Discover more from Singal-Minded
Win A Copy Of "The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can't Cure Our Social Ills" By Some Jerk
Plus: what you've missed recently if you're not a paying subscriber
Some Recent Highlights You Missed If You’re Not A Paying Subscriber
If Your Outlet Can’t Correctly Distinguish A Liberal Feminist From A White Nationalist, You Don’t Have Much Standing To Complain About “Fake News” - On VentureBeat and Vox and some of the really frustrating stuff going on in journalism right now.
When Your Epistemic Bubble Pops - As a couple recent hot-button examples show, a community might adopt standards of evidence and argument that are useless against outsiders. But the goal should be to convince outsiders!
Do We Really Need A Theory Of “Multiracial Whiteness” To Explain Latino Support For Trump? - Contemporary progressive race-speak is becoming more of a religion than a useful analytical lens, and nothing better demonstrates that than some liberals’ attempts to understand minority groups’ swings toward Trump in the 2020 election.
“I'm Scared, So I Trust The Authorities” Is Always A Terrible Heuristic - The attack on the Capitol was terrible, but we shouldn’t reflexively trust the scariest storytelling about it presented to us by authorities.
More Warning Signs In The Culture Of Journalism - The reaction of some of Don McNeil’s colleagues to the allegations against him was disturbing and suggests some highly questionable ideas and practices have wormed their way into the United States’ most important newsroom.
The Problem With “Just Ignore The Crazies” - You can only cry “Oh no — what if the right sees this?” so many times. At a certain point, you need to acknowledge that bad policy is bad policy
I’m Worried About The Further Siloization Of Mainstream Writing - I’ve benefited from the Substack revolution, but I’m worried about some of the incentives that seem to be inherent to it (as I point out in a paid-subscribers-only post…).
Win A Copy Of “The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills” By, Uh, Jesse Singal
I try to be honest, during these book giveaways, when it comes to my relationships with the authors and the books in question. If they’re a friend, I say so; if I’ve read the book, I say so. In this case, I can’t really tell you who the author is, to be honest, other than that I’ve heard things and they aren’t great. Nor can I claim all that much familiarity with the book.
With their viral TED talks, bestselling books, and counter-intuitive remedies for complicated problems, psychologists and other social scientists have become the reigning thinkers of our time. Grit and “power posing” promised to help overcome entrenched inequalities in schools and the workplace; the Army spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a positive psychology intervention geared at preventing PTSD in its combat soldiers; and the implicit association test swept the nation on the strength of the claim that it can reveal unconscious biases and reduce racism in police departments and human resources departments.
But what if much of the science underlying these blockbuster ideas is dubious or fallacious? What if Americans’ longstanding preference for simplistic self-help platitudes is exerting a pernicious influence on the way behavioral science is communicated and even funded, leading respected academics and the media astray?
In The Quick Fix, Jesse Singal examines the most influential ideas of recent decades and the shaky science that supports them. He begins with the California legislator who introduced self-esteem into classrooms around the country in the 1980s and the Princeton political scientist who warned of an epidemic of youthful “superpredators” in the 1990s. In both cases, a much-touted idea had little basis in reality, but had a massive impact. Turning toward the explosive popularity of 21st-century social psychology, Singal examines the misleading appeal of entertaining lab results and critiques the idea that subtle unconscious cues shape our behavior. As he shows, today’s popular behavioral science emphasizes repairing, improving, and optimizing individuals rather than truly understanding and confronting the larger structural forces that drive social ills.
Sounds interesting, I guess? If you want a chance to win a free copy, send an email with the subject ‘TQF’ (no quotes) to email@example.com. I’ll draw from the entries and give two copies to whoever I pick, as long as they’re at least a free subscriber, and a third to a paid subscriber. Paid subscribers, among their other perks, always get an extra shot at winning books during these giveaways. I’ll inform the winners by the end of the day on Wednesday.
Okay, hi-larious shtick aside, please, please, please consider preordering my book wherever you’re most comfortable doing so, in whatever format suits you best. We’re off to a pretty solid start, preorders-wise, but definitely have room to improve. You would be shocked at how big a difference a few extra sales can make. If for whatever reason you can’t preorder at the moment, you can still help me out for free simply by requesting the book for your local library — sales are sales. If you do preorder or request it for your local library, save some sort of proof of this, since FSG is going to be doing a contest eventually, giving away gift cards or something like that.
Thank you so much!