Skip to comments.Why psychology isn't science
Posted on 07/13/2012 1:03:03 PM PDT by Sir Napsalot
Psychologist Timothy D. Wilson, a professor at the University of Virginia, expressed resentment in his Times Op-Ed article on Thursday over the fact that most scientists don't consider his field a real science. He casts scientists as condescending bullies:
"Once, during a meeting at my university, a biologist mentioned that he was the only faculty member present from a science department. When I corrected him, noting that I was from the Department of Psychology, he waved his hand dismissively, as if I were a Little Leaguer telling a member of the New York Yankees that I too played baseball.
"There has long been snobbery in the sciences, with the 'hard' ones (physics, chemistry, biology) considering themselves to be more legitimate than the 'soft' ones (psychology, sociology)."
The dismissive attitude scientists have toward psychologists isn't rooted in snobbery; it's rooted in intellectual frustration. It's rooted in the failure of psychologists to acknowledge that they don't have the same claim on secular truth that the hard sciences do. It's rooted in the tired exasperation that scientists feel when non-scientists try to pretend they are scientists.
That's right. Psychology isn't science.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
[Disclaimer: I am trained in Analytical Chemistry, all my professional work is in Molecular Biology.]
“Why psychology isn’t science”
Written by Tom Cruise
Why can we definitively say that? Because CLIMATOLOGY often does not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability.
I could go with that.
Excellent, relevant, and important piece. Bravo to you for posting this.
You meant the article is written by Tom Cruise? Or the discipline itself is written by Tom Cruise?
The author is correct. Wilson should go into therapy.
Science is “the new hotness” and everybody wants in on it.
Nowadays even your shampoo is “scientifically formulated”.
Something doesn't have to be science to be of use and of value - but like barnacles attaching themselves to the bottom of a ship - the hangers on must occasionally be scraped off.
Well, psychology isn’t a pedestrian crosswalk either, so?
Until they put Hoplophobia in the DSM.
when majority opinion determines what is a mental illness and what isn’t (aka 1973-74 homosexuality 180 degree shift) it isn’t science.
When you can be screamed at and threatened by homosexuals to change your mind about homosexuality and cave into the demands of angry homosexuals at your convention, it isn’t science.
Either I'm getting sloppy or you just emerged from primordial soup.
My cynical (joking) reference was in regards to Tom Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer in which he decried all psycotic drugs are evil. "You don't know about these things, Matt. I do!" - Cruise claiming his expertise in cures for depression, psychosis, etc.
No one on the planet can predict how any one individual is going to react to any given stressful situation.
All of this “psychology” saying what happened and why after-the-fact is a bunch of hooey.
If science is a guessing game then I guess pschychologists are scientists.
That’s about all they are good for-—guessing about what is wrong.
I blame these guys:
It seems to me that a psychologist can do science whether or not psychology is science so it’s a bit of a cat fight.
One need not be an anti psychology zealot to point out that it is not science.
I made the mistake of reading some of Hubbard's sci fi - before I knew he was a cult leader - and he did have an interesting point.
An alien (who looked and acted human) on Earth decided that a psychologist had more power than the police.
The police can arrest you, but you get a trial. In prison they cannot drug you, and you have a defined sentence.
A psychologist can imprison a person based upon saying that person is crazy, they can drug them with whatever they want, and hold them until they decide they are better.
A rather interesting (and scary) proposition - especially if you are a borderline psycho like Hubbard!
I dare you to go over to the research department and tell those “biologists” that they are not scientists because what they are working on does not apply a scientific solution to a problem.
It if weren't for psychology, those scientists wouldn't know what they were trying to scientifically “fix.”
All that said, as an engineer, I understand the position of the snobby scientists. Much the way there are no absolute baselines in “climatology,” much of what is studied as normal and abnormal is in varying degrees subjective.
>>> or you just emerged from primordial soup
You are right, I didn’t know what Tom said ......
I predict that you would poop your pants if I pushed you off of a platform in front of an approaching train.
