• baker
    8
    For all practical intents and purposes, psychology has been a prescriptive science. It's been about how people should be, and how they might become that way if they aren't so already.
  • T Clark
    28
    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.TheMadFool

    You aren't "using military tactics - liquidate high value targets." As Ying noted:

    you're just ignorant about psychology as a discipline.Ying
  • TheMadFool
    26
    Name one geological, or ecological, or paleontological, or evolutionary biology theory that matches up to what you call a "scientific theory."T Clark

    A scientific theory needs to be falsifiable. If any of the branches of knowledge you mention contain such theories, they are scientific. If not, these aren't sciences.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    You aren't "using military tactics - liquidate high value targets." As Ying noted:

    you're just ignorant about psychology as a discipline.
    — Ying
    T Clark

    We'll see who's ignorant.

    Metascience

    Metascience involves the application of scientific methodology to study science itself. The field of metascience has revealed problems in psychological research. Some psychological research has suffered from bias,[254] problematic reproducibility,[255] and misuse of statistics.[256] These findings have led to calls for reform from within and from outside the scientific community.[257]

    Confirmation bias

    In 1959, statistician Theodore Sterling examined the results of psychological studies and discovered that 97% of them supported their initial hypotheses, implying possible publication bias.[258][259][260] Similarly, Fanelli (2010)[261] found that 91.5% of psychiatry/psychology studies confirmed the effects they were looking for, and concluded that the odds of this happening (a positive result) was around five times higher than in fields such as space science or geosciences. Fanelli argued that this is because researchers in "softer" sciences have fewer constraints to their conscious and unconscious biases.

    Replication

    Further information: Replication crisis § In psychology

    A replication crisis in psychology has emerged. Many notable findings in the field have not been replicated. Some researchers were even accused of publishing fraudulent results.[262][263][264] Systematic efforts, including efforts by the Reproducibility Project of the Center for Open Science, to assess the extent of the problem found that as many as two-thirds of highly publicized findings in psychology failed to be replicated.[265] Reproducibility has generally been stronger in cognitive psychology (in studies and journals) than social psychology[265] and subfields of differential psychology.[266][267] Other subfields of psychology have also been implicated in the replication crisis, including clinical psychology,[268][269] developmental psychology,[270][271][272] and a field closely related to psychology, educational research.[273][274][275][276]

    Focus on the replication crisis has led to other renewed efforts in the discipline to re-test important findings.[277][278] In response to concerns about publication bias and data dredging (conducting a large number of statistical tests on a great many variables but restricting reporting to the results that were statistically significant), 295 psychology and medical journals have adopted result-blind peer review where studies are accepted not on the basis of their findings and after the studies are completed, but before the studies are conducted and upon the basis of the methodological rigor of their experimental designs and the theoretical justifications for their proposed statistical analysis before data collection or analysis is conducted.[279][280] In addition, large-scale collaborations among researchers working in multiple labs in different countries have taken place. The collaborators regularly make their data openly available for different researchers to assess.[281] Allen et al.[282] estimated that 61 percent of result-blind studies have yielded null results, in contrast to an estimated 5 to 20 percent in traditional research.

    Misuse of statistics

    Further information: Misuse of statistics and Misuse of p-values

    Some critics view statistical hypothesis testing as misplaced. Psychologist and statistician Jacob Cohen wrote in 1994 that psychologists routinely confuse statistical significance with practical importance, enthusiastically reporting great certainty in unimportant facts.[283] Some psychologists have responded with an increased use of effect size statistics, rather than sole reliance on p-values.[284]

    WEIRD bias

    "WEIRD" redirects here. For other uses, see Weird.

