Jesse Singal || Fad Psychology

April 8, 2021

Jesse Singal is a contributing writer at New York and the former editor of the magazine’s Science of Us online vertical, as well as the cohost of the podcast Blocked and Reported. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, The Boston Globe, The Daily Beast, and other publications. He was a Bosch Fellow in Berlin and holds a master’s degree from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. His book The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills will be published in April.


[1:45] How Jesse caught on to the issue of junk science

[5:18] What is “fad psychology”?

[10:30] Jesse’s critique of mindset interventions

[19:03] The challenges that scientists face

[20:10] Why do we hold scientists to a higher standard than self-help gurus?

[24:46] How valid is the Implicit Association Test (IAT)?

[29:00] Jesse’s thoughts on implicit bias

[31:39] Jesse and Scott discuss Angela Duckworth’s research on grit

[40:34] What does it mean to be living in the “age of fracture”?

[42:05] How Jesse responds to those who claim to benefit from non-scientifically validated self-help interventions

[45:16] Jesse’s thoughts on the science of self-esteem

[50:00] Jesse and Scott discuss monocausal vs multicausal accounts of human behavior

4 Responses to “Jesse Singal || Fad Psychology”

  1. Samantha says:

    Hi Scott,

    I love your podcast but I was wondering if you’ve ever done an episode or would do an episode talking about sexuality in people with disabilities and how there’s the negative perpetual stereotype that people with disabilities don’t have sex or sexualities?

  2. Kevin Weis says:

    Scott says near the beginning of the podcast that you (the listener) can read jesses book in 2-3 hours. Is this a figure of speech ppl make. I’ve often heard other ppl make similar claims (Sam Harris saying the Aaron can be read in a weekend). Or am I just a slow reader. I’m at about a week on jesses book and certainly over 2-3 cumulative hours…

    • Scott Barry Kaufman says:

      I think it only took me a few hours since I’m already so familiar with the material. So was able to skim some parts. So no worries if it’s taking you longer; I’d expect that for anyone not as immersed in the field as I am.

  3. Dan says:

    It is interesting to look at the idea of static and fluid thinking. I believe that they are one in the same and are all part of the bigger whole. Yes, there is a playbook, but that doesn’t mean that you are going to be a good player if all you do is know the ins and outs of the playbook. Gotta work hard at your goals. Be realistic. People can play different positions. Don’t expect to be the defensive tackle and run as fast as a cornerback. Learn to develop your weaknesses. I don’t know why people find it hard to believe that someones weakness is stronger and more efficient than someone else strength. It really is because of mindful practice. Schools do a great job of teaching you how not to practice something. All of this blabber made more sense in my head. haha

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