Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “talk psych”

Psychology’s Zombie Ideas

Paul Krugman’s Arguing with Zombies (2020) identifies “zombie ideas”—repeatedly refuted ideas that refuse to die. He offers economic zombie ideas that survive to continue eating people’s brains: “Tax cuts pay for themselves.” “The budget deficit is our biggest economic problem.”…

Mitt Romney and the Social Psychology of Dissent

In a long-ago experiment by Columbia University social psychologist Stanley Schachter, groups discussed how to deal with fictional juvenile delinquent “Johnny Rocco.” One “modal” group member (actually Schachter’s accomplice) concurred with the others in arguing for leniency and became well…

Cognitive Dissonance Rides Again: How We Justify Our Own—and Our Nation’s—Acts

Cognitive dissonance theory—one of social psychology’s gifts to human self-understanding—offers several intriguing predictions, including this: When we act in ways inconsistent with our attitudes or beliefs, we often resolve that dissonance by changing our thinking. Attitudes follow behavior.   That…

Disabilities We Seldom Notice

If you have watched a 2019 Democratic Party debate, you perhaps have taken note: While Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker glide smoothly through their spoken words, Joe Biden sometimes hesitates, stammers, and stumbles. Is he just less mentally…

The Illusion of Understanding

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.”   This wisdom, often attributed to American historian Daniel Boorstin, suggests a sister aphorism: The great enemy of democracy is not ill will, but the illusion of…

“Can You Repeat the Question?” Was Robert Mueller Exhibiting Age-Related Cognitive Decline—or Hearing Loss?

On 48 occasions during his recent testimony regarding Russian election interference, former special counsel Robert Mueller—seeming “confused,” “uncertain,” and “forgetful”—asked to have questions repeated. Was Mueller, who turns 75 this week, exhibiting, as so many pundits surmised, “cognitive aging” or…

The Joy of Being Wrong

What virtue is more needed in today’s contentious and polarized world than humility? We need deep-rooted convictions to fuel our passions, but also humility to restrain bull-headed fanaticism.   Along with curiosity and skepticism, humility forms the foundation of all…