cshalizi + psychology   176

From speech and talkers to the social world: The neural processing of human spoken language | Science
"Human speech perception is a paradigm example of the complexity of human linguistic processing; however, it is also the dominant way of expressing vocal identity and is critically important for social interactions. Here, I review the ways that the speech, the talker, and the social nature of speech interact and how this may be computed in the human brain, using models and approaches from nonhuman primate studies. I explore the extent to which domain-general approaches may be able to account for some of these neural findings. Finally, I address the importance of extending these findings into a better understanding of the social use of speech in conversations."
to:NB  linguistics  neuroscience  perception  social_life_of_the_mind  psychology 
yesterday by cshalizi
Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal - Anthony J Pelosi, 2019
"During the 1980s and 1990s, Hans J Eysenck conducted a programme of research into the causes, prevention and treatment of fatal diseases in collaboration with one of his protégés, Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. This led to what must be the most astonishing series of findings ever published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature with effect sizes that have never otherwise been encounterered in biomedical research. This article outlines just some of these reported findings and signposts readers to extremely serious scientific and ethical criticisms that were published almost three decades ago. Confidential internal documents that have become available as a result of litigation against tobacco companies provide additional insights into this work. It is suggested that this research programme has led to one of the worst scientific scandals of all time. A call is made for a long overdue formal inquiry."

--- But everything he did on IQ is scientifically unimpeachable, I'm sure.
to:NB  have_read  eysneck.hans_j.  utter_stupidity  bad_science  epidemiology  psychology 
9 days ago by cshalizi
The Return of the Repressed: The Persistent and Problematic Claims of Long-Forgotten Trauma - Henry Otgaar, Mark L. Howe, Lawrence Patihis, Harald Merckelbach, Steven Jay Lynn, Scott O. Lilienfeld, Elizabeth F. Loftus,
"Can purely psychological trauma lead to a complete blockage of autobiographical memories? This long-standing question about the existence of repressed memories has been at the heart of one of the most heated debates in modern psychology. These so-called memory wars originated in the 1990s, and many scholars have assumed that they are over. We demonstrate that this assumption is incorrect and that the controversial issue of repressed memories is alive and well and may even be on the rise. We review converging research and data from legal cases indicating that the topic of repressed memories remains active in clinical, legal, and academic settings. We show that the belief in repressed memories occurs on a nontrivial scale (58%) and appears to have increased among clinical psychologists since the 1990s. We also demonstrate that the scientifically controversial concept of dissociative amnesia, which we argue is a substitute term for memory repression, has gained in popularity. Finally, we review work on the adverse side effects of certain psychotherapeutic techniques, some of which may be linked to the recovery of repressed memories. The memory wars have not vanished. They have continued to endure and contribute to potentially damaging consequences in clinical, legal, and academic contexts."
to:NB  to_read  psychoceramics  memory  psychology  oh_for_crying_out_loud 
9 days ago by cshalizi
[1909.07186] Graph learning: How humans infer and represent networks
"Humans communicate, receive, and store information using sequences of items -- from words in a sentence or notes in music to abstract concepts in lectures and books. The networks formed by these items (nodes) and the sequential transitions between them (edges) encode important structural features of human communication and knowledge. But how do humans learn the networks of probabilistic transitions that underlie sequences of items? Moreover, what do people's internal maps of these networks look like? Here, we introduce graph learning, a growing and interdisciplinary field focused on studying how humans learn and represent networks in the world around them. We begin by describing established results from statistical learning showing that humans are adept at detecting differences in the transition probabilities between items in a sequence. We next present recent experiments that directly control for differences in transition probabilities, demonstrating that human behavior also depends critically on the abstract network structure of transitions. Finally, we present computational models that researchers have proposed to explain the effects of network structure on human behavior and cognition. Throughout, we highlight a number of exciting open questions in the study of graph learning that will require creative insights from cognitive scientists and network scientists alike."
to:NB  graphical_models  cognitive_science  psychology  psychology_by_physicists  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  bassett.danielle 
25 days ago by cshalizi
Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment
"The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) is one of psychology’s most famous studies. It has been criticized on many grounds, and yet a majority of textbook authors have ignored these criticisms in their discussions of the SPE, thereby misleading both students and the general public about the study’s questionable scientific validity. Data collected from a thorough investigation of the SPE archives and interviews with 15 of the participants in the experiment further question the study’s scientific merit. These data are not only supportive of previous criticisms of the SPE, such as the presence of demand characteristics, but provide new criticisms of the SPE based on heretofore unknown information. These new criticisms include the biased and incomplete collection of data, the extent to which the SPE drew on a prison experiment devised and conducted by students in one of Zimbardo’s classes 3 months earlier, the fact that the guards received precise instructions regarding the treatment of the prisoners, the fact that the guards were not told they were subjects, and the fact that participants were almost never completely immersed by the situation. Possible explanations of the inaccurate textbook portrayal and general misperception of the SPE’s scientific validity over the past 5 decades, in spite of its flaws and shortcomings, are discussed."

--- Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/mjhnp/
to:NB  psychology  experimental_psychology  debunking 
10 weeks ago by cshalizi
Competitive Frontoparietal Interactions Mediate Implicit Inferences | Journal of Neuroscience
"Frequent experience with regularities in our environment allows us to use predictive information to guide our decision process. However, contingencies in our environment are not always explicitly present and sometimes need to be inferred. Heretofore, it remained unknown how predictive information guides decision-making when explicit knowledge is absent and how the brain shapes such implicit inferences. In the present experiment, 17 human participants (9 females) performed a discrimination task in which a target stimulus was preceded by a predictive cue. Critically, participants had no explicit knowledge that some of the cues signaled an upcoming target, allowing us to investigate how implicit inferences emerge and guide decision-making. Despite unawareness of the cue–target contingencies, participants were able to use implicit information to improve performance. Concurrent EEG recordings demonstrate that implicit inferences rely upon interactions between internally and externally oriented networks, whereby prefrontal regions inhibit parietal cortex under internal implicit control."
to:NB  psychology  neuroscience  cognitive_science 
10 weeks ago by cshalizi
now publishers - The Bias Bias in Behavioral Economics
"Behavioral economics began with the intention of eliminating the psychological blind spot in rational choice theory and ended up portraying psychology as the study of irrationality. In its portrayal, people have systematic cognitive biases that are not only as persistent as visual illusions but also costly in real life—meaning that governmental paternalism is called upon to steer people with the help of “nudges.” These biases have since attained the status of truisms. In contrast, I show that such a view of human nature is tainted by a “bias bias,” the tendency to spot biases even when there are none. This may occur by failing to notice when small sample statistics differ from large sample statistics, mistaking people’s random error for systematic error, or confusing intelligent inferences with logical errors. Unknown to most economists, much of psychological research reveals a different portrayal, where people appear to have largely fine-tuned intuitions about chance, frequency, and framing. A systematic review of the literature shows little evidence that the alleged biases are potentially costly in terms of less health, wealth, or happiness. Getting rid of the bias bias is a precondition for psychology to play a positive role in economics."
in_NB  gigerenzer.gerd  cognitive_science  decision-making  behavioral_economics  psychology  heuristics  rationality  via:gelman  have_read  re:anti-nudge 
10 weeks ago by cshalizi
Political double standards in reliance on moral foundations
"Prior research using the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) has established that political ideology is associated with self-reported reliance on specific moral foundations in moral judgments of acts. MFQ items do not specify the agents involved in the acts, however. By specifying agents in MFQ items we revealed blatant political double standards. Conservatives thought that the same moral foundation was more relevant if victims were agents that they like (i.e., corporations and other conservatives) but less relevant when the same agents were perpetrators. Liberals showed the same pattern for agents that they like (i.e., news media and other liberals). A UK sample showed much weaker political double standards with respect to corporations and news media, consistent with feelings about corporations and news media being much less politicized in the UK than in the US. We discuss the implications for moral foundations theory."
to:NB  psychology  moral_psychology  us_politics 
11 weeks ago by cshalizi
Right-wing ideology and numeracy: A perception of greater ability, but poorer performance
"Right-wing ideology and cognitive ability, including objective numeracy, have been found to relate negatively. Although objective and subjective numeracy correlate positively, it is unclear whether subjective numeracy relates to political ideology in the same way. Replicating and extending previous research, across two samples of American adults (ns= 455, 406), those who performed worse on objective numeracy tasks scored higher on right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO), and they self-identified as more conservative on general, social, and economic continua. Controlling for objective numeracy, subjective numeracy related positively to measures of right-wing ideologies. In other words, those who strongly (vs. weakly) endorsed right-wing ideologies believed they are good with numbers yet performed worse on numeracy tasks. We discuss implications for the opposing direction of associations between ideology with objective versus subjective numeracy and similarities with literature on overconfidence."
to:NB  psychology  running_dogs_of_reaction  numeracy 
11 weeks ago by cshalizi
Psychiatry and Its Discontents by Andrew Scull - Hardcover - University of California Press
"Written by one of the world’s most distinguished historians of psychiatry, Psychiatry and Its Discontents provides a wide-ranging and critical perspective on the profession that dominates the treatment of mental illness. Andrew Scull traces the rise of the field, the midcentury hegemony of psychoanalytic methods, and the paradigm’s decline with the ascendance of biological and pharmaceutical approaches to mental illness. The book’s historical sweep is broad, ranging from the age of the asylum to the rise of psychopharmacology and the dubious triumphs of “community care.” The essays in Psychiatry and Its Discontents provide a vivid and compelling portrait of the recurring crises of legitimacy experienced by “mad-doctors,” as psychiatrists were once called, and illustrates the impact of psychiatry’s ideas and interventions on the lives of those afflicted with mental illness."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_medicine  history_of_ideas  psychiatry  psychology 
11 weeks ago by cshalizi
Invisible Companions: Encounters with Imaginary Friends, Gods, Ancestors, and Angels | J. Bradley Wigger
"From the US to Nepal, author J. Bradley Wigger travels five countries on three continents to hear children describe their invisible friends—one-hundred-year-old robins and blue dogs, dinosaurs and teapots, pretend families and shape-shifting aliens—companions springing from the deep well of childhood imagination. Drawing on these interviews, as well as a new wave of developmental research, he finds a fluid and flexible quality to the imaginative mind that is central to learning, co-operation, and paradoxically, to real-world rationality. Yet Wigger steps beyond psychological territory to explore the religious significance of the kind of mind that develops relationships with invisible beings. Alongside Cinderella the blue dog, Quack-Quack the duck, and Dino the dinosaur are angels, ancestors, spirits, and gods. What he uncovers is a profound capacity in the religious imagination to see through the surface of reality to more than meets the eye. Punctuated throughout by children's colorful drawings of their see-through interlocutors, the book is highly engaging and alternately endearing, moving, and humorous. Not just for parents or for those who work with children, Invisible Companions will appeal to anyone interested in our mind's creative and spiritual possibilities."
to:NB  books:noted  imagination  cognitive_development  psychology  religion 
12 weeks ago by cshalizi
[1906.01040] A Surprising Density of Illusionable Natural Speech
"Recent work on adversarial examples has demonstrated that most natural inputs can be perturbed to fool even state-of-the-art machine learning systems. But does this happen for humans as well? In this work, we investigate: what fraction of natural instances of speech can be turned into "illusions" which either alter humans' perception or result in different people having significantly different perceptions? We first consider the McGurk effect, the phenomenon by which adding a carefully chosen video clip to the audio channel affects the viewer's perception of what is said (McGurk and MacDonald, 1976). We obtain empirical estimates that a significant fraction of both words and sentences occurring in natural speech have some susceptibility to this effect. We also learn models for predicting McGurk illusionability. Finally we demonstrate that the Yanny or Laurel auditory illusion (Pressnitzer et al., 2018) is not an isolated occurrence by generating several very different new instances. We believe that the surprising density of illusionable natural speech warrants further investigation, from the perspectives of both security and cognitive science. Supplementary videos are available"
in_NB  adversarial_examples  psychology  linguistics 
june 2019 by cshalizi
The Neurocognitive Bases of Human Volition | Annual Review of Psychology
"Volition refers to a capacity for endogenous action, particularly goal-directed endogenous action, shared by humans and some other animals. It has long been controversial whether a specific set of cognitive processes for volition exist in the human brain, and much scientific thinking on the topic continues to revolve around traditional metaphysical debates about free will. At its origins, scientific psychology had a strong engagement with volition. This was followed by a period of disenchantment, or even outright hostility, during the second half of the twentieth century. In this review, I aim to reinvigorate the scientific approach to volition by, first, proposing a range of different features that constitute a new, neurocognitively realistic working definition of volition. I then focus on three core features of human volition: its generativity (the capacity to trigger actions), its subjectivity (the conscious experiences associated with initiating voluntary actions), and its teleology (the goal-directed quality of some voluntary actions). I conclude that volition is a neurocognitive process of enormous societal importance and susceptible to scientific investigation."
to:NB  neuroscience  psychology  will 
may 2019 by cshalizi
The Psychology of Cultural Dynamics: What Is It, What Do We Know, and What Is Yet to Be Known? | Annual Review of Psychology
"The psychology of cultural dynamics is the psychological investigation of the formation, maintenance, and transformation of culture over time. This article maps out the terrain, reviews the existing literature, and points out potential future directions of this research. It is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on micro-cultural dynamics, which refers to the social and psychological processes that contribute to the dissemination and retention of cultural information. The second part, on micro–macro dynamics, investigates how micro-level processes give rise to macro-cultural dynamics. The third part focuses on macro-cultural dynamics, referring to the distribution and long-term trends involving cultural information in a population, which in turn enable and constrain the micro-level processes. We conclude the review with a consideration of future directions, suggesting behavior change research as translational research on cultural dynamics."
to:NB  psychology  cognitive_science  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission  re:do-institutions-evolve 
may 2019 by cshalizi
Anxiety, Depression, and Decision Making: A Computational Perspective | Annual Review of Neuroscience
"In everyday life, the outcomes of our actions are rarely certain. Further, we often lack the information needed to precisely estimate the probability and value of potential outcomes as well as how much effort will be required by the courses of action under consideration. Under such conditions of uncertainty, individual differences in the estimation and weighting of these variables, and in reliance on model-free versus model-based decision making, have the potential to strongly influence our behavior. Both anxiety and depression are associated with difficulties in decision making. Further, anxiety is linked to increased engagement in threat-avoidance behaviors and depression is linked to reduced engagement in reward-seeking behaviors. The precise deficits, or biases, in decision making associated with these common forms of psychopathology remain to be fully specified. In this article, we review evidence for which of the computations supporting decision making are altered in anxiety and depression and consider the potential consequences for action selection. In addition, we provide a schematic framework that integrates the findings reviewed and will hopefully be of value to future studies."
to:NB  depression  anxiety  decision-making  psychology 
may 2019 by cshalizi
"It has roots beneath consciousness and is expressed in moods, rhythms, tones and textures of experience that are as much mental as physiological. In his new book, a sequel to the earlier Unbelievable, one of Britain's most exciting writers on religion here presents a nuanced and many-dimensional portrait of the mystery and creativity of the human imagination. Discussing the likes of William Wordsworth, William Turner, Samuel Palmer and Ralph Vaughan Williams, so as to assess the true meanings of originality and memory, and drawing on his own rich encounters with belief, Graham Ward asks why it is that the imagination is so fundamental to who and what we are. Using metaphor and story to unpeel the hidden motivations and architecture of the mind, the author grapples with profound questions of ultimacy and transcendence. He reveals that, in understanding what it really means to be human, what cannot be imagined invariably means as much as what can."
to:NB  books:noted  imagination  psychology  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
november 2018 by cshalizi
How to play 20 questions with nature and lose: Reflections on 100 years of brain-training research | PNAS
"Despite dozens of empirical studies and a growing body of meta-analytic work, there is little consensus regarding the efficacy of cognitive training. In this review, we examine why this substantial corpus has failed to answer the often-asked question, “Does cognitive training work?” We first define cognitive training and discuss the general principles underlying training interventions. Next, we review historical interventions and discuss how findings from this early work remain highly relevant for current cognitive-training research. We highlight a variety of issues preventing real progress in understanding the underlying mechanisms of training, including the lack of a coherent theoretical framework to guide training research and methodological issues across studies and meta-analyses. Finally, suggestions for correcting these issues are offered in the hope that we might make greater progress in the next 100 y of cognitive-training research."
to:NB  cognitive_development  psychology  history_of_science  to_read 
october 2018 by cshalizi
Overlooked factors in the analysis of parole decisions | PNAS
"Danziger et al. (1) concluded that meal breaks taken by Israeli parole boards influence the boards’ decisions. This conclusion depends on the order of cases being random or at least exogenous to the timing of meal breaks. We examined data provided by the authors and obtained additional data from 12 hearing days (n = 227 decisions).* We also interviewed three attorneys, a parole panel judge, and five personnel at Israeli Prison Services and Court Management, learning that case ordering is not random and that several factors contribute to the downward trend in prisoner success between meal breaks. The most important is that the board tries to complete all cases from one prison before it takes a break and to start with another prison after the break. Within each session, unrepresented prisoners usually go last and are less likely to be granted parole than prisoners with attorneys. Using the same decision rules as Danziger et al., our data indicate that unrepresented prisoners account for about one-third of all cases, but they prevail only 15% of the time, whereas prisoners with counsel prevail at a 35% rate.
"This nonrandom order of cases might have become apparent had the authors not limited their analysis. They lumped together decisions rejecting parole and cases that were deferred to a later date. Theoretically and in practice, deferrals are not comparable to rejections of parole.
"Excluding these deferred cases, our data indicate a success rate of 67% for prisoners with counsel and 39% for unrepresented prisoners. Excluding deferrals in the authors' data yields very similar success rates, beginning at about 75% and dropping to 42% at the end of a session. Thus, we strongly suspect that the pattern of declining success rates is a result of hearing represented prisoners first and unrepresented prisoners last...."
psychology  via:?  bad_data_analysis 
september 2018 by cshalizi
A personal essay on Bayes factors
I would have said nobody blogs like this anymore, and I am very happy to be very wrong.
have_read  model_selection  bayesianism  statistics  psychology  social_science_methodology  via:tslumley 
september 2018 by cshalizi
The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe: Brittleness, Integration, Science, and the Great War, Geroulanos, Meyers
"The injuries suffered by soldiers during WWI were as varied as they were brutal. How could the human body suffer and often absorb such disparate traumas? Why might the same wound lead one soldier to die but allow another to recover?
"In The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe, Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers uncover a fascinating story of how medical scientists came to conceptualize the body as an integrated yet brittle whole. Responding to the harrowing experience of the Great War, the medical community sought conceptual frameworks to understand bodily shock, brain injury, and the vast differences in patient responses they occasioned. Geroulanos and Meyers carefully trace how this emerging constellation of ideas became essential for thinking about integration, individuality, fragility, and collapse far beyond medicine: in fields as diverse as anthropology, political economy, psychoanalysis, and cybernetics.
"Moving effortlessly between the history of medicine and intellectual history, The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe is an intriguing look into the conceptual underpinnings of the world the Great War ushered in. "
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  history_of_science  WWI  psychology  integrative_action_of_the_nervous_system  homeostasis 
september 2018 by cshalizi
A re-replication of a psychological classic provides a cautionary tale about overhyped science – Research Digest
Ummm. If the effects being studied are this fragile, why on Earth would we think they have real-world importance? Even very fragile, hard-to-elicit effects _can_ illuminate deep theoretical questions (I started out as a high-energy particle physicist!), but what are those questions, here exactly? I half-suspect the problem with social psychology (et al.) isn't bad social/experimental protocols, or bad statistics, but a failure to really theorize. Back to the blackboard!
track_down_references  have_read  replication  psychology  to:blog 
august 2018 by cshalizi
Mind Is Flat: The Remarkable Shallowness of the Improvising Brain | Yale University Press
"In a radical reinterpretation of how the mind works, an eminent behavioral scientist reveals the illusion of mental depth
"Psychologists and neuroscientists struggle with how best to interpret human motivation and decision making. The assumption is that below a mental “surface” of conscious awareness lies a deep and complex set of inner beliefs, values, and desires that govern our thoughts, ideas, and actions, and that to know this depth is to know ourselves.
"In this profoundly original book, behavioral scientist Nick Chater contends just the opposite: rather than being the plaything of unconscious currents, the brain generates behaviors in the moment based entirely on our past experiences. Engaging the reader with eye-opening experiments and visual examples, the author first demolishes our intuitive sense of how our mind works, then argues for a positive interpretation of the brain as a ceaseless and creative improviser."

