Recent Media Bits

scienceofus_black_rgb_20Last week I was quoted in an interesting article, “The Strange Power of Unlucky Charms,” written by Cari Romm for New York Magazine’s online blog Science (of) Us. Among other things, Romm reports that, in approximately half the states in the US, landlords are protected from having to disclose to new tenants that a death has occurred in the apartment. Ghost protection.

Last month included a Friday the 13th, and although I did not give any new interviews, some of my older material resurfaced. Most notably CNN.com reposted my 2012 essay, “My Take: Why We Fear Friday the 13th.” I discovered the article was out again when I got the tweet below from Colgate University.

Colgate

Evidently Colgate loves the number 13. As this page on the university website explains, “The university was originally founded as The Baptist Education Society of the State of New York by 13 men who each offered $13 and 13 prayers.” So they celebrate Friday the 13th as a lucky day at Colgate. Who knew?

Finally, I will soon be a guest on an exciting new podcast, so I will keep you posted about that when the time comes.

All for now.

SV

Syracuse, Apple, & Autism Pseudoscience

BannerMy latest Behavior & Belief column, “Syracuse, Apple, and Autism Pseudoscience,” is up at the Skeptical Inquirer. I covers a recent facilitated communication controversy on the campus of Syracuse University.

Coincidentally, April is Autism Acceptance Month, and to celebrate the occasion, Apple Computer released two beautifully produced videos. Unfortunately, in doing so, Apple has associated itself with pseudoscientific treatments for autism.

Until next time.

SV

The Show About Science

Nate

Recently I had the special pleasure of appearing on a podcast called “The Show About Science.” Among other things, the podcast is remarkable because the host, Nate, is 5 years old. This was Nate’s 13th episode, so he invited me on to talk about superstitions. You can listen to the episode here.

People have begun to realize that “The Show About Science” and other podcasts for and by children have great educational potential.  Nate, who is clearly ahead of the curve on this trend, is mentioned in this recent article in The Atlantic.

Until later,

SV

Good News for Grouches

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My latest Behavior & Belief column, “Good News for Grouches: Happiness is Overrated,” is up at Skeptical Inquirer. I review new research showing that—contrary to popular belief—being happy (or unhappy) has no effect on the length of your life. Furthermore, if you go on to get a college degree, you may forfeit some of your happiness in the process. But don’t let that stop you. The bliss of ignorance isn’t worth the ignorance.

Happiness is a good thing—maybe even a great thing—but it isn’t everything.

Until next time,

SV

 

Don’t Ask, “How’s the Book Going?”

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A little number I wrote called, “Don’t Ask ‘How’s the Book Going?,'” appeared in the Coffeelicious collection on Medium today. Some of my writer friends will sympathize, I’m sure.

Screen_Shot_2016-02-10_at_3.46.03_PMIn other news, the (modestly updated) print version of my December “Behavior and Belief” column “Guns: Feeling Safe ≠ Being Safe” has just appeared in the March-April issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. At your local news stand now. Also for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

I feel spring coming on…..

SV

Nudging People to Save the Planet

Sandy_Oct_25_2012_0400ZMy latest column for Skeptical Inquirer, Nudging People to Save the Planet,” is up today. It outlines five “best practices” for getting people to combat climate change.

As a small bonus, the column also includes a bit of good news in a follow-up to my May, 2015 column on the bogus therapy Facilitated Communication (FC). In that piece, I mentioned that the prestigious Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire promoted FC. I am happy to report that the institute has subsequently decided to sever all connections with this thoroughly discredited therapy.

Once Again the Evil Eye

To Ward-off the Evil Eye

Jewelry designed to ward off the Evil Eye.

I confess to a certain weakness for the Evil Eye superstition. It is often motivated by the fear of harm to oneself or to a prized loved one, such as a new baby. Although I never knew about the Evil Eye until a student told me about it a few years ago, it is popular in vast areas of the Middle East, Europe, and South America. The malevolent social nature of the Evil Eye makes it somewhat different than a simple taboo belief or good luck charm.

Yesterday, I was quoted in Alison Stevenson’s nice piece on the Evil Eye in Vice.

Guns: Feeling Safe ≠ Being Safe

colt-629670_1920My latest article for Skeptical Inquirer, “Guns: Feeling Safe Does Not Equal  Being Safe,” is up, and it has created a bit of a storm on the Skeptical Inquirer Facebook page. Whenever you stick your nose into the gun debate, you are likely to get attacked, and I guess it’s my turn today.

The editors at Skeptical Inquirer seem to like the article, nonetheless, and have said they will republish it in Skeptical Inquirer magazine this spring.

Enjoy the holidays and a Happy New Year to all!

SV

 

Psychology’s CAM Controversy & Friday the 13th

My November column for Skeptical Inquirer, “Psychology’s CAM Controversy,” outlines the increasing use of unsubstantiated complementary and alternative medicine methods by practicing psychologists.
ColouredChakrasCroppedDespite the lack of evidence to support their use, these treatments are very popular and have been championed in articles and books published by the American Psychological Association.

Thankfully, there has been some recent pushback from science-minded practitioners.

 


 

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Friday November 13th has come and gone, and once again I offered pithy quotes on superstition for several media outlets. USA Today and National Geographic recycled earlier articles I appeared in, but the Toronto Sun and Minnesota Public Radio published original pieces for November, 2015.

 

 

How a Headache Saved My Life

My latest piece, “How a Headache Saved My Life” has just gone up on the New York Observer website. The Observer has previously reprinted material I’ve written for other headacheoutlets, but this is the first story to appear as an original on the Observer site. I am delighted to be involved with such a wonderful media organization, and to be alive to tell you this particular story.


In other news, October is superstition month, and so I was quoted in this Yahoo News story about America’s Top Superstitions.