The Deadly Problem With Paxil, Spectacular Savants, plus more weekly links


A selection of recent behavioral science news, articles, and resources of note:

  • Study 329 gave doctors the confidence to prescribe Paxil to millions of adolescents, adults, and even children. A recent investigation calls much of that study into question, suggesting the drug is neither safe nor effective and could be the cause of thousands of suicides. The study’s original researchers, however, refuse to comment. (The Atlantic)
  • Last week, President Barack Obama used his executive order to establish a ‘Nudge Unit’ aimed at helping the government design better programs based on how real humans think and behave. Nudge Co-Author Cass Sunstein calls it the greatest accomplishment of the president’s second term. (New York Times)
  • Psychologist Alison Gopnik shares her incredibly personal “search for the Eastern roots of the Western Enlightenment.” As she looks for the philosophical origins of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature she discovers how Buddhism, via Catholic missionaries, may have made its way into one of the foundational works of Western philosophy. (The Atlantic)
  • Savant Stephen Wiltshire can draw the New York City skyline from memory, while Kim Peek, the inspiration for Rain Main, could remember thousands of books word-for-word. In the latest installment of The Psychology Podcast—”Spectacular Ability in a Sea of Disability”—Scott Barry Kaufman explores the psychology of savantism in a conversation with Dr. Darold Treffert. (The Psychology Podcast)
  • How much time do you lose by having your phone buzz every time you get an email, a text, a tweet? Shankar Vedantam looks at new research studying the cost of interruptions. (NPR)
  • Why do our environments affect how much we favor short-term rewards over long-term gains? New research looking at hunter-gatherers and farmers in the Congo sheds new light on how markets shape our expectations. (PLOSone)
  • Many high-achieving students from low-income communities fail to apply to top universities because they assume they can’t afford it. To overcome this problem, called undermatching, the University of Michigan just launched a streamlined application and scholarship initiative for 1,000 students across its state. (University of Michigan)
  • Why are less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs women? Francesca Gino and her colleagues at Harvard Business School suggest that a difference in life priorities between women and men plays an important role in the gender-gap observed in high-level positions. They write, “One reason women may not assume high-level positions in organizations is that they believe, unlike men, that doing so would require them to compromise other important life goals.” (Harvard Business Review)


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