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.
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.
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.
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.
Reading Nietzsche and considering the relevance of his thoughts for contemporary psychology is not a project for the weekend. For me, it’s been taking years. Here, I offer a selection of quotes from "Daybreak."
The decision to bid in an auction and to select the size of one’s bid is frustratingly difficult. The problem is that the other decision-makers are facing exactly the same situation. Game theory can help conceptualize what’s going on, but its recommendation for what to do, though mathematically tractable, remains opaque to the potential user.
Cooperation in non-cooperative games remains the bugaboo of game theory. Ken Binmore’s (2007) otherwise great book trembles between suggesting that cooperation does not exist, that it does exist but is random, and that the games are not non-cooperative after all. Game theory – shame theory.
The power to say no is – unfortunately – often stronger than the power to say yes. Whereas the latter can only propose, the former can nullify. Playing with game theory, though, I find reasons for hope. The veto, it seems, is weaker than advertised.
Many value social cooperation, yet feel the temptations of selfishness and fear the selfishness of others. Some behavioral economists suggest that compassion can tip the scales in favor of cooperation, but I fear that it is not enough. Self-based social projection must be part of the mix.
Research shows that assets loom larger when net worth is negative, whereas debts loom larger when net worth is positive. I review the findings and show how a simple and unbiased heuristic can account for them.
Rick Steves travels a lot in Europe and is followed around by a camera crew. I travel alone with a Nikon in my bag. Visiting Italy for a teaching gig raises a stream of psychological issues—most of them pleasant.
If judgmental heuristics such as representativeness yield acceptable results most of the time, perhaps we should not fight so hard to keep them at bay. In this essay, I provide some background for a story on debiasing, which is yet to come.
Questions of psychological interest pop up everywhere. My approach to blogging is promiscuous, opportunistic, and heterodox. I comment on a variety of issues, ranging from animal behavior to the human experience of guilt and happiness to philosophy of science. I draw on personal experience, recent public events such as movies or media debacles, and of course the peer-reviewed archive of our field.