Thoughts on Psychology

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Quack psychology in the media

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Nice article about “psychologists” talking shit to the media:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2010/oct/28/media-shrink-wayne-rooney

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Written by daijones

November 9, 2010 at 1:16 am

Posted in Media, Quick Link

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Yet again the media uses brain science to denigrate women

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I love the Daily Mash, but it’s undoubtedly funnier when you know the story they’re satirising. Sadly, when I first saw this article I didn’t know the background, so couldn’t get full benefit…

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3192&Itemid=77

Happily for me, Dr Petra Boynton has commented on the original research, focussing on the media’s reporting of it. This post is typically informative and illuminating, but also makes the Daily Mash post more fun:

http://www.drpetra.co.uk/blog/women-with-low-libidos-have-different-brains/

Dr Petra’s post includes links to other blogs criticising methodological aspects of the study being reported on.

This kind of research is typical of the modern trend towards seeking brain based explanations, as if they were sufficient, and the media is happy to lap this up. But even if the study were methodologically sound, what would it tell us? The implication is that differences in brain state cause differences in libido, but then what causes the differences in brain state? From my point of view, the brain state is a reflection of the psychological condition, rather than the cause of it. The Daily Mash perhaps puts it best:

But Dr Logan’s wife, Emma, said: “My study suggests very strongly that it’s not me it’s you, you fat, bald, stinky little shit.

“If I don’t like sex, then what the fuck are all those tea lights doing in the bathroom?”

Written by daijones

October 29, 2010 at 12:23 am

Posted in Biological determinism, Media, Quick Link

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Drunkenness and racism

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Good discussion on mindhacks about the increase in prejudice when we’re less able to control our thought processes

http://mindhacks.com/2010/10/12/im-only-racist-when-im-drunk/

Written by daijones

October 12, 2010 at 2:17 am

Posted in Quick Link

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Reducing stigma towards mental health?

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A good piece in today’s Bad Science following the media fuss about an alleged genetic basis for ADHD. It’s commonly assumed that ascribing a genetic explanation to a condition will reduce stigma towards it. However, in this piece Ben Goldacre presents copious evidence that bio-medical, rather than psycho-social, explanations of mental illness actually increases stigma rather than reduces it.

http://www.badscience.net/2010/10/pride-and-prejudice/

Written by daijones

October 9, 2010 at 12:27 am

Posted in Biological determinism, Quick Link

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The Gender Gap Myth

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Remarkably, a sensible discussion of gender differences in the media:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/10/gender-gap-myth-cordelia-fine

Fine’s book, discussed in the article, sounds very good. Another good book making a ┬ásimilar case is Lise Eliot’s Pink Brain Blue Brain. Both of these books run counter to the standard presentation in pop psychology of essential, biologically grounded, gender differences in psychological characteristics.

Written by daijones

September 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Beyond nature versus nurture

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An accessible discussion of the search for a genetic basis of psychological functions – and its futility – from the Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/sep/09/gene-intelligence-genetic-testing

It concentrates on the interaction between environmental factors and genes of small effect, but doesn’t look at the effects of human agency on development. It also doesn’t really consider why such explanations are so popular, and particularly overlooks the political usefulness, from a certain perspective, of genetic explanations. It’s well worth a read though, to get beyond the false nature/nurture dichotomy.

Written by daijones

September 11, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Eugenics never went away

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Written by daijones

September 11, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Biological determinism, Quick Link

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