from day 01/01/2007

The face of the thinker

This post was first puvlished in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. The hindsight bias is the tendency to say after an event happened that “we knew it all along”, that it’s not really surprising. This is a bias because when asked before the event, we wouldn’t have predicted it, ...

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The Blushing Brain

This post was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. Moral philosophers have long made the distinguo between guilt (the awareness of doing something intrinsically wrong) and shame (the awareness that your behavior is an object of laughter and spite from others). A recent neuroimaging ...

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God is dead?

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. Atheists (and religious people sometimes too) often think that people believe in God because it shields them from the fear of their own death, or protects them from the idea that their departed loved ones are, well, just dead. Two ...

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Art and patterns

This post was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. This is an extremely speculative post exploring multimodal perception in artists. It was primed by this fascinating paper written by " a multimedia conceptual artist (...) working on a series of projects that explore the nature of ...

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The power of mind

This post was written in 2006 by Karim N'Diaye. It was originally published on the Alphapsy blog. Social psychologists from Harvard and Princeton campuses report on belief in magical causation from lay people (as far as students from those places can be considered as laid lay persons ...

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On conformism among social psychologists

This post was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. In a previous post on deliberative democracy, I said that people often attack deliberative democracy on the ground that people are conformists; and they do so by relying on Asch’s famous experiment. This experiment, although one ...

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Know thyself, yes – but how?

This post was first published on the Alphapsy blog in 2006. The importance of self-knowledge has often been emphasized, from traditional lore to New Age gurus. However, there may be very different ways to know thyself. Two of the most important aspects of self-knowledge are autobiographical ...

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Washing away our sins

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. A nice paper by Chen-Bo Zhong and Katie Liljenquist in Science about the "Macbeth effect" : a threat to one’s moral purity induces the need to wash. This effect revealed itself through an increased mental accessib...

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Reassembling Latour

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog A review of "Reassembling the Social", by Bruno Latour, a handbook that sums up 25 years of controversial research. Still provocative, Latour happily acknowledges the "wreckage" (sic) of the 'Social Studies ...

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The naive theories of ‘Honey I shrunk the kids!’

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. Biomorphologist Michael C. LaBarbera has an amazing paper (actually a seven parts lesson) on the physics and biology of B-movie monsters (thanks to AL Daily for bringing me this one). It shows that cinema creatures consistently ...

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What is neuroaesthetics about anyway?

This post was originally written in 2006 by Simon Barthelmé and published on the Alphapsy blog. Martin Skov's Brainethics has a very nice post introducing bioaesthetics, a field that endeavours to use "neuroscience to understand art and aesthetic behaviour". I'd like to ...

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From Sudoku to Spinoza: The Hedonistic Side of Reasoning

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. We all have a friend who has spent some time trying to convince us that {insert here your personal bête noire, be it mathematics, philosophy or logic} was actually fun. All of these domains involve reasoning, by which I mean ...

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How to Corax your theory of mind

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. Don't know why I decided to take a course in Greek Rhetoric this semester... But readers will be glad to learn that I really had fun! I came across a jewel of a mind-twister, an argument called the Corax. I think the Corax and ...

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Explanations as orgasms

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. Explanations are necessary. Without them, hunter-gatherers would have trouble learning sophisticated hunting techniques and we would have trouble learning how to program our VCRs (equally terrible threats). Since natural selection ...

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Naive theories of gender differences in maths

This post was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. An interesting study sheds some new light on the "gender and math" controversy, (in)famously reignited last year by Larry Summers.     Ilan Dar-Nimrod and Steven Heine have just published a paper ...

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Who killed Gwen Stacy?

  Or why Superheroes need to know about physics' law of momentum conservation, causal deviance, possible world ontology and memetics. This post, written by Karim N'Diaye, was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog.     As a follow-up to Olivier&#3...

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Do psychiatrists believe in madness?

This post, written in 2006 by Karim N'Diaye, was first published on the Alphapsy blog. A short notice of a short paper investigating whether clinicians hold an essentialist view on mental disorders, i.e. whether they consider that mental disorders represent natural kinds possessing "an ...

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Is terror management theory dying?

This post was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. In a recent post on the psychology of religion, Hugo judged “dubious that we should be endowed with a fear of death so strong that we need to have other mechanisms to hold it in check”. Actually, Carlos Navarrete and Dan ...

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Pitt-Rivers haunts the Musée du Quai Branly

This post was originally published in 2006, on the Alphapsy blog. On visiting the brand new Musée du Quai Branly in Paris last Sunday, I was amazed to meet the ghost of one of the most outdated anthropologists of the Victorian Age. The French Président de la République is probably the most ...

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Long live the majority!

This post was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. "How should groups make decisions?" this old question is on the way of being answered, as researchers Reid Hastie and Tatsuya Kameda vindicate the use of the majority rule. In a paper published last year in Psychological ...

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In praise of babies

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. No news in this post: its only aim is to remind us of how socially savvy babies are. A review paper in press in trends in cognitive sciences sums up the evidence from developmental psychology and neuroscience. During a ...

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Who thinks the Earth is flat?

This post was first published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blog. Less people than you think. Most people have the representation of Columbus valiantly fighting against the authorities and finally convincing these obscurantist scholars coming right from the middle-ages (actually it was the middle-ag...

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