Psychology, Science or BS?

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Is Psychology a Science?

Something I found. What do you think? It's pretty long, so by skipping to the conclusion you can see that it is plainly dissing it.

Scaredy cat (Natola), Monday, 21 July 2003 04:22 (eighteen years ago) link

Nah, skip the discussion and just be a sociopath.

Orbit (Orbit), Monday, 21 July 2003 04:25 (eighteen years ago) link

Wow, that's like the most bullshit filled article I've ever read.
I'm drunk, so I might screw up, but look. This guy starts off with a long, needlessly involved explanation of what is and what isn't science. Then he follows it up with a bunch of examples, most of which are at least many decades old (compare to the beliefs of other sciences in the same time periods). And, like, repressed memory stuff!? Everybody knows that was bullshit! Psychology's interest in the repressed memory craze today is in how that sort of collective delusion was allowed to go as far as it did. Finally, he tries to cement his case with a plea from the current bloat of DSM disorders, and badly screws it up. This might be a fucked comparison, but it seems to me that most (not all) clinicians, are to research psychologists as, I dunno, engineers or something are to research physicists. It's not really the same thing. I've been reading a lot of attacks on psych lately, and most of them focus on this same little corner that has little to do with the way it's actually done.
Yes, the fact that you're working with human beings makes it difficult to make a whole lot of observations (although that continues to change with the introduction of new technologies), but I see no reason to say that the scientific observation of behavior (which is all psych is) is impossible.

Dan I. (Dan I.), Monday, 21 July 2003 04:48 (eighteen years ago) link

The people who dis psychology are the same people who complain about the inaccuracy of the weatherman.

oops (Oops), Monday, 21 July 2003 04:55 (eighteen years ago) link

But (more on the DSM thing), it's true; Psych is in this weird position where it's both trying to identify and treat certain problems. That's not the entirety of what the discipline is (there's lots of people studying non-dysfunctional behavior; you know, how things work in the brain and how how people behave when they aren't fucked in the head), and.... I don't know, I'm bored now. Anyway, it's probably obvious to anyone who's even taken intro psych reading this article how full of it this guy sounds.

Dan I. (Dan I.), Monday, 21 July 2003 05:15 (eighteen years ago) link

well, i think that article is a bit silly. i admit, i didn't study it closely, but the beginning summary regarding religion and the assertion that we can't really test [any aspects of] psychology because we have ethical limitations on what we can do with humans is really unsophisticated.

however, i think the problem isn't that psychology is BS, but that science isn't really the be-all end-all of objectivity and is way more subject to cultural and societal trends than people admit. especially when you get to applied science in relation to people. they have similar drawbacks as doctors. they often have their own issues (strangely the most fucked up people i know or those who had the most tumultuous childhoods are all in psychology and social work - they seem to want to correct some wrong they've personally experienced), they can be of very average intelligence (though they know many more field-related facts) and are heralded as near-gods by society who need to cling to the hope that someone out there knows the solution to their deepest, most disturbing problems or life-threatening ailments. i have dealt with maybe 10 different psychologist throughout my life and found none of them helpful - some even laughable. psychiatrists are just legal drug-pushers as far as i can gather. this is not necessarily a bad thing, just not something that deserves such high, unquestioning respect.

i dunno. I know it really helps some people, so it's good for something. But maybe that's more the argument of that essay. That's it's one approach and shouldn't really be thrust upon people like it's The Answer.

lolita corpus (lolitacorpus), Monday, 21 July 2003 05:36 (eighteen years ago) link

I guess I'm just reading this from a perspective that sees experimental research, not clinical practice, as the seat of psychology as a science.

call me crazy...

Dan I. (Dan I.), Monday, 21 July 2003 06:43 (eighteen years ago) link

I think psychology is meant to describe and predict behavior. Psychotherapy is meant to ease suffering. I don't think its illigitimate or evil, I think a lot of people are helped by it. I do think however, a lot of people might find more peace of mind in philisophical counselling.

Mike Hanle y (mike), Monday, 21 July 2003 14:21 (eighteen years ago) link

I do think however, a lot of people might find more peace of mind in philisophical counselling.

Have you ever read anything by Manly P. Hall? He formed the Philosophical Research Society and has written a few books that have made more sense than any other philosophical or "self-help" type books I've ever read. At the ripe old age of 21, he wrote a gigantic classic called "The Secret Teachings of All Ages" that showed the world what a wise and knowledgable person he was, but that was only the beginning of his career! more on his self-development books at

A cursory glance at some of his book titles and the subject matter will convince some that they've got him "pegged" as a cultish weirdo bullshit artist, but would probably be pleasantly surprised if they happened to purchase one of his books. I am a bit of an authority on cultish weirdo bullshit artists.

Scaredy Cat, Monday, 21 July 2003 14:57 (eighteen years ago) link

nine years pass...

Psychology was put on a relatively sound scientific basis by William James and his contemporaries and it remained so at least until 1950. It began to go downhill when more and more of its research was funded by governments and corporations whose major interest was in creating more effective propaganda. In the 1970s, the universities created about 10x more PhDs in psychology than the field could reasonably sustain, and bogus research started to flood out. It is a sadly diminished discipline today, but it isn't entirely bullshit.

Aimless, Saturday, 27 April 2013 17:54 (eight years ago) link

four weeks pass...
two years pass...

Psychology not the only field by any means that's going to turn up irreproducible results as this issue gains traction, there's a Reproducibility Project in preclinical biology as well that's undoubtedly going to fail to reproduce some effects.

go hang a salami I'm a canal, adam (silby), Friday, 28 August 2015 02:08 (six years ago) link

yes it's all so exciting

j., Friday, 28 August 2015 02:17 (six years ago) link

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