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Posts Tagged ‘SALMS’

Diane Rosenfeld Speaks Today at HLS

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 30, 2011

Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) Speakers Series:

Diane Rosenfeld: “Penn State, Intervention, and a Theory of Patriarchal Violence” 11/30/201

Join SALMS for the final event of our Fall Speakers Series, when HLS’s Diane Rosenfeld will present on “Penn State, Intervention, and a Theory of Patriarchal Violence” on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, at noon in Austin West.

Rosenfeld will respond to Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham’s October 12 SALMS talk on “Sexual Disparities and the Evolution of Patriarchy,” drawing out the legal implications of Professor Wrangham’s scientific findings. The child sexual abuse scandal swirling around the Penn State football program will serve as a point of departure for these deeper conclusions.

As always, SALMS will serve free burritos – come enjoy SALMS food and company before finals season begins in earnest!

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Related Situationist posts:

Posted in Events, Evolutionary Psychology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Dr. Robert Trivers at Harvard Law – Thursday

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 2, 2011

Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) Speakers Series:

Robert Trivers, Rutgers Biologist and Anthropologist: “Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling others the better to fool ourselves.” 

Thursday, 11/3, 12-1 pm, Austin West; 

SALMS serves lunch: Free Burritos!

Why do we deceive ourselves so often in our daily lives?  Robert Trivers, Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, argues that  self-deception evolved in the service of deceit—the better to fool others. We do it for biological reasons—in order to help us survive and procreate. From viruses mimicking host behavior to humans misremembering (sometimes intentionally) the details of a quarrel, science has proven that the deceptive one can always outwit the masses. But we undertake this deception at our own peril.  Trivers will present findings from his new book, “The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life.”

Trivers won the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences in 2007 for his fundamental analysis of social evolution, conflict, and cooperation. Harvard’s Steven Pinker has described Trivers as an “under-appreciated genius”: “In an astonishing burst of creative brilliance, Trivers wrote a series of papers in the early 1970s that explained each of the five major kinds of human relationships: male with female, parent with child, sibling with sibling, acquaintance with acquaintance, and a person with himself or herself. . . . Trivers’ ideas are, if such a thing is possible, even more important than the countless experiments and field studies they kicked off. They belong in the category of ideas that are obvious once they are explained, yet eluded great minds for ages; simple enough to be stated in a few words, yet with implications we are only beginning to work out.”

Read more at the SALMS website.

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Related Situationist posts:

Posted in Events, Evolutionary Psychology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Dr. Richard Wrangham at Harvard Law Tomorrow

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 11, 2011

Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) Speakers Series:
Richard Wrangham, Harvard Primatologist: “Sexual Disparities and the Evolution of Patriarchy”
Wednesday, 10/12, 12-1 pm, Austin West
SALMS serves lunch: Free Burritos!

What can primates teach us about the evolutionary bases of rape, murder, and patriarchy? For several decades, Richard Wrangham, the Ruth Moore Professor of Anthropology and Chair of Biological Anthropology at Harvard, has studied primates in the wild. His work on the ecological and behavior comparisons of chimpanzees and humans has been his greatest contribution to the animal behavior literature. His insights into the cultural similarities between humans and chimpanzees–including our unique tendencies to form murderous alliances and engage in recreational sexual activity–has had profound affects on how scientists analyze primate behavior, non-human and human alike.

In addition to his exhaustive peer-reviewed journal publications, as author of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, Chimpanzee Cultures, and as co-editor of Primate Societies, Professor Wrangham’s important observations and theoretical contributions to the field of primate socio-behavior are covered in a variety of works, which range from the textbook to popular science manual. In recent years, Professor Wrangham has been named as a trustee to several important primatological research organizations, including the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, the Jane Goodall Institute and is Chair of the Great Ape World Heritage Species Project.

Read more at the SALMS website..

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Related Situationist posts:

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Dr. Steven Hyman at Harvard Law Tomorrow

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 26, 2011

Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) Speakers Series:
Dr. Steven E. Hyman, “Addiction as a Window into Volition”
Tuesday, 9/27, 12-1 pm, Pound 101
SALMS serves lunch: Free Burritos!

How should the law confront the “choices” of an addict? Though neuroscience research into addiction has advanced dramatically, few lessons have been incorporated into legal doctrine.  Dr. Steven Hyman, former Harvard Provost and founding member of the Governing Board of the Project on Law and Neuroscience, will present recent neuroscience findings to shed light on the legal concepts of addiction and self-control.

