How experts recall chess positions

In 2011, a computer (Watson) outplayed two human Jeopardy champions. In 1997, chess computer Deep Blue defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov. In both cases, the computer “solved” the game—found the right questions or good moves—differently than humans do. Defeating humans in these domains took years of research and programming by teams of engineers, but only with huge advantages in speed, efficiency, memory, and precision could computers compete with much more limited humans. What allows human experts to match wits with custom-designed computers equipped with tremendous processing power? [...]

Harry Potter and the Illusion of Potential

Why is the story of Harry Potter so appealing? The success of the series depends on engaging characters and compelling storytelling-it’s a classic tale of good vs. evil and a coming of age story. That’s true, but many stories have those qualities. I think there’s a deeper magic at work here, one that capitalizes on a pervasive cognitive [...]

Another early study of Inattentional Blindness

A cool inattentional blindness experiment from [...]

Seeing the world as it isn't

When we look at the world around us, we feel that we are seeing it completely and accurately. What accounts for that [...]

Book review: Deadly Choices by Paul Offit

Review of Paul Offit’s new book, Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us [...]

Don't change your worldview based on one study

In the past few weeks, the blogosphere has been abuzz about the dangers of non-replication and the “decline” effect, triggered by Jonah Lehrer’s interesting piece in the New Yorker (mostly behind a firewall). The central claim in the piece is that initially strong or provocative findings diminish in strength over time. The decline [...]

Examples of great talks (parody)

Great parodies of scientific [...]

Invisible gorillas play soccer

I just learned from a friend that staffers at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in Washington have formed a soccer team for a DC-area league named Invisible Gorillas. Fantastic! They’ll have a great advantage given all the additional players they’ll be able to sneak onto the field during the game.

Remarkable false memories

You might think you remember how you heard about the attacks on September 11, 2001, but you might well be wrong. A reader sent a remarkable example of memory distortion for a much earlier experience which illustrates how easily memories can [...]

Don't text and fly

Don’t text and fly — a Halloween [...]