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Nigel Barber
Born in Ireland, Nigel Barber received his Ph.D. in Biopsychology from Hunter College, CUNY, and taught psychology at Bemidji State University and Birmingham Southern College. A prolific cross-national researcher, Barber accounts for societal differences in sexual and reproductive behavior, and crime, using an innovative evolutionary approach. His blog at Psychology Today is The Human Beast Books include Why Parents Matter, The Science of Romance, Encyclopedia of Ethics in Science and Technology, Kindness in a Cruel World, and The Myth of Culture: Why We Need a Genuine Natural Science of Societies. He recently returned to Alabama from Maine accompanied by wife Trudy and son David. Interests include politics, finance, organic gardening, and woodwork.

Entries by Nigel Barber

Can Artificial Intelligence Make us Stupid

(9) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 12:21 PM

Changing technology stimulates the brain and increases intelligence. But that may only be true if the technology challenges us. In a world run by intelligent machines, our lives could get a lot simpler. Would that make us less intelligent?

The Age of Machines
After the Industrial Revolution,...

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Journalism Is Red in Tooth and Claw

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2015 | 12:52 PM

If it bleeds, it leads is a truism of news coverage. We all sympathize with the victims of senseless violence, and their families, because we know that it could have been us, and our families. Yet, our world has never been less violent - except in news media and entertainment....

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Francis, Don't Pontificate Environment!

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2015 | 10:17 AM

Pope Francis recently published his statement on global warming as a moral problem. The Pontiff may be the best liked public figure on the planet but his credibility on environmental issues is close to zero. More specifically, Catholic Church policies hurt both the poor, and the environment.


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Does Wealth Equal Happiness?

(25) Comments | Posted June 11, 2015 | 3:36 PM

Yes, we all know that people are happier in wealthier countries, that a nation gets happier as its GDP grows, and that high income people report being happier than their less well paid counterparts. Yet, there is a certain hollowness to the wealth equals happiness equation that psychologist...

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Premarital Sex Rises With Economies

(0) Comments | Posted May 22, 2015 | 9:40 AM

I have been analyzing Pew data on acceptance of premarital sex around the globe to see whether it fits in with the ecology of modern life. Is acceptance of premarital sex higher in developed countries? What about the risks of pregnancy, and disease? What about female participation in...

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Cities Are Green After All

(1) Comments | Posted April 21, 2015 | 2:23 PM

Many of us are accustomed to think of urban smog as a root cause of global warming and environmental degradation that is pushing us to an existential precipice. Leading environmentalist Stewart Brand thinks otherwise. He explains why he was weaned from the village romanticism of a Mahatma Gandhi.

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ISIS - What Motivates Western Recruits

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 12:33 AM

End-of-the-world cults flourish in stressful times and in periods of rapid social change, like the present. That offers some clues to the otherwise baffling phenomenon of young people from developed countries streaming into Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.

Why would seemingly intelligent individuals leave a comfortable life in...

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Are Humans Unique?

(1) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 12:48 PM

The argument for human uniqueness is of mostly historical interest. As we gained more understanding of animal behavior, we learned that their psychology has more in common with us than had been imagined previously.

Here, then, are some of the criteria put forward for human uniqueness and contradictory evidence.

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Don't Blame Religion for Violence

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 1:44 PM

Violence often breaks out between religious groups. Yet, it is a mistake to blame religion for violence. Unfortunately, warfare is a universal human potential that would still exist if we were all atheists.

Not all societies are warlike, however. Anthropologists contrast the peaceful Shoshone with the more belligerent Paiute...

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Why the Planet Is Doomed

(3) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 11:53 PM

One solution to carbon pollution is a more economical lifestyle. Sharing cars, living in smaller homes, and generally saving energy are obvious ways to mitigate global warming. Will we adopt them, or will we continue with a more wasteful lifestyle that destroys the only planet we can live on?


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Global Warming As a Solvable Problem

(9) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 10:26 AM

The UN recently issued a bleak report on green house gases. Dire as the news may be, this is a practical problem that's amenable to social and engineering solutions. Those solutions are now quite well understood and younger generations are motivated to implement them.


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Why Religion Is so Weak in Maine

(5) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 9:01 AM

Recent research has clearly shown that religion is much more important in poorer countries. The same principle is true of states as I report in a paper to be published in Cross-Cultural Research. Yet, Maine stands out as a poor state where religion is relatively unimportant....

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Can Republicans Scare Democrats Into Voting for Them

(1) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 10:49 AM

In the current election campaign, Republicans are organizing their message around a theme of fear. That is hardly surprising given scientific evidence that the brains of conservatives are more strongly reactive to threats. For that reason, the campaign strategy is more likely to resonate with their own base...

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If Jesus Never Existed, Religion May Be Fiction

(2422) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 5:29 PM

As someone raised in a Christian country, I learned that there was a historical Jesus. Now historical analysis finds no clear evidence that Jesus existed. If not, Christianity was fabricated, just like Mormonism and other religions. Why do people choose to believe religious fictions?

Given the depth of religious...

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Four Key Ingredients in the Recipe for Creativity

(2) Comments | Posted September 20, 2014 | 12:24 AM

Everyone has untapped potential in some creative field. Yet some individuals -- Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs -- have far more of it than others. Apart from genes, there are at least three key environmental factors that affect creative accomplishments.

Genes and Personality

A large number of...

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Religious People More Spiritual than Atheists?

(1) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 2:05 PM

Organized religion is easy to define as group participation in beliefs and rituals. There is usually a priest, a place, and a prayer. Spirituality is trickier. It is often defined in terms of its opposites: anti materialism, lack of concern with worldly success, out-of-body sensations, and weakening of...

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The Triumph of the (Internet) Commons

(1) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 4:40 PM

Many social scientists believe that communities are bad at sharing in commons systems where access to a shared resource is free. Garret Hardin called this the tragedy of the commons (TOC) in a famous Science article. In reality, commons systems work very well and survive for centuries. Now the commons...

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Must We Worry About Artificial Intelligence?

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 10:46 AM

In a recent post, I suggested that artificial sexual experiences in the future will rival, or surpass, the real thing. The fear of enslavement by intelligent machines and the fear of machines that are smarter than us is a staple of science fiction following Isaac Asimov's lead. Now...

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Freedom From Religion as a Civil Right

(83) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 12:59 PM

The separation of church and state in the U.S. constitution is more honored in the breach than in the observance. Those who want to escape from organized religion must fight for that freedom against those in power who would foist religious views upon them at every turn. The religious pledge...

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Religion Can't Compete With Entertainment

(30) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 9:56 PM

There is a market for religion just as there is a market for material goods. The primary function of religion is to help people feel better about their lives. Competing feel-good products include psychotherapy, anti-anxiety drugs, and entertainment. As the number of competitors grows in developed countries, religion declines in...

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