Things I Read This Year: Book Recs

booksbooksbooksBetween January 2014 and today, I read 111 books. Goodreads claims that this comes down to 11,211 pages read, but I’d round almost 1,000 pages off that for reference sections. I’ve got the complete list below my comments, alphabetized by authors. These are all books I completed, so they’re all good enough to keep my attention for their pages (exceptions to this rule marked with a red asterisk).

For best all-around writing about psychology, I enjoyed The Secret Life of Pronouns.

If you’re looking to get inspired into more growth mindset, I thought Mindset was bad at science writing and excellent at inspiring me in a way reading the research hadn’t.

For science ethics, The Master Switch and Bad Pharma. (Both of these are highly recommended overall)

For the best habit book I’ve read, Making Habits, Breaking Habits.

A note on Jeffrey Deaver, who takes up much of my fiction section. Do you like mysteries? Do you like plot twists that are consistently surprising but not full of deus ex machina? Do you like human, interesting, dimensional disabled characters? You may like Jeffrey Deaver, one of my favorite mystery writers.

Emily Bazelon wrote the most nuanced Social Issues book I read (Sticks and Stones), with three case studies of bullying and an exploration of the research and attitudes surrounding childhood bullying.

I don’t even like biographies all that much, and I couldn’t put down any of Walter Isaacson’s HUGE bios. (I’m still working on the one on Henry Kissinger)

And before the full list, the top ten books that shaped my 2014, for interestingness or impact or sheer New Ideas:

1. The Virtues of Our Vices, Emrys Westacott
2. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson
3. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4. The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Tim Wu
5. Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering Empathy, Emily Bazelon
6. Making Habits, Breaking Habits, Jeremy Dean
7. Bad Pharma, Ben Goldacre
8. The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
9. The Steerswoman Series, Rosemary Kirstein
10. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Psychology:

Why Does He Do That?, Lundy Bancroft
Willpower, Roy Baumeister
An Unconventional Family, Sandra Bem (rr)
Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgement, Michael Bishop & J.D. Trout
Feeling Good Together*, David Burns
Making Habits, Breaking Habits, Jeremy Dean
Mindset, Carol Dweck
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, Randy O. Frost & Gail Sketekee
Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert
Asylums, Erving Goffman
Listening to Prozac, Peter Kramer
The Secret Life of Pronouns, Jay Pennebaker
I Don’t Want To Talk About It, Terrence Real
The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male*, Janice G. Redmond
Hallucinations, Oliver Sacks
Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character*, Jonathan Shay
Is There No Place On Earth For Me?, Susan Sheehan
Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), Carol Tavris & Scott Aronson

History

All The President’s Men, Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward
Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, George Dyson
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens
Albert Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
Stateville, James B. Jacobs
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, Erik Larson
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
American Psychosis, E. Fuller Torrey
The Master Switch, Tim Wu

Other Non-Fiction

The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
Smarter Than Us, Stuart Armstrong
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering Empathy, Emily Bazelon
Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh
Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws, and Love, Yen Le Espiritu
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman
Thank You For Your Service, David Finkel
Bad Pharma, Ben Goldacre
The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison
Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, Randall Munroe
The Unpersuadables, Will Storr (also author of my favorite psychology longform this year)
Tiny, Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
The Virtues of Our Vices, Emry Westacott
Adulting: How to Become an Adult in 462 Easyish Steps, Kelly Williams Brown

Non-Fiction, Feminism

Misinformed Consent, Lise Cloutier-Steele
Women, Race, & Class, Angela Davis
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay

Fiction:

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Alice I Have Been, Melanie Benjamin
Against the Tide, Elizabeth Camden
Shadow of the Hegemon, Orson Scott Card
Speaker For The Dead, Orson Scott Card
Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang
The Maze Runner, James Dashner
The Kill Room, Jeffrey Deaver
A Maiden’s Grave, Jeffrey Deaver (rr)
Mistress of Justice, Jeffrey Deaver (rr) 
The October List, Jeffrey Deaver
Praying for Sleep, Jeffrey Deaver (rr)
Triple Threat: Three Original Stories, Jeffrey Deaver
XO, Jeffrey Deaver (rr)
Fault Line, Christa Desir
Room, Emma Donoghue
Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
If I Stay, Gayle Forman
An American Heiress, Daisy Goodwin
An Abundance of Katherines, John Green (rr)
Looking for Alaska, John Green
Paper Towns, John Green
Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
Beekeeping For Beginners, Laurie King
The Bones of Paris, Laurie King
Touchstone, Laurie King
The Language of Power, Rosemary Kirstein
The Outskirter’s Secret, Rosemary Kirstein
The Steerswoman, Rosemary Kirstein
The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin
Every Day, David Levithan
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, David Levithan
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
Alice in Tumblr-land, Tim Manley
A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin
A Dance With Dragons, George R.R. Martin
A Feast of Crows, George R.R. Martin
A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin
Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight
Perdido Street Station, China Meiville
Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Percy
The Abstinence Teacher, Tom Perotta
Battle Magic, Tamora Pierce
Tortall and Other Stories, Tamora Pierce
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett
Pyramids, Terry Pratchett
Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The Amber Spyglass, Phillip Pullman
The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman
The Subtle Knife, Phillip Pullman
Divergent, Veronica Roth
Daemon, Daniel Suarez
Freedom™, Daniel Suarez
Sophie’s Choice*, William Styron


With many thanks to Miri for leading by example and making me feel encouraged to read more, to Mike for getting me Good Omens and starting the Pratchett binge, to Leah for consistent good book choices, and to Jesse, for his bookshelves.

 

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Serious (Stucky) Advice

As all good internet stories go:

Once upon a time (last Sunday) I was reading fanfiction (this one) and I stumbled across something important, as explained by Bucky Barnes. (Look, you can have Shakespeare’s jokefic. I will read my emotional-pain heavy MCU fic). Ahem.
Anyways.

There’s a big war memorial in the park with both their names prominently inscribed. Rogers stands in front of it for 22 minutes their first day in the park. But there are no bugs on the workout gear, so if he says anything, Barnes doesn’t know.

It’s just past dawn, and a light frost tips the grass. It’s pretty but a reminder that no stores seem to carry any damn handkerchiefs. Barnes wipes his nose on his sleeve.

The fight with Stark brings the return of Rogers’s sad expression. Fucking Stark.

This is a particular difficulty of the mission: how to erase Rogers’s sadness while maintaining distance. How to suggest the comfort of a long bath or a grilled cheese with ham. A white mocha can fix almost anything for a little while.

Hey. Note: it is useful knowledge for living to have a list of things that are good no matter what.

No really, it’s very useful knowledge.

It’s hard to get up the momentum to get yourself  into a place where you can relax. Especially when you’re agitated, on edge, or anxious,* the last thing you want to do is stop and search through your mind for a solution. Similarly, when I’m sad, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of “I’m sad. I’m still sad. I’m sad.” Better option: “I am allowed to feel sad, but while I do so, I’m going to be kind to myself and do things that make me feel good.” When I’m ready to stop feeling sad, I will be able to climb out of the rut.

To this end, I suggest creating a List of Things That Are Unambiguously Good.

Step 1: Set a timer for five minutes
Step 2: Spend those five minutes doing nothing but writing down things that make you feel good without drawbacks.
Step 3: Add to list as necessary, keep in a common location. I store my list in the program that holds my daily agenda, because it’s on my phone, computer, and tablet, and open constantly. It’s unlikely I’d be somewhere without access to the list, which in turn makes it likely that when I feel bad, I’ll use it.

My list is below, and you’re encouraged to steal or test any ideas that strike your fancy.

-Drinking sparkling water with orange juice.
-Painting my nails
-A very hot bath with books.
-Lighting a scented candle.
-Watching something on my Netflix queue
-Tea with milk and sugar
-Strawberries
-Going for a walk
-Reviewing ‘happy things’ file on my computer.
-Wrapping up in blankets, especially heavy ones.
-Cute animals on tumblr
-Foot massages


*yes, these were synonyms. However, people seem to find recognition with some words and not others, so I use a variety. See also Julia’s excellent blog post.

