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Part 1: Two Systems 
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
I sense a resistance to the study of human reasoning and decision-making in many of your comments, that studying such things scientifically somehow trivializes or debases them. We like to believe humans are wonderfully complex creatures whose behavior and choices are equally complex and unique and ineffable--and hence a mystery that cannot be understood through scientific means. In point of fact, it turns out we are not so mysterious, nor is our thinking as unique as we like to believe it to be. There is a high degree of agreement among people in terms of types of decisions made and justifications given in experimental psychology research. And we have learned an enormous amount about human nature, human strengths, and human weaknesses as a result.


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:05 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
I'm actually all for studying human reasoning and decision-making, and applaud the progress we've made. I believe free will is an illusion, and that the human mind operates in a fully mechanistic, causal fashion. Yet the complexity is so great that in studying the human mind, we're likely to make errors of every sort, and miss the nuances within our dynamic algorithms.

As far as the Princeton graduates, I see that as an honestly erroneous conclusion on their part. I mean no ill will, and I could certainly be wrong if I were to learn more about the experiments and the exact wording of their conclusion.



Speaking of in-group, out-group; it is a dichotomy, yes? I often wonder if the way we operate isn't instead more of a tiered valuation. Some categories have higher and higher value, ranging from a group of alien strangers on one hand, to the nuclear family on the other. I work at the YMCA. I have a sense of connection with employees from other YMCA's, but I value the co-workers at my own YMCA even more. Within my Y, I value other directors more than part time staff.

On the other hand, perhaps whatever mental process is invoked truly is binary. I remember pulling into a gas station and nearly hitting a truck that was backing up without brake lights. I was angry at the person until I saw that it was someone I knew. The transitional feeling in that moment was like a switch being flipped. Recognition followed by the desire to communicate. How strange that a few seconds earlier, my pulse was racing with the expectation of a conflict with a stranger.


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:56 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
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Experiments are better, if controlled correctly. The experiment where people deliver shocks to subjects for answering incorrectly comes to mind. Where the voltage is incrementally increased until it's deadly. The shock was fake, but people still delivered it. I wonder if those who favor the value of 'authority' would on average deliver a higher maximum shock. Don't conservatives value 'authority' more than liberals?


We came to the conclusion (In my Psychology Class - O - level) that the deliverers wore white coats and so they felt empowered.

When we go into hospital, we revert to being child-like and do as we are told by those in white coats.

I expect the decision on whether to divert the trolley would depend on the victim's appearance to a large extent. If it was a very respectable looking elderly lady (I'm thinking Angela Lansbury in 'Murder She Wrote - a series so awful that I can't stop watching it as a piece of pastiche.) but if she looked like her and the five people were teenage hoodies, many people would let the trolley run into the boys. I'd definitely do the opposite as I'm all long skirts and boots and not the least respectable looking. 8)

But it is true that if you dress with a certain panache, you are treated more respectfully, than if you are a confrimed little old lady. I am a fairly gentle and placid person, I think, but I am hardly ever treated in a patronising manner. Or maybe I just don't notice what I don't want to notice. :D

Still, do we all agree that we feel better about an estate agent, for instance, coming into our homes if he is dressed in a respectable suit and tie rather than in a track suit and trainers? The one in the suit could be a complete numpty, but he is dressed appropriately.

O-Level btw., is the exam we used to sit after high school......Psychology was mostly all names and dates and physiology for nurses.....and I didn't pass. :blush: It is great to have one who knows what they're on about, denisecummins. Thanks.


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:04 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
A propos old ladies - do watch his, it is very short, but very funny and I bet you don't watch it only once.

http://dave6.posterous.com/dont-honk-at-old-people

A mum was filming her son skateboarding, when she noticed this old lady.......


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:21 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Too funny!


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:36 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Oh dear, don't read my posts if I'm getting on your nerves.

I've been thinking back, way back, about this. When I did the Psychology O-Levels, I was a committed Christian. I prayed about everything. My three kids, were taken care of, my husband....my whole family were laid out like a pack of picture cards in Patience (Solitaire, you call it) anyway, I did my best, and I prayed and I wasn't paranoid.

Now, when we did the Psychology thing about the torturers in white coats, I was absolutely sure, that I would never do that....because, a white coat wasn't important to me, this Jesus person was what mattered....He wouldn't have done it....so I KNOW, I wouldn't. I treated my doctor like another soul....I wasn't impressed with the status of his job....just the status of his soul, which, like mine, was that of a sinner, saved by grace alone.

