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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychology 101 Redux, November 30, 2009
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This review is from: 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior (Paperback)
There are two very impressive aspects of this book: 1) the types of "myths" that the authors tackle, and 2) the quality of their literature reviews. On the first point, I was excited to see the authors make strong evidence-based critiques of the Alcoholics Anonymous model of addictions treatment, the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse, the autism 'epidemic,' and others. It would have been easy to write another 'skeptics diary' of obvious psychomythology (e.g., phrenology, ESP, etc), but the authors really stick their necks out in some instances. On the second point, the authors' conclusions are well-supported by the research they cite. As a school psychologist, I was impressed to see a very thoughtful handling of the research on so-called 'learning styles,' for example. I've not seen a better handling of this topic in any book meant for mass consumption, and this section alone was worth the purchase. So overall, I would describe the book as a very well-written Psychology 101 Redux that debunks a lot of common misconceptions.

However, I would take issues with a few of the "Other Myths to Explore" at the end of the chapters, which could be easily misinterpreted. For example, on page 63 the authors claim that "children with extremely high IQs have much higher levels of creative accomplishment in adulthood than other children." While this is generally correct, it ignores research showing that 'extremely' high IQs do not predict the next Einsteins or Lincolns. In Lewis Terman's famous study, his high IQ group did very well into adulthood, but not up to Terman's predictions of greatness--in fact, most turned out to be very average adults. Such 'nuggets' at the end of the chapters are a little too concise, and this is why I give the book 4 stars rather than 5.

And if the authors are reading, I recommend the following myths for future editions:

Stimulant use in childhood increases the risk of addictions in adulthood
ADHD is caused by video games and excessive television viewing
It is easy for criminals to fake mental retardation in order to avoid the death penalty
Boys are more aggressive than girls
"Wilderness Programs" are highly effective for juvenile delinquents
The DARE program is very effective in reducing/preventing drug use
Adolescents with jobs are less likely than their unemployed peers to engage in risky behavior
Child abuse is much more common now than ever before

I could go on, but I'll stop there. The point is, even though psychology is a 'soft science,' there are issues around which consensus has been built. Yet, many misonceptions still exist. Indeed, many readers unfamiliar with the field may find some of the authors' conclusions controversial (autism and the MMR vaccine leaps to mind), but the research evidence to the contrary is very compelling. This book does a great job explaining how.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 20, 2009 8:49:53 PM PST
S. Hutchins says:
"children with extremely high IQs have much higher levels of creative accomplishment in adulthood than other children."

Is this a Myth or a supposedly true, according to the authors?

Posted on Dec 20, 2009 8:51:25 PM PST
S. Hutchins says:
"children with extremely high IQs have much higher levels of creative accomplishment in adulthood than other children."

Is this a Myth or a supposedly true, according to the authors?

Posted on Jan 16, 2010 5:47:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2010 5:49:23 AM PST
Gordon Baker says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Feb 23, 2010 7:51:50 AM PST
Based on your list, it sounds like you should write a book on these myths and other insights into the various issues and trends related to child education.

Posted on Feb 23, 2010 12:59:05 PM PST
Jacinda says:
Haven't read this book yet, but reading your review I thought you might also like Nurtureshock (it talks more in depth about gifted children & learning), Predictably Irrational, or Mistakes Were Made, but not by me.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2010 12:36:37 PM PDT
doctor_beth says:
Gordon, it would probably be a good idea for you to read this book. To answer one of your questions, for example, the authors certainly DO acknowledge that AA has helped quite a lot of people. But the myth that they are arguing against in this case is "Abstinence is the only realistic goal for alcoholics"--rather, they suggest that abstinence is not ALWAYS the best course of action as AA insists.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2010 9:35:26 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 4, 2010 9:36:01 AM PST
To S. Hutchins:

It is supposed to be true according to the authors, but the Terman study among others makes this a somewhat questionnable conclusion.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2010 9:44:06 AM PST
To Gordon Baker:

On the rates of child abuse, you are actually incorrect. There is a testable way to determine whether child abuse is increasing and that is to look at the figures tracked by Child Protective Services. They track the number of complaints as well as the number of confirmed cases and what they have found is that complaints are increasing (i.e., people are becoming more likely to report it), but the number of confimed instances is actually going down slightly across all categories of abuse, except for neglect. So there is no evidence to show that child abuse is much more common now than before -- that statement is 100% correct. We have valid and reliable evidence, so I'm not sure what "debate" is needed, or how else someone could acquire an "informed" opinion.

But on your larger point about fairness, I encourage you to read the book and tell us how fair you think it is.

Posted on Mar 11, 2011 10:12:12 PM PST
Mr. Schultz, I've been impressed with your reviews, and as a result I was set to order this book . . . until I read the sentence, "Many readers unfamiliar with the field may find some of the authors' conclusions controversial (autism and the MMR vaccine leaps to mind), but the research evidence to the contrary is very compelling."

Does that mean that either you or the authors lend any creedence to the quack notion that vaccines cause autism?

That stopped my order at once.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 15, 2011 11:49:21 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 15, 2011 11:53:32 AM PDT
doctor_beth says:
Actually, Keith, not only do the authors specifically state that "there's no solid evidence for any link between autism and vaccinations" (p. 198), but in fact they do this within the context of Myth #41, "There's Recently Been a Massive Epidemic of Infantile Autism."

I think that canceling your order was a bit premature. ;)

PS--The Amazon listing for this book offers a "Look Inside" feature, where you could have read through the Table of Contents for the book and easily cleared up this misunderstanding for yourself.
PPS--I also would recommend reading my own review; I actually happen to be a psychologist. :)
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