The dynamics of violent protests (or how to start a violent protest)

Here we will examine the common processes that lead to violent processes across contexts and situations. Notice how it takes only one leader and a few followers, to get the many buffalo to attack the lions that are eating their friend. The same goes for human protests and movements.

In one of the most famous videos of wild life battles of all time (the Battle at Kruger; 25 million views), you can clearly see the group dynamic of leader and herd at play. Once the lead lion moves, they all do.

Once they get the buffalo out of the water, then you can see the lead buffalo lead the others and then see him go back against the lions. Once the others are there, the original leader steps back, and allows the other to take to initiative.

Soon enough, the whole group of normally timid buffalo are chasing the small group of lions. Then notice the young male at the end, standing up to them like he is tough. :p

This is the same basic process as how human movements and revolutions are made. We follow each other, we set the example for each other.

Having courage allows others to have courage, and makes it more likely for them to engage in their own positive action.

You can see similar developments, where one individual stands up and leads, then other people step up and start to protest themselves. You can also hear a sociologist talking about it  in a different way though. 😦

Above you see the classic TED example of how to start a dance movement.

Watch in your own life, when the group gets violent, or extreme in any matter (e.g., opinion); one person goes a bit, stops, and sort of pull the others, until someone else goes farther, pulling farther. These are general principles which apply in all situations. 

How do we fix it?

You lead or be a first follower (depending on the direction you want to go). you ARE an example for others, and it is important you lead in the right ways (whatever that means for you). If you don’t believe that the buffalo should have attacked, you must lead the other way. If you feel they should, then be that first buffalo. It does involve *some* danger, but maybe it is worth it?

One thing I am looking for is examples of protests that turned violent, on video. Some real examples of these principles in action. I had difficulty finding a great example for humans as they are so chopped up by the news corps.

If you have a great example of a protest turning violent (video or description!) please leave it below! 😀

Word importance, length, and Male/ Female, Man/ Woman, Son/Daughter pronouns

So, basically, pronouns for individual males are shorter than forwikipedia females.

Male is shorter than female.

He is shorter than She.

Man is shorter than Woman.

Guy is shorter than Girl.

Interestingly, this is not the case when it comes to family relations where female names are actually shorter than the male counterparts (like wife and husband, brother and sister, aunt and uncle, or niece and nephew as well). It’s not perfect thought grandpa and grandma are equal.

The question is: why this is the case?

It has been suggested that the most useful terms are commonly shorter.. but it leaves unclear whether this is intentional or accidental. It would be weird if there was some sort of meeting where the men of the world decided that this should be the way it is done.

Would females, and males, do better to rename the genders with neutral, equally long, pronouns?

It seems like a good opportunity to redefine what it means to be male and female. Should they sound feminine and masculine, or no? On the one hand, there ARE differences between males and females and that is legitimate and ok and even good (we can’t all be as risky as men, but as also can’t all be as moderate as women). On the other hand, it reinforces those differences that are there and that could be detrimental to change. Perhaps it is best to create completely new pronouns?

There have been pushes to use zir and ze as gender neutral pronouns, but it seems good for males to have their own and for females to have their own as well. Perhaps hap and hep? Quahm and Quoum? Ying and Yang?

I don’t know what the new words should be (let’s discuss it in the comments), but it seems that everyone could benefit from switching things up..

Females could get rid of the aspects of being female that they don’t like, and males can as well (because there are downsides of being a male as well). Importantly, if there were such things as gender neutral pronouns, it could be used in all contracts, and it could be ensured that they, the zir (the human) gets paid the same.

Changing the words would also serve as a direct way for individuals to pick up feminist/ equalist ideals and display their beliefs through the use of these new, more modern, more equal, pronouns. It is a solid, decisive step forward, a break from the tradition.