After leading the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 1996–2001, Dr. Hyman served as Provost of Harvard University from 2001–2011. Prior to his position at NIMH, Dr. Hyman was Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Psychiatry Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He also taught neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and was the first faculty Director of Harvard University’s Interfaculty Initiative in Mind, Brain and Behavior. Dr. Hyman received his B.A. from Yale in 1974 (summa cum laude) and his M.A. from the University of Cambridge in 1976, where he was a Mellon fellow studying the history and philosophy of science. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School (cum laude) in 1980. Following an internship in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a residency in psychiatry at McLean Hospital and a clinical fellowship in neurology at MGH, he was postdoctoral fellow at Harvard in molecular biology. Dr. Hyman is currently a scholar in residence in the Psychiatric Disease Program at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.  Read more at the SALMS website..

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Related Situationist posts:

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Edward P. Schwartz at Harvard Law Tomorrow (Tuesday)

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 12, 2011

The Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (or SALMS) kicks off its fall Speakers Series this upcoming Tuesday, September 13 when Edward P. Schwartz will present his talk: “Facing the Fearful Jury: Terror Management Theory in the Courtroom” in Pound 101 at noon.

As part of our campus remembrance on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, SALMS invited Mr. Schwartz, a nationally recognized jury consultant, to share his insights into the psychology of juries in terrorism trials, with a particular emphasis on the upcoming trial of Tarek Mahenna in Boston federal court. Anyone interested in trial litigation, jury psychology, or the law of terrorism should particularly enjoy Tuesday’s talk. Check out Mr. Schwartz’s blog entry about the talk here and see a full description here.

Come for the talk, for the community, and for the free lunch – by popular demand, SALMS will again serve free Felipe’s burritos this year!

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Related Situationist posts:

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SALMS Fall 2011 Events

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 2, 2011

The Harvard Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is excited to announce its tentative schedule for the Fall 2011 Speaker Series!

Below, see confirmed speakers, the dates of their talks, and a very brief description (that certainly does not do their exceptional scholarship and topics justice). All listed talks are slated to begin at noon. Stay tuned for updates, locations, and additional speakers!

  • September 13: Edward P. Schwartz. Tuesday, noon, Pound 101. Schwartz, a nationally recognized jury consultant, will speak about psychology and jury decision-making. The talk will focus on terrorism trials after September 11th, especially the case of Tarek Mahenna, whose trial is scheduled to begin in Boston in October.
  • September 27: Steven Hyman. Tuesday, noon, Pound 101. Dr. Hyman, the former Provost of Harvard University, is a visiting scholar at the Broad Institute who specializes in molecular neuroscience, molecular biology, and psychiatry. The talk will cover recent advances in law and neuroscience scholarship and preview the future of the field.
  • October 12: Richard Wrangham. Wednesday, noon, Austin West. Wrangham is the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard, where he studies primatology. The talk will consider the evolutionary roots of sexual violence by explaining lessons learned from chimpanzees.
  • October 28: Robert Trivers. Trivers studies social evolution, the evolution of selfish genetic elements, and deceit as Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. The talk will focus on the evolutionary basis of self-deception and its implications for the law.
  • November 7: John Jost. Jost, Professor of Psychology at NYU, is known for his work on system justification theory and on the psychological basis of political ideology. The talk will explore the underlying cognitive and motivational differences between liberals and conservatives.

Posted in Events, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Richard Hackman on “What Makes for a Great Team”

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 26, 2011


Harvard University professor Richard Hackman spoke in March at Harvard Law School.Professor Hackman has studied the secrets of effective teams ranging from airplane cockpit crews to musical ensembles. In his talk, sponsored by the Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences, Professor Hackman summarized the conditions that increase the likelihood of creating teamwork “magic.” For a brief introduction to Professor Hackman’s recent research on teamwork, check out this Harvard Business Review article on “sand dune teams.”

Posted in Conflict, Distribution, Education, Positive Psychology, Situationist Sports, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Patrick Shin at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 6, 2011

On Tuesday, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is hosting a talk by Suffolk Law professor Patrick Shin entitled “Unconscious Bias and the Legal Concept of Discrimination.”

Professor Shin is a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School. He conducts research into the meaning and value of diversity in antidiscrimination law. He has applied psychology to real-world problems of employment discrimination law.

Professor Shin will be speaking in Austin East from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Free burritos will be provided! For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.

Posted in Events, Implicit Associations, Law, Legal Theory | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ray Jackendoff at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 29, 2011

On Monday, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is hosting a talk by Tufts psychology professor Ray Jackendoff entitled “The Natural Logic of Morals and Laws.”

