Introducing a Blog on Neuroscience and Conflict Resolution

February 13, 2010

Via Her Blog

I was referred to this blog, written by Stephanie West Allen, JD and Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD, and thought you might be interested in reading some of their writings.  Not only they introduce upcoming conferences on brain sciences, but they also write interesting articles about applying neuroscientific findings to law and conflict.

You might find these articles below interesting:

Brain Management . . . Law Firm Leadership on the Neuro Frontier

Law Students: Create A Well-Rounded Life

Move From Being a Mindless Lawyer To a Mindful Lawyer

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Upcoming Digital Workshop for Students: The Essentials of Blogging

February 9, 2010

via Shorenstein Center

This is one of the digital workshops prepared by Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy.  I hope some of you could join and learn about blogging!

Lisa Williams, CEO and founder, Placeblogger.com; Fellow, MIT Media Lab’s Center for Future Civic Media. Moderated by Anna York, MPP2.
Wednesday, February 17, 6 p.m., Taubman 301, Harvard Kennedy School

Read the rest of this entry »


Blog Log #9

February 1, 2010
* As selected from a pre-provided list of 7, which was pre-derived from a list of 10 lists, each consisting of seven blogs. The headline is not in any way an objective statement as to the quality of the blog as demonstrated by its receipt of any blog award or anything of the like, other than the author’s subjective preference as among the 7 pre-selected blogs mentioned herein.

PsyBlog Home

OK, if this worked, you’re still reading. The best of seven – here comes an indefensibly unpatriotic move – is a limey blog:

The main contributor is one Jeremy Dean    Jeremy Dean

Don’t let the boyish looks fool you, the man is all talent.  Besides, the relative youthfulness may be the reason why the topics of the posts are so appealing to me (who’s the decider re which of these 7 blogs is the best).  I have a feeling most youngins interested in psychology would find this stuff pretty fascinating.  Here’s a quick digest of the more recent stuff:

How hustlers trick 3.2 million people each year in the UK into handing over £3.5 billion – great post on common swindlers and how they already figured out all the cool psychological tricks, way before the researchers got around to it.

Cheating: Does Deindividuation Encourage It? – Anonymity=more probable unethical behavior.  This totally explains 90% of ATL comments.

How Other People’s Unspoken Expectations Control Us –  this is great – not only this about, basically, subliminal mind control, but it draws on the always interesting element of attraction/lack thereof.


Crazy good blogs about the mind

February 1, 2010

Figured I’d get around to doing my homework.  Here are a few blogs my law school prof thought were interesting.  Mind you, I didn’t just take take on his authority that they’re interesting. I did some checking up and marked the uninspired ones in a secret way that only you – my faithful, occasional dropped-in-by-freak-accident readers, will know. So here we are…

OK, let’s start with Neuronarrative. As the name clearly indicates, it’s a barrel of fun.   Seriously though, the blog is very accessible to regular people (e.g. me); the scientific stuff only comes in once in a while (where necessary) and when it does, it is usually preceded by a layperson’s description of what’s going on.  The blog is authored by David DiSalvo.  Despite the name, it features posts that are mostly about psychology, and specifically how it illuminates particularly confusing aspects of our lives.

Next, we have NeuroPhilosophy.  Authored by a self-described “neuroscientist by training and [] writer by inclination,” this blog offers an interesting discussion on psychology neuroscience.  Gotta note, this blog is much more comfortable being “sciency.” Frequent use of words like “synaesthesia” and “rheus prefrontal” might turn off some readers, but for others (me), it creates a sort of irresistible credibility associated with white-coats.

Onwards [and upwards?] orgtheory is a very minimalist blog, at least in presentation.  But you’ll find plenty of content, though.  It’s authored by a team of 9 bloggers, so there’s no shortage of styles.   Generally, the posts are either really short or respectable length. The short ones are announcements, jabs, quick reflections, usually the stuff you would tell your acquantances, and with no particular dominating theme.  The longer ones are also all over the place in terms of topics, but decidedly philosophical.  An interesting combination: I think the short posts do well to make readers feel as if they are part of a small community of clever and funny  people.

overcomingbias is another group blog. This one focuses on biases, all kinds of them: global (like overconfidence) or specific (e.g. of a racial variety). The prerogative, though, is as much on strategies for relieving other people of their biases (which we are all so good at noticing), as it is on uncovering biases. Strangely, the blog’s banner image is a striking portrayal of Ulysses and the Sirens.  Not sure about the relevance. I’ll probably be trying to figure it out for the next couple days. Sirens – biases – sirens – biases- sirens – biases… I must be missing some major piece of the argonaut’s story.

