Category Archives: News

World’s stupidest drugs laws enacted by Britain

Yesterday, the UK Parliament approved the Psychoactive Drugs Bill which will become law in April. New Scientist pulls no punches in an uncharacteristically direct article and tells it like it is: It’s official – the UK ban on legal highs that will begin in April is going to be one of the stupidest, most dangerous […]

An inner beauty of neurosurgery

The New York Times has an excellent profile of British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh that manages to be an indiscreet but humane look at the medic now famous for his autobiography Do No Harm It follows Marsh as he operates with colleagues in Albania and recounts both his work and personal style. It is written by […]

The underground smart drug amendment

Last week, some amendments were quietly slipped into the disastrous Psychoactive Substances Bill that’s currently going through parliament. Surprisingly, a new list of permitted substances has been added. Almost all are poorly evidenced substances used informally as ‘smart drugs’. The bill is an embarrassingly bad piece of legislation that aims to ban all psychoactive substances […]

The Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative

“The Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative” is a grassroots attempt to promote open science by organising academics’ work as reviewers. All academics spend countless hours on peer review, a task which is unpaid, often pretty thankless, and yet employs their unique and hard-won skills as scholars. We do this, despite misgivings about the current state of […]

Drug control through fantasy neuroscience

I’ve got an article in today’s Observer about the disastrous Psychoactive Substances Bill, a proposed law designed to outlaw all psychoactive substances based on a fantasy land version of neuroscience. “The bottom line is, the only way of knowing whether a mystery substance alters the mind is to take it. You simply can’t tell by […]

Jeb Bush has misthought

According to the Washington Examiner, republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has said that doing a psychology major will mean “you’re going to be working a Chick-fil-A” and has encouraged students to choose college degrees with better employment prospects. If you’re not American, Chik-fil-A turns out be a fast food restaurant, presumably of dubious quality. Bush […]

A social vanishing

A fantastic eight-part podcast series called Missing has just concluded and it’s a brilliant look at the psychology and forensic science of missing people. It’s been put together by the novelist Tim Weaver who is renowned for his crime thrillers that feature missing persons investigator David Raker. He uses the series to investigate the phenomenon […]

A museum of many minds

I spent a very long time in the old Bethlem museum, owing to the fact that there’s little else to do when you live at one of the world’s oldest psychiatric hospitals. The Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam as it’s been known in centuries past, has moved many times over its lifetime, but it’s now […]

Oliver Sacks has left the building

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has died at the age of 82. It’s hard to fully comprehend the enormous impact of Oliver Sacks on the public’s understanding of the brain, its disorders and our diversity as humans. Sacks wrote what he called ‘romantic science’. Not romantic in the sense of romantic love, but romantic in […]

Don’t call it a comeback

The Reproducibility Project, the giant study to re-run experiments reported in three top psychology journals, has just published its results and it’s either a disaster, a triumph or both for psychology. You can’t do better than the coverage in The Atlantic, not least as it’s written by Ed Yong, the science journalist who has been […]

Psychological science in intelligence service operations

I’ve got an article in today’s Observer about how British intelligence services are applying psychological science in their deception and infiltration operations. Unfortunately, the online version has been given a headline which is both frivolous and wrong (“Britain’s ‘Twitter troops’ have ways of making you think…”). The ‘Twitter troops’ name was given to the UK […]

Digital tech, the BMJ, and The Baroness

The British Medical Journal just published an editorial by me, Dorothy Bishop and Andrew Przybylski about the debate over digital technology and young people that focuses on Susan Greenfield’s mostly, it has to be said, unhelpful contributions. Through appearances, interviews, and a recent book Susan Greenfield, a senior research fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, has […]

APA facilitated CIA torture programme at highest levels

The long-awaited independent report, commissioned by the American Psychological Association, into the role of the organisation in the CIA’s torture programme has cited direct collusion at the highest levels of the APA to ensure psychologists could participate in abusive interrogation practices. Reporter James Risen, who has been chasing the story for some time, revealed the […]

Context Is the New Black

The New Yorker has one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the Stanford prison experiment – the notorious and mythologised study that probably doesn’t tell us that we ‘all have the potential to be monsters’. It’s a study that’s often taught as one of the cornerstones of psychology and like many foundational stories, […]

The thin white line of future drug control

The UK Government have announced they want to change the drugs law and ban “[any] substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect”. It’s a fairly clumsy attempt to tackle the wave of ‘legal highs’ but there’s a little psychopharmacological gem, hidden away, in the Home Secretary’s letter that accompanies the proposed changes. There’s […]

The most unaccountable of machinery

The latest edition of intriguing podcast Love and Radio is on a lesbian who passed as a man to report on masculinity, writing a amphetamine-fuelled stream-of-consciousness biography of Virginia Woolf, and finding hope in suicide. It’s an interview with writer Norah Vincent and it makes for compelling listening. Love and Radio is an interesting project […]

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