from day 01/01/2007

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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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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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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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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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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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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Reassembling Latour

This post was originally published in 2006 on the Alphapsy blogA 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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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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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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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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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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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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