Essential Reads

Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 06, 2018 in Talking Apes
Belief in conspiracy theories can satisfy important psychological needs for some people. We need to understand this first before confronting a believer with facts.
Pixabay

Insects Are the Canaries In Our Coal Mine

We may loathe many of them, but it will be much harder to feed us if they are gone.

On Accepting the Truth About Our Own Species

By David P. Barash Ph.D. on December 17, 2017 in Pura Vida
We are indeed special — at least in our own minds. The greater specialness — confirmed by science — is that we're organic and... ordinary!

Santa Claus Is No Longer Coming to Town

Should you be sad when your child discovers the truth? A different way of looking at your child's growing mind.

More Posts on Magical Thinking

Let's Commend Fact-Based Thinking: Except With Alcohol

By Stanton Peele Ph.D. on January 17, 2018 in Addiction in Society
Kurt Andersen hates irrationality, except when it comes to alcohol.

You've Got the Magic Touch

If you're a hardcore NPR listener like I am, you may have heard the Morning Edition show with Michelle Trudeau talking about the health-promoting properties of touch.

How to Win Mindless Loyalty

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 28, 2017 in Ambigamy
Wouldn't it be fun to have people who think you're right no matter what you think or do? A little dangerous, perhaps, but fun. Here's how to get it.

Superstition: Quirky Beliefs or Psychopathology?

Is superstition just anxiety in disguise?

Adaptation? It's Way Different For Humans

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 21, 2017 in Ambigamy
Adaptation—good fit to reality—is as old as life but very different for humans given our power of language. Here we imagine a beginner's guide for us newfangled language users.

The Lessons of Time Travel in "Dark" and "Twin Peaks"

By Jean Kim M.D. on December 18, 2017 in Culture Shrink
Time travel is popular in recent TV shows like Netflix's "Dark" and "Twin Peaks" and reflects our internal anxiety about death and loss and lack of control in our lives.

Moral Relativism Is Tricky, but Smarter Than the Alternative

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 09, 2017 in Ambigamy
When push comes to shove, we dig in our heels, pretending that nature or the supernatural stands for what we stand for. That's a problem worth keeping an eye on.

Mental Masturbation Deserves More Appreciation

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 30, 2017 in Ambigamy
We can't help but fantasize, often with great vision often with dangerous delusion. Since right or wrong, fantasy is our human birthright, we have to get good at it. Here's how.

Magical Thinking and Unloved Daughters: Childhood and Beyond

By Peg Streep on November 13, 2017 in Tech Support
What helps you escape from an unhappy childhood — the power of your imagination — may get in the way of your recovery in adulthood.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Seeing Ghosts in Your Bedroom? It's Sleep Paralysis

By Temma Ehrenfeld on November 07, 2017 in Open Gently
Some people wake up briefly paralyzed, seeing ghosts, or feeling themselves hovering over their bodies. Here's what is probably going on.

Is Science a Religion?

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on October 30, 2017 in Excellent Beauty
It is common to hear that science is another religion. This view is wrong in all the ways that matter.

Decide to Be Fine: A Supernatural Contract to Keep Fighting

“Decide to be fine til the end of the week. Make yourself smile because you’re alive and it’s your job. And do it again the next week.” Do no-harm contracts help us keep fighting?

Kid Killers

By Joni E Johnston Psy.D. on October 22, 2017 in The Human Equation
In 2014, two social-media savvy 12 year old girls tried to kill a classmate to appease an imaginary internet horror figure. How typical is this of kids who kill?

Science Progressively Modifies Our Understanding of Agency

Do the increasing restrictions that the sciences' successes impose on agent explanations apply even to human agency?

15 Things To Know About Food: The Truth Nobody Tells You

Kale is overrated. Don't kid yourself. It's a fad. Next we'll be eating plankton, and they'll be telling us to sieve it through our teeth like whales. Have coffee and a bagel.

Death and Transhumanism

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on September 30, 2017 in More Than Mortal
As people become less traditionally religious do they become more interested techno-religions that use science to solve the problem of death?

A Psycho-Proctologist Speaks: What Makes an Ass an Ass?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 30, 2017 in Ambigamy
Psycho-proctology, the study of what makes an ass, focuses on the question of our age: What do Trump, Kim Jong Un, Putin, Stalin, trolls & your jerk ex-partner all have in common?

Science Class Isn't Working

By Karl Albrecht Ph.D. on September 29, 2017 in BrainSnacks
It appears that more Americans prefer to believe in creationism, angels, and UFOs than in climate change and evolution.

Answer Me This: Why Are Americans So Depressed?

By Stanton Peele Ph.D. on September 14, 2017 in Addiction in Society
We are growing more depressed, with young people in the lead, and our pharmaceutical response is obviously not working. How about psychedelics?

Becoming a Patient

Ever wonder why physicians delay going for help for themselves? Here are some answers.
Flickriver

The Therapist As Saint or Sinner

Therapists must learn how to handle the projections of their clients -- negative and positive -- with sensitivity and curiosity if they are to learn what is behind them.

Neither Ghost Nor Machine: The Emergence and Nature of Us

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 02, 2017 in Ambigamy
The biggest gap in psychology finally filled, an explanation for why things matter to you but not to your computer, bed or car.

America's Myopioid Epidemic

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 25, 2017 in Ambigamy
Myopium: Myopic (short-sighted) beliefs turning people into closed-minded fanatics, high on themselves, unrealistic about the future.

Wedding Madness

By Brenda Berger Ph.D. on July 23, 2017 in Hearts and Minds
At a moment of promising oneself to another, uncertainty and anxiety are masked by elaborate, and sometimes charming, strategies to secure the fantasy of a perfect wedding.

Matter- but Not Mind-blind—and Vice Versa

By Christopher Badcock Ph.D. on July 12, 2017 in The Imprinted Brain
A pioneering study shows mentalism to vary inversely with mechanistic cognition as predicted by the diametric model.
Manu Praba / Wikipedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Be(lie)ve It or Not: Part One

Is belief a psychological condition? Why do we believe what we believe? What does belief mean? Is it many things?

Americans Intoxicated

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on July 01, 2017 in A Swim in Denial
It’s an angry era in America. Instead of debating who’s right or wrong, let’s ask what kinds of work anger is doing for Americans now? And what's behind it?

A Possible Sign from God That He (It) Exists

By Izzy Kalman on June 14, 2017 in Resilience to Bullying
Could it be that a familiar cosmic illusion considered by scientists to be a pure coincidence is actually a clever sign from God to mankind that He exists?

Christianity Is Dying in the United Kingdom

Latest study shows that Christianity in Britain is in deep decline.

What’s Your Anti-Gravity Strategy?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 04, 2017 in Ambigamy
People seek transcendence by many means. Some come bundled with belief in supernatural magic at odds with science. Scientists can do more to help resolve the tension.