Nalini Ambady has very little time to find a bone marrow match, but you can help! Spread the word and visit www.NaliniNeedsYou.com for more information.
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 29, 2013
Nalini Ambady has very little time to find a bone marrow match, but you can help! Spread the word and visit www.NaliniNeedsYou.com for more information.
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 25, 2013
Dr. Julie Nelson will speak at Harvard Law School today. She is the Department Chair, Professor of Economics, at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Please join us.
Julie Nelson currently conducts research on feminism and economics, with special interests in methodology and in implications for social and environmental policies. She has served as a Research Economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an Assistant and Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California-Davis, an Associate Professor of Economics at Brandeis University, a Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University, a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, and as the Visiting Sowell Professor of Economics at Bates College. Nelson is the author or co-author of several books, and of articles in journals ranging from Econometrica and the Journal of Political Economy, to Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and Ecological Economics. She is an Associate Editor of the journal Feminist Economics. Professr Nelson is the author of Economics for Humans (2006) and Feminism, Objectivity, and Economics (1996), and co-author of several other books and textbooks. She has published many journal articles on topics which include the teaching of economics and the empirical analysis of household spending.
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 21, 2013
In the fall of 2012, the 80 first-year Harvard Law students in Section 6 researched, discussed, debated, and proposed policy solutions to several important policy problems:
Their work was heavily influenced by situationism and should be of particular interest to readers of this blog. You can learn more about the project, view presentations, and download white papers at the Frontier Torts website.
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 19, 2013
In what is horrible irony, today’s session of the Confronting Evil Conference has been postponed until tomorrow morning at 8:30. Harvard University is itself closed because of the ongoing public safety situation. Regarding the conference, please check here for further updates.
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 15, 2013
At Harvard Law School in the fall of 2012, the 80 students in Professor Hanson’s situationist-orient torts class participated in an experimental group project in their first-year torts class. The project required students to research, discuss, and write a white paper about a current policy problem for which tort law (or some form of civil liability) might provide a partial solution. Their projects, presentations, and white papers were informed significantly by the mind sciences. You can read more about those projects, view the presentations, and download the white papers at the Frontier Torts website.
One of the group projects involved the sale of alcohol to members of the Oglala Sioux in Whiteclay Nebraska outside the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Here’s the Executive Summary of the white paper.
Since its introduction into Native American communities by European colonists, alcohol has plagued the members of many tribes to a disastrous extent. The Oglala Sioux of Pine Ridge have especially suffered from alcoholism, enabled and encouraged by liquor stores just outside the reservation’s borders. Despite the complexities of this situation, media outlets have often reduced it to a pitiable image of dirty, poor Native Americans, degraded by the white man’s vice.
Upon further analysis, however, it becomes evident that there are a variety of factors influencing the situation of Native American alcoholism. While neurobiological, psychological, and genetic factors are often thought to offer plausible internal situational explanations as to why Native Americans suffer so much more potently from this disease than the rest of the nation, high levels of poverty in Native American communities, a traumatic and violent history, and informational issues compound as external situational factors that exacerbate the problem.
Unfortunately, the three major stakeholders in this situation (the alcohol industry, the State of Nebraska, and the Native Americans) have conflicting interests, tactics, and attribution modes that clash significantly in ways that have prevented any meaningful resolution from being reached. However, there are a variety of federal, state, and tribal programs and initiatives that could potentially resolve this issue in a practical way, so long as all key players agree to participate in a meaningful, collaborative effort.
The key to implementation of these policy actions is determining who should bear the costs they require: society as a whole through the traditional federal taxes, the alcohol companies through tort litigation, or the individuals who purchase the alcohol through an alcohol sales tax. Ultimately, an economic analysis leads to the conclusion that liability should be placed upon the alcohol companies and tort litigation damages should fund the suggested policy initiatives.
You can watch the related presentations and download the white paper here.
Related Situationist posts:
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 12, 2013
On April 13, 2013 the Project on Law and Mind Sciences and the National Lawyers Guild are co-hosting a conference titled “Deep Capture: Psychology, Public Relations, Democracy, and Law” at Harvard Law School. Details here.
Here is the information about our speakers:
Noam Chomsky is the Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT. He has not only made groundbreaking discoveries and insights in the field of linguistics, but has also become one of the most articulate and passionate critics of American foreign policy in the 20th and 21st centuries. He has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, propaganda, intellectual history, contemporary issues, international affairs and U.S. foreign policy, and is the co-author with Edward S. Herman of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988). He has been called “the most important intellectual alive today,” one of the “makers of the 20th century,” and “the foremost gadfly of our national conscience.”
