This book is a collection of skeptical social essays in which the author reveals that much of our popular beliefs, psychology and science are defective, because, although we live in the 21st century, our approach to them is deeply rooted in our culture, and biased by history and evolution. These essays help the reader take a step sideways, think independently, and not fall victim to fads, fakes, and frauds.
Anyone who values a deeper understanding of contemporary social reality and the changes taking place in it should read this book--from students to scientists and intellectuals.
Through these essays we learn to look under the veneer of reality, behind the altars of science, under the scenery of pop-psychology and behind the facade of therapeutic culture. Thanks to essays on suicide, euthanasia and more, we also come close to the edge of life and death.
Contrary to many meticulous social critical analyzes, in sharing his thoughts the author takes us on a picturesque journey through bounty hunters, ludicrous machines, compulsive hoarding, Charlie Chaplin, and much more.
REVIEWS and WORDS OF PRAISE
Tomasz Witkowski Busts More Myths
in Science-Based Medicine: Exploring Issues & Controveries in Science & Medicine
by Harriet Hall on November 1, 2022
Tomasz Witkowski’s book is an intense blast aimed at the comfortable notion that culture is about building a shared, truthful vision of the world. It does a great service to those of us who still cling to the hope that truth will win eventually and aspire to move things in that direction.
Prof. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University, author of The Self Explained: Why and How We Become Who We Are
Tomasz Witkowski is a chronicler of the good and bad in psychology. His previous book Shaping Psychology, emphasized the good. Fads, Fakes and Frauds turns to the dark side, discussing how dogma shaped by past or present authorities is accepted unquestioned by the field, as well as difficulties with replication, and other important issues that psychology is struggling with. The short, beautifully written essays are filled with contemporary examples and contextualized by relevant historical facts. Fads, Fakes and Frauds provides an important perspective on the field, and should especially help young psychologists, still untainted by tradition, find their way.
Prof. Joseph LeDoux, New York University, author of The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains
People want to understand themselves and their purpose. The need for meaning creates opportunity for one's desires or good salesmanship to dominate over the truth. In this provocative book, Tomasz Witkowski illuminates the struggle between science and pseudoscience, particularly in the search for meaning and well-being. Witkowski leans into challenging topics like victimhood, suicide, and false accusations with literary force and a clear desire to pursue the evidence wherever it leads. His critical eye even confronts science as an institution, the ostensible counterweight to pseudoscience, as vulnerable to similar biases. Finding the truth, it seems, is not a matter of deciding which sources to trust, but of embracing a process of skepticism and evidence-seeking that is always willing to revise understanding, even of our most treasured beliefs.
Prof. Brian A. Nosek, University of Virginia, co-founder and director of the Center for Open Science
You might not agree with every example provided by the innovative psychologist, Tomasz Witkowski, about how falsehoods have invaded our collective consciousness. But you will find his writing lively and provocative. Our widespread tendency to embrace fads, fakes, and frauds, can be damaging to large segments of our society - both those who are directly affected, and their heartbroken loved ones. Hopefully his pleas for more critical thinking will be heeded.
Prof. Elizabeth F. Loftus, University of California, Irvine, author of The Myth of Repressed Memory
Recently the amount of disinformation has increased considerably and, thanks to the Internet, that disinformation is spreading faster than ever before. We tend to take at face value much of what we are told by “experts” without ever looking at the evidence, and governments buy in and fund all manner of strategies that have considerable hype but little or no efficacy. Dr Witkowski's highly readable account exposes the reality of much of what we take for granted. The skeptics among us like the author of Fades, Fakes, and Frauds are valuable and this is a very advantageous and important book. While it will interest many, it should be required reading by government officials who develop and fund mental health programs.
Marvin Ross, medical writer/publisher
Although I occasionally disagree with Tomasz Witkowski I whole heartedly embrace his take on psychology. His actions of scientific self-scrutinizing and straight forward skepticism is not only necessary for our field, it´s a breath of fresh air.
Teddy Winroth, licensed psychologist and psychotherapist, Sweden
In his latest book
Fads, Fakes, and Frauds, Tomasz Witkowski provides us with a series of hard hitting, highly skeptical essays on a wide range of issues of contemporary concern. These include our understanding and treatment of mental health problems, including suicide and self-harm; placebo and nocebo in medicine; the quality of scientific research; loneliness; victimization; and criminal justice. His aim is to demonstrate how we have come to understand and represent these issues in ways that are counterproductive rather than beneficial, highlighting the muddling of fact, misrepresentation and self-interested fiction in conventional discourse and social policy. An informed and highly readable account, it comes at a time when its message could not be more relevant.
Prof. Michael Heap, clinical forensic psychologist in Sheffield, UK, author of Universal Awareness: A Theory of the Soul
Reading Witkowski’s new book might cause you to doubt your parents, scientists and even yourself. While you may not agree with the author, his views force you to consider the basis of your own views.
Prof. Michael Posner, University of Oregon, author of Developing a Brain: A Life in Psychology
One reason NOT to buy this book is that Tomasz Witkowski inevitably challenges readers’ own cherished beliefs with his strongly stated alternative opinions. Readers have to be confident enough that they are okay not to take it personally. Ideally, they will come open enough being challenged, even only if to be ready to for other inconvenient threats to their cherished beliefs. Otherwise, the compelling reason to buy this book is that it provides a competitive advantage in conversations. People who read it carefully or keep it handy on their desk for consultation can sound much more intelligent on a variety of topics than people who do not have access to it.
Prof. James C. Coyne, University of Pennsylvania, editor of The Interactional Nature of Depression
You may not agree with everything Witkowski says, but you would do well to follow his example and question everything you have been taught. Ideas that everyone assumes are true may not be. He asks for evidence, and he provides references. He writes well, tells good stories, and offers examples that will make you think. Readers will be challenged and may be provoked to change their minds about things they once took for granted. Prepare to have your apple cart upset; you may need to pick up some apples.
Harriet Hall, MD, The SkepDoc, author of Women Aren't Supposed to Fly
Many cultural achievements are more or less in conflict with reality, since distortions of perception and errors in judgment are part of human nature. Even cherished assumptions often turn out to be illusory. If you want to look behind the facade of a seemingly consistent perception of the world then I would like to recommend these 18 excellent essays in this book. The author takes you on an entertaining and exciting journey of critical thinking, highlighting numerous socially relevant issues. A real reading pleasure for open-minded people.
Rouven Schäfer, Board of the German Skeptics Organization (GWUP e.V.)
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About the AuthorDr. Tomasz Witkowski
is a psychologist, skeptic, and author of several dozen science papers, several hundred popular science articles and fifteen books. He specialises in debunking pseudoscience in psychology, psychotherapy and everyday life. Witkowski's books include Shaping Psychology, Psychology Gone Wrong
, and Psychology Led Astray
. The Polish Society of Rationalists awarded him the title of Rationalist of the Year 2010. Visit his blog at forbiddenpsychology.wordpress.com