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Notable Findings:  People are currently revealing almost 40 percent more sensitive personal information online than they would if they knew the risks.  In elections, search rankings that favor one candidate can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by up to 80 percent in some demographic groups. Automated search suggestions and the answer boxes at the top of the page of search results also influence people's opinions, purchases, and votes without their knowledge. The search engine is, in effect, the most powerful mind control machine ever invented.

Ongoing Research:  We have discovered and are currently studying and quantifying a number of powerful and largely invisible means of manipulation that the internet has made possible: the Answer Bot Effect (ABE), the Search Suggestion Effect (SSE), the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME), the Differential Demographics Effect (DDE), the Targeted Messaging Effect (TME), the Multiple Exposure Effect (MEE), the Video Manipulation Effect (VME), the Opinion Matching Effect (OME), the Digital Personalization Effect (DPE), and others. Most of these effects involve ephemeral experiences, which means, among other things, that they don't leave paper trails for authorities to trace.

 

Recognition: As of January 2018, the National Academy of Sciences ranked AIBRT's 2015 paper on the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) to be in the top 1 percent of all scientific papers the organization monitored in all the sciences, both short-term and long-term. As of August 18, 2023, the paper had been accessed or downloaded from PNAS's website more than 230,000 times, and SEME had been partially or fully replicated multiple times. Ongoing research on SEME suggests that search rankings are having a significant impact on many of the most important decisions people make in their lives, not just on voting preferences. Because SEME is virtually invisible as a form of social influence, it is especially dangerous.

 

Congressional Testimony: On July 16th, 2019, AIBRT's Senior Research Psychologist, Dr. Robert Epstein, testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee about AIBRT's ongoing research on new forms of online manipulation. A 7-minute video of his testimony can be viewed here. A 15-minute exchange between Dr. Epstein and Senator Ted Cruz can be viewed here. An expanded and updated report based on Dr. Epstein's Congressional testimony can be accessed at https://GooglesTripleThreat.com (PDF format). On December 13th, 2023, Dr. Epstein testified before another Senate subcommittee about AIBRT's creation of https://AmericasDigitalShield.com, a nationwide monitoring system that preserves and analyzes ephemeral content on Big Tech platforms in real time. A 6-minute video of his testimony can be viewed here. A 480-page version of his written testimony can be downloaded here.

 

Recent Publications

Epstein, R., Huang, Y., & Megerdoomian, M. (submitted for publication). The Opinion Matching Effect (OME): A subtle but powerful new form of influence that is apparently being used on the internet. (Preprint posted on SSRN, August 4, 2023, https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4532141,forwarding link: https://OpinionMatchingEffect.com)

Epstein, R., Ding, M., Mourani, C., Newland, A., Olson, E., & Tran, F. (submitted for publication). Multiple searches increase the impact of similarly biased search results: An example of the Multiple Exposure Effect (MEE). (Preprint posted on SSRN, November 17, 2023, https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4636728, forwarding link: https://MultipleExposureEffect.com)

Epstein, R., & Flores, A. (submitted for publication). The Video Manipulation Effect (VME): A quantification of the possible impact that the ordering of YouTube videos might have on opinions and voting preferences(Preprint posted on SSRN, July 31, 2023, forwarding link: https://VideoManipulationEffect.com)

Epstein, R., Aries, S,  Grebbien, K., Salcedo, A.M., & Zankich, V.R. (in press). The Search Suggestion Effect (SSE): How search suggestions can be used to impact votes and opinions. Computers in Human Behavior. (Preprint posted on SSRN, August 8, 2023, forwarding link: https://SearchSuggestionEffect.com)

Epstein, R., & Li, J. (2024, March 26). Can biased search results change people’s opinions about anything at all? A close replication of the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME)PLOS ONE.  (forwarding link: https://MultipleTopicsResearch.com, preprint posted on SSRN, October 10, 2023, https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4597654

Epstein, R., Lothringer, M., & Zankich, V. R. (2024, January 5). How a daily regimen of operant conditioning might explain the surprising power of the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME). Behavior and Social Issues. (forwarding link: https://SEMEandOperantConditioning.com, preprint posted on SSRN, August 24, 2023, https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4551486)

Epstein. R. (2023, December 13). America’s Digital Shield: A new online monitoring system will make Google and other tech companies accountable to the public (written testimony, 480 pp.). Congressional Record. https://aibrt.org/downloads/EPSTEIN_2023-Americas_Digital_Shield-Written_Testimony-Senate_Judiciary-13December2023-g.pdf (forwarding link: https://2023WrittenTestimony.com) or https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2023-12-13_pm_-_testimony_-_epstein.pdf

