February 27, 2015

Not since Monica Lewinsky was a White House intern has one blue dress been the source of so much consternation. (And yes, it’s blue.) The fact that a single image could polarize the entire Internet into two aggressive camps is, let’s face it, just another Thursday. But for the past half-day, people across social media have been arguing about whether a picture depicts a perfectly nice bodycon dress as blue with black lace fringe or white with gold lace fringe. And neither side will budge. (read more)

March 3, 2015

by Russell Blackford on February 13, 2015

From the Mar 3, 2015 episode (@1:12:23) of The Thinking Atheist podcast. Host Seth Andrews closes the episode with his thoughts on the inclusive openness of the Unitarian Church, stating that the pursuit of truth is hindered by our “nervousness” about appearing non-inclusive. Thus keeping us from defining the truth and “closing our minds” to anti-scientific positions for which there is more evidence against than in favor.

“On: An open mind”
(The Thinking Atheist podcast)

“The facts are not prisoners of our own subjective perceptions...True humanism means finding real solutions for real reasons in the real world based on real evidence.”

-Seth Andrews, Host

The Thinking Atheist Podcast


March 5, 2015

Whether you’re defending your existing ideas or considering new ones, a good test is to try to imagine how the evidence and the logic of the arguments would strike a rational bystander who does not already accept them but is not resistant to them merely because of confirmation bias or emotional discomfort. This is a version of the outsider test made famous by the American religious sceptic John W. Loftus. If an idea passes that test, it may be worth holding on to or adopting


Mind Filter

Jules Davidoff, professor of neuropsychology at the University of London, helps us make sense of the way different people see different colors in the same place.

April 19, 2015

Learned Helplessness

June 29, 2015

The Misconception: If you are in a bad situation, you will do whatever you can do to escape it.

The Truth: If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in.

Why We Are Unaware that We Lack the Skill to Tell How Unskilled and Unaware We Are

When you are unskilled yet unaware, you often experience what is now known in psychology as the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological phenomenon that arises sometimes in your life because you are generally very bad at self-assessment. If you have ever been confronted with the fact that you were in over your head, or that you had no idea what you were doing, or that you thought you were more skilled at something than you actually were – then you may have experienced this effect. It is very easy to be both unskilled and unaware of it. In this episode of the podcast you are not so smart they explore why that is with professor David Dunning, one of the researchers who coined the term and a scientist who continues to add to our understanding of the phenomenon.

July 4, 2015


Millions of people have witnessed a corollary phenomenon, one that I like to call the American Idol Effect, in which people who have little or no singing ability systematically think that they are destined for musical stardom.

August 20, 2015

Stoic Politics vs. “Like me, or else!”

Stoic philosopher Epictetus suggests that the mistake that people ordinarily make is to focus their attention and energy on things that are not in their power to change or control. He believed that our attention should be focused only on what we can control. For him the idea of what we can control and what we cannot control is the essential key to understanding contentment... <more>


How to outsmart your irrational brain

by Joshua Howgego

Evolution has built bias into our brains - here are the best ways to overrule your instincts and make better decisions about everything

Transgressions of Merit...


Using the Law of Reciprocity and Other Persuasion Techniques Correctly

Have you ever felt the need to help someone who has helped you in the past? This is known as the law of reciprocity. It is one of the many different persuasion techniques that you can use to influence others.

Charisse Nixon, Ph.D. of Penn State Erie - The Behrend College demonstrates the concept of Learned Helplessness.

Behavioral science has quantified data that suggests learned helplessness in people is connected to the pessimistic attributional style. A pattern of behavior, a belief or a thought process shaped by repeated negative experiences. A externally conditioned internal futility

Next time you get the opportunity, why not try it for yourself?

Science writer Jo Marchant says that the mind can play an important role in dealing with a variety of Health concerns, including pain, heart disease and depression.

Even the decisive nature of skills-based competition can be made more esoteric when subjected to the judgement of an arbiter or referee.  Tools like instant replay can minimize that human influence, but in the end...

The Meritocracy of Sports

It’s Sunday morning and I’m feeling a bit impulsive, so I head to a cafe near my home in London for breakfast. I open the menu and see the following:

Breakfast Menu

Full English breakfast £9.95

Smoked salmon & scrambled eggs £5.95

Waffles with maple syrup £4.75

Boiled egg and soldiers £4.00

What would you have picked? I went for the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. And a surprising number of you would have done the same. (more)

“Create your own merit”

-Epictetus (The Art of Living)

Reason and argument are dead, replaced by conspiracy theories and optional realities – and the PR industry is to blame, argues James Garvey in his latest book. But are we really at the mercy of such biases? If so, how did we make it this far? Is behavioral economics the best measure of our ability to reason, or just another attempt to understand human rationality that will in time be replaced? Maybe it’s time to break out of our cognitive bias bubble/


Atheos™ App

Dr. Peter Boghossian and his team developed the Atheos app to help people have non-confrontational discussions about gods, religion, faith, and superstition. It shows you how to gently explore a person's strongest beliefs.

Atheos provides you with the skills you’ll need to spot flaws in weak statements and use reason to politely help people understand why they may not be correct.

It's the perfect app for atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics, freethinkers, and even believers who want to find out how best to engage in religious discussions.

Can you support your positions?

Using the Socratic Method to help people become more thoughtful and more reflective about their beliefs

Dr. Boghossian explores this technique in-depth in his book:

A Manual For Creating Atheists

ADAPT      FLOW              EVOLVE

“dow • osso • fee”

Equip yourself against the trappings

of the ego and align with the way.


familiarization with methods and techniques of mind-sway as a means of subverting willful external coercion and converting

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?        -Henry David Thoreau



On May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers, host of the (then) recently nationally syndicated children's television series, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce Subcommittee on Communications to defend $20 million in federal funding proposed for the newly formed non-profit Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was at risk of being reduced to $10 million. Subcommittee chairman, Senator John Pastore (D-RI), unfamiliar with Fred Rogers, is initially abrasive toward him. Over the course of Rogers' 6 minutes of testimony, Pastore's demeanor gradually transitions to one of awe and admiration as Rogers speaks.

Pastore grants the $20 million in funding on the spot, which eventually ends up being $22 million.

Link to the full original video

A Master Class In Persuasion