    See also: Cultural psychology, Indigenous psychology, Transnational psychology, and Cross-cultural psychology

    In 2008, Arnett pointed out that most articles in American Psychological Association journals were about U.S. populations when U.S. citizens are only 5% of the world's population. He complained that psychologists had no basis for assuming psychological processes to be universal and generalizing research findings to the rest of the global population.[285] In 2010, Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan reported a bias in conducting psychology studies with participants from "WEIRD" ("Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic") societies.[286][287] Henrich et al. found that "96% of psychological samples come from countries with only 12% of the world’s population" (p. 63). The article gave examples of results that differ significantly between people from WEIRD and tribal cultures, including the Müller-Lyer illusion. Arnett (2008), Altmaier, and Hall (2008) and Morgan-Consoli et al. (2018) view the Western bias in research and theory as a serious problem considering psychologists are increasingly applying psychological principles developed in WEIRD regions in their research, clinical work, and consultation with populations around the world.[285][288][289] In 2018, Rad, Martingano, and Ginges showed that nearly a decade after Henrich et al.'s paper, over 80% of the samples used in studies published in the journal Psychological Science employed WEIRD samples. Moreover, their analysis showed that several studies did not fully disclose the origin of their samples; the authors offered a set of recommendations to editors and reviewers to reduce WEIRD bias.[290]

    Unscientific mental health training

    Some observers perceive a gap between scientific theory and its application—in particular, the application of unsupported or unsound clinical practices.[291] Critics say there has been an increase in the number of mental health training programs that do not instill scientific competence.[292] Practices such as "facilitated communication for infantile autism"; memory-recovery techniques including body work; and other therapies, such as rebirthing and reparenting, may be dubious or even dangerous, despite their popularity.[293] These practices, however, are outside the mainstream practices taught in clinical psychology doctoral programs.
    — Wikipedia

    I'm not happy, not happy at all that I had to do your homework for you.
  • Isaac
    13
    Yeah, when psychologists say such things to people, this really helps to improve the reputation of psychology!!!baker

    Psychology could cure cancer, find the Holy Grail, and win England the World Cup and it's reputation would remain unaltered amoung the ranks of the bizarre crusade this thread is on.

    If literally nothing I say is contributing to the collective thought process anyway then I might as well swear like a sailor.

    When posting Cambridge University School of Psychology's definition of what psychology covers hasn't budged people an inch from their lazy, puerile assumption that psychology is "Freud 'n that init", what more could I possibly do? Lobotomy?
  • Corvus
    7
    Again, this can be also an linguistic issue also.
    In English, Science means those subjects which use hypotheses, tests, observations, experiments and then establish theories such as physics, chemistry and biology.

    But in German, Science = Wissenschaft https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wissenschaft
    means any subject such as art, literature, social science, philosophy .... etc that can be studied and learned.

    Wissenschaft
    /ˈvɪs(ə)nʃaft/
    =
    the systematic pursuit of knowledge, learning, and scholarship (especially as contrasted with its application).
  • Isaac
    13
    I'm talking about what would justify the same great measure of legal power that they have.baker

    Let's not then. What would you replace that power with. Criminals all get treated the same regardless of their mental health? The judge just guesses? We put it to a vote? What is it you think we should be doing instead of making diagnoses based on educated guesswork?
  • Isaac
    13
    Now, now. You're getting all excited again.T Clark

    Or am I? We couldn't possibly infer my mental state from my actions, that'd be basically witchcraft.
  • tim wood
    8
    A scientific theory needs to be falsifiable. If any of the branches of knowledge you mention contain such theories, they are scientific. If not, these aren't sciences.TheMadFool
    :100:
  • Bitter Crank
    56
    If psychology (or sociology) is not a science, then what is it?

    It seems to be a hybrid of formal science (such as when psychologists measure response time, learning rates, memory, etc.) and a mix of the humanities -- philosophy, history, literature, et al. It also has a practical streak: "Just what, exactly, is your problem and how can you solve it?" Some psychologists are really good at this and others are not, just like one's friends might be good problem solvers, or not.

    What the hell is economics, for that matter? Economists study behavior but they seem to be no better than anybody else at predicting the next economic disaster. If you can't tell me when the next collapse is coming, what good are you? How about "political science"?

