The Echoes of the Mind – Glossary



3-age system: an archeological sequential periodization of human prehistory and early history, comprising the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age.

9/11: the aerial suicide bombing via hijacked commercial airliners by Saudi Arabians on 11 September 2001 of select US targets, including the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City (demolished), the Pentagon (damaged), and the White House (unscathed).

p (3.14159…): the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.


abacus (plural: abaci or abacuses) (aka counting frame): a mechanical calculating tool invented ~2700 bce by the Sumerians. An abacus user is an abacist.

ablation: surgical destruction of brain tissue.

abstraction: a thought stream involving symbolic representations. Compare concept, idea.

achieved status: a social status attained by effort. Contrast ascribed status.

actor-observer bias: the tendency of people to overemphasize the influence of situation in attributing their own behaviors while underemphasizing personality. Contrast fundamental attribution error.

actuality: the world experienced sensorially. Contrast reality.

actuarial science: the study of risk assessment.

Aesop’s Fables: a collection of fables credited to Aesop.

aesthetics (aka esthetics): the branch of philosophy concerned with beauty.

affect (psychology): an emotion.

affect heuristic: decision-making via affect.

affiliation need (aka need for affiliation): the felt personal need for belonging within a social group; based upon work by Henry Murray (1938) and popularized by David McClelland.

Age of Enlightenment (aka Age of Reason): a cultural and intellectual movement in Western Europe during the last half of the 17th century through the 18th century that emphasized reason and individualism. The Scientific Revolution was engendered concomitant with Enlightenment. The reaction to the Age of Reason and industrialization was Romanticism.

aggression: behavior that results in violence.

aizuchi (相槌): the Japanese term for frequent acknowledgement interjections during conversation, indicating that a listener is paying attention and/or understanding the speaker.

ajñāna: the Hindu term for living in pignorance. Contrast jnāna. See ātma jnāna.

aka: “also known as.”

algebra: the branch of mathematics that deals with numeric relations.

algebraic number: a number that is a root of a non-zero polynomial with rational coefficients. All integers, all roots of integers, and all rational numbers are algebraic. Real and complex numbers which are not algebraic are termed transcendental.

algorithm: a step-by-step procedure, often employed for mathematical problems. Compare heuristic.

alienation: a state of mind in which a person’s life is dominated by forces of human invention.

Allāh: the Islamic God.

alphabet: a system of atomic symbols for vowels and consonants, commonly conjoined to represent the sounds of oral communication. Compare syllabary.

altercasting: a feedforward request that another person consider your message from a certain perspective.

altricial: species that are relatively immature and immobile at birth or hatching, and so require parental care. Many mammal species are altricial. Contrast precocial.

altruism: unselfish behavior. Contrast egoism. Compare narcissism.

Alzheimer’s disease: an incurable degenerative disease leading to dementia. Symptoms advance to confusion, irritability, mood swings, trouble with language, and memory loss.

Amish: a Christian sect of strict morality and modesty.

amphiboly: ambiguity arising from uncertainty in grammatical construction.

amygdala (pronounced: uh-mig-duh-luh): a part of the vertebrate brain associated with memory and emotional reactions.

analytic geometry (aka coordinate geometry, Cartesian geometry): geometry using a coordinate system.

analytical psychology (aka Jungian psychology): the Jungian school of psychology, emphasizing the personal quest for wholeness.

analyze: to ascertain and separate an entity (material or abstract) into constituent parts or elements; to determine essential features. Contrast synthesize.

anchoring (psychology) (aka focalism): the cognitive bias of relying too heavily upon initial information to make a judgment or decision. See framing effect.

androgyny: being both feminine and masculine.

anger: overwhelming distress born of frustration.

anguish: excruciating distress over the past.

animal spirits: the life force vitality that differentiates living beings from inorganic matter.

animism: the doctrine that that there is no separation between the physical and spiritual world, and that a vital energetic force is inherent in all of Nature. Compare vitalism.

anomie: emotional discomfort from not feeling part of a group.

anthropic principle: the philosophic musing that the phenomenal universe must be compatible with the conscious life which observes it. The term anthropic principle was coined by Brandon Carter in 1973.

anthropoid: a monkey or ape. Compare hominid.

anthropology: the study of human cultures and societies.

anticipate: to make some preparation for an expectation.

antipode: opposite or contrary.

antipositivism: the idea that people can only be understood via empathic identification and insight from observation. Contrast positivism.

antisocial: someone who socially interacts with hostility.

anxiety: fearful distress.

apartheid (Afrikaans: apartness) (1950–1991): the policy of racial segregation between the ruling white minority and the nonwhite majority by the South African government.

apophenia: the tendency to perceive connections between unrelated phenomena; coined by Klaus Conrad in 1958.

apperception: the mental process of understanding something perceived in light of previous experience.

apprehend: to understand within a certain perspective.

archeology (archaeology): the study of past human activity, especially prehistoric times, primarily through artifacts.

archetype: a prototypic conceptual model.

archetypal psychology: an energyist post-Jungian school of psychology emphasizing positive self-definition, envisioned by James Hillman in the early 1970s, influenced by Jungian archetypes.

Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny. ~ James Hillman

arithmetic: numeric computation; the most elementary branch of mathematics. See algebra.

arthropod: an invertebrate with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arachnids, crustaceans, and insects are arthropods. There are an estimated 6 million arthropod species.

artificial concept: an abstraction distinct from direct experience (albeit often derived from experience). Contrast natural concept.

ascribed status: a social status determined at birth. Contrast achieved status.

asleep (aka sleep): the state of consciousness where the body is in repose. Compare dreaming. Contrast awake.

asocial: not social; someone not much interested in socializing. Compare antisocial.

assumption (aka axiom, postulate) (logic): a statement assumed to be true.

astrology: the study of celestial objects, particularly their movements and relative positions, as a means to divine the future of human and natural events.

ātma jnāna (Hinduism): realization of the true nature of reality, particularly that ātman is identical to brahman.

ātman (Hinduism and Jainism): the true self of an individual, beyond identification with the phenomenal; the essence of an individual. Compare jīva.

atom: the smallest particle of a chemical element, comprising at the simplest a proton and an electron (hydrogen).

atomism: the philosophy that Nature consists of 2 fundamental aspects: atom and void. Atomism developed in both ancient Indian and Greek traditions.

attachment (psychology): desirous affinity. Contrast repulsion.

attention: focused awareness upon a certain object, event, or process, whether perceived or imagined.

attitude: a categorical mental representation for an object, event, or situation; a generalized emotive or cognitive approach to the world. Compare temperament.

attractiveness stereotype: the biased attribution of physical attractiveness to other positive traits, such as social skills and intelligence.

attribution bias (aka attribution error): a systematic bias of value judgments toward people or groups. See ultimate attribution error.

attribution theory: the principle that people make inferences about the personalities of others (termed dispositional attributions) based upon group identification (in-group versus out-group).

audition: sound perception.

autism: an intelligence system developmental disorder characterized by impaired communication and social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behavior.

autokinetic effect (aka autokinesis): a visual illusion of seeing movement in a small, stationary point of light.

autopoiesis: a dynamic of self-sustaining activity; a system capable of maintaining and reproducing itself. A biological cell sustaining itself is an example of autopoiesis. Compare homeostasis.

availability heuristic: the mental shortcut of assigning likelihood based on the ease with which a scenario comes to mind. Compare imaginability heuristic.

awake: the state of consciousness where the body is interactively receptive to stimuli and the mind is ecologically aware. Contrast asleep.

awareness: the quality of being conscious in the present. See consciousness.

Axial Age (8th–3rd century bce): the idea from Karl Jaspers that there was a pivotal age in world history regarding philosophy and religion.

The spiritual foundations were laid simultaneously and independently in China, India, Persia, Palestine, and Greece. ~ Karl Jaspers

axiom: an assumed self-evident truth requiring no proof. Compare postulate.

Ayurveda: a system of Hindu traditional health care.


Babylonia: an ancient civilization in central-southern Mesopotamia, centered in the lower Euphrates valley; beginning as a small provincial town in the 24th century bce, greatly expanding during the reign of Hammurabi in the 1st half of the 18th century bce, declining and reverting to a small kingdom for several centuries thereafter. In 539 bce, the legendary Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.

bacteria: a prolific domain of single-celled prokaryotes.

Baldwin effect: the effect of learning on evolution, discovered by Douglas Spalding in 1873; rediscovered and proposed by James Mark Baldwin in 1896; called the Baldwin effect by George Simpson in 1953.

base (mathematics) (aka radix): a number that is the base of a number system. The binary system is base-2. The decimal system is base-10.

Bayes’ theorem: a simple mathematical formula for calculating inverse probability: the probability distribution of an unobserved variable. Named after Thomas Bayes, who never published his musings on the subject. Bayes notes were edited and published posthumously.

bce (acronym for Before the Common Era): a semi-secular alternative designation for the calendar scheme introduced by Dionysius Exiguus, who respectively used bc (before Christ) and ad (anno Domini) to indicate times before and after the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Year zero is unused in both systems. Dates before 1 ce (common era) are indicated as bce. ce dates are typically not denoted.

beauty: qualities which excite pleasure.

behavior: an attributable state of action or inaction by a living entity.

behaviorism: a matterist school of psychology that denied the mind as a source of behavior.

Being-values (aka B-values): according to Abraham Maslow, the affirmative value system of self-actualizing individuals as contrasted to the deficiency-felt values of lesser beings. Maslow listed the following B-values: wholeness, perfection, completion, justice, aliveness, richness, simplicity, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, effortlessness, playfulness, truth, and self-sufficiency.

belief: a habit of the mind to axiomatically treat ideas as true; confidence in abstractions as real.

beta movement (aka apparent motion): the optical illusion of perceiving a moving object via display of rapidly changing light patterns. Compare phi phenomenon.

bias: a subconsciously imposed preference.

Bible, The: a collection of ancient texts held sacred in Judaism and Christianity. The 4-century-old King James version remains canonical. In response to problems pointed out by the Puritans, newly crowned King James commissioned a new version in 1604. What the king cared about was clarity, simplicity, and doctrinal orthodoxy. 47 biblical scholars, all of the Church of England, finished their work in 1611. What they had also cared about was quality of prose. Time and again, the language slips into iambic pentameter: the metrical line of traditional English poetry and verse; hence, the abiding popularity of the King James Bible.

bioelement: a planetary ecological element. The bioelements include the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biota.

biopsychology: see psychobiology.

biota: the organisms in an environment.

black (sociology): a dark-skinned person; in the US, typically a person of African descent (owing to the country’s slavery tradition). Contrast white.

Black Death: a devastating plague in Europe in the mid-14th century caused by the airborne bacterium Yersinia pestis.

bliss: the feeling of joyful contentment. Compare happiness.

Bonaro: an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea.

bonobo (Pan paniscus): a peaceable ape, closely related to the chimpanzee and hominids. Bonobos have a matriarchal society. Bonobos are notably fond of sexual behaviors.

Brahma: the Hindu god form of brahman.

brahman: an infinite, eternal, transcendent force that constitutes absolute reality according to Hindu belief. See Brahma.

bride-price (aka bride-token): payment for taking a woman as a mate.

Bronze Age (roughly 3300–1300 bce): the 2nd principal period of the three-age system, noted for the metallurgical production of bronze. See Stone Age, Iron Age.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954): a US Supreme Court ruling declaring racially segregated public schools “inherently unequal,” and so unconstitutional.

brown-nose: to curry favor or behave obsequiously. A brown-noser is a toady or sycophant.

Buddhism: an offshoot religion of Hinduism, founded upon the teachings of Buddha.

Buffon’s needle: a geometric probability problem, posed by Comte de Buffon, that pondered the probability of a short needle, dropped on a floor with parallel strips, landing so that needle goes across 2 strips. Buffon’s needle was the first problem solved using integral geometry.

bureaucracy: a conceptual model of departmentalized responsibilities and functions within an organization; coined by Jacques Claude de Gournay in the mid-18th century as a pejorative. Within a century, bureaucracy was being used in a neutral sense.

burying beetle (aka sexton beetle): a beetle in the Nicrophorus genus which buries a small vertebrate as a larder for its larvae.

bya: billions of years ago.

bystander effect (aka bystander apathy): a situation where observers offer no assistance to someone sorely needing it. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.


calculus: the mathematical study of change.

capitalism: an economic system based upon private ownership of resources and their exploitation for exclusive profit.

cardinal number: a number indicating quantity. Compare ordinal number.

carpe diem: enjoying the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.

Cartesian coordinate system: a planar coordinate system with 2 axes: one vertical, the other horizontal.

Cartesian dualism: the dualism espoused by René Descartes, of there being 2 foundations to reality: matter/physical and mental/spiritual. See dualism.

cascade (sociology): a mistruth gaining cultural favor.

caste: a social stratification system based upon ascribed status.

categorize (aka classify): to arrange or organize via criteria.

category: a group of related concepts.

catharsis: a purging of emotions, typically through certain artistic expressions, such as dramatic music or tragic drama.

Catholic Church (aka Roman Catholic Church): the orthodox centralized Christian organization that coalesced in the 4th century, dispatching rival factions in the process.

causal reasoning: the mental ability to infer an unperceived mechanism for a phenomenon.

causal theory: a surmise about the thought process behind a behavior.

causality (aka (noun) cause and effect, (adjective) cause-and-effect): the idea that one phenomenon provokes a succeeding phenomenon. Contrast correlation.

cause (verb) (physics): to effect; to bring about.

cause and effect: see causality.

ce (acronym for Common Era): denoted years after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. See bce.

central limit theorem: the statistical assumption that many independent events will be normally distributed.

central tendency (aka average): the typical value for a probability distribution.

cerebellum: a region of the vertebrate brain instrumental in balance and motor control.

certainty effect: the psychological effect from reducing an event from certain to probable; an aspect of prospect theory. People typically feel a sense of loss when a prospect goes from certain to merely likely.

chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): a medium-sized ape, closely related to bonobos and humans.

China: a country in East Asia with the oldest civilization and the most people: over 1.4 billion in 2019.

chord (music): a harmony, typically of 3 or more tones.

