Conservatives Are Dumber, and Smarter, Than Liberals

Democrats are fond of declaring that those who vote Republican are on the shorter end of the bus.

Be All That You Can Be, and Then Some

When does cognitive enhancement compromise authenticity?
Advertising Is Magic

Advertising Is Magic

It's been said that advertising is a form of sorcery. Consider the use of brand logos. Symbols bring reality into being.

Impossible Experiments

What psychology experiment would you love to carry out if neither ethics nor practical reality stood in your way? For the August issue of Psychology Today, I asked several PT bloggers this question and printed four responses. Here's a more complete roundup of their insights.

His Holiness, Steve Jobs

What should Apple do when Steve Jobs departs? Take a hint from the Dalai Lama.

Why Do Women Have Erotic Rape Fantasies?

A recent analysis of 20 studies indicates that between 31% and 57% of women have rape fantasies, and these fantasies are frequent or preferred in 9% to 17% of women.

The Greatest Magic Trick Ever, Part II: The Great Selfini

In a recent post I argued that free will is an illusion. Even if I convinced you, why does the illusion still work?

Read This Post for Good Luck. Seriously.

The psychology of viral emails.Plus: Is it against the law to jinx a baseball team?

The Greatest Magic Trick Ever, Part I

There's one magic trick we are fooled by consistently, every day. It's so convincing that most people don't even believe it's a trick, and even those who do are STILL fooled by it. What is it?

Is Psychology Today as bad as Maxim?

Maxim provides a perfect specimen of BS in journalism. But wait, have I committed the same sin?

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

What do Barack Obama and televangelist Benny Hinn have in common? Take a look:

Prostitution: Older than Man

In the wake of Spitzergate, many people have wondered whether prostitution really is the oldest profession. Well, not only is it older than prop comedy; it's older than man.

Ask iGod

In my last post, I explained how magical thinking might help us navigate cyberspace. But there are several cases where we've already jumped the gun in attributing powers to our tech toys.

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a God

Magical thinking--typically considered an archaic mode of cognition that populates the world with animistic forces, hidden dimensions, and evocative incantations--may actually serve us well in the future as we navigate an existence increasingly mediated by digital information.

Lost in Translation

In 1937, a long-lost Vermeer was revealed at auction, heralded by experts as one of the Dutch painter's greatest works. Only it wasn't a Vermeer at all. A man named Han van Meegeren had produced this and many other expensive forgeries. Once he stepped forward, their value dropped like the jaws on his customers. Why?

Beware Geeks Bearing Gifts

Open source projects are like high-tech barn-raising. There's been some recent and salacious speculation on the motivations of Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, but what motivates us mortals to contribute to open source enterprises? And do people who write code for software projects like Firefox have different drives than people who contribute content to projects like Wikipedia?

Chemistry with Conan

Based on a friend's tip, I just watched a YouTube clip of Christina Ricci's interview on Conan last night. It includes what I believe to be not only the best plug for Psychology Today but the best explanation of the major immunohistocompatibility complex (MHC) that a Hollywood starlet has even given on a late night talk show.

The Onion Gets It Right, Volume 1

We all know most jokes have a kernel of truth. On the train this morning I spotted two in the following headline from The Onion: "Man Who Should Be President Has Asymmetrical Eyebrows"

Fear and Loathing: On The Campaign Trail '08

Last month I asked Harry Frankfurt, author of On Bullshit, about instances of malarkey in the news. He provided a juicy example.

Hunter the Bullfighter

Recently I saw a short lecture titled "Not Always BS: A Simple Explanation of Statistics." That's funny, because there was some BS.

Joking by Numbers

On Monday I mentioned my habit of deconstructing humor. In the current issue of Psychology Today there's an interview with Bob Mankoff, The New Yorker's cartoon editor, where I ask him "Are there formulas for funny?"

The Copycat Unconscious

Considering how lazy many e-daters are, and how clever many other e-daters are, it should come as no surprise that plagiarism runs rampant in the online dating world.

I Am Awesome for Unspecified Reasons!

It's funny to me that Dan Ariely & co. are using HOTorNOT for research purposes. First, because I didn't realize that site was still around. Second, because a few years ago, when I was a HoN profile moderator (responsible for viewing people's submitted pics and personal statements and approving or rejecting them), I emailed a friend, "After painfully reading over 1000 profiles I think I could write a sociology dissertation on it." Also: "I have gained a tragic glimpse into the heart of human nature."

Retail Therapy Explained

There are many valid forms of therapy that bring lasting happiness. Retail therapy is not one of them. You may love your brand new porcelain owl, but it won't solve your life's problems. A new study suggests why sadness makes us want to buy: increased self-focus. Low moods cause us to turn inward, and as we reflect we devalue ourselves. So to enhance ourselves we buy more stuff, whether it's porcelain woodland creatures, or needlepoint woodland creatures.

Royal Family

It's beautiful to see a parent pass his passion down to his offspring.


The New York Times has an article this morning ("Economists Dissect the ‘Yuck’ Factor") about the role that disgust plays in moral intuitions. We've evolved to judge that things are wrong if they feel unnatural somehow.