There is no reason a concentrated effort could not change the way we use a word, look at Frindle! 😀

What do you think the new terms should be? Or do you think we even need new terms? Let us know below. 😀

The aggressive male stereotype

The other day I saw a female colleague of mine with a black eye and the first thing I thought was that her boyfriend probably hit her. I don’t think that is very good, considering that I didn’t even know if she had a boyfriend.

woman 2

#Stupidity provokes me

What does it say about the stereotypes teh culture has of both males and females? Females are unlikely to get hurt any other way than their male partner? Males are so violent as to be the most likely source of a black eye for a female..

The main question: Is there a difference between seeing an injured female  and hearing that a car has been stolen and automatically thinking it was probably a black person? Not much difference it seems to me.

Maybe males are the leading cause of female black eyes (?), and maybe black people are the leading cause of car theft (?), but does that make it ok to assume? I’m not sure, what do you think? It is learning on one hand, but also prejudice on the other.

Whether you believe the stereotype is os, I know that if someone assumed that my dad hit my mom, I would want to hit them. My dad is awesome, and I am sure most of your dads are as well.

What does it mean when people assume that males (our dads) are aggressive, even if they don’t express it out loud? Social Psychology has shown that even unconscious stereotypes can lead to detrimental differences in behavior toward the stereotyped group. What does it mean if males, half of the population (that half generally considered to be in power) are being stereotyped?

These sorts of negative stereotypes (e.g., males are too aggressive, females are too passive) are exactly the types of things we need to end if the sexes are to be truly equal.

The movement that is underway is (or should be) about alleviatingboth genders from the harmful stereotypes that surround them. This should be the goal if we want to work

Why fixing science is important

Science is a mess right now, especially Psychology. There has been a LOT of talk about what the biggest problems are and how to solve them. What they need are people actually working and sacrificing for the cause.

Thus, below I outline three of my main reasons that I think Fixing science is an important thing to do. 

The first is that, in my opinion, some of the most impactful work we can do is to help scientists do better, more efficient science.  Research is interesting to me in the first place because I can help everyone at once, rather than helping more individually (like a doctor or social worker). If we can help scientists do 1% better science, then we are indirectly helping everyone who their science helps. That is a MASSIVE impact, and that is what I want to do: impactful work.

Second, Science is (mostly) taxpayer funded, and we (as an individual and community) have a responsibility to use that money the best way we can. It is a sacrifice that every individual (e.g., civilian) in the community makes to enable professors and researchers to do their work, and it is only right that we repay them as best we can. This involves not publishing studies that are were not actually run and avoiding running studies that do not add much. Obviously there will be some waste, we are humans, but to allow more inefficency than is minimally possible is a problem in my opinion.

Finally, we are, individually and as a group, an example for the rest of the world. If I can influence another person (just by being me!) to do better science, than it is worth the extra effort that I will need to put in to do better science. More generally, if Scientists can more efficiently use taxpayer funds, we can serve as a model of best practices for other human endeavors (e.g., education, infrastructure, medicine), which will probably lead to a better society in general and increased funding for our own projects.


 What about you? what are your main reasons for helping to fix science science? Or what do you believe are good reasons for helping to fix science? 

What is the real problem science faces?

The real problem for scientific communication and society more generally is the desire for success and power (or the desire to avoid failure) which prods human researchers to put their own interests above the interests of the group (Hardin, 1968; Skinner, 1972; Fehr and Fischbacher, 2003; Elliot, 2006; Thaler and Sunstein, 2008). Humans are selfish and scientists and humans.

The publishing system is only the obstacle this drive must overcome. The dilemma is that in order to advance, or at least keep, our careers, we must publish in high impact journals. Humans are utility seekers and work to figure out ways to get ahead (Bentham and Mill, 2004).

Those who bent the rules had better outcomes, becoming more well known, earning better funding, and attracting more students. These *professors* taught their students that there were the best things to do in order to be successful, and the practices became normalized over generations and resulted in widespread “questionable research practices” (QRPs; John et al., 2012). This is EXACTLY what we would expect in the natural world (e.g., evolution) and lends more evidence that we should be utilizing science in solving these problems (Darwin, 1859; Skinner, 1972).

