Below are articles and other resources I came across through my work as a program evaluator, professor, and psychologist. The digests I share mostly relate to evaluation, psychology, health, and education, and include a quote or two.

MENTAL HEALTH
Exercise as a Treatment for Depression (Rhonda Patrick)
“…the feel-good effects of exercise may be one of the most powerful strategies available to improve a person’s mental health, whether they’re suffering from a mild case of mental funk or dealing with anxiety or major depressive symptoms.” Rhonda provides an overview (text and video) of the research that supports the use of exercise as an additional tool for preventing and managing depression.

RESEARCH/ EVALUATION
Interpreting Cohen’s d effect size: an interactive visualization (Kristoffer Magnusson)
Have you ever seen Cohen’s d used in a report and not quite understood it? This awesome interactive webpage provides some alternative, plain language interpretations for Cohen’s d, which is often used in the behavioral sciences to indicate the magnitude of the difference between pretest/posttest scores or treatment/comparison groups. My favorite is the straightforward Cohen’s U3- check out the interactive part that helps explain this. Also, a paper by Hanel and Mehler (2019) found that Cohen’s U3 was reported as most informative, compared with other methods, by research participants reviewing results of a fictitious study (Thanks to Faith Shin for sharing these).

HEALTH
Vaping May Harm Your Blood Flow—Even Without Nicotine (Wired)
E-cigarette use among high school aged adolescents is at an epidemic level and is a major public health concern in the US. We know that nicotine has a harmful impact on the developing brain and scientists have been concerned about the impact of compounds (such as irritant acetals and metals) released released by e-cigarettes when used. This Wired post cites a study by the University of Pennsylvania indicating that there may be an impact on vascular functioning even without the presence of nicotine.  Another paper from the research group, not mentioned by Wired, concluded that e-cigarette inhalation has the potential to drive the onset of vascular pathologies. Further studies are needed with larger sample sizes but public policy and the FDA need to take action that is informed by these and other findings now.

BOOK
Super Thinking: the Big Book of Mental Models (Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann)
This book provides a fantastic and thorough listing (organized by topic) of mental models, or “recurring concepts that help us explain, predict, or approach” what we often encounter in the world. For example, Campbell’s Law, by social scientist Donald Campbell, is an example that we often encounter in education and the behavioral sciences- “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social pressures it is intended to monitor.” Think high-stakes testing, for instance.

“Your fears are a prison that confine you within a limited range of actions.” – Robert Greene

Enjoy!

James