Fifty words and phrases that are frequently misused by some of the smartest minds on the planet

When it comes to using scientific words incorrectly or inappropriately, it's not just the layman who is at fault.

A team of psychologists and psychiatrists has published a list of 50 "inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases" that appear in their field.

The academics, from universities across the US, have drawn the words from journal papers and newspaper articles and warn that they "should be avoided, or at most used sparingly and with explicit caveats".

Published in Frontiers in Psychology, the group explain that they drew up the list with the aim of "curbing terminological misinformation and confusion" in future.

Here is the full list, broken down into five different categories:

Inaccurate or Misleading Terms

(1) A gene for

(2) Antidepressant medication

(3) Autism epidemic

(4) Brain region X lights up

(5) Brainwashing

(6) Bystander apathy

(7) Chemical imbalance

(8) Family genetic studies

(9) Genetically determined

(10) God spot

(11) Gold standard

(12) Hard-wired

(13) Hypnotic trance

(14) Influence of gender (or social class, education, ethnicity, depression, extraversion, intelligence, etc) on X

(15) Lie detector test

(16) Love molecule

(17) Multiple personality disorder

(18) Neural signature

(19) No difference between groups

(20) Objective personality test

(21) Operational definition

(22) p = 0.000

(23) Psychiatric control group

(24) Reliable and valid

(25) Statistically reliable

(26) Steep learning curve

(27) The scientific method

(28) Truth serum

(29) Underlying biological dysfunction

Frequently Misused Terms

(30) Acting out

(31) Closure

(32) Denial

(33) Fetish

(34) Splitting

Ambiguous Terms

(35) Comorbidity

(36) Interaction

(37) Medical model

(38) Reductionism


(39) Hierarchical stepwise regression

(40) Mind-body therapies

(41) Observable symptom

(42) Personality type

(43) Prevalence of trait X

(44) Principal components factor analysis

(45) Scientific proof


(46) Biological and environmental influences

(47) Empirical data

(48) Latent construct

(49) Mental telepathy

(50) Neurocognition

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