Charles's Reviews > Psychobabble and Biobunk: Using Psychological Science to Think Critically about Popular Psychology

Psychobabble and Biobunk by Carol Tavris
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's review
Jan 10, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: nonfic-psychology
Read from January 10 to February 21, 2011 — I own a copy

I tend to hold books that profess to expose poor thinking to a higher standard than most other books. On this level, Psychobabble and Biobunk had its problems. There are a few places where the author overstates her case to make a point, but in the very act of doing so engages in psychobabble, as when she says specifically that there is "zero" correlation between personality traits of adoptive children and the adoptive parent..."if home environment had a strong influence." She surely knows that "zero correlation" is a very specific statistical term. Zero correlation would mean that one characteristic changed while another does not. If it were indeed zero correlation then the statement about "strong" influence would be incorrect since there would be 'no' influence. Surely she meant to say weak correlation or something along those lines.

This kind of mistep early in the book almost had me tossing it aside, but I did continue reading it and I found several of the later essays in the book interesting and thought provoking. I think the book is worthwhile and enjoyed much of it, but it is to be taken with a grain of salt, as are the books the author points out as weak themselves.

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