My Book, The Quick Fix, Is Now Available For Preorder, And I Hope You'll Consider Buying It

Preorders help -- a lot

Back in 2017, I left New York Magazine to start working on my first book. Now, at long last, it’s time for me to start promoting it. “The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills” will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on April 6th, and I hope you’ll consider preordering it.

In the 21st century, the psychological establishment has produced a string of ideas that, according to various professors with impressive credentials, can go a long way toward helping us solve problems like racism, educational inequality, and the gender gap in the workplace. Over and over and over, the same sequence ensues: The idea bursts on the scene, often helped along by a TED Talk and a bestselling book, generating a huge amount of excitement and, in many cases, attracting significant research funding. It’s the talk of the town for a few years. Then critics take a sharper-eyed look at it and realize that there were certain methodological flaws in the original studies that gave rise to the idea in question, and that few, if any, of the real-world interventions produced by the idea have borne any fruit whatsoever. Eventually, it becomes clear that there was almost nothing to recommend the idea in the first place — it exploded in popularity not because of genuine, well-founded scientific excitement, but because of marketing and hype. This doesn’t stop the idea from shambling on, zombie-style, however, because at this point so many people benefit from its success in the marketplace of ideas and want to continue selling it.

The Quick Fix is an attempt to explain why this keeps happening. Among other ideas, I discuss power-posing, the implicit association test, grit, and Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, an anti-PTSD intervention developed by the Army at the cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. The goal of the book isn’t just to debunk these ideas, but also to explain what it is about our culture and our institutions that causes us to fall for them in the first place. The answer is… well, I don’t want to spoil everything here. But a large part of it has to do with Americans’ faith in self-help, and in the ability of individual-level tweaks to address problems that seem to actually require more thoughtful, ambitious approaches. We have a tendency to be seduced by quick fixes in part because they ask very little of us.

To be clear, The Quick Fix isn’t all bad news. I also write about some behavioral-science ideas that are valid, and explain how the psychological establishment itself, after taking a wrong turn and getting lost in a swamp of methodologically suspect practices for an extended and sometimes embarrassing period, has begun to institute some much-needed reforms. So there’s hope! But in the meantime, we’re only starting to understand how things went so badly off the rails, and I hope my book helps to put this phenomenon in context and to prevent half-baked ideas from catching on in the future.

Okay, so: Preorders are a very big deal in the publishing world. They send a signal to publishers that there is interest in a book, and a surprisingly small number of preorders can have a real effect on marketing resources and other publisher decisions that make life easier for an author. So if any of this intrigues you and you’re in a position to preorder The Quick Fix from IndieBound or Amazon or wherever else you get your books, I would really appreciate it. If you’re not in a position to do so at the moment, I completely understand, and down the road I’m looking to potentially run some contests to give away free copies. Along those same lines, if you do preorder, please hold on to a screenshot of your receipt, because I may also try to give some prizes away to preorderers.

Okay, that’s it! There’s a bit more info in a tweetstorm I did about the book if you’re curious:

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week.