--- I wonder how much of this will turn out to rely on priming studies.
to:NB  books:noted  psychology  cognitive_science  decision-making  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
august 2018 by cshalizi
Adolphs, R. and Anderson, D.: The Neuroscience of Emotion: A New Synthesis (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"The Neuroscience of Emotion presents a new framework for the neuroscientific study of emotion across species. Written by Ralph Adolphs and David J. Anderson, two leading authorities on the study of emotion, this accessible and original book recasts the discipline and demonstrates that in order to understand emotion, we need to examine its biological roots in humans and animals. Only through a comparative approach that encompasses work at the molecular, cellular, systems, and cognitive levels will we be able to comprehend what emotions do, how they evolved, how the brain shapes their development, and even how we might engineer them into robots in the future.
"Showing that emotions are ubiquitous across species and implemented in specific brain circuits, Adolphs and Anderson offer a broad foundation for thinking about emotions as evolved, functionally defined biological states. The authors discuss the techniques and findings from modern neuroscientific investigations of emotion and conclude with a survey of theories and future research directions. "
to:NB  books:noted  neuroscience  psychology  emotion 
july 2018 by cshalizi
Reduction Without Elimination: Mental Disorders as Causally Efficacious Properties | SpringerLink
"We argue that any account of mental disorders that meets the desideratum of assigning causal efficacy to mental disorders faces the so-called “causal exclusion problem”. We argue that fully reductive accounts solve this problem but run into the problem of multiple realizability. Recently advocated symptom-network approaches avoid the problem of multiple realizability, but they also run into the causal exclusion problem. Based on a critical analysis of these accounts, we will present our own account according to which mental disorders are dispositional properties that are token-identical to physical properties. More specifically, they are analyzed as dispositions to cause the specific set of symptoms. We argue that our account is not only able to account for multiple realizability without running into the causal exclusion problem, but that it also allows for the integration of very different factors into the description and explanation of mental disorders, such as neurological and neurochemical factors on the one side and social and cultural factors on the other. It thereby gives the psychiatric level of causal explanation autonomy while securing the causal efficacy of mental disorders in a causally closed physical world."
to:NB  psychology  reductionism  philosophy_of_science  to_read 
june 2018 by cshalizi
Distinct encoding of decision confidence in human medial prefrontal cortex | PNAS
"Our confidence in a choice and the evidence pertaining to a choice appear to be inseparable. However, an emerging computational consensus holds that the brain should maintain separate estimates of these quantities for adaptive behavioral control. We have devised a psychophysical task to decouple confidence in a perceptual decision from both the reliability of sensory evidence and the relation of such evidence with respect to a choice boundary. Using human fMRI, we found that an area in the medial prefrontal cortex, the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (pgACC), tracked expected performance, an aggregate signature of decision confidence, whereas neural areas previously proposed to encode decision confidence instead tracked sensory reliability (posterior parietal cortex and ventral striatum) or boundary distance (presupplementary motor area). Supporting that information encoded by pgACC is central to a subjective sense of decision confidence, we show that pgACC activity does not simply covary with expected performance, but is also linked to within-subject and between-subject variation in explicit confidence estimates. Our study is consistent with the proposal that the brain maintains choice-dependent and choice-independent estimates of certainty, and sheds light on why dysfunctional confidence often emerges following prefrontal lesions and/or degeneration."
to:NB  neuroscience  decision-making  psychology 
june 2018 by cshalizi
Race on the Brain - What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice | Columbia University Press
"Of the many obstacles to racial justice in America, none has received more recent attention than the one that lurks in our subconscious. As social movements and policing scandals have shown how far from being “postracial” we are, the concept of implicit bias has taken center stage in the national conversation about race. Millions of Americans have taken online tests purporting to show the deep, invisible roots of their own prejudice. A recent Oxford study that claims to have found a drug that reduces implicit bias is only the starkest example of a pervasive trend. But what do we risk when we seek the simplicity of a technological diagnosis—and solution—for racism? What do we miss when we locate racism in our biology and our brains rather than in our history and our social practices?
"In Race on the Brain, Jonathan Kahn argues that implicit bias has grown into a master narrative of race relations—one with profound, if unintended, negative consequences for law, science, and society. He emphasizes its limitations, arguing that while useful as a tool to understand particular types of behavior, it is only one among several tools available to policy makers. An uncritical embrace of implicit bias, to the exclusion of power relations and structural racism, undermines wider civic responsibility for addressing the problem by turning it over to experts. Technological interventions, including many tests for implicit bias, are premised on a color-blind ideal and run the risk of erasing history, denying present reality, and obscuring accountability. Kahn recognizes the significance of implicit social cognition but cautions against seeing it as a panacea for addressing America’s longstanding racial problems. A bracing corrective to what has become a common-sense understanding of the power of prejudice, Race on the Brain challenges us all to engage more thoughtfully and more democratically in the difficult task of promoting racial justice."
to:NB  books:noted  racism  psychology  implicit_association_test  mental_testing 
may 2018 by cshalizi
Trust your gut: using physiological states as a source of information is almost as effective as optimal Bayesian learning
"Approaches to understanding adaptive behaviour often assume that animals have perfect information about environmental conditions or are capable of sophisticated learning. If such learning abilities are costly, however, natural selection will favour simpler mechanisms for controlling behaviour when faced with uncertain conditions. Here, we show that, in a foraging context, a strategy based only on current energy reserves often performs almost as well as a Bayesian learning strategy that integrates all previous experiences to form an optimal estimate of environmental conditions. We find that Bayesian learning gives a strong advantage only if fluctuations in the food supply are very strong and reasonably frequent. The performance of both the Bayesian and the reserve-based strategy are more robust to inaccurate knowledge of the temporal pattern of environmental conditions than a strategy that has perfect knowledge about current conditions. Studies assuming Bayesian learning are often accused of being unrealistic; our results suggest that animals can achieve a similar level of performance to Bayesians using much simpler mechanisms based on their physiological state. More broadly, our work suggests that the ability to use internal states as a source of information about recent environmental conditions will have weakened selection for sophisticated learning and decision-making systems."

