Archive for the ‘News and Topical Issues’ category The seemingly endless stream of sex scandals by powerful politicians in the United States raises a question: Does this say something about men, or does it say something about power? New research suggests that power, not being a guy, is the corrupting factor. Powerful people tend to see themselves as more attractive than they [...]

Madeleine Brand had me on her KPCC public radio show today to talk about illusory correlations (as they apply to the Juan Williams controversy) and the action bias (as it applies to the upcoming 2010 midterm elections). Listen here or download the file here Ever hear of the phenomenon called an “illusory correlation”? It explains why commentator Williams, who was recently fired from NPR, associates Muslims at airports with terrorists. I am going to be writing my next column for Slate about this issue. To whet your appetite, here’s a radio interview about illusory correlations and other biases [...] The 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded to Peter Diamond, a champion of the field of behavioral economics. As I am sure you know, behavioral economics is a discipline which shows how people regularly depart from the rational, self-interested behavior that conventional economics suggests is the universal norm. The reason people regularly [...] A host of extraneous factors have been known to affect the sentencing decisions of judges in the United States. New research shows that having children and being seen to be good providers for them benefits most defendants and earns them lighter prison sentences. I recently posted this puzzle on The Hidden Brain’s Facebook fan [...] President Barack Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court highlights the power of frames in politics. In recent years, conservative presidents have appointed conservative justices, whereas liberal presidents have appointed moderates. Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan herself once noted the irony inherent in this process. In the University of Chicago Law [...] The recent British elections highlight why the rules — not candidates, parties, issues or ideologies — are the real kingmakers in democracies. The graphic shows the percentage of votes and percentage of seats won by the three major British parties. Look at the disparities! If the Tories and Labour had stuffed ballot boxes so [...] For years, people who don’t believe the official version of the Kennedy assassination have wondered about a photo showing Lee Harvey Oswald in his backyard holding a rifle. One of the central concerns raised by doubters is that the shadows on Oswald’s face do not match the shadows on the ground. The shadow beneath [...] More than twice as many members of the Tea Party Movement (compared to the general public) believe President Obama favors blacks over whites. The stats: 25 percent of tea Partiers versus 11 percent of the general public believe the Obama White House disproportionately favors blacks over whites. This according to a New York Times [...] Some of the skyrocketing increase in autism diagnoses in the United States has to do with sociological forces — people talking to one another about the disorder, sharing information about doctors and providing friends and colleagues with information about educational resources. The research does not imply that autism is “made-up,”  but rather that as [...]