Pooh’s Think is another interesting one.  I should note that the author, Michal Metzler,  seems to be hidingintroductory info about the blog. Even on a semi-introductory page, I couldn’t quite get an overview.  May be that’s the point, in the recent posts, he covers linguistics, sexim, global warming, creationism, etc.  (i.e. whatever the author seems interested in). Best post: youtube of interviews at Sarah Palin’s book signing. Good stuff.

Project Implicit blogs about subconscious mental processes.  Really cool stuff as far as I’m concerned: it’s the thinking our brains do without telling us.  The blog explores the presence and effects of implicit cognition on gender-relations, race-relations, religion, etc.  Here’s a titillating example: how did implicit steriotypes impact the 2008 election?

That’s it for now, kids. Signing off. aa


Blog Log #8

January 31, 2010

1. Mind Hacks

This blog summarizes contemporary developments in neuroscience and psychological research. It provides interesting descriptions of how these developments alter our understanding of how our mind processes the world and how they affect our lives. Through these descriptions, it also seems to offer advice on how we should approach our lives given the new understandings of our brains.

One of the most interesting post was a recent one regarding the future of cognitive enhancement drugs. While the blogger acknowledges that these drugs may have a role in the future in shaping our lives, he notes that there may be serious limitations to these drugs such as there effects being temporary and the possibility we will need higher doses of them for the desired effect to occur after our bodies become used to smaller doses. Currently, caffeine is still the closest thing to an effective cognitive enhancer on the market. Thus, the blogger concludes that now–and possibly for a long time in the future–just using our brain effectively is the ultimate cognitive enhancer, given the brain’s ability to adapt and learn new tasks when we put it to use.

Photo via Emdot's Flikr Photostream

I enjoyed the blog because of informative posts such as this one, because it provided links to a wide array of interesting stories regarding developments in neuroscience and psychology, and because there were numerous entertaining posts about subjects ranging from whether a person can truly be frightened to death to the fate of the psychiatric profile of Adolf Hitler.

2. Mind Matters

A blog about moving beyond our notion of humans as rational actors and coming to terms with the true reasons people live the ways they do. Primarily, this blog seeks to articulate what coming to terms with this new understanding signifies for the institutions that we deal with in our everyday lives.

3. Mixing Memory

This is a blog run by a cognitive scientist who is seeking to reconcile emotion and cognition. It is very conversational in nature and the topics has written about are fairly diverse. It has not been updated recently (last post was on July 26, 2008),.

4. Neuroanthropology

A blog that seeks to combine knowledge from the disciplines of neuroscience and anthropology into a coherent and useful mix. It also attempts to integrate insights from other disciplines. The authors of the blog strive to create one that is not only informative, but also humorous and entertaining.

5. Neuroethics and Law Blog

This blog appears to be more scholarly, focusing primarily on how the law, ethics, and cotemporary developments in mind science relate. Although the blog is primarily maintained by one lawyer, there seem to be a substantial number of guest bloggers who provide interesting and quality perspectives on these issues.

6. Neuromarketing

A blog dedicated to analyzing how marketing efforts affect consumer’s cognition and the effectiveness of marketing efforts in accomplishing their aims. The blogs provides a business and marketing perspective on neuroscience, and the issues of mind science it discusses are chiefly a means of discussing business and marketing.


Blog Log #7

January 31, 2010

Talent Code

Similar to the popular Freakeconomics Blog published in the New York Times, the Talent Code Blog is dedicated to expanding on and maintaining the relevance of a bestseller, the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.  The thesis of the book—and, in turn, the theme of the blog—is that extraordinary talent is not (merely) innate, but can be unlocked through training, motivation and coaching—that is, by learning and by practicing an identifiable and discrete pattern of behavior.  Practice doesn’t make perfect; rather, perfect practice makes perfect.

The blog is especially entertaining to those interested in sports, music, and entertainment.  (After all, when we think of the “extraordinarily talented,” athletes and artists come to mind more easily than Nobel Prize winners.)  Take this weekend’s blog post, for example: Coyle analyzes whether the iPad will make us dumber or smarter.  On the one hand, the iPad will expose us even more to the Internet: “a warm bath of information and entertainment—and warm baths, while they feel fantastic, are an absolutely terrible way to built high-speed neural circuits.”  On the other hand, technology “gives us new and immersive ways to grow our skill circuits.”  To explain his point, Coyle offers two seemingly incongruous stories: 1) the story of Magnus Carlsen, a young chess wizard who trained solely against chess computer software, which offered him the opportunity to play millions of games; 2) the story of Mark Sanchez, quarterback of the New York Jets, who played thousands of Madden games.