Stuart Ewen is the Distinguished Professor of History and Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College. He is the author of influential books on the history of consumer society, visual culture, propaganda and modernity, including PR! A Social History of Spin, All Consuming Images: On the Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture, Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture and, with Elizabeth Ewen, Channels of Desire: Mass Images and the Shaping of American Consciousness and Typecasting: On the Arts & Sciences of Human Inequality.
Francesca Gino is an associate professor of business administration in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. She is also formally affiliated with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and with the Mind, Brain, Behavior Initiative at Harvard. Her research focuses on judgment and decision-making, negotiation, ethics, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Her studies have been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, Newsweek, Scientific American, Psychology Today, and The Wall Street Journal, and her work has been discussed on National Public Radio and CBS Radio.
Sut Jhally is Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Founder and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation (MEF). He is one of the world’s leading scholars looking at the role played by advertising and popular culture in the processes of social control and identity construction. The author of numerous books and articles on media (including The Codes of Advertising and Enlightened Racism), he is also an award-winning teacher. He is best known as the producer and director of a number of films and videos (including Dreamworlds: Desire/Sex/Power in Music Video; Tough Guise: Media, Violence and the Crisis of Masculinity; and Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire) that deal with issues ranging from gender, sexuality and race to commercialism, violence and politics. Born in Kenya, raised in England, educated in graduate studies in Canada, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Jon Hanson is the Alfred Smart Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he has taught since 1992 and won several teaching awards. His scholarship melds social psychology, social cognition, economics, history, and law. Ten years ago Hanson and David Yosifon identified the problem of “deep capture” in their article, The Situation: An Introduction to the Situational Character, Critical Realism, Power Economics, and Deep Capture, 152 U. Penn. L. Rev. 129 (2003) (download here). Hanson’s recent scholarship includes the 2012 book, Ideology, Psychology, and Law (Oxford University Press, website). Hanson is the Director of The Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School and a co-creator and a contributor to The Situationist blog (both accessible at www.lawandmind.com).
Susan Linn is an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She has written extensively about the effects of media and commercial marketing on children. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post and her commentaries can be heard on NPR’s Marketplace. Her books include Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood and The Case for Make-Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World. Dr. Linn is a co-founder and director of the national coalition Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. In 2000, she was appointed to the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Advertising to Children. She has been featured on Sixty Minutes, Now with Bill Moyers, World News Tonight, Dateline, and in the acclaimed film, The Corporation.
Thomas McGarity is a leading scholar in the fields of administrative law, environmental law, and torts. He has written six influential books, including his most recent, Freedom to Harm: The Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival (Yale University Press, 2013). While in academia, McGarity has served as a consultant and/or advisor to many federal and state agencies. Professor McGarity has been an active participant in efforts to improve health, safety and environmental quality in the United States. He has testified before many congressional committees on environmental, administrative law, preemption of state tort laws in cases involving medical devices, and occupational safety and health issues.
Michael Niman is a Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Buffalo State College and a syndicated columnist whose work has earned him two Project Censored awards. Niman, a trained ethnographer, is author of People of the Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia, an ethnography of a nomadic utopian society stemming from qualitative research conducted in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Minnesota, Vermont, Missouri, New York, California and Quebec, Canada. Niman’s research agenda currently focuses on propaganda, the impact of consumer culture, temporary autonomous zones, nonviolent conflict resolution and nonhierarchical societies and movements. Niman formerly worked as a journalist based in Costa Rica and has conducted fieldwork around the world. Niman is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
John Stauber is the founder of the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), the only public interest and journalism organization dedicated to exposing organized corporate and government propaganda and its impacts on democracy, public information and democratic social change. He is an independent investigative writer, activist and a consultant, and has co-authored six books, including his 1995 tour de force Toxic Sludge Is Good For You! Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry and the 2003 New York Times bestseller Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq. He has begun or worked with many public interest and community groups over the past four decades.
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 12, 2013
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 8, 2013
Even though a black man sits in the White House, and a gay woman legislates in the Senate, according to nearly two decades of research by a professor of psychology at the UW, Anthony Greenwald, most people are racially, ethnically, religiously, or sexually biased.
In 1995, Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji developed the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and uncovered this disturbing truth.
Last week, for this contribution to the field of scientific psychology, the Association for Psychological Science (APS) announced they would present the William James Fellow Award to Greenwald at the APS’s 25th anniversary celebration.
When the test was first developed, Greenwald said he began administering the IAT on UW undergraduate students from psychology classes — and the results were shocking. The test revealed the majority of students, especially caucasians and asians, showed an “automatic white preference.”
Since then the test has been tweaked, improved, and used in contemporary instances. Greenwald analyzed election results with the IAT.
