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visits member for 2 years, 7 months
seen Mar 27 at 2:33

Mar
6
comment What makes people easily subscribe to pseudoscientific theories?
For the same reasons they subscribe to scientific theories, mostly.
Mar
6
comment Why do people laugh in serious situations?
Still an interesting question of course (+1) but note that part of the problem is the assumption that laughter is a straightforward “expression” of fun and amusement. Empirically, as you note, it's not, just as the smile is not simply an expression of contentment. The realization that it reflect multiple processes should be the starting point of any examination of laughter. From that perspective, laughter in fun situations is just as much in need of an explanation.
Sep
14
comment Why do people make rants on Meta Stack Exchange sites?
You make some unsupported claim that they are equivalent without any evidence. None of this seem obvious to me and even flies in the face of the little I have heard about research on this topic. In any case, you do not mention a “mechanism” or an explanation of any kind.
Sep
13
comment Does winning the Fields medal decrease subsequent research achievement?
Re practical vs. statistical significance: There could be a lot of sampling variability (but then you would expect less regular curves) and the plot could conceivably conceal other limitations but it speaks directly to the size of the effect so that criticism does not seem particularly relevant here.
Sep
13
comment Does winning the Fields medal decrease subsequent research achievement?
My first thought upon reading the title was “beware of age/career stage” but it would precisely seem to be a good reason to select “contenders” as a control group. Interesting stuff in any case…
Sep
13
comment Why do people make rants on Meta Stack Exchange sites?
-1 This answer does not address the question and contains no evidence or reference to relevant material.
Aug
26
comment What explains the relative importance of physical versus mental features in human mate selection?
Note that natural selection is not restricted to sexual selection and those are not the only evolutionary processes.
Aug
26
comment Can we change our personalities?
@what As I explained, you won't find any research on the topic as you framed it as the question disappears once you clarify some key concepts and boils down to asking whether there is any stable trait. If you fail to explicitly state what counts as “personality” for you or specify what personality traits you are interested in, this is simply not amenable to empirical research.
Aug
8
comment Why is it difficult for employees to express hatred to their boss?
Why would “social norms” not be associated with a “specific brain region”?
Aug
6
comment Is the process of long term potentiation (LTP) definitively linked with brain plasticity?
I am afraid I don't understand the question. What do you mean by “can be used as a definitive link” or “intrinsically linked”? Both notions appear somewhat related but brain plasticity is broader and perhaps most often mentioned when discussing other, larger changes in the brain. Also, it's a somewhat vague notion so that it might not be useful to look for a canonical definition of what counts as “brain plasticity”.
Aug
6
comment What does scientific research say about the relationship between penis size and attractiveness?
Funny question (+1). Maybe I am just picking on semantics, but how could a large penis really be “attractive”? It's not like men are going around exhibiting it, in most societies. All the research Jeromy found is about sexual partners whereas attractiveness research is usually focused on the first impression of complete strangers.
Aug
6
comment What is the influence of “effort put into pursuing wealth” on happiness?
Good question (+1) I don't have an answer but note that jumping from a (apparently) cross-sectional absence of link to a causal story of the kind presented by Csikszentmihalyi is a little questionable. That richer people do not report being happier on average does not mean they, personally, would not be less happy if they were poorer (and vice versa).
Aug
4
comment How did the unique features of human intelligence evolve?
+1 Good points even if I am not sure if the problem in the OP's thinking is specifically related to the inheritance of acquired characteristics. As an aside, it's true that this view has been associated with Lamarck's name but in fact his ideas were much broader than that and this particular mistake was also committed by Darwin (e.g. in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals). Besides neither of them had any notion of “gene”, for obvious reasons.
Aug
2
comment Can we change our personalities?
@Skippy Thanks! I tend to think that a lot of confusion and (pseudo-)debates in psychology and cognitive science (not only on this site) result from the careless use of common sense concepts and simply reduce to an argument about (unstated) differences in definition which are completely devoid of empirical content and ultimately not very interesting. That's why I often end up dissecting questions rather than answering them on their own terms and post more comments than actual answers on this site.
Aug
1
comment What drives civilization?
I frankly don't know what could come out of the question but summarily closing it based on this sort of superficial thinking is not very useful. Besides, it's not like the question is unanswerable as such or that we have too many of them on this site, so I really don't see the practical benefit in closing it.
Aug
1
comment What drives civilization?
You seem awfully quick in making sweeping statements about human history (here and elsewhere). There is such a thing as “cognitive anthropology” and it might provide relevant insights. Also, ever heard about “constructivism”? That humans are endowed with a universal tendency to think and socialize in certain ways and that beyond that it's all down to environmental determinism is one view but it is by no means obvious (and you seem to have your geography a little confused, Africa is/was not a desert and agriculture did exist there as well…).
Aug
1
comment What drives civilization?
You are being disingenuous, the intent is clearly expressed by the question as a whole, if you would only read it honestly instead of trying to make a point… Why would you ignore almost all the first paragraph and the concluding question, something like 4/5 of the text? And even if you personally prefer to focus on something else, why pretend this is not, at least in part, what the question is about?
Aug
1
comment What drives civilization?
You can of course try to identify some “psychological traits” that made it possible and give them a name but, as an explanation, it's mostly empty, in effect saying something like “humans developed civilization because they strive for civilization”.
Aug
1
comment What drives civilization?
Except… it did not appear everywhere and it took a long time between the appearance of anatomically modern humans and anything that could be called civilization. Any sensible explanation will need to account for that and this makes the question a lot more interesting, even from a cognitive science perspective (say about the role of context and culture as opposed to inborn capacities on cognition), than speculations about general tendencies of the human psyche.
Aug
1
comment What drives civilization?
This is silly, except the three, rather vague, words “What drives civilization?”, the question is entirely about why it appeared in one place but not the other. There is absolutely nothing to suggest this is “secondary” and obviously no mention of the human psyche, social norms, etc.