Huge Linkpost: Self-Therapy Resources Edition

Friendly Formulation Worksheet
This is the worksheet I adapted to do a self-CBT exercise.

Last Sunday I gave a talk on doing therapy on yourself, as well as giving demonstrations of two different exercises—one from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which were the modalities in the focus of my talk. CBT and DBT are not the only types of evidence based therapies (in fact, DBT is descended from CBT). However! I find that most self-help and/or manualized therapies that people run across are from Cognitive Behavioral or Dialectical roots, and that those who dislike CBT like DBT and vice versa.

None of the comments below should be taken as Official Therapeutic Advice. However, I made lots of recommendations based on reading and poking through all sorts of books and apps and exercises intended to teach self-therapy.

Except where otherwise noted, all are books or resources I’ve personally used, and all are compared to at least two other things I’ve tried and found inferior.

Non-Clinical Books

These are not the total of all books that are non-clinical and excellent. They are, however, books I have interacted with and found to be generally excellent.
Feeling Good
When Panic Attacks
CBT for Work

Clinical Books
I talked briefly about clinical books, which I recommend non-clinicians try out. They’re often more expensive, but usually extremely information-dense, tend to contain far more worksheets and exercises, and are usable to the layperson. My advice for reading them effectively: skip the theories (more on this in another post) and go straight to suggested questions and example interactions between therapist and client. The book is trying to teach a framework from which the clinician can adapt and pull from to interact with their client.

I usually find it most useful to read the book while imagining I am the clinician (clinical books facilitate this well) with a client in front of me with identical issues and history to mine. This both makes it more likely that I’ll take the outside view and forces me to avoid skipping aversive steps, which I notice I do more frequently when reading non-clinical books. So! below are my favorite clinical books:
Clinical Interviewing (here’s the endorsement for this one: I enthusiastically read this school textbook for fun and I don’t regret it one bit.)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder (not just for people with BPD—I found the worksheets and handouts in this most useful for boundary-setting and interpersonal skill development)
DBT Workbook for Clients (Caveat: this is the only thing on the list that I have not vetted personally, though I have repeatedly been told by others I trust that it is wonderful)

Sources for Exercises and Worksheets:
For a massive variety of free-to-use worksheets, there’s psychology.tools.
I used this particular worksheet (slightly adapted) to create the CBT that I lead the group in doing. I chose it because it’s short, it ends on a positive note, and it explores a bunch of reasons as to why a problem could be persisting. It also capitalizes on the peak end effect.
Presumably from the makers of psychology.tools, there’s selfhelp.tools, a site that’s explicitly for use by non-clinicians.
Google Drive of CBT forms that have been made into Google forms!

Apps:
Self-Help Anxiety Management Android, iOS (my review here)
Recovery Record (food + mood tracking)
T2 Mood Tracker Android, iOS


Note: since I gave this talk to rationalists, I included some specific notes for that community; mainly, what questions I ask when suggesting what kind of therapy someone might prefer. They are enclosed below. Again, not official advice.

1. Do you find meditation practices to be

(a)pleasant and useful or
(b)aversive?

2. When you have unpleasant emotions, do you prefer

(a)poking and digging into them and the root cause or
(b) focusing on causing them to dissipate?

3. If you have taken a CFAR workshop recently and took Val’s class on embodied cognition, etc, did the ‘feel your feet’ exercise make sense? Can you usually notice how you are occupying your body?
4. If you have read Gendlin’s Focusing, did the idea of a ‘felt-sense’ make sense to you? Were those exercises natural?

If (b),(a), No, and No, I suggest starting by looking at things described as CBT or cognitive therapy. If (a),(b), Yes, and Yes, I suggest starting with mindfulness/DBT first. Technically, DBT is a cognitive behavioral therapy. However, the ‘feel’ of things described mainly as CBT and the feel of DBT seem to be significantly different, with the latter being mindfulness/Zen/radical acceptance focused in a way that the former does not emphasize.