“We found that Obama suffered by being black,” Greenwald said. “He got fewer votes because of race biases.”
Greenwald explained the IAT tries to tease out hidden associations made by our unconscious. It accomplishes this by measuring the time it takes our brain to sort words and images.
Researchers can discover how closely a participant’s brain instinctively links various words with a particular set of images by measuring the average time it takes participants to sort these objects.
During the IAT, a computer flashes either a word or picture at subjects who are asked to either move the word or picture to the right or left.
The words that appear are either pleasant, like “Joy,” “Love,” and “Peace,” or unpleasant, like “Agony,” “Terrible,” and “Horrible”; depending on the social preferences researchers want to test, the pictures belong to either of two categories. In the race version of the experiment, the pictures depict either European American or African American faces.
In the first round of the race IAT, participants are asked to sort the photos of African Americans together with positive words to the right and European Americans with negative words to the left. In the second round, the test now prompts participants to group African American faces with negative words and European Americans with positive.
Participants perform the sorting that aligns with their implicit mental connections faster than the one that does not. So by measuring the time it takes participants to complete both rounds of the IAT, researchers can discover subject’s underlying mental racial biases.
Greenwald said at first even he was skeptical of the test and the consequences of its conclusions.
“It was quite a while before I was willing to say this is a measure that people have in their heads a stronger association between racial white and pleasant and racial black and pleasant,” Greenwald said.
But Greenwald cautioned an over-interpretation of the IAT.
“[The IAT] doesn’t measure prejudice or racism,” Greenwald said. “Those imply hostility and harmful behavior. But it does measure a racial preference, and we think that preference can be significant socially.”
Similarly, UW psychology professor Geoff Boynton clarified that the IAT cannot sniff out prejudiced people that harbor hatred or ill intent for minorities.
“These are just quick decisions that the brain makes based on prior information that have biases,” Boynton said.
Greenwald said this understanding of the mind goes against decades of traditional scientific wisdom. He said that 30 years ago most scientific psychologists figured human behavior was determined by explicit, conscious thought. The IAT helped to disprove this naive view of the mind.
However, the idea of a subconscious is not new. Sigmund Freud revolutionized the field of clinical psychology by breaking down the human mind into the id, ego, and super-ego. But Boynton said the way modern psychology views subliminal cognition “is not such a fluffy idea having to do with your mother or something like that.”
Rather, professor emeritus of psychology Earl Hunt explained that the contemporary view of cognition is more analogous to a man trying to ride an elephant.
“The rider is our conscious cognition, fairly slow, deliberate, considers things,” Hunt said. “The elephant is our unconscious, a very quick gut feeling that we may not even be aware of. The rider is trying to keep the elephant on task … but the problem is the elephant is really stupid.”
Hunt said the elephant, or human unconscious, reacts to emotions or statistical associations. He said, “The genius of the IAT lies in its ability to put the rider and elephant in conflict.”
Greenwald borrowed the stroop effect from biological psychology to create this tension between the deliberate conscious and the implicit subconscious.
In a 1935 paper, American psychologist John Stroop described how it took longer for individuals to read the name of a color if the name and the color font did not match: for example, the word “red” written in blue font. This is called the stroop effect.
“What [Greenwald] did was very creative,” Hunt said. “He looked at occurrence and a logic that was developed for a completely separate field, and he realized it could be applied in the social-psychological realm. That’s creative.”
UW professor of psychology Geoffrey Loftus had more kind words to add about Greenwald’s attitude toward scientific research.
“I’ve known him for probably 30 years,” Loftus said. “He thinks a great deal about scientific methodology, statistics, and data analysis, and he’s very sophisticated in these areas. He’s extremely proficient and extremely highly regarded as both a researcher and a mentor to his graduate students.”
This hard work and scientific dedication has helped him win the William James Fellow Award.
Greenwald said he was grateful to receive the recognition but noted, “Oh, I’m too old to be excited by this.”
Related Situationist posts:
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 6, 2013
On April 13, 2013 the Project on Law and Mind Sciences and the National Lawyers Guild are co-hosting a conference titled “Deep Capture: Psychology, Public Relations, Democracy, and Law” at Harvard Law School. For more information, visit the conference website here.
Here’s a draft of the day’s schedule.
9:30 am – Coffee, tea, and pastries
9:50 – 10:10 – Welcome
10:15 – 10:40 – Noam Chomsky
10:50 – 11:15 – Francesca Gino
“Getting Sidetracked: How we are vulnerable to manipulation”
Subtle and seemingly irrelevant factors often influence our behavior in ways we fail to anticipate. In this talk, Francesca Gino will discuss a few of these factors and explain how they could be used strategically by others to change people’s behavior.
