Applied Psychology

Applied Psychology


Where Can a Seeker Find Their Truth?

truth November 20th, 2022

Psychology has met with great success
Analyzing and systematizing…
But can theories and statistics reveal
What really lies deep in the heart of man?

In this blog, I use the poetic form Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare and John Milton favored as a vehicle to explore the themes that so interested them: blank verse. In this poem, I try to think through how one can confidently find what it is they seek: one’s truth, meaning, fulfillment, and other values.

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Self-Interest and Self-Righteousness

self-interest October 24th, 2022

I aim to convince the reader that two things which work against social progress, social justice, the ability to survive global warming, and so on are two age-old human habits: self-interest and self-righteousness. Indeed, the reason humanity sucks so badly—and why it has almost destroyed its only home, and why so many have suffered (even died!) over the millennia—is that we have these traits and tendencies within us that stymie and counteract and subvert our other, higher notions such as goodwill toward man, love of one’s neighbor, caring, compassion, a reasonable type of equality and equal opportunity, etc. I try to make the case that America is being torn apart by neo-fascist, extremist conservative, nativist, white supremist, Trumpist values, and that this must be reversed if we wish to avoid another January 6th, another Civil War, or a complete inability to counter global threats such as China and Russia.

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How to Find Happiness in Modern America

happiness October 18th, 2022

Attitude is everything, so they say. There is truly something to that. According to one strain of research, our happiness is about 50% “determined” by our genes. There is little we can do to stray very far from our “set point” level of happiness. A death will bring us very low, and that “new car smell” will give us a happiness bump for days, perhaps weeks. A promotion will engender some greater satisfaction, but it’s effect, too, will fade (perhaps only leaving a somewhat larger paycheck and potentially greater stress associated with increased or different responsibilities). The point is, If genes account for 50% of one’s level of happiness, what does that leave us with? This is a blog about psychological research, applied philosophy, and values and virtues such as personal growth, free will, and responsibility.

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Sacred Values Can Lead to Intolerance

intolerance and white supremacy August 11th, 2022

As Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges noted in their article titled “Devoted Actors and the Moral Foundations of Intractable Intergroup Conflict,” there are things known as sacred values and devoted actors. “Sacred values” sounds uniformly good, right?

Unfortunately, the upsides of having a fervent belief in a particular religious viewpoint, or a willingness to stand up for one’s tribe or political faction, can be easily ruined by the potential downsides of holding certain values sacred. Why? Read on…

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“Anti-Intellectualism”: A Rejection of Critical Thinking

anti-intellectualism August 2nd, 2022

As writer and attorney David Noise put it, “The gun massacres that occur on a weekly basis will no doubt lead to more discussion of several important and recurring issues in American culture—particularly racism and gun violence and mental instability/rage. However, these dialogues are unlikely to bear much fruit until the nation undertakes a serious self-examination.” Indeed, considering the tenacity and inflexibility of the positions held by gun fetishists, the obnoxious relativism and doublespeak one sees on right-wing media outlets, and an astonishing unwillingness to throw Trumpism into the dustbin of history are not that hard to fathom if one considers the following:

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Wisdom: From Whence Does it Come?

Does wisdom come only form the mouths of babes? June 17th, 2022

Yikes! Controversial and possibly incendiary topic alert! It’s won’t be that bad. Here is the reason for the title: I published a book of quotations about values and wisdom in 2003. It must have had 1,000-1,500 quotes, just one after another, based on the value the quote represented (e.g., truth, justice, wisdom, passion, etc). No one had any problem with the Emersons, MLKs, John F. Ks, or Helen Kellers, but one person did not like my use of a quote by Hitler. He was Jewish, I imagine, and found the book unpalatable. He wrote me back with something along the lines of: “There is no way I could endorse a book that features a quote by Hitler.” So the questions arise: What is the purpose of wisdom? Could Hitler possibly have hit upon a vein of gold in his otherwise dank and unproductive mine of ideas? Was the professor wise, or foolish? How do we know when someone is imparting wisdom, or dropping a load of bull?

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Dealing with the Challenges and Pain of Life

challenges and pain June 14th, 2022

Wisdom is a complex topic. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will get a paper-thin definition—correct perhaps, in as far as it goes. What I tried to do in my 2022 book on the subject is to go beyond mere definition to metaphorically painting a picture of the phenomenon. In this blog, I will get into one aspect of wisdom: what I might term an efficient perception of how the world works, what humans are like, and how we can best cope with the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” as Shakespeare put the vicissitudes and the turbulence we each face in life. This is existentialism; personal growth; the development of the self.

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Managing and Integrating Emotion is a Part of Wisdom

managing and integrating emotion June 8th, 2022

This blog offers some high points from the second chapter of the book Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought (2022). The chapter involves managing and integrating emotion, emotional intelligence, integrating emotion with intellect, using both halves of the brain (figuratively, more than literally)—all in an effort to be wiser and live with more self-control, happiness, and satisfaction.

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Critical Thinking & Wisdom

critical thinking May 8th, 2022

When it comes to wisdom, critical thinking is paramount. This blog explores more about the connection, and references Jason’s latest book Wisdom, in which critical thinking plays a starring role.

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Compassion is an Important Aspect of Wisdom

compassion May 3rd, 2022

In my new book  Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought, compassion plays a major role. In fact, Chapter Four is titled “The Wise Perceive the World with Empathy and Compassion.” This blog is dedicated to describing why I believe compassion is related to wisdom, why that matters, and how we can gain a bit more appreciation for these allied virtues.

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