Politics Essential Reads

Moving Beyond Science vs. Religion

Ignorance underlies most claims about the conflict between science and religion

The Uses of Shame

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on May 20, 2015 in Shame
In different ways, the religious right and the liberal left both make use of shame to enforce their values.

Fugitive Facts Escape from APA Headquarters

By Roy Eidelson Ph.D. on May 18, 2015 in Dangerous Ideas
As they wait for an investigator’s report, APA leaders claim that they’ve already refuted allegations of collusion in the Bush Administration’s abusive “enhanced interrogation program.” Such pretense is a disservice to APA members, to the profession as a whole, and to the public at large.

Democracy and the Pro-social Impulse

Governments answerable to the people can exist only due to the fact that we’re emotional, social creatures, not isolated, rational, strictly selfish individuals. A better appreciation of human nature can help us secure a democratic future.

The Delusion of a Savior Nuclear and Otherwise

By David P. Barash Ph.D. on May 17, 2015 in Pura Vida
It's a common delusion: there exists a potential savior that/who will swoop in and rescue us. This error is depicted in a fascinating new sci fi novel, even as it is acted out in today's nuclear policies.

Emotional Ideologies

By Eyal Winter on May 08, 2015 in Feeling Smart
We vote out of passion and not out of reasoning

Role of Youth: Countering Violent Extremism, Promoting Peace

By Scott Atran Ph.D. on May 05, 2015 in In Gods We Trust
An anthropologist addresses the UN Security Council.

The APA Relied on the CIA for Ethical Guidance

By Roy Eidelson Ph.D. on May 05, 2015 in Dangerous Ideas
Last week’s release of previously undisclosed emails provides further evidence of the American Psychological Association’s extensive and secret involvement with the CIA and White House in crafting ethics policies that permitted psychologists to participate in abusive “war on terror” detention and interrogation operations.

Couldn't Have Said It Better: Baltimore Riots 2015

A short piece that explains why some of the responses in the media to the Baltimore riots feel particularly damning to Black Americans, especially when considered in context.

A Palestinian Gandhi

By Izzy Kalman on April 21, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
Where are the "Palestinian Gandhis"? Ali Abu Awwad is a one of them, and there are more. However, we don't hear about them, and their effectiveness is limited, because the media are more attracted to violence than nonviolence. Thus, rather than helping promote peace, reporters unwittingly encourage violent activism.

Dealing with Difficult People: Lessons from Iran and Cuba

By Aldo Civico Ph.D. on April 14, 2015 in Turning Point
What can the meeting between Barack Obama and Raul Castro and the framework agreement between the United States and Iran teach us to deal with difficult people?

Hillary Clinton's Social Media Challenge

Obama was the classic Underdog archetype. Social media wasn’t his communications vehicle, it was part of his story. Don’t ask if Hillary Clinton will have a social media advantage because Obama did or if the Republicans will ever get it right. Ask if Hillary can adapt her archetype to social.

The APA and Guantanamo: Actions, Not Words

By Roy Eidelson Ph.D. on April 07, 2015 in Dangerous Ideas
APA leaders have an abysmal track record when it comes to meaningful action that runs counter to the Pentagon’s own policies on detention and interrogation operations. Time and again in these situations, the APA has trumpeted its commitment to psychology’s do-no-harm ethics but then retreated into the shadows when those principled words required principled actions.

Atheists Love Aliens

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on April 02, 2015 in More Than Mortal
Many atheists would argue that they do not believe in something unless there is a good reason for doing so. But is this true?

Does It Really Matter Where You Go to College?

If you want to be a leader in society, where you go to school probably matters. A good college, after all, might increase the likelihood of your success. When parents worry about which school their kids go to, they may be acting quite rationally.

A Tipping Point: We've Finally Noticed Boys' Struggles

For several years now a bipartisan group, which includes experts in the area of boys’ issues and fatherhood—and many of these are women, some of whom strongly identify as feminists—has been pushing for a White House Council on Boys and Men which would parallel the one that President Obama established for women and girls shortly after he took office in 2009.

Obama and Netanyahu in Family Therapy

After the initial evaluation and assessment, the therapist identified three classic family dysfunctions that exist in the relationship between Barack and Bibi: enmeshment, triangulation, and emotional cut-offs.

Should I Keep My Firstborn an Only Child?

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on March 19, 2015 in Singletons
In terms of the level of education, aspirations and achievement, firstborns and only children excel. Of the 12 men who walked on the moon, all were firstborns or only children. What gives firstborns and only children this distinct advantage?

Guidance Counselors Should Reconsider the Gap Year

Research shows that gap years contribute to college success. So, why are college guidance counselors discouraged from suggesting them, even when they are in the best interest of the student? More importantly, how do we fix this?

Women Like Men With Big Medals

By Gregg Murray Ph.D. on March 15, 2015 in Caveman Politics
If our basic drive is to survive and reproduce, why do men, who have been the primary war fighters throughout human history, volunteer to subject themselves to the life-threatening dangers of war?

The 'Other' Marshmallow Test

The tower building exercise - and its marshmallow - reveals another secret of successful human behavior, in this case for mental health professionals: when we put the goals of our patients first and foremost, they are going to be more effective, and so will we.

When Do Religious Values Harm Children? When Do They Help?

When children's mental health is put in danger because of religious intolerance, there are good reasons for mental health professionals to argue for what's right. Gay-straight alliances save children's lives. And religious tolerance for practices like the wearing of a niqab improves social cohesion.

Collusion? Where the APA Investigator Should Look

By Roy Eidelson Ph.D. on March 11, 2015 in Dangerous Ideas
There have been many allegations that the American Psychological Association colluded with the Bush Administration to support the use of psychologists in abusive detention and interrogation operations. APA’s standard response has followed the CIA’s unofficial motto: “Admit nothing. Deny everything. Make counter-accusations.” But now an investigation is finally underway.

Understanding the Islamic State - A Fool's Errand?

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on February 28, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
Attempts to identify the beliefs that define the "validity" of any religion are doomed to fail because of our own cognitive biases and the nature of religion itself.

Can Law Improve People's Lives?

Can law make people's lives better? The answer is yes, and treating mental illness more effectively is one place to start.

Do Generations Exist?

By Steven Mintz Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in The Prime of Life
Is it misleading to speak about a self-absorbed “Me Generation” or jaded, cynical GenXers, overeducated and underemployed?

How New Payment Technology Can Manipulate You

By Nir Eyal on February 23, 2015 in Automatic You
Digital payment systems use subtle tactics to increase tips, and while it’s certainly good for hard-working service workers, it may not be so good for your wallet. Here's the hidden psychology of why you unconsciously pay more.

“Islamic Extremism” vs “Violent Extremism”

By Neil Farber M.D, Ph.D. on February 20, 2015 in The Blame Game
Some refuse to use the term "Islamic Extremists" to describe the terrorist group, ISIS, calling them "Violent Extremists." By attributing cause and accountability, we are better able to define who they are, delineate their mission and goals, and derive solutions to stop them. Naming them DOES NOT blame, or indict non-violent Muslims - not guilt by religious association.

Conflicted Putin

By Zachary Shore D.Phil on February 10, 2015 in Judgment Calls
The Munich security conference revealed divisions within the Western camp. What does this period reveal about divisions within President Putin?

What Is Mindfulness and How Does It Work?

By Gregg Henriques on February 06, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
Mindfulness is one of the most important developments in mental health in the past twenty years. Understand what it is and how it works.