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.


  1. Cuttlefish says

    Cialdini rocks. Behavioral economics before it had that name, but not so early that he’s been forgotten.

    I want him to write the followup, detailing his (and others’) work with the Obama campaign. Now that the cat is out of the bag (even Romney used these methods, although he hired an outside firm rather than doing it in-house), there’s not a lot preventing such a book. A revolutionary change, compared with earlier campaigns–hell, even Perry uses empirical campaign data now, and he’s as anti-real world as it gets.

    There are an awful lot of popular-press psych books that I despise… Cialdini might be the one popular psych author I wish had a bigger audience. He does it right.

  2. seraphymcrash says

    “Dues ex machina”? Would that be “debt to the machine”? As in, “We could totally have this character learn something poignant and true, but the story demands an action scene, so your enlightenment will have to wait! Dues ex machina!”

    Yes, I realize the vowels got reversed, but I am enamored with the result!

  3. B-Lar says

    I read this post. Then I began reading Worm.

    Thank you so much for the tip. It is awesome, and you are awesome for telling me about it.

    • Kate Donovan says

      oh YAY. I’ve now gotten at least two people reading it. But be warned, it’s long! And even worse, it’s worth it.

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