    All of the behavioral sciences suffer from an inability to surreptitiously observe enough people closely enough long enough. Picky ethicists disapprove of bird-watching people, and doing rat-maze experiments on our fellow man. Put the fussy ethicists out to pasture and we might be able to get something done (90% just joking).

    Some workers in the field have actually done some first rate bird-watching; thinking here of Laud Humphreys and his public toilet sex study. Great work, Tearoom Trade. Another such study was done by Prof. Jack Weatherford of Washington, D.C. adult book stores. Extra, extra, read all about it. Porn Row.

    Both of these sociologists / anthropologists got up close and personal without compromising anyone's identity or safety. Others have observed gangs, punk rockers, drug users, etc. etc. It's slow, sometimes dangerous work. Most prospective PhDs (for some odd reason) don't want to hang around in gangs or mahogany paneled suites for years on end studying the local fauna.
  • Bitter Crank
    56
    I'm not happy, not happy at all that I had to do your homework for you.TheMadFool

    Maybe an antidepressant would help?
  • Bitter Crank
    56
    It's been about how people should be, and how they might become that way if they aren't so already.baker

    And psychologists have certainly done a fine job on that project!
  • unenlightened
    55
    from my side, I would say that what one can observe is behaviour and perhaps brain imagery with equipment, and these are not psyche. Psyche is inner; psyche is the immediacy, the presence that makes the present present.
    — unenlightened

    This is only what I would call awareness. Psyche, as far as Psychology is concerned is the entire set of functions carried out to derive behaviour from external stimuli (or internal ones, depending which school you follow). We take observations of external stimuli, observations of behaviour and then use models of psyche to make predictions about the relationship, test those predictions and refine the models accordingly.
    Isaac

    "The entire set of functions" - I want to be sure we are disagreeing here as to substance and not just the words: Are you saying functions of the mind that produce behaviour, but not strictly behaviour itself? If you are saying, as it seems, that psyche is something one theorises in others, not something one observes directly, then we are substantially in agreement.

    Let me tell you my favourite psychological theory; it's Personal Construct Theory. It is what one might call a psychological theory of the individual as a psychologist. As such, it comes as close as can be to taking into account the effect of psychological theory on the psyche. It at least acknowledges that the way one thinks about other people and of course oneself - ones psychological theory - is a major, crucial influence on one's behaviour.

    "We take observations of external stimuli, observations of behaviour and then use models of psyche to make predictions about the relationship, test those predictions and refine the models accordingly"

    That's what I do with psychologists! I poke them and watch them squirm. :wink:
  • T Clark
    28


    What you've written may provide a case that some psychology is bad science, but provides no evidence at all that psychology as a discipline is not a science.
  • Tom Storm
    10
    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.baker

    But that is precisely what any competent psychologist would do. One important part of psychology is assisting people to deal with extraordinary situations, like recovery from war or rape or poverty/deprivation or child abuse. I have seen this work well (in most cases) for decades and I've seen it provide people with a greatly enhanced life. It focuses on people's strengths and upon what is important to them. The first thing a competent psychologist would do is acknowledge the situation and impact of this on the person.

    I think some people have seen movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest too many times.

    I am sure there are countries where power is abused and psychology (along with other disciplines) is used against people. I am sure there are bad practitioners. I am sure that there are unscientific schools, modalities and elements. But psychology and psychiatry is vast and complex and like most human activities it holds the good, the bad and the indifferent.
  • tim wood
    8
    One important part of psychology is assisting people to deal with extraordinary situations,Tom Storm
    No question! And no disagreement. Now show how it is a science.
  • Tom Storm
    10
    Now show how it is a science.tim wood

    I'm not sure how to and I imagine it depends on the type of psychology and the definition of science one uses.
  • Shawn
    4
    I don't know if I'm the only person feeling this vibe; but, requesting that for science to explain the facet of the human psyche seems quite off the trail, in my opinion. It seems that for this to be true, then one must be quite strict about behaviorism rather than psychology, which are related; but, not the same.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    I'm not happy, not happy at all that I had to do your homework for you.
    — TheMadFool

