Pop Psychology Myths with Scott Lilienfeld (BSP 70)

The latest Brain Science Podcast (BSP 70) is an interview with Dr. Scott Lilienfeld, co-author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior.  This episode was recorded live at Dragon*Con 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  We focused our conversation on the fact that scientific reasoning and critical thinking do NOT come naturally; instead, we all tend to make similar errors, such as mistaking correlation for causation.  Dr. Lilienfeld shared his experiences, and an extensive question and answer session with the live audience allowed him to explore additional examples.

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Detailed Show Notes:

This episode includes an extensive Q and A between Dr. Lilienfeld and the live audience. Here is a list of some of the questions:

  • A mother asked for advice for being pressured to have her child subjected to treatment approaches that may not be evidence-based.
  • Is hypnosis an effective treatment?
  • Another woman asks for Dr. Lillienfeld to give some examples of practices that were popular in the 90's, which caused him concern.
  • Myths about anger management.
  • Problems with validity of self-evaluations.
  • Claims about changing your brain and bringing it into balance esp with regards to elementary education.
  • Problems with staff in mental health institutions believing in pseudoscience.
  • Problems with portrayal of psychological issues in movies and TV.
  • What about IQ tests and theories of Multiple intelligence?


  • 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior, by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, Barry L. Beyerstein.
  • What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought, by Keith E. Stanovich.
  • Rotton, J, & Kelly, I. W. (1985). Much ado about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunary-lunacy research. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 286-306.
  • Dunning, D., Heath, C., & Suls, J.M. (2004) Flawed Self-Assessment: Implications for Health, Education, and the Workplace. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, (5.3) 69-106.
  • Delmonico, L.M., & Romancyzk, R.G. (1995). Facilitated Communication: A critique. Behavior Therapist, 18, 27-30.
  • Jacobson, J.W., Mullick, J.A., & Schwarz, A.A. (1995) A history of facilitated communication: Science, pseudoscience, and antiscience. American Psychologist, 50,750-765.


  • Scott Lilienfeld, PhD (Emory University).
  • Dr. Lilienfeld's book has an extensive list of recommended websites.

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