Christianity: a religion based upon hero worship of Jesus of Nazareth as the supposed Son of God.

civilization: a culture which characterizes a society.

clade: a group of biological taxa that includes all descendants of a common ancestor.

class (sociology): a level in the hierarchy of social standing within a society.

classical conditioning: learning that pairs a stimulus with a conditioned response. Compare operant conditioning.

clitoris: a female sexual organ in mammals, ostriches, and some other animals. In humans, the clitoris is the button-like portion atop the labia minora (inner vaginal lips), above the urethra. The human clitoris is a female’s most sensitive erogenous zone, and therefore the primary physical source of female sexual pleasure.

cocktail party effect: being able to focus auditory attention on a specific stimulus while filtering out others.

coefficient (mathematics): a quantity before another quantity that serves as a multiplier.

coercive organization: an organization people are forced to join. Compare normative organization, utilitarian organization.

cognition: the process of understanding, involving both awareness and judgment. Compare conation, mentation.

cognitive dissonance: mental discomfort from simultaneously holding contradictory ideas, values, or beliefs.

cognitive load: the instant level of mentation.

cognitive map: a topographical mental map.

cognitive psychology: a school of psychology developed in the mid-20th century, focused on mentation that affects behavior. Incorporating elements from earlier schools, cognitive psychology is the current mainstream view of the mind. Cognitive psychologists view the mind as analogous to a sophisticated computer operating system: a hoary mechanistic viewpoint. As cognitive psychology and cognitive science are aligned, cognitive psychology embraces the matterist faith that the brain generates the mind. Cognitive psychology begat cognitive therapy.

cognitive science: the current scientific study of the mind. Many cognitive scientists take a functionalism perspective, skirting the issue of mind-brain emanation – though cognitive science is essentially matterist, as neurobiology is embraced.

cognitive therapy: a form of psychotherapy developed by Aaron Beck. Cognitive therapy is based upon the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behavior are entangled (the cognitive model), and so people may improvement themselves by changing their thoughts.

coherence: the intelligent interaction behind Nature. Like Ĉonsciousness, coherence localizes.

coherence consciousness: the 6th state of consciousness, with awareness of the unity of Nature. Compare enlightenment, realization.

Collective: people who follow their biological urges as natural imperative. The Collective are slaves to their minds. The Collective believe emotions and beliefs are valuable. As believers in matterism and in taking existence at face value, the Collective are naïve realists. The Collective comprise the bulk of human populations.

collective unconscious: the idea that aspects of the unconscious mind are shared among conspecifics; conjectured by Carl Jung in 1916.

colonialism: the practice of population subjugation. Compare imperialism.

color assimilation: (aka von Bezold spreading effect (after Wilhelm von Bezold, who noted the effect in 1874)): the tendency of a color to insinuate itself into an adjacent or surrounding color. Contrast simultaneous contrast.

communication: emitted ecological information by an organism.

communism: a theory advocating eliminating private ownership of property and capital. Historically, politicians have touted communism but never delivered, producing instead totalitarian regimes enforcing an estate system. Compare socialism.

compassion: a feeling of sympathy in witnessing misfortune, often accompanied by an emotional impulse toward helpful behaviors.

compensation: a Freudian defense mechanism, whereby one attempts to overcome frustrations in one area of life by attempting to excel in another.

complex (psychology): an intertwined (thematic) pattern of mentation involving thoughts, perceptions, memories, and emotions. The works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are redolent with the idea of psychological complexes.

composite number: a natural number that is not a prime number.

comprehend: to grasp with the mind; to understand something, particularly, the subjective meaning or nature of something.

compulsion: a strong, often irresistible impulse to perform some ritual activity.

conation: a biological instinct that may seem volitional. Compare cognition, mentation.

conceal (sociology): to hide information. See falsify, equivocate. Compare deceive.

concept (aka idea): an abstract construct involving discriminatory categorization.

conceptualize, conceptualization: mentally resolving perceptions into a concept.

confidence interval (aka confidence coefficient): an interval (range of values) estimate applied to a data population, expressed as a probability, typically a percentage, that a statistical event will occur. A confidence interval is an estimate of an unknown population parameter. If the interval persists in repetition of an experiment, the confidence coefficient becomes a confidence level. A confidence interval is commonly used to indicate how reliable survey results are. When a survey is a subset of a population, a confidence interval suggests how likely the results are indicative of the entire population. Most significantly, a confidence interval is not the population parameter, which is a numerical characterization of the sample (interval).

confidence level: the % probability that a confidence interval is decent.

confirmation bias: the tendency to search for, interpret, and prioritize information in a way that confirms a held hypothesis or belief.

conflictism (sociology): a sociological perspective which views a society as an ongoing competition for societal resources and held together via coercion by its dominant factions. Compare symbolic interactionism, functionalism.

conformity (psychology): acting in accord with prevailing social standards, attitudes, or practices. Compare obedience.

conjunctive event: a joint or simultaneous occurrence. Contrast disjunctive event.

connotation: implied meaning. Contrast denotation.

conscience: an inner sense of morality.

conscious: thoughts and desires of which one is aware. Compare subconscious, unconscious, and preconscious.

consciousness: the platform for awareness in an individual life constituent, such as a protein, cell, or organism. The 4 nominal states of human consciousness are awake, asleep, dreaming, and transcendence. The 3 elevated states of consciousness are enlightenment, coherence consciousness, and realization. A person may be in multiple states of consciousness simultaneously (enlightenment is essentially the sustained state of transcendence while awake). Compare Ĉonsciousness.

Ĉonsciousness: the unified field of consciousness. Like the Higgs mechanism, Ĉonsciousness localizes into individualized consciousnesses. Compare consciousness.

conservatism (politics): views, beliefs, and principles that generally favor the status quo, with modest tinkering at most.

consider: to evaluatively focus attention on.

consonance (music) (aka consonancy): a tonal interval in a key that sounds stable in being self-resolving (in repose), without a felt need for another sound to produce a pleasing conclusion. In an octave of key, the 1st (tonic or dominant), 4th, 5th (subdominant), 3rd (mediant), and 6th (submediant) notes are consonant. Contrast dissonance.

conspecific: of the same species. Contrast interspecific.

constancy hypothesis (psychology): the contention that there is a strict isomorphism (1-to-1 correspondence) between sensory stimuli and sensation, proposed by Wolfgang Köhler. The constancy hypothesis implies that the same stimulation with produce the selfsame sensation regardless of circumstance. Gestaltists argued against the constancy hypothesis.

construal level theory: a 1998 psychology theorem by Nira Liberman and Yaacov Trope that relates psychospace to objects and events as concrete or abstract. Things seem closer or farther depending upon personal involvement with them (physical distance aside). People tend to think concretely about things perceived as close, but increasingly abstractly about things at a psychological distance. In this context, abstract means high-level: conceptually, not specifically, whereas concrete means detailed (low-level).

constructivism (psychology): a theory of learning whereby knowledge and meaning emanate from interaction between experiences and ideas.

consubstantial: of one and the same substance, essence, or nature. Matter and energy are consubstantial.

consume (economics): to engage in via sensation; to use or enjoy something. While consumption may use something up (such as eating food), it may simply be spending time with something, such as reading a book, or having a service performed.

contemplate: to repetitively consider.

context: a paradigmatic framework.

contextual interference: emptying short-term memory because a new situation has arisen.

continued-influence effect: the tendency to believe previously learned misinformation even after learning of its falsity. The continued-influence effect is one aspect of confirmation bias.

correlation: the fact that multiple phenomena coincide. Contrast causality.

cortisol (C21H30O5): a hormone released by the adrenal cortex during stress.

cosmic inflation: a myth about the early cosmos, claiming that the universe had a near-instantaneous massive inflation 3×10–36 seconds after the onset of the Big Bang, which abruptly stopped. Cosmic inflation outrageously violates physics as understood.

counterculture: a subculture that challenges the folkways and values of the dominant culture.

counterfactual: contrary to facts.

credulity: the readiness to believe on slight or ambiguous information.

creed: a set of fundamental beliefs which guide behavior.

criterion (plural: criteria): a trait or feature for characterization and categorization; a metric, principle, or rule for judgment.

cultural dimensions theory: a framework developed by Geert Hofstede for factor analysis of societal cultural dimensions, including social stratification, group affinity, gender orientation, risk tolerance, and self-restraint.

culture (biology): the transfer of knowledge among conspecifics, and from one generation to the next.

culture (sociology): a system of shared abstractions, beliefs, values, mores, and rituals among a tribe of humans. Culture represents common symbolic expression in a social context.

cunning (noun): subtle mental skill; slyness.

curiosity: a desire to know more (about something).

curse of knowledge: the cognitive bias of assuming that others know what one knows. The curse of knowledge is revealed when someone, such as a teacher, presents inscrutable information, mistakenly presuming that the listener has the background needed to understand what is being presented.


Dark Ages: the 5th–10th centuries in Europe; the early Middle Ages, following the fall of the Roman Empire. Coined by Francesco Petrarch in the 1330s, the term is generally disparaged by contemporary historians for its negative overtone; yet its aptness cannot be denied.

Darwinism (aka natural selection): the disproven hypothesis of Charles Darwin that evolution transpires only over millions of years by random rearrangements of matter that create species which endure or are eliminated via competition with other species (“natural selection” via “survival of the fittest”).

Natural Selection almost inevitably cause much Extinction of the less improved forms of life. ~ Charles Darwin

deceive: to present a false impression.

deception: the act of presenting a false impression. Contrast honesty.

decision (psychology): a determination of behavioral choice.

decision theory (aka theory of choice): the study of reasoning behind choice. Compare game theory.

declarative memory (aka explicit memory): memory subject to conscious recall. Episodic, semantic, and topological memories are declarative. Contrast procedural memory.

deduction (logic): the method of inferring a conclusion about particulars from general principles. Contrast induction.

defense mechanism: a Freudian theory about a stratagem by the unconscious mind to distort or deny reality in an attempt to maintain one’s own sense of self-esteem. Freud identified the following defense mechanisms: denial, displacement, reaction formation, compensation, sublimation, rationalization, projection, repression, fantasy, and regression.

deism: belief that god does not interfere with the world. Deism gained prominence during the Age of Enlightenment. Compare theism.

delusion: a specific false belief. In being sweeping generalizations, all beliefs are delusions.

dementalizing: inferring that the mental qualities of another are inferior to one’s own. Compare mentalizing.

demind: the desirous part of the mind. Compare inmind, ramind.

denial: say it ain’t so; a Freudian defense mechanism.

denotation: the explicit meaning. Contrast connotation.

deontic: pertaining to moral obligations.

deontology (philosophy): measuring morality by inherent goodness, not result. See moral absolutism. Contrast teleology.

dependent variable: a variable that represents an output from a function. Contrast independent variable.

depersonalization: detachment from sense of self.

depersonalization disorder: distress from depersonalization.

depression (psychology): a chronic emotive state involving sadness or emptiness, with attendant lack of motivation.

Depression (economics) (aka the Great Depression) (1930–1941): a severe worldwide economic depression in the 1930s, preceding World War 2.

derealization: the sense that the external world is unreal.

descriptive ethics: the study of people’s beliefs about morality. See normative ethics.

descriptive statistics: the discipline of statistically quantifying a sample. Contrast inferential statistics.

desire: mental want. See motivation.

determinism: belief in cause and effect, from which emanates the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws. See free will.

deterministic system (mathematics): s system without randomness. Contrast stochastic process.

dialectic (aka dialectical method): logical argumentation based upon the interaction of juxtaposed ideas, aimed at affirmation of one and refutation of the others; determination via conceptual contrasts. The Socratic method, advocated by Socrates, is one form of dialectic.

dialogue: interactive communication between or among parties. Contrast monologue.

Discordianism: the belief that order and disorder are self-projected illusions.

discreet: displaying prudence, tact, diplomacy.

discrimination: a decisive act based upon categorization. Compare prejudice.

disgust: specific cognized revulsion.

disjunctive event: an event with unrelated aspects. Contrast conjunctive event.

displacement (psychology): a defense mechanism identified by Freud, whereby the mind unconsciously substitutes one desire for another.

display rule: a folkway about appropriate personal expression.

disposition: the predominant inclination of a person’s bias.

dissonance (music) (aka dissonancy): a tonal interval in a key that needs resolution to a consonance. In an octave of key, the 2nd and 7th notes are dissonant. Contrast consonance.

distress (psychology): mental discomfort, turmoil, or pain. Anxiety is fearful distress. Excruciating distress is anguish.

divine right of kings: a doctrine originating in Europe in medieval times defending monarchical absolutism by asserting that kings derived their authority from God and were therefore beyond accountability by any earthly authority.

divinity: the (source of) ultimate reality.

dogma: an established opinion or body of doctrines.

dorsal: the back or upper side (of an organism). Contrast ventral.

dosha (aka doṣa): 1 of the 3 bodily humors that comprise the human constitution, according to Ayurveda. The tridosha theory posits that health comes with balance between the 3 doshas: Vāta (wind, which affects the nervous system), Pitta (bile, which affects digestion), and Kapha (mucus, the carrier of nutrients).

dream: mentally generated perception during sleep. Compare hallucination.

dreaming: the state of sleep consciousness filled with dreams.

dualism: the metaphysical belief that reality is bifurcated between the physical and the mental (or spiritual). Contrast monism.

dumb jock stereotype: a stereotype of someone athletic who is primarily interested in sports and its culture, without much interest in intellectual culture.

dyad: a group of 2; a couple. Compare triad.

dysfluency (disfluency): an irregularity in otherwise fluent speech.


e (mathematics): the mathematical constant that is the base of the natural logarithm.

earworm: a song or melody that sticks in the mind.

ecology: an interactive interface; patterns of relations among entities; as a subdiscipline of biology, patterns of interrelations between life forms (e.g., cells, organisms) and their environment (including other organisms); more broadly, the relations between bioelements.

economic: the idea that items and altruistic behaviors are goods and services respectively, as part of a materialist value system.

economics: the study of desirous materialism.

ectomorph: a somatype of a gracile and typically tall build. Compare mesomorph, endomorph.

ego: Sigmund Freud’s term for the rational part of the psyche. Compare id, superego. See ramind.

egocentrism (developmental psychology): the inability to differentiate between oneself and others, particularly regarding perspectives on the world.

egoism: considering oneself most important, with little or no regard for others. Contrast altruism.