Do you know....I think that was a rather healthier attitude than I have now. A tenth of my income went to the charities which came to my attention, so I didn't become perplexed about all the people deserving of help from me.

And, I have to say, I think I was happier then. It might have been a lie, and that makes me angry, and, I'm not unhappy now, but, I think I was happier then. Putting this Jesus person at the centre, having this man, not a God, not a philosophy, in the middle, never at the edges. It demanded everything of you, every aspect of your life. You couldn't put your denominatiion first, it had to be the spirit of that man.

This was hard for me to write.


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:01 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Your posts aren't getting on my nerves at all, Penelope! Sorry if I gave you that impression. I felt it important to share the info I know about the Milgram studies, and hopefully that has been useful. I respect your struggle, and it speaks well for you that you do struggle over issues of morality. Too many folks these days are solely focused on getting ahead at any cost and by any means.


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:47 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
the way i read the shock 'em to death experiment was that it was that they were being INSTRUCTED BY AUTHORITY to do it. some had immense qualms but most couldnt bring themselves to disobey and even as they heard the (fake) screams they reluctantly but obediently pushed the button.

once upon a time i might have too. these days i would grab the authority by the throat, frog march him into the room, attach the electrodes to his bollocks and on the way out leave something heavy on the switch whilst shouting in a VERY loud voice, how does it feel now motherfucker!!

only to laugh myself silly when i found out the whole thing was a charade. at which point i would aologise profusely to the poor actor in the white coat, hey, who knew!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdk9-zbk6XQ

i find that most people are submissive, like a child, they dont see themselves as THE authority.

like in the army, follow orders without question. like a child do what mummy says or you'll be in big trouble when daddy gets home.

i'm amazed to see 35 year old managers turn into 10 year old boys when their corporate overlord says jump.

i guess we spend the first 12-15 years or so of our lives totally dependant and often dont grow out of it until way too late, if at all, i know 60 year olds that still cannot assert themselves, especially when no rites aof passage are there and social conditioning says mummy knows best.

the church is the authoritay, submit to gawd
the bank is the authoritay, submit to financial rape
the govt is the authoritay, submit to the power as it throws you overboard and tramples you underfoot.
the professor is the authoritay, submit to their duff bs
the doctor is the authoritay, take the drugs
etc etc etc

well in the words of rage against the machine

fuck you, i wont do what you tell me. (unless I agree it's a good thing)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7IUA8W8xuM

killing in the name of...

Poets priests and politicians
Have words to thank for their positions
Words that scream for your submission
And no-one's jamming their transmission
'Cos when their eloquence escapes you
Their logic ties you up and rapes you



Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:27 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
I will check this book out. I am always interested in all viewpoints.

Here is what I know from living day-to-day for sixty-one years. Much cannot be explained by science alone and while more breakthroughs are happening every day, there are still many things that may never be explained through science.

Intuition, at least for women, is very real. It took years of scientific research to learn what women already knew!!! Aren't women glad that they have been proven right?!!! They knew they would be someday!!! While men may have "gut feelings" (as do women of course), they are not intuition. That is not to say that women are clairvoyant or anything like that. There are just feelings that tell us to be aware something may be going to happen.

Yes, science has seen much physical evidence of how the brain functions. Although there is still much to learn, we are lucky to be living now when so much is known. Most doctors will agree that they do not have a solid understanding of all the workings of the brain, that it is work in progress. I started having panic attacks in the seventies and really no one believed they existed, even friends who were having them too. We simply did not know what was happening. How many illnesses can we say this about thru history? If science does not know about them, do they not exist?

Luckily they know more now. I and others like me are lucky there are strategies that offer help. Still more to learn. Like so many illnesses, there are no cures.

So the pure scientist says that our brains are just filled with physical parts such as veins and while yes they do have control over the motor activities and mental activities, science says that they know what the brain can and cannot do. This will, of course, be the final word on the brain!!! (Not likely!!) Is there really scientific knowledge that most humans use only one-tenth of their brain? If so that is pretty stunning. Who can teach us to use more? It could just be a rumor I heard somewhere.

We all know that there are numerous things that cannot be explained even today. Scientists all say "well while we can't explain that we are sure it has a scientific explanation." Riggghhhttt!!! They all do.

