• Bitter Crank
    9.8k
    You are dating yourself. Sears is as good as dead. But now we have Amazon, which has much crap for sale than Sears did. Once we had only philosophy, which philosophers will think was as solid as bed rock--just the way Sears was once the go-to retailer for most of the country, selling everything from ladies corsets to farm machinery.

    Granted, psychology is not as rigorous as physics--and why would it be, considering it's subject matter, and the capacity of its subjects (you and me) to deceive themselves and others? Neurology, physiological brain science, etc. have rigor, but they don't help us know ourselves.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.8k
    I've been trying to decide whether I should try to make a comprehensive case for psychology as a scientific discipline. I'd considered doing that in the past but never got around to it. That would be the only potentially effective way for me to respond to your skepticism, but it will take some effort. Let me think about whether I've got the energy to do it right now.T Clark

    Brother Wood will, like as not, doubt the worth of psychology (and sociology as well, most likely) no matter how solid your defense. People who think psychology should be a hard science like physics or chemistry need their heads examined, as well as their lives.

    Psychology can not be a science like chemistry because its subject matter -- the minds of human beings -- are not directly observable, and moreover consists of billions of individuals who are all capable of obfuscation, deceit, dishonesty, distrust, willful stupidity, and more (as well as brilliant understanding and very sharp perception). One can with considerable accuracy measure how fast a person can read, how much they can remember, how quickly they can learn a skill, and the like. When it comes to examining a life in all its neurotic splendor, whether it's ones own or someone else's, one enters a funhouse of uncertainty.

    Despite all that, there are many (not sure its more than a billion) people who seem to be healthy, well grounded, clear headed, honest, open, and cooperative. They, of course, do not end up on the psychotherapeutic couch. Psychology would probably learn more if it spent more time analyzing all the happy people who are alike, and less on the unhappy people who are all different and totally screwed up.
  • TheMadFool
    12k
    Psychology can not be a science like chemistry because its subject matter -- the minds of human beings -- are not directly observable, and moreover consists of billions of individuals who are all capable of obfuscation, deceit, dishonesty, distrust, willful stupidity, and more (as well as brilliant understanding and very sharp perception).Bitter Crank

    That's exactly the point! Psychology isn't/can't be a science. For it to come anywhere close to being a science, it needs people to be honest when reporting their thoughts, feelings, intuitions, whathaveyou and as we all know, honesty is (not) the best policy.
  • TheMadFool
    12k
    This is like basing your entire opinion regarding philosophy on just Parmenides or something. Both his contemporaries and his succesors where involved in entirely different projects.
    Freuds work can be seen as being in line (as in: line of inquiry) with the project started by von Krafft-Ebbing, what with his focus on sexual psychopathology... Both William James and Wilhelm Wundt where active during the same period, and their lines of inquiry involved the first experimental psychological laboratories. Neither actually had anything to do with psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis might have been in vogue for a while, but this was later replaced by behaviorism as the dominant paradigm. There also is the line which eventually lead to gestalt psychology (Brentano> von Ehrenfels> Wertheimer> Koffka> Kohler...), and these boys didn't have anything to do with psychoanalysis either. But sure, mythology. Even though they mostly talk about phenomenological accounts of sensory perception.
    Ying

    I do feel the aspiration to make psychology a science was/is in good faith, authentic in every sense of the word. However, sometimes reality doesn't match expectations - there's many a slip between the cup and the lip as they say.

    A few issues that thwart the psychologist's attempts to make psychology into a science:

    1. The data is unreliable. People will lie and inconsistently at that, a spanner in the works. Need I say more?

    2. The mind is under the influence of multiple ideas, some, probably most, mutually contradictory. The upshot: no clear-cut thinking patterns. Our minds are chaotic - one moment we're theists, the next we're atheists, and at other times, agnostic. There's no telling which is which.

    3. If we do detect thought patterns, we'll need to come up with a hypothesis to explain them. However, unlike patterns in physics which are inviolable (laws), those in psychology are statistical i.e. all we might be able to say is most people think a certain way. What then about the exceptions, the oddball who doesn't quite fit in with the rest? In scientific circles this would be treated as a failure of a posited hypothesis but in psychology they'll be ignored or even tolerated.

    Psychology isn't a science.
  • Ying
    331
    do feel the aspiration to make psychology a science was/is in good faith, authentic in every sense of the word. However, sometimes reality doesn't match expectations - there's many a slip between the cup and the lip as they say.