Epstein. R. (2023, July 23). The perfect crime: Tech companies are manipulating our elections and indoctrinating our children – How we can stop them. Gatestone Institute

Epstein, R., Tyagi, C., & Wang, H. (2023). What would happen if Twitter sent consequential messages to only a strategically important subset of users? A quantification of the Targeted Messaging Effect (TME). PLOS ONE. (forwarding link: https://TargetedMessagingEffect.com, preprint posted to SSRN, September 1, 2022, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4207187)

Epstein, R. (2022, November 15). How Google stopped the Red Wave. The Epoch Times. (forwarding link: https://HowGoogleStoppedTheRedWave.com

Epstein, R., Lee, V., Mohr, R., & Zankich, V. (2022). The Answer Bot Effect (ABE): A powerful new form of influence made possible by intelligent personal assistants and search engines. PLOS ONE. (forwarding link: https://AnswerBotEffect.com

Epstein, R., & Zankich, V. R. (2022). The surprising power of a click requirement: How click requirements and warnings affect internet users’ willingness to disclose personal information. PLOS ONE. 17(2): e0263097.

Epstein, R. (2022, November 6). EPSTEIN: Google is shifting votes on a massive scale, but a solution is at hand. Daily Caller.

Epstein, R. (2021). The technological elite are now in control. In Champions of Freedom, Volume 49: Big Tech. Hillsdale College Press.  

Epstein, R. (November/December, 2020). Big Brother is in your house and in your voting booth. Penthouse, pp. 36-42. 

Epstein, R. (2020, February 24). Why Republicans can't win in 2020. Epoch Times

Epstein, R. (2019, August 8). Why Google poses a serious threat to democracy and how to end that threat [Edited version of Epstein’s July 16, 2019 Congressional testimony – not edited by the author]. MercatorNet.

Epstein, R. (2019, July 30). Google’s latest whistleblower is hard to ignore. Daily Caller.

Epstein, R. (2019, July 16). Why Google poses a serious threat to democracy, and how to end that threat. Congressional Record of the United States

Epstein, R. (2019, July 15). To break Google’s monopoly on search, make its index public. Bloomberg Businessweek

Epstein, R. (2019, April 3).  Zucked again: Zuckerberg’s proposal for regulating the internet is self-serving. Epoch Times.

Epstein, R. (2019, March 22). Google, Facebook, Amazon: Warren's toothless break-up plan ignores real Big Tech threats. USA Today

Epstein, R. (2019, January 2). How Google shifts votes: A “go vote” reminder is not always what you think it is. Epoch Times.

Epstein, R. (2018, September 26).  10 ways Big Tech can shift millions of votes in the November elections—without anyone knowing. Epoch Times.

Epstein, R. (2018, September 13). Google and Big Tech can shift millions of votes in any direction: Donald Trump is more right than he knows. USA Today.

Epstein, R. (2018, August 27). How major news organizations, universities and businesses surrender their privacy to Google. The Daily Caller

Epstein, R. (2018, June 25). Zuck off: Six reasons Mark Zuckerberg should quit Facebook now. The Daily Caller. 

Epstein, R. (2018, May 17). Taming Big Tech: The case for monitoring. Hacker Noon.

Epstein. R. (2018). Manipulating minds: The power of search engines to influence votes and opinions. In M. Moore & D. Tambini (Eds.), Digital dominance: Implications and risks (pp. 293-318). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Epstein, R. (2018). The unprecedented power of digital platforms to control opinions and votes. In G. Rolnik (Ed.), Digital platforms and concentration: Second annual antitrust and competition conference (pp. 31-33). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Epstein, R. (2018, March 22).  Cambridge Analytica is not the problem: Google and Facebook are the problem. The Daily Caller

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R. (2017). Suppressing the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME). Proceedings of the ACM: Human-Computer Interaction, 1(2), Article 42. (Note: The authorship of this article is in dispute. Until that issue is resolved, the version of this article supplied by Dr. Epstein, the principal investigator on this project, will omit two people from the list of authors: Dr. David Lazer and Dr. Christo Wilson, each of Northeastern University. Dr. Epstein has also asked the organization that published the article to withdraw it from publication. Under the official rules of that organization, people cannot be made co-authors on a publication unless "they have made substantial intellectual contributions to some components of the original work described in the manuscript." Neither Dr. Lazer nor Dr. Wilson had any involvement in any aspects of the original work. That research was completed in mid 2015, well over a year before they even became aware of the existence of the research.)

