Category Archives: Psychology

They’re Not Lying

Do you have friends who say things that are obviously wrong? Maybe it’s politics, religion, gender, or some other touchy subject. This might help: Your friends aren’t lying. And they’re not evil, either, unless you have very bad judgment about … Continue reading

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Can We Measure the Quality of Debates?

As an undergraduate mathematics major, I had to take three semesters of statistics. I’m pretty good at mathematics, but statistics is a different animal. To adapt the famous last words of English actor Edmund Gwenn, “Mathematics is easy. Statistics is … Continue reading

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Why My Father Was Never Sick

In “Unbreakable” (2000), Bruce Willis played a middle-aged man who discovered that he was an invulnerable superhero. Obviously, superhero movies require our suspension of disbelief. In “Unbreakable,” the hardest thing to believe was not that Willis’s character was invulnerable, or … Continue reading

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A Tool’s Got to Know Its Limitations

What do DNA, psychological questionnaires, and my new car have in common? DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule in which plants and animals encode the basic characteristics of their bodies. It’s what makes a rose a rose instead of a … Continue reading

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Visit a Foreign Country

“The past is a foreign country,” advised British novelist L.P. Hartley. And it’s true: Most of us have quite enough trouble keeping up with the present. We’re too busy to think much about the past. Of course, there are different … Continue reading

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Abnormal Isn’t Normal, But It’s OK

“Abnormal” is not an insult. And “normal” is not a compliment. People bend over backwards these days to avoid calling anything “abnormal.” Apparently they think it might hurt someone’s feelings. For example, Robert Plomin’s recent book about human DNA argues … Continue reading

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Not Hard To See It Coming

Viewed from 2018, the world of pre-9/11 America looks like a model of peace and sanity. It wasn’t, of course, but compared to what we’ve had since then, it seems that way. As of now, America’s crisis du jour is … Continue reading

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