Teen Attends University, Can Now Tell You Her Experience Fits Erikson’s Developmental Model for Early Adulthood

I have talked a lot about graduating in the last months. I have technically finished classes at this point, and I’m in the thick of writing final papers and packing.

…and, I don’t have a good ending story for college. No elevator pitch. No pithy commentary.

College was a time of self-discovery, but honestly. Call the papers: Teenager Attends University, Has Revelations About Self? Hardly. This is not news, this is the default.

On June 6th, I’ll trade Evanston for Oakland, and on June 21st, I’ll be officially graduated.

and…that is all.

I think I’ll have more stories later. After all, my department’s building did have a Room of Requirement, I did find the original blueprints to NU, and I have lived with an extraordinary group of people.

But for now? I am turning in final papers and packing and registering for grad school classes. It feels a bit like finally picking up that book all of your social circle has been exclaiming over for months, and finding out that yes, it does have Those Characters, and yes they do Those Things, but it’s somewhat less exciting if everyone you know has already exclaimed it at you five times.

Housekeeping Note

I’m trading the freezing hellscape of Chicago for the Bay Area today through Sunday, and likely won’t be minding comments or answering questions at all. Apologies if your thoughtful rebuttal gets caught in moderation.

Monday Miscellany may occur on time, but this depends heavily on how well I adapt to the time changes and such.

Have a vibrating penguin and a lovely weekend!


There’s a new set of readers over here, and I wanted to stick a quick “wave, smile, and offer a nice hot dish” post up.

I’m Kate! I write Gruntled & Hinged. Many? Possibly most? of you seem to have come over from Slate Star Codex, but there was a recent influx of people from Unequally Yoked.

-I’ve been writing more frequently than usual, and expect to keep this up, within some constraints. Every Monday, there’s Monday Miscellany, a collection of links and suchlike. Otherwise, posts appear at around a rate of two per week.

-This blog is loosely themed around psychology, and breaks down into roughly:

  • 39% thinking about how human interaction (including therapy) works, could work better, and fails.
  • 18% Kate grumps about bad data collection/confounds/research/teaching of any of the previous. This is the Someone Wrong on the Internet part.
  • 27% stuff that relates to eating disorders and eating disorder treatment
  • The remainder: “HUNH. Look at THIS. Just look at it! Aren’t brains weeeeird?”

-Other post topics include baking (have some Nutella cookies!) atheism, and studenting.

-I belong peripherally to the rationality community, and participate in the secular-atheist-skeptosphere on a semi-regular basis.

-For five more weeks I’m an undergrad getting two degrees in psychology (applied and research-based) in Chicago. Very shortly thereafter I will be getting a Master’s in Social Work in Boston. I’ve worked previously in schizophrenia research/treatment and adoption services, and have an unfortunate amount of personal experience with eating disorders.

-There is no official comment policy, but the unofficial one is Be Nice And Cite Your Claims, Please. Commenters are on first-time moderation, but I’m quick about approval.

So! Hello! Well met! Who are you?



Speaking at Illinois-Wesleyan, 4/12 [UPDATED]

I spent much of my spring break in Boston and ran into a few people who live in the area, but hadn’t met in person. And I heard, more than once, “You’re Kate! From the internet!” Which….is true.

However! I am planning to exist in my corporeal form in two weeks, when I’ll be speaking at Illinois-Wesleyan University for their Secular Student Alliance group.

Details and description below:

Topic: Women & Pseudoscience

Time & Date: 3pm, Saturday, April 12th

Location: State Farm Hall  - 1402 Park St

Much of alternative medicine and pseudoscience is marketed at a demographic: women, and especially mothers. What does this look like? How should we speak about skepticism and change skeptical activism in order to address this? I’ll be pulling from recent research (see here and here for interesting background) and personal experience.


Science Meets Social Services: Helping Effectively

Used with permission from Sunday Assembly Chicago

This Sunday, at a bright and sunny hour, I’ll be speaking at Chicago’s Sunday Assembly. I’m testing out a new talk, a little lighter on the psychopathology research, and a little heavier on staying sane while serving others.

From the release:

Donovan will discuss our world of grieving friends, social inequality, and thousands of charities competing to tug at our heartstrings. With so many important causes, it can feel impossible to do “enough” without getting overwhelmed. What can research from psychology, sociology, and related fields offer us about helping our fellow humans—without losing our sanity?

The details are on the event page.

FtBConscience 2: Mental Illness in Society


It’s that time of year where you don’t know what I’m referencing, but if I keep sounding more excited, suspense will build!

…Which is to say, FtBConscience, our online conference extraordinaire, will be happening this weekend. I’ve been a little behind on announcing anything at all, in part because, see that date range up there? January 31st to February 2nd? Guess when my applications start coming due. Yeah, right in there. So as I dash madly into midterms and What an MSW Would Mean To Me, my fellow bloggers have been organizing and planning and prepping.*

This is the full schedule. 

