Why Psychology is Not Viewed as a Science

Researcher explores why the public, scientists, and policymakers question the scientific status of psychology.

Ayurdhi Dhar, PhD
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Psychology has lost the trust of the general public, other scientists, and policymakers. An article published in American Psychologist reviewed the issues within the field that has marred its reputation. The author suggests that the field needs a complete cultural change if it wants to be called a science.

The article, written by Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University, suggests that it is external problems and internal issues within the discipline that have marred its credibility. These include the replication crisis and psychology’s defensiveness towards it, its outdated, simplistic, and mechanistic understandings of people, and its biased use of sweeping politicized statements.

Psychology has encountered numerous attacks on its reputation: it cannot replicate its prominent findings, there are accusations of widespread corruption, evidence-based treatments are under scrutiny, and research suggests material help might be more important than psychological services.

Policymakers, the general public, and other scientists often do not consider psychology to be a science. Ferguson writes that these wounds to the field’s reputation are self-inflicted and that “psychological science, both theoretically and methodologically, is not ready for prime time.” He divides the internal problems plaguing psychology into three groups: methodological issues, theoretical issues, and the marketing of psychology.

Methodological Issues:

Ferguson raises an important point – that while non-replication of studies happens in other sciences, it was psychology’s resistance to the concept of replication itself that was egregious. Replication, where different researchers carry out the same studies to see if they get the same results, is often called the backbone of science. Psychologists have been resistant, with some saying that studies that find failed replication should not be published. Psychological journals also often refuse to publish replication research. Thus, this aversion to replication is a cultural problem in psychology.

Psychology has also demonstrated a cultural aversion to publishing null results. Null results provide evidence that no difference existed between the control and the experimental group (e.g., one given the placebo while another a new drug/therapy). Ferguson notes that while null results are an important part of science, both journals and authors are known to either suppress or ignore these results. Reasons to suppress null results include authors’ desire to get published or bias favoring their chosen theories. Consequently, studies that find positive results get overreported, creating a biased view of the efficacy of the treatment.

Questionable researcher practices (QRPs) were indicated even in the psychology papers of highly reputable scientific journals like Science. An example of QRPs is halting data collection when the study begins to produce desired results and choosing the type of analysis that produces significance, etc. Other researchers have pointed to similar problems as such as spinning abstracts. The absence of transparency is another problem as researchers are not required to share their data for review and are often hostile when asked for raw data.

Fergusson writes that to fix these issues, psychology must lose its aversion to null results, reduce its defensiveness towards falsified results, and journals should require datasets to be submitted for the editors to review.

Theoretical Issues:

Fergusson notes that psychology often makes simplistic assumptions about people that portray them as mechanistic. He gives the example of what he calls ‘The Hammer Hypothesis,’ a social learning theory states that people’s behavior is decided by what they observe. However, people do not automatically do what they see. Numerous factors are involved in deciding who we model and how we choose to model behaviors. Psychology has overemphasized the power and automatic nature of modeling, whereas people themselves are far more complex and agentic.

Another problem is theoretical rigidity as researchers try to protect their favorite theories at the cost of scientific rigor. Their own reputation and ego are often attached to theoretical perspectives and can guide experimentation leading to confirmation bias and “scientific inbreeding.” Ferguson notes that this especially holds for theories with advocacy goals that people might cherish in the face of criticism of that theory.

Additionally, Ferguson argues that psychology often straddles the line between science and advocacy, which have diametrically opposing goals. While science is supposed to be objective, truth-oriented, and neutral, advocacy, by its nature, advocates for something and thus has a pre-determined goal that is not neutral. Since research funding is often dependent on advocacy groups, scientific rigor is compromised as researchers are prone to finding results that bolster their advocacy goals.

Ferguson suggests that to tackle these problems, psychology should become data-driven rather than theory-driven, and there “should be an active effort to search out data that may be problematic for a theory in development.” Additionally, researchers should shy away from funding obtained by advocacy groups to avoid experimenter bias. Any input provided to advocacy groups or policy-makers should be simply the presentation of the data, without interpretations.