There. Now it's science. :o)
Deciding who is and who is not “depressed” enough to need such is subjective and (so far) not scientifically determined.
As one in four women in America are currently on mental health drugs - either throughout history 25% of women were CRAZY - or the diagnosis is a bit fast and loose - and self serving.
A monthly counseling session serves the psychologist who diagnoses the depression, and depression has gone from a normal thing that should be temporary to a lifelong condition seems to necessitate life long medical intervention.
I work for a pharma company also.
Psychiatry is a science. Psychology is a skill.
Being a skill, there is a lot of room for incompetent morons however, with the right person, a talented psychologist can be a Godsend.
It's a classic. You should google/you tube it. If you thought the Hollywood elites were egomaniacs....Cruise takes the game to a whole new level. He's a total wack job. In fact, he's gone so psychotic, we have taken films he has been in off our family blacklist.
He should be diagnosed as crazy and institutionalized. Ideological pun fully intended here.
“No one on the planet can predict how any one individual is going to react to any given stressful situation.”
lol...never been married, huh?
I vote for the soup.
In case you work for the same company I do...Get back to work! :o)
>>Dr. Sheldon Cooper is definitely a scientist. He would have written an even more scathing paper but would approve the gist of this article.<<
The beautiful irony is he operates in a 100% theoretical branch...
Psychologists aren't claiming to be pedestrian crosswalks; they are, however, claiming to be scientists.
I am - before any female undergarments get uncomfortable accumulations - NOT against psychology or psychiatry.
They do a lot of good for a lot of people - and I am all for rigorously studying of human consciousness in both normal and abnormal states!
But there is more to science than just rigorous study. You can't just add “ology” to the end of something and have it be science.
Ok - back to work!!!
Psychology will only become “real” science when we can digitize the entire working human brain and analyse it like we would a computer in a car.
Politicizing psychology with homosexuality undermines the real good that comes from the discipline. Ask any number of vets who have been successfully been treated for PTSD.
Married 27 years....this time. :-)
Ummm, do I get to vote on that one?
[ Why psychology isn’t science ]
Because modern psychology is just somebodys opinion...
Those opinions are not facts..
The Behaviorist school at least tries to quantify behavior in statistical terms, thereby rendering "normal" as an objective value. The danger there is that in doing so, they reduce their patients to little more than statistical abstractions -- dehumanized standard deviations or analyses of variance.
So while psychology isn't the "hard" science that math is, it can be described scientifically, if that evolves to the patient's benefit. However, I doubt that it does.
First, One of my degrees is in psychology. The first week of every psychology class they would include an introductory chapter stating how psychology is a science.
If someone tells me they are telling the truth, I generally believe them. But if they keep repeating it, I often wonder if they are trying to convince me or themselves. You get my drift, I never considered psychology a science.
The reason I never considered psychology a science was due to the biased variable of the critical mind and the influence of past perceptions on any measured variable. It was impossible to stimulate consciousness without stimulating one of the senses and thus also the critical mind. Thus, psychological studies were correlations at best.
Then I discovered a new technique that stimulated stored memories and directly generates a measurable response in the subject without stimulating any of the five senses. I just demonstrated it at a conference in Chicago this past weekend for over a hundred attendees.
I had volunteers from the group come down and I would touch the stored memories in the fields surrounding their physical bodies and move their physical bodies in various directions. I did this while standing 10-15 feet from the subject, their eyes were closed, I said nothing and did not touch their physical body in any way. Using this, I told them of detail events in their lives back to conception and removed the related emotional trauma (if any) for them. The subject did not speak at all prior to me stating my findings. It is so easy. I can read stored memories of an individual’s life experiences almost the way x-rays do bones. They are real physical tangible objects to me. I do not use power of suggestion in any way. It’s easy to explain the neuroscience of how I am doing this. Eric Kandel and Joe Ledoux are missing the boat in their memory research at Columbia and NYU!