Einstellung effect: examining a new situation or problem through a predisposed mind-set. See mental set.

elliptic geometry: a geometry in which Euclid’s parallel postulate (of parallel lines) does not hold. See Riemannian geometry.

embarrassed: anxiously self-conscious.

emergence: the way that complexity arises from a multiplicity of simple interactions; an idea of synergy that traces back at least to Aristotle. Emergence also refers to actuality coming into being on a moment-by-moment basis.

emotion: a feeling evolved by cognition into a sustained mental state.

emotional bias: a bias emanating from affect.

emotional complex: a complex of associated emotions relating to certain thoughts, objects, actions, events, or situations which invoke specific mental or behavioral patterns. Compare psychological complex.

emotional intelligence: is the ability to monitor, contemplate, and manage emotions.

emotional logic: rationalization of emotive states. Compare reason.

emotive cognition: appraisal of the ambiance of a situation based upon one’s empathic temperament and experience.

empathy: an imaginative projection of another’s mental state, either emotion or cognitive.

empathy gap: an underestimation of the influence of visceral (affective) states on preference or behavior.

empirical: originating or based upon fact.

empiricism (epistemology): the presumption that knowledge derives solely from sensory experience.

empiricism (philosophy of science): the belief that Nature may be entirely explained by physical forces.

end-of-history illusion: the psychological illusion that one has experienced significant personal growth to the present, but that growth process will not continue as fruitfully into the future.

endogamy (sociology): marriage within a specific group as required by custom or law. Contrast exogamy.

endomorph: a somatype of a wide, rotund, and typically short build. Compare ectomorph, mesomorph.

endonym (aka autonym): an internal name for a geographical place, people, language, or dialect. By contrast, an exonym (xenonym) is an external geographical name. For example, “Germany” is an English-language exonym, whereas “Deutschland” is the endonym for that European country.

endowment effect (aka divestiture aversion): sentimental attachment to objects beyond their economic worth.

energy (physics): the idea of an immaterial force acting upon or producing matter. Energy is characterized relatively and by type (how it affects matter). Energy manifests only through its effect on matter. Though the foundational construct of existence, energy itself does not exist. As matter is made of energy, this fact tidily proves energyism.

energyism (aka (philosophical) immaterialism): the monistic doctrine that Nature is a figment of the mind. Energyism differentiates between actuality and reality. Whereas actuality is phenomenal, reality has a noumenal substrate, emergently spawning a shared actuality (showtivity) via a unified Ĉonsciousness. See idealism, neutral monism. Contrast matterism.

engineering: the practical application of science. See technology.

enlightenment (aka quietude or quiet consciousness): the state of consciousness with clarity of mind via transcendence. In enlightenment there is intrinsic contentment, accompanied by an eminently sensible perspective on life (and death). Compare coherence consciousness, realization.

Enlightenment: see Age of Enlightenment.

entail: to transmit, confer, or assign.

entanglement (physics): distinct phenomena behaving synchronously. Entanglement defies locality.

enterovirus: a genus of single-stranded RNA viruses, so-named because their transmission route is through the intestine (enteric being intestinal).

entertainment: stimulation from experience not wholly expected.

envirotype: the ecological influences on an organism, and typical organism interactions with the environment.

envy: resentment of a perceived advantage that someone else has. Compare jealousy.

epiphenomenalism: the matterist belief that mentation is a physiologically generated phenomenon.

episodic memory (aka flashbulb memory): an autobiographical memory of a specific event, typically of significant emotional import. Contrast semantic memory, topographical memory.

epistemology: the study of knowledge, including its origin, nature, methods, and limits.

equation (mathematics): an expression or model, typically algebraic, asserting equality between at least 2 quantities.

equifinality: the principle that an end state may be reached in an open system via numerous potential avenues. In psychology, equifinality refers to how divergent experiences early in life may lead to similar outcomes; commonly used to refer to child trauma and abuse that leads to psychological disorders in adulthood.

equity (sociology, politics): fairness.

equivocate: to use ambiguous expressions to prevaricate. See falsify, conceal.

esotericism (esoterism): ideas outside the mainstream of Collective thought.

estate system: an economic and political system of control of societal resources by an elite group.

ethics (aka moral philosophy): the branch of philosophy systemizing the distinction between right and wrong behavior; a system of moral principles.

ethnocentrism: judging another culture solely by the standards and values of one’s own culture; coined by Ludwig Gumplowicz in 1879 and subsequently popularized by William Sumner.

ethnicity: affiliation with a culture. Compare race.

ethnomethodology: the study of how people make sense of everyday life.

ethology: the study of animal behavior, especially under natural conditions.

Etruscan civilization (8th–4th century bce): the powerful and wealthy civilization in western central and northern Italy prior to its assimilation into the Roman Republic.

Euclidian geometry: a mathematical system limited to 3d, attributed to Euclid. Euclidian geometry has a small set of axioms from which theorems can be deduced. The 5th axiom (the parallel postulate) was found independent of the first 4 in the 19th century. Its breakage led to non-Euclidian geometry.

eugenics: the idea that the human species may be improved by selective breeding.

eusocial: an animal that has: 1) overlapping generations, 2) cooperative care of the young, and 3) reproductive division of labor. Contrast presocial.

event: a perceived process with an outcome.

evil: a moral wrong; wickedness.

evil eye: a curse cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person unaware. Dating to antiquity, many cultures believe the evil eye can cause misfortune. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also often called “evil eyes.”

evolution (evolutionary biology): the process of adaptation, most apparently seen as a distinctive change across successive generations of a population.

evolutionary psychology: the view that innate animal psychological traits are evolved adaptations.

executive function (aka cognitive control): a mental process necessary to control behavior. Executive functions develop during childhood and change as life progresses.

existence: corporeality, including both matter and energy. See actuality, manifestation, Nature, and phenomenon.

existential: grounded in experience; empirical.

existentialism: the philosophic opinion that individual experience is important in defining meaning, beyond the physical sciences; popular in continental Europe from 1930 to the mid-20th century. Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered the first existentialist philosopher, though he did not use the term. Jean-Paul Sartre was the quintessential existentialist.

exogamy (sociology) (aka outbreeding): marriage outside a specific group as required by custom or law. Contrast endogamy.

expectation: awaiting an event or outcome considered at least likely if not certain. See anticipate.

expected value (mathematics): the average, or mean, from a large statistical sample or many repetitious experimental results.

experience (noun): a conceptualized event.

exponent (mathematics) (aka power): how many times to use a number in a multiplication.

expression (mathematics) (aka function): a finite combination of symbols within a mathematical context.

Expressionism: a modernist movement of painting and poetry which originated in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Expressionism’s defining motif was to present the world from a subjective perspective.

expressive leader (aka socioemotional leader): a leader who keeps up morale. Contrast instrumental leader.

expressivity halo: the phenomena of judging rapport positively because someone is emotively expressive.

externality (economics): an unintended byproduct of making something. Waste and pollution are exemplary externalities.

extraversion (aka extroversion): the state of being with predominant interest outside one’s own mental self. Contrast introversion.

extrinsic motivation: socially infused desire. Contrast intrinsic motivation. See mimetic desire.

eye contact: 2 people looking into each other’s eyes. Compare gazing.


Facebook (2004–): an American online social-media service centered on sharing personal account profiles.

fact: recall of an experienced event. Secondhand accounts are often taken as facts, thus introducing the issue of veracity, memory fallibility aside. See personal fact, social fact.

faculty (psychology): an inborn or cultivated ability.

faculty psychology: the view of the mind as a collection of modules, or faculties.

faith: belief in absence of fact.

fallacy: an error in reasoning.

false-consensus effect/bias: a cognitive bias where a person thinks a certain belief, opinion, or behavior is typical.

false memory: a memory which does not conform with actuality; remembering divergently from what actually happened.

falsifiability (aka refutability): a statement (hypothesis or theory) which may be tested for validity through observation. The concept was introduced by Karl Popper in 1994 as a cornerstone of scientific epistemology. Statements which are not supported by falsifiability are pseudoscience.

falsify: to convey a fiction. See conceal, equivocate.

family (sociology): a group of people who extensively practice altruism and are committed to maintaining the group as a unit. See kinship system.

familism: a value system subordinating personal interests to those of the family. See collectivism. Contrast individualism.

fantasy: an imagining. Freud considered fantasy a defense mechanism.

fascination: intense interest.

fashion: a prevailing style of dress or custom in etiquette or socializing.

fast psychology: preference for immediate rewards over riskier, but potentially more profitable, behavior.

Faustian bargain: to abandon moral principles to obtain wealth, power, or knowledge; to make a deal with the Devil; named after the legend of Faust (an itinerant alchemist, astrologer, and magician) and Mephistopheles (a demon in German folklore).

fear: an emotion of anticipating distress.

feedforward: information conveyance about messages before they are sent.

feeling: a perceptual reaction that may develop into an emotion via emotive cognition. Compare emotion.

feminism: advocacy of socioeconomic equality between the genders.

feudalism: a societal system prevalent in medieval Europe, with socioeconomic hierarchy based upon land holding. Feudalism usually emerged from decentralization or disintegration of an empire.

field: an energy associated with a spacetime point or region.

fignorance: fact ignorance. Compare pignorance. See ignorance.

figure-ground relationship: a perceptual distinction between an focal object and a diffuse background; a Gestalt concept.

fine-tuned universe: akin to the anthropic principle, the idea that the physical universe was composed to support life. Suggested and forwarded by Lawrence Henderson in 1913, Robert Dicke in 1961, Fred Hoyle in 1984, and John Gribbin and Martin Rees in 1989.

folkway: a traditional behavior that is a norm. Compare more.

fractal: a set of scale-invariant, self-similar, iterative patterns via complex number formulas.

framework (psychology): a conceptual scheme or system.

framing (psychology): perceiving a situation within a certain context or from a specific perspective.

framing effect: bias from the context in which a situation is considered, the bias typically involving personal gain or loss.

free will: the philosophic and theological idea that humans have the power of choice in their behaviors. The issue arose in context of God being omniscient (if God knows all, are people really free to choose?). A prominent feature of existentialism is the concept of free will as a curse. Jean-Paul Sartre spoke of individuals as “condemned to be free.” Free will is theologically denied by proponents of determinism.

freedom (psychology, economics): the mental state of release from materialism. Contrast materialism.

frustration: distress from a sense of losing desired control.

frustum (geography): the volume of a solid cone or pyramid after slicing off the top on a plane parallel to the base.

function (mathematics): a relation between a set of inputs and a set of outputs, originally idealized as how a varying quantity (codomain, dependent variable) depends upon another quantity (domain, independent variable(s)).

functional fixedness: considering an object usable only a certain way.

functionalism (psychology): the psychological philosophy that cognition and behavior afford adaptation to circumstances. Historically, functionalism was a response to structuralism.

functionalism (sociology): a vague sociological perspective which sees society as a complex system. Compare symbolic interactionism, conflictism.

fundamental attribution error (aka correspondence bias, attribution effect): the tendency to put undue emphasis on the internal dynamics of personality to explain someone else’s behavior in a given situation, rather than considering circumstance. Contrast actor-observer bias.

fundamentalism (religion): strict literalism to religious dogma and maintaining in-group and out-group distinctions.

future bias: a bias towards the sanguinity of events in the future, typically optimistic. See present bias.


gambler’s fallacy: the tendency to see chance as self-correcting.

game theory: the study of strategic interaction between rational decision-makers; specifically, theorization of outcomes and dynamics in situations involving parties with conflicting interests. Modern game theory was developed in the early 1940s and further evolved in the 1950s. Compare decision theory.

gaydar: the ability through mutual gaze for homosexuals to discern sexual preference.

gazing: one person looking at another. Compare eye contact.

gemeinshaft (intimate community): a society of interlaced interpersonal bonds, such as in village life. Contrast gesellschaft. Compare mechanical solidarity, organic solidarity.

gender: designation of female or male; for humans, sometimes differentiated by social or cultural roles of behavior. See sex.

generalized other (sociology): an individual’s internalized impression of norms and expectations; coined by George Mead.

gene: the idea that nucleic acids provide instructions for producing an organic molecule, typically a protein. Genes do not exist: they are merely a construal. The actuality of genetics is more intricate than supposed by matterist geneticists, as heritable bioproduct information is stored energetically, with organic molecules as illusory material substrates.

general relativity: a geometric physical theory that treats gravity as a property of spacetime, based upon the mass of objects; proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915. Gravity distorts 4d spacetime extra-dimensionally under general relativity.

genetic epistemology: the study of knowledge acquisition during organism development.

genetics: the study of heredity and variation in life forms at the molecular level.

genius: extraordinary intellectual acumen.

genome: the complete set of genes within an organism. Like genes, a genome is merely a concept, not phenomenal.

genotype: the energetic constitution of an organism, as artifactually represented by genome. The gen in genotype refers to genesis (not genetics).

geometry: the branch of mathematics concerned with the properties of elements that remain invariant under certain transformations.

gesellschaft (impersonal association): a society of differentiated tasks and possibly cultures, such as in industrialized nations. Contrast gemeinshaft. Compare organic solidarity, mechanical solidarity.

gestalt: (viewing) the whole being as greater than the sum of the parts involved; organization and organized activity with a coherence greater than can be attributed by summation of employed components.

Gestalt psychology (aka gestaltism): a school of psychology with the central principle that the mind naturally creates a worldview through self-organizing tendencies.

Gestalt therapy: a school of psychological treatment emphasizing personal responsibility and in living within the context of the present moment; founded by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls, and Paul Goodman in the 1940s.

glia: the catchall cell type in the intelligence system for cognition and memory. Compare neuron.

Gnosticism: various ancient religions whose adherents forsook the material world in favor of spiritualism. Christianity is conceptually Gnostic.

go (Chinese: 围棋; Japanese: 囲碁): a strategy board game invented in China 2,500–4,000 years ago.

God: the myth of an immortal supreme being who is omniscient and typically omnipotent, albeit often inexplicably reserved in exercising such power in moral ways comprehensible to mere mortals. The concept of God is object orientation run amok: one of many delusions construed by believing in what is conceived as contrasted to actuality, and what reasonably may be inferred from known facts.

Goldbach’s conjecture: the as-yet unproven assertion that every even number greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of 2 primes.

golden angle (geometry): 137.508°; derived by applying the golden ratio (j) to the circumference of a circle; golden angle (ƒ) = 1 / j2.

golden ratio (j; aka golden mean, golden section): the ratio (a+b)/a = a/b, where the ratio of the sum of 2 integers (a+b) to the larger integer (a) is equal to the ratio of the larger integer (a) to the smaller integer (b). The golden ratio has fascinated the mathematically inclined since the time of the ancient Greeks. In the book Elements (~300 bce), Euclid gave the first-recorded definition of the golden ratio.

gossip: talk about the personal affairs of others.

gracile: a slender bodily build.

grammar: the architecture of sentences, including morphology (patterns of word formation) and syntax.

gravity: a spacetime distortion caused by mass.

greed: insensible desire.

gregarious: highly social.

group (sociology): an association of people with some degree of affinity bonding.

group selection: the unsubstantiated hypothesis that evolution acts at the level of the group, not individuals; developed by Charles Darwin. See kin selection.

groupthink: the praxis of approaching and dealing with issues via consensus, characterized by a strong streak of conformity, and lack of individual initiative and creativity.

grouse: a heavily built herbivorous bird that inhabits temperate and subarctic biomes in the northern hemisphere.

guile (noun): deceitful cunning; stratagem; trick.

guilt: an emotion of self-reproach. Compare shame.

gullible: easily deceived, duped, or cheated.

guņa: a quality (thread) of being according to Hindu philosophy. The 3 guņas are sattva (goodness, harmony, construction), rajas (passion, activity), and tamas (chaos, discord, destruction).

guru: a realized teacher.

gyre: a conceptual framework treating a physical system as a dynamic vortex. A gyre is characterized by its structure, qualities, thermodynamics, and interactions.


habitat: the environment in which a species population lives.

hallucination: a vivid, convincing sensation in absence of external stimuli while awake. Compare dream.

happiness: a mood of well-being. Compare bliss.

harmony (music): a simultaneous combination of tones.

hate: intense negative emotional attachment to something.

