Mind Matters

Messing with the Unconscious

Michael Corballis Nov 15, 2018

It appears that there is something of a panic, especially in our universities, over the possibility of unconscious biases, especially against minority groups. This has led to workshops and publicity material designed help us recognise our biases and correct them. Much of the impetus for this has been driven by a psychological test known as the implicit association test (IAT). Read More

Pinker and Pinker

Michael Corballis Oct 16, 2018

Steven Pinker is an optimist. In his two recent books, he paints an increasingly rosy picture of human civilization. In The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011), he shows how human violence has declined over the centuries. In Enlightenment Now (2018), he tells us that, besides becoming less violent, we live longer, and are wealthier, heathier, happier, safer, and more … Read More

Rape: Through a glass darkly

Michael Corballis May 11, 2018

The following is a summary notice of a talk to be given to an academic audience (the author and location shall be nameless): "In this paper I seek to uncover law’s ontological force as it reveals itself in the rape trial. It is common for survivors of sexual violence to refer to their interaction with the criminal justice system as … Read More

Who’s afraid of Noam Chomsky?

Michael Corballis Feb 26, 2018

Me. But let’s press on regardless. Noam Chomsky is a polarising figure in modern intellectual life. Best known in popular discourse for his radical criticism of US foreign policy, he has written countless best-selling book on this and related political topics. It is as a philosopher and linguist, though, that he is likely to be best remembered intellectually, … Read More


Science woes

Michael Corballis Dec 18, 2017

The following is a slightly amended extract from an address I gave to the Science Graduation ceremony at the University of Otago, on 16 December, 2017: I think science is in some trouble these days. Many still see it as inaccessible and remote, and at the same time immoral and dangerous. Even our own Ernest Rutherford is wrongly blamed for … Read More

Stuck in Traffic

Michael Corballis Jul 25, 2017

I am stuck in traffic somewhere in the grey western suburbs of Auckland, listening on radio to a discussion of being stuck in traffic in Auckland. It’s much better in Dunedin, they say. There you can get to any destination within minutes. The radio chatters on. I learn a bit about disposable shopping bags, and the problem of … Read More

Me first

Michael Corballis Jan 09, 2017

“Me and my husband,” began the Queen in her Christmas message. Well of course she didn’t. For a start, she always modestly places herself second: “My husband and I …” But had she relegated Philip to his proper station, she would surely have said “I and my husband …” Or if she had insisted on the royal “we,” it would … Read More


There are several myths about twins, but mostly they’re just like the rest of us

Michael Corballis Aug 18, 2016

What’s special about twins? I was recently asked to comment on a video clip of identical twin girls, who seemed to be thinking in parallel. They finished each other’s sentence, and sometimes seemed to gives the same simultaneous answers to questions, as though they communicated through telepathy. The clip was widely shown on television. Actually, it is not so unusual; … Read More