When this scientific methodology is utilized, psychology is a science. The Duke University Medical School IRB has already approved the research project where I demonstrate how this works. It is measurable, repeatable, eliminated variable bias, is a direct stimulus response relationship, and works in a double blind. In my initial trial I hit 17 of 20 tests right on and only missed the three as the screens creating the blind were located too close together and the subject’s memory field overlap was too great. i.e. no matter which screen blind the subject was behind the memory field extended in front of both of them. They need to be at least 20 feet apart to create a separation.
In all fairness, sciences and “social studies”, both exist in a ratio of ‘science’ to ‘study’, which varies between disciplines.
That is, ‘science’ is a very rigorous set of reproducible procedures that should produce a nearly identical outcome each time they are performed.
However, interpolation or extrapolation of scientific outcomes is a study.
A chess analogy is a good one. If you successfully follow the rules and play a game of chess, all you have succeeded in doing is playing a game of chess. If you do not follow the rules, you have not played a game of chess, no matter what it looks like. And even if you have won a game of chess it changes nothing. You cannot interpolate or extrapolate based on what you have done, such as you are a better chess player, beyond that particular game.
In the case of psychology, there is deductive psychology, which is a study, and clinical psychology, which is much more scientific.
Compare that with say, astrophysics, so much of which is theoretical and unique that while they can assert some things as scientific facts, much of what they do is observational and speculative, that is, a study. And since the Hubble telescope, they have been severely humbled, and repeatedly, by what they do not know.
It if weren’t for psychology, those scientists wouldn’t know what they were trying to scientifically fix.
You are describing biochemistry which can have a psychologically measurable result. Even so, most of the drugs perform little better than placebos in the scientific studies.
Patsy Cline OWNS this song - but amazingly enough it was written by Willie Nelson! Now THAT is CRAZY!!!!
I recently attended the American Psychiatric Association Conference in Philadelphia and spent the week updating on all the evidence based methods approved for treating PTSD and traumatic memories. Virtually all methods merely temporarily blocked memory retrieval and did not resolve the problem permanently. The best treatment, other than the long process of psychotherapy, was the virtual reality programs that facilitated retrieval and reframing of the traumatic memory.
Generally, pharmacology does not treat psychological causes, it merely blocks the symptoms.
Until they start attaching lie detectors to patients or invent a machine that can tell them what I am thinking then psycology is as inaccurate as an online poll. Bear in mind that DUmmies overwhelm these polls, both psycological and online.
I’d be far more inclined to say psychiatry is more science than psychology, at least the person then is an actual medical doctor.
Psychology is a major people go into to get burger flipper jobs. You can’t get anywhere serious in that field with just a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
I think old L. Ron made a run for the border...and crossed it.
But, I do observe myself and co-workers exhibit some snobbishness to a degree from time to time towards ‘social studies’.
It's a lot closer to witchcraft than it is to geology.
Apples and oranges. There is a lot of overlap today, especially with medical psychologists (degree in pyschopharmocology) found in most of the 1st world, and now gaining ground in the USA. However, I'd say that a psychiatrist is much better suited for organic brain disorders such as schizophrenia, while a psychologists are better suited for non-organic illnesses such as the aforementioned PTSD.
Psychology is a major people go into to get burger flipper jobs. You cant get anywhere serious in that field with just a bachelors degree in psychology.
I fail to see the relevance. We're discussing psychology as a profession, which pretty much means we're talking about Phd's. Possibly masters prepared LLC's. There are plenty of professions that require post graduate degrees or professional degrees. I don't see how the value of a bachelors applies to this discussion at all.
Old on a second here. The long process of psychotherapy has a pretty damned good track record for PTSD. Why dismiss it so quickly?
It is relevant.
With a 4 year degree in many other fields you can get an entry level job in that particular field. Engineers, journalists, teachers, business degrees, can all get you a spot in a real world job in your field. Not so much so psychology. The 4-year degree is just a starting point usually.
Of course any field if you want to do research or teach you go for advanced degrees.
The other interesting thing is that so many psychologists themselves are seeing a psychologist for their own issues. Another unusual aspect of this field.