“When it comes to pseudoscience, social psychologist and writer Carol A. Tavris is a self-appointed curmudgeon.”
“I have spent many years lobbing hand grenades at psychobabble — that wonderful assortment of pop psych ideas that permeate our culture in spite of having no means of empirical support,” said Tavris at the 24th APS Annual Convention.“Today, however, we face an even greater challenge because in this era of the medical-pharmaceutical-industrial complex, where psychobabble goes, can biobunk be far behind?””
Carol Tavris is one of the most engaging speakers I’ve heard. Her teaching methods, wit, wisdom, and endless wonder at the absurdities of human nature bring her audiences to laughter frequently. At the end of this post are several lectures you may find enlightening and perspective adjusting.
“Not every aspect of this “biomedical revolution,” as Tavris calls it, is unwelcome. She admitted that she gets very excited about many of these discoveries. What she takes issue with is the perception that biomedical explanations are infallible. Similar to the psychobabble that plagues psychological science, “brainless neuroscience” should be giving the field an image problem, but because most people don’t know how to spot biobunk, they are more willing to accept bad neuroscience findings over good psychological ones.”
According to Dr. Tavris there are a few surefire ways to spot biobunk:
1. Technomyopia – Technology knows more that I do
2. Murky Methods – Questionable methods are a sure sign of pseudoneuroscience. Statistical problems and artifacts are often hidden behind flashy findings. Imaging studies are one of the most common culprits
3. Rampant Reductionism - Be wary of conclusions that seem too neat and simple
4. Neuromarketing – Watch out for hype and overselling. Often “neuromarketers” will hawk impressive sounding devices or treatments to desperate parents, students, and teachers that are backed by questionable science.
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