But that is not really true. Certainly weather is science and the factors that lead to it being a stormy or sunny day can be explained scientifically. But then why are meteorogists often wrong. It is just timing; it is bad meteorolgists, it is such and such. Weather patterns change, sometimes within minutes. Perhaps there are some factors that influence the weather that we are not yet aware of. Perhaps that butterfly in the Amazon changed directions abruptly.

Why can some people anticipate a visitor at the door or a phone call? We all know at least one person that does this. Do they have better hearing that we do? They can hear the sound coming through the phone line or steps up the street before others? It is just time for someone to visit and these people know it is time? They knew about this, but simply forgot?

We all shake our heads at stories of people who say they have been abducted by alien, and yes of course they are pretty hard to believe and the majority of us do not. That is the extreme.

But what is the deal with what we simply cannot explain? Those who truly have faith in a higher being, well they say it is ____'s will. Perhaps they are right. We will probably never know until we are too dead to relay the information back. Although remember in Arthur Conan Doyle's time, as well as today, some believe the dead can give us messages.

Science is great. We have historical proof. I sure would not want to be living in the Middle Ages and wander around not knowing that filth and fleas caused the Black Plague. Many who have access to the proper medicines work toward making it possible for everyone to have the same access. But remember how scientists who first began to talk about germs were scorned and ridiculed? Who would want to be alive before antibiotics!!!

We don't really know if some of the women (mostly women) who provided herbs to cure various ailments were right, except where science has studied them and has used these womens' knowledge to create healing medicines. Sadly at the time many were burned as witches. What people could not explain was just too scary and they needed to believe something really stupid to us today.

So many more examples of what used to be poppycock and is now science. Perhaps one day it all will be science. But there are those that doubt it. Quantum physics aside.



Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:06 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
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We all know that there are numerous things that cannot be explained even today. Scientists all say "well while we can't explain that we are sure it has a scientific explanation." Riggghhhttt!!! They all do.


There is a difference between explanation and prediction. For all those things that are as yet unexplained, how many millions of people have made up their own fantastical explanations? That is a trend going back centuries, and with each progression of science, more people are furious that someone drew back the curtain on their fantasies.

The answer, for those things that aren't yet explained... is that they aren't yet explained. There is no need to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors and wish for magic in the gaps.


Quote:
Why can some people anticipate a visitor at the door or a phone call? We all know at least one person that does this. Do they have better hearing that we do? They can hear the sound coming through the phone line or steps up the street before others?


The amount of sense datum that reaches our conscious is a fraction of what our brain is processing at any given time. Most is unconscious, filtered, ignored. That is a sufficient explanation, but is by no means enough for prediction. For a prediction, we'd need to have ALL pertinent information within each scenario. If it's weather we're speaking of, that means every drop of humidity, every frog fart, etc. The inability to predict something doesn't mean we can't explain it.


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Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:23 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Hello Casey2012 - and welcome. You sound like a person after my own heart. So doubly welcome to me. :)

Quote:
Interbane:

The amount of sense datum that reaches our conscious is a fraction of what our brain is processing at any given time. Most is unconscious, filtered, ignored.


True, I have been a typist, and using that skill for fifty years, but honestly, my fingers know where the letters are, but my brain hasn't a clue. If we get a question in the pub-quiz about the keyboard, I cannot tell you what letter comes between two others, without typing out 'The quick brown fox...etc'.

Casey, 'Thinking Fast and Slow' is, I think, a very relevant book. I don't know why I am finding it so depressing and it is perhaps just the take on it we're following. Having merely read the introduction and talked at some length on here, I've just set it aside for awhile, to read 'Dark Nature' by Lyall Watson. It it is doing the trick and lifting my spirits, so I'll just type out the blurb for you all, so that you know why I have been temporarily diverted:-

When violence threatens to become epidemic and genocide and organised rape take the place of diplomacy, the usual moral, religious and philosophical explanations for human behaviour seem inadequate. To help us understand what is happening, Lyall Watson redefines good and evil in biological terms. Drawing on the latest insights of evolutionary ethology, anthropology and psychology, he takes a fresh look at life and the problems our species faces as a result of being too numerous, too greedy or too mobile.

Taking evil out of the realm of monsters and demons and putting it back where it can be controlled - in our lives - Dark Nature is a vital and timely antidote to despair.


You might like it Youkrst. :wink:

I can't put it down. It is awhile since I found a book which I try to read whilst doing the ironing.