Hawthorne effect (aka observer effect): a behavioral reaction to being observed.

hedonism: the school of thought that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. Ethical hedonism is the creed that people have the natural right to do everything in their power to get the greatest amount of pleasure possible.

heliocentrism: the theory that the Sun is the center of the solar system around which planets orbit, including Earth.

Hellenistic period (323–31 bce): a period in ancient Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great and the emergence of the Roman Empire, signified by the Battle of Actium.

herbivore: an animal that primarily eats plant-based foods.

heuristic (psychology): a simple, efficient rule (mental shortcut) employed to form judgments, solve problems, or make decisions. Compare algorithm. See affect heuristic.

hierarchy of needs: 5 levels of innate human needs proposed by Abraham Maslow: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

hieroglyph: a pictographic or ideographic symbol used in a written language.

Higgs field: according quantum physics’ Standard Model, the universal field that imparts mass. Quanta hypothetically swim in the Higgs field, interacting at different strengths, and so maintain distinct masses, or are massless if the Higgs field fails to impress. The quantum representing the Higgs field is the Higgs boson. See Higgs mechanism.

Higgs mechanism: the continuous process whereby gauge bosons acquire mass via spontaneous symmetry breaking. The Higgs mechanism exemplifies the basic mechanism by which Nature is composed: universal fields localizing, with local fields quantizing into particulate form.

hindsight bias (aka the knew-it-all-along effect): the tendency to see an event after it has occurred as predictable, despite little or no objective basis to view it as such beforehand. Compare future bias.

Hinduism: the dominant religion of India. Hinduism is based upon a compilation of diverse texts, the earliest of which date to the 7th century bce, though most are later (late bce). Hinduism is an umbrella term for numerous religious offshoots.

hippocampus: a part of the brain in vertebrates associated with memory formation and navigation.

holism: the idea that systems and their properties should be viewed holistically (from the perspective of being a whole), not just as a collection of components. Contrast reductionism. See synergy.

Holocaust (1941–1945): the genocide of Jews (6 million) (and others (5 million)) by the German Nazi regime during the 2nd World War.

Holy Ghost (aka Holy Spirit): the 3rd hypostasis of the Christian Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, where each is a manifestation of God. The Holy Spirit is the active force (energy) of God.

Holy Trinity: the Christian doctrine that God manifests as 3 consubstantial hypostases: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Spirit.

homeopathy: a pseudo-medicinal treatment of drinking water that has a specific substance diluted beyond measurement. Homeopathy may be effective via the placebo effect.

homeostasis (biology): a regulatory process by which an organism strives for holistic health. Compare autopoiesis.

homeostasis (physics): a tendency toward stability within a system.

hominid: an ape descendant, some of which became hominin. Compare anthropoid.

hominin: the hypothesized clade that supposedly descended into humans (Homo sapiens).

hominoid: a primate of either hominid or anthropoid under the now-obsolete Linnaeus system.

homophily: the tendency of people to associate and bond with similar others.

honesty: giving a candid impression. Contrast deception.

honor: integrity in one’s beliefs and actions; concern for a positive reputation about adhering to mores, notably honesty and fairness.

hostile attributional bias: the tendency to perceive hostile intent by others irrespective of indication.

hot-cold empathy gap: see empathy gap.

hot hand: the bias that success continues in a streak.

human (Homo sapiens): a bipedal, largely furless primate. Humans are ironically unintelligent in thinking that they are smarter than other organisms while having proved the opposite with their self-destructive and environmentally devastating behaviors.

humanistic psychology (aka humanism): a school of psychology emphasizing personal drive to productive expression, developed by Abraham Maslow in the late 1950s (albeit based upon ancient philosophic precepts). The humanist premise is that people are inherently well intentioned. The humanistic perspective was termed third-force psychology by Abraham Maslow in 1962, referring to psychoanalysis and behaviorism as the other 2 predominant contemporaneous schools of psychology.

humor: an amusing incongruity.

hylozoism: the hypothesis that all matter is in some sense alive.

hypostasis: an underlying state or substance of fundamental reality that supports all else.

hysteria: a colloquial term for unmanageable emotional distress.


Iberian peninsula: the peninsula extending toward the southwest end of Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar, and southwest France.

id: Sigmund Freud’s term for the desirous instinctual part of the psyche. Compare ego, superego. See demind.

idea: the representation of a concept.

idealism (aka subjective idealism, empirical idealism): the monistic epistemology that all of life’s experiences, and what can be known of reality, are entirely within the mind. Compare neutral monism. See energyism.

identity: sense of self.

ideogram (aka ideograph): a written symbol representing a concept. Compare pictogram.

ideology (politics): a doctrinal sociopolitical belief system about an ideal social order and how to attain it.

ignorance: a state of unknowing. There are 2 types of ignorance: fact-ignorance (fignorance) and perspective-ignorance (pignorance). Fignorance is not knowing the salient facts of a subject. Pignorance (aka spiritual ignorance) arises from incognizance of reality.

illusion: mistaken perception; something deceptive by a false impression.

illusion of control: the belief that one has more control over events than merited; named and documented by Ellen Langer in 1975.

illusion of knowledge: someone thinking that they know more than they do.

illusion of transparency: the belief that one’s mental state is more apparent to others than it is.

imaginability heuristic: the mental shortcut of assigning likelihood based on the ease with which a scenario can be imagined. Compare availability heuristic.

imaginary number: the square root of a negative number.

imagination: the faculty for forming counterfactual mental images and perceptions. Compare dream.

imagination inflation: a false memory of having done something which was only imagined. See observation inflation.

imagine: to form concepts which are not adherent to sensation.

immanence (religion): the belief that there is an active divine presence in the material world. Contrast transcendence. Compare supremism.

immanent: operating or being within the conceptual realm considered; indwelling; intrinsic; inherent. Contrast transcendental.

immanent justice: the belief in a natural force that enforces a moral universe. The concept of karma is exemplary.

imperialism: a state acquiring the territory of another nation. Compare colonialism.

imprinting (psychology): an early-instilled, rapid learning process that establishes a behavior pattern based upon identification of a certain object. The best-known imprinting is the filial devotion seen in a chick that follows its mother. Douglas Spalding discovered imprinting in chickens in the early 1870s.

impulse: an urge driven by the subconscious.

in-group: a group generally viewed positively. Contrast out-group. See reference-group.

incest: a sex act between a parent and an offspring or between siblings.

inclusive fitness: an evolutionary strategy whereby conspecifics altruistically help one another.

independent variable: a variable that represents an input into a function. Contrast dependent variable.

India: a country in the Indian subcontinent with the 7th-largest land mass; the 2nd-most populous behind China, with 1.2 billion people in 2018.

indirect reciprocity: cooperation or altruism between 2 people who may not meet again.

individuation: a method for distinguishing an object or event from a category.

induction (logic): the method of inferring a generalized conclusion from particulars. Contrast deduction.

inertia: resistance to a change of motion.

infantile amnesia (Freudian psychoanalytic theory): repression the earliest sexual or evil memories.

inference: the process of deriving a conclusion from premises known or assumed true.

inferential statistics: the discipline of drawing predictive conclusions from a sample. Contrast descriptive statistics.

inferiority complex: a 1927 hypothesis by Alfred Adler that a psychological sense of inferiority, even unconsciousness, warps mentation and behavior to compensate. Modern parlance prefers “lack of covert self-esteem.”

infinitesimal calculus (aka differential calculus): calculus of marginal change. Descartes was especially interested in tangents to curves as an extension of analytic geometry.

infinity (∞): the idea of something unlimited. Mathematics often treats ∞ as a special number, but that is a conceptual error. Infinity is beyond numerics.

influence (noun): the act of producing an effect indirectly.

influence (verb): to affect or alter, typically by indirect or intangible means.

information: an esteemed apprehension of an order among concepts.

infotainment: entertaining information.

inmind: the intuitive part of the mind. Compare demind, ramind.

instinct: precocious knowledge.

institution: a structured behavior pattern accepted as part of a culture (e.g., marriage); a purposeful group or organization (e.g., the judiciary).

institutional fact: see social fact.

instrumental leader (aka task-oriented leader): a leader who tries to keep a group working toward its goals. Contrast expressive leader.

integer: a positive or negative non-fractional number, or zero.

intelligence: an attribution for behaving appropriately; the process of gathering and analyzing information.

intelligent design: a Christian creationist argument for the existence of God by claiming that evolution is an existence proof for a supernatural creator. The term intelligent design dates to the term’s insertion into a 1989 American high school biology textbook, but the theological argument had been in circulation at least since Thomas Aquinas’ presentation in the mid-13th century. Acceptance of evolution was not a Christian controversy until the 1920s, when a schism developed in the Presbyterian church between a conservative fundamentalist movement and a more modernist wing. (American Presbyterianism had been rocked by doctrinal divisiveness twice before, in the early 1740s and in the mid-1830s.) In the 1930s, this doctrinal split infected other Protestant denominations, and the Catholic Church. By the end of the 1930s, the modernists had prevailed. But the fundamentalists had their say in a very public way by having the teaching of evolution effectively suspended in US public schools until the 1960s, when evolution was reintroduced. Fundamentalists then argued to have creationism taught as an alternative theory, but were rebuffed by the US courts, where their effort ended up. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1987 (in Edwards v. Aguillard) that creationism violated the Constitution’s 1st amendment against the state advancing a particular religion. Creationism found similar disapproval in Europe. Undeterred, creationists immediately took to intelligent design, which posits evolution as prudently designed. Aware of the obvious blowback, proponents soft-pedal the supposed supreme being behind the curtain of intelligent design. Rather subtle sophistry has evolved to buttress the idea of intelligent design, including irreducible complexity, specified complexity, and a fine-tuned universe. These intelligent design theories are as decent as most scientific theories, which are nothing more than religious dogma backed only by selective data, aiming at an ulterior perspective (for example, neurobiologists absurdly advocating the brain as the source of mentation).

intend (verb): to construe in a certain way.

interactional synchrony: matching body postures and movements among people engaged in interpersonal interaction.

interactional time: coordinated time for interpersonal interaction.

interest (psychology): the consumption of attention.

Internet (1983–): a global computer network which hosts the World Wide Web.

interspecific: occurring between distinct species. Contrast conspecific.

intellectual (adjective): relating to rationality.

intimacy: a loving, empathic act within an emotionally close relationship.

intonation: the pattern of pitch (melodic) changes in speech.

intrinsic motivation: desire originating within oneself. Contrast extrinsic motivation.

introject: to incorporate subconsciously.

introspection (aka metacognition): awareness of cognition; (the capability of) reflectively examining one’s own thoughts and feelings. Compare mindfulness.

introversion: the state of being with predominant interest in one’s own mental self. Introversion and extraversion are conceptual poles of a continuum of personal psychology developed by Carl Jung in 1913, albeit its usage now is distinct from his original intention. In between introversion and extraversion is ambiversion. Contrast extraversion.

intuition: direct apprehension. Contrast phenomenon.

Ionia: an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia, now Turkey. Ionia was the furthest eastern extent of ancient Greece.

ipso facto: by the fact itself; inherent in the very nature of the situation.

irrational number: a real number with a decimal representation that does not terminate nor repeat. Contrast rational number.

Iron Age (~1300–500 bce): the last (3rd) principal period of the 3-age system, noted for widespread use of iron and the development of steel. See Stone Age, Bronze Age.

irreducible complexity: the idea that biological systems cannot have come into being through piecemeal evolution because their inherent complexity is entangled, and thereby necessarily irreducible; hence, evolutionary incrementalism is impossible. Introduced by Michael Behe in 1996.

Islam (religion) (aka Muhammadanism): the religious system founded by Muhammad and informed by the Koran, with the basic principle of absolute submission to the god Allāh.

Islam (sociology): the societies predominantly practicing Islamic religion.

Islamic Golden Age (8th–13th century): the period in Islamic history when scientific and cultural development flourished; brought to an end by dogmatic, reactionary clerics.

isolation effect: a bias introduced via the method of attribute decomposition in comparing alternatives.


Jainism: an Indian religion with central tenets of respect for all life, non-violence, frugality, and indifference to material possessions.

jealousy: an emotional sense of rivalry.

Jesuits (aka Society of Jesus) (1539–): a male Catholic order belonging to the congregation founded by Spanish priest Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation, where his absolute obedience to the Pope held him in good stead with the Church.

Jew: an adherent of Judaism.

jīva (Hinduism and Jainism): a living being – more specifically, the soul of a living organism. Compare ātman.

jnāna (Hinduism): the epiphany of pure awareness, allowing enlightenment (ātma jnāna) and moksha. Contrast ajñāna.

Johari window: a self-awareness examination heuristic created in 1955 by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. The name Johari is an amalgamation of their names.

Judaism: the monotheist religion of the Jews.

judge (verb) (psychology): to determine value or utility.

jumping spider: an agile spider with the best vision of all invertebrates. Jumping spiders normally move slowly and quietly, but are capable of incredibly athletic jumps, either to snag prey, or avoid a threat. There are 5,000 species of jumping spiders.

jurist: a person educated in the law.


kami (Shinto): a spiritual essence, found throughout Nature, including the spirit plane. The deceased are kami.

karma (Hinduism, Buddhism): belief that the consequences of moral acts are entangled in time; in other words, belief in immanent justice.

key (music): a set of pitch intervals with a dominant (tonic) note.

kibbutz (plural: kibbutzim): an Israeli collective community, traditionally based on agriculture. A member of a kibbutz is a kibbutznik. The first kibbutz was founded in 1909. In 2010 there were 270 kibbutzim with over 100,000 kibbutzniks.

kin selection: an evolutionary strategy whereby organisms altruistically help their relatives.

kinesics: the study/interpretation of nonlinguistic body motion.

kinship system: a social web of affinity, commonly among families.

Knobe effect: moral perception based upon framing; named after Joshua Knobe.

know: to directly perceive, and thereupon understand; to recognize the meaning of a concept.

knowledge: cognition of facts or principles about Nature. Compare knowlet, omniscience.

knowlet: cognition of some subject matter. Compare knowledge.

kōӓn: a paradox posited in Zen Buddhist practice to engender abandonment of reason for intuition, and thus clear the way to enlightenment.

kookaburra: an arboreal bird in the Dacelo genus, native to Australia, now also found in New Guinea and the Aru Islands.