    A few issues that thwart the psychologist's attempts to make psychology into a science:

    1. The data is unreliable. People will lie and inconsistently at that, a spanner in the works. Need I say more?

    2. The mind is under the influence of multiple ideas, some, probably most, mutually contradictory. The upshot: no clear-cut thinking patterns. Our minds are chaotic - one moment we're theists, the next we're atheists, and at other times, agnostic. There's no telling which is which.

    3. If we do detect thought patterns, we'll need to come up with a hypothesis to explain them. However, unlike patterns in physics which are inviolable (laws), those in psychology are statistical i.e. all we might be able to say is most people think a certain way. What then about the exceptions, the oddball who doesn't quite fit in with the rest? In scientific circles this would be treated as a failure of a posited hypothesis but in psychology they'll be ignored or even tolerated.

    Psychology isn't a science.
    TheMadFool

    I was responding to your claim that "psychology is simply mythology in modern form". The stuff I mentioned provided enough points to show that no, it isn't, and it never was. Only a very narrow reading of the entire field would give such an impression. Anyway, I take it that you're conceding this point since you didn't bother to respond to the issues I raised.

    Note that I didn't say a word about if psychology as a whole is in line with your particular demarcation criteria though. Why? Because I don't think we see eye to eye on that topic. But an actual discussion on demarcation criteria would fall outside of the scope of this thread, since that would involve more than just psychology and it's importance. And no, I don't think the issue boils down to a simple "Kuhn vs. Popper" and/or a "Polanyi vs Feyerabend" discussion; the findings of Latour and Woolgar, as documented in their book "Laboratory Life" significantly muddy the waters when it comes to demarcation criteria (The science wars of the 90s are a good illustration of what I'm getting at).
  • baker
    2.5k
    People who think psychology should be a hard science like physics or chemistry need their heads examined, as well as their lives.Bitter Crank

    Oh, the irony.

    The reality is that psychologists themselves act as if psychology _is_ a hard science like physics or chemistry. That's how much credit is given to psychology, that's how much credit they believe they deserve.

    Psychology might not be a hard science like physics or chemistry, but in society, and by law, it certainly gets the credit of being such.
  • Yohan
    254
    Natural science assumes internal correlates with external (sense perception correlates with an external physical universe)

    Psychology assumes additionally that certain external realities correlate with certain internal states (brain activity etc corresponds to mental states)

    For peer review to work, you also have to assume a psyche, and trust your peer's behavior correlate with their psyches.
  • Ying
    331
    Never mind, I don't feel like going off on a tangent. Pls delete this post, mods.
  • TheMadFool
    12k
    I was responding to your claim that "psychology is simply mythology in modern form". The stuff I mentioned provided enough points to show that no, it isn't, and it never was. Only a very narrow reading of the entire field would give such an impression. Anyway, I take it that you're conceding this point since you didn't bother to respond to the issues I raised.Ying

    Truth be told, the idea that one finds best describes one's own ideas is a hint as to what one's own ideas are. Freud was under the impression that the mythology of Oedipus fit his theory of human psychology like a glove - that's why he settled on it, no? This, to me, is the clearest indication that something's wrong with Freud's theory - if it looks like a duck (mythology) and quacks like a duck (mythology), it must be a duck (mythology).

    Note that I didn't say a word about if psychology as a whole is in line with your particular demarcation criteria though. Why? Because I don't think we see eye to eye on that topic. But an actual discussion on demarcation criteria would fall outside of the scope of this thread, since that would involve more than just psychology and it's importance. And no, I don't think the issue boils down to a simple "Kuhn vs. Popper" and/or a "Polanyi vs Feyerabend" discussion; the findings of Latour and Woolgar, as documented in their book "Laboratory Life" significantly muddy the waters when it comes to demarcation criteria (The science wars of the 90s are a good illustration of what I'm getting at).Ying

    You're beating around the bush. I'll make it easy for you: name one psychological theory that matches up to a scientific theory and we can begin to discuss it.
  • Ying
    331
    Truth be told, the idea that one finds best describes one's own ideas is a hint as to what one's own ideas are. Freud was under the impression that the mythology of Oedipus fit his theory of human psychology like a glove - that's why he settled on it, no? This, to me, is the clearest indication that something's wrong with Freud's theory - if it looks like a duck (mythology) and quacks like a duck (mythology), it must be a duck (mythology).TheMadFool

