Friday, 2 July 2010

Bloggers behind the blogs: Wray Herbert

This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with some of the world's leading psychology and neuroscience bloggers.

Last up, Wray Herbert of We're Only HumanFull Frontal Psychology and the Huffington Post.

How did you become a psychology/neuroscience blogger?

I've been writing about psychology and brain science for more than 30 years, so in a way blogging was merely switching the technology used for production and distribution. I still do traditional science journalism, but now I post it electronically. I actually began blogging in 2006, when I created the 'We're Only Human' blog as part of my new job as publicity director for the Association for Psychological Science. I still do old-school PR-press releases on Eurekalert etc - but it seemed to me at the time that blogging might be another valuable tool for promoting psychological science. I've since added the 'Full Frontal Psychology' blog at True/Slant, and my blogging for The Huffington Post.

What's your blog's mission?

To improve the public understanding of psychological science. I strive to show readers how psychological research connects to their lives, and also to take them inside the labs to see the ingenious ways in which human behavior can be studied.

Are you also on Twitter?

Yes (@wrayherbert), and Facebook. I use both to extend the reach of We're Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology.

How does your blogging affect your day job?

Blogging is my day job. I'm one of the lucky few who is actually paid a salary to blog - although I do other things as well.

What advice do you have for any budding psychology bloggers out there?

The psychology/neuro blogging field is getting fairly crowded, but there also seems to be an insatiable appetite for this stuff. I would pick a narrower niche. For example, I am hoping to start another called 'They're Just Kids,' which will focus on the science of child development and parenting. I am also starting one that spins off from my new book On Second Thought (forthcoming from Crown), which is a popularization of heuristics and biases research, broadly construed. The key to successful blogging is to find a host that will deliver readers: My blog appeared for years in Newsweek.com, and still runs in the print magazine Scientific American Mind and The Huffington Post. Blogging doesn't work on the 'if you build it they will come' principle.

What blogs do you read?

Not many really, just for lack of time. I like David DiSalvo's Brainspin on True/Slant and David Dobbs' Neuron Culture. I check out Mind Hacks when I have time, and Laura's Blog (by psychologist Laura Freberg of Cal Poly).

What books or other traditional media are your reading at the moment?

Dan Ariely's new book, The Upside of Irrationality. Ellen Langer's Counterclockwise. I still get the New York Times and the Washington Post delivered to my door. For fun I'm reading (and immensely enjoying) Stieg Larsson's The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.

What blog posts of yours are you most proud of and why?

None in particular, but I like the fact that my book On Second Thought emerged naturally from a few years of regular blogging on cognitive biases. It's a nice interplay of old and new media, don't you think?

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