Would you have passed the literacy test?

Below is a literacy test that has been handed out to voters in Louisiana.

Could you pass it?


Is this fair to give when determining whether an individual is fit to vote?

On the one hand, it does seem that individuals should have a certain amount of competence in order to vote. On the other, I’m not sure that knowing how to read is important in determining which of two individuals you can see speak has your interests.

Do you think it is fair? Tell us below. 😀


Let’s stop talking about this kid.

When we pay attention to these people, we idolize them, and we make it more likely to happen again. This copycat phenomenon is called “the Werther effect,” after Geothe’s first major work elicited many copycat suicides of young men suffering the same woes as Werther.

He just wants your attention.

He just wants your attention.

Especially for these young men who want the attention and desire to have their story heard (think Sandyhook or Christopher Dorner; all three wrote ‘manifestos’), publicizing these stories only makes it more likely that individuals aiming at the same goals will employ the same techniques again, it worked last time.

How do we stop these from happening?

We can stop talking about it, or stop idolizing it when we do speak about it. These individuals get sooo much attention, every detail of their lives is delved into. Their story gets told, which is what they want. So, we stop telling their story. Yes, the news can talk about it if they desire, but we don’t have to watch their channels. We can *not* click that link, we can *not* talk about it on facebook, it is our choice, after all.

By clicking on the link, by watching the video, we indicate to the media and to others that that is the appropriate thing to do. That paying attention to this is correct, that we want more of it.

If you stop paying attention to it, then we signal to others that this is the proper thing to do. We are examples of the correct way to live for those around us.

Perhaps a better solution is to make sure that these people don’t end up like this by paying attention to and legitimizing them before they turn to these sorts of things, though there was something obviously disagreeable about this individual..

This is not a perfect solution, and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about how we can keep these things from happening more often in the comments section. 🙂


And yes, I do recognize the irony in writing a blog post / encouraging others to read a blog post telling others not to write blog posts. :p


Find me at facebook.com/TheOmniOpinedPsycholar or twitter.com/ThePsycholar  for ‘less serious’ content.

Remember to speak your mind, because your opinion matters.


6 things I would like to say about the feminist movement

First, it seems important to speak about me, as I know this is going to be the first thing people judge when reading this post. I am an American male, who identifies as someone who believes that everyone (including women) should be able to live how they want, free from the oppression of others. I am current with the debate through traditional and social media, and generally being the type of person who ensures that his own opinions are complex enough to contradict each other sometimes. Nor do I feel that I have all the right answers (who does?), only opinions informed from a life studying philosophy and psychology.  With this out of the way, these are some things that I feel feminists, everybody actually, should hear concerning feminism/ equalism.

1.There is no best way to be a woman (or man).

The point of the feminist movement, as I know it at least, is about removing barriers for women and allowing them to live the type of life they choose, not about telling people how to live their life. There is no ultimately correct way to live (e.g., Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir), and telling others how to live is fundamentally what the movement is working against. This means if you want to be a stay at home mom (or dad!), or a female astronaut, that is perfectly legitimate. It is important to note that, if (any)one intentionally goes into a culture and violates their norms (e.g., wearing a short skirt in a Muslim nation, wearing a hajib in the US), one must be aware that they will encounter resistance, though these actions can, of course, be undertaken ‘for the greater good,’ (suffering inspires others to act). We cannot force change on anyone any more than we would accept them trying to force change on us, the movement is simply about removing barriers for people to live how they desire.

2. Perhaps tradition is evil, but men are not.

The situation today is the result of exactly that, tradition. Unfortunately, someone must create the children or eggs. The fact that females took care of the children before modern times is probably a result of females also being the one in which the infant is ‘created.’  Now that technology has enabled us to ease the burden of childcare and running a household, we are working together to remove the limitations placed up women (and men!). While we are removing these limitations, it is important to recognize our (biological) history, whether or not it is innate, and its effects on modern culture rather than demonizing men by saying they are intentionally keeping women down (which is indeed a common criticism and one feminism would do well to address).

3. Women do not Always get the short end of the stick.

It would go a long way toward removing this idea that feminism is demonizing men if the movement made more effort to address those instances where it is empirically worse to be a man. Nobody is saying that there are not negative aspects of being a female, but there are also negative aspects of being a male as well. For instance, it is an empirical fact that males are more likely to die young, to go to prison (and get harsher prison sentences), to end up with a mental illness, and to more likely end up homeless. Simply put, men are at the top, but they are also at the bottom. Male parental rights are also a major area where the movement gets criticism. Simply put, men have no say in whether they become a parent or not (in the case of an accidental pregnancy). For instance, if a male wants a child and the female does not, it (the child) is aborted, but if the male does not want a child and the female does, he cannot stop it and is forced to pay child support, even if the child is the result of the man being raped (!!!!). Let me repeat: a man can be raped, and then forced to pay 18 years child support. That is unfair no matter how you look at it. While men perhaps have higher paying jobs, this is changing (new studies indicate more females are graduating from university than men) and it will largely benefit the adoption of feminist ideals for the movement to also work toward removing the negative aspects of being male (or to increase the negative for women, but less suffering all around seems preferable to me).