Social Skill: Entering Group Conversations

you-cant-sit-with-us

For a long time, parties were terrifying. There were people. And people talking to each other. Unless I arrived unfashionably early, I was going to need to promptly join some group of people talking to each other, or make like wallpaper and stand alone. Figuring out how to do this took a very very long time, and is something I’ve only gotten comfortable with in the last year (and only regularly comfortable with in the last six months).

Here’s what I’ve been doing.

(This is Part One of…several. It deals only with entering conversations of two people. Future parts will handle joining larger and larger groups.)

Being the third person joining a conversation of two people can be intimidating! You probably don’t want to be the Dreaded Third Wheel, interrupt a personal conversation, or take ten minutes to discover that in fact the other two are waiting until you leave to resume their private conversation.

Simultaneously, smaller group conversations can feel way less overwhelming. There are fewer people to pay attention to, it’s usually easier to get a word in edgewise, and there’s some social pressure for everyone in the conversation to make sure everyone else is getting to participate.

So!

First, you want to figure out if they’re having a conversation that’s meant for two-and-no-more-than-two people. Asking is one way to figure it out, but some people will feel so put on the spot (or will feel as though they need to pretend all is well) or may feel as though “no, sorry, you can’t sit with us” is so deeply inappropriate that they won’t say it.

What cues can you look for?

-Are one or both of the people occasionally looking at other things happening outside the bubble of their conversation. Do they wave at people or acknowledge others walking by? These are signs that you could probably interrupt and join.

-Are they mostly making eye-contact with each other? Are they standing closer-than-normal to each other? How much touching? People who are doing sustained contact (hand squeezes, lingering hand on shoulder or upper arm) are usually have intense or private conversations.

Okay, so you have some idea that you might be able to join the conversation! Cool, let’s do it.

Generally inadvisable: standing near them and anticipating that they notice + reach out to you + include you. This can feel like being watched or eavesdropped upon. Further, it’s really hard to tell people to go away when they haven’t made overt attempts to join. In short, most of the time this technique makes everyone uncomfortable, and is probably only a good idea if you’re just waiting to get a word in edgewise. (More on that next)

Generally useful: In approximately this order, you want the two people already having the conversation to:

Acknowledge that you are there.
Let you join the conversation.
If at all possible, give you some idea of what’s going on in the conversation so that you can participate as if you were already in it.

Some options for making this occur:

1. Pick something they’ve mentioned that is either of interest to you or particularly unusual.

“I heard ‘psychology’ over here…?”
“Sorry, did you just say duck penises?”

(If this doesn’t give you a sense of what sort of parties I attend…)
Usually I pair this with conspicuous noticing, while in view of one of the conversational participants. Quickly turning towards their conversation, eyebrow raising (or single eyebrow-raise + confusion, in the case of duck penises) or displaying sudden interest or alertness all seem to work.

2. Say something about the way the conversation is happening.

“You guys look like you’re having the most fun in the room—mind if I join?”

You want to convey joviality and cheer with this. Upbeat tone and smiling will be helpful here. You don’t want to imply that the rest of the room is awful, or that you’re having no fun and they’re you’re life preserver…that’s a lot of responsibility to be saddling a conversation with!

3. If you know the person or have reason to believe it’s welcome, some amount of (platonic) touch.

For instance, if you know Sarah, walking up to her while she’s chatting with Jane, touching her on the shoulder to get her attention and saying “Hey, Sarah! It’s wonderful to see you—mind if I join in?” (If you don’t know Jane, you likely want to apologize for interrupting and introduce yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to leave. It’s just a way of acknowledging that now Jane has to share and you’ve noticed that.)

Signs to look for:

People who freeze for a second and then smile and especially people who immediately shift to accommodate you in the physical space of the conversation are interested in having you join the conversation. That last part—the body language of giving you an equal share of discussion—is probably the biggest hint.

