February 18, 2016

The Scalia Job: Why Wouldn’t It Be a Conspiracy?

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia immediately put conspiracy theorists to work. The San Antonio Express-News cited ten of the most common Scalia conspiracy theories circulating. These included three from a Dallas Observer article that referred to Scalia conspiracy theories as “batshit” but explained how he could have been smothered, poisoned, or gassed […]

February 8, 2016

The Risk of Writing About Political Behavior (or Will I be criticized as a liberal mouthpiece or a conservative hack? Hopefully both.)

Politics provides a great window into human behavior. And the presidential debates thus far have not disappointed in this regard. A beautiful example came in the final Republican debate before the Iowa caucus when Chris Christie attacked Hillary Clinton’s character for her refusal to accept responsibility for Benghazi: “She refuses to be held accountable for […]

January 16, 2016

An Iowa Caucus Poll: How Frame can Color the Story

I was listening to CNN in my car a couple of days ago and heard a story about how Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are now neck and neck in Iowa. This was followed by a panel discussion about whether this was 2008 all over again when Clinton was the de facto nominee until Obama […]

January 14, 2016

The Powerball Frenzy: Do we even know what $1.5 billion is?

At 10:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Powerball announced the winning number combination for the biggest jackpot in lottery history. By early Thursday morning, the New York Times reported that at least three states sold a jackpot-winning ticket. The winners will divide a jackpot worth $1.568 billion, with a cash option of $983.5 million. I think […]

January 5, 2016

Hindsight Bias in Response to a Terrorist Threat: New York vs. Los Angeles

On December 15, Los Angeles Unified School District closed schools and told 640,000 students to stay home as police engaged in a massive search for explosives. Los Angeles and New York schools had received similar email threats of an impending terrorist attack. While LA responded by shutting its schools down, New York concluded the threat […]

October 13, 2015

Scientific Method and the Myth of Total Recall

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the importance of skepticism. Learning happens when we question our beliefs. This is clear when you watch a great scientist at work. I had the pleasure recently of talking with Gary Marcus, Psychology Professor and Director of the NYU Center for Language and Music. A mutual friend put […]

October 9, 2015

Death by Selfie (and Availability Bias)

One of the hottest stories circulating these days is about how selfies are twice as dangerous as sharks. Mashable.com broke this story on September 21, and it went viral. TheMashable article has over 147,000 shares, and that might be only a small fraction of the total, since every news outlet has repeated it, questioned it, or both. […]

October 6, 2015

Exploring the Topic of “Stereotype Threat” on a New NPR Podcast

  Shankar Vedantam recently launched a brand new podcast for NPR called “Hidden Brain” in which he explores life’s unseen patterns. He called upon Annie Duke to be one of his very first guests and invited her to Washington, D.C. to tape the conversation in front of a live audience. Take a listen to the […]

October 6, 2015

Yes, Governor Walker, We Do Believe Everything Donald “Maybe it says he’s a Muslim” Trump (and Anyone Else) Says

In the Second Republican Presidential Debate, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker got off a line that probably won’t make political debating history, but should: “Just because he [ Donald “The U.S. has become a dumping ground” Trump] says it doesn’t make it true.” See the Washington Post‘s transcript of the debate, which includes fact-checking annotations. As sharp […]

September 29, 2015

Learning From Skepticism: 2-4-8 and the Pursuit of Ignorance

Derek Muller’s Veritasium YouTube channel makes scientific concepts accessible, as evidenced by his 2.8 million subscribers. Earlier this year I wrote about his video demonstrating the concept of loss aversion. Regardless of the topic, he always manages to make science engaging, accessible and surprising. One of his most popular videos, Can You Solve This?, shows the importance of skepticism […]

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