Category Archive: Psych Nerdery

Apr 19 2014

Illusory Bodies, or What If We Totally Confused Your Sense of Owning Your Body?


The short version of our research is that some scientists got together and had this conversation: “Hey, hey, you know that iconic study where researchers made people think a rubber hand belonged to them?!” “Yeah! and how it’s been used in research about racism, pain, empathy, and like, basically everything?” “WAIT. WAIT. What if we …

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Apr 16 2014

Things Psychology Accidentally Taught Me

via Flickr user Deradian, some rights reserved

1. Never commit a crime unless you know you can get away with it. Otherwise you might end up in front of a jury, and juries are TERRIFYING. So are eyewitnesses. 2. If you want to read through research quickly, you can read the abstract and skip the methods and results reporting in favor of …

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Apr 12 2014

Measles and the Inoculation Effect

I gave a talk at Illinois-Wesleyan earlier today about marketing, persuasion, and pseudoscience. As part of the notes, I mentioned that I had heard recently, but wasn’t sure of the veracity, that the measles outbreaks that were getting so much skeptic attention, were being wrongly blamed on anti-vaxxers. A few hours later, my RSS feed …

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Mar 30 2014

Psychology For Gryffindors

This should work if you’ve read canon Harry Potter or Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and is some blending of the two. You can probably make sense of it with one or the other, but let me not fail to remind you that Methods is here and you should read it. Psychology for …

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Feb 23 2014

[Sunday Assembly Chicago] Talk Notes, Citations, Oddments

[General version of what I'm saying at Sunday Assembly Chicago today. Yes, the footnotes start at 2. I edited and didn't want to go fix all superscripts at 6 am this morning.] Good morning! I’m Kate Donovan, and in about two sentences, I’m going to stop talking. I’m going to smile (see?) and stare pleasantly back at you, …

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Feb 11 2014

[#FtBCon] Mental Illness & Society

I live in a large house with eleven people and occasionally questionable wifi. So, on the morning of Sunday’s FtBCon, I walked to campus to find a quiet room to do my panel. Option 1: temporarily under reorganization, which seemed to involve moving desks around and dropping them for maximum noise. Option 2: Mysteriously full. …

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Dec 20 2013

Some ‘Exercise for Mental Health!’ Headscratching

[CN: Brief mention of eating disorders, exercise for weight loss] “Even a little bit of exercise can improve mental functioning!”  The little display-quotes at the top of Psychology Today’s page always make me a touch antsy. The thing about writing popular psychology is that you want to to actually be popular, and “well, we tested …

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Oct 22 2013

A Tale of Two Weirds

Science is weird, and it is WEIRD. On the one hand, we have the weird stuff. The study of youtube videos. How long mammals take to pee.  The farting salmon. Heck, everything about the IgNobels. Psychology, for the record, is not exempt. Have you seen the BoBo doll experiments? Imaginary Bandura to imaginary research assistant: …

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Sep 28 2013

Fun With Scientific Controversies

One of my classes this quarter is entirely about controversies in psychology. They’re pretty standard: is unconscious racism a thing? Does subliminal messaging work? And they’re interesting questions, to be sure. But I’m fairly familiar with the research already, and now I’m procrastinating on writing a paper for the class by thinking up other controversies …

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Sep 17 2013

Brains Lie

I’m heading into my last year of undergraduate degrees in psychology.* It’s what I’ve always wanted, if you can define ‘always’ as, ‘at least since I’ve had life plans’. A sneaking suspicion that I wanted to know more about what made people tick in high school, a single psychopathology class during a visit to Stanford …

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