Epstein, R.  (2017, August 31).  Google's fighting hate and trolls with a dangerously mindless A.I. Fast Company.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2017, June 1). A method for detecting bias in search rankings, with evidence of systematic bias related to the 2016 presidential election. Vista, CA: American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, White Paper no. WP-17-02.

Epstein, R. (2017, May 28). Is it still possible to stop ‘Big Tech’ from killing democracy? The Hill.

Epstein, R. (2017, April 10). Fake news is a fake problem. Medium.

Epstein, R. (2017, March 16). Seven simple steps toward online privacy. Medium.

Epstein, R., & Zhang, S. (2016, November 30). How the Electoral College changes the value of a person, a bit like slavery did. The Hill.

Epstein, R. (2016, November 17). Fake news and Facebook: There are far more pernicious ways social media can sway elections [Letter to the Editor]. Los Angeles Times.

Epstein, R., & Edelman, B. (2016, November 4). The other elephant in the voting booth: Big Tech could rig the election. The Daily Caller.

Epstein, R. (2016) Subtle new forms of internet influence are putting democracy at risk worldwide. In N. Lee (Ed.), Google it: Total information awareness (pp. 253-259). Springer.

Epstein, R. (2016, October 14). Breaking news: Google to donate its search engine to the American public. Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2016, September 12). Are we being manipulated by Google’s autocomplete? Sputnik International.

Epstein, R. (2016, September 6). Free isn’t freedom: How Silicon Valley tricks us. Motherboard.

Epstein, R. (2016, September ). Cyber sway: The new mind control. Ladybeard.

Epstein, R. (2016, July). Can search engine rankings swing elections? New Internationalist.

Epstein, R. (2016, July 12). Five subtle ways Facebook could influence the US presidential election this fall. Quartz.

Epstein. R. (2016, June 22). The new censorship. U.S. News & World Report.

Epstein, R. (2016, May 4). Bigger brother: Microsoft and Google's new pact could signal the beginning of the end of personal privacy. Quartz.

Epstein, R. (2016, April 27). Google knows: In the future, Big Data will make actual voting obsolete. Quartz.

Epstein, R. (2016, February 18). The new mind control. Aeon.

Epstein, R. (2015, October 6). Google's hypocrisy. Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2015, September 6). Google's vote counts more than yours. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Epstein, R. (2015, September 4). Google's hypocrisy. Ora.

Epstein, R. (2015, August 19). How Google could rig the 2016 election. Politico.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R. E. (2015, August 4). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of electionsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. (forwarding link: https://SearchEngineManipulationEffect.com

Epstein, R. (2014, Fall). Democracy at risk from new forms of internet influence. EMMA Magazine (a publication of the European Magazine Media Association).

Epstein, R. (2014, June 9).  How Google could end democracyU.S. News & World Report.

Epstein, R. (2014, May 29).  Google critic killed in "ironic" car accident: Struck by Google Street View vehicle.  Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2014, May 9). Google's snoops: Mining our private date for profit and pleasure. Dissent.

Epstein, R. (2013, May 10).  Google's gotcha. U.S. News & World Report.

Epstein, R. (2013, March 27).  Google's dance. TIME.

Epstein, R. (2012, November 5). Why Google should be regulated (Part 4, End). Huffington Post.  

Epstein, R. (2012, November 2). Why Google should be regulated (Part 3). Huffington Post.  (6-29-19 update: Link to Part 4 at the end of the article is broken. Use: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-google-should-be-regu_b_2069223.)

Epstein, R. (2012, October 31). Why Google should be regulated (Part 2). Huffington Post.  (6-29-19 update: Link to Part 3 at the end of the article is broken. Use: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-google-should-be-regu_b_2054111.)

Epstein, R. (2012, October 23). Why Google should be regulated (Part 1). Huffington Post.  (6-29-19 update: Link to Part 2 at the end of the article is broken. Use: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/online-privacy_b_2013583. An edited version of the entire article first appeared in The Kernel [UK] on September 5, 2012. See below.)

Epstein, R. (2012, September 12).  Google: The case for hawkish regulation.  The Kernel.  (Expanded version appeared in four parts in The Huffington Post beginning on October 23, 2012. See above.)