People who freeze, half-open their mouths, or have a wincing or painful or uncomfortable expression like this or this (eyes slightly squinted, corners of mouth drawn back but not smiling, wrinkly brow) are likely expressing discomfort with you trying to join their conversation. No worries, everyone mis-guesses! This is not failure, and you can tactfully withdraw.

Options for a graceful exit:

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize I was interrupting. See you all later!” (Smile, if they apologize or agree in response, awesome, you picked the thing they wanted! If they say you aren’t interrupting, you want to say something like “you sure?” and then join in if they respond in the affirmative)
“Oh, no worries, I see [person] over there!” (Alternately, beverage or snack of your choice.)
“Ah, sorry, didn’t mean to butt into a private conversation”

They don’t have to be effusive apologies. In fact, everyone wants to go back to what they were doing, so short and sweet is optimal.

And….that’s it! Practice will make this less of a safari-with-a-long-checklist and feel more natural, but it took me about a year (maybe…ten parties?) to go from having an idea of what the hell to do to not feeling awkward while doing it.


Have ideas? Other hints? Parts of this that failed miserably for you? Please let me know, and I’ll append with links to comments.

Social Skills Training List?

I’ve talked a little bit about how I learned social skills in a crash course in the last year of high school and early parts of high school. And by ‘social skills’ I mean things from “wearing clothes properly” to “entering and exiting group conversations”. [Partial list here] It’s not unusual for people to ask how I did it. Right now…I don’t have an answer that’s terribly coherent, or particularly useful to people who want to do it themselves. I’m working on that.

In the meantime, here’s a list of things that definitely helped me pick up parts of the skills. They will not make you solve the problem of people and weird, unspoken social rules, but they might give you a sense of patterns and scripts and This Is A Fixable Thingness.

Toastmasters

I took an adapted Toastmasters course during my senior year of high school,and it gave me a good deal of skill in handling being put on the spot, speaking confidently, and learning how to decrease the fidgets and filler words I was using. However, I think the most useful skill I picked up was the meta-skill of noticing how I was speaking, while I was speaking. Instead of having a number of conversational tics I couldn’t fix because I had no idea they were there, I could keep talking while also attending to the fact that I said “like” a lot, or was nodding too frequently.

Captain Awkward

Captain Awkward (and her Awkwardeer guest posters) have written an advice blog for years, and it is by far the best of its kind. In particular, I love it for scripts for interpersonal relationships, functioning at work during depressive times, and help with being socially skilled without losing yourself. (Confused by some of the references? Here’s a glossary.)

Favorite posts:
Breaking The Low Mood Cycle
The whole Social Interactions tag
PSA for the Shy, Maybe Queer, Maybe Bi, Maybe Asexual Ladies

Dr. Nerdlove

Dr. Nerdlove writes for heterosexual men, but I found reading through the archives incredibly helpful. When I had no idea what was going on in social interactions (“What is flirting? Is it this? What if he’s not flirting and then I flirt at him?? Can you even do that?“) it was extremely useful to hear someone teaching each individual step of flirting. Instead of looking for that nebulous “flirting” thing, I could look for component parts: eye contact, standing closer, focus of attention. Further, when Nerdlove would say “and then women often do X in response to you doing Y” I learned that ohhh, that’s the expected response!

Real Social Skills

Social skills for autonomous people. The writer both writes out and works through complicated social situations to navigate (with any eye to non-neurotypical experiences) and answers reader questions. My current favorite is about asking for reassurance. Also good: learning self respect, romanticizing neurotypicality.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

This is the only one on this list that costs money; a manual that yes, is meant for clinicians, and yes, meant for borderline personality disorder, but I’ve found it invaluable, despite neither being nor having the above. In particular, I suggest flipping immediately to the end of the book to use the worksheets, which teach skills like how to say no, and in what tone of voice to say no based on the situation.

Useful if:

-you’d like to get better at figuring out which emotions you’re having
-you’re good with mindfulness or meditation and don’t like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
-social skills/interactions are tricky or seem to have opaque rules (the book contains SO MANY explicit diagrams)
-you want to learn to expand your comfort zone!
-you’d like to change your level of emotional volatility or feeling like emotions happen to you and eat you alive.

