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PSYC180 - The Media, Psychology, and Critical Thinking.docx

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PSYC 180
Amir Raz

PSYC180 February 9 Lecture Rasputin Effect: somehow, questionable claims tend to live on despite overwhelming negative evidence Media vs. Science  Media depictions sometimes misleading, plain wrong  Hypnosis not a zombie-like trance state, not dangerous, people don’t lose control of themselves  Little scientific evidence to believe people have multiple indwelling selves separated by amnesic barriers and created in response to trauma  Goals of scientific enterprise and media differ  Media: tell a good story with vivid, memorable, often sensational examples; play to people’s emotions; incorporate popular beliefs with little or no scientific support  Personal advice articulated in the language of emotion  Easy answers, quick fixes  Media commercialized Expertise heuristic – we place particular trust in people who describe themselves as experts  Advice industry fosters the idea that anything goes in psychology and medicine Science: A Weeding Process  Science: incorrect claims tend to be weeded out eventually  In media, incorrect claims often persist because failures to replicate not newsworthy, often not recorded  What is sensational often persists Pseudosciences  Non-science: claims that are largely devoid of research support  Non-sciences masquerading as science; are intellectual imposters of science  Lack safeguards against confirmation bias  Distinctions from sciences are at times fuzzy (like day and night, can still be distinguished)  But are marked by a set of probabilistic indicators (warning signs to practitioners and general public) Seven Sins of Pseudoscience  1. Lack of falsifiability: claims must be stated in a way that can be falsified (refuted)  eye movement theory: can help with anxiety by training eye movement. Our current technology cannot falsify this claim  Rorschach test  2. Emphasis on confirmation rather than refutation  Facilitated communication  3. Absence of self-correction: intellectual stagnation is a frequent characteristic  Anecdotes: don’t tell us anything about cause and effect, how representative the cases are, or how difficult they are to verify  4. Case studies and testimonials  5. Reversed burden of proof: burden is on the skeptic, not on the proponent  Ignoratium fallacy: claim is likely to be correct just because there is not overwhelming evidence against  Burden of proof should be on the person who is making the claim  6.The use of obscurantist language – gives the appearance that something is scientific but is really not  7.Absence of boundary condition – claim to be effective for all people Appeal of Non-Empirically Supported Methods  therapists want to help  treatments give hope to people  desire for “quick fix”  therapists are busy, managed care pressures, reading literature a “luxury”  lag between new treatment, evaluation Misperceptions of Actual Client Change  placebo effects: up to 80% effectiveness of antidepressants  novelty effects: patients excited about a new intervention, 15% of patients improve between initial phone call and first session  spontaneous remission: psychotherapy estimates range 15-70%  many disorders are cyclical in nature (bipolar, cyclothymic)  regression to the mean: what goes up, must come down; people often come to therapy when they are feeling their worst, so they are only going to get better  maturation effects: naturally occurring psychological growth (patients with borderline personality)  history: positive events occur outside of the therapy  effort justification: people want to get something out of the time spent on therapy  multiple treatment interference  illusory
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