The Situationist

Situationism in the Blogosphere – March 2008 (Part I)

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 6, 2008

Josh Radovan & Digital Methods Initiative

Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during March. (They are listed in alphabetical order by source.)

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From BPS Research Digest Blog: “The Power of Blobs on the Brain

“David McCabe and Alan Castel presented university students with 300-word news stories about fictional cognitive research findings that were based on flawed scientific reasoning. For example, one story claimed that watching TV was linked to maths ability, based on the fact that both TV viewing and maths activate the temporal lobe. Crucially, students rated these stories to be more scientifically sound when they were accompanied by a brain image, compared with when the equivalent data were presented in a bar chart, or when there was no graphical illustration at all.”  Read more . . .

From BPS Research Digest Blog: “How Group Cooperation Varies Between Cultures

“Researchers use economic games to investigate how people cooperate in real-life. Now a team led by Benedikt Herrmann, at the University of Nottingham, have identified striking differences in the way university students from different countries play one such game known as The Public Goods Game. Compared with students from developed Western nations, students from less democratic countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman and Belarus tended to punish not only free-loaders, but also cooperative players, with the result that cooperation in their groups plummeted.”  Read more . . .

From Cognitive Daily: “When we see a brain “light up,” [most of] our brains shut off

“Psychologists often complain that neuroscientists get a disproportionate share of the glory when the mainstream media reports on their studies. It seems to some that an important new psychology study is often neglected or ignored entirely, while neuroscience studies of similar importance are hailed as “groundbreaking.” What is it about pictures of brains that are so appealing?  A while back, were excited to hear of a study which promised to show that people are more impressed by neuroscience explanations of research results than nonneural psychology explanations. Paul Bloom’s article about the then-unpublished research suggested that even experts were more impressed with explanations of psychological phenomena that included irrelevant references to brain activity.”  Read more . . .

From Deliberations: “The $1.99 Effect

“Which is more, $395,425, or $395,000?  This paper has been out for awhile, but I missed it until it was on NPR this morning. Researchers from Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management report that many of us misunderstand basic quantities because we’re fooled by whether the number is “precise,” like the $395,425 figure above, or rounded. And we’re fooled in the same way: we think the precise number is smaller than it really is. In the example above, a surprising number of people respond that $395,425 is the lower price — and it isn’t.” Read more . . . .

From Developing Intelligence: “Fat Rats: Exercise in Childhood May Protect Against Later Obesity

“Almost everyone tries to lose weight at some point, but we are remarkably bad at it; most people quickly return to their original weight after cessation of exercise or resumption of a normal diet. A review article by Patterson & Levin elucidates the pathways for this effect, and in the process finds a special role for juvenile exercise in guarding against obesity throughout the lifespan.” Read more . . . .

From Experimental Philosophy: “Doing and Allowing

“People ordinarily distinguish between doing and allowing. They distinguish between ‘breaking’ and ‘allowing to break,’ between ‘raising’ and ‘allowing to rise,’ between ‘killing’ and ‘allowing to die.’ A question now arises as to how people make this distinction. How do people know, e.g., whether a given act counts as actually breaking something or merely allowing it to break?  Fiery Cushman, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and I [Joshua Knobe] have a new paper on this question. As you may by know have guessed, our thesis is that people draw the distinction in part by looking to the moral properties of the act in question.”  Read more . . . .

From Experiments in Philosophy: “What Experimental Philosophy means for Traditional Psychology

“[T]here didn’t used to be much of a distinction between philosophy and psychology. In fact, in my own institution the first 20 years of psychology were taught from within the department of philosophy. For many reasons, philosophy and psychology soon parted ways–this made sense given that psychology was struggling to become a scientific discipline in its own right. But it turns out that the divide between the two wasn’t very deep. Psychologists never stopped being influenced by philosophers (as most evident in field of cognitive science, which, among other disciplines, includes philosophy and cognitive psychology), and philosophers continued to write about psychological matters.”  Read more . . .

From Experiments in Philosophy: “Do you need to have a body to have a mind?”

“Philosophers have long wondered whether the mind depends on the body or whether our thoughts and feelings reside in an immaterial ‘soul.’ Though intellectuals are still arguing back and forth about the right answer to that question, experimental studies have revealed some surprising facts about how ordinary people think of these issues..” Read more . . .

From Experiments in Philosophy: “Introducing Experimental Philosophy

“It may seem a bit odd that a magazine like Psychology Today is sponsoring a blog by a band of philosophers. After all, isn’t philosophy supposed to be something entirely separate from psychology? Aren’t philosophers just supposed to sit in their armchairs pondering the great imponderables, while psychologists busy themselves delving into the actual facts of human thought and behavior?.” Read more . . .

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For previous installments of “Situationism on the Blogosphere,” click on the “Blogroll” category in the right margin.

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