Carol Tavris, Ph.D.: How to Spot Pseudoneuroscience and Biobunk

“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.”

Carol Tavris IIG.jpg *

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.

More Abaoaut Psychobabble and Brain Silliness

How to Spot Pseudoneuroscience and Biobunk

A Skeptical Look at Pseudoneuroscience  YouTube


Psychoababbly and BioBunk: Using Psychological Science to Think Critically about Popular Psychology, 3rd Edition

Mistakes were Made (But Not by Me):Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad  Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

The Mismeasure of Woman

Psychology 10th Edition

Invitation to Psychology with DSM-5 Update

Invitition to Psychology 5th Edition


*Photo credit unknown, owner please contact blogger at so I can offer you the byline.

Dr. Elizabeth Loftus: The Fiction of Memory

In less than 18 minutes, listen to Dr. Loftus explain how memory is easily manipulated.

The producer of this lecture, TED, “is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). For Free!

Watch video Loftus: The fiction of memory

According to TED, Elizabeth Loftus altered the course of legal history by revealing that memory is not only unreliable, but also mutable. Since the 1970s, Loftus has created an impressive body of scholarly work and has appeared as an expert witness in hundreds of courtrooms, bolstering the cases of defendants facing criminal charges based on eyewitness testimony, and debunking “recovered memory” theories popular at the time, as in her book The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse (with Katherine Ketcham).

Since then, Loftus has dedicated herself to discovering how false memories can affect our daily lives, leading her to surprising therapeutic applications for memory modification — including controlling obesity by implanting patients with preferences for healthy foods.”

Researchers Say Multiple Personalities are Difficult To Fake, Are They Right?


Detecting Genuine vs. Feigned DID on Psychological Tests: Implications for Assessment, Forensics, and the Construct Validity of DID

Presented at the 2013 ISSTD Annual International Conference
Date: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Bethany Brand, Ph.D.
Gregory Chasson, Ph.D.
Frank Donato, none
Cori A. Palermo, B.A.
Kyle P. Rhodes, none
Emily F. Voorhees, none
Mischa Tursich, Ph.D.
David Tzall, MA
Richard Loewenstein, M.D.
Assessing dissociative identity disorder (DID) can be difficult, particularly because individuals with this disorder often produce extreme elevations on validity scales on some personality tests and interviews.
        The goal for this study was to provide information about how to distinguish genuine versus feigned DID on widely used personality tests and interviews.
        A group of SCID-D-R diagnosed DID patients completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) and a forensic gold standard interview, the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms (SIRS/SIRS-2). In these three papers, we compare the data from the DID group to that from feigners who were exposed to hours of training about DID (i.e., coached simulators) as well as to a feigning group that was not coached about DID (i.e., uncoached simulators).
         Across the papers, the coached group generally was better able to imitate DID than was the uncoached group. However, neither group was highly successful in feigning DID. Given that well-coached individuals could not successfully imitate DID on well-established psychological tests, this series of studies provides support for the trauma model of dissociation as well as for the construct validity of DID.
          Furthermore, the results will help assessors and forensic experts better distinguish genuine from feigned DID.

Retrieved 01-18-14. Detecting Genuine vs. Feigned DID on Psychological Tests: Implications for Assessment, Forensics, and the Construct Validity of DID 

Dr. Elizabeth Loftus: 2013 Recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Psychological Foundation has named Prof. Elizabeth Loftus the 2013 recipient of its Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology.

According the Foundation, Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., has made “extraordinary contributions to our understanding of memory during the past 40 years that are remarkable for their creativity and impact. She has been a pioneering scientist in the area of memory distortion and false memories. Her imaginative and rigorous research has had a profound impact on the field of psychology, on scholars outside the field and on the administration of justice around the world.”

Full article here

American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement

retrieved 01-04-14.

Memory Wars Still Raging: Scientists, Practitioners Don’t See Eye to Eye On Repressed Memory

Science Daily

Dec. 13, 2013 — Skepticism about repressed traumatic memories has increased over time, but new research shows that psychology researchers and practitioners still tend to hold different beliefs about whether such memories occur and whether they can be accurately retrieved.

 Full Story retrieved 12-14-13. Science Daily

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.  See Below.

Journal Reference:

  1. Lawrence Patihis et al. Are the “Memory Wars” Over? A Scientist-Practitioner Gap in Beliefs About Repressed Memory. Psychological Science, December 2013

Retrieved 12-14-13 Psychological Science

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