    Maybe an antidepressant would help?
    Bitter Crank

    :rofl: So, it's me and not them who's (mentally) ill? :lol:
  • TheMadFool
    26
    What you've written may provide a case that some psychology is bad science, but provides no evidence at all that psychology as a discipline is not a science.T Clark

    I guess you missed the point then. :smile:
  • Tom Storm
    10
    I guess it all boils down to hard scientific certainty versus the application of scientific enquiry and principles.

    I mentioned philosopher Susan Haack in my first response to this issue.

    Haack argues that it's a hallmark of scientism to be preoccupied with the demarcation between what is and is not science. It's actually not that certain. Here are some excerpts from her influential essay Six Signs of Scientism.

    The fact is that the term “science” simply has no very clear boundaries: the reference of the term is fuzzy, indeterminate and, not least, frequently contested.

    I might say, as a first approximation, that science is best understood, not as a body of knowledge, but as a kind of inquiry (so that cooking dinner, dancing, or writing a novel, isn’t science, nor pleading a case in court). At a second approximation, I would add that, since the word “science” has come to be tied to inquiry into empirical subject-matter, formal disciplines like logic or pure mathematics don’t qualify as sciences, nor normative disciplines like jurisprudence or ethics or aesthetics or epistemology). And at a third approximation, to acknowledge that the work picked out by the word “science” is far from uniform or monolithic, it makes sense to say, rather, that the disciplines we call “the sciences” are best thought of as forming a loose federation of interrelated kinds of inquiry.


    Like natural-scientific inquiry, social-scientific inquiry will follow the underlying pattern of all serious empirical inquiry. Like natural scientific inquiry, it will benefit from internal social arrangements than encourage good, honest, thorough work, and discourage cheating. But at least many of the special tools and techniques of which it will have need are likely to be very different from the special tools and techniques most useful in the natural sciences.

    I think Haack would argue that psychology does qualify as a science. She may well argue that some of it is poor science.
  • Isaac
    13
    Are you saying functions of the mind that produce behaviour, but not strictly behaviour itself? If you are saying, as it seems, that psyche is something one theorises in others, not something one observes directly, then we are substantially in agreement.unenlightened

    Yes, that is precisely what I'm saying. Even without psychology proper (the academic field of research) we observe the behaviour of others, see how it is similar to our own, and infer the sorts of thoughts we have might motive them too. Psychology infers that the levels of consistency seem indicate that this process is amenable to modelling, at least to an extent. different schools differ as to what data points should be included in that modelling (just behaviour, behaviour and personal reports, behaviour and neurological imagery, behaviour and evolutionary function,.... and so on). But to my knowledge, there's not one school out there which thinks it can 'see' psychological processes directly, nor which assumes self-analysis provides reasonable data, so it's all about inferring and it's all about collecting data from others.

    Which brings us on to...

    my favourite psychological theory; it's Personal Construct Theory.unenlightened

    I have a lot of sympathy with Kelly (et al), but my issues (small as they are), is that the degree to which his psychological approach is radically different from any other, is overstated. Again, the emphasis (as it has been throughout, here) is on psychotherapy, not psychology. In the former, Kelly's approach really does stand out - it's lead to things like Person Centred Therapy, which is almost the only therapy I'd actually ever recommend. But that's not Psychology. His approach to psychology (constructivism) has been taught in mainstream degrees since I can remember (and I'm a dinosaur). It's pretty much the foundation of developmental psychology (thanks to Piaget), it's overwhelmingly the dominant theory in all forms of cognitive psychology, almost to the exclusion of anything else, psychologists like Lisa Feldman Barrett have extended it into what's left of personality psychology... basically, I think you'd struggle to find a psychologist working in research today who didn't have at least some background assumptions of constructivism, maybe a few diehard evolutionists and one or two leftover behaviourists, but I've not met any.

