrift, my enthusiasm has weakened.

Visualizing the Wisdom of the Inner Crowd

Averaging judgments tends to increase accuracy. Individuals can exploit this wisdom-of-the-crowd effect by pretending to be more than 1. The benefits are small but replicable.

A Letter to the Dice Man

The Dice Man liveth and he corresponded with me. In a universe where everything happens for a reason (so they say), you gotta love the chance encounters.

Science Games

To succeed in science you need to find new stuff. Now we have too much of it. Is science a game gone wrong? If so, which game?

Person and Probability

In a world without free will, cooperation (and wealth) comes easier.

Publication Bias, Naturally

If psychological science is an exercise in collective hallucination, how can you trust what you read in Psychology Today? Don’t worry; the doom is overplayed.

Errors of Two Kinds

Buckle up. The replicability crisis in psychology boils over again.

Don't Diss the Demon

Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics. Why is it that this discipline – of all disciplines – assumes that people have free will? I am determined not to get it.

Shallow Thoughts and Parerga

Some of the contents are not vetted with the scientific establishment.

Go Play

Rational actors tragically don’t do well in social dilemmas according to game theory. Things would be different if play were to continue indefinitely. But there ain’t no such thing. All things must come to an end.

Man and Monkey

Perceptions and judgments of similarity are like quicksand. How unique are we? How ordinary? After looking into it, I conclude that it is easier to make a case for similarity than for dissimilarity.

Hope for Hempel's Paradox

Taleb El Furioso wrote a thrilling book on rare events. He forgot to consider the ordinary.


Join a group, inhale oxytocin, and grow a bigger cortex. It will make you moral.

From Agreement to Accuracy, Perhaps

“Reality is what most people think it is.” Do you agree? Suppose we all agree. Does that make it true?

From Chaos to Freedom, and Back

Chaos theory has a lot to say about how nature works, including our minds.

Do Others Know You Better Than You Know Yourself?

It is unsettling to think that others might know us better than we know ourselves. Turns out these worries are overstated.

A Simple Proof that Consciousness Is Necessary

The experience of consciousness is powerful and obligatory (when you wake up in the morning). Yet, it is difficult to prove that consciousness even exists. I think there is a way, though, and it is surprisingly simple.

Abducted Inferences

The advent of neuromarketing raises specters of high-tech mind-reading and the manipulation of consumer behavior. After reading a recent review, I expect that some of our preferences will remain private, at least for now.

Voodoo Causation

Brain scientists look for material causes of mind. The idea that once you see the brain at work you’ve hit epistemological paydirt is seductive—but not quite right.

Numb and Number

When you have to give up logic to score points for free will, you should know that you are in trouble. Celebrity scholars Pinker and Kaku have no such compunction. Watch them on youtube and read my two cents.

No Guide For the Perplexed

This is a requiem to the vanishing American pedestrian. His demise is accompanied by strange atavistic occurrences. Are these the signs of the Apocalypse?

Cold Comfort In Compatibilism

Let’s declare the libertarian (incompatibilist) argument for free will dead. That leaves the watered-down, muddled, stir-fried, compatibilist argument. This too leaves me dyspeptic. Though logically superior to the libertarian argument, the compatibilist argument invites abuse by moralists.

Taking Your Punishment Is Not Enough

The degree of excitement over the re-discovery of free will in modern psychology is proportionate to the depth of amnesia regarding medieval scholarship. It’s all been said.