Ferguson notes that human behavior is complex and nuanced and not given to easy assessment in laboratory settings. Thus, while psychology should remain close to its data, it must also understand “that the data we have may not always fully capture the human condition.”

Marketing of Psychology:

Ferguson further writes that psychologists and organizations such as the APA heavily indulge in marketing psychology by issuing policy statements with moral or political leanings but are not based on empirical evidence. Ferguson writes that the numerous policy statements issued by the APA taskforces are often produced in echo chambers. If an APA statement is not back by empirical evidence, it reveals that psychology’s claims to be a science is hollow. By releasing repeated policy statements and having advocacy goals, psychologists often engage in citation bias (they selectively choose research that supports their statements). For example, APA’s policy statements on media and video games causing aggression has been criticized for ignoring studies that find otherwise. He writes:

“It is not my position that these opinions by the APA are ‘wrong’ (in fact, I share most of them), but rather that the APA simply expresses what are, indeed, opinions too often…”

Next, Ferguson chastises psychology for statistical sleight of hand by pretending that small effect sizes (which are prevalent in most psychological research), in fact, mean big and important differences. He also claims that psychology tends towards “Juvenoia,” the inclination to find that today’s youth are psychologically worse than previous generations. While good for securing grant funding, this is again based on biased and precarious evidence.

Lastly, Ferguson notes that incessant press releases that announce new studies lead to researchers misreporting their data. While new research gets the spotlight, when it is debunked, the retractions and criticisms do not receive the same amount of press, ensuring the general public ends up misinformed. Other times, it’s just embarrassing.

Ferguson ends by noting that what is required for psychology to be taken seriously as a science is for it to act as a science. This involves a change in the larger culture of the discipline, beginning with graduate students’ training.

 

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Ferguson, C. J. (2015). “Everybody knows psychology is not a real science”: Public perceptions of psychology and how we can improve our relationship with policymakers, the scientific community, and the general public. American Psychologist70(6), 527. (Link)

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Ayurdhi Dhar, PhD
MIA Research News Team: Ayurdhi Dhar is assistant professor of psychology at Mount Mary University. She is the author of Madness and Subjectivity: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Psychosis in the West and India (to be released in September 2019). Her research interests include the relation between schizophrenia and immigration, discursive practices sustaining the concept of mental illness, and critiques of acontextual and ahistorical forms of knowledge.

52 COMMENTS

  1. Not to mention, psychology’s entire belief system, their DSM “bible,” was confessed to be “invalid” and “unreliable” about 8 years ago, by the head of NIMH, and others.

    https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

    Yet the psychologists I have seen not only refuse to flush their debunked DSM “bible,” they literally try to steal from innocent people who speak out against the scientific fraud and crimes of both the psychological and psychiatric industries. Trust me, I have legal proof of the attempted thievery.

    Not to mention I also have medical evidence of 14 distinctly different anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning, attempts at my life. By, what I was finally handed over medical evidence of, what turned out to be a child abuse covering up, Holy Spirit blaspheming, Lutheran psychologist’s misdiagnosis.

    Because none of the “mental health” workers I had the misfortune of dealing with were smart enough to read their own DSM “bible.” Which clearly stated, “Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”

    But I’m merely just one, of millions of people, including over a million American children, who dealt with such psychological / psychiatric malpractice. Since this type of psychological / psychiatric malpractice is a systemic problem.

    https://www.alternet.org/2010/04/are_prozac_and_other_psychiatric_drugs_causing_the_astonishing_rise_of_mental_illness_in_america/

    And I have since learned that covering up child abuse for the religions and their wealthy has been, and still is, the primary actual societal function of both the psychological and psychiatric, plus also the social worker, CPS, and other DSM deluded, industries.

    https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo
    https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/
    https://community.healthimpactnews.com/topic/4576/america-1-in-child-sex-trafficking-and-pedophilia-cps-and-foster-care-are-the-pipelines

