Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Remember when having a job meant that you pretty much lived with your co-workers 8 or 9 hours a day? Not only did you see them at their workspaces, you had a chance to understand them on a personal level, you saw how they organized their space, who came by to chat with them, what emotions they expressed, how often they went for breaks and how they took their caffeine.

Aside from feeding the voyeur in us all, this exposure and insight into each other’s lives played a huge role in our ability to work together productively. The fact that…


People-watching for experts

Dr. Galen Buckwalter and Kate Nolan, Ph.D. Candidate

Have you ever sat in a park, mall or cafe and watched the world go by? Ever found yourself so intrigued by watching people on the subway you forgot to get off? Have you ever watched reality TV because “it was on, and you couldn’t help but hear the yelling?”

There’s a reason people-watching connects so deeply with us and is a part of life around the world: seeing the differences in how we behave, move, communicate and interact with our environment tells a story about ourselves and how we all fit…


People-watching for experts

Dr. Galen Buckwalter and Kate Nolan, Ph.D. Candidate

Have you ever sat in a park, mall or cafe and watched the world go by? Ever found yourself so intrigued by watching people on the subway you forgot to get off? Have you ever watched reality TV because “it was on, and you couldn’t help but hear the yelling?”

There’s a reason people-watching connects so deeply with us and is a part of life around the world: seeing the differences in how we behave, move, communicate and interact with our environment tells a story about ourselves and how we all fit…


Make a Wish

Hopelessness is sweeping our country, shortening and ruining lives and taking an emotional toll on millions of Americans.

In part 1, I examined hopelessness and discussed the experience of my parents, Richard and Sara, as they grew up during The Great Depression — a time when Acute Financial Stress was the norm. Now, we fast forward from the ’30s to today to evaluate how much we have and haven’t changed in terms of the financial stress we face, the hopelessness it can cause and how effectively we manage it.

And from what I’ve seen, it’s scary as hell.

From 1999 to 2013, life spans are shortening, not increasing, and it’s taken all manner of scientists by complete surprise…


Sara and Richard Buckwalter, January 2, 1945

A historical look at financial PTSD and the hopelessness it has caused, and is causing, in people’s lives.

The Great Depression and Financial PTSD

One of my most rewarding and enjoyable professional experiences has been during the ten or so years when I would make the three-times yearly trek to DC for a day or two of grant proposal review for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The way grants are reviewed by the NIH is a throwback to old school scholasticism like one rarely sees anymore, even in the hallowed halls of academe.

At the start of the proposal review process, three primary reviewers give their scores and then review the proposal and make an argument for…


On Trusting Machines

Dr. David Herman and Dr. J. Galen Buckwalter

As data scientists analyzing big data using machine learning becomes increasingly commonplace in our daily lives, it’s incumbent on us to define what guides our decisions. Along the entire data processing chain, from collection to management to analytics to interpretation, we have a responsibility to define and share our goals and findings with those from whom we collect and analyze information.

The issue here is not solely about what guides our decisions as to what data to capture, but also, critically, decisions about what we do with data once we have captured…


Some of us know that feeling so well we seek it out — the base-jumpers, the bull-riders, the NYC bicycle messengers. Others of us hate it but tackle experiences, at times bolstered by prescriptions or otherwise medicated, like cross-country air travel, removing a mouse from a child’s bedroom or climbing a ladder to clean out a gutter in the middle of the rainstorm, anyway.

Then there are those of us who simply can’t do it. We can’t move in the presence of a snake, soil ourselves in minor car crashes (yes, it does happen) or are relieved of all combat…


The last time I wrote about financial stress and wellness, I emphasized thee need to understand our individual differences as the first step toward better understanding how to deal with our finances.

In reality, a majority of us don’t have the natural cognitive and organizational styles of those who excel at the kind of thinking that financial planning requires. To this point, I offer an anecdotal observation along these lines: My company, Payoff, has spent some time in the past year working with those in the financial industries. …


What Debt is Really Doing To Us

The Personal Implications of Financial Stress

People facing stressful financial circumstances are everywhere around us. While the US economy has rebounded from the recession of 2008, many new jobs are not paying enough to be able to live comfortably, wages are stagnant and though unemployment has returned to around 5%, many jobs offer no sense of security whatsoever. Personal debt is at record levels and there is a nagging perception across America that things are not going to improve.

While these statistics are deeply concerning, they only describe the conditions that seem very likely to adversely affect millions of people.

Galen Buckwalter, PhD

Algorithmic personality assessment and personalization. Inventor of the "Love" patent. CEO of psyML and contributor to Digital Humanity.

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