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Cross-Check

Critical views of science in the news

A modest proposal for curbing homicides: Socialism

If responses to my last post are any guide—including a diss from one of my own students!—many readers reject gun controls as a way to reduce shootings like the recent massacre in Arizona and other gun-related homicides.

January 24, 2011 — John Horgan

Freeman Dyson, global warming, ESP and the fun of being "bunkrapt"

Should a scientist who believes in extrasensory perception—the ability to read minds, intuit the future and so on—be taken seriously? This question comes to mind when I ponder the iconoclastic physicist Freeman Dyson, whom the journalist Kenneth Brower recently profiled in The Atlantic 's December issue.

January 7, 2011 — John Horgan

New Year's Resolution: I will believe in free will

In the wee hours of this morning my eyes popped open, and I spent the next half hour trying to figure out what to write about in this column. After careful, albeit groggy deliberation, I decided to go with free will, both because of the tie-in to New Year's resolutions and because some high-profile scientists have been questioning whether free will exists.

December 27, 2010 — John Horgan

Healing thyself: Does psychedelic therapy exploit the placebo effect?

My last post talked about the depressing lack of progress in treatments for depression and other common psychological disorders. Talking cures and antidepressants alike are subject to the "dodo effect," which decrees that all therapies are roughly as effective—or ineffective—as one another.

December 7, 2010 — John Horgan

Cybertherapy, placebos and the dodo effect: Why psychotherapies never get better

When the media report on a new diet that supposedly helps people lose weight once and for all, I wonder, "Does anyone still believe these claims, given the dismal track record of diets?" I have the same reaction to new treatments for psychological disorders, such as "cybertherapy." In a long, lavishly illustrated article in The New York Times , Benedict Carey reported that psychotherapists are harnessing virtual reality for treating social anxiety disorder, alcoholism, agoraphobia, gambling addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and a host of other mental ailments.

November 29, 2010 — John Horgan

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