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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

An investigative journalist exposes the many holes in today’s best-selling behavioral science, and argues that the trendy, TED-Talk-friendly psychological interventions that are so in vogue at the moment will never be enough to truly address social injustice and inequality.

With their viral TED talks, best-selling books, and counter-intuitive remedies for complicated problems, psychologists and other social scientists have become the reigning thinkers of our time. Grit and “power posing” promised to help overcome entrenched inequalities in schools and the workplace; the Army spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a positive psychology intervention geared at preventing PTSD in its combat soldiers; and the implicit association test swept the nation on the strength of the claim that it can reveal unconscious biases and reduce racism in police departments and human resources departments.

But what if much of the science underlying these blockbuster ideas is dubious or fallacious? What if Americans’ longstanding preference for simplistic self-help platitudes is exerting a pernicious influence on the way behavioral science is communicated and even funded, leading respected academics and the media astray?

In The Quick Fix, Jesse Singal examines the most influential ideas of recent decades and the shaky science that supports them. He begins with the California legislator who introduced self-esteem into classrooms around the country in the 1980s and the Princeton political scientist who warned of an epidemic of youthful “superpredators” in the 1990s. In both cases, a much-touted idea had little basis in reality, but had a massive impact. Turning toward the explosive popularity of 21st-century social psychology, Singal examines the misleading appeal of entertaining lab results and critiques the idea that subtle unconscious cues shape our behavior. As he shows, today’s popular behavioral science emphasizes repairing, improving, and optimizing individuals rather than truly understanding and confronting the larger structural forces that drive social ills.

Like Anand Giridharadas’s Winners Take All, The Quick Fix is a fresh and powerful indictment of the thought leaders and influencers who cut corners as they sell the public half-baked solutions to problems that deserve more serious treatment.  

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Jesse Singal (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Quick Fix

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TDS detracts from otherwise ok book

Author would do well to steer clear of petty snipes against politicians he doesn’t support and slobbering antidotes for his political team. It detracts from the notion that he wrote an objective book and won’t age well.

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Not the podcast

Each chapter basically takes on a psychological fad that is common in our culture and society. Just wrapping up chapter 4 and the arguments against them are pretty boring and subtle. Nothing groundbreakingly new. If you already consider yourself someone who is skeptical of most of these things you probably wont gather much from this book.

I love Jesse and the podcast, but the intro was the best part of this book so far.

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good stuff

solid and fair takedown of fad psychology and social science.
narration is good too, Singal's voice sounds like he has wine corks stuffed up his nostrils but you get used to it.

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Clear, even-handed look at recent pop psychology

While I'm sure I would disagree with the author on many political topics, I would absolutely trust him to fairly evaluate the merits of both sides of any particular argument. This book does exactly what it says it does, and in a very clear and effective manner. As a side note, I happened to find the author's chapter on the implicit association test the clearest argument regarding the prevalence of systemic racism that I've encountered. Recommended.

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Much Needed Science and Skepticism Amid Endless Puffery

Singal nearly undoes decades of fast-tracked, half-baked ideas and pop-psych fads that were able to run wild in America. Thanks, in large part, to our desperation to solve complex problems and overcome impossible odds to achieve success. But the devil is in the details, and non-replicated studies that produce inaccurate views of the world can have serious opportunity costs for discernible, lasting changes for individuals and society. Singal expertly dodges the trap of partisanship here in dismantling several pop psychology’s most sacred cows of the 20th and 21st century. A must read for anyone who suspects Americans are drowning in a swamp of “easy answers” at the cost of real progress.

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Extremely fascinating look at fad science

While at times a little dry and heavy on statistical information, this is a fascinating book about how fad behavioral science left unchecked can have dangerous repercussions on almost all walks of life, from business to government, the military to education. Definitely worth the read!

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Interesting and valuable

This is an interesting and valuable book. It was a little boring towards the end though. That might say more about me though. Perhaps I like this book because it confirms my bias. I think that a lot of pop-psychology info that's peddled to the masses is hogwash and I'm glad to read about people poking holes in those ideas.

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Fascinating insights

I'm a much better-educated interpreter of social science thanks to Jesse Singal. "The Quick Fix" explains the shortcomings in our headlines and how social scientists sometimes, the media most times, over hype research. Simple examples illustrate some of the oft used methods for disinformation, making it possible for me to ask better questions in future social science research.

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Better informed

I must admit I watched the power posing TedTalk and was persuaded the finding. Oops!

Good to be corrected. 😎

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Outstanding!

This is one of the best books I have read in years. The author challenges many of the common and trendy explanations put forward to answer why we behave as we do. He explains in great detail why these explanations are simply wrong in his opinion. One very important “take away” is that rarely is a behavior explained by one single cause.