--- Slightly astonishing to see only one reference to Gigerenzer...
to:NB  psychology  ethology  adaptive_behavior  bayesianism  heuristics  via:? 
may 2018 by cshalizi
Elements of Surprise — Vera Tobin | Harvard University Press
"Why do some surprises delight—the endings of Agatha Christie novels, films like The Sixth Sense, the flash awareness that Pip’s benefactor is not (and never was!) Miss Havisham? Writing at the intersection of cognitive science and narrative pleasure, Vera Tobin explains how our brains conspire with stories to produce those revelatory plots that define a “well-made surprise.”
"By tracing the prevalence of surprise endings in both literary fiction and popular literature and showing how they exploit our mental limits, Tobin upends two common beliefs. The first is cognitive science’s tendency to consider biases a form of moral weakness and failure. The second is certain critics’ presumption that surprise endings are mere shallow gimmicks. The latter is simply not true, and the former tells at best half the story. Tobin shows that building a good plot twist is a complex art that reflects a sophisticated understanding of the human mind.
"Reading classic, popular, and obscure literature alongside the latest research in cognitive science, Tobin argues that a good surprise works by taking advantage of our mental limits. Elements of Surprise describes how cognitive biases, mental shortcuts, and quirks of memory conspire with stories to produce wondrous illusions, and also provides a sophisticated how-to guide for writers. In Tobin’s hands, the interactions of plot and cognition reveal the interdependencies of surprise, sympathy, and sense-making. The result is a new appreciation of the pleasures of being had."
to:NB  books:noted  literary_criticism  narrative  psychology  surprise 
april 2018 by cshalizi
The Gist of Reading | Andrew Elfenbein
"What happens to books as they live in our long-term memory? Why do we find some books entertaining and others not? And how does literary influence work on writers in different ways? Grounded in the findings of empirical psychology, this book amends classic reader-response theory and attends to neglected aspects of reading that cannot be explained by traditional literary criticism.
"Reading arises from a combination of two kinds of mental work: automatic and controlled processes. Automatic processes, such as the ability to see visual symbols as words, are the result of constant practice; controlled processes, such as predicting what might occur next in a story, arise from readers' conscious use of skills and background knowledge. When we read, automatic and controlled processes work together to create the "gist" of reading, the constant interplay between these two kinds of processes. Andrew Elfenbein not only explains how we read today, but also uses current knowledge about reading to consider readers of past centuries, arguing that understanding gist is central to interpreting the social, psychological, and political impact of literary works. The result is the first major revisionary account of reading practices in literary criticism since the 1970s."

--- It's probably reading too much into the first sentence to hope for a theory of the Suck Fairy.
to:NB  books:noted  psychology  literary_criticism  reading  criticism_of_criticism_of_criticism 
january 2018 by cshalizi
When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy - The New York Times
Morals under the "to teach" tag:
1. Don't do science like this.
2. Don't be a jerk when criticizing others for doing bad science.
(I realize that I am one to talk about #2.)
have_read  social_science_methodology  social_psychology  psychology  replication_crisis  gelman.andrew  popular_social_science  data_analysis  to_teach:undergrad-research 
january 2018 by cshalizi
Cognitive Gadgets — Cecilia Heyes | Harvard University Press
"How did human minds become so different from those of other animals? What accounts for our capacity to understand the way the physical world works, to think ourselves into the minds of others, to gossip, read, tell stories about the past, and imagine the future? These questions are not new: they have been debated by philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, evolutionists, and neurobiologists over the course of centuries. One explanation widely accepted today is that humans have special cognitive instincts. Unlike other living animal species, we are born with complicated mechanisms for reasoning about causation, reading the minds of others, copying behaviors, and using language.
"Cecilia Heyes agrees that adult humans have impressive pieces of cognitive equipment. In her framing, however, these cognitive gadgets are not instincts programmed in the genes but are constructed in the course of childhood through social interaction. Cognitive gadgets are products of cultural evolution, rather than genetic evolution. At birth, the minds of human babies are only subtly different from the minds of newborn chimpanzees. We are friendlier, our attention is drawn to different things, and we have a capacity to learn and remember that outstrips the abilities of newborn chimpanzees. Yet when these subtle differences are exposed to culture-soaked human environments, they have enormous effects. They enable us to upload distinctively human ways of thinking from the social world around us."
to:NB  books:noted  human_evolution  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  cultural_transmission  psychology  cognitive_development 
january 2018 by cshalizi
The Ascent of Affect: Genealogy and Critique, Leys
"In recent years, emotions have become a major, vibrant topic of research not merely in the biological and psychological sciences but throughout a wide swath of the humanities and social sciences as well. Yet, surprisingly, there is still no consensus on their basic nature or workings.
"Ruth Leys’s brilliant, much anticipated history, therefore, is a story of controversy and disagreement. The Ascent of Affect focuses on the post–World War II period, when interest in emotions as an object of study began to revive. Leys analyzes the ongoing debate over how to understand emotions, paying particular attention to the continual conflict between camps that argue for the intentionality or meaning of emotions but have trouble explaining their presence in non-human animals and those that argue for the universality of emotions but struggle when the question turns to meaning. Addressing the work of key figures from across the spectrum, considering the potentially misleading appeal of neuroscience for those working in the humanities, and bringing her story fully up to date by taking in the latest debates, Leys presents here the most thorough analysis available of how we have tried to think about how we feel."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  psychology  emotion  history_of_science 
january 2018 by cshalizi
Universalism without Uniformity: Explorations in Mind and Culture, Cassaniti, Menon
"One of the major questions of cultural psychology is how to take diversity seriously while acknowledging our shared humanity. This collection, edited by Julia L. Cassaniti and Usha Menon, brings together leading scholars in the field to reconsider that question and explore the complex mechanisms that connect culture and the human mind.
"The contributors to Universalism without Uniformity offer tools for bridging silos that have historically separated anthropology’s attention to culture and psychology’s interest in universal mental processes. Throughout, they seek to answer intricate yet fundamental questions about why we are motivated to find meaning in everything around us and, in turn, how we constitute the cultural worlds we inhabit through our intentional involvement in them. Laying bare entrenched disciplinary blind spots, this book offers a trove of insights on issues such as morality, emotional functioning, and conceptions of the self across cultures. Filled with impeccable empirical research coupled with broadly applicable theoretical reflections on taking psychological diversity seriously, Universalism without Uniformity breaks new ground in the study of mind and culture. "
to:NB  books:noted  psychology  cultural_differences  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools 
november 2017 by cshalizi
Language Log » Blue Cell Dyslexia
"At first I was hesitant to evaluate the study because I’m not a vision scientist, but then I realized that hadn’t prevented the authors from publishing it. Albert Le Floch and Guy Ropars are affiliated with the Université de Rennes, France. Their primary area of expertise appears to be laser physics."
dyslexia  why_oh_why_cant_we_have_a_better_academic_publishing_system  linguistics  psychology 
october 2017 by cshalizi
Sensory Metrics of Neuromechanical Trust | Neural Computation | MIT Press Journals
"Today digital sources supply a historically unprecedented component of human sensorimotor data, the consumption of which is correlated with poorly understood maladies such as Internet addiction disorder and Internet gaming disorder. Because both natural and digital sensorimotor data share common mathematical descriptions, one can quantify our informational sensorimotor needs using the signal processing metrics of entropy, noise, dimensionality, continuity, latency, and bandwidth. Such metrics describe in neutral terms the informational diet human brains require to self-calibrate, allowing individuals to maintain trusting relationships. With these metrics, we define the trust humans experience using the mathematical language of computational models, that is, as a primitive statistical algorithm processing finely grained sensorimotor data from neuromechanical interaction. This definition of neuromechanical trust implies that artificial sensorimotor inputs and interactions that attract low-level attention through frequent discontinuities and enhanced coherence will decalibrate a brain's representation of its world over the long term by violating the implicit statistical contract for which self-calibration evolved. Our hypersimplified mathematical understanding of human sensorimotor processing as multiscale, continuous-time vibratory interaction allows equally broad-brush descriptions of failure modes and solutions. For example, we model addiction in general as the result of homeostatic regulation gone awry in novel environments (sign reversal) and digital dependency as a sub-case in which the decalibration caused by digital sensorimotor data spurs yet more consumption of them. We predict that institutions can use these sensorimotor metrics to quantify media richness to improve employee well-being; that dyads and family-size groups will bond and heal best through low-latency, high-resolution multisensory interaction such as shared meals and reciprocated touch; and that individuals can improve sensory and sociosensory resolution through deliberate sensory reintegration practices. We conclude that we humans are the victims of our own success, our hands so skilled they fill the world with captivating things, our eyes so innocent they follow eagerly."