Koran (aka Quran): the holy book of Islam, analogous to the Judeo-Christian Bible. Muslims consider the Koran unique in being directly written by Allāh through the prophet Muhammad.


language: a system of symbols with interrelated meanings.

law (polity): a legally codified norm or proscription against a taboo; state codification aimed at administering justice and the affairs of the state to which the law pertains.

law of contrapositive (aka denying the consequent or modus tollens): deductive reasoning, wherein a conditional statement determines whether a hypothesis is invalid. See law of detachment, law of syllogism.

law of detachment (aka affirming the antecedent or modus ponens): deductive reasoning, wherein a conditional statement determines whether a hypothesis is valid. See law of contrapositive, law of syllogism.

law of effect: the theorem that the outcome of an action determines the likelihood that it will be repeated; posited by Edward Thorndike in 1905.

law of exercise: the theorem that the strength of association between a stimulus and response depends on the number of its repetitions and the strength of their pairing; posited by Edward Thorndike in 1911.

law of large numbers: a statistical theorem which states that the average result should come closer to the expected value with larger sample size or greater number of repetitious experimental results.

law of Prägnanz: the Gestalt principal that ambiguous or complex images are perceived in the simplest possible form because it requires the least cognitive effort.

law of primogeniture: a law providing statutory preference of offspring inheritance, particularly real estate; in Britain, the first-born son is the sole inheritor.

law of syllogism: deductive reasoning, wherein 2 premises and are combined into a conclusion. See law of detachment, law of contrapositive.

learning: the process of constructing a conceptual framework.

learning curve: (literally) a graphical curve plotting performance against experience; (figuratively) the challenge or rate of learning a skill. For instance, a steep learning curve means either requiring an immersive or extensive experience to learn (challenge) or learning very quickly (rate of learning).

left wing: a political philosophy supporting social equality and egalitarianism, typically opposed to social stratification. Contrast right wing.

legato (music): smooth, connected notes. Contrast staccato.

lek: a gathering of animal males for competitive courtship display.

lengyre (aka vital energy, chi (Chinese), prana (Hindu)): an organism’s life-energy gyre.

lexical: relating to words or vocabulary as distinguished from grammar.

liberalism: historically, a political philosophy advocating the freedom of individuals, albeit with some concern for social equality. Classical liberalism stressed liberty (libertarianism), whereas later social liberalism sought a balance between liberty and social justice.

life-history variable: a trait or aspect of an organism’s existence related to others; often viewed comparatively, as a trade-off with other, mutually exclusive possibilities.

life space (aka psychological field): the hypothesis by Kurt Lewin that a person’s current behavior reflects the aggregation of personal experiences.

light: electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye, at a wavelength between 380–740 nanometers.

linear equation: an equation with 2 variables.

linguistic relativity hypothesis (aka Sapir-Whorf hypothesis): a hypothesis asserting that the structure of human language affects how native speakers conceptualize the world.

linguistics: the study of language.

logarithm: the inverse operation to exponentiation; a number’s logarithm is the exponent to which another fixed number (the base) must be raised to produce that number.

logic: the process of chaining concepts together – from a premise to a conclusion (inference) – in a way that the linkages may be agreeable (especially to others, else socially considered illogic).

Logic is invincible because in order to combat logic it is necessary to use logic. ~ French mathematician Pierre Boutroux

looking-glass self: the concept that self-identity grows from interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others; coined by Charles Cooley.

love: adoration of a concept.

lust: intense carnal desire.


macrosociology: the study of societies. Compare microsociology.

major scale (music): a musical scale comprising 7 notes in an octave (diatonic) with only the 2nd and 7th notes as dissonant. Compare minor scale.

mammal: a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals, characterized by endothermy, hair, and females with functional mammary glands.

Mandelbrot set: a 2d graphic representation from a formula for producing a fractal via construing each point on a plane by counting the number of times a complex number can be squared and added to itself before exceeding a set limit.

mania: excessive excitement or enthusiasm.

manifestation: an outward perceptible expression of Nature. Compare phenomenon.

manorialism: an agrarian estate feudal structure.

manspreading: a man spreading his legs while sitting on public transport so as to take up 2 seats.

Markov chain: a stochastic process with the Markov property of memorylessness: randomness, as shown by a state status being relative only to the previous state, with no regard to what had gone on before.

Marxism: a worldview and method of societal analysis focused on the dynamics, especially the conflicts, of economic classes; conceived by Karl Marx.

mass (classical physics): a measure of inertia.

materialism (psychology, economics): a worldview valuing material consumption and possessions. Contrast freedom.

mathematics: the systematic treatment of relations between symbolic entities.

matriarchy: a social organization where females are dominant. Contrast patriarchy.

matterism (aka (philosophical) materialism): the monistic belief that reality is made of matter. Matterism supposes that the mind is a figment of something substantial. See naïve empiricism, naïve realism. Contrast energyism.

mean (statistics) (aka expected value): a measure of the central tendency of a probability distribution.

meaning: import, purport, signification, significance; in communication meaning means intent or signification.

mechanical solidarity: societal adhesion among people with similar lives, united via shared values and social bonds. Contrast organic solidarity. Compare gemeinshaft, gesellschaft.

median: the value in an ordered set in which an equal number of quantities are above and below. See mean.

Medieval period: the Middle Ages. See Middle Ages.

meditation: a practice intended to achieve a state of quiet, transcendental consciousness.

melody: the tonal pattern of music. Compare rhythm.

memory: mental storage of past events; casually, memory refers to long-term memory.

memory conformity: the process of a person conforming to the socially acceptable version of an event. Under private conformity, the person is brainwashed to conviction. With public conformity, a person complies while still believing in the veracity of a divergent private recollection.

memory inflation: see imagination inflation.

menarche: the initiation of menstruation.

mental ecology: (the study of) the interfaces of internal mental operations and interpersonal interactions.

mental model: an internal representation of contextual information.

mental set: the tendency to approach a new problem the same way as one previously encountered.

mentalizing (aka mind perception): inferring the mental state of another being, typically another person. Compare dementalizing.

mentation: mental activity.

mentotype: the psychological constitution of an organism, including cognitive orientations and capacities, awareness loci, and worldview. Compare phenotype.

mesomorph: a somatype of an athletic build. Compare ectomorph, endomorph.

metacognition: knowing what one knows. See introspection.

metacommunication: a communication qualifier; indirect cues as to how information is meant to be interpreted.

metamessage: an underlying meaning or subtext.

metaphysics: philosophy concerned with first principles, including ontology and epistemology.

method of exhaustion: an approximate mathematical method for finding the area of a shape by inscribing within it a sequence of polygons whose areas converge to the area of the containing shape.

methodology: a body of methods, procedures, working concepts, postulates, and rules employed by a discipline of study. Note that all disciplines are knowledge oriented.

microbe: a microorganism, too tiny to be seen without a microscope.

microsociology: the study of social interactions. Compare macrosociology.

Microsoft (1975–): an American software company founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Microsoft makes the world’s most popular operating system (Windows) and general productivity software (Office).

Middle Ages (aka Medieval period) (~467–1400): the period of European history between the 5th and 15th centuries, beginning with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages.

mimetic desire: desire provoked by what someone else wants.

mind: an intangible organ for symbolic processing.

mind perception: see mentalizing.

mind pop: spontaneous involuntary recall of something from the past, commonly somehow related to what had the subject of recent conscious thought (even though the link may be obscure or subconsciously made).

mind-body: the mind and body as an integral life form.

mind-body problem: the unsolvable inquiry into the functional interface between the intangible mind and the physical body.

mind-brain: the mind and animal brain as an integrated unit for mentation.

mindfulness (aka mindfulness meditation): the practice of paying attention to the prattles of the mind, which has ignorantly been popularized as a form of meditation when it is nothing of the sort. Compare introspection, metacognition.

mind-set: a fixed mental orientation.

minor scale (music): a musical scale loaded with dissonance potential. Compare major scale.

mixed emotion: the simultaneous experience of multiple emotions which may be incongruous.

mnemonist (derived from mnemonic): a person with the superior innate recall.

model (mathematics): a mathematical construct.

moksha (aka mokșa, mukti): liberation from the perpetual cycle of reincarnation (samsāra) via realization (jnāna), according to Hindu belief.

monism: the metaphysical doctrine that there is a singular reality, either matterism or energyism. Contrast dualism.

monochronic (culture): a culture that views time as linear and divisible, and particularly monetary (time as money). Contrast polychronic.

monogamy: a mating system comprising a male and female pair. Contrast polygamy.

monologue: prolonged one-way communication by an organism. Contrast dialogue.

monotheism: the belief in a singular god. Contrast polytheism.

mood: an emotive frame of mind.

Moon: Earth’s solitary satellite; the 5th-largest satellite in the solar system.

moral: conforming to a principle of appropriate behavior based upon respect of other life.

moral absolutism: the principle that acts are intrinsically right or wrong. See deontology.

moral philosophy: see ethics.

moral universe: the belief that a natural morality exists.

morality: the differentiation between social right and wrong based upon fairness. The philosophy of morality is ethics. A moral code is a creed of morality.

more (sociology): a folkway of central importance; a strongly held norm. See taboo.

morpheme: an atomic grammatical unit of a language.

motivated reasoning: decision-making biased by emotion.

motivation: a stimulus that causes an organism to behave in a certain way. See desire.

Müller-Lyer illusion: an optical illusion devised by Franz Carl Müller-Lyer in 1889 – that the mind offsets the center point of an arrow (toward the tail).

multi-stability (perception): given sensory ambiguity, the inclination to alternately experience distinct interpretations.

muscle memory: a procedural memory of physical activity.

music: sound perceived as patterned via repetitive elements.

mutualism: regular interaction between 2 organisms that provides mutual benefits.

mya: millions of years ago.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): an introspective questionnaire intended to reveal psychological preferences which indicate personality type, based upon a theory by Carl Jung. MBTI was developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers, from the early 1920s, and published in 1944.

mystical: enigmatic, in being beyond direct evidentiary discernment.

mysticism: the doctrine that knowledge of ultimate reality may be subjectively intuited.


naïve empiricism: the belief that knowledge can only be gained through empirical examination of Nature.

naïve realism (aka direct realism, commonsense realism, scientific realism): the belief that actuality as perceived is reality.

narcissism: an inordinate fascination with oneself; vanity.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration): the United States government space agency.

nation: a political territory. Compare state. See nation-state.

nation-state: the government (state) of a nation; the concept of a nation and its governance as integral.

nativism (philosophy): the epistemology that all knowledge is innate.

nattermind: the involuntary part of the mind that acts like an independent agent. Contrast willmind.

natural concept: an imprecise category developed via experience. Contrast artificial concept.

natural logarithm: a logarithm with e as its base.

natural number (aka counting number): a number in the set of numbers {1, 2, 3, …}.

natural philosophy: the study of Nature from a holistic perspective; the common methodology of comprehending Nature until the 17th century, before modern science barged in with its strictly empirical scientific method. See natural science. Contrast science.

natural science: natural philosophy coupled to the scientific method.

natural selection: a meaningless term acclaiming Darwinism, popular among religious evolutionary biologists who should know better. See Darwinism.

naturalism: the monistic matterist belief that observable actuality and reality are synonymous. Compare naïve realism. See matterism. Contrast supernaturalism.

Nature: the exhibition of existence. See coherence.

Neolithic Revolution (aka Agricultural Revolution) (10,200 bce–[4500–2000] bce): the societal transition to agriculture and settlements. The food surpluses resulting from this ratcheted socioeconomic inequality.

neonate: a human infant within 28 days of birth.

neural network: computer software for pattern matching using a data tensor network that is imagined to work like neurons in the brain.

neurobiology (aka neuroscience): the study of the nervous system. With respect to psychology, many neurobiologists idiotically claim that nerve cells manufacture the mind and consciousness via some mystical physical network effect. See Spokes 4.

neuron (aka nerve cell): an electrically excitable intercellular signaling cell as part of the nervous system. Neurons provide information to glia cells for processing.

neuron doctrine: the mistaken notion that neurons are the cells of intelligence.

neuroscience: see neurobiology.

neurosis: abiding bothersome mental dissonance. The term is no longer considered acceptable by many in the American psychology community. Compare psychosis.

neuroticism: chronic emotional disturbance; acceptance of the predations of the mind associated with negative emotional states. Chronic fear, anxiety, worry, moodiness, frustration, and loneliness are neurotic.

neutral monism (aka neumonism): the epistemology that the essence of existence is neither material nor mental, but energetic. Compare idealism. See energyism.

New Age: a term applied in the 1970s to eclectic spiritual beliefs not associated with conventional religions.

nidifugous: a bird that leaves the nest shortly after hatching.

nihilism: the philosophic doctrine that there is no objectivity, including denial of intrinsic meaning to living. Nihilism has a convoluted history, where several nuanced meanings have been attached to the term (an irony that denying meaning can be so richly meaningful). Buddha (and others later) cautioned against nihilism as tempting moral rot. In modern philosophic thought, Friedrich Nietzsche extensively pondered nihilism, and is most associated with the doctrine.

Every belief, every considering something true, is necessarily false because there is simply no true world. Inevitably, nihilism will expose all cherished beliefs and sacrosanct truths as symptoms of a defective mythos. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

While the teachings of Ishi Nobu concur with Nietzsche’s above observation, Nobu emphasizes construing life as entertainment – a natural outcome of quieting nattermind and living transcendentally.

non-Euclidian geometry: a geometrical system that postulates curved, higher-dimensional (hd) space. non-Euclidian geometry diverges from Euclidian geometry in relaxing the parallel postulate.

nonverbal leakage: body language which inadvertently reveals instant social receptivity.

Nordic: the Germanic peoples of northern European origin, exemplified by the Scandinavians.

norepinephrine (C8H11NO3; aka noradrenaline): a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Norepinephrine boosts heart rate and controls the fight-or-flight response, spiking when feeling threatened or experiencing intense emotions. In humans, norepinephrine is associated with mental concentration.

norm: a behavioral practice conforming with culture. See folkway, more, taboo.

normal distribution (aka Gaussian distribution): a continuous probability spread.

normative ethics: the study of ethical action. See descriptive ethics.

normative order: the norms which permit a society to achieve relatively peaceful social control.

normative organization (aka voluntary association): an organization people join to support its stated goal. Compare utilitarian organization, coercive organization.

nostalgia effect: the tendency of emotionally positive memories to grow rosier over time.

note (music): the written form of a tone; casually used as a synonym for pitch.

noumenon: outside of existence; not phenomenal. A noumenon is beyond perception, as contrasted to phenomena.

nouveau riche: those whose wealth has been acquired within their own generation or that of their parents.

nuclear family (aka conjugal family): a family group comprising a married couple (husband and wife) and their offspring.


obedience: an act of obeying an authority. Compare conformity.

object permanence: the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed. Jean Piaget brought object permanence to prominence in his study of developmental psychology.

objectification (sociology): a process of subjugation, where people are treated as objects: means to an end.

objective: the idea of something having independence in its existence. Contrast subjective.

objectivity: the idea that Nature and reality are independent of consciousness. Contrast showtivity.

observation inflation: a false memory of having done something which was only witnessed. See imagination inflation.

obsession: a persistent mental construct.

obsessive-compulsive disorder: an anxiety disorder of an obsession combined with a compulsion.