    It at least acknowledges that the way one thinks about other people and of course oneself - ones psychological theory - is a major, crucial influence on one's behaviour.unenlightened

    Yep. Personal narratives. I've worked on little else for the last 25 years. Maybe that's given me too selective a view of psychology, maybe I've simply surrounded myself with like-minded research groups and forgotten the rest of my field, I don't know. Seems unlikely, but it's possible I suppose. From where I'm stood, most of research psychology seems that way.

    That's what I do with psychologists! I poke them and watch them squirm.unenlightened

    That's what I do with everyone...is that not normal...
  • Isaac
    13
    The fact is that the term “science” simply has no very clear boundaries: the reference of the term is fuzzy, indeterminate and, not least, frequently contested.Tom Storm

    Exactly.

    Now show how it is a science.tim wood

    Instead of making wild accusations and then expecting one's opposition to do all the legwork to prove you wrong, why don't you actually trouble to support your own position.

    Here's the first five preprint papers in my review feed. Why don't you explain why their methodologies don't amount to science, then we can fully understand what you're talking about.

    https://psyarxiv.com/3wg5j/
    https://psyarxiv.com/c46jt/
    https://psyarxiv.com/xhbty/
    https://psyarxiv.com/sh3xz/
    https://psyarxiv.com/eh5pb/
  • T Clark
    28
    In English, Science means those subjects which use hypotheses,Corvus

    Thank you for this. Your post has made a better case for psychology being a science than my last 10 posts in this discussion have. I've downloaded Haack's essay.
  • tim wood
    8
    Instead of making wild accusationsIsaac
    What wild accusations?
    Please, you're embarrassing yourself.... It's not fucking yellow either is it? Moron.Isaac
    You're the one who wrote the above.

    I have taken some care to qualify my remarks about psychology, but you blind and deaf to those. And now you invite me to read some papers.

    Abstract #1
    "In two experiments employing the picture-word interference (PWI) paradigm, we explored how a verb’s hierarchy and transitivity influences its retrieval during spoken production. Experiment 1 involved transitive (i.e. object-oriented, e.g. eat) action pictures accompanied by a to-be-ignored distractor word that was either a related coordinate (‘drink’) or troponym (‘devour’), while Experiment 2 employed intransitive (e.g. walk) stimuli. Assuming these relationships operate similarly for verbs and object nouns, we expected to observe faster naming times for troponyms, and slower naming times for coordinates. Conventional group-level analyses of the null average hypothesis revealed no significant effects in either experiment. However, analyses of the global null hypothesis revealed significant interindividual variability for troponym distractors in Experiment 1, with a similar trend in Experiment 2. These results indicate verbs may have a different conceptual-lexical organisation to object nouns in the mental lexicon, less constrained by hierarchical categories, with their processing more influenced by subject-specific variables."
    And all I read here is a set of observations made, some C&C with other studies (relevance?), with some interpretation. and the subjects:
    "Twenty-six healthy, native English speakers were recruited (21 female, mean age = 22.04, range = 18-48), all receiving partial course credit for participation. All participants had normal or corrected-to-normal vision, and no history of neurological or psychiatric disorders, substance use, or hearing deficit." (Italics added. Truly a random group. Thus, whatever the results, they are specific and non-replicable, and theories of highly questionable value. And even if many studies were done on different groups, how do you control for group variability. In short, no doubt some science, but not science itself but rather a psychological study.

