Essays

I write for the general public on topics both professional and personal. My essays on psychology and science have appeared online at CNN, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Skeptical Inquirer, and The Huffington Post and in print in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

My personal essays have appeared online at Medium, ObserverTabletThe Good Men Project, and The Huffington Post and in print the Hartford Courant, the Boston Herald, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Providence Journal, where I was an occasional contributor from 2005-2012.

PERSONAL ESSAYS (SELECTED)

Why I Hate the Beach,” Medium, August 16, 2019.

Racism and Guns,” Medium, June 17, 2019.

The Gift of Applause,” Medium, April 12, 2018.

Miss Jean Louise, Stand Up,” The Coffeelicious, January 26, 2018.

Strange Days,” Medium, October 3, 2017.

How We Talk to Each Other,” Medium, February 22, 2017.

Listen to the Weirdos on the Mall,” Medium, June 9, 2016.

Not Your Typical Disease Memoir,” Medium, May 17, 2016.

Don’t Ask, ‘How’s the Book Going?'” Medium, February 19, 2016.

How a Headache Saved My Life,” Observer, November 2, 2015.

An Introvert’s Guide to Eating and Drinking Out,” Medium, July 27, 2015.

You Fired Me,” Medium, July 6, 2015.

The Kindness of a Stranger,” Medium, June 15, 2015.

An Introvert’s Guide to the Coffeehouse Workspace,” Medium, May 29, 2015.

An Introvert’s Guide to Greeting Strangers, Vague Acquaintances, and Friends,” Medium, April 23, 2015.

Layman’s Terms,” Tablet, January 12, 2012.

A Mere ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ Might’ve Helped,” the Providence Journal, August 13, 2011. (pdf)

He Did the Best He Could,” the Providence Journal, May 6, 2010. (pdf)

John Gardner’s Lesson About Teaching,” the Providence Journal, February 19, 2007.

The Hidden Brightness of the Dark Season,” the Providence Journal, November 27, 2006.(pdf)

In Praise of Cheap and Local Eats” the Providence Journal, April 18, 2006.

The Other Sacred Places,” the Hartford Courant, August 9, 2005.(pdf)

On Selling ”Letter from Birmingham Jail,”” the Providence Journal, June 14, 2006.(pdf)

NPR Made Me Hip to My Kids,” the Providence Journal, November 28, 2003.(pdf)

PROFESSIONAL/SCIENCE ESSAYS (SELECTED)

Are Atheists Sadder But Wiser,” Skeptical Inquirer, December 10, 2019.

In Praise of the Crutch-Makers,” Skeptical Inquirer, May 8, 2019.

How to Have Your Kid Go to College—But Not Go Broke,” Time, October 8, 2018.

Do Superstitious Rituals Work?” Skeptical Inquirer, December 8, 2017.

Statistiquement significat: les critères sont-ils suffisamment exigeants?” Science et pseudo-sciences n°323 – janvier / mars 2018. [pdf]  This a French translation of my article “Moving Science’s Statistical Goalposts,” which was published the Skeptical Inquirer, both online and in the November/December, 2017 issue of the print magazine.

Before Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, There Was Dan Q. Posin,” Skeptical Inquirer, November/December, 2017.

P-Hacker Confessions: Daryl Bem and Me,” Skeptical Inquirer, June 13, 2017.

Good News for Grouches: Happiness is Overrated,” Skeptical Inquirer, March 7, 2016.

“Guns: Feeling Safe ≠ Being Safe,” Skeptical Inquirer Magazine, 40(2), March/April, 27-30.

Nudging People to Save the Planet,” Skeptical Inquirer, January 29, 2016.

Psychology’s CAM Controversy,” Skeptical Inquirer, November 23, 2015.

Welcome to the Season of Conspiracy Theories.” Skeptical Inquirer, October 8, 2015.

Neuro-Pseudoscience,” Skeptical Inquirer, July 29, 2015.

Facilitated Communication: The Fad that Will Not Die,” Skeptical Inquirer, May 11, 2015.

How Superstition Works,” The Atlantic, October 22, 2013 (excerpt of Believing in Magic).

Can Believing in Luck Actually Make You Lucky?” Huffington Post, February 2, 2013.

Why We Fear Friday the 13th,” CNN Religion blog, May 13, 2011.

Our Love-Hate Relationship with Plastic,” the Providence Journal, April 23, 2008.(pdf)

Recent Posts

Vegas pod, UK Book Tour Dates, & Superstitious Real Estate—Part Deux

ElevatorMy latest “Behavior & Belief” column for Skeptical Inquirer is a continuation of the topic of superstition in real estate. In this installment, I cover the 13th-floor phobia, which continues to plague developers in both the United States and Moscow—although the Russians deal with it differently than we do. I also discuss vastu shastra, the Indian version of feng shui. In the United States, vastu shastra is most commonly encountered in a version developed by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the developer of Transcendental Meditation who became popular after the Beatles visited him in India fifty-two years ago this month. Proponents of Maharishi vastu—like those of feng shui—make a number of unsupported claims about how the design of their buildings promote health and prosperity for the occupants.


A few weeks ago I spent a very pleasant hour with Jeff Walker on the “Jeff Does Vegas” podcast discussing the role of superstition in the casino. Jeff is based in Canada, but he makes many trips to Vegas each year and clearly knows the place well. He also has EP52.jpga terrific radio voice. Spoiler Alert: Jeff makes the surprising admission that he thinks his wife is unlucky, and I suggest an empirical test that might prove whether she is or not.

You can listen to the podcast here.


My mini book tour of England is shaping up nicely. I will be doing a number of dates in early May in support of my new book Superstition: A Very Short Introduction. I am getting excited about being in the UK in the spring.

The dates of the tour are below. If anyone is interested in the details of these talks, send me an email (or reply to this one).

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That’s it for now.

SV

  1. Feng Shui & Coming to the UK Leave a reply
  2. Friday the 13th Leave a reply
  3. Ending the Decade Leave a reply
  4. Brazil Recap & Adventures in Peer Review Leave a reply
  5. A Monument to Homeopathy and My Trip to Brazil Leave a reply
  6. Video of my recent talk Leave a reply
  7. Exorcism, Race, & Guns Leave a reply
  8. Audio Course and Book Talk Leave a reply
  9. The history of crutches Leave a reply