I’m trying to do something a little bit weird here.

I think science should be done out in the open, unfiltered, and reviewed by anyone who cares to comment. I think it should be exciting and funny. I think it should take things people care about and try to understand them better. Sometimes that means gathering a bunch of original data, and other times that means thinking about an idea really hard until it cracks open like a walnut. That’s what Experimental History is all about.

I’m an experimental psychologist.

My job is to put people in situations and see what happens. The results, which I call experimental history, have been covered everywhere from The New York Times to Jimmy Kimmel. I got my PhD in psychology from Harvard in 2021.

In between, I got second place on a British reality show about cooking, and I was in a movie that currently has a 3% on Rotten Tomatoes. I also teach and perform improv comedy. I think it’s good to do a lot of weird stuff!

Praise for Experimental History

Experimental History has been published in The New York Times and The Atlantic, covered on NPR, reprinted in Slate, shouted out on Marginal Revolution (1, 2, 3, 4), featured on Substack’s homepage, upvoted to the top of Hacker News, and it’s even gone viral on TikTok. Here are some additional nice things people have said:

What’s up with paid subscriptions?

Paid subscribers make Experimental History possible—they’re the reason I can do research, write essays, and share them with everybody. If you’re a paid subscriber: thank you.

Every subscription counts, and each one pushes Experimental History further. Here is, in order, the things that paid subscribers allow me to do:

  1. Not starve ✅ we did it!! I’m not going to starve

  2. Devote 100% of my time Experimental History ← we’re currently working on this!

  3. Fund my research

  4. Bring other people on board and train the next generation of scientists

  5. World domination

I say thanks to paid subscribers with MYSTERY POSTS. Here’s one. But the real reason to sign up is that you’re voting with your dollars for a world where Experimental History exists.

Here are some kind words from paid subscribers:

Curse you, Adam Mastroianni! I have work to do, but I can’t stop reading your site because it’s endlessly interesting – and very well written.

I listen to your newsletter the moment it arrives in my inbox. On Tuesdays, I often find myself searching my inbox asking, "is it Adam's Tuesday?"

I was initially reluctant to sign up for another paid Substack because I already have a bunch of others. But I thought about how your existing free posts were so informative and also made me laugh. So of course the rational thing to do is to support you because you've already delivered so much value. I'm happy to be part of the internet that catches you. Wishing you all the best!

If you can’t afford it, that’s okay. My big stuff will always be free. If you’re looking for another way to help out, share a post with a friend! Most people find me through word of mouth.

And if for any reason you need access to something that’s paywalled, just email me.

Where’s a good place to start?

Here are my top 10 most viewed posts:

  1. The rise and fall of peer review

  2. Good conversations have lots of doorknobs

  3. Why aren’t smart people happier?

  4. I’m so sorry for psychology’s loss, whatever it is

  5. Excuse me but why are you eating so many frogs

  6. The illusion of moral decline

  7. Things could be better

  8. Pop culture has become an oligopoly

  9. An invitation to a secret society

  10. Science is a strong-link problem

Where do the pictures come from?

My dad took them in the 1980s when he was a photographer in rural northern Ohio. I think they’re great, and one of the joys of writing this newsletter is sharing them with you. I interviewed him here.

What should I do now?

If you like anything you’ve read here, stick your email in the box below and push the orange button. I publish every other Tuesday.

You can also reach me at experimentalhistory@substack.com.

Need help?

For all questions about the Substack platform and customer support, please visit Substack Support. Paid subscriptions can be canceled anytime, and Substack refunds subscriptions that are canceled within seven days.

Subscribe to Experimental History

1) Find what's true and make it useful. 2) Publish every other Tuesday. 3) Photo cred: my dad.