Ray Jackendoff received his Ph.D. in linguistics from MIT in 1969.  His research centers around the system of meaning in natural language, how it is related to the human conceptual system, and how it is expressed linguistically.  This has led him to a cognitive approach to traditional philosophical issues of inference and reference, embodied in his theory of Conceptual Semantics.  In developing this approach, he has worked on the conceptualization of space, on the relationship between language, perception, and consciousness, and, most recently, on the conceptualization of such socially grounded concepts as value, morality, fairness, and obligations.  In addition, in exploring how concepts are expressed in language, he has developed new models of the architecture of the human language faculty and its evolution.

Professor Jackendoff will be speaking in Pound 10o from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Free burritos will be provided! For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.

Posted in Events, Evolutionary Psychology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Adam Kolber at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 1, 2010

On Tuesday, November 2nd, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) and HLS Ethics, Law, and Biotechnology group are hosting a talk by Brooklyn Law School professor Adam Kolber entitled “Freedom of Memory.”

Professor Kolber teaches a variety of subjects at Brooklyn Law School, including bioethics and “law and the brain” courses. He is a respected expert in the field of neuroethics, and is the founder of the Neuroethics & Law Blog. Professor Kolber is frequently quoted in major news publications for his views regarding the ways that legal punishment should be influenced by modern advances in human understanding of the brain’s reactions to punishment.

Professor Kolber will be speaking in Pound 107.   Free bagels will be provided!

For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.

Posted in Events, Legal Theory, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Jim Sidanius “Terror, Intergroup Violence, and the Law.”

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 14, 2010

In his fascinating presentation at Harvard Law School on September 12, 2010, Professor Sidanius discussed ways in which the legal system has been, and continues to be, used as a means to effectuate intergroup violence, particularly through the criminal justice system.  Here is a video of that that talk [Duration: 54:10].

Professor Sidanius, a Harvard University professor in the departments of Psychology and African and African American Studies, focuses his research on the political psychology of gender, group conflict, and institutional discrimination, as well as the evolutionary psychology of intergroup prejudice. He runs the Sidanius Lab in Intergroup Relations, which conducts research regarding intergroup relations, social inequality, hierarchy, stereotyping, ideology, and prejudice.

You can review previous Situationist posts discussing Jim Sidanius’s work here.

Posted in Conflict, Distribution, Ideology, Video | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Daniel Dennett To Speak at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 27, 2010

On Tuesday, September 28th, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is hosting a talk by Tufts professor Daniel Dennett entitled Free Will, Responsibility, and the Brain.

Professor Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University, as well as the co-director for the school’s Center for Cognitive Studies.  His work examines the intersection of philosophy and cognitive science in relation to religion, biology, science, and the human mind.  Professor Dennett has also contributed greatly to the fields of evolutionary theory and psychology.

Professor Dennett will turn a critical eye on the recent influx of work regarding the impact of neuroscience on scholarly concepts of moral and legal responsibility.

He will be speaking in Pound 101 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Free burritos will be provided!

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For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.

For a sample of related Situationist posts, see Daniel Dennett on the Situation of our Brain,” Dan Dennett on our Interior Situation,” Bargh and Baumeister and the Free Will Debate,” “Bargh and Baumeister and the Free Will Debate – Part II,” “The Death of Free Will and the Rise of Cheating,” Clarence Darrow on the Situation of Crime and Criminals,” “Person X Situation X System Dynamics,” “Situation” Trumps “Disposition” – Part I & Part II,” “The (Unconscious) Situation of our Consciousness – Part I, Part II, Part III, & Part IV and “Coalition of the Will-less.”

Posted in Choice Myth, Evolutionary Psychology, Law, Legal Theory, Morality, Neuroscience, Philosophy | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Jim Sidanius Returns to Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 12, 2010

On Monday, September 12th, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is hosting a talk by Professor Jim Sidanius entitled “Under Color of Authority: Terror, Intergroup Violence, and the Law.”

Professor Sidanius, a Harvard University professor in the departments of Psychology and African and African American Studies, focuses his research on the political psychology of gender, group conflict, and institutional discrimination, as well as the evolutionary psychology of intergroup prejudice.  He runs the Sidanius Lab in Intergroup Relations, which conducts research regarding intergroup relations, social inequality, hierarchy, stereotyping, ideology, and prejudice.

Professor Sidanius will be speaking about ways in which the legal system has been, and continues to be, used as a means to effectuate intergroup violence, particularly through the criminal justice system.

Professor Sidanius will be speaking in Pound 100 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.. Free burritos will be provided!

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For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.

For a sample of previous Situationist posts discussing Professor Sidanius’s remarkable scholarship, see “Jim Sidanius, ‘Under Color of Authority: Terror, Intergroup Violence, and The Law’,” and “The Project’s Second Conference – ‘Ideology, Psychology & Law’.

