How Not to Cheer Up a Person With Low Self-Esteem

Social support can take many forms. A helpful tweet, the annual Facebook birthday barrage of well wishes, and long conversations with friends and family can put things in perspective and reduce our stress. But, according to recent research from Renison University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Waterloo, these acts of kindness backfire when interacting with people who have low self-esteem.

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Questioning Big Round Numbers: The Brain has How Many Neurons?

Most of us have read over and again that the human brain has 100 billion neurons.  With no source but legend for that big round number—and not wanting merely to echo an undocumented estimate from other books—I set off in search of a more precise estimate.  Surely someone must have sampled brain tissue, counted neurons, and extrapolated a nerve cell estimate for the whole brain.  

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If Consciousness Arrives Late to the Decision-Making Party, Is Free Will an Illusion?

In all of recent psychological science, there has been, to my mind, no more provocative studies those by Benjamin Libet.  His experiments have seemingly shown that when we move our wrist at will, we consciously experience the decision to move it about 0.2 seconds before the actual movement. No surprise there. But what startled me was his reporting 

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How Important is Religion Worldwide?

My last post—noting the new worldwide estimate that 37 percent of men and 38 percent of women are overweight—got me to wondering if we have other examples of all-humanity data. One is our species’ life expectancy, which has risen from 46.5 years in the early 1950s to 70 years today. What a gift—two dozen more years of life!

And then we have new data from the Gallup World Poll

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Who are the Most Eminent Psychologists of the Modern Era?

If asked that question, who would come to your mind?

For a forthcoming Archives of Scientific Psychology report, Ed Diener (University of Illinois), Shigehiro Oishi (University of Virginia), and JunYeun Park (University of Illinois), painstakingly assembled data from citations, textbook page coverage, and major awards.

Their top three, in order, were ...

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The Climate is Changing, But People Draw Conclusions From Local Weather

Climate change is upon us.  The recent National Climate Assessment, assembled by a large scientific panel, confirms that greenhouse gases continue to accumulate.  The planet is warming. The West Antarctic ice sheet is doomed. The seas have begun rising.  And more extreme weather will plague our future. 

Alas, most of the American public is not yet alarmed about this weapon of mass destruction.  The 31 percent who

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