Recent Presentations

Epstein, R., Parsick, T., Shankar, P., & Zankich, V.R. (2024, April). The Differential Demographics Effect (DDE): Post hoc analyses of multiple datasets show the power of a new and invisible form of manipulation made possible by the internet. Paper presented at the 104th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA. (forwarding link: https://DifferentialDemographicsEffect.com)

Epstein, R., Newland, A., Tang, Liyu, & Buenaventura, Marco. (2024, April). The Digital Personalization Effect (DPE): How personalization of online content can dramatically increase the impact of biased online content. Paper presented at the 104th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA. (forwarding link: https://DigitalPersonalizationEffect.com)

Epstein, R. (2024, April). The ultimate mind control machine: Summary of a decade of empirical research on online search engines. Paper presented at the 104th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA. 

Epstein, R. (2024, April). America’s “Digital Shield”: How we are making Big Tech companies accountable to the public by continually preserving tens of millions of online ephemeral experiences – content that can impact users dramatically and that is normally lost forever. Poster presented at the 104th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA. 

Epstein, R., & Peirson, L. (2023, April). How we preserved more than 2.4 million online ephemeral experiences in the 2022 midterm elections, and what this content revealed about online election bias. Paper presented at the 103rd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Riverside, CA. 

Epstein, R., Bock, S., Peirson, L., Wang, H., & Voillot, M. (2022, April). How we preserved more than 1.5 million online “ephemeral experiences” in the recent US elections, and what this content revealed about online election bias. Paper presented at the 102nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR.

Epstein, R., & Huang, Y. (2022, April). The Opinion Matching Effect (OME): A subtle but powerful new form of influence that is being widely used on the internet without user awareness. Poster presented at the 102nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR. 

Epstein, R., & Voillot, M. (2022, April). The YouTube Manipulation Effect (YME): The power that bias in YouTube’s up-next algorithm has to shift votes and opinions, and preliminary evidence that such bias exists. Paper presented at the 102nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR. 

Epstein, R., Lee, V., & Zankich, V. (2022, April). The Answer Bot Effect (ABE): A powerful new form of influence made possible by intelligent personal assistants and search engines. Paper presented at the 102nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR. 

Epstein, R. (2022, March). One search at a time: How Google uses ephemeral experiences to control thinking and behavior. Invited talk given at the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Epstein, R., Bock, S., Peirson, L., & Wang, H. (2021, June 14). Large-scale monitoring of Big Tech political manipulations in the 2020 Presidential election and 2021 Senate runoffs, and why monitoring is essential for democracy (15-min. video). Paper presented at the 24th annual meeting of the American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences.  

Epstein. R. (2021, June 9). Update on online election monitoring. Invited talk given at a meeting of the Gatestone Institute.

Epstein, R. (2021, May 26). You are being manipulated online: Here’s how crypto could help. Invited panelist at CoinDesk’s annual Consensus meeting.

Epstein, R. (2020, November). The technological elite are now in control (1-hr. video). Invited talk presented at a meeting of the Center for Creative Alternatives, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI. 

Epstein, R. (2019, November). How Big Tech companies can affect election outcomes. Invited talk presented at a meeting of the American Freedom Alliance, Los Angeles, CA.

Epstein, R. (2019, November). Invited panelist (with P. Schweizer & M.A. Taylor), Technology and freedom in the 21st century. 52nd Annual Robert L Bartley Gala, The American Spectator, Washington, DC.

Epstein, R. (2019, July 16). Why Google poses a serious threat to democracy, and how to end that threat [oral testimony, 7-min. video]. Testimony before the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Washington, D.C.

Epstein, R. (2019, April). Evidence of systematic political bias in online search results in the 10 days leading up to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. Paper presented at the 99th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Pasadena, CA.

Epstein, R. (2019, March). How Big Tech companies control the opinions and beliefs of billions of people worldwide – including our children – without anyone knowing. Invited talk presented at the Bringing America Back to Life Convention, Cleveland, OH.

Epstein, R. (2019, March). The new mind control. Invited talk presented at a meeting of the Portage County TEA Party, Ravenna, OH.

Epstein, R. (2018, November). Participant in roundtable discussion on “Information Challenges to Democracy,” Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

Epstein, R. (2018, June). Panelist, session on “Social Media and Internet Platforms: The Use and Protection of Consumer Data,” National Association of Attorneys General, Portland, OR.  

Epstein, R., Mohr, R., Jr., & Martinez, J. (2018, April). The Search Suggestion Effect (SSE): How search suggestions can be used to shift opinions and voting preferences dramatically. Paper presented at the 98th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR.  

Epstein, R., & Mohr, R., Jr. (2018, April). The Answer Bot Effect (ABE): Another surprising way search engines can impact opinions. Paper presented at the 98th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR. 