11:20 – 11:45 – Susan Linn
“The Deepest Capture: Children, Commercialism and the Corporate Take Over of Childhood”
We are all vulnerable to marketing but given their immature judgment and developing brains, children are even more vulnerable. The consequences of screen-saturated, commercialized childhood are dire for the health of children, the environment, and democracy—marketing sells habits and behaviors as well as products. Susan Linn describes the depth and breadth of the “kids market” and why the movement to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers is so important.
11:50 – 12:05 Q&A
12:35 – 1:00 – Stuart Ewen
“The Phantom of Certitude: Public Relations and the Algorithmic Conception of Life”
In his 1948 essay, “The Engineering of Consent,” Edward Bernays wrote, “Freedom of speech and its democratic corollary, a free press, have tacitly expanded our Bill of Rights to include the right of persuasion.” In this statement, he was only echoing a view that he had been promoting for the preceding twenty-five years, that the “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses” was essential to the functioning of a “democratic society.” In this presentation, Stuart Ewen will discuss the ways that compliance professionals’ ongoing efforts to guide and regulate the public mind have mirrored—and continue to mirror—parallel scientific efforts to “control chaos” in a variety spheres, and to produce mechanistic or computational models of life that seek to transform perception- and behavior-management into a predictive natural science. The profoundly anti-democratic intentions and consequences of these trends stand the heart of this presentation. So too stand the bedeviling questions: Is democracy still possible? and What is to be done?
1:05 – 1:30 – Michael Niman
“Journalism in a PR World”
Mike Niman discusses the future of journalism in a PR-dominated communication environment. In particular, he examines the migration of talent from journalism to the PR industry, the collapse of mainstream journalism and the role of an emergent alternative media as American journalism goes through metamorphosis from what it was to what it could become. Journalism is a social good that should equip people to understand and resist spin. Niman argues that mainstream American journalism, rather than rising to this challenge, has transparently succumbed to serving as an arm of the corporate PR industry, thus laying the groundwork for its own irrelevance and collapse. From these ashes, he argues, a new alternative media is emerging, combining the communication skills of the PR industry with a long stubborn tradition of critical inquiry and muckraking.
1:35 – 2:00 – Sut Jhally
“Public Relations and War”
2:05 – 2:20 – Q&A
2:20 – 2:35 – Break
2:35 – 3:00 – John Stauber
“Myth America: How the Ruling Elite – Red and Blue – Prevent Democracy”
The myth of American democracy keeps alive the two-party system wholly owned and operated by the ruling 1% whose primary objective is increasing their wealth and maintaining the status quo. Over the past ten years the liberal Democratic Party elite has copied the propaganda and political tactics of the right wing — think tanks, echo chamber media, rabid partisan grassroots and dark money SuperPacs. Rich Democrats and liberal foundations are just as committed to preventing democracy as are the Koch brothers. Seeing through this veil is crucial to organizing any independent, democratic movements for fundamental, structural change.
3:05 – 3:30 – Thomas McGarity
“Freedom to Harm: The Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival”
Professor McGarity will tell the story of how the business community and the trade associations and think tanks that it created launched three powerful assaults during the last quarter of the twentieth century on the federal regulatory system and the state civil justice system to accomplish a revival of the laissez faire political economy that dominated Gilded Age America. Although the consequences of these assaults became painfully apparent in a confluence of crises during the early twenty-first century, the patch-and-repair fixes that Congress and the Obama Administration put into place did little to change the underlying laissez faire ideology and exploitative practices that continue to dominate the American political economy. In anticipation of the next confluence of crises, Professor McGarity offers suggestions for more comprehensive governmental protections for consumers, workers, and the environment.
3:35 – 4:00 – Jon Hanson
“Deep Capture: Attributions, Ideologies, and Policy”
4:05 – 4:20 – Q&A
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 4, 2013
The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime
When: Thursday 4/4/13 12-1pm
Where: WCC 1010
Why do some innocent kids grow up to become cold-blooded serial killers? Is bad biology partly to blame? Professor Adrian Raine (UPenn) will discuss his research on the biological roots of violence and neurocriminology, a new field that applies neuroscience techniques to investigate the causes and cures of crime.
Lunch will be provided.
Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 2, 2013
Social psychologists have launched an international campaign to save the life of Nalini Ambady, a Stanford University social psychologist and Situationist friend who is battling leukemia and urgently needs a bone marrow transplant. To find out what you can do, visit Help Nalini Now. Please also read Sam Sommers post: Point. Click. Save this Woman’s Life.