    I already mentioned completely different lines of inquiry which started with the fathers of the field in my initial post in this thread. If you keep on insisting that the entire field of psychology can be summed up in Freuds psychoanalysis then you're just ignorant about psychology as a discipline. Remember, you stated that "psychology is simply mythology in modern form." You weren't just talking about Freuds theories. I'm noting this again since it seems to me like you're trying to move the goalposts here. Very intellectually honest of you. :rofl:

    You're beating around the bush. I'll make it easy for you: name one psychological theory that matches up to a scientific theory and we can begin to discuss it.

    Right. Talking about what distinguishes a scientific theory from a non scientific theory (you know, demarcation crfiteria) is "beating around the bush". Whatever. :lol:
  • Yohan
    254
    if it looks like a duck (mythology) and quacks like a duck (mythology), it must be a duck (mythology).TheMadFool
    Many inventions started out as science fiction. Eg, cordless phones, and video calls. If modern inventions sound like, look, and behave like science fiction, it's therefore science fiction?
    How about astronomy. The planets are named after Roman Gods. Is astronomy therefore based, in part, on mythology?
  • TheMadFool
    12k
    I already mentioned completely different lines of inquiry which started with the fathers of the field in my initial post in this thread. If you keep on insisting that the entire field of psychology can be summed up in Freuds psychoanalysis then you're just ignorant about psychology as a discipline. Remember, you stated that "psychology is simply mythology in modern form." You weren't just talking about Freuds theories. I'm noting this again since it seems to me like you're trying to move the goalposts here. Very intellectually honest of you. :rofl:Ying

    :rofl: Honestly, honesty ain't the best policy! Take that Pembroke scholars!

    Truth be told, my criticism is particular in being directed against Freud but I'm using military tactics - liquidate high value targets. Attacking Freud successfully as I think I've done leaves psychology leaderless. Psychology should collapse unless psychology is the mythical Hydra. :wink:

    Right. Talking about what distinguishes a scientific theory from a non scientific theory (you know, demarcation crfiteria) is "beating around the bush". Whatever. :lol:Ying

    You've ignored my request. I'll take that as confirmation of there being no psychological theories that are scientific.
  • TheMadFool
    12k
    Many inventions started out as science fiction. Eg, cordless phones, and video calls. If modern inventions sound like, look, and behave like science fiction, it's therefore science fiction?
    How about astronomy. The planets are named after Roman Gods. Is astronomy therefore based, in part, on mythology?
    Yohan

    Naming something from mythology is not the same as relying on it produce an explanatory hypothesis.
  • Ying
    331
    You've ignored my request. I'll take that as confirmation of there being no psychological theories that are scientific.TheMadFool

    Yes, lets stop beating around the bush. What does it mean for a theory to be scientific in light of the works of Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, Polanyi, Woolgar and Latour? I have no interest in discussing if a particular theory is scientific or not if the notion of "scientific theory" isn't both well informed and clearly defined. This is the reason why I didn't bring this topic up in the first place and why I only focussed on your claim that "psychology is simply mythology in modern form".

    What does it mean for a theory to be scientific if we don't ignore most of the relevant literature? Not an easy answer, to be sure.
  • TheMadFool
    12k
    Yes, lets stop beating around the bush. What does it mean for a theory to be scientific in light of the works of Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, Polanyi, Woolgar and Latour? I have no interest in discussing if a particular theory is scientific or not if the notion of "scientific theory" isn't both well informed and clearly defined. Kindergarten philosophy of science isn't philosophy of science. This is the reason why I didn't bring this topic up in the first place and why I only focussed on your claim that "psychology is simply mythology in modern form".