    Absract #2
    "Abstract
    Cost-of-play information is one public health intervention recommended to help reduce gambling-related harm. In the UK, this information is given on electronic gambling machines in a format known as the “return-to-player”, e.g., “This game has an average percentage payout of 90%.” However, previous evidence suggests that this information could be improved by equivalently restating it in terms of the “house-edge”, e.g., “This game keeps 10% of all money bet.” A “volatility warning,” stating that this information applies only in the statistical long-run, has also been recommended to help gamblers understand cost-of-play information. However, there is no evidence comparing these information provisions’ effect on gamblers’ behavior. An experiment tested US gamblers’(N=2,433) incentivized behavior in an online slot machine, where this information was manipulated between-participants along with a counter showing the total amount bet. Preregistered analyses showed that participants gambled significantly less when house-edge information or a volatility warning were shown compared to standard return-to-player information, with no effect of the total amount bet counter, and no significant interaction effects. These results suggest that improved cost-of-play information could benefit a public health approach to gambling. (Italics added.)

    "These results suggest...". Plausibly.

    It's time for you to say what science is. I said above that science is the application of the scientific method and where not applied, then not science. And this would seem obvious, especially combined with @TheMadFool's remark on falsifiability.

    And you appear to suppose me castigating and condemning psychology - to be sure some of it warrants just that treatment - but otherwise I'm not. The sum is that psychology does not need your defense, because yours wrong-headed and against a critique not being made - by me at least.

    But if you insist, then your burden is to demonstrate against what seems obvious, that areas of psychology are not science, and show them science. If psych. is to be all science, then all of it must be science. If you're to substitute for demonstration just invective and rant, either save yourself the trouble or indulge yourself, and in either of those two cases we don't have a discussion and I'll save myself the trouble, because I've already said several different ways and nothing to be gained by repetition.
  • T Clark
    28
    But if you insist, then your burden is to demonstrate against what seems obvious, that areas of psychology are not science, and show them science. If psych. is to be all science, then all of it must be science.tim wood

    @Isaac - It's a lost cause. Tim will just go on redefining the question, moving the goal posts as they say. Now we don't have to show that psychology is a science in general. We have to show that every psychological study ever done is legitimate science.

    This from Wikipedia:

    No true Scotsman, or appeal to purity - One attempts to protect their universal generalization from a falsifying counterexample by excluding the counterexample improperly. Rather than abandoning the falsified universal generalization or providing evidence that would disqualify the falsifying counterexample, a slightly modified generalization is constructed ad-hoc to definitionally exclude the undesirable specific case and counterexamples like it by appeal to rhetoric. This rhetoric takes the form of emotionally charged but nonsubstantive purity platitudes such as "true, pure, genuine, authentic, real", etc.

    Sometimes it just makes sense to give up.
  • Valentinus
    3
    The thing about psychology (as opposed to other speculative enterprises like, say, evolutionary biology), is that one has to have a theory. We can't just postpone speculation until we've honed the method to a properly scientific one, we interact with other people all the time, we make decision which affect them. Every time we do this we do so on the basis of some theory about their psyche which dictates how we think they'll respond. So we can't do without psychology, we're all psychologists. It's just a question of whether we can do anything to even slightly improve the utility of our models.Isaac

    That seems like a good description of the Boulder Model, which is the basis for training "scientist-practitioners." From what I have heard from clinical psychologists, many institutions handle cases as teams, consisting of a number of disciplines to develop diagnosis and response. Taking responsibility for treatment is a demanding and complicated process.
  • tim wood
    8
    But if you insist, then your burden is to demonstrate against what seems obvious, that areas of psychology are not science, and show them science. If psych. is to be all science, then all of it must be science.
    — tim wood

    @Isaac - It's a lost cause. Tim will just go on redefining the question, moving the goal posts as they say. Now we don't have to show that psychology is a science in general. We have to show that every psychological study ever done is legitimate science.
    T Clark

    That's a striking mistake you're making. And in so many ways. First, I've been on message throughout, no goal-post moving. Second, I've qualified my remarks carefully. Third, you appear to insist that because some psychologists do some science - science as defined by me above - and that acknowledged, that therefore all psychology is scientific, and psychology thus a science. Pathetic - and unaccountable - reasoning.
  • Shawn
    4
    What about the placebo effect?

    That seems like a big issue in psychology for psychology to address its origin or magnitude in effects towards drugs that treat many mental disorders, no?
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