Psychological Science and Preying on Predatory Journals

Psychological Science and Preying on Predatory Journals March 30, 2019

Clinical psychologist Dr. Caleb Lack joins me in the latest episode of Science Social Hour. Dr. Lack is a professor of psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. He has published research on anxiety disorders and evidence-based psychotherapy techniques. He also recently wrote a book about skepticism and critical thinking!  Dr. Lack is also the director of the Secular Therapy Project, which aims to match secular therapists with secular clients.

I’ve been following Dr. Lack’s work for awhile, so it was really cool to finally chat with him. We first start talking about his journey into psychology and why he went into clinical psychology. Then we chat about how he became a professor of psychology. While teaching psychology, Dr. Lack has used some innovative teaching methods as he describes in this TEDx talk. Basically, instead of having a final paper that only the student and teaching ever see, Dr. Lack had his students collectively generate an online psychology textbook! This made his students much more interested as they know other people would see their work and it also creates a free resource on psychology that is fact-checked! Their textbook has been downloaded millions of times in over 200 countries!

Dr. Lack and I then get into some of his research on anxiety disorders and evidence-based psychotherapies. One area of research that my readers may find particularly interesting Dr. Lack’s current project looking at the link between religion and intelligence. As I’ve mentioned before, the positive link between atheism and intelligence is rife with methodological errors. It’s simply inaccurate to say that atheists are more intelligent than theists. There are lots of factors involved (like education and socioeconomic status) and once those are controlled for, any different between the two groups evaporates. As we discuss, many atheists used to be Christians. Did they instantly get smarter once they stopped believing in God?

Finally, Dr. Lack and I chat about his saga of dealing with a predatory journal. You can read the full details here. The short version is that Dr. Lack got an email from a predatory academic journal seeking article submissions. Unfortunately, there are some academic journals that are simply out to make profit and don’t care what kind of nonsense is published in them. Dr. Lack was contacted by an alternative medicine journal that asked him for $822 to publish his journal (for reference, it often free to try and publish in many reputable journals as academic reviewers volunteer their time to peer-review articles). After a bunch of emails over a span of months, Dr. Lack got the journal to agree on publishing his article, an article that was critical of alternative medicine, for free! It was a fascinating story and I really enjoyed listening to it!

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