Author: Benjamin Wachs

Maybe it’s us?


What if we’re completely wrong about the reason America suffers from an epidemic of mass shootings? That’s the powerful question recently asked by the psychiatrist Joseph Pierre in Aeon magazine. (W)hat if the reality is that the underlying cause of mass murder lies not in something external to ourselves, but rather something at the root… Read more »

Learning to live with ambiguity


Writing in the Pacific Standard, Jerry Adler suggests that research psychology—like most branches of experimental science right now—is facing a crisis. Poorly proofed journals, unreproducible results, questionable statistical models … It leads him to ask the headlining question: “Can Social Scientists Save Themselves?” Or will reformation need to come from the outside? Ironically the article… Read more »

Inconvenient emojis


The psychiatric-industrial-complex keeps telling us that depression is best solved by pills, but every new advance in therapeutic treatments tell us otherwise. We just don’t hear about it as much because talk therapy doesn’t have a billion dollar advertising budget. The newest exhibit comes courtesy of The New York Times, which reports on a new… Read more »

Integration: Searching for a Place in the Culture to Call Home


Photo by Christopher Schwarzkopf. It was said we were in a “post-racial era” after President Obama was elected … just like it was said we were reaching a “post-racial era” when Bill Clinton was “Americas first black president.” Remember that? Seems awfully embarrassing in hindsight. It is one of the most confounding aspects of Americans… Read more »

The Alluring Power of the Milgram Experiments, 50 Years Later


An illustration of the Milgram experiment. The infamous Milgram experiments in 1960 were loosely based on the experiments in conformity of Stanley Milgram’s mentor, Professor Solomon Asch. Since that time, similar experiments have been performed, and largely validated again and again: most recently in 2005 at Eindhoven University of Technology (this time using a robot… Read more »

The Tech Industry’s Depression Problem


No one who pays attention to the tech industry should be surprised that it has what The Atlantic Monthly recently dubbed “a depression problem.” Why wouldn’t it? It’s a hyper-competitive environment in which people work tremendously long hours, fail often, and judge their self-worth by their earnings and status in an often hierarchical, often conformist,… Read more »

Returning Dignity to Politics


25 years ago, the forces of historical determinism made a bold prediction: history had ended. Liberal Capitalism, according to Francis Fukuyama and his allies, was the only model of governance that made sense and served humankind’s self-interest—and therefore the only organizing principle of society that would remain in just a few years. This was a… Read more »

The “Forumula” for Happiness Might Not Be a Literal “Formula” – But Don’t Tell Neuroscientists


EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the APA Annual Conference in Washington, DC, there will be no post on Friday, August 8, 2014. The New Existentialists will resume its regular posting schedule on Monday, August 11, 2014. Thank you for your understanding. This week in hubristic neuroscience: *  Researchers at the University College, London, say that they… Read more »