Occam’s razor: a problem-solving heuristic of preferring the simplest explanation for something which relies upon the fewest reasonable assumptions; named after William of Ockham. With its preference for simplicity, Occam’s razor has found favor among scientists, who like its inherent falsifiability criterion. This is paradoxical (or just plain stupid), considering that Nature always exhibits a practically inscrutable complexity which is only deceptively simple.

Occident: the West; societies of European descent, including North America. Compare Orient.

oculesics: the study of eyes as a conduit of nonverbal communication; a subcategory of kinesics.

Oedipal complex (Freudian psychoanalytic theory): the emotions of a child in desiring to sexually possess the parent of the opposite sex. These emotions are kept in the unconscious by repression.

olfaction (aka oflactics): the act or sense of smell.

oligarchy: inordinate power in an organization, industry, or state vested in a relative few persons.

omniscience: (the idea of) having comprehensive awareness and comprehension of Nature. Compare knowledge.

ontology (philosophy): the study of the nature of reality. Compare phenomenology.

operant conditioning: a behaviorist technique of training via reinforcement or punishment. Compare classical conditioning.

opportunity cost (aka alternative cost): the cost of passing up alternatives. While opportunity cost may be considered prior to a decision, opportunity cost is most clearly a product of hindsight bias when the decision is not as satisfying as expected.

optimism: an opinion of positivity about a certain system. Contrast pessimism.

ordinal number: a number indicating rank order (1st, 2nd, et cetera). Compare cardinal number.

organic solidarity (aka contractual solidarity): societal adhesion among peoples with differentiated lives, such as in industrialized nations. Contrast mechanical solidarity. Compare gesellschaft, gemeinshaft.

organitype: the paradigms which constitute an organism: the combination of phenotype, mentotype, and genotype.

organization: a goal oriented, structured, secondary group. Organizations have a sustaining existence independent of their members. See institution, bureaucracy.

Orient: the East, especially East Asia; societies historically influenced by Chinese culture. Compare Occident.

out-group: a group generally viewed negatively. Contrast in-group.

over-controlled aggressor: a person with strong internal controls against aggression, but who have an outburst of extreme violence once sufficiently provoked. Contrast under-controlled aggressor.

overclass: the highest social stratum in a society, having the most prestige, influence, and wealth. Compare underclass.

overreactive aggression: the tendency toward extreme retaliation in response to even mild provocation.


palter: to act insincerely or deceitfully.

panpsychism: the idea that a consciousness and mind is inherent in all things. Panpsychism is one of the oldest philosophical theories and was the prevailing orthodoxy until the mid-20th century, when supplanted by neopositivism. Compare hylozoism, animism.

pantheism: the belief that Nature includes an immanent God. Pantheism was popularized by Spinoza. Compare supremism.

parabola (algebra): a graph of a quadratic equation.

paracosm: a detailed imaginary world.

paradigm: a construed pattern, often used as a framework for perception.

paralanguage (aka vocalics): vocal intonations of speech.

parallel postulate: Euclid’s geometric 5th postulate, which states (for 2d geometry): if a line segment intersects 2 straight lines forming 2 interior angles on the same side that sum to less than 2 right angles, then the 2 lines, if extended indefinitely, meet on that side on which the angles sum to less than 2 right angles. Unlike Euclid’s other 4 postulates, the 5th postulate was not self-evident, as attested by efforts through the centuries to prove it.

parameter (statistics): a quantitative characteristic of a population. Compare statistic.

paranoia: an abiding sense of peril. See persecution complex.

pareidolia: imagining a visual pattern where none exists.

Parthian Empire (aka Arsacid Empire) (247 bce–224 ce): a west-Asian empire in ancient Iran and Iraq.

passion: intense emotional attachment.

pathological (psychology): a behavioral or thought pattern that is extreme, excessive, or markedly abnormal.

patriarchy: a social organization where males are dominant. Contrast matriarchy.

pedagogy: teaching.

peer group: a primary group of people with similar interests, age, background, and social status. Such peers exert conformity pressure (peer pressure) on each other. See homophily.

penis envy (Freudian psychoanalytic theory): a girl’s envious reaction to realizing that she lacks a penis (even as Freud considered the clitoris a female’s penis). Penis envy is different from small penis syndrome, which is a male suffering angst by thinking that his dick is dinky, a notion explored by Otto Fenichel.

perceive, perception: mentally integrating sensory input (sensation) using memory. Perception is a 3-stage process: 1) turn a sensation into a symbolic representation, 2) identify sensed symbols using memory and categorization, then 3) derive the meaning of the identified symbols, especially regarding affinity or avoidance. See conceptualization.

persecution delusion: paranoia about someone or others.

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you. ~ Joseph Heller

persistence of vision: the optical illusion that a visual perception briefly lingers after its disappearance.

personal fact: a personally experienced fact. See fact. Contrast social fact.

personality: individual patterns of behavior in an organism that suggest a certain emotional orientation and/or worldview.

perspective-taking: mentally viewing a situation or examining a concept from an alternative point of view.

pessimism: an opinion of negativity about a certain system. Contrast optimism.

pest: an organism deemed a nuisance.

pesticide: a biocide intended to destroy pests.

Peter principle: a 1969 tongue-in-cheek proposal by Laurence Peter that, within bureaucracies, managers are promoted until they are incompetent at their position.

phenomenal: known through perception. Contrast intuition.

phenomenon (plural: phenomena): a perceptible event. See actuality. Contrast noumenon.

phenomenology (philosophy): the study of the nature of phenomena, experience, and consciousness. See ontology.

phenomenology (psychology): the study of subjective experience.

phenotype: the composite visible traits of an organism: physical, physiological, and behavioral. Compare mentotype.

phi phenomenon: the optical illusion of perceiving continuous motion when shown a rapidly presented series of still (static) images. Moving pictures illustrate the phi phenomenon. Compare beta movement.

philology: the study of language from written historical sources.

philosophical pessimism: a worldview that finds the unsavory facts of the world the source of psychic suffering. Philosophical pessimism is a philosophic admission of defeat by the pignorant.

Time is a burden; the course of history is in some sense ironic; freedom and happiness are incompatible; and human existence is absurd. ~ Joshua Dienstag

philosophy: a set of consistent definitions pertaining to a system which yields a hierarchical construal. The term philosophy derives from the ancient Greek for “love of wisdom.” There are 3 branches of philosophy: natural, moral, and metaphysical. Natural philosophy, which evolved into science, concerns Nature. Moral philosophy deals with the principles of ethics. Metaphysics considers first principles, such as ontology, and is intimately connected with epistemology.

phobia: persistent fear of a specific activity, situation, or object.

phoneme: a syllable of sound.

phrenology: the pseudoscience that measurements of the skull could reveal a person’s psychology, because the brain was the organ of the mind.

physics: the study of matter and its patterns of motion, with the intent of understanding how the universe behaves.

physiological psychology: the empiricist view of psychology as an adjunct to physiology. This school of belief culminated in behaviorism and contributed to the gumbo known as cognitive psychology.

pictogram (aka pictograph): a written symbol representing an object. Compare ideogram.

pitch (music): the frequency of a tone.

pignorance (perspective-ignorance): a wrong worldview from not knowing the nature of existence. Compare fignorance. See ignorance, naïve realism.

placebo: a simulated medical treatment intended to deceive the recipient and thereby provoke the placebo effect of actually working to relieve or even cure the targeted affliction. The term originated with an old Latin word for “I shall please.” In medieval times, a placebo opened the Catholic Vespers for the Dead, which were sung by hired mourners for a funeral; sycophants who wept crocodile tears on behalf of the family. This gave placebo the odious meaning of a toady. The term placebo was transferred to its medical context in the early 19th century. In those days, placebos were remorsefully employed. Placebos’ efficacy gradually transformed their moral worth.

placebo effect: a rejuvenation owing solely to mental invigoration via belief in a placebo (totemic treatment).

pleasure principle: a Freudian term for the idea that people instinctually seek pleasure and avoid pain to satisfy needs. Freud specifically thought that the pleasure principle drives the id.

plow (noun): an implement for cutting, lifting, and turning over soil, especially for preparing a seedbed.

pluralistic ignorance: inferring that others have different mental states from oneself despite identical behaviors.

plutocracy: political rule by the wealthy.

polar coordinate system: a 2d (planar) coordinate system in which a point can be specified as at a distance from a fixed point (typically the origin (0,0)) and an angle from a fixed direction (typically the horizontal axis).

polio (poliomyelitis, aka infantile paralysis): an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus, a human enterovirus.

polyandry: a mating system of 1 female and 2 or more males. Contrast polygyny.

polychronic (culture): a socially oriented culture that considers schedule adherence secondary to civility. Contrast monochronic.

polygamy: a mating system of having multiple contemporaneous mates. See polyandry and polygyny. Contrast monogamy.

polygyny: a mating system 1 male and 2 or more females. Contrast polyandry.

polymath: a person of encyclopedic learning.

polynomial: an algebraic expression consisting of variables and coefficients, where the expression is limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and non-negative integer powers.

polysemy: the capacity for a signification to have multiple meanings.

polytheism: belief in multiple gods. Contrast monotheism.

Ponzo illusion: a visual illusion devised by Mario Ponzo in 1911: that 2 lines of identical length are perceived of different lengths when bracketed by converging lines that appear to confer linear perspective.

population (statistics): the set of objects about which information is wanted.

population parameter (aka statistical parameter): a numerical characteristic of a population or statistical model; a quantity that indexes a family of probability distributions. A parameter of a population is as a statistic is to a sample.

positivism: the idea that valid knowledge (truth) is only had via logical treatment of sensory experience. Positivism rejects introspection and intuition as sources of knowledge. Contrast antipositivism.

postulate: an assumption used in proofs. Compare axiom.

power (mathematics) (aka exponent): how many times to use a number in a multiplication.

power distance: Geert Hofstede’s term for societal range of social stratification.

pragmatism (philosophy): a philosophy that rejects the idea that thought serves to comprehend reality; instead, cognition is a tool for problem-solving and decision-making. Pragmatism began in the United States around 1870.

precarity: existence without economic security or predictability.

precocial: animal species with relatively mature and mobile young from the moment of birth or hatching. Many, though not all, arthropods, fish, amphibians, and reptiles are precocial. Contrast altricial.

precocious knowledge: inborn knowledge. Precocious knowledge is a telltale of energyism, as it cannot be explained via materiality.

preconscious: a Freudian construct of thoughts which are conceived at the unconscious, but not subject to repression, and so are capable of becoming conscious. Compare unconscious, conscious. See subconscious.

predeterminism (aka fatalism): the idea that events are determined in advance.

predictable (adjective): foreknowable; capable of being known in advance or anticipated.

predictable-world bias: a tendency to see order where it does not exist.

prejudice: a preconceived negative attitude toward members of a social group. Compare discrimination.

premise: a proposition supportive of a conclusion.

present bias: the preference for rewards in the near future as contrasted to later.

presocial: An animal species that lacks 1 of the 3 following characteristics: 1) reproductive division of labor, 2) cooperative care of the young, or 3) overlapping generations. Contrast eusocial.

prevaricate: to lie or speak misleadingly.

primary group: a group of people with high affinity, such as family or friends. Compare secondary group.

primate: a mammal order, containing prosimians (neither monkey nor ape) and simians (monkeys and apes). Humans are primates.

prime number: a natural number greater than 1 that cannot be formed by multiplying 2 smaller natural numbers.

priming: an implicit memory recall effect via stimulus that is somehow related to the implicit memory.

probability: the likelihood of an event.

probability curve: a curve that describes the distribution of probability of an event based upon statistical sampling.

probability value (p-value): a statistical indication that a proposed hypothesis may be plausible.

problem: a dynamic not understood for which a solution is sought (problem-solving). Whereas problem-solving which shapes matter is craftwork, entirely abstract (non-material) problem-solving is symwork (of symbolic representations).

procedural memory (aka implicit memory): memory of a learned skill. Contrast declarative memory.

projection (psychology): an attribution of personality trait with insufficient evidential behavioral basis; as a Freudian defense mechanism, a person unconsciously ascribes to another one’s own unacceptable attributes.

proof (mathematics): an inferential argument as a statement, based upon axioms and postulates. Compare theorem.

propaganda: information or argument intended to help or harm an individual, group, movement, institution, or nation.

property (economics): objects which may be owned. Ownership of land is called real property.

proprioception: an organism’s sense of physical self, including the relative position of various body parts and their employment, and as well the energy required for movement or other activity.

prosimian: the suborder of primate which includes lemurs, bushbabies, and tarsiers, among others. See simian.

prosody: the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech.

prospect theory (psychology) (aka loss-aversion theory): a theory of psychology concerning how people choose among alternatives which involve risk. Prospect theory assumes people are more averse to loss than desirous of gain. Prospect theory incorporates framing effect. Prospect theory was proposed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979, and further developed in 1992.

prospective memory: a memory relating to the future. Contrast retrospective memory.

Protestant Reformation (1517–1648): a doctrinal schism from the Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther.

