Tania Lombrozo

Tania Lombrozo is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. She is an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an affiliate of the Department of Philosophy and a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Lombrozo directs the Concepts and Cognition Lab, where she and her students study aspects of human cognition at the intersection of philosophy and psychology, including the drive to explain and its relationship to understanding, various aspects of causal and moral reasoning and all kinds of learning.

Lombrozo is the recipient of numerous awards, including an NSF CAREER award, a McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award in Understanding Human Cognition and a Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformational Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science. She received bachelors degrees in Philosophy and Symbolic Systems from Stanford University, followed by a PhD in Psychology from Harvard University. Lombrozo also blogs for Psychology Today.

Here's a common image of science: Sometimes science gets things wrong, but the scientific process is self-correcting.

In a video released today at Edge.org, psychologist Simone Schnall raises interesting questions about the role of replication in social psychology and about what counts as "admissible evidence" in science.

Twice a year, most Americans do a truly bizarre thing. In coordinated fashion, we change our clocks an hour ahead or behind and proceed as if the new time tells us what we should be doing: when to eat, when to sleep, when to wake and when to work.

Earth, of course, spins and rotates on its merry course, unperturbed by our temporal machinations. If we used to wake after sunrise, we might now wake before morning light. If we used to drive home with the setting sun, we might now drive home in darkness.

Consider the following two statements of "belief":

Devon believes that humans evolved from earlier primates over 100,000 years ago.

Devon believes that humans were created less than 10,000 years ago.

These claims are clearly at odds. Since they can't both be true, Devon holds contradictory beliefs. Right?

Maybe not.

As a (mostly vegan) vegetarian for ethical reasons, I've encountered all sorts of responses to arguments for animal welfare. Here's one that I've heard surprisingly often, nabbed from a comment to a recent article arguing that atheists should be vegan:

In a 2006 article for the Los Angeles Times, Sam Harris identified 10 myths about atheism, among them the idea that "atheists are closed to spiritual experience."

Harris explained: "There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly."

In a commentary published earlier this month in Nature, Harvard professor Sarah S. Richardson and six co-authors caution scientists, journalists and the public against drawing hasty conclusions from findings concerning epigenetic effects on human development.

Not long ago, Caren Walker, a PhD student at the University of California at Berkeley, was hiking in Tilden Park with her brother Michael when they came upon what looked like wild carrots.

"Yum, yum, yum!" exclaimed Michael (with perhaps greater eloquence, but no less enthusiasm). "These will make a tasty soup!"

The most basic formula in first-order logic is P(x): one predicate, one variable.

It's also the most basic unit of communication — we say something (the predicate) about something (the variable). Delicious chocolate. Chocolate is delicious. Or, if you want to get fancy, you can throw in more formal machinery to specify that I believe chocolate is delicious, or that chocolate is only delicious when it's dark.

Last week, the satirical "news" source The Onion reported that the field of psychology was disbanding as researchers realized they had been studying the mind with nothing but itself.