Over at the new Law & Mind Blog, a group of Harvard Law students is writing a series of posts reviewing other mind-science blogs. Each post provides a summary of several blogs and features one that the author finds especially valuable. Here’s Part 2 of that series (authored by second-year student Jeremy Troxel).
* * *
Choices Worth Having examines how people make decisions. Social theorist Barry Schwartz psycho-dissects current events and topical subjects. Professor Schwartz believes our society makes poor decisions because of perverse incentives and flawed methodologies. His longish posts critique the status quo of decision making while offering an alternative approach that appreciates human nature.
The now defunct Cognitive Dail reported on interesting developments in cognitive psychology. It’s a shame that the blog went inactive last January after a five year run because the posts are incredibly comprehensible despite the academic subject matter. A post on synesthesia, experiencing one stimulus (e.g. sight, sound) in multiple modalities (taste, vision, etc.) prove to be interesting and easy to understand though I had no previous knowledge of the phenomena.
Daniel Gilbert writes with the wit and perception of a good fiction writer. His “stumbling on happiness” blog acts as an extension of his best-selling book by the same name. Professor Gilbert researches affective forecasting as a social psychologist at Harvard. Unlike many social scientist, Professor Gilbert arguments do not rely on naked statistics and reasoning. Instead, he shows us through narrative and humor how we’re unable to deliberately steer our future lives toward happiness.
In contrast to Gilbert’s story-like posts, Cognition & Culture caters to members of the emerging cross-disciplinary field of cognition and cultural studies. This intended audience makes many of the posts somewhat inaccessible for those without some background. On the other hand, if you already have an opinion on whether “Natural Pedagogy theory should formulate the Genericity Bias,” you may be interested in the generally analytically focused posts.
The Consumer Law & Policy Blog is sponsored and mostly run by Public Citizen’s litigation group. Ralph Nader founded Public Citizen as an umbrella organization for a number of the consumer advocacy initiatives. Nader’s influence is present in this blog that covers any and all things related to Consumer Protection. It’s all here. From policy to litigation and the occasional reflective piece on the purpose of consumer protection work. If you’re interested in Consumer Protection issues, this is a must read.
The posts are short and crisp, just the facts type writing. The writers usually utilize links to more thorough analysis of an issue or event rather than discussing it themselves. In terms of subject matter, the posts tend to lean more toward regulatory developments and changes in consumer law. Litigation matters are covered but they tend to be consumer fraud and predatory lending type class-actions or impact litigation. Other areas of litigation such as products and pharmaceutical liability and personal injury are glossed over or skipped entirely. Searching the archives retrieves no posts related to Yaz injuries or lawsuits of deaths attributed to Gardasil.
Despite any subject-matter shortcomings, there’s great material here that’s pertinent to both those in the consumer protection field and anyone who’s just interested. The posts give attention to events that often aren’t covered in newspapers and other media. Going through recent posts, I learned that in March the Consumer Product Safety Commission will launch a web-based public database launch a web-based public database containing all consumer complaints about products. Another brief post discusses the Toyota sudden-acceleration lawsuits and a shift in strategy being made by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Like my childhood hero Batman, we may not be the hero you want, but we’re the one you need.
My favorite of the posts I reviewed discussed President Obama, Batman, and The Role of the Consumer Attorney. Class action attorney, Steve Berk, compares Batman to the Plaintiff’s attorney. The newest rendition of the Dark Knight is a hero needed to clean up Gotham, but hated by much of the city. Much like Batman, the Plaintiff’s attorneys are despised by much of the population and much of the legal profession as well. But despite being called ambulance chasers, vultures and worse names, plaintiffs attorneys still fight for safer products, clean water and responsible corporations.