Psychology


The role of spirituality and religion in individuals' lives has been studied since the beginning of modern psychology. It's not been a consistent examination, nor always a useful one, but the desire to understand both why people believe in gods and how these religious beliefs can be adaptive and helpful in their lives is a relevant one, since over 70% of Americans profess religious beliefs.

I hope you didn't see my first-to-worst performance in last night's hotties vs. nerds edition of ABC's WIPEOUT. If you did, you know what happened: after winning the round of 24 by almost a minute and then winning the round of 12 by the equivalent of a furlong, I got stuck in the round of six trying one element over and over -- the wrong way -- as people I had beaten in the first two rounds passed and eventually eliminated me.

Nuts--'twas a very good shot at $50k that my family of four surviving on my writer's salary could've used.

 By James Todd (in italics) and Kim Wombles
A study in Canada says Canadian pre-schoolers prefer to play with kids more like them.

Are Canadian parents ingraining bias in their kids?  Or French-Canadians?  Hard to know. Participants were recruited from six daycares located in Montreal and its suburbs: 30 mostly second-generation Asian-Canadians and 30 French-Canadians. Children were paired with peers they had known for at least three months. According to the research team, social mores likely prompted a lack of interaction between cultures.   
One of my favorite songs of all time is "In the Garden." I know Willie's not got the prettiest of voices, but I love his version best of all. He lives hard and the gravel in his voice lends a depth to the content of the song that others don't quite have.


Recently, I reviewed Simon Baron-Cohen's new book, The Science of Evil, and interviewed him concerning zero empathy, neurological disorders like autism spectrum disorders and personality disorders like narcissism, borderline, and psychopathy.
Perceptions of racism may cause loss of sleep and perhaps loss of sleep may also impact perceptions of racism.

A new study has found that self-reported sleep disturbance correlated to perceived racism, which was increased by 61 percent after adjusting for socioeconomic factors and symptoms of depression. A similar relationship between perceived racism and daytime fatigue was no longer significant after additional adjustment for depressive symptoms.
Simon Baron-Cohen "sat down with me" this week via email and graciously took the time to answer my questions stemming from my review of  his new book, The Science of Evil, that appeared on my blogs last week. What follows is a response that is every bit as thorough as my original review; between the two (and I recommend you read both as a complete piece), there's 15 single spaced pages of material. I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and I think readers will, too. There's even dueling databases, which I absolutely loved, below!


My questions are in italics; SBC's in regular font.
Just after Satoshi Kanazawa once again trashed the reputation of fringe field evolutionary psychology, independent psychology researcher Darrel Ray wants to tank clinical psychology.

His method for its destruction?  An online survey of people with a 'religious background' who left religion, of course.   14,500 people responded and, not surprisingly, the results skewed toward exactly what an atheist-who-was-raised-fundamentalist-Christian wants them to skew toward; that atheists have better sex lives.

Simon Baron-Cohen is best known for his research into autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and his theories on the origins of ASDs, from a failure of theory of mind, to fetal testosterone levels, to the latest formulation of a low empathizing/high systemizing theory. In his newest work, The Science of Evil: On Empathy and The Origins of Cruelty, Baron-Cohen moves beyond his decades long work in autism to look at empathy in general and what a deficit of empathy in people can lead to. The result is a slim volume aspiring to greater things.