Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jerome Kagan: "Psychology's Ghosts"

4/26/12. Carol Tavris reviews Jerome Kagan's new book.

Carol Tavris:

"In his long and distinguished career, Jerome Kagan, now emeritus professor of psychology at Harvard, has written numerous books for general audiences on major discoveries and controversies in his field, particularly in his specialty of child development. In works such as "Three Seductive Ideas" (1998), he developed a style of discussing three or four different topics in a series of essays, interweaving each with data and observations across psychology, history and culture, and tying them together with an overarching theme. Or not..."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rethinking the War on Drugs

4/23/12. We have lost the long war on drugs. Calls for legalization are not the answer.

The Secret Service Secret: "Once I Had A Secret Love"


Truth always trumps fiction.

The Secret Service scandel reminds me of the 1953 song, "Secret Love," first performed by Doris Day.
Groucho Marx said he knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.

"Once I had a secret love...
...And my secret love's no secret anymore."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

90 Quotes from Thomas Sowell

4/19/12. Wisdom ---

"The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department."

"The big divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, or women and men, but between talkers and doers."

America's Crisis of Character


Peggy Noonan of the WSJ:

"People in politics talk about the right track/wrong track numbers as an indicator of public mood. This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we're on the right track as a nation. That's a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it's all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we're going in the wrong direction. I've long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it's also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture..."

In 1984, Charles Murray wrote that America was "Losing Ground." During the 1990's, President Clinton and his team reformed the welfare system based in large part on Murray's findings about how much ground we lost.  In 2012, Charles Murray wrote that "America is Coming Apart," --- focused only on white America. I hope the next President and his team find ways to  promote social policies that mitigate and reverse the high rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, single parents, fatherless families, the increase in perpetual adolescents, and erosion of educational excellence mixed with low expectations for growing up to earn a living, instead of being entitled to be taken care of by the government..--- S. Ceresnie

More Puns


I changed my iPod's name to Titanic. It's syncing now.

When chemists die, they barium.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Type-O.

Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.

We’re going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there's no pop quiz.

I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?

Broken pencils are pointless.

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.

I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.

Velcro ­ what a rip off!

A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.

Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!

The earthquake in Washington obviously was the government's fault.

Be kind to your dentist. He has fillings, too.

Catastrophic Thinking is On the Rise


Predictions of the end of the world...and the end of the world...and the end of the world - never stop.

In 1964, for example, social psychologists Leon Festinger, Henry W. Reiker, and Stanley Schacter published, "When Prophecy Fails:  A Social Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alternative Medicine is Becoming Mainstream

4/16/12. Evidenced based medicine is not the holy grail of treatment. Evidence for etiology, diagnosis, treatments, and course of illness must be evaluated by professionals with their good judgment and clinical experience. What is good practice for one patient may not be good practice for another.

(see Dr. Jerome Groopman's et al. article on the paternalism of best practices: )

Alternative medicine fills strong patient needs --- to be acknowledged, listened to, and understood. Some alternative medicine treatments are placebos, some are dangerous, some strange, others funny.

An example. Many years ago I evaluated an 8 year old boy who was doing poorly in school. After a work-up, ruling out anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities, I found that this youngster fit the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. As part of treatment, I recommended the parents consult their child's physician to consider pharmacotherapy. The child's mother objected to my recommendation to consider a carefully monitored trial of medication to treat her son's ADHD and took her son to an M.D. holistic doctor. Several months later, the parents returned and when I asked what the holistic doctor recommended they said, "First the doctor put our son on a very strict diet - so strict it was impossible to follow. When the diet didn't work, the doctor recommended caffeine suppositories for our son --- that's when we decided to come back to you."

The child's schoolwork and self-esteem improved with medication,  psychological education and psychology therapy for the child.

Be careful choosing alternative medicine  - without getting a second opinion. It is good to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.



"Don't be afraid when you have no other choice."

--- Yiddish proverb

"The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible."

--- David Olgivy

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good."

--- Steven Wright

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they were never going to be born."

--- Richard Dawkins

"Capitalism is in trouble because of its belief that everyone can take care of himself. It does not know how to help those who cannot help themselves. On the other hand, socialism is in trouble because it believes that no one can take care of himself.'

--- Eric Hoffer

"The thought of death has now become a part of my life. I read the obituaries every day just for the satisfaction of not seeing my name there."

--- Neil Simon

'I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve immortality though  not dying'

--- Woody Allen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Death


"I intend to live forever. So far, so good."

--- Steven Wright

Andrew Stark reviews Shelley Kagan's "Death:"

"The relationship between a person and his death, said the Greek thinker Epicurus, is a strange one. It is roughly akin, if we may leap forward a couple of millennia, to the relationship between Superman and Clark Kent. Whenever one is present, the other is nowhere to be seen. As long as a person is alive, his death has not yet happened. And of course once his death occurs, he is no longer around. Since no one will ever encounter his own demise, Epicurus concluded, it should cause him no concern.

Shelly Kagan's "Death" furnishes a lucid guide to a range of philosophical claims of this sort, such as whether we can know what it's like to be dead or why life is valuable in the first place..."

"Either the man is dead or my watched stopped."

--- Groucho Marx

"I rich people could other hire other people to die for them, the poor would make a good living."

--- Yiddish saying

Psychology and Ideology: Nature, Nurture, and Politics


Psychologist Jonathan Haidt:

"There is one difference, however, that is widening into a chasm and threatening to split the nation into two dysfunctional halves: left vs. right. Voters themselves have spread out only a bit in the last 10 years: Gallup reports a decline in the number of people calling themselves centrists or moderates (from 40 percent in 2000 to 36 percent in 2011), a slight rise in the number of conservatives (from 38 percent to 41 percent), and a slight rise in the number of liberals (from 19 percent to 21 percent).
But the political class, the political parties, and the media have completely changed their game since the 1980s. Politics used to be hardball: very competitive, but at the end of the day, Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill could meet for a drink and a private conversation. Congressmen and senators had the sense that they all belonged to a grand institution. They had enough in common, and enough friends across the aisle, that they could work together on solving the nation’s biggest challenges, from facing down the Soviets to dismantling Jim Crow.

Not any more. Now it’s cage-match wrestling, and there is a lot more blood. As long-serving former congressman Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) put it in September, “This is not a collegial body any more. It is more like gang behavior. Members walk into the chamber full of hatred.”

What is going on here? Part of the answer will come from historians who can trace out the events of recent decades and their effects on our political institutions. But part of the answer must come from psychology. In the last 10 years we psychologists have discovered a great deal about the origins of ideology and why ideology makes it so hard for people to understand, respect, and accept each other. This research partly confirms what Gilbert and Sullivan said in the light opera Iolanthe: “Nature always does contrive / That every boy and every gal / That’s born into the world alive / Is either a little Liberal / Or else a little Conservative!” But the story is more interesting than that..."

Medical Hypnosis: Getting Healthy


"...Indeed, scientific evidence is mounting that hypnosis can be effective in a variety of medical situations, from easing migraine headaches to lowering blood pressure, controlling asthma attacks, minimizing hot flashes and diminishing side effects from chemotherapy..."

Random Thoughts


Thomas Sowell:

"...People who believe in evolution in biology often believe in creationism in government. In other words, they believe that the universe and all the creatures in it could have evolved spontaneously, but that the economy is too complicated to operate without being directed by politicians..."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Evolution Revolution


Michael Gazzaniga on E.O. Wilson:

"At a certain point in their careers, great jazz musicians are almost bound to disappoint their fans. Think of John Coltrane venturing into free jazz in the late 1960s or Miles Davis going electric a few years later. The vision that made them great the first time pushes them into new territory, and the magnitude of their early accomplishments—and the number of admirers they have attracted—makes their public's sense of betrayal all the more bitter. All they can do is keep playing, undaunted by the dissent..."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A universe without purpose


Lawrence M. Krauss:

"...As a cosmologist, a scientist who studies the origin and evolution of the universe, I am painfully aware that our illusions nonetheless reflect a deep human need to assume that the existence of the Earth, of life and of the universe and the laws that govern it require something more profound. For many, to live in a universe that may have no purpose, and no creator, is unthinkable...",0,4136597.story

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Supreme Court Lands in Oz

Daniel Henninger:

'I am confident," announced the president of the United States, "that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress." And so it was on Monday that Barack Obama, anticipating a loss before the Supreme Court, added the third branch of government to the list of villains he will run against in his re-election campaign..."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

From Neuroses to Neurons

4/4/12. Dr. Raymond Tallis reviews Dr. Eric Kandel's book, "The Age of Insight."

Dr. Tallis:

"Eric Kandel's ambition in "The Age of Insight" is admirable: to narrow the gaps between science and the arts. And he would seem uniquely qualified. Besides having a deep knowledge of art, he won a Nobel Prize in 2000 for his exquisite work on the neural basis of memory. "The Age of Insight" starts well, with a lively account of intellectual circles in Vienna at the turn of the last century. When he leaves this milieu, however, his attempts to connect aesthetics with neuroscience are disappointing

The New Genetics of Autism

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What to do After Obamacare

4/3/12. Uncommon common sense on insurance, medical care, and affordability.

A Brief Therapy Heals Trauma in Children


Jane Brody:

"Every year millions of children from all walks of life become victims of, or witnesses to, abusive or violent events that can result in long-lasting symptoms of distress. The events can range from sexual and physical abuse to involvement in a natural disaster, fire or serious motor vehicle accident..."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Puns for Everyone

Stop Panicking about Bullies


Nick Gillespie:

"...But is America really in the midst of a "bullying crisis," as so many now claim? I don't see it. I also suspect that our fears about the ubiquity of bullying are just the latest in a long line of well-intentioned yet hyperbolic alarms about how awful it is to be a kid today..."