A couple of things which have delighted me, are:- 1) That mathematics, precision, geometry are already there in nature. Man didn't invent maths, he just discovered what was already there!!!! 2) We, as humans, are not just flesh animated by the life-force, as we are taught, religiously speaking, but we are the life force manifesting itself.

I don't really know why I want to give three hearty cheers on reading this. :D


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He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

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Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:17 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Penelope, there are nerve plexes in various parts of the body that process signals and yield outputs without or prior to them reaching the brain. That is how pianists and typists can play or type faster than the nerve impulses can reach the brain and return to the fingers.

With respect to filtering out, yes, a lot of extraneous inputs get filtered out--by the brain itself. They brain is a committee of different structures that process different types of signals, and a good deal of sensory inputs are filtered out early in the process. An example is the cocktail party effect. When you're at a cocktail party, you are focused on the conversation in your group, and you seemingly don't hear the conversations going on in other groups...unless someone says your name (or something that is of particular interest to you). Then you "hear" it. But if you hadn't already been monitoring to the conversation, how could you have "heard' your name? Psychologists have replicated this effect under controlled conditions in the laboratory using a technique called dichotic listening. The participants put on headphones deliver two different conversations, stories, or other materials simultaneously, and they are told to pay attention to only one headphone (e.g., the one on their right ear). Sometimes they have to repeat what is being said. The rate of delivery is kept fast enough so that they don't have time to switch back and forth. Yet if their name is mentioned in other other headphone, they hear it and can report it, but can't remember anything else that was playing in the unattended ear. In one study, one headphone played a story and the other played a list of words. The participants were supposed to repeat the story as it went along and ignore the other headphone, which they did just fine. Except that at one point, the story switched to the other unattended headphone and the list switched to the ear they were supposed to be ignoring. People followed the switch over--they followed the story--without realizing they had switched ears. So both messages were getting processed at an early stage of perception, then the message from the unattended channel was suppressed later on, making it difficult to remember.

Here's another example: In another experiment, people were fitted with goggles that delivered two different inputs to the eyes. In one goggle, there was a square that had plus signs inside all four corners. In the other goggle, there was a square with plus signs in three of the corners and a minus sign in the fourth. Their task was to (a) report what they saw and (b) guess where the minus sign was. This was done over many trials, and the position of the minus sign was varied inside the square, sometimes in one eye, sometimes in the other.

This is what people saw: A square with plus signs in all four corners. They didn't see the minus sign, and they didn't report than one corner was blurry or they couldn't tell. Why? Because the visual cortex (brain area just under the skull at the back of the head) suppresses conflicting inputs in order to produce a whole, meaningful percept. So it suppressed the input from the eye that was giving data (a minus sign) that conflicted with the input from the other eye and conflicted with the majority of the rest of the inputs (plus signs).

OK, now here is the really interesting part: When they guessed where the minus sign was (which corner of the square), they were right about 75% of the time. Chance performance is 25%, so they were way above chance. How could they do that? Because the information about the minus sign was available at an early stage of visual processing (in the structures that process visual information before it gets to the cortex), and that information influenced decision-making. This wasn't magic or psychic phenomena. It is just the way the brain works. It is a committee of specialists, and it works to create coherent perceptions of the inputs it receives.

I don't mean to peddle my wares, but I talk about this and many other phenomena in one of my other books The Other Side of Psychology: How Experimental Psychologists Find Out About the Way We Think and Act.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
First, thanks to denisecummins for the explanation of why I can type fast after like 45 years. I did imagine it was something to do with the brain "remembering." It is interesting the ability the brain has to learn and adapt. I started on a manual typewriter (some may not know what that is, but it was painful, often got my fingers stuck between the keys!!!), and it was exciting to move to an "electric." So much easier. And on and on to the current technology!!! Not that I can actually figure that all out. Like with this website I still don't know how to use some of the tools others are using. Hope to get it eventually.

Even more valuable are the breakthroughs that tell us there are real scientific reasons why people have anxiety disorders and panic attacks. For a long time I thought I was just nuts!!! And unfortunately even with the science many don't believe that mental illness is even an illness; that people are just nuts. Like they did so many years ago. And to cure these people it was electro-shock!!! I am glad I am not living then!!

To Interbane (one of the things I don't know how to do is pick up quotes like I see being done by others) it is true that some people will always hold to their beliefs no matter what science learns. As the centuries roll on without us there will be many new discoveries. Like people living longer. Remember in the Middle Ages if a person turned 30 they were considered old!! Living to 50 was very rare.