    And all this systemic child abuse covering up is by DSM design.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-child-does-not-have-bipolar-disorder/201402/dsm-5-and-child-neglect-and-abuse-1

    Plus all of this pedophile aiding, abetting, and empowering – which has systemically been done by the DSM “bible” thumpers – has aided in leaving us all now living in a “pedophile empire.”

    https://www.amazon.com/Pedophilia-Empire-Chapter-Introduction-Disorder-ebook/dp/B0773QHGPT

    Is there any reason why decent people within the “policymakers, the scientific community, and the general public” should respect the systemic pedophile empowering, scientific fraud based, unwilling to change, unrepentant, psychological or psychiatric industries?

    Not really, since systemically covering up child abuse on a massive societal scale are crimes, that are destroying America from within.

  2. Psychology should basically be one of the humanities, but like all of the humanities, has had pressure brought to bear on it to be something else.

    One such pressure has been from ruling groups who don’t really want to understand people in order to help them, but are simply interested in technologies they can use to change, or control, men’s minds (and women’s and children’s too).

    Another pressure has been from psychiatry which wants psychology to support its perverted view of life and “help.”

    Thus psychology accepted a model of human experience from the natural sciences (neurology and biology) that is incorrect. And they are under constant pressure (as above) to keep this model, even though many of them realize it is wrong. This even affects those few psychologists who study parapsychology, who would like their findings to align with the more “scientific” theories of the mainstream, though they never will because the mainstream is so stubbornly wrong.

    This is terribly frustrating for me, because psychology lies at the center of human thought (as it studies human thought). If psychology gets it wrong, then all the other sciences and humanities get it wrong, too. And so we see today an entire planet desperately wanting to “grow up” but held back by the lack of a workable model. I had to resort to religion to find one. And academia doesn’t want to do that. They pride themselves (nowadays) on being secular. Well, the truth doesn’t care who believes it! Various religions are using more workable models with varying degrees of success. Many of the physical sciences can avoid it and get by, because they only address our desire to master the physical universe, not ourselves.

    But all those studies where Man stands at the center, in particular politics, economics, and medicine are suffering today – and we are all suffering – because psychology is pushing a faulty model. Many who comment here don’t even know what a more workable model is, even though they are damn well sure the current one is wrong! It’s a shame, because a more workable model exists. I hope we will see more discussion of it as our situation becomes clearer.

      • Yes, Psychology is one of the Humanities. I don’t view it as a bad thing. Did I say I did? But it is under pressure to be “more scientific,” as are economics, sociology, etc.
        And for good reason: The Sciences have produced workable technologies, while the Humanities have not. However, for the Humanities to produce workable technologies, they need to get “human” right, which the Sciences didn’t need to do.
        So…what’s your point? Did I lose you somewhere in the above discussion?

      • My sense is that most universities list it as a social science, not as part of the humanities (and many people in psychology try to pretend it has the same external validity as something like physics or math).

        (The problem is not that there is anything wrong with the sciences, but with a fish that claims to be a bird.)

        • Oh you could be right about that. I am not that familiar with the fine distinctions of how academic subjects are categorized.

          I’m not too concerned about the posing that goes on in academia. I am more concerned with whether or not their findings are useful to anyone.

          We have electronics and better car engines because of the physical sciences. And psychology can only give us Cognitive Behavior Therapy? For psychologists to resort to trying to reason with people to change their behaviors looks a lot to me like giving up.

          I think all they have to do is start taking their Parapsychology colleagues more seriously, and I think they could have a breakthrough. My concern is that the last thing they really want is a breakthrough! To a lot of people, Man looks better as a mystery. Solving Man is like opening Pandora’s box. It’s scary.

          • I’m not a huge fan of CBT but it’s not simply “trying to reason with people to change their behaviors”, at least not when done by a skilled practitioner (but I agree that there is an irreducible element of mystery to life and people, although I’m not sure parapsychology would be my first choice of dealing with it at that level.)

          • truth793810, I’m actually reporting my experience with studying this subject. The key to a breakthrough lies in the phenomena currently being studied in parapsychology. Are you familiar with the field at all?

