psychology – society – identity

Thomas Doherty: video intro to psychology+nature

Here’s a concise video introduction to topics at the intersection of psychology and nature, from Thomas Doherty. Ten-or-so years ago, Thomas led a monthly Portland discussion group called Green Minds, which became a locus for thoughtful conversation among a cross-section of the city’s nonprofit workers, social entrepreneurs, and so on. He was founding editor of [...]

Climate change and the Bayesian brain

What do you do when your world has changed? Hold on to the past? Adapt to the new? According to Bayesian cognitive theory, we’re always doing a bit of both: holding onto prior beliefs, while adapting to incoming signals. My interest here is in the Bayesian model of cognition — the “Bayesian brain” — and [...]

Climate and Cultural Theory

[Reposting a popular article from my old blog, P&P — originally published March 09, 2010.] To what extent do you agree with each of the following? • I am more strict than most people about what is right and wrong. • I prefer simple and unprocessed foods. • Making money is the main reason for [...]

Social science research for global change

With the release of the International Social Science Council (ISSC) “World Social Science Report 2013,” I’ve been looking back at the 2012 ISSC report, “Transformative Cornerstones of Social Science Research for Global Environmental Change” (pdf). The report aims to set out “a charter for the social sciences, a common understanding of what it is that [...]

Amidst uncertainty, perceiving risk

Numerous climate commentators — from economist Nicholas Stern, to social psychologist Nick Pidgeon and communications researcher Matthew Nisbet — have emphasized a risk-based understanding of the climate challenge. This year, a couple of intriguing new climate initiatives take risk-based approaches. One is the global C40 Cities Climate Risk Assessment Network, which aims to develop a [...]

Making, the practice turn, the active voice

“The creation of Portland Made is a masterstroke,” lauds Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer in this video. “You are a key reason why my hometown is truly America’s most livable city.” Portland Made, which is looking to establish itself as hub-of and brand-for the local designer-retailer-manufacturer movement, is a recent addition to the city’s thriving maker [...]

Shibley Telhami: The key Middle East issue

Shibley Telhami, author of The World Through Arab Eyes: Arab Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Middle East, describes the key to the Middle East as the perception among participants that one can achieve one’s desired outcomes. From an interview with Diane Rehm (~44:00): Before and after the Arab uprisings, it is remarkable that [...]

Sustainability and resilience as capacities

“Every noun obscures a verb,” quips Ray Ison in the book, Systems Practice: How to Act in a Climate Change World. None more so, I would add, than sustainability. We know sustainability abstractly, like in the Brundtland definition of meeting cross-generational needs, or like in the economy-ecology-equity balancing diagram. Sustainability is often engaged as a set [...]

The whole-of-community action web

The nebulous notion of sustainability begs for visual representation. I collect favorites, and a few years ago I worked with designer Andrew Fuller to create a series of posters, “representations of sustainability,” for a show at Portland’s Sea Change gallery. Yesterday’s post on Valerie Brown and the book Tackling Wicked Problems reminded me of this [...]

Robert Brulle: Influences on concern over climate

Which factor has a bigger influence on climate concerns in the U.S — extreme weather events, scientific information, mass media coverage, media advocacy, or elite cues? This question was asked by sociologists Robert Brulle, Jason Carmichael, and J. Craig Jenkins in the January 2012 paper, “Shifting public opinion on climate change: an empirical assessment of factors influencing [...]

Tim O’Reilly in conversation with Stewart Brand

Tim O’Reilly’s September 2012 Long Now talk on “the birth of the global mind” offers plenty to mull over. Here’s the video. These notes are all from the q&a with Stewart Brand, following the talk: The thing I worry most about is that we’re not applying our collective intelligence to hard, interesting problems. We’re applying [...]

Justin Wolfers: Intentions versus expectations

“It could be in November that this is going to be a chart that is going to come back and haunt me,” said Justin Wolfers at the April 2012 Collective Intelligence conference. Expectations are better predictors than intentions, he insisted. And his chart proved accurate (i.e., to accurately support his claim). In it, poll respondents [...]

What comes to mind when you hear “global warming”?

Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has new new paper, coauthored with Nicholas Smith, exploring affective reactions to global warming. From the paper, “The Rise of Global Warming Skepticism: Exploring Affective Image Associations in the United States Over Time“: [R]esearchers have focused on the role of “affect,” or the emotional [...]

Daniel Kahneman’s fiction

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman wraps up his talk at the National Academy of Sciences colloquium on social science research in science communication by stating that he has presented “a fiction.” And it is a fascinating yarn he’s spun. Summarizing the main threads of his new book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman describes “a psychodrama with two [...]

Barrett Brown: Four Universal Perspectives

“Representations of sustainability” was a concept I developed for a series of posters displayed at the 2009 opening of the SEA Change Gallery in Portland. This one featuring Barrett Brown’s four universal perspectives is based on his paper, “The Four Worlds of Sustainability” (pdf). Poster design by Andrew Fuller.