May PsychNotes

Image: Johns Hopkins University.Here’s a little challenge for ya. Take a look at this chart of cognitive biases and see if you can identify two that you’re especially guilty of, and two that you’re reasonably good at avoiding. I suffer inordinately from reactive devaluation and gambler’s fallacy, and I’ve gotten reasonably skilled at avoiding confirmation bias and hyperbolic discounting, when I try. How about you? …

April PsychNotes

Harvesting the spaghetti crop, 1957The first mass media April Fool joke was reportedly the BBC’s 1957 Panorama segment on spaghetti harvesting, for which a cameraman hung “pounds of spaghetti over trees in a little Swiss village” and persuaded locals to harvest the crop. The BBC was inundated with calls. “[T]he majority either wanted to know where they could see a spaghetti harvest, or obtain information to start a spaghetti farm” (Humphrys 1999).

It was a simpler time. Here are some research goodies from last month. …

Men, Never Marry a Misstery

Never Marry a MysteryHey, you wanna buy a car? Here’s my offer: If you give me $50,000 I’ll deliver a vehicle to you next year. Until then, you don’t get to drive it or see it. Maybe it’s a new Lamborghini, or maybe it’s a ’77 Pinto with a tendency to explode.

Any takers? I didn’t think so. No one with a lick of common sense would take that deal, yet I routinely meet men, and more than a few women, who use that method to make a much more important decision: they marry people they haven’t truly gotten to know. Occasionally they get lucky, but more often they deeply regret it. …

March PsychNotes

What is green and pecks on trees? Woody the Woodpickle. (That joke never fails with kids.) Here are some goodies from last month, including studies on woodpecker brain damage, preventing extramarital affairs, and why your brain might not trust certain people. …