About

I am a behavioral scientist, teacher, and writer. I am a contributing editor for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, for which I write the “Behavior & Belief” column, both online and in print. I have written personal and professional essays in a variety of places, including the ObserverMedium, The AtlanticThe Good Men ProjectTablet, and Time.

The first edition of my book Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition won the William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association and was translated into Japanese, German, and Romanian. An updated edition was published in 2014. My book Going Broke: Why Americans (Still) Can’t Hold On To Their Money is an analysis of the current epidemic of personal debt. The first edition was translated into Chinese, and the second edition was released in September of 2018 in both paperback and audiobook formats.

As an expert on superstition and irrational behavior, I have been quoted in many news outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and have appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN International, the PBS NewsHour, and NPR’s Science Friday. See the In the Media page for recent quotes and appearances.

I hold a PhD in psychology and BA and MA degrees in English Literature and am a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. The majority of my teaching career was spent at Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and Connecticut College. My academic interests are in decision-making, behavioral economics, philosophy, behavior analysis, and belief in the paranormal.

CV.current.2019

Google Scholar Citations

 Researchgate profile


Recent Posts

Exorcism, Race, & Guns

I have been busy writing lately. My June column for Skeptical Inquirer is “The New Wave of Exorcism.” Exorcism has been in the news lately, and in case you were wondering, 576px-Musée_des_Augustins_Toulouse_23lots of people still believe in demons and the devil. In the article, I discuss exorcism in the media and the American Psychiatric Association’s position on people who appear to be possessed by other entities.


On Medium, I wrote a short essay, “Racism and Guns,” that recounts an uncomfortable M9-pistoletconversation I had at a conference.


This Thursday, June 20 at 5:15pm, I will be giving a talk about my book “Going Broke: Why Americans (Still) Can’t Hold on to Their Money” at the Stonington Free Libary as part of the “Thoughtful Thursday” series. This is a new edition of a book I first published in 2008, Thoughtful Thursday Juneand I am looking forward to talking about it in my little town. Details can be found at this link.


A final bit of personal news. This week I learned that I had been elected a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. Fellow status is awarded to “APS members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service, and/or application.” I am delighted and deeply honored.


That’s all for now.

SV

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