Posted in Conflict, Deep Capture, Distribution, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Fiery Cushman at Harvard law School – Video

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 8, 2010

From The Harvard Law Record (Sept. 2009):

On September 21st, Fiery Cushman, a newly-minted PhD recipient and post-doctoral fellow at Harvard’s Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative, presented some of his recent research at an event titled “Outcome vs. Intent: Which Do We Punish, and Why?” Cushman’s work suggests that at a gut-level, people assess whether a behavior was morally right or wrong by looking at the actor’s intentions, but when assigning punishment, people are overwhelmingly interested in outcomes, even if an outcome was accidental.

Cushman described several experiments where he was able to look at a participant’s intentions in isolation from the actual outcome of the participant’s actions. In one case, participants were given the choice of dice that would later be rolled to assign rewards to a second, receiving party. When given the opportunity, the recipient would consistently punish more often when the dice produced less favorable rewards, even if the initial participant intended to provide rewards generously. This work has interesting implications for tort law, explaining in part why findings of negligence lead to large compensatory rewards even in the absence of any intentional action.

Below is the video of that fascinating talk.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, “Law Students Flock to Situationism,” “Fiery Cushman at Harvard Law School,” Attributing Blame — from the Baseball Diamond to the War on Terror,” “John Darley on ‘Justice as Intuitions’ – Video,” “The Situation of Punishment in Schools,” Why We Punish,” “Kevin Jon Heller on The Cognitive Psychology of Mens Rea,” Mark Lanier visits Professor Jon Hanson’s Tort Class (web cast),” and “Situationist Torts – Abstract.”

Posted in Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Joshua Greene To Speak at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 31, 2010

On Thursday, April 1st, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) and the Harvard Graduate Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB) Steering Committee are hosting a talk by Joshua Greene called “Moral Cognition and the Law.”

Joshua Greene is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. He studies emotion and reason in moral judgment using behavioral experiments, functional neuroimaging (fMRI), and other neuroscientific methods.  The goal of his research is to understand how moral judgments are shaped by automatic processes, such as emotional gut reactions, and controlled cognitive processes, such as reasoning and self-control.

The event will take place in Pound 101 at Harvard Law School, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Free Burritos! For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.

For a sample of Situationist discussing Professor Greene’s scholarship, see “The Interior Situation of Honesty (and Dishonesty),” “Moral Psychology Primer,” Law & the Brain,” “Pinker on the Situation of Morality,” “The Science of Morality,” and Your Brain and Morality.”

Posted in Events, Experimental Philosophy, Morality, Neuroscience | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Dan Wegner on “Psychological Studies of the Guilty Mind”

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 27, 2010

From the Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) and the Project on Law and Mind Sciences (PLMS) at Harvard Law School, here is an remarkable presentation, titled “Psychological Studies of the Guilty Mind,” by Dan Wegner, one of the most thoughtful and influential social psychologists in the business.

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To review a collection of Situationist posts discussing Dan Wegner’s research, click here.

Posted in Illusions, Implicit Associations, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mahzarin Banaji at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on March 10, 2010

On Thursday, March 11th, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) is hosting a talk by Harvard psychology professor Mahzarin Banaji entitled “Mind Bugs and the Science of Ordinary Bias.”  Here’s the description.

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How deep are the bounds on human thinking and feeling and how do they shape social judgment?  Our focus has been on the mechanics of unconscious mental processes, with attention to those that operate without conscious awareness, intention, or control.  Most recently, we have worked with a task that reveals unconscious preferences in a rather blunt manner, showing that they can sit, at one level, in contradiction with consciously endorsed preferences.  We use the tool largely for theory testing, focusing on questions about the nature of implicit social cognition and its measurement.  The research tool, in vastly simplified form, is also available to the public at a demonstration website (implicit.harvard.edu), offering estimates of automatic preferences toward social groups, political candidates, and academic orientation (e.g., math/science). From such study of attitudes and beliefs of adults and children, I ask about the social and moral consequences of unintended thought and feeling. My work relies on cognitive/affective behavioral measures and neuroimaging (fMRI) with which I explore the implications for theories of individual responsibility and social justice.

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The event will take place in Pound 107 at Harvard Law School, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Free Burritos! For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.

For a sample of Situationist discussing Professor Banaji’s scholarship, click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Events, Implicit Associations, Situationist Contributors, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Steven Pinker Speaks at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 17, 2009

From HLS in Focus (describing the new student group working with the Project on Law and Mind Sciences (PLMS) at Harvard Law School and the fascinating talk that Stephen Pinker recently gave there).