Protestantism: the branch of Christianity that developed from the Protestant Reformation.

proxemics: the (study of the) use of space in social interaction, especially as a facet of nonverbal communication.

psyche: the psychological structure of an organism, especially as a motive force.

psychiatry: the study of mental disorders, their diagnosis, and treatment.

psychic energy (aka mental energy): the inherent energy in a psyche. Aristotle conceived of actus et potentia: dynamic potential. Henry More identified an “energy of the soul” in 1642. In 1874 Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke described the life-energy system (lengyre) as “psychodynamics.” von Brücke supervised 1st-year medical student Sigmund Freud, who adopted the idea. In 1928 Carl Jung published an essay on psychic energy. Psychic energy and psychodynamics were promoted by Alfred Adler, Melanie Klein, and Katharine Cook Briggs, among others.

psychoanalysis: a method of psychological therapy originated by Sigmund Freud in the mid-1890s in which a patient freely talks (free association) about their mental turmoil as a means for insight. The key assumptions behind psychoanalysis are that the mind represses relevant information for a healthy mental life, and, most saliently, that the fabrications of the mind are not in of themselves the problem.

psychobiology (aka biological psychology, biopsychology, behavioral neuroscience): the school of thought which treats psychology as an adjunct to biology.

psychological complex: a debilitating emotional complex.

psychological distance: the mentally construed remove from an object, person, or event.

psychological field theory: a hypothesis by Kurt Lewin that a person’s “psychological field” dynamically emerges from the individual’s “life space.”

psychology: the study of the mind, leading to philosophy about the mind. There can be no science of the mind. An individual psychology is characterized by mental and behavioral habits.

psychometrics: the study and technique of taking psychological measurements.

psychopath: a person without an innate sense of empathy.

psychopathy: a mental disorder characterized by impaired empathy, lack of remorse, and bold, disinhibited egotism. Lack of empathic feelings hinders social learning. Psychopathy has had different conceptions throughout history and remains controversial. See sociopathy.

psychophysics: the study of the relation between stimuli and the senses with regard to physics and psychology.

psychophysical isomorphism: the hypothesis that perceptual phenomena correspond with brain activity, not necessarily sensory stimuli; a fundamental principle of Gestalt psychology. Compare constancy hypothesis.

psychophysiology: the study of perception – how physical events are experienced psychologically.

psychosis: the substitution of experienced actuality with a paracosm. Compare neurosis.

psychosoma: a bodily condition psychologically provoked.

psychospace: the mental, as contrasted to physical, spatial and temporal environment. See psychological distance.

psychotherapy: a general term for psychological treatment via conversation, sometimes along with other techniques.

pusillanimity: timidity, cowardliness.


quantum (physics) (plural: quanta): an infinitesimal chunk of ripple in a localized energy field that appears as a particle.

quantum mechanics (aka quantum field theory): a theoretical framework explaining subatomic interactions from a particle perspective.

quietude: the state of consciousness characterized by being awake with a quiet mind (nattermind subdued). See enlightenment.


race (sociology): a human population unified by culture; more particularly, of related breeding stock; alternately, a subspecies that may interbreed with other subspecies. Compare ethnicity.

radical (mathematics): the square root of a number.

radical behaviorism: a school of behaviorism founded by B.F. Skinner which decreed that all behavior was a deterministic physiological reaction which may be conditioned.

radical sign: √.

radicand: the number (x) of a radical (√x).

ramind: the logic processing (rational reasoning) part of the mind. Compare demind, inmind.

random (adjective): the idea that a system lacks order.

random competence: the faculty of an individual who can generally accomplish a routine task, but struggles, and is prone to blunder, with tasks which require on-the-spot problem-solving. Contrast random incompetence.

random incompetence: the faculty of an individual who is generally competent (satisfactory in task completion) in being a decent, spontaneous problem-solver, nonetheless exhibiting the occasional mistake. Contrast random competence.

random sample (aka simple random sample): randomly picked sample objects for examination.

rational (psychology): agreeable to reason, good sense, and sound judgment.

rational number: a number that can be expressed exactly by a ratio of 2 integers. Contrast irrational number.

rational therapy (aka rational emotive behavior therapy): a psychotherapy developed by Albert Ellis in the mid-1950s aimed at helping people be happier and thereby lead more fulfilling lives by discarding irrational thoughts that invoke negative emotions or maladaptive behavior.

rationalism: the epistemology that knowledge is attained deductively; an epistemology that regards reason as the source and test of knowledge. Rationalists believe that reality has an intrinsically logical structure. Hence, rationalists contend certain truths exist and the intellect can directly grasp these truths.

rationalization (psychology): to invent a sophistic explanation for acts, opinions, emotions, et cetera, that is not the actual cause or reason.

rationalization (sociology): setting aside human natural human inclinations toward emotional values and social mores for stark efficiency in meeting goals.

reaction formation: a Freudian defense mechanism in which unacceptable or anxiety-producing emotions and urges are overcome by embracing the opposite tendency.

real number: either an integer, rational, irrational, algebraic, or transcendental number.

reality: that which necessarily is, phenomenal or noumenonal. Contrast actuality.

realization (aka unity consciousness): an enlightened state of consciousness with an abiding experience of the unicity of Nature. (Note that the term enlightenment is sometimes used for realization. No knowledgeable distinction may be made between enlightenment and realization by those not having attained unity consciousness.) Compare enlightenment, coherence consciousness.

reasoning: making sense of experience and applying logic.

reciprocal altruism: tit-for-tat altruism; an organism helping another with the expectation that the favor may be returned in the future.

reciprocity: mutual exchange (giving and receiving).

reductionism: the absurd idea that a complex dynamic system can be understood by ascertaining and analyzing constituent elements. Reductionism requires that the something can never be more than the sum of its parts. Reductionists explain biological processes in the same way that chemists and physicists interpret inanimate matter. In adhering to empirical cause-and-effect, reductionism is a tool of matterism. See synergy. Contrast holism.

reference-group: a group that serves for self-evaluation. See in-group, out-group.

reflection (psychology): contemplation involving imagination.

reflex (biology): an autonomic response to a certain stimulus.

regression (psychology): a Freudian defense mechanism involving a reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development, rather than dealing with unacceptable desires in a more adult way.

regret: to be distressed over one’s past act or failure to act.

reify, reification: to regard an abstraction as an actual thing.

reincarnation: the idea that souls cycle through incarnations; common in many spiritual belief systems, though not a mainstream belief in Abrahamic religions (monotheistic religions which include Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

reliability: the probability of success in light of the frequency of failure.

reliability theory: a probabilistic approach to engineering quality control that emphasizes dependability in product lifecycle management.

religion: a shared belief system encompassing the nature of the universe and life, commonly belied by evidence. Religions are frequently faith-based, typically dogmatic, and usually involve supernatural agents (gods). Compare natural philosophy. Contrast science.

reminiscence theory of knowledge: a hypothesis by Plato that all knowledge is attained by soul-searching; that all knowledge is innate and can only be tapped through introspection.

Renaissance (14th–17th centuries): the European intellectual and cultural movement from the mid-14th century (after the Black Death) into the 17th century, characterized by collective nostalgia for classical antiquity, though it ended up with skepticism toward traditional thought. The Renaissance affected the arts, religion, politics, philosophy, and science.

representativeness heuristic: a mental shortcut for judgment using probabilistic assumption of similarity based upon experience.

repression (psychology): a Freudian defense mechanism of excluding unacceptable desires from the conscious mind.

repulsion (psychology): strong dislike, distaste, aversion. Contrast attachment.

resonance (music): the vibrational quality of a tone.

restraint bias: a tendency to overestimate self-control.

retrospective memory: a memory from the past. A retrospective memory may be explicit (declarative) or implicit (procedural). Contrast prospective memory.

rhythm: the percussive propulsion of music. Compare melody.

Riemannian geometry (aka elliptic geometry): a non-Euclidean geometry by Bernhard Riemann, rejecting Euclid’s 5th postulate (the parallel postulate) and modifying Euclid’s 2nd postulate (that finite straight lines can be extended) to state that all straight lines are the same length.

Rig Veda (~1500–1200 bce): an Indo-Aryan collection of Sanskrit hymns; 1 of 4 sacred Vedic texts (the Vedas) of Hinduism. The other Vedas are Yajur, Sama, and Athar.

right triangle: a triangle with 2 sides forming a 90° angle.

right wing: the political philosophy that certain stratified social orders are natural, desirable, or inevitable; typically associated with conservatism and socioeconomic inequality. Contrast left wing.

risk: the idea that loss or other inconvenience may occur.

role (sociology): the behaviors, obligations, and privileges attached to a social status.

Roman Empire: the autocratic period of ancient Roman civilization following the Roman Republic. The Italy based Roman Empire lasted 27 bce–476 ce, while the later west Asian Roman Empire dates 330–1453.

Romanesco broccoli: the flower bud of Brassica oleracea, notable for its fractal appearance, its relative crunchiness, and delicate, nutty flavor.

Romanticism (aka Romantic Era): the intellectual and aesthetic movement which originated in Europe at the end of the 18th century and was the strong intellectual current there until 1850. Romanticism emphasized the subjective emotions behind the aesthetic experiences of life. Romanticism revolted against the aristocratic norms of the day, as well as taking a swipe at the scientific rationalization of the natural world, in favor of admiring the beauty and power of Nature. Romanticism weaved a complex set of effects; politically, it fostered nationalism. See Age of Enlightenment.


sadness: an emotional sense of want.

sample (statistics): data about a subset of a target population. Compare parameter.

sampling frame (statistics): the source material or method by which a sample is selected.

samsāra: the perpetual cycle of personal reincarnation according to Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

sanction: a bizarre word embracing antithetical opposites – an authoritative permission or a provision for punishment for violating a norm. In usage, the intended meaning of this polar term is conveyed contextually.

sanguine (adjective): optimistic anticipation.

sarcasm: constructing or exposing contradictions between intended meanings.

Satan: in Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), a demon who brings temptation and evil.

satisfaction: gratification; enjoyment of an outcome.

scale (music): a set of musical notes ordered by pitch.

scenario: an imagined set of events or dialogue.

schadenfreude: enjoying the misfortune of another.

schema (psychology) (aka scheme): an organization within memory.

schemata (Piagetian psychology): a system for knowledge acquisition.

schizophrenia: a mental disorder characterized by short attention span, disorientation, and mistaking unreality for actuality, including hallucinations.

schizotypy: a continuum of mental illnesses characterized by dissociative and imaginative mental states (in place of perceiving actuality), of which schizophrenia is an extreme.

Scholasticism: the theological and philosophical teaching methods in Christian universities from the 12th century through the 16th.

science: the study of Nature from a strictly empirical standpoint. Compare natural philosophy. Contrast religion.

scientific management: a theory of management aimed at improving productivity by analyzing workflow. Scientific management was pioneered by Frederick Taylor from the 1880s.

Scientific Revolution (1543–1687): a label by historians to ascribe the era in which modern science emerged. The 1543 posthumous publication of Copernicus’ essay on heliocentrism is commonly cited as the start date, and Newton’s 1687 publication of Principia (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) considered its completion.

sclera: the white of the eye. Nonhuman primates have dark, barely visible sclera.

script (psychology): a behavior pattern based upon ecological cues.

secondary group: a group of people with a shared interest. Compare primary group.

sect (sociology): a group adhering to a particular religion.

selective attention: focused notice to a subset of simultaneously presented sensory stimuli.

self (psychology): a mental construct of personal identity.

self-actualization: Abraham Maslow’s term for the mental state which both promotes and results from high creative and cognitive productivity. Maslow conceptualized self-actualization as akin to enlightenment, albeit necessitating achievement as a recognition factor. On this Maslow was wrong.

self-conscious: intensely aware of oneself.

self-control (aka self-discipline): the ability to regulate impulse and suspend the urge for instant gratification.

self-disclosure: revelation of new information about oneself to someone.

self-enhancement: the upshot of evaluating oneself in an unrealistically positive manner.

self-esteem (aka self-worth, self-regard, self-respect): individual emotive assessment of one’s own quality.

self-esteem bias (aka self-serving bias): a tendency to preserve self-esteem.

self-image: see self.

selfie: a photograph of oneself taken by oneself.

semantic memory: memory of facts and concepts. Compare episodic memory, topographic memory.

semiotics (communication): the study of meaning.

sensate, sensation: receiving stimuli from sensory organs for collation and interpretation via perception.

sensory: pertaining to sense organ stimulation.

sentient: possessing perception and consciousness.

sentimentality: the fusion of emotional attachment to episodic memory.

set (mathematics): a collection of symbolic representations.

set theory: a branch of mathematical logic dealing with sets.

sex: female or male specialization in sexually reproducing organisms (or other designation in species with more than 2 sexes); also colloquially used for the act of sexual reproduction (a verb oddly posing in noun form, e.g., “have sex with her,” not “sex her”). Compare gender.

shame: an emotion of perceived censure. Compare guilt.

shared subjectivity: the principle that shared subjective perceptions creates an illusion of objectivity via showtivity.

Shinto: an indigenous religion in Japan which is fundamentally animism.

showtivity: the seeming objectivity of Nature via a shared experiential platform provided by Ĉonsciousness and coherence as an ordering principle for the perception of Nature.

side effect: an effect of action not principal to intention.

simian: the suborder of primate comprising the “higher primates”: monkeys, apes, and humans. Simians tend to be larger than prosimians (“lower primates”). See prosimian.

simple supernaturalism: the monistic belief that all of Nature is a unicity of entangled interaction. Compare animism.

simulation heuristic: a psychological heuristic in which the likelihood of an event is adjudged upon how easy it is to imagine.

simultaneous contrast: the way 2 distinct colors affect each other when adjacent; the perceived tendency of a color to induce its opposite in hue, value, and intensity upon an adjacent color, and be mutually affected in return. Contrast color assimilation.

size-weight illusion (aka Charpentier illusion, after Augustin Charpentier, who discovered it): the perceptual illusion of thinking that larger objects are lighter than smaller objects when they are actually the same weight.

sleep (aka asleep): the state of consciousness where the body and mind are in repose.

slut: a woman perceived as immoral for desiring sex without an attendant emotional relationship (an urge for which a man is never considered immoral).

social: interacting with others (conspecific or interspecific).

social bias: a bias in perceiving others; prejudice toward a particular social group.

social comparison theory: the theory of self-evaluation via comparison to others; initially proposed by Leon Festinger in 1954.

social contract: the idea of there being a rightful authority of the state over individuals by dint of reciprocity. Social contract theory dates to ancient Greek philosophers, albeit with its heyday from the 17th to the 19th century, when it emerged as the primary argument for the legitimacy of the state.

social control: shared understanding and norms which constrain public behaviors to maintain order.

social distance: the physical separation between parties during impersonal social meetings.

social fact (aka institutional fact (John Searle)): an accepted fact only via social consensus. Contrast personal fact.

social learning: learning in a social context, by observation, and often involving imitation.

social mobility: the degree to which an individual may alter standing in social stratification.

social psychology: the overarching psychology of a person with regard to social relations; (academically) the study of human thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the context of sociality. As an academic discipline, social psychology bridges the gap between psychology and sociology in studying how people perceive social relations.

social stratification: a system of social hierarchy in a society.

social structure: the folkways of a society, including stratification.

socialism: a doctrine advocating that wealth be shared among the community; a societal and economic system of sharing, typically characterized by public ownership of enterprises.

sociality (aka sociability): the state of being social; general affinity toward others, especially conspecifics. See gregarious.

socialization: the process of acclimating to social norms.

society: a system of interpersonal interactions, incorporating both culture and social structure.

socio-narcissism: narcissism in a social context.

sociobiology: zoological study that assumes social behavior is a product of evolution.

sociocultural evolutionism (aka cultural evolution): an evolutionary take on social dynamics which presupposes that social systems progress.

sociocultural theory: a theory by Lev Vygotsky which emphasized childhood psychological development via cultural indoctrination.

sociology: the science of human social behaviors.

sociopathy: antisocial behavior stemming from a lack of morality or social conscience; antisocial psychopathy.

solipsism: the irrefutable argument that only the self can be proven to exist; universally ignored.

somatype: a tripartite taxonomy of human body types by William Sheldon, with ectomorphs (gracile), mesomorphs (mid-sized), and endomorphs (wide-bodied).

song sparrow (Melospiza melodia): a medium-sized American sparrow.

sophism: a specious argument.

sophistic: plausible but fallacious. Compare specious.

sortal: a categorical object.

soul: individual consciousness; the part of an organism capable of passively witnessing its own mentation (introspection); more transcendentally, the perpetual essence of a life form.

