The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills

Jesse Singal. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-374-23980-0
Journalist Singal takes aim at “half-baked behavioral science” in his impassioned yet disappointing debut. Drawing on his experiences as the former editor of New York magazine’s “Science of Us” column, Singal critiques the research behind topics including criminal superpredators, the links between assertiveness and posture (i.e., “power poses”), and how boosting students’ “grit” can improve their classroom performance. He delves into the problematic research techniques that can sometimes make “mere statistical noise... look like a pattern,” and castigates scientists, popular media, and academic journals for focusing on improvements individuals can make rather than the structural reforms he believes society needs (“The reforms that ask the least of us are often the ones most apt to go viral”). Though Singal accurately identifies many problems with “fad psychology,” most of the topics he addresses have already been widely debunked, and his analyses of where the science goes wrong are often too convoluted for the lay reader to follow. This well-intentioned takedown comes up short. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 12/07/2020
Release date: 03/09/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-250-82946-7
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