The Situationist

Archive for February 17th, 2011

Blogroll Review – Part 5

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 17, 2011

Over at the terrific new Law & Mind Blog, some Harvard Law students are 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 5 of that series (authored by LLM candidate David Simon).

Have you ever wanted to know what blogs out there discuss mind sciences, law, or both? This is your lucky day. In this post I briefly review five blogs that relate to law & mind sciences. I feature one blog, Mind Hacks, and explain it in a bit more detail than the others.

The blogs:

1. The Jury Room.

Run by Keene Trial Consulting, The Jury Room–as the name suggests–is about juries! Specifically, the site focuses on how juries make decisions and react to behavior–and it generally explores questions of jury psychology (e.g., bias). The blog includes posts about current psychological research, events, and legal trends. One recent post, for example, discussed research showing how specific words correlate with individuals’ levels of trust.

2. Laura’s Psychology Blog.

Laura Freberg is a professor of psychology at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she studies biological psychology. Her eponymous blog is a mostly a collection of psychological literature that she is reading currently. It is a great aggregator of current information on psychology.

3. Legal Theory Blog.

One of the more well-known legal blogs among academics, the Legal Theory Blog reviews and comments on scholarship–and posts announcements about conferences and events–on nearly all legal subjects. Lawrence Solum, a professor of law & philospohy at the University of Illinois College of Law, runs the site. In addition to these reviews, he also periodically posts on subjects of legal theory–the legal lexicon. In a recent lexicon post, for example, Professor Solum explores a “virtue jurisprudence”–how a philosophy of virtue can apply to law, and the implications flowing from it.

4. Mediation Channel.

Founded by Boston-area attorney and mediator Diane Levine, Mediation Channel provides a nice cross-fertilization of law and mind sciences. The blog explores how cognition constraints and biases affect our thinking about fact. Levine frequently provides links to other useful blog posts or articles and comments on them. She pays particular attention to the implications psychology has for law and, specifically, mediation.

5. Mind Hacks (*Featured Blog*).

Like Laura’s Psychology Blog, Mind Hacks is focused exclusively on mind sciences research. The creators–Tom Stafford (a lecturer in psychology and congnitive science at The University of Sheffield) and Matt Webb–have been posting since November 2004. Many of their blog posts discuss new articles on scholarly psychology research, and they comment when it seems relevant. They don’t, however, limit their content. Posts often touch on news articles or other blogs, which provides a good deal of depth to the blog.

The blog has a lot of nice features. One of these is its ability to coherently string together large amounts of literature. The authors frequently cite articles and discuss how they are related or intersect.

The authors also do a fine job of both summarizing articles so that a potentially-interested person can decide if she should continue reading. A prime example occurs in this post, where the authors collect a variety of links to articles and provide short summaries of each.

For those more interested in techniques and in-depth discussions of psychology, the authors sometimes post their own thoughts on the subject. In a post on The Psychophysics of Policy Positions, for instance, the authors explain a particular psychological method for testing the accuracy and sensitivity of human sense. They then propose applying it to a common problem; namely, whether voters can accurately discriminate between and identify stated policy positions from different political parties. How?

We do this by presenting many small fragments of the manifestos and asking a participant to judge which party they are from. By gathering many many judgements we can get a sense of how likely they are to name each particular party (i.e. their bias) and get a sense for how likely they are to be correct (i.e. their sensitivity).

These data can then be used to assess individuals’ ability to discriminate between policy positions. The post demonstrates how the authors contribute beyond mere aggregation of interesting information on psychology: they propose to apply psychology techniques to help resolve real world issues.

Mind Hacks is a great resource for information on the mind sciences. In addition to linking to stories, articles, and blog posts, the authors provide concise descriptions of their linked-to content. They also opine when necessary, providing interesting thoughts on issues in psychology and cognitive research. I’m proud to make Mind Sciences my *featured blog* of the week!

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