Spanish Inquisition (formally: Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition) (1478–1834): an institution established by the Spain’s monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella I to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdom, and, in its origination, to replace the Medieval Inquisition, which had been under Papal control. Jews and Muslims were ordered to convert or leave. The most intense period of persecution was 1480–1530. All told, about 150,000 people were charged and tortured, and ~3,000 executed. An untold number of Muslim and Jewish subjects were exiled. The Spanish Inquisition withstanding, Spain had more political freedom than other contemporaneous European absolute monarchies.

speciation: the process of species formation.

species (biology): a distinct population of organisms.

specified complexity: the creationist idea that when biological complexity appears specific to a trait, it must have been intelligently designed – implying an intelligent designer in the form of God. Introduced by Charles Thaxton in 1986, and further developed by William Dembski in the 1990s.

specious: having a false genuineness. Compare sophistic.

Spectator, The (1711–1712; 1714): a popular London daily newspaper, founded by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. The Spectator succeeded The Tatler, which Steele had launched in 1709. The Spectator also had many readers in the American colonies. Its popularity owed to its sense of taste and urbanity. The brief (80 numbers) 1714 revival of The Spectator was by Addison, without Steele’s involvement. The Spectator’s influence far outlasted its brief publication by establishing a vogue for such periodicals. It also helped create a receptive public for novelists.

spider: an 8-legged arachnid that injects it prey with venom via fangs. There are ~44,000 spider species.

spirituality: a subjective sense of existence that transcends purely physiological experience.

spotlight effect: the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others notice how one looks or behaves.

staccato (music): individual, disconnected notes. Contrast legato.

standard deviation (σ): the amount of variation or dispersion from the mean.

Standard Model (quantum physics): a quantum field theory focused on theorized fundamental subatomic quanta and their interactions. The Standard Model is known to be incomplete.

state (politics): an abiding political institution represented by a government. Compare nation.

statistic: a quantitative characteristic of a sample.

statistical learning: the ability to discern statistical regularities within streams of sensation.

statistics: the mathematical science of data collection, classification, analysis, and interpretation within the precepts of probability.

status (sociology): a relative socially defined position in a group or society. Status is a level in a social structure.

status consistency: the elasticity of social ranking with regard to social stratification.

status function: mentally assigning a meaning or function to an object.

stereotype: a classification for drawing inferences about people based upon select attributes.

stochastic process (aka random process) (probability theory): (the idea of) the evolution of random variables over time; a mathematical object defined as a collection of random variables. Stochastic processes are employed as mathematical models of systems imbued with randomness. Contrast deterministic system.

Stoicism: a Hellenistic philosophy emphasizing self-control as a means for a virtuous life.

Stone Age (roughly 3.4 mya–3300 bce): the 1st principal period of the 3-age system, noted for use of stone tools, prior to the advent of metalworking. See Bronze Age, Iron Age.

stratagem: an artifice or deceptive trick aimed at a specific outcome.

stress (biology): an organism’s sustained response to a stimulus, either environmental or internally produced.

stress (psychology): a dysfunctional form of emotional memory stored in the mind-body.

strongman: an authoritarian political leader.

structuralism: a school of psychology proposed by Edward Titchener that the components of the mind could be understood through introspection. The conceptual and practical limitations of Titchener’s structuralism rendered it a footnote in the history of psychology. Compare functionalism.

subconscious (aka unconscious): mentation that one is not aware of (not conscious of); below the threshold of awareness. Compare conscious.

subjective: something within personal experience. Contrast objective.

subjective idealism: the monistic doctrine that Nature is experienced solely within the mind. See idealism, solipsism.

subjectivity: the idea that manifestation is necessarily an experience of individual consciousness. Contrast objectivity.

sublimation (psychology): according to Freud, a defense mechanism whereby one consciously turns a socially unacceptable impulse into a socially-acceptable behavior.

subliminal: operating subconsciously.

superego: Sigmund Freud’s term for the moral part of the psyche. Compare id, ego.

superiority complex: a generalized feeling of superiority to conspecifics. The term was coined by Alfred Adler in 1927. Compare inferiority complex.

supremism (religion): the belief that God actively participates in the universe while also remaining distinct from it. Compare pantheism.

supernaturalism: the belief that energetic forces are in play beyond the phenomenal. See simple supernaturalism, energyism. Contrast naturalism.

syllabary: a writing system of atomic symbols representing oral syllables. Compare alphabet.

syllable: a unit of spoken language.

syllogism: a logical argument via deduction to arrive at a conclusion from 2 or more premises assumed true.

symbol: an abstraction that signifies something; a representation of a concept.

symbolic interactionism (sociology): a sociological perspective emphasizing abstractions as driving the dynamics of social cooperation and conflict. Compare conflictism, functionalism.

symmetry (geometry): balanced proportions; a theoretical situation for a mathematical object, where performing an operation on the object does not alter it. A circle has rotational symmetry, in that a circle is unchanged by rotation. Physicists often see symmetry in their physical models.

sympathy: an empathic feeling of harmony with another, often involving compassion.

synergy: an interaction of elements which, in combination, produces a total effect greater than the sum of individual contributions. Contrast reductionism.

syntactics (communication): the study of symbolic relations in structures.

syntax: the patterns of language; the rule set for forming grammatical sentences.

synthesize: to form (a material or abstraction) by combining parts or elements. Contrast analyze.

system: an assemblage of interdependent or interacting constituent concepts that form a whole.


taboo: a behavior contrary to mores.

talent: a special aptitude.

talisman: an object with symbolic engravings intended to act as a charm for good fortune or to avert evil.

taste (aesthetics): individual aesthetic preferences.

technology: the products of engineering.

teleology (evolutionary biology): the obvious and well-supported theory that adaptation is goal oriented.

teleology (philosophy): the doctrine that final causes (ends or purposes) exist. Socrates, Plato, and Kant argued in favor of teleology.

telomere: a protective region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromosome copy.

temperament (psychology): consistent individual thought and behavior patterns which are biologically based and relatively independent of learning and socialization.

tensor: a geometric object describing linear relations between other geometric entities (vectors, scalars, tensors). A tensor is a geometric entity intertwined with other tensors. Tensors are a tautology of entanglement.

tensor network: a network of tensors.

Terminator, The (1984): an American science-fiction action film about a cyborg assassin (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent back in time.

testosterone (C19H28O2): a steroid hormone found in reptiles, birds, and mammals. Testosterone has a virilizing effect.

theism: belief in a god, viewed as the creative source of Nature, who transcends and yet is immanent in the world; more generally, belief in a god or gods. Compare deism.

theology: the study and interpretation of religious faith and ideas.

theorem (mathematics): a proposition proved via axioms and postulates. Compare proof.

theory: fact-based speculation about the relations between concepts.

theory of mind: the cognitive ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others.

third-force psychology: see humanistic psychology.

threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus): a fish native to inland coastal waters north of 30° N which shows great morphological variation throughout its range and is quite tolerant of salinity changes.

time horizon: temporal orientation, whether looking to the future or the past (long-term and short-term time horizons respectively).

Titanic (RMS Titanic): an English passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean 15 April 1912 after ramming an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.

tone (music): a sound with a certain dominant pitch and resonance.

topographic memory: a memory involving spatial orientation. Contrast episodic memory, semantic memory.

totalitarian: dictatorial; autocratic; relating to a centralized government that does not tolerate dissent and exercises control over many aspects of life.

trained incapacity: a behavioral phenomenon in workers, characterized by the inability to appropriately respond to novel circumstances, or the inability to recognize when rules and procedures are outmoded or inapplicable; coined by American sociologist Thorstein Veblen in 1914. Compare random competence.

trait (biology): an organitypic feature of form and/or function; from an evolutionary perspective, a distinct variant of phenotype, mentotype, or envirotype.

transcendence (consciousness): the state of consciousness where the mind is quiet while the body is resting but receptive to stimuli.

transcendence (religion): the belief that there is a God wholly independent of Nature, beyond the forces of physics. Contrast immanence. Compare supremism.

transcendental: being beyond the conceptual realm considered. Contrast immanent.

transcendental number: a non-algebraic real or complex number with decimal fractions which appear endless but are not a repeating sequence. The best-known transcendental numbers are  and e. Most real and complex numbers are transcendental.

transcendental schema: a procedural rule that associates a concept with a sensory impression; proposed by Immanuel Kant in 1871.

transitive inference: a form of deductive reasoning that allows one to derive a comparative relation between objects based only upon indirect evidence, such as understanding a relation between 2 people based solely upon each of the 2 persons’ interactions with a 3rd person.

triad: a group of 3 people. Compare dyad.

trial and error: an iterative method of problem-solving via learning from mistakes.

tribalism: strong in-group loyalty.

tribe: a social group with a shared culture.

trigonometry: the branch of mathematics that deals with the relations of triangles.

trust (verb): to believe in.

truth: conformity with reality. Compare theory.

tunnel vision: narrow-mindedness; extremely narrow viewpoint.


ultimate attribution error: a group-level attribution error (bias).

unconscious: autonomic mental processes which are not conscious; synonymous with subconscious. The term unconscious was coined by Friedrich Schelling in 1800. Sigmund Freud’s more circumscribed definition considered the unconscious partitioned from the conscious mind, and so not available for introspection, even as it influences behavior. Freud’s unconscious included thoughts, memory, affect, and motivation. Freud’s hypothesis of such an unconscious is unsupported. Compare conscious, subconscious, preconscious.

under-controlled aggressor: an often-violent person with weak internal controls against aggression; typically, prone to overreactive aggression. Contrast over-controlled aggressor.

underclass: the lowest social stratum in a society, usually comprising disadvantaged minority groups. Compare overclass.

understand: to develop a sense of contextual meaning.

United Nations (1945–): an intergovernmental organization promoting international cooperation.

universal: including all without limit or exception.

Upanishads (from the 7th century bce): a collection of ~200 texts which contain philosophic concepts central to Hinduism.

utilitarian organization: an organization people join to get paid. Compare normative organization, coercive organization.

utilitarianism: a normative ethics theory, that right action is the one that maximizes utility – either in bringing happiness or reducing suffering. According to utilitarianism, the moral worth of an act is solely determined by its outcome. Utilitarianism is essentially statistical hedonism. Contrast moral absolutism.

utility (economics, psychology): the satisfaction derived from consumption.

utility theory (economics) (aka expected utility theory): the idea that the utility of an object or event derives from the satisfaction of its consumption. Utility theory was pioneered by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern in 1944. See utility, consume.


valance (psychology): relative capacity to attract.

value (psychology): an abstract standard that defines an ideal principle of what is desirable or morally correct.

value system: a set of preferential values that reflect morals, beliefs, and worldview.

variable (mathematics) (aka indeterminate): a symbol that represents a number (the value of a variable) which is not specified.

Vedas, The: a collection of hymns and other Sanskrit spiritual texts written 1500–300 bce; the earliest literary record of the Indo-Aryan civilization. The Vedas become the canon of Hinduism.

Venn diagram (aka set diagram): a diagram showing logical relations between sets; named after its inventor, John Venn.

ventral: the belly or lower side (of an organism). Contrast dorsal.

veridical: conforming to actuality.

verificationism (aka verification principle): the epistemological doctrine that only verifiable facts are meaningful. See empiricism, neopositivism.

vibration: a periodic oscillation about an equilibrium.

vicarious optimism: sympathetic optimism for another.

victim: an organism that suffers from an injurious agent.

violence: an interaction that leaves its victim worse off than otherwise.

virilization (aka masculinization): biological development that defines a male body.

virus: an obligate parasite that infects all types of organisms.

visceral: felt in the inner being, without reasoning.

vitalism (biology): the doctrine that there is a vital energy specific to living organisms, distinct from chemical and physical forces; a fact generally rejected by modern scientists.

vitalism (natural philosophy): the doctrine that life is essentially distinct from inanimate matter. Compare animism.


wage slave: a worker reliant upon a steady paycheck from a utilitarian organization to survive.

Weltanschauung: see worldview.

WhatsApp (2009–): American instant messaging network, acquired by Facebook in 2014.

white (sociology): a light-skinned Caucasian. Contrast black.

whole number: a number in the set of natural numbers, albeit including zero {0, 1, 2, 3, …}.

willmind: volitional mentation. Contrast nattermind.

wit: clever expression of keen perception. See humor.

Wizard of Oz, The (aka The Wonderful Wizard of Oz): a 1900 fantasy novel by American novelist L. Frank Baum. The Wizard is a humbug who is shamed into helping Dorothy return to her home in Kansas. The Wizard of Oz is best known in its 1939 film adaptation, staring Judy Garland.

word: a unit of language.

World Health Organization (1948–): a United Nations agency concerned with international public health.

worldview (aka Weltanschauung): a cognitive orientation toward life and Nature; coined by Wilhelm von Humboldt, who considered language and worldview entangled.


ya: years ago.

Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon (Huangdi Neijing) (circa 250 bce): an ancient Chinese medical text which was the fundamental source for Chinese medicine for over 2 millennia.

yin-yang: the traditional Chinese concept of interdependent dynamic forces composing Nature, dating to the 14th century bce or even earlier. Yin is the receptive principle, Yang active.

yoga: a group of mental, physical, and spiritual disciplines which originated in India and are advocated in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism for attaining enlightenment.


zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata): a common finch, native to Australia, Indonesia, and East Timor.

Zeigarnik effect: the phenomenon whereby people remember more about unfinished tasks than completed ones; named after Bluma Zeigarnik.

Zen: a school of Buddhism that developed in 6th century China. Zen was introduced into Japan during the 12th century. Westerners are most familiar with Japanese Zen Buddhism, with initial interest sparked by the visit of Japanese Zen Buddhist monk Soyen Shaku to the World Parliament of Religions in 1893, held in Chicago. Zen emphasizes individual attainment of enlightenment via intuitive insight into the nature of reality.

zero (0): an absence of quantity; mathematical nothing. Contrast infinity.