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Sam McNerney

Science writer

I graduated from Hamilton College with a degree in Philosophy. Now I write about philosophy (mostly epistemology) and psychology (mostly decision making and well-being) at Scientific American and Big Think. My personal blog is @SamMcNerney.

The Virtues of a Bad Review

What happens when you ban a book? Sales increase. The modern maxim that any press is good press is true. If you really want people to read a book, tell […]

A Nauseating Corner of Psychology: Disgust

Swamped this week. Here’s a post originally published on my personal blog to fill the void.  Like many features of the human condition, the first psychological account of disgust comes […]

Why Your Opinion About Music Can Be Wrong

In 1975, rock legend Lou Reed released an album entitled Metal Machine Music. The album consists of no songs, no lyrics and is entirely devoid of melody and rhythm. Instead, […]

Why We’re Suckers for Sorrow

Some research proposes that sorrow in fiction might be a form of psychological relief. A more fruitful explanation is that important virtues, values and morals that elicit uplifting emotions accompany sad moments in fiction. 

Louis C.K. The Writer

What hasn’t been said about Louis C.K.? The New York Times called him a “comedic Quentin Tarantino.” Writing for the Los Angeles Book Review Adam Wilson said he was “television’s […]

The Moral Worldview of Babies

“[T]he Author of Nature has determin’d us to receive… a Moral Sense, todirect our Actions, and to give us still nobler Pleasures.” That appeal was made in 1725 by Scottish philosopher […]

Biology Over Art: What Modernism Misses

Sometime in 1952, the American experimental musician John Cage put the finishing touches on a composition that challenged the definition of music. It was a three-part movement written for any […]