Dacher Keltner

Truth and Power

In a letter to an Anglican bishop in the late 19th century, English Catholic Baron John Dalberg-Acton would drop what would become one of the most popular aphorisms about the nature of man: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” For a hundred some years post-Acton, the bulk of scientific research supported this ubiquitous idea, with countless studies revealing that when humans are handed power, they become more self-serving and ruthless.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Horns, Haloes, and Heroism: The Science of Doing the Right Thing

Yesenia Guitron knew something was wrong at the bank branch where she worked. She was getting complaints from customers—many from Mexico and undocumented—that they were being charged for accounts they had never opened and were receiving debit cards they had never requested. Guitron, a personal banker at a local Wells Fargo in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena, began to realize that some of her colleagues, under intense pressure to open accounts, were doing so without customers’ knowledge.

From the Spring 2017 Virtue and Vice issue of California.

From Shock-and-Awe to Fun-and-Awe: Cal Vets Discover the Healing Waters of Rx Nature

Rat summed it all up to Mole in the The Wind in the Willows:

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it….

Happiness Isn’t Just a Warm Puppy—UC Berkeley is First to Make it an Online Course

Happiness: So fervently sought, so elusive. But just what the hell is it? Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz expressed his take in 1962 with his book Happiness is a Warm Puppy. That declaration gained a lot of pop (and pup) cultural traction, but it hardly told the whole story. Turns out the nitty-gritty of happiness isn’t quite so simple.

Facebook’s “Compassion Team”—Academics Try to Convince a Billion Users to Play Nice

Imagine a gentler Internet. Imagine a world wide web where comment sections aren’t the lowest common denominator rhetorical melees we know them to be but forums for reasoned debate and thoughtful discussion. Imagine your life online in which social media sites serve as a breeding grounds for empathy, introspection, and compassion, rather than for bullying, smut, and smarm.

Now imagine a pig with wings.

Science Roundup for May 1, 2013

Today in newslets: dorm room physics debates, smiley faces and is the dismal science insufficiently dismal?

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