Epstein, R. (2018, April). Big Brother, internet style: New sources of online influence are invisibly impacting the decisions that billions of people are making every day. Invited lecture, Distinguished Speaker Series on Ethics and Policy of Big Data, AI and Other Emerging Technologies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.

Epstein, R. (2018, April). Panelist, Annual Conference on Antitrust Competition and Digital Platforms, George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Epstein, R. (2018, April). Panelist, Breitbart News Town Hall on Big Tech vs. Free Speech and Privacy, New Orleans, LA. (80-min. video, event begins at 14:30)

Epstein, R. (2018, January). New technologies pose an unprecedented threat to health privacy. Invited talk given at the opening of the Center for Health Law Policy & Bioethics, Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego Law School, San Diego, California.

Epstein, R. (2017, November). The power of Google’s search algorithm.  Invited talk given at a meeting of the American Freedom Alliance, Los Angeles, California.

Epstein, R. (2017, June). Unethical algorithms of massive scale: New data, a new discovery, a new tracking system, and a new society (audio, 1 hr. 23 min.). Invited talk given at the Stanford University Department of Electrical Engineering.

Epstein, R., Robertson, R., Shepherd, S., & Zhang, S. (2017, April). A method for detecting bias in search rankings, with evidence of systematic bias related to the 2016 presidential election. Paper presented at the 97th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Sacramento, CA.

Epstein, R., Mourani, C., Olson, E., & Robertson, R.E. (2017, April). Biased search rankings can shift opinions on a wide range of topics. Paper presented at the 97th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Sacramento, CA.

Epstein, R., Ding., M., Mourani, C., Olson, E., Robertson, R.E., & Tran, F. (2017, April). Multiple searches increase the impact of the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME). Paper presented at the 97th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Sacramento, CA.

Epstein, R. (2017, April). Can search suggestions impact what we search for online? The role of negativity bias. Paper presented at the 97th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Sacramento, CA.

Epstein, R. (Chair). (2017, March). Symposium: Subtle new forms of internet influence and their multiple impacts on society. Held at the 2nd biennial meeting of the International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna, Austria.

Epstein, R. (2017, March). The Search Suggestion Effect (SSE): How autocomplete can be used to impact votes and opinions. Paper presented at the 2nd biennial meeting of the International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna, Austria.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2017, March). The Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME): Understanding its power to change opinions and votes. Paper presented at the 2nd biennial meeting of the International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna, Austria.

Epstein, R. (2017, March). Participant in conference on the regulation of fake news. Information Society Project, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT.

Epstein, R. Can search engines alter our opinions? Invited talk given at the Open Innovations Forum, Moscow, Russia, October 29, 2016.

Epstein, R. The new mind control. Invited talk given at the 360 Science & Technology Film Festival, Polytechnic Museum, Moscow, Russia, October 28, 2016.

Epstein, R. (2016, July). The power of Big Data to control the outcome of elections. Invited talk given at the London School of Economics Symposium on Dangers of Digital Dominance, London, UK.

Epstein, R.  (2016, May). The surprising impact of invisible influence on human thinking and behavior.  Invited talk given at the annual meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, Washington, DC.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E.  (2016, April).Why is the search engine manipulation effect (SEME) so large? A test of an operant conditioning hypothesis. Paper presented at the 96th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2016, April). A replication of the search engine manipulation effect (SEME), plus methods for suppressing the effect. Paper presented at the 96th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.

Epstein, R.  (2016, February). The new mind control.  Invited talk given at the Muhlenberg College Center for Ethics.

Epstein, R. (2015, October). Leader, brainstorming session on the search engine manipulation effect (SEME). Founder’s Forum, New York, NY.

Epstein, R. (2015, October). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on elections. Invited talk to be given at a meeting of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Washington, DC.

Epstein, R. (2015, October). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its unparalleled power to influence how we think.  Invited talk to be given at the Stanford University Department of Electrical Engineering.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2015, April). The Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME): Large-scale replications in two countries. Paper presented at the 95th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Epstein, R. (2015, March). Panelist, “Digital absolutism: Time for a new people’s revolution?”  World Business Dialogue, Cologne, Germany.

Epstein, R. (2015, March). New forms of internet influence: Is democracy at risk?  Keynote address given at the annual CeBIT conference, Hannover, Germany.

Epstein, R.  (2015, March). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME): It’s large, robust, and a serious threat to democracy.  Talk given at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.

Epstein, R. (2014, June).  Democracy at risk: The power of search engines to determine the outcomes of elections. Seminar presented at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E.  (2014, April).  Helping people preserve their privacy online: The surprising power of a click requirement. Paper presented at the 94th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR.

Epstein, R.  (2013, November).  The search engine as a threat to both privacy and democracy. Invited talk given at the 9th annual meeting of the Corporate Directors Forum, San Diego, CA.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2013, May). Democracy at risk:  Search rankings can shift voter preferences substantially.  Paper presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC.

 

Presentation

Epstein, R., Tang, L., Walimbe, S., & Zankich, V. R. (2023, April). A quantification of morality: Preliminary findings from the Moral Standards Project. Paper presented at the 103rd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Riverside, CA. 


Link

https://MyMorals.org


Begun in 2011, this project has two main purposes: first, to document the moral standards of a variety of religions, organizations, and thought leaders, and second, to give people around the world an opportunity to test their own morals against these various standards.

To date, more than 100 distinguished moral leaders have contributed standards to our growing database, among them: reverends, priests, chaplains, imams, rabbis, pastors, and Buddhist monks; professors of morals and ethics at Princeton University, the Harvard Divinity School, Tufts University, Boston College, Rutgers University, Point Loma Nazarene University, Azusa Pacific University, the University of San Diego, the Catholic Theological Union, and other educational institutions; the president of the American Humanist Association, the archbishop of San Francisco, and many others.

Over time, an accumulation of information of this sort - standards set by hundreds of moral leaders, along with survey data obtained from hundreds of thousands of people around the world - will allow many interesting research questions to be addressed. For example, to what extent are people's morals consistent with the moral standards of the religion or group with which they affiliate? And to what extent do moral standards differ from one expert source to another, both within a religion and between religions? Where discrepancies exist, how can we account for them?  To what extent do experts and religious leaders consider morals to depend on circumstances rather than absolute? To what extent can we track and perhaps shed light on how both morals and moral standards change over time?

To test your morals against those of our growing database of moral standards, visit https://MyMorals.org.

Notable Finding:  People are only dimly aware of characteracterics that distinguish humans from non-humans, which suggests that as computers continue to become more humanlike, people will more easily be fooled into thinking that computers (chatbots on the Internet, for example) are people.

Test

https://HowHumanAreYou.com

Recent Publications

Epstein, R., Bordyug, M., Chen, Y-H., Chen, Y., Ginther, A., Kirkish, G, & Stead, H. (2022). Toward the search for the perfect blade runner: A large-scale, international assessment of a test that screens for “humanness sensitivity.” AI & Society. DOI: 10.1007/s00146-022-01398-y  (Unedited draft with a complete references list posted on SSRN on September 25, 2021 at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3930715)

Epstein, R. (2016, July/August). Are humans doomed? A review of George Zarkadakis’ In Our Own Image. Scientific American Mind, p. 68.

Epstein, R. (2016, May 18). The empty brain. Aeon.

Epstein, R. (2015, November/December). Brain wars: A review of Malcolm Gay's The Brain Electric: The Dramatic High-Tech Race to Merge Minds and Machines. Scientific American Mind, p. 70.

Epstein, R. (2014, June 11). Claims that the Turing test has been passed are nonsense [Letter].  The Guardian.

Epstein, R., Roberts, G., & Beber, G. (Eds.). (2008) Parsing the Turing Test: Methodological
and philosophical issues in the quest for the thinking computer. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Epstein, R.  (2007, October/November).  From Russia, with love: How I got fooled (and somewhat humiliated) by a computerScientific American Mind, pp. 16-17.

Epstein, R. (2006, June/July). My date with a robot. Scientific American Mind, pp. 68-73.

Recent Presentations

Epstein, R., & Kirkish, G. (2012, November). How good are humans at distinguishing humans from computers? Paper presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology, Minneapolis, MN.

 

2015, November/December

Notable Findings: Teens in the U.S. are subjected to ten times as many restrictions as mainstream adults and to roughly twice as many restrictions as active-duty U.S. Marines and incarcerated felons, which could explain why nearly half of them are diagnosable with at least one emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse disorder. Although most adults view teens as inherently incompetent and irresponsible, research suggests that 30 percent of teens are actually more competent than the median adult across a wide range of adult abilities.