4. Relationships are about give and take.

Sometimes we have to do things for our partners that we don’t want to. Regardless of whether the male sex drive is innate or the result of socialization, a female simply cannot phenomenologically understand the sexual urges a man experiences, similar to the way a male cannot phenomenologically understand the emotional urges females have (which is why females fight for emotional support and males fight for sex). Hundreds of studies suggest that males and females differ in the amount of sex and emotional support they desire from a partner. I can understand a women not desiring to have sex at a particular moment and I believe she should have a right to say no. On the other hand, I can also understand a man not desiring to talk about something emotional at a particular moment and he should also have a right to say no.  It is unfair to deny males the ‘extra’ sexual support they desire while also expecting the ‘extra’ emotional support females desire. Especially getting a male sexually aroused and then leaving is similar (though phenomenologically incomparable) to getting a female emotionally aroused and then leaving. It is simply not something one should do to someone they truly care about.

5. Men also suffer from the media’s idealizations.

Simply put, it is no easier to be Ryan Gosling than it is to be Emma Stone. Perhaps males are not influenced to the same degree (we can debate about this in the comments; idealizations demand different things), but that men are idealized is unquestionable. I would find it hard to take seriously anyone who suggests that Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray do not contain romanticized (idealized) male characters. Video games and comics also have their share of idealized males (e.g., Superman, Batman, and Spiderman). I agree that females have greater demands placed upon their beauty, but let us admit that males have greater demands placed upon the goods they keep around them (e.g., car, house, accessories). While we could make an argument that body transformations are more harmful for health, there is no doubt that both behaviors are considerably self-destructive and it does little good to argue about who has it worse. It is simply an empirical difference in what the genders desire from a partner (though again, we are working to change this).

6. Real change will not happen until people are willing to suffer for the cause.

This is actually for anyone who wants to change the world. Look at changes in thought throughout history (e.g., religious, political, scientific), almost none have been successful without significant suffering, and real change often comes at the expense of a particular leader’s life (e.g., Socrates, Jesus, Ghandi, Lincoln, MLK, Quảng Đức, Bin Laden) and change oftentimes comes decades, or even centuries, after that leader dies. There is little reason to believe that the equal rights movement is any different. Indeed, some have suffered (e.g., Woolf, Monroe, abortion doctors, female engineering students), but it is only when many (the majority of) people are willing to suffer that real change will occur.

So, I guess those were the main things I wanted to say. Join the conversation below with your agreement or disagreement, I hope you’ve found value in reading these 6 things I want to point out about feminism and the feminism movement. Find me on Facebook or Twitter for more. 

Watch this dog perfectly demonstrate a basic psychological phenomenon.

This is what happens when you try to keep a being from doing something they want to do, the moment you cannot know about it, they do it. That is what most of the major religions have an all knowing, ever present, god that judges only at the end of everything; to keep you from having any fun here on Earth! 😀

But, keeping this in mind, we can try to influence the situation such that the other (in this case the dog) doesn’t want to do the undesirable act in the first place (perhaps here, the dog can be allowed on the bed, but without acting wild, or both animals off the bed).

This is the same general principal as the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, Speeding tickets, and most other failed behavioral change initiatives. Did you know Al Queda has grown 10x since we started hunting them?

Better to allow the belief, if people can be so silly as to believe or do such a thing (look at what crack does to people, you want to do that?). Or to show the individuals that there is a better way of life without doing the asocial thing.

Small changes (Nudges) make big differences for everyday decisions and cost millions less in time and energy. Lets look for little ways we can make big differences (like that kid who suggested using Garamond instead of Times New Roman to save millions in paper).


Also, the contempt on the cats face. And watch how it reacts when the dog tries to push it off the bed to have it all himself, then the head shaking to relieve the tension from the cat not playing along.   :p 😀

Find me on facebook for less ‘serious’ content at facebook.com/TheOmniOpinedPsycholar or at twitter.com/@ThePsycholar

Remember to speak your mind, because your opinion matters.

A new scientific communication system, in brief

The goal is to take the best existing suggestions that are in the literature (Nosek et al., 2012; Priem, et al., 2010; Giner-Sorolla, 2012; Frey, 2005; Skinner, 1976; Deci 1971; Legris, et al., 2003; Thaler et al., 2008) and design one system that is coherent, easy to use, and conducive to good science (because it makes sense psychologically). If this is your first article in the series, read more about the motivation for change or the motivating principles behind this system at the links.

