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Wray Herbert
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Wray Herbert is the author of the book On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits. He is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about psychological science for more than 25 years, including many years as science editor of US News & World Report, regular columns for Newsweek and Scientific American Mind, and his two popular blogs, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology.

Entries by Wray Herbert

Recovery on the Road

(0) Comments | Posted August 22, 2015 | 2:11 PM

Last spring I happened to be in Amsterdam on a business trip, and when I had the chance I stopped by a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have been in recovery from alcohol addiction for many years, so while traveling, whenever I can, I find a local meeting. It offers...

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Is Twitter an Echo Chamber?

(1) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 12:45 PM

I've been a member of both Facebook and Twitter for many years, and my experiences with the two couldn't be more different. While both are "social" in the broadest sense, Facebook for me is really like a rolling conversation, a somewhat gossipy block party where friends and family catch up...

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Who Are You? Identity and Dementia

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 12:59 PM

Phineas Gage is arguably the most famous case study in the history of neuroscience. Gage was a railroad worker who in the autumn of 1848 was helping to prepare a new roadbed near Cavendish, Vermont, when an accidental explosion sent a three-foot tamping iron through his head. The missile entered...

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The Neurology of Lending

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 1:03 PM

Back in 1976 a young professor in Bangladesh starting making dubious low-interest loans to the rural poor of his country. Muhammad Yunus had the crazy idea that even impoverished farmers -- men and women without credit history or collateral or even steady employment -- could be disciplined and trustworthy in...

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Impossible Knowledge: Are You an Expert?

(8) Comments | Posted May 22, 2015 | 10:32 AM

I grew up with a habitual overclaimer. He wildly exaggerated his expertise, at times claiming knowledge of things he couldn't possibly know -- people, events, ideas that simply do not exist. Being unfamiliar with overclaiming, I just called him a liar.

I couldn't have known the word "overclaimer," nor the...

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I'm Rich. You Must Be, Too.

(71) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 9:59 AM

"Let me tell you about the very rich," the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in the 1920s. "They are different from you and me."

"Yes," his friend and rival Ernest Hemingway replied. "They have more money."

Hemingway's retort may be apocryphal, but the point is indisputable. Then as now, the...

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Fair Is Fair, But Not Everywhere

(5) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 9:05 AM

Imagine this scenario: Two commercial fishermen head out to sea at the break of dawn, and spend the next ten hours hauling in the day's catch. When they wearily return to dock and count their take, one has three times as many fish in his hold. How should the two...

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Feeling the 'Rocky' in Relationships

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2015 | 12:09 PM

In 2008, a massive earthquake shook the Chinese province of Sichuan. Measuring 8.0, the quake killed more than 69,000, injured countless more, and left 4.8 million homeless. The Chinese government has spent billions on the region's recovery, which even now is incomplete.

The immediate devastation in Sichuan was also followed...

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Mental Health for the Masses

(3) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 1:46 PM

Ricardo Muñoz thinks that MOOCs get a bad rap. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses, Internet-based higher education available to anyone in the world, regardless of age or qualifications, and usually for free. MOOCs have become very popular in recent years, and now attract millions of students who want...

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Choosing Sadness: The Irony of Depression

(22) Comments | Posted April 8, 2015 | 8:56 AM

I knew a man some years ago who suffered from serious and chronic depression. He also lived what seemed to me a melancholy life, listening to sad, sentimental music, reading dreary existential novels, and rarely venturing out of his dark and gloomy house. I cared for this man, and I...

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Word Gap? How About Conversation Gap?

(1) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 2:48 PM

The Clinton Foundation sponsors an initiative called Too Small to Fail, which aims to help low-income parents better prepare their children for school. Many children who grow up in poverty enter school already far behind, and this achievement gap often persists into adulthood. Much of this achievement gap can be...

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Psychopath. Successful Psychopath.

(18) Comments | Posted March 27, 2015 | 10:14 AM

Forest "Tommy" Yeo-Thomas was a real-life swashbuckler, charismatic and daring. The British World War II spy, known as the "White Rabbit" to the Nazis, employed an array of disguises and fake documents to elude the enemy in Vichy France, once pretending to be a corpse while traveling in a coffin....

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Love in Mind: Cognitive Trickery

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 11:07 AM

World literature is teeming with stories of unrequited love. Men and women fall in love and are not loved in return. Or love is mutual and wonderful, and then it fades for just one. Love deepens or dies unpredictably, and far too many lovers end up valuing and caring for...

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The (Paradoxical) Wisdom of Solomon

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2015 | 5:38 AM

King Solomon, the third leader of the Jewish Kingdom, is considered the paragon of wisdom and sage judgment. It's said that during his long reign, people traveled great distances to seek his counsel. Yet it's also true--and much less well known--that his personal life was a shambles of bad decisions...

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Temptation in the Neurons

(4) Comments | Posted March 13, 2015 | 8:00 AM

Lack of self-control is at the root of many personal and social ills, from alcoholism to obesity. Even when we are well aware of the costs, many of us are simply unable to curb our desires and control our impulses. Indeed, so daunting is this psychological challenge that an estimate...

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Daydream Believing: Imagining Connections

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2015 | 10:00 AM

Imagine this scenario: You're working away in your cubicle, and a co-worker strolls by, humming a tune. You recognize it as an old ballad, "Suzanne," and you immediately think of your friend Suzanne, whom you haven't talked to in a while. How is she? She was frustrated at work the...

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The Perils of Adolescence

(1) Comments | Posted February 27, 2015 | 12:37 PM

Adolescence is a perilous time of life. It's a time of heightened risk taking -- reckless driving, risky sex, excessive drug and alcohol use. For decades the prevalent view -- the common wisdom of parenting manuals -- was that teenagers feel invulnerable, immortal. They simply perceive less peril in dicey...

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The Psychology of the Firefighter

(2) Comments | Posted February 24, 2015 | 12:58 PM

Firefighters experience a steady onslaught of trauma and intense human emotion. Perilous flames, collapsing buildings, the anguish of burn victims, explosions, automobile accidents, suicide attempts, and even terrorist attacks, dismemberment and death. Such harrowing events come with the territory of first responders.

It would seem that such repeated exposure to...

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Hungry? Maybe Don't Go Shopping

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 11:11 AM

Hunger is one of our most basic and primitive drives. When we are deprived of food, for whatever reason, we become intensely focused on satiating that craving. We want calories, and we want them now. Everything else--including time and money--is merely an aid for finding and acquiring rich, caloric food.

...
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Health and Marriage: The Cortisol Connection

(4) Comments | Posted February 12, 2015 | 4:05 PM

Bad marriages can be sickening. Most people don't have to be convinced of this, but for those who do, several decades of studies offer plenty of proof. Even so, very little is known about exactly how marriage quality affects health. Do strife and rudeness and neglect--and all the other signs...

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