Tania Lombrozo

March 20 is the International Day of Happiness, the result of a UN resolution adopted in 2012 that identifies the pursuit of happiness as "a fundamental human goal" and promotes a more holistic approach to public policy and economic growth — one that recognizes happiness and wellbeing as important pieces of sustainable and equitable development.

Young kids are known for exploration and explanation; they poke and they prod, they open and push, they ask: "Why? Why? Why?"

With the passage of time, the cool blues of winter give way to the festive pastels of spring; the vibrant colors of summer presage the warm, leafy palette of fall.

Alongside these changes in nature come changes in fashion and cosmetics; people dress for the season not only to keep warm or cool, but to match the spirit of the moment.

But do these seasonal variations in our color experiences and color choices also affect our color preferences? Is lavender better liked in spring, and burnt umber better liked in fall?

This Sunday, Feb. 12, is Darwin Day, an international day of celebration commemorating the birth of Charles Darwin and his contributions to science.

It's also an excuse for science- and evolution-themed events around the globe, and for all of us to take a moment to appreciate the value of science and the wonders of the natural world.

In a post published last week, Adam Frank argued for the importance of public facts, and of science as a method for ascertaining them.

He emphasized the role of agreement in establishing public facts, and verifiable evidence as the crucial ingredient that makes agreement possible.

Do you think you're more honest than the average person? More principled? More fair?

If so, you're not alone. Studies consistently find that people think they're morally superior to others: more honest, principled and fair. This is hardly an isolated belief — people also think they're better than average when it comes to competence, intelligence and a host of other positive characteristics.

On Jan. 9, 2007, 10 years ago today, Steve Jobs formally announced Apple's "revolutionary mobile phone" — a device that combined the functionality of an iPod, phone and Internet communication into a single unit, navigated by touch.

It was a huge milestone in the development of smartphones, which are now owned by a majority of American adults and are increasingly common across the globe.

The second day of January is National Science Fiction Day, an unofficial holiday that corresponds with the official birthdate of Isaac Asimov, the enormously influential and prolific scientist and writer of science fiction.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a panel discussion about motherhood in academia.

Along with other female professors with children, I answered questions from the audience, most of whom were female Ph.D. students thinking about whether and when to have children — and whether academia was the right choice for them.

One of the questions — posed with greater eloquence and context — was essentially this: Is it possible to be a good academic and also a good mother?

As humans, we don't just belong to a community of bodies. To borrow a lovely phrase from developmental psychologist Katherine Nelson, we also belong to a "community of minds."

Debunked conspiracy theories have been making the rounds on social media lately, from the thoroughly unsupported claim that millions of people voted illegally in California to false assertions about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations.

When it comes to assessing the possible risks and benefits of science and technology, who is the relevant authority?

University scientists? Industry scientists? Religious organizations?

On Nov. 8, the World Meteorological Organization published a press release summarizing the findings from a report on global climate from 2011-2015.

In an influential book of ethics first published in 1981, the philosopher Peter Singer offers a striking image of moral progress over the course of human history: an expanding circle of moral concern, beginning with our own family or tribe, and expanding over time to include larger groups, nations, families of nations, all humans and perhaps even nonhuman animals.

Millions of Americans will cast a vote for the next president of the United States on Nov. 8 — Election Day — and for countless other offices and propositions.

In case you need the extra encouragement, here are three (more) reasons to vote, courtesy of the social sciences:

Halloween plays on our fears and our fantasies.

We craft haunted houses and scary decorations to evoke particular emotions. We choose our costumes to reflect something about the kinds of people we are or want to be — edgy, sexy, funny, clever. For children, Halloween is an experiment in delayed gratification and negotiation — which candies to eat now, which to trade, which to save. It's no surprise, then, that Halloween might reveal interesting features of human psychology.

But you might be surprised by just what we can learn.

With the presidential election days away — and media attention at full force — let's take a moment to consider some random facts that are not about the election:

1. Seahorses are nearly unique in the animal kingdom in that males carry the fertilized eggs after breeding and eventually "give birth." The number of offspring can reach thousands.

With the advent of Fall, my 2-year-old has been eager to comment on the fading light as we drive home on weeknights.

"It getting dark?" she asks.

And I answer: "Yes, the sun is going down." Only it isn't. Not really. The earth is rotating on its axis, our perch on its surface moving away from the sun.

Since 2011, the American Pediatric Association has advised parents of children under age 2 to avoid screen time for their infants, noting the accumulating evidence of potential risks and the lack of evidence for educational or developmental benefits.

The first of three debates between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will take place Monday night.

The debates, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, have the stated mission of offering "the best possible information to viewers and listeners" in the lead-up to the general election.

New research suggests that even college students who overwhelmingly report that they accept interracial relationships show greater activity in the insula — a brain region associated with disgust — when presented with images of black-white interracial couples than when presented with images of same-race couples.

This election season, voters should be evaluating the presidential candidates' attitudes toward science.

ScienceDebate.org proposes a set of 20 science and science policy questions for all candidates, suggesting that "science impacts voters at least as much as the economic policy, foreign policy, and faith and values candidates share on the campaign trail."

Consider two people: Amanda and Bethany. They both have too much to drink at a dinner party and they both drive home while under the influence of alcohol.

Amanda drives through an intersection just as a pedestrian darts across the street. She doesn't respond quickly enough and she hits the pedestrian, who dies shortly after. Bethany would have done exactly the same in Amanda's situation. But on Bethany's drive home, no pedestrians happen to be in her path.

Many parents who grew up playing outdoors with friends, walking alone to the park or to school, and enjoying other moments of independent play are now raising children in a world with very different norms.

In the United States today, leaving children unsupervised is grounds for moral outrage and can lead to criminal charges.

What's changed?

Last November, a provocative result made the rounds on social media and assorted blogs: A paper with data from over 1,000 participants across six countries reported that children from Christian and Muslim households behaved less altruistically than their peers from non-religious homes.

But a new analysis of the same data set calls this conclusion into question.

The election season is a time of abundance for those who love following politics — each datum, debate or debacle offers new fodder for discussion and commentary. But for those who aren't so keen on politics, a myopic focus on policy and polls can be tiresome.

What accounts for this variation across individuals, from the politically engrossed to the largely apathetic?

Democrat: "Those arguments by Republicans are preposterous!"

Republican: "Those arguments by Democrats are absurd!"

Sound familiar?

There are plenty of reasons why political disputes can be divisive, and a host of psychological mechanisms that contribute to a preference for one's own views.

Thomas Kuhn, the well-known physicist, philosopher and historian of science, was born 94 years ago today. He went on to become an important and broad-ranging thinker, and one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century.

Every semester, college instructors face a choice: whether to restrict the use of laptops and other devices in their classrooms or to, instead, let students decide for themselves.

And for classrooms that do allow devices, students face an ongoing set of choices: to take notes electronically or by hand, to check the textbook or the text message, to check Instagram or Twitter.

Most of us love movies but won't have a say in which ones win an Oscar next year. Many of us have opinions about whether Britain should remain in the European Union but didn't get to vote in last week's historic referendum.

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