Sagan’s Candle In The Dark
November 13, 2019


Carl Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World was published in 1996. The contents reveal Sagan’s passion for critical thinking (scientific thinking) and dislike for popular media misrepresentations of science. He warns and provides examples of the negative impacts associated with pseudoscience. The contents cover a wide range of topics and illustrate his love of finding the …

Can Brain Imaging Read the Mind?
October 23, 2019


Brain imaging or brain scanning methods are used to observe and manipulate the brain and its activities. Imaging is also useful for locating brain injury. There are various brain-imaging methods, including electrical recordings, brain stimulation, X-ray imaging, and dynamic imaging (Kolb and Whishaw 2009). Brain imaging has led to important psychological and behavioral discoveries and …

Why Exercise Is Good for the Brain
September 30, 2019


Computerized brain training games and dietary supplements will make your brain healthier, and you will get smarter—according to companies selling those products. There are many products aimed at improving brain health and cognition, but research is inconclusive regarding the benefits of many of these products. So what has been shown to enhance brain functioning?  Exercise …

Searching for the Ghost in the Machine
August 22, 2019


You have probably heard the phrases “mind over matter,” “it’s all in your head,” or “mind and body.” These phrases imply the separation of mind and body/brain. Notions of the mysterious mind being something other than physical or material have existed throughout time. Some brain scientists have suggested most people are naturally dualist; they believe …

Investigating Popular Artificial Sweeteners
July 25, 2019


Artificial sweeteners (sugar substitutes) are popular in the United States and other countries. They are consumed by dieters and non-dieters and found in many products. Questions often surface about their impact on health and bodyweight: Is it safe to consume these products? Do they aid in weight loss? Some have suggested that their consumption may …

What Makes The Best Diet?
June 21, 2019


Diet is an important factor when considering overall health. Television shows, books, and various media outlets are saturated with advice on what and how to eat. A lot of information is conflicting, which often makes it hard to choose the right diet. How can there be so many “best” diets?  Low carb proponents would have …

Can Rationality Be Learned?
May 20, 2019


Learning is conceptualized as a relatively permanent change in thinking or behavior. Innate (natural) skills are those you are born with; no experience is necessary to display these qualities. Innate skills vary tremendously among the animal kingdom, and much of human life is dependent on learning. High-level learners have an advantage in life. Learning is …

The Education Myth About Learning Styles
April 24, 2019


When teaching is tailored to a person’s preferred learning style, they will learn better than when it is not. At least that is the thought promoted by many educators, students, and parents. I have spoken with numerous educators (high school and college) who assert that one of the biggest problems in education is the mismatch …

Nocebo: Placebo’s Evil Twin
March 22, 2019


Nocebo is sometimes referred to as “placebo’s evil twin,” “negative placebo effects,” or “the other side of placebo.”  Nocebo effects are negative effects that are induced by nocebos: fake, non-specific treatments, procedures, therapies, or medications. Studies suggest that nocebo effects can contribute to a variety of medical symptoms, including adverse events in clinical trials and …

The Biology Behind Placebo Effects
February 21, 2019


Common statements heard when discussing placebo effects include “it’s not real; it’s the placebo effect” or “it’s just in your head.” Each of these statements reflects the belief that placebo effects aren’t beneficial or are worthless. This is an erroneous viewpoint; placebo effects often produce robust psychological and physiological effects that are very real. Placebo-induced …