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 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)

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)

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

Autism Wars, Netflix/Vox “Explainer,” and Tarot Cards

Here in New England, we have arrived at the dog days of summer—no offense to either dogs or Florence + The Machine. It is quite warm here as it is throughout the northern hemisphere. I hope you are all getting some time off and finding a cool place to spend it.


My most recent article for Skeptical Inquirer online is “Autism Wars: Science Strikes Back.” It outlines the latest controversies surrounding the pseudoscientific treatment methods Facilitated Communication (FC) and Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). In

Screenshot 2018-07-23 09.10.56

Facilitated Communication

previous columns, I have outlined the reemergence of FC and the surging popularity of RPM. The good news, as outlined in this new article, is that the science-minded autism researchers are striking back and making some progress.


This has been my year for astrology and other forms of divination. I was interviewed for a Netflix/Vox series called the “Explained.” The episode was a very good introduction to the history of astrology. My contribution is quite brief and near the end of the episode. Screenshot 2018-08-08 17.14.44.png


Finally, I was quoted in a recent article, “Why millennials are looking for meaning in tarot cards,” in the British outlet the New Statesman. The reasons are very similar to the reasons for the apparent growing popularity of astrology. It is a nice article, but the author seems to both understand there is no evidence behind tarot card readings and still kind of believe in them. A common dilemma.


That’s it for now. Enjoy what’s left of summer, and try to stay cool during these dog days.

SV

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