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Matthew Hutson
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Matthew Hutson is a science writer and the author of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking

Entries by Matthew Hutson

Computers Judge Personality Better Than People Do

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 1:20 PM

Judging another's personality seems like one of the most uniquely human of skills. Machines can't tell whether someone is kind, or creative, or convivial, right? Well, new research shows that a simple algorithm adding up your Facebook Likes can actually assess your soul better than your soulmate can. It may...

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Typos in Online Dating Profiles Don't Matter (Much)

(2) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 9:46 AM

I read all my emails and texts and tweets at least twice before sending them. When I discover that I've let a typo slip through, I'm horrified. Finding one in my online dating profile would cause double the dread, as these portraits are meant to be one's best face. An...

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Positive Thinking Leads to Economic Decline

(1) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 12:21 PM

"We will turn to the only resource we have that in times of need always grows -- the goodness and the courage of the American people," George H.W. Bush said in his inaugural address, in 1989. It was an optimistic statement, using the future tense and positive words. Unfortunately, over...

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Why We Form New Year's Resolutions

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 1:53 PM

The running joke about New Year's resolutions is that they don't outlast the hangover. But if you're going to make a resolution to improve yourself, New Year's Eve is a good time to do it. Recent research helps explains why we pick this date for personal renovation, and how we...

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Awe Increases Religious Belief

(4) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 6:53 PM

In February 1971, Lunar Module pilot Edgar Mitchell was on his way back from the Moon when he had an epiphany. Staring out the window at the stars, he realized that everything is connected. The experience was so "puzzling and powerful," he told me, that upon touchdown he...

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Watching Harry Potter Enhances Creativity

(1) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 2:07 PM

Halloween, with its witches and ghouls and talking foxes, might just be the most creative day of the year.

"Magic -- the very word seems to reveal a world of mysterious and unexpected possibilities!" the Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski wrote in 1925. Magical phenomena, by definition, are impossible in the...

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All Paths Lead to Magical Thinking

(246) Comments | Posted September 19, 2013 | 8:32 PM

In recent years, psychologists have come to understand religion and paranormal belief as resulting, in most people, from simple errors in reasoning. You believe in God or astrology or a purpose in life because you apply ideas about people -- that they have thoughts and intentions -- to the natural...

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The Rich Are Differently Moral

(50) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 1:34 PM

Suppose you're standing on a footbridge over train tracks. On one side you see a trolley approaching, and on the other you see five railroad workers. Next to you is an overweight stranger. The trolley is out of control, and the workers can't hear you yelling. The only way to...

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Even Top Scientists Believe Everything Was Created by Magic

(346) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 12:45 PM

In a 2012 Gallup poll, only 15 percent of Americans said humans evolved without God's guidance. By comparison, 32 percent said God guided our evolution, and 46 percent said God created us in our present form (appendix and all). Many countries have done a better job than we...

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The Like Trail: What You Like on Facebook Says More Than You Know

(2) Comments | Posted March 12, 2013 | 1:45 PM

Most of us care about privacy on the Internet -- we don't want the personal information we place online to be spread without our knowledge or consent. But with clever algorithms or even just a bit of statistics, intimate secrets that we don't express at all can be surmised by...

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Testez votre capacité à croire en Dieu!

(25) Comments | Posted March 3, 2013 | 10:38 AM

Ce billet a initialement été publié sur le HuffPost Science

Une raquette et une balle de tennis de table coûtent 1,10 $ au total. La raquette coûte 1 $ de plus que la balle. Combien coûte la balle?

Votre réponse à cette question m'aidera à savoir si vous...

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What Kind of Thinker Believes in God?

(2267) Comments | Posted February 25, 2013 | 2:21 PM

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Your answer to this question will help me guess whether you believe in God.

That statement may seem as counterintuitive as the correct price of the ball--$0.05--but...

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The Enigma of Human Consciousness

(62) Comments | Posted October 15, 2012 | 4:47 PM

On Oct. 10 I attended a panel discussion at the New York Academy of Sciences titled "The Thinking Ape: The Enigma of Human Consciousness." The panel was presented by the NYAS, the Nour Foundation and To the Best of Our Knowledge, a nationally syndicated program on Wisconsin Public Radio.

The...

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Our Inner Puritans

(9) Comments | Posted August 15, 2012 | 12:48 PM

The Puritans often serve as a punch line -- the kind of people who would outlaw dancing -- but their history is complex, and as Americans we may carry their candle to a larger degree than you think. In the New York Times on Aug. 5, I wrote...

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The Karmic Connection: Do We Expect Good Fortune After Helping Others?

(83) Comments | Posted July 30, 2012 | 3:17 PM

In general, what goes around comes around. If you're nice to people, good things come your way, but if you're jagoff, look out (or, as I like to say, "don't put shit on a boomerang.") These expectations make sense in social situations, where people can retaliate or return favors, and...

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Are Conservatives More Religious and Liberals More Spiritual?

(15) Comments | Posted June 6, 2012 | 12:50 PM

In the United States, religion and politics have always been (fitful) bed buddies. But whether faith drives people left or right (or neither) is not obvious. On one hand, there is the Christian right, a demographic epitomized by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that values tradition and authority and opposes...

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Are People With Autism More Likely to Be Atheists?

(91) Comments | Posted June 1, 2012 | 12:05 PM

In most religions and arguably anything worth being called a religion, God is not just an impersonal force or creator. He has a mind that humans can relate to. Maybe you're not gossiping on the phone with him late at night, but he has personality traits, thoughts, moods, and ways...

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Do We See People in Persistent Vegetative States As More Dead Than Dead People?

(9) Comments | Posted May 22, 2012 | 9:51 PM

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion describes the year following the sudden death of her husband. At one point, while collecting his clothes for donation, she stops. She can't give away all of his shoes, for he might need them if he returns. This is the magical thinking...

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Are There Really No Atheists in Foxholes?

(146) Comments | Posted May 14, 2012 | 4:11 PM

It's often said that there are no atheists in foxholes. While this isn't technically true -- a group called The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers even keeps a roster of them -- new research suggests that inducing fear of death at least makes atheists a little less...

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Can Emotions Haunt Houses?

(19) Comments | Posted May 9, 2012 | 1:10 PM

In the early 1990s Trent Reznor (the man behind Nine Inch Nails) purchased the house at 10050 Cielo Drive, in Los Angeles. Before moving in he learned of its dark past. This is the house where members of Charles Manson's "family" had murdered Sharon Tate and four other people in...

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