--- Last tag applies with special vehemence. (_Neural Computation_ made sure to run this past referees with expertise in addiction, family and couples therapy, and user-interface design, among the other topics mentioned in the abstract, I'm _sure_.)
to:NB  psychology  information_theory  control_theory_and_control_engineering  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
august 2017 by cshalizi
How generalizable is good judgment? A multi-task, multi-benchmark study
"Good judgment is often gauged against two gold standards – coherence and correspondence. Judgments are coherent if they demonstrate consistency with the axioms of probability theory or propositional logic. Judgments are correspondent if they agree with ground truth. When gold standards are unavailable, silver standards such as consistency and discrimination can be used to evaluate judgment quality. Individuals are consistent if they assign similar judgments to comparable stimuli, and they discriminate if they assign different judgments to dissimilar stimuli. We ask whether “superforecasters”, individuals with noteworthy correspondence skills (see Mellers et al., 2014) show superior performance on laboratory tasks assessing other standards of good judgment. Results showed that superforecasters either tied or out-performed less correspondent forecasters and undergraduates with no forecasting experience on tests of consistency, discrimination, and coherence. While multifaceted, good judgment may be a more unified than concept than previously thought."
to:NB  decision-making  psychology  tetlock.philip 
august 2017 by cshalizi
The relationship between crowd majority and accuracy for binary decisions
"We consider the wisdom of the crowd situation in which individuals make binary decisions, and the majority answer is used as the group decision. Using data sets from nine different domains, we examine the relationship between the size of the majority and the accuracy of the crowd decisions. We find empirically that these calibration curves take many different forms for different domains, and the distribution of majority sizes over decisions in a domain also varies widely. We develop a growth model for inferring and interpreting the calibration curve in a domain, and apply it to the same nine data sets using Bayesian methods. The modeling approach is able to infer important qualitative properties of a domain, such as whether it involves decisions that have ground truths or are inherently uncertain. It is also able to make inferences about important quantitative properties of a domain, such as how quickly the crowd accuracy increases as the size of the majority increases. We discuss potential applications of the measurement model, and the need to develop a psychological account of the variety of calibration curves that evidently exist."
in_NB  collective_cognition  psychology  experimental_psychology  re:democratic_cognition 
august 2017 by cshalizi
Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study | American Journal of Epidemiology | Oxford Academic
"Face-to-face social interactions enhance well-being. With the ubiquity of social media, important questions have arisen about the impact of online social interactions. In the present study, we assessed the associations of both online and offline social networks with several subjective measures of well-being. We used 3 waves (2013, 2014, and 2015) of data from 5,208 subjects in the nationally representative Gallup Panel Social Network Study survey, including social network measures, in combination with objective measures of Facebook use. We investigated the associations of Facebook activity and real-world social network activity with self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction, and body mass index. Our results showed that overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being. For example, a 1-standard-deviation increase in “likes clicked” (clicking “like” on someone else's content), “links clicked” (clicking a link to another site or article), or “status updates” (updating one's own Facebook status) was associated with a decrease of 5%–8% of a standard deviation in self-reported mental health. These associations were robust to multivariate cross-sectional analyses, as well as to 2-wave prospective analyses. The negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible tradeoff between offline and online relationships."

--- Self-report is problematic here...
to:NB  to_read  christakis.nicholas  social_networks  social_media  psychology  networked_life 
july 2017 by cshalizi
Secular rise in economically valuable personality traits
Although trends in many physical characteristics and cognitive capabilities of modern humans are well-documented, less is known about how personality traits have evolved over time. We analyze data from a standardized personality test administered to 79% of Finnish men born between 1962 and 1976 (n = 419,523) and find steady increases in personality traits that predict higher income in later life. The magnitudes of these trends are similar to the simultaneous increase in cognitive abilities, at 0.2–0.6 SD during the 15-y window. When anchored to earnings, the change in personality traits amounts to a 12% increase. Both personality and cognitive ability have consistent associations with family background, but the trends are similar across groups defined by parental income, parental education, number of siblings, and rural/urban status. Nevertheless, much of the trends in test scores can be attributed to changes in the family background composition, namely 33% for personality and 64% for cognitive ability. These composition effects are mostly due to improvements in parents’ education. We conclude that there is a “Flynn effect” for personality that mirrors the original Flynn effect for cognitive ability in magnitude and practical significance but is less driven by compositional changes in family background.
to:NB  psychology  finland  re:g_paper  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
june 2017 by cshalizi
Theoretical Risks and Tabular Asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the Slow Progress of Soft Psychology | Paul E. Meehl
"Theories in “soft” areas of psychology lack the cumulative character of scientific
knowledge. They tend neither to be refuted nor corroborated, but instead merely fade
away as people lose interest. Even though intrinsic subject matter difficulties (20 listed)
contribute to this, the excessive reliance on significance testing is partly responsible,
being a poor way of doing science. Karl Popper’s approach, with modifications, would be
prophylactic. Since the null hypothesis is quasi-always false, tables summarizing research
in terms of patterns of “significant differences” are little more than complex, causally
uninterpretable outcomes of statistical power functions. Multiple paths to estimating
numerical point values (“consistency tests”) are better, even if approximate with rough
tolerances; and lacking this, ranges, orderings, second-order differences, curve peaks and
valleys, and function forms should be used. Such methods are usual in developed
sciences that seldom report statistical significance. Consistency tests of a conjectural
taxometric model yielded 94% success with zero false negatives. "

