Thoughts for the New Year: Humans are often only one layer deep, and that gets in the way of meaning…

Here’s something that’s disturbing about humans: when it comes to our most strongly held opinions, the more strongly they’re held, the less likely there’s anything of substance underneath. Especially when they’re based on how we feel… We’re evolved animals, and pretty much everything we experience Read More …

Are you a Philosophical Zombie?

How do you know that you exist? OK, I’m not going down the hackneyed “are you a brain in a box?” or “are we in a simulation?”. Better thinkers than myself have addressed these (actually serious) questions better than I ever could. What I’m talking Read More …

The Expert Fallacy (or why politicians are full of crap)…

Apologies for the very long hiatus on this blog – I’m hoping to get back into it more regularly, and have a good 10 topics waiting for me to write about. But for now… Out of the recent horror of another mass murder in America, Read More …

Compassion and the human operating system…

I’d like to speculate a bit today (OK, a lot) and, in the process, mash-up some ideas from evolutionary psychology, computer science, and modern psychological therapy. Bear with me, and let’s see what happens… Plotting human origins back through time, we start with single-cell organisms. Read More …

The illusion of control and choice (#nofreewill)…

Following on from my last entry – I wanted to explore more on the topic of unconscious versus conscious choice, and our ability to make conscious choices versus our perception of that ability. Let’s see what we can come up with. For the majority of our Read More …

Demystifying the unconscious…

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d try something a bit more challenging than usual, and less ranty! I’ve chosen a deliberately obtuse title today – so let’s start with some demystification of that… Most of us have a pretty limited idea of what Read More …

We don’t need any more anger, we need action (and a lot more compassion)…

So, whilst this isn’t a political blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m not a Trump fan. After the US election last week, like many, I was stunned, and weirded out, and frightened for the future, and a little bit weepy. I also had a Read More …

Why are we so angry?

Are you angry? Maybe you’ve noticed that more people seem to be angry, intolerant, frustrated, or stressed – on the road, at work, in the supermarket? Angry politicians, angry protesters, angry Facebook feeds? What’s going on? Let’s start with the first question: are people getting Read More …

Me, me, me: The growing danger of narcissism in politics and society…

Modern freedoms are remarkable; it’s unlikely that there’s ever been a time in which individuals in the first world have had so much latitude. We have access to more than ever before: information, employment, education, luxuries, food, and choice. Alongside this growth in freedom is Read More …

I don’t remember: Why your memory isn’t nearly as good as you think it is…

Chances are, you probably think that your memory is either pretty good, or really bad. You also probably think that (despite your own experience), human memory is like what Hollywood would have you believe: everything you experience is encoded with perfect accuracy, and can be recalled Read More …

Optimistic pessimism…

Apologies for the gap in blogs – it’s been a big few months with an interstate move (including moving my practice) and an overseas trip. But things are settling down, and I hope to write more regularly. Today I’m going to write about something I’ve Read More …

Using social media for good instead of evil…

If you’ve read my blogs, you’ll already be familiar with cognitive bias: the universal human tendency to make the same types of errors in our thinking in certain types of situations. Probably resulting from limits in our cognitive architecture (i.e., the way our brain evolved to Read More …

Urinal chess – Nature or Nurture?

There’s an important phenomenon, well-known to my male readers, that is likely to be a complete mystery to any female ones: urinal etiquette. The rules around urinals are (to men) extremely clear, and the consequences of violating those rules relatively severe. And yet, I for Read More …

Why we dehumanise others to justify evil…

We’re all aware of the huge number of people currently seeking refuge in Europe in order to escape horrible conditions in countries like Syria. We’ve all seen the disturbing pictures of drowned little boys, and heard the various opinions being spruiked, from compassion to political Read More …

FYI: Emotional intelligence is not arse licking…

So, anyone who’s spent any time working for a large organisation will have come across the “latest management fad” – the supposed panacea that will make everything better. From Myers-Briggs* to Hartman’s Colour Codes^ management fads run the full gamut of pseudoscientific nonsense, wasting time Read More …

The Prisoner’s Dilemma and Compassion…

Imagine the following scenario: two prisoners are held in solitary confinement and have no way of communicating with one another. Each is told, individually, that there are three options: (1) if you betray the other prisoner, you will go free and he will be imprisoned Read More …

Why we get angry at the wrong things…

There seems to be a lot of angry people out there. On the roads, on the airwaves, on social media – everyone is pissed off at the world around them. Everybody wants things to go their way – and rants and rails at the injustice Read More …

What the hell is wrong with us?

Welcome to humanity: a species of short-sighted, venal, self-absorbed, stupid, profligate feeders. And that’s the good stuff. This is what evolution primed us for – based on a tiny population, nasty predators, and a cruel environment we evolved to put ourselves and the survival of Read More …

It’s not hard to understand, but most of us don’t even want to try…

The dust has settled, the headlines have been forgotten and, three weeks later, the Melbourne Cup is just another public holiday. But, for a short instance, a large number of people raised an objection to the treatment of horses used by the horseracing industry. For Read More …

I hate to break it you, but you’re not real…

You know how you take things really seriously, how you strive and struggle in your life, how you get really hung up on all your important thoughts and feelings? Well, I hate to break it to you, but none of that is real. Even worse, Read More …

Why the “No” vote won (and why this is bad for humanity): Evolution, conservatism and fear…

For a species that’s more adaptable than any other on the planet, we humans are pretty bad at change. Put us in a situation where we have to adapt (and have no other choice), and we’ll do pretty well, at least when it comes to Read More …

Being professional: Ethics and practice…

We all remember the Suarez biting incident a few weeks back. Given my background in sport psychology, I found it particularly interesting and even thought about writing a blog about it. At the same time, I had several requests (from the media) to speculate on Read More …

The value of human life…

It seems I’m on an ethics and actions binge; all my currently planned posts (I’ve normally got about five drafts ready at any time) appear to have a human rights theme, but I’d actually planned to write this blog about six months ago. You might Read More …

Actions speak louder than words…

I, for one, am fed up with watching inequity, stupidity and bigotry, and walking by because it’s ‘uncomfortable’ to say or do anything. So today, I’m going to write about why it’s not OK to let politicians, organisations, and individuals get away with actions that Read More …

Psychologists vs. psychology: It’s time we started practising science…

This week, I’m going to rant. Actually I’m going to rant about my own profession. As you probably know, I’m a psychologist. I first became involved with psychology as a student 25 years ago. Since then, I’ve spent 11 years at university studying it, and Read More …

The Biggest Exploitation…

Most of my readers will be familiar with the television show “The Biggest Loser” – there are ‘homegrown’ versions of it in Australia, the UK and the US. Today I want to write not only about why they do immense harm (and no good), but Read More …

Your mind’s been hacked: Now what?

Happy New Year to everyone. Apologies for the radio silence over the Xmas break. I took a well needed  rest – fortnightly blogs will continue from today onwards. I’ve written a fair bit in the past about the idea that humans are hackable based on Read More …

How well would you cope in a disaster? Performance in extreme situations…

You probably think you’d cope well in a disaster right? In fact, whether it’s their imagined reaction to a car accident, a bushfire, or a medical emergency, most people think they’d deal with it pretty well. Actually, most people think they’d deal with it better Read More …

Why ties are evil: The dangers of tradition and social conditioning…

These days I keep a bank of blog ideas (hopefully at least five at any given time) so that when I sit down on a Monday morning, one of the ideas will present itself. I came up with this idea a while back and have Read More …