Ep 187: I’d Like to Have an Argument Please (critical thinking part 3)

How would you like to have an argument? Turns out that learning how to have a good argument might just be the best way to learn to think critically. In this episode I discuss a neat piece of research in which 7 and 8 year olds are taught how to effectively argue. And they do a darn good job of it as it turns out. Perhaps this is the way to teach our young people critical thinking: give them some great books to read - like The Giving Tree - and have them discuss what they think about it. The key ingredient: making sure that they fully understand the point of view of the other person. This'll be … [Read more...]

Ep 184: Critical Thinking (Part 2) – Important? Yes. But Can We Teach It? Well….

The importance of critical thinking for children

In episode 183 I talked about what critical thinking is and why it's important. Now we talk about why it's so darn hard to teach and to use critical thinking in our everyday lives. In this episode I'll discuss Dr. Daniel Willingham's advice to teachers on what they can do to effectively teach critical thinking - something that couldn't be more important in today's world where misinformation is all around us. Make sure to take a look at the concept map below. … [Read more...]

Ep 183: Critical Thinking – Important? Yes. But Can We Teach It? Well….

Critical Thinking Key Ideas

Why does it concern psychologists that the Texas GOP platform recently opposed the teaching of critical thinking? Most of us have been told since we were very young that critical thinking is very important. Psychologists certainly agree and a lot of time spent in most psychology classes is spent learning how to think critically. Why is it such a central part of our classes? And here's a kicker: it might be a lot harder to teach it than we had hoped. Find out why critical thinking is so central to psychology. Sounds kinda dry? I think you'll find this a lot of fun (in a mental kind of … [Read more...]

Episode 70: Coincidence or Synchronicity? You Be The Judge

Have you heard that president Abraham Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and president John F. Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln? In this episode of The Psych Files we explore strange coincidences like this one and we also examine Carl Jung's concept of Synchronicity. Does it mean that everything happens for a reason – or is the idea more complex than that? Let's find out. Oh and by the way – turns out Lincoln never had a secretary named Kennedy. Don't believe me? Find out more in this episode of The Psych Files. [adsenseyu2] Correction: I said in the podcast … [Read more...]

Episode 64: A Scientist Goes Looking for a Self Help Book….

Self Help books: why are there so many out there? How do you choose? Can they cure depression? Help you lose weight? Stop smoking? Can they replace psychotherapy? Find out how to weed out the best self-help book from all the others. Here's a list of the top 14 things that really bother psychologists or any scientists about self-help books. [adsenseyu2] Self Help Books - When NOT to Trust Them Make Outlandish claims with no science to back them up (ex: can cure illnesses and lose weight and stop smoking, etc.). Remember that "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary … [Read more...]

Episode 31: Lemon Slices and a New Face on Mars! Gestalt Principles at Work

The gestalt principles of perception - how do they work? How do they explain the fact that we sometimes perceive strange things, and how we can appreciate works of art? In this episode I take a close look at why people see a lot of strange things around them - including me. We'll see images on lemon slices, on Mars, and on building tops. Why do we perceive these things? [adsenseyu2] Resources on Gestalt Principles … [Read more...]

Episode 26: Why do Statistics Make Us So Queasy?

Why are we often anxious about or even suspicious of statistics? Let's take a look at this topic. Along with some interesting examples I've got some statistics-oriented jokes I hope you'll find funny (okay, maybe you'll just find them...interesting. Humor me). Conquer your fears this week on The Psych Files. [adsenseyu2] Resources For This Podcast Michael Shermer's book, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time is also an excellent book on the kinds of thinking that lead us astray. This is the book I mention in the podcast … [Read more...]