--- Note that his "consistency tests" are goodness of fit tests, i.e., significance tests. (And _experimental_ physicists run hypothesis tests all the time, just not usually tests of "no difference between conditions".) . So he's right about the pointlessness of most of what is being done with hypothesis testing, and even about why it's pointless, but not right about the utility of significance tests.
to:NB  have_read  social_science_methodology  psychology  psychometrics  meehl.paul  statistics  hypothesis_testing 
march 2017 by cshalizi
The Myth of the Moral Brain | The MIT Press
"Throughout history, humanity has been seen as being in need of improvement, most pressingly in need of moral improvement. Today, in what has been called the beginnings of “the golden age of neuroscience,” laboratory findings claim to offer insights into how the brain “does” morality, even suggesting that it is possible to make people more moral by manipulating their biology. Can “moral bioenhancement”—using technological or pharmaceutical means to boost the morally desirable and remove the morally problematic—bring about a morally improved humanity? In The Myth of the Moral Brain, Harris Wiseman argues that moral functioning is immeasurably complex, mediated by biology but not determined by it. Morality cannot be engineered; there is no such thing as a “moral brain.”
"Wiseman takes a distinctively interdisciplinary approach, drawing on insights from philosophy, biology, theology, and clinical psychology. He considers philosophical rationales for moral enhancement, and the practical realities they come up against; recent empirical work, including studies of the cognitive and behavioral effects of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine; and traditional moral education, in particular the influence of religious thought, belief, and practice. Arguing that morality involves many interacting elements, Wiseman proposes an integrated bio-psycho-social approach to the consideration of moral enhancement. Such an approach would show that, by virtue of their sheer numbers, social and environmental factors are more important in shaping moral functioning than the neurobiological factors with which they are interwoven."
to:NB  books:noted  moral_psychology  moral_philosophy  neuroscience  psychology  debunking 
december 2016 by cshalizi
Cultural neuroscience and the category of race: the case of the other-race effect | SpringerLink
"The use of the category of race in science (in relation to humans) remains controversial. During the last few years there has been a lively debate on this topic in the field of a relatively young neuroscience discipline called cultural neuroscience. The main focus of cultural neuroscience is on biocultural conditions of the development of different dimensions of human perceptive activity, both cognitive or emotional. These dimensions are analysed through the comparison of representatives of different social and ethnic groups. In my article, I present arguments supporting these two hypotheses: (1) the other-race effect understood as an individual, distinct effect does not exist. It is rather an exemplification of a much broader phenomenon which I call theunfamiliarity homogeneity effect. It includes not only problems with differentiation and recognition of faces of representatives of other ethnic groups, but also covers similar recognitional difficulties (e.g. recognition of members of other- social groups, other languages or even certain sounds and objects); (2) The race-based terminology and categories are used in cultural neuroscience research in a vague and inconsistent manner. Such an approach distorts the science both in empirically and conceptually significant respects. The unfamiliarity homogeneity effect is an example of such a situation: narrowing it to the other-race effect makes it difficult to analyse in a wider context crucial for its understanding."
to:NB  perception  racism  psychology 
december 2016 by cshalizi
The irrational hungry judge effect revisited: Simulations reveal that the magnitude of the effect is overestimated
"Danziger, Levav and Avnaim-Pesso (2011) analyzed legal rulings of Israeli parole boards concerning the effect of serial order in which cases are presented within ruling sessions. They found that the probability of a favorable decision drops from about 65% to almost 0% from the first ruling to the last ruling within each session and that the rate of favorable rulings returns to 65% in a session following a food break. The authors argue that these findings provide support for extraneous factors influencing judicial decisions and cautiously speculate that the effect might be driven by mental depletion. A simulation shows that the observed influence of order can be alternatively explained by a statistical artifact resulting from favorable rulings taking longer than unfavorable ones. An effect of similar magnitude would be produced by a (hypothetical) rational judge who plans ahead minimally and ends a session instead of starting cases that he or she assumes will take longer directly before the break. One methodological detail further increased the magnitude of the artifact and generates it even without assuming any foresight concerning the upcoming case. Implications for this article are discussed and the increased application of simulations to identify nonobvious rational explanations is recommended."

--- The proposed mechanism should be easy enough to check, no?
to:NB  to_read  debunking  decision-making  psychology 
december 2016 by cshalizi
Fractionating Human Intelligence
"What makes one person more intellectually able than another? Can the entire distribution of human intelligence be accounted for by just one general factor? Is intelligence supported by a single neural system? Here, we provide a perspective on human intelligence that takes into account how general abilities or “factors” reflect the functional organization of the brain. By comparing factor models of individual differences in performance with factor models of brain functional organization, we demonstrate that different components of intelligence have their analogs in distinct brain networks. Using simulations based on neuroimaging data, we show that the higher-order factor “g” is accounted for by cognitive tasks corecruiting multiple networks. Finally, we confirm the independence of these components of intelligence by dissociating them using questionnaire variables. We propose that intelligence is an emergent property of anatomically distinct cognitive systems, each of which has its own capacity."
to:NB  fmri  psychology  factor_analysis  neuroscience  iq  mental_testing  re:g_paper 
november 2016 by cshalizi
Semantic representations in the temporal pole predict false memories
"Recent advances in neuroscience have given us unprecedented insight into the neural mechanisms of false memory, showing that artificial memories can be inserted into the memory cells of the hippocampus in a way that is indistinguishable from true memories. However, this alone is not enough to explain how false memories can arise naturally in the course of our daily lives. Cognitive psychology has demonstrated that many instances of false memory, both in the laboratory and the real world, can be attributed to semantic interference. Whereas previous studies have found that a diverse set of regions show some involvement in semantic false memory, none have revealed the nature of the semantic representations underpinning the phenomenon. Here we use fMRI with representational similarity analysis to search for a neural code consistent with semantic false memory. We find clear evidence that false memories emerge from a similarity-based neural code in the temporal pole, a region that has been called the “semantic hub” of the brain. We further show that each individual has a partially unique semantic code within the temporal pole, and this unique code can predict idiosyncratic patterns of memory errors. Finally, we show that the same neural code can also predict variation in true-memory performance, consistent with an adaptive perspective on false memory. Taken together, our findings reveal the underlying structure of neural representations of semantic knowledge, and how this semantic structure can both enhance and distort our memories."
to:NB  neuroscience  psychology  memory  fmri 
september 2016 by cshalizi
Neurocomputational mechanisms of prosocial learning and links to empathy
"Reinforcement learning theory powerfully characterizes how we learn to benefit ourselves. In this theory, prediction errors—the difference between a predicted and actual outcome of a choice—drive learning. However, we do not operate in a social vacuum. To behave prosocially we must learn the consequences of our actions for other people. Empathy, the ability to vicariously experience and understand the affect of others, is hypothesized to be a critical facilitator of prosocial behaviors, but the link between empathy and prosocial behavior is still unclear. During functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) participants chose between different stimuli that were probabilistically associated with rewards for themselves (self), another person (prosocial), or no one (control). Using computational modeling, we show that people can learn to obtain rewards for others but do so more slowly than when learning to obtain rewards for themselves. fMRI revealed that activity in a posterior portion of the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex/basal forebrain (sgACC) drives learning only when we are acting in a prosocial context and signals a prosocial prediction error conforming to classical principles of reinforcement learning theory. However, there is also substantial variability in the neural and behavioral efficiency of prosocial learning, which is predicted by trait empathy. More empathic people learn more quickly when benefitting others, and their sgACC response is the most selective for prosocial learning. We thus reveal a computational mechanism driving prosocial learning in humans. This framework could provide insights into atypical prosocial behavior in those with disorders of social cognition."
to:NB  psychology  reinforcement_learning  learning_in_games  evolution_of_cooperation  neuroscience  fmri 
august 2016 by cshalizi
Lowes, J.L.: The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of the Imagination. (eBook, Paperback and Hardcover)
"John Livingston Lowes's classic work shows how various images from Coleridge's extensive reading, particularly in travel literature, coalesced to form the imagistic texture of his two most famous poems, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla Khan.""
books:recommended  books:owned  creativity  imagination  psychology  literary_history  literary_criticism  romanticism  poetry 
june 2016 by cshalizi
Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics — Jens Beckert | Harvard University Press
"In a capitalist system, consumers, investors, and corporations orient their activities toward a future that contains opportunities and risks. How actors assess uncertainty is a problem that economists have tried to solve through general equilibrium and rational expectations theory. Powerful as these analytical tools are, they underestimate the future’s unknowability by assuming that markets, in the aggregate, correctly forecast what is to come."

Jens Beckert adds a new chapter to the theory of capitalism by demonstrating how fictional expectations drive modern economies—or throw them into crisis when the imagined futures fail to materialize. Collectively held images of how the future will unfold are critical because they free economic actors from paralyzing doubt, enabling them to commit resources and coordinate decisions even if those expectations prove inaccurate. Beckert distinguishes fictional expectations from performativity theory, which holds that predictions tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Economic forecasts are important not because they produce the futures they envision but because they create the expectations that generate economic activity in the first place. Actors pursue money, investments, innovations, and consumption only if they believe the objects obtained through market exchanges will retain value. We accept money because we believe in its future purchasing power. We accept the risk of capital investments and innovation because we expect profit. And we purchase consumer goods based on dreams of satisfaction.
to:NB  books:noted  economics  psychology  cultural_criticism  rhetoric  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
june 2016 by cshalizi
Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science | The MIT Press
"Warren S. McCulloch (1898–1969) adopted many identities in his scientific life—among them philosopher, poet, neurologist, neurophysiologist, neuropsychiatrist, collaborator, theorist, cybernetician, mentor, engineer. He was, writes Tara Abraham in this account of McCulloch’s life and work, “an intellectual showman,” and performed this part throughout his career. While McCulloch claimed a common thread in his work was the problem of mind and its relationship to the brain, there was much more to him than that. In Rebel Genius, Abraham uses McCulloch’s life as a window on a past scientific age, showing the complex transformations that took place in American brain and mind science in the twentieth century—particularly those surrounding the cybernetics movement.
"Abraham describes McCulloch’s early work in neuropsychiatry, and his emerging identity as a neurophysiologist. She explores his transformative years at the Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute and his work with Walter Pitts—often seen as the first iteration of “artificial intelligence” but here described as stemming from the new tradition of mathematical treatments of biological problems. Abraham argues that McCulloch’s dual identities as neuropsychiatrist and cybernetician are inseparable. He used the authority he gained in traditional disciplinary roles as a basis for posing big questions about the brain and mind as a cybernetician. When McCulloch moved to the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, new practices for studying the brain, grounded in mathematics, philosophy, and theoretical modeling, expanded the relevance and ramifications of his work. McCulloch’s transdisciplinary legacies anticipated today’s multidisciplinary field of cognitive science."

