Monday Miscellany: New Data, Negative Results, Innate Differences

1. Psychologist has believed for years that at some point, psychology will vindicate his belief that the hot hand effect exists. When evidence does finally appear…he goes looking for disconfirmation

 You would think, then, that 15 years later I would feel vindicated. New data suggests that when you use much richer data than was available previously, the mythical hot hand effect appears to exist. But I don’t feel all that vindicated. In the meantime I’ve come to realize that while the hot hand effect may be real (in that it can be detected with mountains of very precise data) most of the time that I thought I had detected it, chances are it was just a pattern that looked like the hot hand, but was in fact just a statistical fluke. Because I’m human, I’m excellent at detecting patterns, whether or not they’re really there.

To learn more, I reached out to Michael Kraus (@mwkraus), a sports fan and a social psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, who has an interest in the hot hand research and was willing to share his reactions to the new findings. Here’s my interview with him, conducted recently over email:

2. “I think a good headline would be Experiment Finds Negative Results, what do you think? Hello…?” I <3 this psychology kick SMBC has been on

3. Good advice on ‘innate’ brain differences.  Even when you can demonstrate that the so-called ‘innate’ difference appears VERY early (if female babies distinguishing between faces more easily within a few weeks of birth, for instance), it’s hard to conclude that it’s innate. For instance, female babies also get different kinds of attention starting at/before birth. What if they’re getting more up-close exposure to faces, or men and women have greater differences in how they speak to girl babies, making the gender gap more obvious to female babies? Both of those could explain research finding that babies exhibit gender differences in facial recognition.

ETA: it’s not that I don’t think innate traits are possible, it’s that right now we don’t know enough to make such claims, and doing so tends to really be demonstrating a lack of creativity in thinking up confounds. 

4. On marriage equality and ‘assimilationist’ viewpoints. 

5. The wonderful thing about triggers. (The terrible thing about this post is that you will have the Tigger song stuck in your head ALL DAY.) And, relevant to about 342,391 bad articles I’ve seen recently, let me repeat a relevant line: YOU DO NOT GIVE PSYCHOTHERAPY TO PEOPLE WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.

6. Via Leah, waiting on the revolution in psychiatry.

Psychiatry today is like the field of genetics before Mendel,” announced a distinguished professor during an introductory lecture in the spring of our first year. What he meant is that psychiatry is still waiting for its big revolution. The allure of the field, he went on to suggest, is the anticipation of the magical discovery that, finally, will be like turning on a lamp in the middle of a darkened room.

7. I was at the Humanist Hub this weekend, and for Sunday service we read this piece. I offer it here because I found it touching and lovely the first time I read it, and again as I graduate.

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.


  1. Bob Dorr says

    #5 is a wonderful link. Thank you for finding and sharing it. Congratulations on graduating! (oh, this might be my first time posting on FTB…Hi!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *