Click here to download and print

the NONSENSE crossword





  • Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, ed. Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoey (New York: Routledge, 2015).
  • The Psychology of Meaning, ed. Keith D. Markman, Travis Proulx, and Matthew J. Lindberg (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2013)
  • Cognitive Consistency: A Fundamental Principle in Social Cognition, ed. Bertram Gawronski and Fritz Strack (New York: Guilford Press, 2012)
  • Extremism and the Psychology of Uncertainty, ed. Michael A. Hoggs and Danielle L. Blaylock (Hoboken, NJ: Wile-Blackwell, 2012)
  • Arie W. Kruglanski, The Psychology of Closed Mindedness (New York: Psychology Press, 2004).
  • Richard M. Sorrentino and Christopher J.R. Roney, The Uncertain Mind: Individual Differences in Facing the Unknown (Philadelphia: Psychology Press, 2000).



  • Arne Roets et al., “The Motivated Gatekeeper of Our Minds: New Directions in Need for Closure Theory and Research,” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 52 (2015): 221-283.
  • Daniel Randles et al., “Is Dissonance Reduction a Special Case of Fluid Compensation?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 108, no. 5 (2015): 697-710.
  • Eddie Harmon-Jones, Cindy Harmon-Jones, and Nicholas Levy, “An Action-Based Model of Cognitive-Dissonance Processes,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 24, no. 3 (2015): 184–189.
  • Eva Jonas et al., “Threat and Defense: From Anxiety to Approach,” in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 49, ed. James M. Olson and Mark P. Zanna (Burlington, VT: Academic Press, 2014): 219–286.
  • Rodica Ioana Damian and Dean Keith Simonton, “Diversifying Experiences in the Development of Genius and Their Impact on Creative Cognition,” in The Wiley Handbook of Genius, ed. Dean Keith Simonton (Chichester, UK: John Wily & Sons, 2014), 375-393.
  • Sinem Acar-Burkay, Bob M. Fennis, and Luk Warlop, “Trusting Others: The Polarizing Effect of Need for Closure,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 107, no. 4 (2014): 719-735.
  • Piercarlo Valdesolo and Jesse Graham: Piercarlo Valdesolo and Jesse Graham, “Awe, Uncertainty, and Agency Detection,” Psychological Science 25, no. 1 (2014): 170–178.
  • Ifat Levy, “Ambiguous Decisions in the Human Brain,” in Comparative Decision Making, ed. Thomas R. Zentall and Philip H. Crowley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 135-155.
  • Adrian Furnham and Joseph Mars, “Tolerance of Ambiguity: A Review of the Recent Literature,” Psychology 4, no. 9 (2013): 717–728
  • Travis Proulx and Michael Inzlicht, “The Five ‘A’s of Meaning Maintenance: Finding Meaning in the Theories of Sense Making,” Psychological Inquiry 23, no. 4 (2012): 317–335
  • Arne Roets and Alain Van Hiel, “Allport’s Prejudiced Personality Today: Need for Closure as the Motivated Cognitive Basis of Prejudice,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 20, no. 6 (2011): 349–354
  • Travis Proulx, Michael Inzlicht, and Eddie Harmon-Jones, “Understanding All Inconsistency Compensation as a Palliative Response to Violated Expectations,” Trends in Cognitive Science 16, no. 5 (2012): 285–291
  • Edward Orehek et al., “Need for Closure and the Social Response to Terrorism,” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 32 (2010): 279–290.
  • Steven J. Heine, Travis Proulx, and Kathleen Vohs, “The Meaning Maintenance Model,” Personality and Social Psychology Review 10, no. 2 (2006): 88–110



Great Minds on the Topic of Ambiguity

“You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things but am not absolutely sure of anything, and there are many things I don’t know anything about….But I don’t have to know an answer, I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things.”
–Physicist Richard Feynman

“One of the sources of creativity…is when the ambiguity wins.”
–Psychologist Jerome Bruner

“Nonsense wakes up the brain cells.”
—Dr. Seuss

“People come alive when the world breaks down.”
Psychologist Sidney D’Mello

“What we agree with leaves us inactive, but contradiction makes us productive.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance, is the death of knowledge.”
—Alfred North Whitehead

“Think of confusion as an opportunity to learn, not as a failure or an obstacle to understanding.”
—Physicist Eric Mazur

“Children still have the capacity to be puzzled. Their whole effort is one of attempting to orient themselves in a new world, to grasp the ever-new things which they learn to experience. They are puzzled, surprised, capable of wondering, and that is what makes their reaction a creative one. But once they are through the process of education, most people lose the capacity of wondering, of being surprised. They feel they ought to know everything, and hence that it is a sign of ignorance to be surprised at or puzzled by anything. The world loses its characteristic of being full of wonder and is taken for granted. The capacity to be puzzled is indeed the premise of all creation, be it in art or in science.”
—Erich Fromm

“In art, and maybe just in general, the idea is to be able to be really comfortable with contradictory ideas. In other words, wisdom might be, seem to be, two contradictory ideas both expressed at their highest level and just let to sit in the same cage sort of, vibrating.”
—George Saunders

“As a doctor, you come to find…that the struggle in caring for people is more often with what you do not know than what you do. Medicine’s ground state is uncertainty. And wisdom—for both patients and doctors—is defined by how one copes with it.”
—Atul Gawande

“Cognitive consistency represents a fundamental principle of human thought.”
—Psychologist Bertram Gawronski

“In seeking absolute truth we aim at the unattainable, and must be content with finding broken portions.”
—William Osler, to graduating physicians.

“We live in a sea of complexity. . . . This profound problem—the infinite search space for perceptual representation—looms over all other current psychological concerns.”
—Psychologist Jordan Peterson

“We should accept the world is incomprehensible much of the time.”
—Psychologist Daniel Kahneman

“Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt.”
—Neuroscientist Stuart Firestein

“Uncertainty is the engine of science.”
—Climate scientist Tamsin Edwards

“The unknown is not diminished by new discoveries. Quite the contrary: the realm of the unknown is magnified.”
— Sociologists Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoey

“Staying alert to ignorance is an unnatural skill that has to be learned.”
—Economist Richard Zeckhauser and Devjani Roy