Unfinished tasks (and miles to grow (sic.) before I sleep) 

I was amused to discover today that I have 125 drafts of unfinished blog pieces! Now that I am using Mike Colin Nelson’s PRINT MY BLOG PLUGIN, I am motivated to revisit all my earlier blogs (and drafts) and attempt both rewrite, winnow, and pull together earlier writings that still might prove of value. I may have to reach out to former student assistants to help me with this project. Fortunately I have already heard from one volunteer!

 In November 2009 I wrote this draft about the Zeigarnik effect:

“I was first introduced to the Zeigarnik effect (people typically recalling interrupted tasks better than their recalling completed ones) by my first Oberlin College Introductory Psychology professor, Celeste McCollough. My participation in her visual perception studies of the “McCollough effect” formally introduced me to the science of psychology. I remember being both amused and fascinated by Professor McCollough’s sharing an anecdote where she intentionally used the Zeigarnik phenomenon as a motivator for her to resume working on manuscripts that she was writing for publication. I find it curious how a phenomenon such as the Zeigarnik effect can be discovered, experimentally investigated, popularized, misrepresented, forgotten, and rediscovered.”

I was able to use that anecdote in a review I completed of Bob Cialdini’s marvelous  book Pre-suasion. Equally important, I was able to use that Zeigarnik tension to motivate me to complete the revisions suggested by my editor and to successfully have the review accepted for publication thanks to my research assistant Lizzie H.’s able  last minute editorial assistance.

One common theme among my unfinished work is the tensions I feel between rigorous, experimental psychological science and well-intentioned attempts to popularize psychological findings. How can one avoid avoiding overstatement and misrepresentation?  Why is there such a disconnect between what is popularized (or advertised) and what empirical evidence actually shows? Across the past fifty years I’ve seen oversimplification and misrepresentation of research investigating learning styles, mindfulness, subliminal perception, and most recently brain fitness training.

I thought there might be value in my writing a few short pieces about “How to get the most out of Curious David Emeritus.” Here is a screencast (when I was using the Mojave Operating System) of what I thought would be a useful beginner’s guide to how to get the most out of my blog pieces.

Here is a reminder of how to use the PRINT MY BLOG buttons on the top of the screen if you’d like to have a pdf copy with live links or an ebook copy.