How science is done

This motivation to get ahead is (probably) not a bad thing; it is what drives Science and human progress in the first place. The problem is an ineffective reward system which makes doing the prosocial action (e.g., no QRPs, open data, no file drawer, open methods) bad for the individual because it is less efficiently achieves high impact work and thus promotion.

The goal here is to recast the system, the “game” the individual plays, such that individual success is not achieved at the expense of the group (Skinner and Hayes, 1976; Thaler and Sunstein, 2008).

How we intend to recast the system can be seen throughout the other posts and in the paper that these ideas (and some of the words) are originally pulled from.

More generally, the goal of the paper and the series of posts is to utilize the scientific literature which we have spent so much time and money building to the problems that we face and the solutions that we propose and attempt to implement. 

What do you think will be the best way forward? You can see why this is important, if we can help scientists do science better, they can help everyone do everything better. 🙂

On fixing science (overall).

Science is a mess right now, especially Psychology (supposedly). This will be (is?) a collection of articles I’ve written basically expanding the ideas that are presented in this article.



The article which these articles expand upon is hosted at the link above (cant insert it here =/ ).


The key is that we have built a massive scientific literature and we are applying none of it to ourselves. Science and Psychology have a TON to add to the debate and solutions that are being designed. Probably the biggest point is that humans are utility seekers and will do whatever is best for them.

This statement has huge implications (in my opinion) for how we understand and approach the problems we face and potential solutions to those problems . For instance, we know that deterrence doesn’t really work (instead only making better cheaters; prohibition, war on terror), yet most of the proposed solutions rely on punishment to achieve their goals.

We also know that individuals will not engage with a product if they do not think it will provide the utility that it costs to obtain that utility. Unfortunately, the open science field is flooded with hundreds of tools, each acting as a piece in the puzzle, with even dozens competing to be that single piece. While this is good, I suppose, from a business standpoint, it divides effort and the market overall, limiting implementation.

In business competition is ok, in Science, we should be beyond it. Open science tools need to work together in order to increase the utility of engaging while also reducing the risk of engaging.

Scientists are humans, and are susceptible to all the things we design for other groups. Let us Nudge (not shove or pull!) ourselves to better publishing practices.


No matter what will happen, a centralized, agreed upon plan that has the backing of the community will be most likely to succeed.  What do you think *should be* the next steps for science? Let us know in the comments!


Who is this Psycholar?

Just a student, on his way to influencing this world for the better. 

Thoughts, hopefully interesting ones, that is what I can offer. Sometimes I talk about things that are upsetting for some, but this is only so the topics needn’t be upsetting in the future.

I get paid to do research in Psychology, my latest work has been to help scientists do their work better, in order to enable them to help the world better.

More generally, I examine meaning, how we make sense of the world, and how this effects our lives. It is amazing how much depends simply on the way that we see and experience the world. Some ideas make people happier, some ideas make people less happy. Some ideas make people have better jobs and some ideas make people more aggressive. Here we recognize this ability for ideas to change our lives and we consciously select our opinions in order to maximize our desired outcomes (whatever they may be).

The thing is that we are examples for others, and we actually make the world more like you, simply by being us. This is an important point because it brings a responsibility upon us to be as great as we can be (however we define that), in order to help other people be great. After all, if your way of living is good enough for you, why should it not be for them? If they believe you are successful or cool, they will follow you (for better or worse).

This is a burden and I suggest that the best way to deal with that burden is the examined life. To think critically and to encourage others to think critically. To be the change we wish to see in the world. To let the light shine. To stand up for what we believe in. To demonstrate that failure does not have to be embarrassing, but rather evidence that one is expanding, trying new things, and getting better.

I hope that you will join me on this quest.