The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


positive thinking

Wild Psychotherapy: Untested and Questionable Methods of Psychological Advice and Treatment

Scientifically trained psychologists and social scientists have long been skeptical of clinical psychotherapy techniques because they are so dependent on anecdotes instead of data. In response, clinicians with scientific training have developed data-based techniques, like Cognitive Behavior Therapy. But these new techniques have not trickled down to pop psychologists like Laura Schlessinger (Dr. Laura) and Phil McGraw (Dr. Phil), along with self-help gurus like Tony Robbins. This article critiques these pop psych nostrums.

The Negative Side of Positive Psychology

The oversimplified litany of alleged benefits of positive thinking is scientifically problematic. New research keeps whittling away at previously discussions of the benefits of positive psychology such that it is barely a shadow of its former hulking self. Carol Tavris examines the negative side of positive psychology.

eSkeptic for February 17, 2016

The oversimplified litany of alleged benefits of positive thinking is scientifically problematic. New research keeps whittling away at previously discussions of the benefits of positive psychology such that it is barely a shadow of its former hulking self. In this week’s eSkeptic, we present Carol Tavris’ column, “The Gadfly,” from Skeptic magazine 19.3 (2014) in which she examines the negative side of positive psychology.

10-05-19

In this week’s eSkeptic, Victoria Bekiempis reviews The Case for Rational Optimism by Frank S. Robinson.

Bright-Sided

In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal 19th-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to “prosper” you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of “positive psychology” and the “science of happiness.” Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes — like mortgage defaults — contributed directly to the current economic crisis…

09-05-27

In Skeptic magazine (Vol. 14, No. 4), we published a skeptical analysis of the self-esteem and positive-thinking movement by investigative journalist Steve Salerno (which also appeared this eSkeptic), demonstrating that it is not enough to just say positive things, you actually have to do positive things. In response, Mark Robert Waldman and Andrew Newberg have written the following critique of Salerno’s critique, arguing that there is evidence for how thoughts influence actions. Steve Salerno’s responds.

09-04-15

In this week’s eSkeptic, investigative journalist Steve Salerno reveals what the science says about the positive thinking and self-esteem movement, and it isn’t very positive and will not raise the self-esteem of all those self-help gurus who have been telling us for decades that we just need to think more positively about life to make things better.

06-11-08

In this week’s eSkeptic, the Skeptics Society announces its exclusive release of Dawkins’ controversial documentary DVD The Root of All Evil? in North America; on Skepticality, Michael Shermer interviews Ann Druyan, wife and collaborator of the late Dr. Carl Sagan; and David Lidden reviews Thomas Kida’s Don’t Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking.

Donate

Get eSkeptic

Be in the know!

Subscribe to eSkeptic: our free email newsletter and get great podcasts, videos, reviews and articles from Skeptic magazine, announcements, and more in your inbox twice a week. It’s free. We never share your address. Unsubscribe any time.

Sign me up!

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE PDF Download

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

FREE PDF Download

The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

Copyright © 1992–2022. All rights reserved. | P.O. Box 338 | Altadena, CA, 91001 | 1-626-794-3119. The Skeptics Society is a non-profit, member-supported 501(c)(3) organization (ID # 95-4550781) whose mission is to promote science & reason. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Privacy Policy.