Wouldn't it be great to talk to deceased family members that you love and miss? Or get messages from them through those who indicate they can talk to them. And don't some of these mediums appear to know details no one else could? And how do those people who work with the police do the job of helping to find people, whether dead or alive? How do they do that? But sometimes people just want to believe. That is why many people are as vulnerable to charlatanes (sp?) even today as when Arthur Conan Doyle visited spiritualists to talk to his dead wife. It gave him peace to believe he could contact her. And for all we know, he did!!! There have been people who have caught those who are tricksters, but can't actually figure out how others do what they do. Maybe future science.

Some beliefs are actually faith-based. People will not believe the science if it contradicts their faith. For example there have been several documentaries over the years concerning the Shroud of Turin. Scientists have wanted to solve this mystery (as they see it) once and for all. So they take tiny bits of cloth that the church lets them have and test with newer methods. Recent science has proven that this cloth was not made during the time of Jesus, and has been in many different parts of the world Jesus never traveled. Some people will always believe. And scientists are still arguing over it, so who is right?

Some new scientific discoveries are exciting; we are eager to learn of them. For me it is very exciting to watch documentaries on how scientists, using the high-technology never before available, have proven the lineage of Tuthankamum (sp?) and have several very credible theories on how he died based on the study of his and his ancestors' mummies. I am sure others would be bored to death. In fact we know that hundreds of thousands of people can't stand the study of history.

For me the key is to try to keep my mind open. I do remember being told many things when I was younger that I simply do not believe anymore. Doctors don't always know what is wrong; they are practicing. On us!! I have a friend who will probably die from the side effects of radiation that cured her of cancer, but luckily scientists are learning from her experience. I kind of would of liked it if they had known before. Most of us have had one or two experiences like this.

I do enjoy reading the various viewpoints, and it is clear that members think things through. Have not had this interesting conversation avaiable until just recently with this website and after I retired. Apparently the only thing I was able to think about was work, work, work!!! Although I am still concerned about what is happening to the programs that help people around our country, I am also now engaged and interested in a broader range of topics. Thanks!!!



Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:28 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Casey wrote:
For me the key is to try to keep my mind open.


Keeping an open mind is excellent, but it should be tempered by introspection. Be a fly on the wall to your own thoughts, and learn to recognize when emotion is tugging you away from reason. This usually manifests in the form of self-serving bias, but can be true of any of the biases we share. I'm well aware that I'm guilty of confirmation bias each time I search Google for argument fodder.

Casey wrote:
Some people will always believe. And scientists are still arguing over it, so who is right?


I've found that it's not only faith that cements a person's position. In fact, it's not really faith at all. Rather, it's a consequence of bias and predisposition, with emotion acting as the blinders to a person seeing through their bias. The bias could be that of an accumulation of polarized facts over a long period of time(which is painful and difficult to unseat), or it could be an in-the-moment anchoring bias.

That faith is held as a virtue is stinky. It's as though we've sanctified the position of stubborn belief in the face of alternative explanations. Who had the brilliant idea that stubborn belief was a good thing? Regardless of where it came from, it has proven useful in the longevity of various religions.

I enjoy your posts Casey. Welcome to Booktalk. The books we read here are good brain food, pick one up and join the conversation.

Quote:
This is what people saw: A square with plus signs in all four corners. They didn't see the minus sign, and they didn't report than one corner was blurry or they couldn't tell.


That's great. There's a component in electronic principles that attenuates certain inputs. I know you're a professional, so the computer analogy may push some of your buttons. I apologize if so.

Denise wrote:
I don't mean to peddle my wares, but I talk about this and many other phenomena in one of my other books The Other Side of Psychology: How Experimental Psychologists Find Out About the Way We Think and Act.


Perhaps your book can be the discussion book at some point? We pick a new book every couple of months. The human mind is one of my scholarly passions, and your book is right up my alley. Do you spend any time reading about philosophy of the mind? Would that be a prerequisite for an experimental psychologist?


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
@Interbane: Yes, I enjoy reading Philosophy of mind, but it isn't a prerequisite for experimental psychology (although maybe it should be!) It was my minor in graduate school. I would be delighted to have any of my books discussed; Good Thinking (2012) is the most recent, and Other Side is specifically about experimental psychology.

http://www.goodthinkingbooks.com


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Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:09 pm
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