Category Archives: psychology

The Red Queen: But If It is, Let Us Pray It Does Not Become Widely Known

My last read of 2016 was Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen. It was already in our home and grabbed my eye and it turned out to be a real page-turner. The title is a reference to a scene in Through the Looking-Glass where the Red Queen herself explains to Alice that, there, it takes running […]

Why People Die by Suicide: Review and Notes

Recently, a very distant acquaintance – I infer, from Facebook – died by suicide. Because I was not close to this person and am not close to any of our mutual friends, my curiosity surrounding the circumstances of this surprising departure is thwarted and I remain fairly troubled regarding the whole thing (possibly since this […]

Seligman on happiness: authentic or by definition?

I’m almost done with Martin Seligman’s well-known book of positive psychology, Authentic Happiness (2003). It’s been a very good read – although I was familiar with many of the relevant research findings, from my various internet travels (and Barking Up The Wrong Tree in particular), Seligman puts it all together and lays it out in […]

social welfare, the handicapped, and special education

Common sense may suggest that increases in social welfare are more easily obtained by focusing resources on the mentally and/or physically handicapped, rather than using those resources instead to marginally improve non-handicapped individuals’ lives. The capabilities approach, as developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, would also imply that resources are well-spent when devoted to […]

poverty, willpower, and virtue ethics

Recently, philosopher Michael Cholbi tweeted this story: “Why Can’ More Poor People Escape Poverty?“, along with the suggestion that the findings described therein could have implications for virtue theory. To make a long story short: “In the 1990s, social psychologists developed a theory of “depletable” self-control. The idea was that an individual’s capacity for exerting willpower […]

book review: Schmidtz and Brennan’s “A Brief History of Liberty”

Actually, this is more of a book recommendation than a book review. David Schmidtz is one of my favorite philosophers; it was his book “Social Welfare and Individual Responsibility: For and Against” (written with Robert Goodin) that first began to wake me from my dogmatic political slumbers circa 2006, when I was an undergrad back […]

learning styles, individual differences, and responsibility

Recently, I came across this video: “Learning Styles Don’t Exist,” by psychologist Daniel T. Willingham of the University of Virginia. Willingham argues that learning style theories fail to predict the differences in learning that we would expect to see if they were correct (you should go watch, he explains it better than I could). Learning […]

what’s in a name? – labels and tracking

Yesterday, I discussed the issue of whether work-related language is appropriate for describing learning. Here’s another language in education controversy that has made it into the news lately: ‘At hope’ kids better than ‘at risk’?: Washington state lawmaker wants to banish negative labels The bill is motivated by the good-hearted desire for disadvantaged children to […]