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Articles & Essays

Jack has written more than 500 articles and essays for The Atlantic, Scientific American Mind, Wired, American Heritage, The History Channel Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, and many other publications.

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  • The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness
    The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness
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    Non-Stop: A Turbulent History of Northwest Airlines
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    Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished Places
  • The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII
    The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII
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Entries in joseph jastrow (1)

Wednesday
Oct102012

A Pioneering Pop Psychologist

Years ago I read somewhere about an eminent experimental psychologist who suffered a mental breakdown, endured years of depression, and abandoned the laboratory to instead help lay people apply the ideas of modern psychology to their lives. Joseph Jastrow (Wikimedia Commons) 

That man, I found out, was Joseph Jastrow (1863-1944), and I’ve written a post about his activities as America’s first pop psychologist for the Wonders & Marvels blog that I contribute to every month. If you read the post, please let me know what you think.

Jastrow often wrote and lectured on our strong desire to believe what figures of authority tell us, even when scientific evidence does not support what we long to accept. For years he applied this theme to the work of spiritualists, psychics, and mediums. I mention that in my Wonders & Marvels post, but I didn’t have room to include a short poem of Jastrow’s on the topic:

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” 

Barnum said it; there’s sad truth in it

What burns me up, and turns me sour

Is that a crook is born every hour.

The poem, dated 1943, appears in the article “Joseph Jastrow, the Psychology of Deception, and the Racial Economy of Observation” by Michael Pettit, published in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 43(2), Spring 2007, pp. 159-175.