As the post reveals, the most engaging aspect of the blog (and, maybe, the book) is the story-telling.  Coyle offers countless stories of real people—at times famous, like LeBron Jones, but other times more obscure—who developed their extraordinary talent through “deep” and “perfect practice.”  Yet, despite his use of anecdotal evidence, Coyle’s writing is rigorous.  He supports his arguments with neuroscientific, psychological, and cross-cultural evidence.  Therefore, although the typical neuroscientist or cognitive scientist might be wary of the extent to which Coyle downplays innateness, Coyle’s invocation of “hard,” natural science should placate even the expert.

Perhaps, though, the most moving aspect of the blog is self-serving: It makes the reader want to buy the book!

Two Minds

This blog highlights discoveries in neuroscience and psychology.  Yet, the blog does much more than summarize: it takes current debates and explores the neuroscientific or psychological angle.  One blog post analyzes the extent to which the availability heuristic plays a role in the swine flu hysteria.  Note, however, that the blog has not been updated since July 2009.

Us and Them

This now semi-defunct blogs analyzes the intersection between science and ethnicity, race, religion, caste, and class.  By David Berreby, the blog was dedicated to the expansion of his book, Us and Them: The Science of Identity.  Berreby now blogs exclusively on Big Think, the blog dedicated to his new book, Mind Matters.  The book analyzes the death of the “rational man”—our acceptance of the truth that we are not cool, rational optimizers—and the impact this “sea change” has on our institutions.

Warren Reports

This blog—to which Professor Elizabeth Warren is a frequent contributor—focuses on current economic, financial, and fiscal issues (e.g., the credit crunch, the financial crisis).  Although some of the posts do not invoke psychology, many of them do, including a recent post on credit card payments and psychological anchoring.

We’re Only Human

By Wray Herbert, this blog studies “the quirks of human nature”  The blog is a straightforward application of social psychology—including recent findings—to common occurrences (that the author wishes to write about) or current events.

What Sorts of People

This blog represents a cross-disciplinary approach to the phenomena of “human variation, normalcy, and enhancement.”  As an arm of the “What Sorts of People” Project, the blog is geared toward creating a more inclusive community by stimulating debate about the nature of human variation and our ability to influence such variation.  The blog is sprawling, but a common thread is subject matter involving the mentally or physically disabled or handicapped.

Whose Law?

This blog explores the intersection between law, social psychology, and political marginalization.  The blog’s concern is the extent to which the law is crafted without an informed understanding of the psychology and situation of a particular underrepresented group—an occurrence which could exclude the group from society altogether.  The subject matter is varied, from the effect of fraud on the elderly, to the impact of healthcare reform on the disabled.


Blog Log #7

January 31, 2010

1. Psychology and Crime News

This UK-based blog keeps track of psychological developments in a forensic context and of practical forensic developments that have psychological relevance.  Aimed primarily at an academic audience, it features posts discussing recent psychological developments; current affairs with forensic relevance; criminal justice matters in the UK; and recently-published journal articles with forensic relevance.

2. Psychablog

This is a personal blog run by Dr. Robin S. Rosenberg, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based clinical psychologist.  A recurring theme on the blog is the application of psychological concepts and analysis to films, television, and other forms of popular culture.  A recent post, linked below, analyzed the recent Batman film The Dark Knight from a psychological perspective, applying different psychological categories and disorders to the various characters.

The Dark Knight — A Psychologist’s View

3. Psychology Today

The Psychology Today Blogs site is a compilation of over 100 psychology-related blogs.  The site splits the blogs (which are mostly maintained by psychologists and psychiatrists) into areas of interest, such as addiction, cognition, media, neuroscience, etc.

4. The Race Equity Project

The Race Equity Project’s blog is run by Legal Services of Northern California.  The blog, along with the Project generally, seeks to address issues of race discrimination in a variety of ways: developing educational materials for race-based advocacy; proactively addressing issues of race; and connecting communities and race-based advocates.

5. Radiolab

The Radiolab blog is a companion to the Radiolab radio show, which is produced by WNYC (NYC’s public radio station).  The blog and the show address big issues and their smaller implications.  Recent topics on the show have included mortality, laughter, stress, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity’s implications on the concept of choice.  A recent post following the show on parasites featured the following parasite videos (warning, they’re gross):

6. Science of Small Talk

Science of Small Talk is a blog run by Sam Sommers, a social psychologist at Tufts.  Hosted by Psychology Today, the blog examines issues and current events through the lens of social psychology, discussing the intricacies of our interactions as social beings.

7. Sex Crimes

Run by Cory Rayburn Yung, an Assistant Professor at John Marshall Law School, the Sex Crimes blog is devoted to studying the law surrounding criminal laws regulating and punishing sexual violence.  The posts cover recent developments in legislatures and courts, and range from the descriptive to the analytical.