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 and Time 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 (Web archive).

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

We Stand Up for this Child,” the Providence Journal, May 8, 2011.

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.

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

January 13th, Freakonomics, & Spanish Edition

Today is the 13th day of 2022. Not a Friday but the only 13th day of the year. However, based on the two brief items below, it appears to be a lucky day for me.


For many years, I assigned the Freakonomics podcast in my behavioral economics course. The episodes are always informative and well-produced, and in my class, they always led to lively discussions.

As of today, I have achieved an important life goal: appearing on Freakonomics Radio in an episode entitled, “What Do Broken-Hearted Knitters, Urinating Goalkeepers, and the C.I.A. Have in Common?” The topic was superstitions and curses, and I was one of several people interviewed for the show. Apart from my contribution, there is some great material on curses, including sports curses and a discussion of “the sweater curse.”


As of today, the Spanish edition of my book Superstition: A Very Short Introduction (Breve Historia de la Superstición) is out from Alianza Editorial. In the United States, it is available in paperback from Amazon and in e-book format from Barnes & Noble.

The cover of the Spanish edition is somewhat unique in avoiding the more common black cat theme in favor of an image of crossed fingers.


That’s all for now. I hope that January 13th is a lucky day for you, too.

SV

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