Tests and Websites

http://HowAdultAreYou.com

http://ExtendedChildhoodDisorder.com

http://HowInfantilizedAreYou.com

http://TeenParentingSkills.com

http://MyParentingSkills.com

http://Teen20.com

http://NationalYouthRightsDay.org

 

Recent Publications

 

Epstein, R. Epstein, R. (2015, Summer). Everything you know about the teen brain is wrong. Brandeis Magazine.

Epstein, R. (2015, April).  The "teen brain" claim is fraudulent. Aeon.


Epstein, R. (2014, November 6). Basic knowledge, not age, matters in voting [Letter].  Los Angeles Times, p. A16.


Epstein, R. (2014, May 29). Preventing another Isla Vista [Letter].  Los Angeles Times, p. A12.


Epstein, R. (2015, April). Is there really something about the “teen brain” that causes so much turmoil during the teen years. Aeon.


Epstein, R. (2014, July 6). Anxiety in teens [Letter].  New York Times.


Epstein, R. (February 2013). Yet another stage of life? Scientific American Mind, pp. 18-19.


Epstein, R. (2012, October).  Brutal truths about the aging brain. Discover, 77, 48-50.


Epstein, R. (2012, December 20). Gun control and the Newtown tragedy [Letter].  Los Angeles Times.


Epstein, R. (2012, December 17). What if Adam Lanza was "normal"? An unthinkable idea that's not so crazyHuffington Post.


Epstein, R. (2010). Teen 2.0: Saving our children and families from the torment of adolescence. Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books. (Updated and expanded version of The Case Against Adolescence, originally published in 2007)


Epstein, R. (2010, May 16). Nannying our teens: It’s getting out of hand [Letter published under the inappropriate title, “Let Teenagers be Teenagers”]. Los Angeles Times, p. A33.


Epstein, R. (2009, November/December). Risk-taking teens have more mature brains. Scientific American Mind, p. 12.


Epstein, R, & Ong, J. (2009, August 25). Are the brains of reckless teens more mature than those of their prudent peers? Scientific American.


Epstein, R. (2008, May 4). The age factor: What learning research tells us about candidates. The Hartford Courant.


Epstein, R. (2008, February 11). Who should get the vote?  [Letter].  New York Times, p. A20.  (Reprinted in: Barnet, S., & Bedau. [2010]. Current issues and enduring questions, 9th ed.  New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. )


Epstein, R. (April/May 2007). The myth of the teen brain. Scientific American Mind, pp. 57-63.


Recent Presentations

Epstein, R., & Dakaeva, K. (2021, April). How adult competence varies across the lifespan: A large-scale international internet study. Paper to be presented at the 101st annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association.

Epstein, R., Hwang, T., & Robertson, R.E.  (2015, April).  Extended Childhood Disorder (ECD): Additional support for a new diagnostic category.  Paper presented at the 95th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Las Vegas, Nevada.


Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E.  (2014, April). How “adultness” varies across the life span: A large-scale Internet study.  Paper presented at the 94th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, Oregon.


Epstein, R.  (2013, March). The extraordinary abilities of teens. Keynote address given at the “Teen 2.0” conference, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN.


Epstein, R., Kaminaka, K., McKinney, P., & Vu, K.  (2012, April). Extended childhood disorder: An exploratory study, revised and expanded. Paper presented at the 92nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.


Epstein, R., & Kim, J.  (2012, April). Treating adults like children: Infantilization across the life span. Paper presented at the 92nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.


Epstein, R. & McKinney, P.  (2012, April). A two-factor theory of youth dysfunction. Paper presented at the 92nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.


Epstein, R., Kaminaka, K., & Vu, K.  (2011, November). Extended childhood disorder: An exploratory study. Paper presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Orlando, FL.


Epstein, R.  (2011, November). On the power and danger of labels: Comments on the concept of emerging adulthood. Invited talk given at The Youth Cartel’s Conference of Emerging Adulthood, Atlanta, GA.


Epstein. R.  (2009, May). Initial validation of a comprehensive test of adult competence in a large-scale Internet study. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, San Francisco, CA.

 

Notable Findings: Upwards of 90 percent of the population is attracted to both sexes at some point; the terms "gay," "straight," and "bisexual" are misleading for most people, except as affiliations.  People who call themselves gay or bisexual experience little or no distress when their actual sexual inclinations don't match their sexual orientation labels, but people who call themselves straight often experience great distress when there is a mismatch, presumably because of the enormous pressure in most societies to be straight.