  3. At the same time, it’s debatable whether the methods of natural science should even be applied to human beings and experiences in the first place–so it doesn’t matter how “authentically scientific” psychology becomes, it’s never the right tool for the job.

    • I don’t agree with this, but would argue that most “scientists” are no longer practicing good science, and have been persuaded away from it by dogmatic pressures coupled with funding.

      Scientific method should be capable of discovering Spirit if it is there (and it is). It has limited itself for irrational reasons. If rationality returned to science, Spirit would become a part of science. It is in most other civilizations (but of course, that finding is currently considered “pseudoscience” as well).

      I don’t think we need to throw the baby out with the bath water. We just need to find our way to higher level of rationality.

      • Maybe the difference comes down to what you see as primary objective of psychology–if it is to understand (predict/describe) human behavior you are correct.

        If it is to help people in psychological distress, I don’t know if the natural science model of so-called objective observation is appropriate.

        • Well, I’ll tell you what I know about. Of course, it’s just a backup observation, but it is required. Subjective knowledge has to count for something, too.

          After every time we “help” someone, we have them sit down and attach themselves to a meter. And if the meter gives a certain reaction (and the guy is smiling and looks OK), we know it’s all good. And if it doesn’t we know it wasn’t all good (even if he’s trying to pretend it was). And there’s your objective observation. Anyone who can read the meter can make the observation. It’s a much finer line when dealing with people. But a degree of objectivity should still be possible.

    • That’s really good! And you aren’t alone by any means. But your story is not yet in the majority. Psychology still lets most people down.

      I work in electronics. And as an example, I have worked with thousands of little parts that light up when you run electricity through them. Almost every single one of these parts worked correctly. We know how to make these things. We can do it with nearly 100% certainty. Why can’t we make happy people with that same certainty? It should be possible.

        • If we understood people as well as we do electronics, it should be possible. That’s what my group strives for. 100% good results. If you have a workable technology it should be possible. The problem with psychology is that it doesn’t understand people well enough to develop broadly workable technologies for helping them.

          • Well, one exists, so I think it’s realistic, that’s all. Of course the technology is not for controlling human behavior. We already have something that does that – ourselves. But there are workable technologies for helping others become happier, which it seems to me should be the goal of the “mental health” system.

  4. Psychology should not be viewed as a science. That sounds very reasonable. But, the question might actually be should anything be viewed as a science? We have tried very hard, especially since, WWII, to make everything a science, even art, religion and literature. In the end, science becomes trivialized. But, the fault may be in us who tried to depend on science, when living is more of an art. And, I believe this to be true no matter your particular religious beliefs. The lie of science has been that it is objective, while art is faulted for being too subjective. Either objectivity is an impossibility or art might be the only true objective source for our existence on Earth. Consider this, tomorrow, when the sun rises and you look out your window or take a walk outside, look at the clouds, the trees, the flowers to be (I know it’s winter in the northern hemisphere now.) But Just look around you it’s not Science, it’s art. Then think of what’s inside you, your brain, your bones, muscles, your heart and other organs. (Notice we call them organs, just like the organ in that old church down the street.) When you notice that, you will realize we have deceived ourselves about science all along. All of it is ART. Even the word HEART contains the word ART. And this is the Art of Goodness, a hearty laugh, a smile, a baby’s cry. Psychology can’t be science, because nothing is science. When we acknowledge our misstep, we will be on the road to pure freedom. Thank you.

      • I appreciate what you say, however, I am pleased that I make “no sense.” This is because in “making no sense” we arrive at what is known as “common sense.” Psychology and even those we know as “traditional sciences” now seem to lack “common sense” which ignores the “common person”. Thus, it fails. Actually, in many cases “science” has become “scientism” which really is another religion. Until science and most importantly we mere humans acknowledge this, science will fail us mightily. We need to stop worshipping science as if it is the answers to all our problems. Thank you.

