The mind is a fascinating place. The blogosphere is a fascinating place. Together, magic happens. If you’re interested in getting a closer look, below are reviews of a few mind science blogs that are well worth checking out.
1. Sociological Images, whose tagline is “Inspiring Sociological Imaginations Everywhere”, is a fascinating blog where people can submit images that they find sociologically compelling, which thus far have included graphs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrating the gender wage gap, pictures of consumer products differentiating between “female” and “normal” versions, political cartoons dehumanizing historically marginalized groups, and optical illusions that seem to be perceived differently by people from different cultures. Both the images and the bloggers’ sociological discussions about them are extremely interesting and thought-provoking.
More blogs, including the featured blog, after the jump.
2. The Splintered Mind is the blog of Eric Schwitzgebel, a philosophy professor at UC-Riverside. It’s self-styled as a blog on “reflections in philosophy of psychology, broadly construed.” For anyone who did not major in philosophy in college, you may be wondering what the heck “philosophy of psychology” is. Even if you did major in philosophy in college, you may be wondering what the heck “philosophy of psychology” is. But the latter, at least, will have the advantage of knowing that there is a philosophy of everything — philosophy of science, philosophy of economics, philosophy of religion, you name it — even if no one is quite sure what it entails.
In this case, Schwitzgebel’s current focus seems to be, quite entertainingly, on the morality of academics who study ethics. My favorite is his blog post entitled “Professors’ Moral Attitudes about Responding to Student Emails Are Almost Completely Unrelated to Their Actual Responsiveness to Student Emails”. (If you are interested, the latest draft of his paper on ethics professors behaving ethically — or not — is available here.) Also mixed in are blog posts covering more traditional areas of philosophy, like consciousness and self-knowledge. And for some reason, Nazis. (Incidentally, if you’re a law student thinking about abandoning the legal profession and becoming a philosophy professor instead, he also offers advice about applying to philosophy grad school.)
3. The Talent Code is a blog by Daniel Coyle, a Malcolm Gladwell-esque writer who recently wrote a book of the same name. Both the blog and book offer an intriguing look at unexpected patterns that emerge among talented people, followed by suggestions on how we can use that knowledge to become more talented ourselves. Did you know, for instance, that the most talented person in a musical family tends to be the youngest? Coyle calls it the Michael Jackson Law. (Sorry, Tito.) Or that many talented people alternate between periods of extreme sociability and complete solitude? Me neither!
4. We’re Only Human is a blog associated with the Association for Psychological Science. The blogger, Wray Herbert, is a psychology and behavioral science journalist who contributes my favorite pop psych/neuroscience magazine, Scientific American Mind, also known as the magazine for people who have never actually studied psychology or neuroscience. The blog itself runs the gamut of issues in the mind sciences, ranging from the psychology of dieting to psychopaths to how physical activity is related to political participation. Well-written and timely, this blog gets an A+. Unlike the people featured here…
5. What Sorts of People is a blog that asks, “What sorts of people should there be?” The bloggers are researchers and community members interested in disability and human variation. The blog is supposed to be related to the What Sorts? project, but efforts to find out what the What Sorts? project actually is have been unsuccessful thus far. The blog itself has some interesting posts, like this one about a professor who tried to overturn a Canadian university’s decision to award a doctoral degree to a student who had received accommodations for extreme exam anxiety, but there’s such a wide range of contributors that the quality of the posts can be a bit hit-or-miss. Keep this one at the bottom of your priority list.
And finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the featured blog. Drumroll, please. And the winner is…
6. The Psych Files.
Why this blog? Well, let me ask you this: how could a psychology blog that includes a podcast on zombies not win?
The Psych Files features podcasts about that are timely (like his latest podcast on victim-blaming, something which also comes up in system justification theory), informative (like this episode on the psychology of extreme sports), and just plain fun (did I mention zombies?). The host of The Psych Files is a guy named Michael Britt, who is an educational consultant and philosophy professor on the side. On the main page, Michael has a video leading you through the blog and how it works, which I’ve included below:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
And if you want to keep a finger in the psychology pie, the blog also features shameless plugs for an app called PsycExplorer that you can get for your iPhone, iPod, or iPad that will “keep you up-to-date on the latest news, research, blog posts, videos and tweets in the field of psychology.”
The topics Michael covers are fascinating, both in breadth and substance, ranging from the practical (how do you know if your therapist is good?; how to memorize the parts of the brain) to the controversial (the development of sexual orientation) to the just plain interesting (the psychology of tipping). And as far as appearances go, the site layout and graphics are beauuutiful — I don’t know if he’s pulling out all the stops to pimp his consulting group, but if so, it is definitely working. He also has a nice voice for podcasting, which is rarely appreciated but oh so important. Suffice it to say that he gets top marks for both form and substance.
According to the site, he releases 2-3 episodes a month, each about 20-30 minutes long; at the moment, there’s about 140 podcasts, some with audio and video, others with just audio. You can subscribe to The Psych Files on iTunes, which I fully intend to do after I finish writing this. In addition to the podcasts (you mean there’s more?!), he also provides presentations, articles, and suggestions for incorporating technology into teaching.
In case you hadn’t guessed by now, my favorite podcast is the zombie one, officially titled “6 Psychological Reasons Why We Want To Kill Zombies.” Like many of his podcasts, it’s interesting, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining.
I also enjoyed his podcast “What Does Your Car Say About You?” He talks about how cars are like Rorschach tests: it seems mystifying that they can actually reveal anything about us, and yet they do. He also gives an overview of correlations that have been revealed between people and their cars. For instance, young males and people who score high on the Macho Personality Scale (“I bet you didn’t even know that there was such a thing”) are more likely to own big trucks and drive aggressively. No shocker there. But the best part of the podcast — this is one that includes video — are the interviews with people at the Rhinebeck Antique Auto Show about their cars. All I can say is, people are fascinating and hilarious.
In short, The Psych Files is (are?) amazing. Why are you still reading this instead of checking it out?