Each talk (solo or panel) will be held using G+ (I know I’ll be brushing dust off my account), and you can access the link to the live video via the session page. Since videos are live streaming on youtube, they will all be immediately available post-talk.

It’s impossible to attend all of them. Really, don’t even try. Pick your favorites, and save the rest for post-conference. You’ll be able to watch talks for weeks that way. That being said, I was like a child in a candy shop, looking at all the options. Here’s what I’m particularly excited about:

Jewish Atheism: the Hows and Whys: Chana and Miri have been planning to do a version of this discussion for a while, and I’m overjoyed to see it happening. From the description:

“Jewish atheism: what it means, what challenges we face within both our atheist and our Jewish communities, how we deal with cognitive dissonance, how our views of both Judaism and atheism differ from those of others, and so on”

Sexual Harassment Law and You: Ken from Popehat will be giving this talk. I adore his writing: measured and thoughtful and, given his legal background and the topic, likely to be grounded in helpful advice.

Racism and the Zombie Apocalypse: Ian is funny. He is funny and smart and delightful to listen to, and hell, high water, and zombies cannot prevent me from attending this talk. (Bad wifi can, but let’s not talk about that.)

Effective Use of Social Media with Conferences: Some of you…many of you?…know that I work for the Secular Student Alliance, doing their social media. [Shameless plug: Twitter and Facebook] This panel is professional development for me–I’ve only attended a few conferences since taking the position.

Philosophy for Everyone: Julia Galef (of the Center for Applied Rationality), Jess Whittingstone (80,000 Hours and High Impact Ethical Careers), Dr. Richard Carrier, and Dan Fincke talk philosophy.

“This discussion will be aimed at anyone who doesn’t have a Ph.D. in philosophy, and will focus on the real-world benefits and applications of philosophy, not its arcane bits. Learn how you can study philosophy in your spare time and use it in your everyday life, your personal development and life goals, your voting and activism, and more.”

And since I’m making suggestions (and I’m not sure how much my readership knows about the first two participants and their respective organizations) I’ll suggest this piece on social interventions from 80,000 Hours and this experiment from CFAR. Bonus: I got lost in the research recommendation rabbit hole–it is real and it is dangerous–while tracking down the CFAR post, so here’s this bit on giving psychology away from one of my favorite psychologists.

Oh, right.

I’m going to be participating in a panel: Mental Illness and Society, with Stephanie and Miri.

“Last year, a new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was released. Disorders were added and removed for several reasons, but one of those reasons receives very little attention. Too little attention. Join us as we talk about what it means for a person to be able to function in society and what implications that has for what is and what is not classed as a mental disorder.”

Sunday, 11 AM Central!

*Particular thanks to Miri and Jason, who have been endlessly patient and dedicated, setting everything up and badgering the rest of our lazy butts. 



Gruntled & Hinged Housekeeping

Internal debate: I have homework! But Pratchett! But homework!

This is a periodic reminder that I have a Twitter and a Tumblr, and G&H has a Facebook Page. Twitter is an easy way to get in touch with me, but I’m entirely unlikely to engage in debates there–it’s a frustrating and overly brusque time-suck. The tumblr is probably least like this blog. It includes quotes, miniranting, and an affection for West Wing, Buffy, and bad puns.

If you’re a newer reader, it’s worth pointing out that I have two pages just above the header: Brain Self-Help and Decompressing. The former is a long list of resources for improving your mental health in the longer term. The second is a set of little activities for getting your brain out of a stressed-out rut.

I have a ridiculous reading list this quarter. I’m updating it consistently, underlining books as I complete them, adding books as I get them.

I’ll have a longer post on this later, but I’m going to be doing FtBConscience, an online conference, as I did this summer! I’ll be on a panel about how mental illnesses get codified.

I have updated my blogroll! (Left side, scroll down halfway) These are not blogs I consistently agree with, but they are the ones I consistently read. If there’s a blog you think I’m missing (even if it is yours!), speak up! I prefer science-type/rationality/psychology/citations-included reading, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.

Entirely personal: I graduate at the end of this school year. Relative to my peers, I seem to be pretty happy and okay with this eventuality. However! Between the end of undergrad and start of graduate school, there is a summer. And that means I need to do something with it, and have a strong preference for said Doing of Things to occur in Boston, though I could swing Chicago. Do you know of paid internships? Jobs I might like? Please let me know.

In Which Scary Things Happened, Decisions Were Made, And I Didn’t Blog


Dear readers.

I have been really great about blogging Monday Miscellany link posts. Except for that time I posted on Tuesday last week. And when I haven’t done them.

Okay, so I’ve been mediocre.

But! There are reasons!

1) Big Life Changes. I’m increasingly sold on the idea of graduate school following this year. This means applying to graduate school. Which eats a lot of time. Common App? No such luck. Individual applications with ambiguous instructions? Yeah, got that bit covered.
      a) This meant picking graduate schools. Yeah, that’s hard to do. I’m intending to get a Masters in Social Work (MSW), and I needed to decide exactly where to do that. Since certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker varies from state to state–and licenses don’t transfer–I’m effectively picking where I want to live for a long while. That’s…scary. I don’t have a strong identification to a place as My Place.
      b) In the absence of having My Place Where I Want To Live Somewhat Permanently, I have to decide what I need and value from a location. Real seasons seem to be a minor but notable requirement. A support system seems very necessary. At the same time, I feel a strong aversion (which seems to be socially conditioned and not useful at all) to not be That Girl, who moves because of friends, who isn’t independent enough, etc. This is probably a stupid feeling, since all my experience in the last four years says that I like being in places with people who make me happy, care about my feelings, and will sit in coffee shops and blog with me. Unfortunately, stupid feelings want be just as loud as reasonable feelings, and don’t come with warning labels.
     c) Good news! I have a whole list of places I’m applying to now. I have started those applications! This feels delightful. The future seems a little less like a big scary black hole of paperwork and failure.

2) It’s finals. It was midterms. (These keep happening.) This results in lots of stressing and very little writing. What little writing that does occur does seem to be in the pursuit of finishing papers.

3) I’ve been working. I just finished a teaching assistantship on the weekends, and I’m the social media contractor for the SSA. These are both fun, but they take time, and I haven’t managed to get my hands on a Time Turner.

4) Fear. For some reason–perhaps reading more specialized science blogs, perhaps jerkbrain, I’ve started a number of posts over the last weeks, and then just…stopped. The impulse would die, or I’d get caught up in another project, or I’d look at 300 words and think, nah, someone else has written a much better version of this anyways. So…link posts reigned. These will continue! But I’m trying to talk myself into more blogging. I LIKE it. I really do! So! Ideas for blogging? Stick them in the comments? Topics you want to see? The same!

At This Absurd Hour…

….I am sitting in the airport, about to catch my flight to St. Louis, where I will drive with Miri and Adam Lee to SKEPTICON.

-I am going to be tabling for the Secular Student Alliance. You should come by and hear about how awesome we are. I am almost as exclamatory in person as I am online.

-I have a twitter! I use it significantly more than I’ve been blogging, and you should follow it. Or not. Or you should. (It’s really early and I’m reversing my reverse psychology. Or something.) But you should definitely be following @SecularStudents.

-I’m reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. I like it, but it gives me perpetual deja vu. Near constant instances of “oh, yes, of course everyone knows about this study with the–OH. You did this study!?” Fun fact: Hare Krishnas, the ones who will give you a flower or religious text and then immediately ask for a donation? (My university has them regularly.) This is actually a widely successful and planned campaign based on needing to raise more funds as Krishnas expanded into the United States. Less fun fact: this totally works by playing on our need to reciprocate favors, even when we didn’t want the favor in the first place.

-This is Worm. It is a web novel (free!) and it involves superheroes! And character depth! And near-dystopian settings! And people making reasonable decisions based on the information they have, rather than blind faith and/or dues ex machina! I am also reading it, swapping between dead-tree book and online, but it’s horribly addictive and may take over all of my Cialdini time.


See you all in a few hours! I will probably be terribly, horribly sleep deprived, and have some dear ones to see before I do normal conference socializing, but normal!Kate will be back by the evening.

Love FtB, Hate Ads? We’ve got a solution for you!

For those who hate seeing ads and/or those who would like to financially support this network of blogs, Jason Thibeault at Lousy Canuck has set up a system that will give you ad-free access by purchasing a subscription.

The rates are $3 for a 30-day subscription, $8 for 90-day subscription, and $30 for a 365-day subscription and one subscription applies to all the blogs at FtB.

If you are not already signed into a valid user account, you’ll be sent to the Login page, where you can pick one of the options: to sign into a third party authorizing service like Yahoo or Google; connect with your WordPress.com blog account; or click the Register link underneath all of it to sign up for a local user account.

There is the slim possibility that you might have difficulty getting to that dashboard page if you are an existing user and don’t already have access. If we get a lot of reports of this, Jason will take measures to automatically add all the user accounts to that main dashboard, but you should be able to get there by default regardless of when or where you signed up.

One of the limitations so far is that this service only uses Paypal, which does unfortunately exclude some people from being able to participate. Jason will be attempting to integrate other payment gateways as his limited time allows. This work is done by him on a volunteer basis in addition to all the other things he does, so please have patience if it takes some time.

If there are bugs, please report them directly to Jason by clicking here.