In one sentence, we are looking to design a Facebook for scientists or a Reddit for research; a profile, a feed of stories, a sophisticated like/ comment section, and a new set of impact metrics which makes use of the available information, allowing us to realign individual and group motives. 

The basic unit of the system is the academic profile; here researchers post papers, drafts of papers, datasets, syntax files or other content which can be viewed, liked, and commented on by the scientific community at large. This and content from others (collaborators & professional groups) can be viewed in the profile feed, keeping scientists up to date on all the latest advancements in their field(s).

The fundamental reinforcements are the notifications which we receive when others interact with our content and the quality content provided in the newsfeed. These are the exact same things that make Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so phenomenally successful yet they have not been integrated into any science platform that I know of. The feed is crucial in getting scientists the best content (thus, increasing utility) and the notifications makes us feel good (again, increasing utility). The key of the whole thing is low effort with high utility.

The comment section is the place to discuss a paper and how it relates to the other literature, this is where the debate about the paper’s conclusions and assumptions takes place. This is also where the people who checked the stats, or re-ran the analyses, or replicated the results comment with their findings. This discussion is common in topical Facebook groups, though these communications could be utilized much more efficiently. Like other online outlets (e.g. research gate, PPPR), comments can be viewed by impact (which is most liked/ sub commented), date, or other metrics.

The utility comes from the information within the ‘social’ system.

Not only does the computer use information about your clicks and comments to place things in the feed (bringing you articles you are interested in; Bian, Liu, Zhou, Agichtein, & Zha, 2009), the information can also be used to determine which individuals find or create quality content (e.g., content that generates likes, downloads, and further discussion).

The system knows who uploads content that gets many return comments or shares. The system knows who makes comments on other’s work that receive many likes and response comments. The system knows which thinkers are in which fields, how often papers are linked together, which papers generate discussion, which syntax protocols or data files are often downloaded, which authors, or keywords are trending and much more.

This information can be used for many things; for instance, to develop ‘network maps’ of the research space, which could help theory development, newcomers to the field, or science researchers generally.  These maps could also be constructed for authors, papers, keywords, or many other pieces of the science game.

More importantly, this information can be used to reward pro-group behaviors that are currently undervalued and thus not done. The current impact metric is how often the author’s paper gets cited; this could easily be nuanced to include, clicks, comments, shares, downloads, and formal citations on all content including uploaded syntax files, datasets, or comments on other’s work that elicit more discussion (Altmetrics; Priem, Taraborelli, Groth, & Neylon, 2010).

For instance, let’s say someone uploads an interesting, easy to use, dataset into the system (e.g., book reviews for 5,000 goodreads profiles, 1,000 bank employee satisfaction surveys), if many people like, share, download, and use the dataset, it could be made to help their impact metric as much as (or more than!) a just average paper. If one reports that the statistics make sense with the data or report statistical errors in other’s papers, that could be made to help their impact factor, if one consistently makes interesting comments on others work, that could be made to help their impact factor (endorsing good reviews). In this way, these behaviors become relevant and interesting for the individual to do and the group benefits enormously.

These steps not only alleviate the need to cheat (by broadening the reward for things others than perfect, novel, papers), they make it much harder to do so. For instance, under this system, it is reasonable to imagine scientists making their entire careers putting their badge of approval that the statistics and data in a paper are valid, because the community comes to trust these individuals and their posts are appreciated with likes and sub comments.

The same principle holds for making interesting datasets available, designing useful protocols or holding virtual office hours/ discussion sessions on the profiles (like a Google hangout). It becomes worthwhile to upload the data and syntax not because you need to in order to publish, but because it helps your ‘impact factor’ when individuals download these documents. Suddenly, doing the good thing by the group is not utility negative and it will stick.

The system outlined so far could be implemented without changing the fundamental peer review system. The proposed changes will improve the system by encouraging (through ease and likes/ comments) open practices and endorsing group centered behavior, but only adding this to the current system does not adequately deal with the need for competition (as this is only after it has been published), the time papers spend sitting on desks, or the excess cost of the current system (Rennie, 1999; Edlin, & Rubinfeld, 2004). It is time to re-examine the core of the system in light of the advances afforded by the system.

Citations can be read here.

What do you think, could a system like this work? What would it take to bring it about? Leave a comment below! 😀



Letter from Birmingham jail

Ten minute reads that changed the world.

Photo: Part one of our new series, 30 great essays. -Ten minute reads that changed the world.Martin Luther King Jr's Letter from a Birmingham Jail is one of the best moral pieces from the last century. Here are a couple of the more important excerpts, full text at the link, don't forget about the ol' thumbs up to share with your friends! Thanks!"How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority."And one more:"One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail changed the world, bottom line.

It only takes about 10 minutes to read the entire thing, but here are a few of the more important excerpts:
“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.”

And one more:

“One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”