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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Reading Popular Science Books In The Age Of Bad Science | Policy - Forbes

I'm reading Charles Duhigg's book "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business", and it's leaving me with an uneasy feeling, as Adam Ozimek, economist at Moody's Analytics reports.

Photo: Forbes
Duhigg is a great reporter, whose work in the New York Times I enjoy and that is why I bought the book. But in the age of the replication crisis in the social sciences, it's hard to know what to trust.

The book is about how habits form, what habits do, and how to change them. It's full of useful and interesting stories about business that I enjoy reading in their own right. But then there's is the psychology part of it. References to studies with small samples raise my skeptical alarms. Other studies just sound like the kind that have failed to replicate. Again, I know Duhigg as careful and thoughtful and I tell myself this when he assures the reader that many studies show the same thing.

For example, Duhigg recounts in detail a famous experiment that is alleged to show how willpower is a limited source that can be depleted. 
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Source: Forbes