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“SALMS” is a recently formed group whose acronym stands for: Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences. They are interested keeping the law school community informed about research in the mind sciences that has profound implications for law and policy making. The group is currently in the process of creating a journal that touches on the same topic. If they are successful, it will be the first journal of its kind in the country.

The event that I attended was a lecture by Harvard College Professor, Steven Pinker. The title of the talk was: “A History of Violence: How We Became Less Violent” Professor Pinker explained that research indicates that although public perception is that we live in a dangerous and violent society, the facts back up a different theory. Society is becoming less violent. This statement is made based on data that span hundreds of years. Over this period of time, there have been less murders and overall violent crimes, fewer deaths from all kinds of war and much less capital punishment for non-violent crimes.

Professor Pinker also offered some reasons for why people might think that we live in a more violent period than ever before. The first is the availability heuristic. We think that society is more violent now because when asked, more recent examples are easier to remember and news of violent crimes spreads faster and farther than ever before. The second is a tendency to think that society is in a state of moral decay. We idealize the past and think that the present represents a departure from morals and values. The third is the fear that saying that violence is declining will make us too complacent rather than proactive about our own safety.

The evidence presented suggests that our inclinations toward violence have not changed over time but that societal constructions keep us from killing each other. For example, most of civilized society no longer approves of killing for revenge or honor. People still feel like they want to kill for these reasons but there is less incentive to go through with it and the consequences and probability of getting caught are just too high. We also have ample opportunity to live vicariously through the violence we get from the television, movies and videogames. The final reason for the decline in violence may be that people have become more valuable to us alive than dead. This is especially true on the national scale where countries depend on each other for different trade commodities.

Sitting in on this discussion made me realize that I was mistaken before when I thought that my undergraduate major in psychology would be irrelevant. Understanding the mind sciences can be a great help when it comes to understanding people’s behavior, the incentives they respond to and how we can shape law and policy in a way that helps enable the best outcomes. I really hope this group gets their journal off the ground. I can’t wait to attend their next event.

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To read a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Steven Pinker at Harvard Law School,” “Law Students Flock to Situationism,” The Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences,” “Pinker on the Situation of Morality,” Another Century of Genocide?,” “Steven Pinker’s Ted Talks on ‘The Stuff of Thought’,” “The Situation of Violence,” and “Time Changes Mind.”

Posted in Choice Myth, Conflict, Events, History, Life | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Steven Pinker at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on November 16, 2009

Steven PinkerSALMS Logo Small 2 for WebsiteOn Tuesday, November 17, The HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) and the HLS Harvard Graduate Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB) Steering Committee are hosting a talk by Steven Pinker entitled “A History of Violence: How We Became Less Violent.”

Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and The New Republic, and is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, The Blank Slate, and most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.

The event will take place in Austin North at Harvard Law School, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.  FREE Burritos!

For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu.  For a sample of related   posts, see Pinker on the Situation of Morality,” Another Century of Genocide?,” “Steven Pinker’s Ted Talks on ‘The Stuff of Thought’,” and “Time Changes Mind.”

Posted in Events, History | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Goutam Jois at Harvard Law School

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 21, 2009

SALMS Logo Small 2 for WebsiteOn Thursday, October 22, the HLS Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences (SALMS) and the HLS American Constitution Society (ACS) are hosting a talk by Situationist Fellow Goutam Jois entitled “Stare Decisis is Cognitive Error”:

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For hundreds of years, the practice of stare decisis — a court’s adherence to prior decisions in similar cases — has guided the common law. However, recent behavioral evidence suggests that stare decisis, far from enacting society’s “true preferences” with regard to law and policy, may reflect — and exacerbate — our cognitive biases.

The data show that humans are subconsciously primed (among other things) to prefer the status quo, to overvalue existing defaults, to follow others’ decisions, and to stick to the well-worn path. We have strong motives to justify existing legal, political, and social systems; to come up with simple explanations for observed phenomena; and to construct coherent narratives for the world around us. Taken together, these and other characteristics suggest that we value precedent not because it is desirable but merely because it exists. Three case studies — analyzing federal district court cases, U.S. Supreme Court cases, and development of American policy on torture — suggest that the theory of stare decisis as a heuristic has substantial explanatory power. In its strongest form, this hypothesis challenges the foundation of common law systems.

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The event will take place in Pound 108 at Harvard Law School, from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

For more information, e-mail salms@law.harvard.edu. To download the paper click here.

Posted in Abstracts, Choice Myth, History, Ideology, Law, Legal Theory, Situationist Contributors, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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