Tests

http://MySexualOrientation.com (English)

http://MiOrientacionSexual.com (Spanish)

http://MeineSexuelleIdentitat.com (German)

http://MonOrientationSexuelle.com (French)

http://MySexualOrientation.com/jp (Japanese)

http://SeksueleGeaardheid.com (Dutch)

http://SzexualisOrientaciom.com (Hungarian)

http://MioOrientamentoSessuale.com (Italian)

http://MySexualOrientation.com/chinese/simplified (Simplified Chinese)

http://MySexualOrientation.com/chinese/traditional (Traditional Chinese)

http://MySexualOrientation.com/Arabic (Arabic)

http://MySexualOrientation.com/malay (Malay)

http://MySexualOrientation.com/Korean (Korean)

Other translations are in progress.

Recent Publications|

Epstein, R., Wang, H., & Zankich, V. R. (2023).  Is everyone a mix of straight and gay? A social pressure theory of sexual orientation, with supporting data from a large global sample. Frontiers in Psychology.  (forwarding link: https://SocialPressureTheory.com)

Epstein, R. (2019, September 14). Sexual orientation is somewhere on a continuum [Letter to the editor]. New Scientist.

Robertson, R.E., Tran, F.W., Lewark, L.N., & Epstein, R. (2017). Estimates of non-heterosexual prevalence: The roles of anonymity and privacy in survey methodology. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Epstein, R. (2016, Spring).  Do gays have a choice? Scientific American Mind, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 56-63. (Updated version of 2006 article)

Epstein, R. (2015, March 27). Preventing another "Sodomite Suppression Act" [Letter]. Los Angeles Times, p. A16.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R. E. (2014). How to measure sexual orientation range, and why it’s worth measuringJournal of Bisexuality, 14, 392-404.

Epstein, R, McKinney, P., Fox, S., & Garcia, C. (2012). Support for a fluid-continuum model of sexual orientation: A large-scale Internet study. Journal of Homosexuality, 59, 1356-1381.


Epstein, R. (2012, October). Sex and the societyDiscover, pp. 56-58.


Epstein, R. (2012, November 28). Homophobia, homomisia, and the Associated Press.  CommPro.

 

Epstein, R. (2007, October/November). Smooth thinking about sexuality: “Gay” and “straight” are misleading termsScientific American Mind,  p. 14.

Epstein, R. (2006, February/March).  Do gays have a choice? Scientific American Mind, pp. 32-39. (Reprinted in Scientific American Special Issue, 20(3), 2009, pp. 62-69)

 

Recent Presentations

Epstein, R., & Rajgarhia, A. (2024, April). Expanding an investigation of sexual orientation to non-English-speaking countries: How predictive is Social Pressure Theory? Paper presented at the 104th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA. 

Epstein, R., & Wang, H. (2023, April). Social Pressure Theory (SPT): A new and predictive theory of sexual orientation, with mathematical and computational models. Paper presented at the 103rd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Riverside, CA.

Epstein, R., Wang, H., & Zankich, V. R. (2022, April). Support for Freud’s assertion that bisexuality is the natural human norm: A formal theory of sexual orientation, with supporting data from more than a million people worldwide. Paper presented at the 102nd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR. 

Epstein, R., Gao, W., Hou, Y., & Sun, C. (2018, April). Bisexuality might be the natural human norm: A large-scale internet study. Paper presented at the 98th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR.

Epstein, R., Robertson, R.E., & Hyun, S. (2016, April). Calling oneself “straight” can be stressful: Insights from a large multinational study of sexual orientation. Paper presented at the 96th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.

Robertson, R.E., & Epstein, R. (2014, April). Are we underestimating non-heterosexual prevalence?  The critical role of survey methodology.  Paper presented at the 94th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, Oregon.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2013, November).  A quantitative analysis of the mismatch between sexual orientation labels and various measures of sexual expression.  Presented at the 56th annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, San Diego, California.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2013, November). How to measure sexual orientation range, and why it’s worth measuring.  Presented at the 56th annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, San Diego, California.         

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R. E. (2013, November). How to measure sexual orientation prevalence without underestimating the prevalence of non-heterosexuals.  Presented at the 56th annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, San Diego, California.


Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2013, April). The inadequacy of sexual orientation labels: Lessons from a large-scale study. Presented at the 93rd annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Reno, Nevada.

Epstein, R. (2009, May). Sexual orientation lies smoothly on a continuum: New data and evolutionary implications. Presented at the 21st annual meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, Fullerton, CA.

Epstein, R.  (2007, November).  Sexual orientation lies smoothly on a continuum: Verification and extension of Kinsey’s hypothesis in a large-scale study. Presented at the 50th annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, co-sponsored by The Kinsey Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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