It has been quite a while since I last posted anything here, and things have started to pile up. I have published two columns on the Skeptical Inquirer website, and a couple of other things have happened. Here is a quick roundup.
There is some evidence that astrology is gaining popularity among millennials, who are more secular than previous generations but no less spiritual. In my May SI column, I offered some suggestions as to why this might be the case.
I wrote this article after being interviewed by a film crew for a Vox “explainer” on astrology that will appear on Netflix in August. So, May was my astrology month.
In a single week in June we experienced the tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I used these events as the motivation for an article about the role of the media in copycat suicides and homicides. There is considerable research evidence suggesting that many lives could be saved if the media—particularly television and internet news sources—were to adopt some simple standards for reporting suicides and mass shootings. Unfortunately, there has been very little movement in this direction.
In the week before the arrival of the new scary movie, Hereditary, Cari Romm, a writer for The Cut, called to ask me why people go to horror movies. Why do people voluntarily pay money to be scared? I offered some thoughts based on the available research, and the resulting article was quite fun. Later I went to see Hereditary and was not particularly impressed. The movie disappeared very quickly from the local megaplex, so it appears that audiences, in general, may have agreed with me. Nonetheless, I recommend the article in The Cut.
Over the Memorial Day weekend and the week following, I was fortunate enough to take a vacation in southern California. I gave an invited address at the convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, which, if you are interested, you can read here, and I vacationed in San Diego, Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park, and Topanga Canyon. I leave you with my favorite self-portrait from that trip, taken at a waterside establishment called Burgers, Bait, & Beer on the south embarcadero in San Diego. One of my favorite stops on the trip.
Until next time.