    What does it mean for a theory to be scientific if we don't ignore most of the relevant literature? Not an easy answer, to be sure.
    Ying

    A scientific theory shouldn't be/can't be compatible with both the truth of a prediction and the falsehood of that prediction i.e. it should be falsifiable. A psychological theory would have to explain both the trends in thinking patterns and the exceptions in those patterns. In other words, a psychological theory would have to explain why most people like chocolate while some don't. This, as you can see, means psychological theories can't be falsified (the exception proves the rule is not gonna work).
  • baker
    2.5k
    It's not fucking yellow either is it? Moron.Isaac

    Yeah, when psychologists say such things to people, this really helps to improve the reputation of psychology!!!
  • baker
    2.5k
    That's exactly the point! Psychology isn't/can't be a science. For it to come anywhere close to being a science, it needs people to be honest when reporting their thoughts, feelings, intuitions, whathaveyou and as we all know, honesty is (not) the best policy.TheMadFool

    That's not the only problem. It's that a person has so many thoughts about a certain topic, often contradictory ones, as one can tell from one's own experience. So what is it that a person really thinks about something?
  • Yohan
    254
    Naming something from mythology is not the same as relying on it produce an explanatory hypothesis.TheMadFool
    Correlation with myth doesn't tell us anything about reality or viability. Myth can be based on reality and reality can be based on myth. Hence my science fiction - science reality comparison.
  • baker
    2.5k
    Despite all that, there are many (not sure its more than a billion) people who seem to be healthy, well grounded, clear headed, honest, open, and cooperative. They, of course, do not end up on the psychotherapeutic couch. Psychology would probably learn more if it spent more time analyzing all the happy people who are alike, and less on the unhappy people who are all different and totally screwed up.Bitter Crank
    I think people in general are far saner and more resilient than psychology has been giving them credit for. I appreciate George Bonanno's work on this.

    Psychology would probably learn more if it spent more time analyzing all the happy people who are alike
    And what would that help? It seems that most well-adjusted people have as their foundation a functional and relatively happy childhood; so it's not something that can be replicated for adults with problems.
  • Ying
    331
    A scientific theory shouldn't be/can't be compatible with both the truth of a prediction and the falsehood of that prediction i.e. it should be falsifiable.TheMadFool

    So, just Popper. OK then. What's behind the event horizon of a black hole? Is it a singularity or a fuzzball? How would you empircally verify this? Not to say that both hypotheses aren't scientific though. They obviously are in line with scientific models. Anyway, point being, falsification isn't the sole criterion for a theory to be scientific. It also needs to fit the relevant paradigm in regards to method (in this case, the math). Moreover, there have been scientific theories which where rejected by the scientific community at the time, only to be rehabilitated at a later date as was the case with catastrophism in geology.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_singularity
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuzzball_(string_theory)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catastrophism

    Why do I bring these issues up? Because there's more at play than a singular abstract criterion. There also are paradigmatic, methodological and sociological issues at play. We could just stare at our navels and be content with falsification as the prime criterion for demarcation but this wouldn't be very empirical. Scientific theorycrafting and experimentation in the real world is much more messy (though no less "scientific"). Again, I'm not saying falsification isn't a criterion. It is. I'm just saying it's not the only one, or that it's even a necessary one.

    "No process yet disclosed by the historical study of scientifc development at all resembles the methodological stereotype of falsifcation by direct comparison with nature. That remark does not mean that scientists do not reject scientifc theories, or that experience and experiment are not essential to the process in which they do so. But it does mean—what will ultimately be a central point—that the act of judgment that leads scientists to reject a previously accepted theory is always based upon more than a comparison of that theory with the world. The decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneously the decision to accept another, and the judgment leading to that decision involves the comparison of both paradigms with nature and with each other."
    -Thomas Kuhn, "Structure of Scientific Revolutions", p. 77
  • baker
    2.5k
    Science is the selfless observation of the world, and one cannot have a selfless observation of the self.unenlightened

    But this is precisely what psychology attempts/aspires to be: a third party to tell you who you really are.
  • baker
    2.5k
    If they are supposed to have that same measure of legal power, then psychologists should get their act together and agree on one theory and enforce it, one objective system of measurement.
    — baker

    Well for a start they have the DSM, but aside from that, I really don't see how further unifying the criteria (even if it could be done) will help reduce either stigma or false diagnoses, you'll have to lay out for me a bit more clearly how you see that working.
    Isaac

    I'm talking about what would justify the same great measure of legal power that they have.


    As for false diagnoses, there is a number of issues:

    For one, the medical model of disease that assumes that psychological problems exist due to a physical/organic problem.

    For two, the model of disease that assumes that psychological problems exist in the same way as physical problems; as discrete, enduring entities that can be objectively identified.

    Thirdly, a relatively short time frame for observation of a person, in a very limited and specific social context, yet making definitive judgments based on such observation.

