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.

Current CV

Google Scholar Citations

Researchgate profile


Recent Posts

Feng Shui & Coming to the UK

Happy New Year! My first missive of the new year will be brief.


My January Behavior & Belief column for Skeptical Inquirer is “Superstition and the Chinese Real Estate Market.” Chinese culture is saturated with superstition, and Chinese superstitions have a powerful effect on commerce, including the housing market. This article explains why you might not want to buy a Hong Kong apartment on the 24th

image (16).jpg

Feng shui coins tied with lucky red string.

floor, and how you might be able to use feng shui coins to combat bad chi. If you believe in that sort of thing.


I am very excited to announce that I will be coming to the United british-museum-squarelogoKingdom in May. As you may recall, I have a new book coming out this spring, Superstition: A Very Short Introduction. In connection with the release of this pocket-sized paperback, I was invited to give a talk at the British Museum. I really wanted to accept this invitation, and as a result, I have decided to organize a self-managed book tour in the UK in May. So far I am scheduled to be at the British Museum on May 11, and on May 12, I will be speaking at a Greenwich, London, Skeptics in the Pub event at the Star & Garter pub. There is a worldwide network of Skeptics in the Pub groups, but they are particularly popular in the UK. As a result, I am hoping to arrange a number of appearances at pubs and bookstores in England.  The plans for this trip are just being hatched, but I will provide additional information as it becomes available. 


That’s all for now. Stay warm.

SV

 

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