Monthly Archives: December 2009

By king or cobbler

A thoughtful reflection on the psychology of the New Year, published in 1895 by the acclaimed essayist Charles Lamb in his collection The Essays of Elia. Every man has two birth-days: two days at least, in every year, which set him upon revolving the lapse of time, as it affects his mortal duration. The one […]

Undercover in Accra Psychiatric Hospital

Award winning journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas went undercover in Ghana’s Accra Psychiatric Hospital and has published a hard hitting report on the appalling conditions in one of the country’s main institutions for treating mental illness. In a spectacular piece of investigative reporting Anas posed as a patient, a trader, a baker and a taxi driver […]

A year in science and sex

Dr Petra has two great posts, one looking at the best and worst of sex and science stories from 2009, and another revisiting her annual predictions for the year in sexuality and sexual health. The best and worst include everything from clitorocentric conspiracies, informed sex education, the Ugandan government, female sex drugs and Shakira (who […]

Personals from psychologists

Adverts from psychologists in the Personals section of the New York Magazine. Marriage-Minded Jewish Doctor – Successful. 43-year-old behavioral psychologist and entrepreneur. I’m 5’11”, slim, considered handsome, and have many diversified social and cultural interests. More importantly, others judge me to be warm, sensitive, romantic, altruistic and capable of great love and devotion. I’d love […]

Ten to know

The Brainspin blog has a list of ‘Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About’ that covers a mix of well-known studies and hidden gems from the last year. The descriptions, as you might expect, are a little brief and give just the punchline without some of the possible drawbacks but all are linked to […]

Going gently

The New York Times has an sensitive and in-depth article about the difficult decision to administer strong sedative drugs to terminally ill patients to ease their suffering at the expensive of potentially quickening their death. It is, in all but one respect, a very good article, however it does contain a monumentally stupid paragraph: For […]

The isolation contagion

The Boston Globe covers an interesting new study finding, seemingly paradoxically, that loneliness can be spread from person-to-person and can work its way through social networks. The paradox is resolved by the important point, outlined by one of the study’s authors, John Cacioppo, that ‚ÄúLoneliness isn‚Äôt being alone, it‚Äôs feeling alone”. In other words, it’s […]

The Edison Brainmeter

The Psychologist has a fantastic article on one of the first psychological ability measures, created not by a psychologist but by the inventor of the domestic light bulb, Thomas Edison, who devised his trivia-based ‘brainmeter’ test as a way of selecting employees. Although earlier tests had been in use, such as the prototype of the […]

Trend setters may only be visible in rear view mirror

I’ve just found this excellent Fast Company article from last year challenging the idea that there is a ‘tipping point’ in fashions or trends driven by small numbers of highly connected people who have a disproportionate influence over which new products or ideas become popular. The piece is based on work by Duncan Watts, a […]

The obscure tools of language

The Economist has an article based on rather a daft premise (‘in search of the world’s hardest language’) that nevertheless manages to cover numerous interesting ways in which diverse languages demand mental somersaults from the speaker or require that the speaker has to think about the world in specific ways. Beyond Europe things grow more […]

New issue of Contemporary Psychotherapy

A new issue of the sleek internet magazine Contemporary Psychotherapy has just appeared online and is well worth checking out if you’re interested in the art of psychological treatment. The magazine is aimed at psychotherapists and deals with everything from the bricks-and-mortar issues of running a practice to relationship dynamics in couples and families. However, […]

Dealing with data of the damned

There’s an interesting article in Wired about how scientists deal with data that conflicts with their expectations and whether biases in how the brain deals with contradictory information might influence scientific reasoning. The piece is based on the work of Kevin Dunbar who combines the sociology of science with the cognitive neuroscience of scientific reasoning. […]

Kim Peek has left the building reports that the remarkable Kim Peek, inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s character in the 1988 film Rain Main, has passed away. Despite clear and disabling difficulties in day-to-day living, Peek accumulated an encyclopaedic knowledge of numerous subjects areas, could read two pages of a book at once and could instantly calculate the day of the […]

Sampling from the stream of consciousness

The New York Times has a fascinating article revisiting a classic problem in psychology of whether our accounts of our individual ‘streams of consciousness’ have any useful role in the scientific understanding the mind. Many of the early studies in psychology relied on people simply reporting ‘what they thought’ and got a bad reputation due […]

Super thinker

Superman in the pose of Rodin’s statue The Thinker outside the headquarters of Bancolombia in Medell√≠n. I’m not quite sure about the intention of the statue as in the UK it would probably be considered an ironic take on the stereotype of the financial whiz kid and unfortunately I found it on the weekend so […]

The psychological effects of brain theories

The Frontal Cortex has an interesting piece on how giving people information suggesting that neuroscience undermines our everyday concept of free will can alter our ethical behaviour. The post discusses two experiments where participants had been given information suggesting that free will was an illusion – one passage taken from Francis Crick’s book The Astonishing […]


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