Women, science, stereotypes, and Star Trek

At the start of the semester, my mind always turns to matters of gender and sex differences. Not because I teach at a women’s college, or because one or two students out themselves as being transgender or gender fluid, but because virtually every course I teach touches on the nature-nurture issue in our opening weeks, and…

A battle over the link between strep and OCD

Today I introduced a class of students to the notion that a strep infection could give a child obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The idea was first widely publicized in the memoir “Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD“, and briefly recapped in this clip from the Today Show: I am already on record as identifying this…

Obstacles to meditation in the college classroom

Imagine, if you will, this scene: just under two dozen first-year college students have, somehow, dragged themselves out of bed at the near-crack of dawn, eschewed changing out of nightclothes in favor of shoving bare feet into flip flops or possible Uggs, and slouched into a third-story classroom. They rest their heads on their tables…

Facebook and Filter Bubbles

Yes, this is about the Facebook kerfluffle of the week, the probably-unethical and definitely-badly-managed study showing that changing users’ News Feeds would change what users posted themselves. Oddly enough, given my standing as a teacher of research methods and a practicing psychology researcher, I am not outraged about the ethics of the study itself; I am…

Why you should never take notes on a laptop

I may teach in the 21st century, but I like my classroom technology-free: no smartphones, and not even any laptops or iPads for students to take notes on. Naturally, some 21st century students object to these luddite tendencies. And if I could just get them to listen to the great new research on laptops, perhaps…

Why “Smart” Girls Don’t Do Math

Sometimes, usually about halfway through a stack of student papers, I close my eyes and dream of teaching without grades. Not without reading papers, or breaking out the colored pen to mark and comment, but without the one single letter that they look for first, and that takes the focus off the other hundreds of letters…

What Color Tastes Like

Start reading the ingredients list on pre-packaged foods, and you may be in for a surprise. I’m not talking about the “high fructose corn syrup” that always appears to be the second main ingredient, or the various preservatives only a chemist or National Spelling Bee contestant has any hopes of pronouncing; although those often make…

Pass the Salt, Neurons

Sometimes, I am baffled by how my mind works – how some thought springs to life in a burst of creativity back in the non-conscious reaches of my brain. Today is not one of those days. At least, not entirely. I owe my chemistry teachers of a decade ago, and the FDA nutrition labeling guidelines,…

Mind on the Brain

It is the time of the semester when thoughts turn to the brain, because many psychology texts (rightly!) make the brain the focus of either the second or third chapter. In preparation for these discussions, I try to anticipate what myths my students believe that I might need to debunk. The brain does not exist…