--- McCulloch was one of the greats, so it's exciting to see a biography, along with a reprinting of his paper collection _Embodiments of Mind_ (http://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262529617).
to:NB  books:noted  lives_of_the_scientists  neuroscience  cybernetics  psychology  cognitive_science  mcculloch.warren_s.  rhetorical_self-fashioning  history_of_science  neural_networks  books:owned 
june 2016 by cshalizi
Born Pupils? Natural Pedagogy and Cultural Pedagogy
"The theory of natural pedagogy is an important focus of research on the evolution and development of cultural learning. It proposes that we are born pupils; that human children genetically inherit a package of psychological adaptations that make them receptive to teaching. In this article, I first examine the components of the package—eye contact, contingencies, infant-directed speech, gaze cuing, and rational imitation—asking in each case whether current evidence indicates that the component is a reliable feature of infant behavior and a genetic adaptation for teaching. I then discuss three fundamental insights embodied in the theory: Imitation is not enough for cumulative cultural inheritance, the extra comes from blind trust, and tweaking is a powerful source of cognitive change. Combining the results of the empirical review with these insights, I argue that human receptivity to teaching is founded on nonspecific genetic adaptations for social bonding and social learning and acquires its species- and functionally specific features through the operation of domain-general processes of learning in sociocultural contexts. We engage, not in natural pedagogy, but in cultural pedagogy."
in_NB  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  evolutionary_psychology  education  cultural_evolution  cultural_transmission  psychology  via:rvenkat  re:democratic_cognition  re:do-institutions-evolve 
march 2016 by cshalizi
Implicit Measures: A Normative Analysis and Review
"Implicit measures can be defined as outcomes of measurement procedures that are caused in an automatic manner by psychological attributes. To establish that a measurement outcome is an implicit measure, one should examine (a) whether the outcome is causally produced by the psychological attribute it was designed to measure, (b) the nature of the processes by which the attribute causes the outcome, and (c) whether these processes operate automatically. This normative analysis provides a heuristic framework for organizing past and future research on implicit measures. The authors illustrate the heuristic function of their framework by using it to review past research on the 2 implicit measures that are currently most popular: effects in implicit association tests and affective priming tasks."
to:NB  to_read  mental_testing  psychometrics  psychology  prejudice  implicit_association_test  inference_to_latent_objects  measurement 
november 2015 by cshalizi
Unresolved problems with the “I”, the “A”, and the “T”: A logical and psychometric critique of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) - European Review of Social Psychology - Volume 17, Issue 1
"The Implicit Association Test (IAT) had already gained the status of a prominent assessment procedure before its psychometric properties and underlying task structure were understood. The present critique addresses five major problems that arise when the IAT is used for diagnostic inferences: (1) the asymmetry of causal and diagnostic inferences; (2) the viability of the underlying association model; (3) the lack of a testable model underlying IAT-based inferences; (4) the difficulties of interpreting difference scores; and (5) the susceptibility of the IAT to deliberate faking and strategic processing. Based on a theoretical reflection of these issues, and a comprehensive survey of published IAT studies, it is concluded that a number of uncontrolled factors can produce (or reduce) significant IAT scores independently of the personality attribute that is supposed to be captured by the IAT procedure."

Ungated; http://studie.ch/claude/european_review_2006.pdf
to:NB  have_read  psychometrics  psychology  inference_to_latent_objects  mental_testing  measurement  prejudice  implicit_association_test 
november 2015 by cshalizi
Why Torture Doesn't Work — Shane O'Mara | Harvard University Press
"Torture is banned because it is cruel and inhumane. But as Shane O’Mara writes in this account of the human brain under stress, another reason torture should never be condoned is because it does not work the way torturers assume it does.
"In countless films and TV shows such as Homeland and 24, torture is portrayed as a harsh necessity. If cruelty can extract secrets that will save lives, so be it. CIA officers and others conducted torture using precisely this justification. But does torture accomplish what its defenders say it does? For ethical reasons, there are no scientific studies of torture. But neuroscientists know a lot about how the brain reacts to fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, and immersion in freezing water, all tools of the torturer’s trade. These stressors create problems for memory, mood, and thinking, and sufferers predictably produce information that is deeply unreliable—and, for intelligence purposes, even counterproductive. As O’Mara guides us through the neuroscience of suffering, he reveals the brain to be much more complex than the brute calculations of torturers have allowed, and he points the way to a humane approach to interrogation, founded in the science of brain and behavior.
"Torture may be effective in forcing confessions, as in Stalin’s Russia. But if we want information that we can depend on to save lives, O’Mara writes, our model should be Napoleon: “It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.”"
in_NB  books:noted  torture  psychology  popular_social_science  our_national_shame 
august 2015 by cshalizi
A Natural History of Human Thinking — Michael Tomasello | Harvard University Press
"Tool-making or culture, language or religious belief: ever since Darwin, thinkers have struggled to identify what fundamentally differentiates human beings from other animals. In this much-anticipated book, Michael Tomasello weaves his twenty years of comparative studies of humans and great apes into a compelling argument that cooperative social interaction is the key to our cognitive uniqueness. Once our ancestors learned to put their heads together with others to pursue shared goals, humankind was on an evolutionary path all its own.
"Tomasello argues that our prehuman ancestors, like today’s great apes, were social beings who could solve problems by thinking. But they were almost entirely competitive, aiming only at their individual goals. As ecological changes forced them into more cooperative living arrangements, early humans had to coordinate their actions and communicate their thoughts with collaborative partners. Tomasello’s “shared intentionality hypothesis” captures how these more socially complex forms of life led to more conceptually complex forms of thinking. In order to survive, humans had to learn to see the world from multiple social perspectives, to draw socially recursive inferences, and to monitor their own thinking via the normative standards of the group. Even language and culture arose from the preexisting need to work together. What differentiates us most from other great apes, Tomasello proposes, are the new forms of thinking engendered by our new forms of collaborative and communicative interaction."
in_NB  books:noted  human_evolution  evolutionary_psychology  psychology  collective_cognition  social_life_of_the_mind  tomasello.michael  part_played_by_social_labor_in_the_transition_from_ape_to_man  re:democratic_cognition 
august 2015 by cshalizi
The Effect of Schooling on Cognitive Skills
"To identify the causal effect of schooling on cognitive skills, we exploit conditionally random variation in the date Swedish males take a battery of cognitive tests in preparation for military service. We find an extra ten days of school instruction raises scores on crystallized intelligence tests (synonyms and technical comprehension tests) by approximately 1% of a standard deviation, whereas extra nonschool days have almost no effect. In contrast, test scores on fluid intelligence tests (spatial and logic tests) do not increase with additional days of schooling but do increase modestly with age."
in_NB  to_read  mental_testing  iq  education  psychology  re:g_paper 
july 2015 by cshalizi
The Abel Assessment and the Questions It Raises - The Atlantic
"Yet the pamphlet also says that test-takers who deny accusations of having molested a child should have their scores measured against the scores of “child sexual abusers who attempt to conceal,” suggesting that the percentage can be used to determine the likelihood that someone is lying." --- Hypothesis testing EPIC FAIL.
psychometrics  mental_testing  law  crime  data_mining  statistics  psychology  risk_assessment 
july 2015 by cshalizi
Causal effects of the early caregiving environment on development of stress response systems in children
"Disruptions in stress response system functioning are thought to be a central mechanism by which exposure to adverse early-life environments influences human development. Although early-life adversity results in hyperreactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis in rodents, evidence from human studies is inconsistent. We present results from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project examining whether randomized placement into a family caregiving environment alters development of the autonomic nervous system and HPA axis in children exposed to early-life deprivation associated with institutional rearing. Electrocardiogram, impedance cardiograph, and neuroendocrine data were collected during laboratory-based challenge tasks from children (mean age = 12.9 y) raised in deprived institutional settings in Romania randomized to a high-quality foster care intervention (n = 48) or to remain in care as usual (n = 43) and a sample of typically developing Romanian children (n = 47). Children who remained in institutional care exhibited significantly blunted SNS and HPA axis responses to psychosocial stress compared with children randomized to foster care, whose stress responses approximated those of typically developing children. Intervention effects were evident for cortisol and parasympathetic nervous system reactivity only among children placed in foster care before age 24 and 18 months, respectively, providing experimental evidence of a sensitive period in humans during which the environment is particularly likely to alter stress response system development. We provide evidence for a causal link between the early caregiving environment and stress response system reactivity in humans with effects that differ markedly from those observed in rodent models."
to:NB  stress  psychology  neuroscience  endocrinology 
may 2015 by cshalizi
Frontiers | Measurement invariance within and between individuals: a distinct problem in testing the equivalence of intra- and inter-individual model structures | Quantitative Psychology and Measurement
"We address the question of equivalence between modeling results obtained on intra-individual and inter-individual levels of psychometric analysis. Our focus is on the concept of measurement invariance and the role it may play in this context. We discuss this in general against the background of the latent variable paradigm, complemented by an operational demonstration in terms of a linear state-space model, i.e., a time series model with latent variables. Implemented in a multiple-occasion and multiple-subject setting, the model simultaneously accounts for intra-individual and inter-individual differences. We consider the conditions—in terms of invariance constraints—under which modeling results are generalizable (a) over time within subjects, (b) over subjects within occasions, and (c) over time and subjects simultaneously thus implying an equivalence-relationship between both dimensions. Since we distinguish the measurement model from the structural model governing relations between the latent variables of interest, we decompose the invariance constraints into those that involve structural parameters and those that involve measurement parameters and relate to measurement invariance. Within the resulting taxonomy of models, we show that, under the condition of measurement invariance over time and subjects, there exists a form of structural equivalence between levels of analysis that is distinct from full structural equivalence, i.e., ergodicity. We demonstrate how measurement invariance between and within subjects can be tested in the context of high-frequency repeated measures in personality research. Finally, we relate problems of measurement variance to problems of non-ergodicity as currently discussed and approached in the literature."
to:NB  psychometrics  social_measurement  psychology  ergodicity  borsboom.denny  re:g_paper 
april 2015 by cshalizi
Origins of narcissism in children
"Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth). We timed the study in late childhood (ages 7–12), when individual differences in narcissism first emerge. In four 6-mo waves, 565 children and their parents reported child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental overvaluation, and parental warmth. Four-wave cross-lagged panel models were conducted. Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”). Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation. These findings uncover early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism, and may inform interventions to curtail narcissistic development at an early age."

