About

 

I am a behavioral scientist, teacher, and writer. I write the monthly “Behavior & Belief” column for Skeptical Inquirer and personal essays in a variety of places—lately for the ObserverMedium, The AtlanticThe Good Men Project, and Tablet. I also blog very sporadically for Psychology Today.

My book Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition won the William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association and has been or will be translated into four languages. My book Going Broke: Why Americans Can’t Hold On To Their Money is an analysis of the current epidemic of personal debt and has been translated into Chinese.

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 Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. The majority of my teaching career was spent at Connecticut College in New London, CT, where I was the Joanne Toor Cummings ’50 Professor of Psychology. My academic interests are in decision-making, behavioral economics, philosophy, behavior analysis, and belief in the paranormal.

Academic CV

Google Scholar Citations

 Researchgate profile


Recent Posts

RBG, Experts, & Another Mass Shooting

Hello from the depths of February.


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I recently attended oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court, and the experience prompted me to write a short piece in The Coffeelicious about the experience. The essay is called “Miss Jeanne Louise, Stand Up,” and it is an unabashed appreciation of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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The January/February issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine included my column, entitled “Yes, We Do Need Experts,” and this week it became available online for the first time. In it, I review an important recent book by Tom Nichols entitled, The Death of Expertise.

 


Finally, on Wednesday there was yet another mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Once again a legally purchased AR-15 assault weapon was used to kill—in this case—seventeen people—high school students and teachers—in seven minutes. The gun control debate has begun again, and yesterday Skeptical Inquirer magazine reposted my December 2015 article, “Guns: Feeling Safe Does Not Equal Being Safe,” which once again sparked a lively debate on the SI Facebook page. Typical-AR-15-1024x301.jpg


That’s all for now. On a positive note, it feels like spring might be coming soon. Let’s hope.

SV

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