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See Inside March / April 2010

Convince Me

Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina introduces the March/April issue of Scientific American MIND

I didn’t need it, but it was the perfect thing for anyone who considered herself artistic and liked to make detailed drawings, I had to agree. The art supplies salesperson smiled ingratiatingly at me as our conversation morphed into a pitch I literally felt I couldn’t refuse. We had struck up a chat about art, and he somehow found a way to make an expensive pen-and-ink set seem indispensable by echoing back to me things I had said I valued in my drawings and in my tools. When he would point out its virtues, he’d say, “Don’t you agree?” Yes, I did. And at the end, I forked over $25—at the time, more than I would spend for a week of groceries as an undergrad—and I could not figure out what he had done to make me buy that set. He literally had changed my mind.

Now I know more about why that happened and even have some ideas about how to make it happen myself with other people—and so will you when you read the cover story by psychologist Kevin Dutton, “The Power to Persuade.” Dutton provides several simple secrets that confer surprising influence.

Evidence is persuasive to me as a science journalist, and that is why I have always appreciated the work of Scott O. Lilienfeld, a psychologist, columnist and member of Mind’s board of advisers. Lilienfeld’s emphasis on evidence-based psychology has helped sort wheat from chaff in that field. Now we are gratified to present to readers an article he has co-authored with Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio and the late Barry L. Beyerstein entitled  “Busting Big Myths in Popular Psychology.” The feature holds up six myths to evidence-based scrutiny. You may be surprised.

Oh, and that pen-and-ink set? I’ve never used it, although I still have it. Always felt too guilty to do so because of what it cost. But that’s a subject for another article.

This article was originally published with the title "From the Editor."

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