    Fourthly, the power differential between the psychologist and the patient/observed person. People are expected to open up to a stranger who has the legal power to make their life very very hard, and worse. What could possibly not go wrong??


    As for the stigma: It seems the stigma of a psychiatric diagnosis is part of the intention for a diagnosis to begin with, a form of punishment for being different, for not living up to other people's expectations, or for simply being so weak that one ends up as the scapegoat of others. Scapegoating is normal, societies seem to need it to feel sane and normal -- "Look at him, he's bad, he's not normal! While we are good and normal!"


    Like I said above, I think people are far more resilient and saner than psychology has given them credit for. Yes, people occasionally have hard times, but they can climb out of them. But if that process is interrupted, forced into a mold prescribed by someone in position of power, simply on account that they have the power to do so, then the person's problems last longer and become more severe than they would without such interruption.

    Also, many times, a person's problems aren't actually due to their faulty psychology, but due to external factors, like poverty or abuse by other people; situations where any sane person would eventually go crazy. But it doesn't seem to be in psychology's interest to acknowledge this.
  • T Clark
    6.4k
    Brother Wood will, like as not, doubt the worth of psychology (and sociology as well, most likely) no matter how solid your defense. People who think psychology should be a hard science like physics or chemistry need their heads examined, as well as their lives.Bitter Crank

    Yes, it is blind prejudice. On thing I've noticed - when people criticize the softness of psychology, I point out that what was called cognitive psychology has grown to include a very hard branch called "cognitive science." They then claim that cognitive science isn't psychology. So, soft psychology isn't science, we harden it up, and then it's not psychology any more. So, clearly it has nothing to do with the hardness of the science. It has to do with the intrusion of touchy-feely girly-man stuff into the bastion of maleness.

    Despite all that, there are many (not sure its more than a billion) people who seem to be healthy, well grounded, clear headed, honest, open, and cooperative. They, of course, do not end up on the psychotherapeutic couch. Psychology would probably learn more if it spent more time analyzing all the happy people who are alike, and less on the unhappy people who are all different and totally screwed up.Bitter Crank

    Long, long ago, in that golden age when you and I were what is now known as "young," I was a psych major. I took abnormal psych, social psych, be-mean-to-rats psych, psych testing. I found them all pretty unsatisfying. Then, in my sophomore year, I took cognitive psychology followed by the psychology of language. Those focused on exactly the people you describe - the more-or-less happy, functional people in the world. Even unhappy, less functional people still have minds that work pretty well most of the time. In those classes, this math and science guy found what he was looking for.
  • T Clark
    6.4k
    Paint the wall both yellow and blue in stripes. The wall's not blue (scientific) - genius. It's not fucking yellow either is it? Moron.Isaac

    Now, now. You're getting all excited again.
  • T Clark
    6.4k
    That's exactly the point! Psychology isn't/can't be a science. For it to come anywhere close to being a science, it needs people to be honest when reporting their thoughts, feelings, intuitions, whathaveyou and as we all know, honesty is (not) the best policy.TheMadFool

    This is complete bullwinkle. So, you say that if a subject is difficult to study, it can't be science. That just shows your lack of understanding of science, psychology, and human nature.
  • T Clark
    6.4k
    However, unlike patterns in physics which are inviolable (laws), those in psychology are statistical i.e. all we might be able to say is most people think a certain way.TheMadFool

    Again, this shows your ignorance of science, even "hard" science like physics. Many, most, of the important properties in physics are statistical. Once you get above particle physics, physical laws are based on statistical laws of mass behavior. They call it "statistical mechanics." Entropy is a purely statistical property. Pressure is a purely statistical property.
  • T Clark
    6.4k
    The reality is that psychologists themselves act as if psychology _is_ a hard science like physics or chemistry. That's how much credit is given to psychology, that's how much credit they believe they deserve.baker

    Maybe some do, but most don't. Most recognize that much of psychology is an observational science like geology or evolutionary biology, i.e. primarily descriptive as opposed to analytic.
  • baker
    2.5k
    The key term is prescriptive.
  • T Clark
    6.4k
    You're beating around the bush. I'll make it easy for you: name one psychological theory that matches up to a scientific theory and we can begin to discuss it.TheMadFool

    Name one geological, or ecological, or paleontological, or evolutionary biology theory that matches up to what you call a "scientific theory."
  • T Clark
    6.4k
    The key term is prescriptive.baker

    Please elucidate.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment