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Stories by Samuel McNerney

The Bias Within The Bias

Recall this pivotal scene from the 1997 movie, Men in Black . James Edwards (Will Smith, or Agent J) arrives at the headquarters of MiB - a secret agency that protects Earth from extraterrestrial threats - to compete with "the best of the best" for a position.

May 15, 2013 — Samuel McNerney

Correcting Creativity: The Struggle for Eminence

By the time he put the finishing touches on the Rite of Spring in November of 1912 in the Châtelard Hotel in Clarens, Switzerland, Stravinsky had spent three years studying Russian pagan rituals, Lithuanian folk songs and crafting the dissonant sacre chord, in which an F-flat major combines with an E-flat major with added minor seventh.

September 10, 2012 — Samuel McNerney

The Irrationality of Irrationality: The Paradox of Popular Psychology

In 1996, Lyle Brenner, Derek Koehler and Amos Tversky conducted a study involving students from San Jose State University and Stanford University. The researchers were interested in how people jump to conclusions based on limited information.

April 27, 2012 — Samuel McNerney

Jonah Lehrer and the New Science of Creativity

Editor's Note (8/1/12): In July 2012 Jonah Lehrer admitted that he fabricated quotes in his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, the subject of this blog post.

March 19, 2012 — Samuel McNerney

Why We Care about Chimpanzees: The Origins of Human Morality

Chimpanzee research is a hot topic this summer; it has been discussed on the big screen, in the New York Times, and in the science blogosphere. The debate is complicated; there are government funding issues, several ethical dilemmas to consider, and potential benefits to human health at stake.

August 18, 2011 — Samuel McNerney

Confirmation Bias and Art

By now, our overwhelming tendency to look for what confirms our beliefs and ignore what contradicts our beliefs is well documented. Psychologists refer to this as confirmation bias, and its ubiquity is observed in both academia and in our everyday lives: Republicans watch Fox while Democrats watch MSNB; creationists see fossils as evidence of God, evolutionary biologists see fossils as evidence of evolution; doomsayers see signs of the end of the world, and the rest of us see just another day.

July 17, 2011 — Samuel McNerney

Special Edition: Mysteries of the Mind