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Posts published in “talk psych”

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…

Showerthoughts

Part of my text-writing pleasure is interjecting playful thoughts and tongue-in-cheek one-liners that students seem to enjoy: “Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?” (If I don’t enjoy writing—assuming psychology teaching can offer both wisdom and wit—then who will enjoy…

Out of Many, One

Perhaps you, too, feel it like never before—intense contempt for your political opposites. National Election Surveys reveal that U.S. Republicans and Democrats who hate the other party each soared from 20% in 2000 to near 50% in 2016. Small wonder,…

Does Social Media Use Help Explain Rising Rates of Depression and Self-Harm among Teen Girls?

Consider two facts:   Worldwide, smartphones and easier social media access exploded starting in 2010. Consider U.S. smartphone-use (and its projected future): Simultaneously—and coincidentally?—teen girls’ rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide have mushroomed (for Canadian, American, and British sample…

Chance Encounters and the Story of Life

With so many trillions of daily happenings, some weird and wonderful events are inevitable—random serendipities that we could never predict in foresight but can savor in hindsight. From sports to relationships to our very existence, chance rules.   Sports. I…

Grim News, Good News, and Gendered News from Today’s Teens

What are today’s U.S. teens feeling and doing? And how do they differ from the teens of a decade ago?   A new Pew Research Center survey of nearly a thousand 13- to 17-year-olds offers both troubling and encouraging insights…