--- Psychometrics based on self-reports, rather than any sort of second-party evaluation of actual behavior. Look for replication data?
to:NB  psychology  narcissism  graphical_models  time_series  statistics  personality  mental_testing  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time 
march 2015 by cshalizi
The Hungry Mind — Susan Engel | Harvard University Press
"Despite American education’s recent mania for standardized tests, testing misses what really matters about learning: the desire to learn in the first place. Curiosity is vital, but it remains a surprisingly understudied characteristic. The Hungry Mind is a deeply researched, highly readable exploration of what curiosity is, how it can be measured, how it develops in childhood, and how it can be fostered in school.
"Children naturally possess an active interest in knowing more about the world around them. But what begins as a robust trait becomes more fragile over time, and is shaped by experiences with parents, teachers, peers, and the learning environment. Susan Engel highlights the centrality of language and question-asking as crucial tools for expressing curiosity. She also uncovers overlooked forms of curiosity, such as gossip—an important way children satisfy their interest in other people. Although curiosity leads to knowledge, it can stir up trouble, and schools too often have an incentive to squelch it in favor of compliance and discipline.
"Balanced against the interventions of hands-on instructors and hovering parents, Engel stresses the importance of time spent alone, which gives children a chance to tinker, collect, read about the things that interest them, and explore their own thoughts. In addition to providing a theoretical framework for the psychology of curiosity, The Hungry Mind offers educators practical ways to put curiosity at the center of the classroom and encourage children’s natural eagerness to learn."
in_NB  books:noted  curiosity  education  psychology  mental_testing 
march 2015 by cshalizi
Interplay of approximate planning strategies
"Humans routinely formulate plans in domains so complex that even the most powerful computers are taxed. To do so, they seem to avail themselves of many strategies and heuristics that efficiently simplify, approximate, and hierarchically decompose hard tasks into simpler subtasks. Theoretical and cognitive research has revealed several such strategies; however, little is known about their establishment, interaction, and efficiency. Here, we use model-based behavioral analysis to provide a detailed examination of the performance of human subjects in a moderately deep planning task. We find that subjects exploit the structure of the domain to establish subgoals in a way that achieves a nearly maximal reduction in the cost of computing values of choices, but then combine partial searches with greedy local steps to solve subtasks, and maladaptively prune the decision trees of subtasks in a reflexive manner upon encountering salient losses. Subjects come idiosyncratically to favor particular sequences of actions to achieve subgoals, creating novel complex actions or “options.”"
to:NB  cognitive_science  computational_complexity  planning  decision-making  heuristics  to_read  psychology  experimental_psychology  bounded_rationality 
march 2015 by cshalizi
Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories
"Conspiracy theories can form a monological belief system: A self-sustaining worldview comprised of a network of mutually supportive beliefs. The present research shows that even mutually incompatible conspiracy theories are positively correlated in endorsement. In Study 1 (n = 137), the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered. In Study 2 (n = 102), the more participants believed that Osama Bin Laden was already dead when U.S. special forces raided his compound in Pakistan, the more they believed he is still alive. Hierarchical regression models showed that mutually incompatible conspiracy theories are positively associated because both are associated with the view that the authorities are engaged in a cover-up (Study 2). The monological nature of conspiracy belief appears to be driven not by conspiracy theories directly supporting one another but by broader beliefs supporting conspiracy theories in general."

--- I'd want to look very carefully at the numerical data to make sure this isn't being driven by a few people who are crazy (even once you allow for their being into conspiracy theories). In fact, this sounds like a situation where you'd really want to look carefully at protocols collected from the interviewees... Last tag conditional on the authors responding positively to my query about access to the data.
to:NB  have_skimmed  surveys  hierarchical_statistical_models  conspiracy_theories  sociology  to_teach:undergrad-ADA  psychology  natural_history_of_truthiness 
february 2015 by cshalizi
How Robust Are Probabilistic Models of Higher-Level Cognition?
"An increasingly popular theory holds that the mind should be viewed as a near-optimal or rational engine of probabilistic inference, in domains as diverse as word learning, pragmatics, naive physics, and predictions of the future. We argue that this view, often identified with Bayesian models of inference, is markedly less promising than widely believed, and is undermined by post hoc practices that merit wholesale reevaluation. We also show that the common equation between probabilistic and rational or optimal is not justified."
in_NB  psychology  cognitive_science  bayesianism  marcus.gary_f.  have_read 
february 2015 by cshalizi
Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification | The National Academies Press
"Eyewitnesses play an important role in criminal cases when they can identify culprits. Estimates suggest that tens of thousands of eyewitnesses make identifications in criminal investigations each year. Research on factors that affect the accuracy of eyewitness identification procedures has given us an increasingly clear picture of how identifications are made, and more importantly, an improved understanding of the principled limits on vision and memory that can lead to failure of identification. Factors such as viewing conditions, duress, elevated emotions, and biases influence the visual perception experience. Perceptual experiences are stored by a system of memory that is highly malleable and continuously evolving, neither retaining nor divulging content in an informational vacuum. As such, the fidelity of our memories to actual events may be compromised by many factors at all stages of processing, from encoding to storage and retrieval. Unknown to the individual, memories are forgotten, reconstructed, updated, and distorted. Complicating the process further, policies governing law enforcement procedures for conducting and recording identifications are not standard, and policies and practices to address the issue of misidentification vary widely. These limitations can produce mistaken identifications with significant consequences. What can we do to make certain that eyewitness identification convicts the guilty and exonerates the innocent?
"Identifying the Culprit makes the case that better data collection and research on eyewitness identification, new law enforcement training protocols, standardized procedures for administering line-ups, and improvements in the handling of eyewitness identification in court can increase the chances that accurate identifications are made. This report explains the science that has emerged during the past 30 years on eyewitness identifications and identifies best practices in eyewitness procedures for the law enforcement community and in the presentation of eyewitness evidence in the courtroom. In order to continue the advancement of eyewitness identification research, the report recommends a focused research agenda."
to:NB  books:noted  psychology  law 
january 2015 by cshalizi
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