        • I would say that true science has helped accomplish a great deal in terms of technology and knowhow. You can’t program a cell phone or create an electrical grid or fly a plan without science. However, what PASSES for science these days is often corrupted, either by money or desire for status, or the need for society to have “answers” to questions that science can’t address. Psychiatry is NOT a science in any sense of the word. It masquerades as a science and pretends knowledge that it does not have.

          This doesn’t mean a true scientific approach can’t be taken toward human beings. It means that science has to be honest about what its findings are. For instance, 50 years of genetic research has failed to indicate any genetic basis for any “mental illness” identified. This ought to be considered proof that “mental illnesses” don’t have a genetic origin. But this result is not accepted. In fact, psychiatry fails from day one in being a science, in that its terms are not definable by any objective means. If you make up “diagnoses” without any reference to objective observation and measurement, any claim to being “scientific” are already out the window.

          • I agree that psychiatry needs to be much more transparent about its shortcomings, I’m just also asserting that the methods of the natural sciences may never be adequate to understand/explain human beings and their experiences.

          • To Steve:

            “Wuh?? But, Steve: Science is ReeeEEEEEELLLLLLL!!!!!”

            O.K., I admit it. I am hoping to bring out Stand-up comic, Steve.

            “Good evening, from Comedy Centrifuge! Tonight, folks, we bring you socially distanced Steve!!!! Coming to you from more than six feet away on his electromagnetic stage to offer up witticisms & terse aphorisms

            through cables & quarks & wires oh MY!

            ((HI STEVE!!!))

            *

            Heya, here are some of my personal favorites of the misuse of the term “Science.”

            in other words, replacing the word & concept “data,” or the words “teacher, professor, or researcher” with the term science. Transmuting the term science from an abstraction into a conscious entity. ((Would this be animism??? What thinks thoust???))

            Here goes some of personal favorites: “Science is Real.” Have you seen this on lawn signs? They are all over my extended neighborhood.

            “Science has proven.”

            “THE science.” As in, it goes against “THE science.” S/he is ignoring “THE science.”

            Or s/he is engaging a “War Against “Science.”

            Or how about: “Science teaches us.”

            And, then, “Science Says.” (Simon says???? O.K., there’s some riff possibilities on THAT one)

            Instead of priests, we now have scientists (or, in some cases, not all, scienceTISM-ists)—

            (I know there are a lot of great scientists out there, & trust me, they are getting persecuted too!!!!!! Many are Targeted Individuals)

            Instead of the Inquisition we have AI code, Facebook diagnostics & pre-crime, and instead of being burned at the stake, we have a slow-drip eugenics (neurotoxins), or the slower burn of ECT & TMI.

            (Just a word about coders, because I have some friends who are coders. And as I cannot code my way out of a paper bag, I speak for them with much trepidation. There is no reason empaths cannot code & put their best blockchain foot forward. It just isn’t happening yet. Or it isn’t the reigning paradigm, I should say)

            I believe a thought experiment is the most mathematically rarefied & beautiful expression of science there is. Again, I will have to ask my coder friends if they agree—as they are binary, & I am more 12-based.

            Dunno.

            What I DO know is that on the current fascist Psychiatry stage, if you DARE engage in a thought experiment without an M.D. or a P(enne) H. D., you will be followed by a phalanx army with trays of neurotoxins.

            For those of us interested in Metaphysics. Oh, it’s bad. To be fair, if you are an M.D./Ph.D. researcher who comes to the conclusion that the Priesthood does not care for,

            you will also be looking at targeting, jail time. Even possibly death. Ask any of the scientists who refused to work for the Department of Defense, or became whistleblowers!!!

            At any rate: I would love your opinion if the misuse of the term science as an abstraction is Animism. Or is the closest approximation of what is going on here.

            I just think it’s funny if it is. I cannot think of a more bitter dart to Scientism than to compare it to an indigenous religion! (In metaphysical circles, we would consider it a compliment)

            I’m going to quickly print the online def. on Animism for quick reference. You know more about this than me, which is why I defer to your opinion. This is kind of a fun thought experiment, huh? Or I hope you think so.

