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.

When Misinformation is Used to Distract the Need for Safe Mental Health Care

What can be gained by offering people misinformation about mental health care? What happens when disinformation – the intentional spreading of information that is not true – is used against people who publish research, make statements, or voice opinions we don’t agree with?

We all suffer. This behavior divides people. It stokes the fires of hate. It distracts people from issues. It causes tempers to flare and emotions to rise. It incites violence. It deepens rage.

So why do people do it? That is not a question I can answer.

When emotions are high and deeply-ingrained belief systems challenged, it is all too easy to lapse into character assassinations and lose sight of why we are distressed about what we read. The option to argue our point of view, or critique what was written, falls by the wayside.  We become distracted, once again, from the issues and offer a pathway to misdirected emotions, rage, and hate that elevate misunderstandings that do anything but unite us.

So why do people misquote others for personal gain? What is the motivation behind this type of behavior? What good can come of it?

I assume we all want the availability of health care that is safe & effective. It matters not what school of thought we choose to support  – we want proper care for ourselves, our friends, and our family members. I hope too, we want the same for others.

Whether or not we agree with someone’s personal choices for their mental health care or a particular type of therapy, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that the care available is safe and effective, and provided by educated and trained providers.

Unfortunately, safe and effective treatment is not always on the market. There are few regulations on mental health care treatments and even less on those who want to call themselves practitioners and treat patients. Heck, anyone can call themselves a psychotherapist and bring in clients if they so choose.

What happens when psychotherapy is dangerous? How do we evaluate therapy to find out if it is effective?

When psychotherapy, such as that for dissociative identity disorder and multiple personalities, has shown over and over and over that it can be harmful, and is known to have taken the lives of many women and destroyed countless families – it needs to be taken off the market.

How do we protect ourselves as mental health consumers? We educate, we learn, and we listen. Self-education, however, goes far beyond reading books, research articles, and pouring over medical journals. How many times have we done that only to find the best information came from the people next door or from conversations we come across on the Internet?

It boggles my mind that mental health care practices are largely unregulated – or should I say they are somewhat regulated, but not enforced. Medical infractions occur and ethical boundaries are pushed every day. But how often do you read about a psychotherapist being chastised by colleagues or professional organizations for wrongdoing? Rarely. How often do psychotherapists go to jail for physically and/or emotionally harming a patient? Even more rare.

The women I know personally, who died during treatment for multiple personalities and/or dissociative identity disorder don’t seem to be changing the views of those who claim to diagnose and treat it – this precious loss of life during psychotherapy also does not seem to deter women from buying the exact same therapy that killed.

There isn’t more to say; we either bond together and demand safe and effective mental health care, or we continue to have slip-shot psychotherapies that have the potential to do grave harm. Unless we dampen the impulse to distract each other from the real issue – safe medical care – and ignore the impulse to use misinformation and disinformation when we disagree with someone, the current sloppy care and oversight will continue.

Hopefully, it won’t be on you.

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