The Mind, The Science. Part Seven.

3 Feb

Orgtheory

Orgtheory, as its name suggests, is a blog dedicated to the exploration of organizational theory. The blog states its case for the importance of such theory in its entertaining header quote from Tocqueville, “…the science of association is the mother science; the progress of all the others depends on the progress of that one.” In keeping with the spirit of this statement, the blog’s proprietors are an association of professors in Sociology and Management at Duke, Indiana, BYU, Notre Dame, and the Kellog School of Management at Northwestern. The blog also includes frequent guest contributions from other professors in sociology. Although the blog has a clear focus, the varied contributors, and the freeranging nature of the topics means that posts cover a wide variety of topics both related and unrelated to Organizational Theory. For instance, a recent post noted a new website devoted to covering the late mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington.

Generally, The blog links to new articles and blog posts that discuss issues with relevance to organizational theory as well as developing news stories, for instance the recent protests in Egypt, that have connection with organizational topics. Orgtheory also compiles collections of interesting links, for instance, one recent post featured a wide sample of academic articles discussing the idea of organizations as fictious persons, for the purposes of legal classification. The blog also includes a series of prominent posts with hints for graduate students, primarily in sociological fields, on navigating the perilous shores of graduate school programs. Considering the success that the blog’s proprietors have achieved in their field, the hints seem well worth heeding for those with an interest in the topic. The posts also have a healthy appreciation for the variety of potential paths that life offers, and acknowledge that a life in academia is not a life meant for everyone.

Although the blog does have an academic focus, understandable considering the nature of its contributors, the blog discusses a variety of topics in an approachable and intriguing manner that generally makes you want to learn more about the subject. After a relatively short time on the site, my Amazon cart had expanded dramatically, as book after book discussed by the authors seemed incredibly enticing. The blog is also good at challenging conventional thinking on a subject in just a few short sentences, although they may pose more questions than answers, the questions are eminently worth thinking about. I plan to return to the site frequently, even if it may pose grave challenges to my book budget. Reading this blog may also help prevent bad organizational practices such as this.

Overcoming Bias

The personal musings of economist Robin Hanson, on a variety of topics (from medieval conceptions of laughter to decreasing levels of global poverty). Hanson, an economist at George Mason University, surveys an eclectic variety of fields in this blog, but is particularly intrigued by attempts to either replicate or duplicate the processes of the human brain. For instance, Hanson has recently engaged in an extended discussion of the possibility of creating replicas of human brains, which Hanson dubs ‘Ems’. Hanson describes his theory thusly, A [future] world of near-subsistence-income ems in a software-like labor market, where millions of cheap copies are made of a each expensively trained em, and then later evicted from their bodies when their training becomes obsolete.” Extended discussion of this topic can be followed here.

Project Implicit

Project Implicit is focused on the implications of the implicit association tests (IAT) which have become the recent subject of a great deal of furor in the academic community. Although the blog is not updated frequently, there are several intriguing discussions of the various uses of IAT tests, for instance a discussion of IAT’s predictive value on the 2008 presidential election. The blog also links to new IAT tests, for instance tests focusing on gender differences.

Psyblog

Psyblog comes with the ambitious slogan, Understand Your Mind. In pursuit of truth in slogan-ing, this easy-to-navigate and extensive blog provides a variety of articles on the topic. The blog’s cheery interface is wedded to its operator’s impressive academic background. Jeremy Dean, the site’s creator, is a PhD psychology student at the University of London, which will complement  his MSc degree in Research Methods in Psychology and an undergraduate degree in law. The blog has been operating since 2004 and there is an extensive collection of posts to peruse. The site’s list of popular articles provides a good place to start; for instance a list of 10 notable psychological experiments on people’s tendency to do dumb or irrational things.  The next time someone brings up the Stanford Prison Experiment or Stanley Milgram, use this list to top them and win the conversation!

Psych & Crime News

This very accurately named blog focuses on primarily academic work at the intersection of psychology and criminology. The blog is primarily a collection of links, updated biweekly and monthly, to journal articles that explore various topics in the field. The blog fosters a special interest in deception related research,  from the efficiency of lie detectors to ways to make eight year olds actually tell the truth. The blog also has an extensive blogroll with links to a wide variety of blogs in the psychology and criminal justice fields.

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