Less useful if:

-you’ve never interacted with the idea of therapy (ie, your picture of therapy is not much more detailed than talking or couches)
-you have a strong preference for learning the theory or probing the root causes of your mental health

What resources have you used?

Bayesian Bigots, Bad Charts, Bias: Adventures in Scientific Journals

Bones
“Evidence for JPSP researcher precognition. Although the data for this figure were not actually collected, the evidence it presents clearly demonstrates that such data collection is unnecessary.”

As I finish up my quarter (three papers, one debate, one exam, and a very long packing list left!) I’m flipping through old papers. Here a few of the oddities:

Bayesian Bigot? Statistical Discrimination, Stereotypes, and Employer Decision Making
A serious paper, despite the odd title. In short, curious researchers decide to do a series of in-depth interviews to determine if employers are making rational decisions about who they should hire. In results surprising very few, people discriminate, but don’t do so as the result of updating based on experiences.

Actually, a picture is worth less than 45 words: Narratives produce more false memories than photographs do
Nice figure of speech ya got there. It’d be a shame if we were to…test it.

Memory Distortion in People Reporting Abduction by Aliens
I
 don’t think anyone is surprised that there’s memory distortion in people who think they’ve been abducted by aliens, but did you know that there’s some overarching characteristics in domains unrelated to green men? Still curious: are there predictive characteristics beforehand?

We Knew the Future All Along : Scientific Hypothesizing is Much More Accurate Than Other Forms of Precognition: A Satire in One Part
Some social psychologist gets annoyed at the publication of Bem’s precognition research, writes snark, gets it published in the same journal that published the ESP research. Also, uses charts like the one found in this post’s heading.

 Sterling (1959) first documented psychologists’ remarkable precognitive capacities. He showed that 97% of articles across a random selection of psychology journals reported positive results. Further, Fanelli (2012) showed that psychologists have kept up this impressive prediction rate through the present. Moreover, his evidence suggests that psychologists have more positive results than virtually every other scientific discipline.

For example, biologists have excellent precognition but still not as good as psychologists (Fanelli, in press), political scientists appear to be guessing randomly (Tetlock, 2005), and economists are wrong about virtually everything (see Economics, all of it).  Psychology is number one!

AND

The evidence for precognition is psychological science itself. Just open a random issue of any psychology journal. In it, you will find dozens of a priori hypotheses anticipating findings that eventually occurred.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things Psychology Accidentally Taught Me

via Flickr user Deradian, some rights reserved
via Flickr user Deradian, some rights reserved

1. Never commit a crime unless you know you can get away with it. Otherwise you might end up in front of a jury, and juries are TERRIFYING. So are eyewitnesses.

2. If you want to read through research quickly, you can read the abstract and skip the methods and results reporting in favor of the discussion. This is particularly useful if you have four classes, each with daily readings, and want to get to the people who keep filling your inbox with interesting research. It’s unfortunate that it appears that even people who should read through all the mathematical analysis also fail to do this.

3. Brain pictures are very pretty. However, unless you have very specialized knowledge, this is about as much as you can offer when faced with a brain picture and little other information.

4. There are more than 100 neurotransmitters. However, there are less than ten that have familiar-to-the-public names. If you keep repeating this to yourself, headlines that read “TURNS OUT X WAS IMPLICATED IN BEHAVIOR Y” get exponentially less interesting.

5. If you’re unfamiliar with the prisoner’s dilemma, volunteer your services as a subject in social psychology studies. We’ll fix that for you.

6. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is awesome to watch until you realize that it’s a little tool that can disrupt your brain through the skull….and that your brain is fairly important for things like breathing and heart function, and TMS is “almost like a stroke” [If you’re squicked by watching people lose brain function, I wouldn’t click that link.]

7. Cohen’s d is a method for determining effect size. It’s also a great way for psych of gender researchers to make jokes while sounding serious.

8. Memory is fixed? Hahaha. hahah. Memory is only slightly less scary than twelve people determining your fate.

9. Trust nobody who tells you there’s a participant next door.