Author Archives: Laura Akers, Ph.D.

About Laura Akers, Ph.D.

I'm a research psychologist at Oregon Research Institute, and I'm writing a book about meta-narratives, the powerful collective stories we share about who we are and where we're headed. My interests include beliefs and worldviews, ethics, motivation, and relationships, both among humans and between humans and the natural world.

The secret to social change

We all have a lot of ideas about what people should be doing differently. What am I talking about? Well, pretty much everything – every topic of laws and norms and morality that affect other people’s decisions. It could be … Continue reading

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The burden of George R.R. Martin – and what suspense and its resolution mean for us in the real world

I can still picture the display in our local university bookstore, sometime around 1999 – a major new fantasy series, with at least two books in print: A Game of Thrones, and A Clash of Kings. It looked medieval, and … Continue reading

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The story of Dido, Aeneas, a gender-queer Sorceress, and the fate of… England?

This past weekend I had the good fortune to see a most unusual opera. I confess, I’m not actually an opera fan, not in the conventional sense – as of yet I have no interest in Verdi, Puccini, et al. … Continue reading

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The “Nixon-to-China” theory of change

For my friends who’d rather have had Bernie for president… don’t lose hope. Here’s why I think the Biden presidency may be just what we need. In the early 1970s, mainland China was still recovering from the Cultural Revolution, a … Continue reading

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Choosing your battleground: Joe Brewer’s story

Today is my friend and colleague Joe Brewer’s birthday. In honor of Joe’s special day – and tomorrow’s U.S. election – I’m sharing part of my in-progress book’s chapter 11, “Transcending Loss,” where I write about Joe and the importance … Continue reading

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America’s Irony Problem

Irony can be a lot of fun.  And it’s everywhere, from the most scathing sarcasm to the gentle wit of Kermit the Frog. We love to laugh at satire and parody.  The “mockumentary” has become a popular film genre – … Continue reading

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The Axis of Awesomeness

Our collective stories about who we are and where we’re headed are potent elements of our culture, especially during election season, as you may have seen in my recent Scientific American essay and my earlier posts in this blog.  My … Continue reading

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The greatest honor

This week, when I saw that the Nobel Peace Prize had been won by the World Food Program, I confess my first reaction was, “Huh. That’s not as interesting as when an individual wins it,” and I scrolled on to … Continue reading

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The Science of America’s Dueling Political Narratives

I’m delighted to have my work appear in today’s Scientific American.  Please check it out!

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Our enduring debt to the 300 Spartans

Has it been 2,500 years already? It was in August or September of 480 B.C. that King Leonidas of Sparta and his 300 elite soldiers (with some allies) held off more than 100,000 Persian soldiers for three days at Thermopylae, … Continue reading

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