In case you missed them – 10 of the best psychology links from the past week:
1. The US government needs a “Council of Psychological Advisors” to complement the existing Council of Economic Advisors. So argues Barry Schwartz in an essay for The Atlantic, in which he reviews ways that psychological insights can inform policy, from educational practices to combating climate change. Schwartz also gives a nod of approval to the UK government’s own Behavioural Insight Team (check out my interview with the head of that Team, David Halpern). Also related – this article claims that Obama’s election campaign was aided by a “dream team” of psychologists!
2. Gary Marcus for the New Yorker reviews Ray Kurzweil’s bold new book: How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. It’s a story of intellectual hubris: “Kurzweil doesn’t know neuroscience as well as he knows artificial intelligence, and doesn’t understand psychology as well as either.”
3. BBC’s Panorama programme this week, now on iPlayer, was about the work of British neuroscientist Adrian Owen, using fMRI to communicate with patients in a persistent vegetative state. We’ve covered Owen’s work several times in The Psychologist and the Research Digest.
5. The Schizophrenia Commission published the results of its year-long investigation into the state of care for patients with schizophrenia in England, finding them to be “badly let down”. The commission chair, Robin Murray, said on the BBC’s Today programme that there’s an urgent need for more psychologists.
6. The New York Times published a wonderful, moving long-read about a girl with congenital pain insensitivity. (see also). Oh, and check out this new game about pain from the Science Museum.
7. When they’re allowed out into the real world, a question that psychologists are asked frequently is “So, do you know what I’m thinking?”. In this amusing video, psychologists at the University of Manchester give you their answer.
8. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Black Swan, took aim at psychology super-scholar Steven Pinker this week, publishing a withering critique (pdf) of Pinker’s book about the decline of violence. Pinker hit back (pdf; winning the argument hands down in my opinion). Taleb then published an odd 3-line rebuttal, after which one can only imagine he inserted his fingers in his ears whilst blurting “I’m right, not listening, can’t hear you.”