            Here goes, it’s long, but bear with me. I think it’s a good idea to get a working definition going forward. It’s a wiki one, so that doesn’t mean it’s the best one.

            ~from Snowy (as oldhead likes to call me):

            Animism (from Latin: anima, ‘breath, spirit, life’)[1][2] is the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.[3][4][5][6]

            Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork, and perhaps even words—as animated and alive. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of many indigenous peoples,[7] especially in contrast to the relatively more recent development of organised religions.[8]

            Although each culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, animism is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of indigenous peoples’ “spiritual” or “supernatural” perspectives.

            The animistic perspective is so widely held and inherent to most indigenous peoples that they often do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to “animism” (or even “religion”);[9] the term is an anthropological construct.

            Largely due to such ethnolinguistic and cultural discrepancies, opinion has differed on whether animism refers to an ancestral mode of experience common to indigenous peoples around the world, or to a full-fledged religion in its own right.

            The currently accepted definition of animism was only developed in the late 19th century (1871) by Sir Edward Tylor, who formulated it as “one of anthropology’s earliest concepts, if not the first.”[10][11]

            Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have agency, that there exists no hard and fast distinction between the spiritual and physical (or material) world and that soul or spirit or sentience exists not only in humans but also in other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers or other entities of the natural environment: water sprites, vegetation deities, tree sprites, etc.

            Animism may further attribute a life force to abstract concepts such as words, true names, or metaphors in mythology. Some members of the non-tribal world also consider themselves animists (such as author Daniel Quinn, sculptor Lawson Oyekan, and many contemporary Pagans).[12]

          • And I am asserting that various people using scientific methods ARE understanding human beings and their experiences. The only reason most people still think “we don’t know yet” is because the good research is not being covered by the mainstream. In other words, the mainstream demonstrates a definite impulse to remain ignorant.

          • @truth793810:

            “Science is often scientism in reality but common sense is also full of fallacies.”

            Beautiful thinking! Are you a mathematician?

            Do you think common sense is full of fallacies because some states of matter (not sure of the right term here) exist in paradox?

            NOT a mathematician, here!

            But I always found math to be exquisite & beautiful. I am a poet, & mathematics created a discipline for the pre-verbal for me.
            Well, not while *composing* poetry, but at some point after studying math.

            People who were much “better at it” than me had no idea what I was talking about: that math was beautiful.

            I got as far as Calculus. But I cannot say I even got as far as that.

            Didn’t do that well that year in high school. Barely passed as a matter of fact due to (mostly) absences.

            Psychiatry was on me coat tails!

          • An example of common sense as a fallacy:

            How about an optical illusion? I’m not sure that’s a great example. And spoiler alert: I am a fan of common sense; I don’t think it’s that common.

            But states of matter? existence? CAN and DO exist in paradox. And at this point I’m going to need a physicist to bail me out.

            Because if matter can exist in paradox: a particle & a wave, then it follows that an observation or conclusion reached using common sense can be true & false simultaneously.

            (Versus: I was collecting articles about psychosurgery lately & an Ivy League trained psychiatrist said that burning lesions into the brain was like using a curling iron to retrieve a file on a floppy disc–if that gives you any idea of the decade we are talking about. Yet, he burned away; he burned the victim’s brain.

            Common sense would tell *anyone,* a layperson or an Ivy League trained professional that maybe burning lesions into healthy tissue is a bad idea. But he did it anyway. And even after these “professionals” DID get data that it was harming victims, they still continued to do it. Scientism.)

            Like I said: I am a fan of common sense. But there are states of matter that exist in paradox.

          • Okay, I’ll give a couple of examples. We’ll see if there is any mileage left in pursuing this:
            If you are a tolerant (liberal) sort of person, you’re likely to see it as “common sense” that people should be trusted and if someone is having problems with that there is some stressor in their environment that is probably to blame.
            If you are a little more cautious in your approach to other people, you’ll think it’s “common sense” to check people out before you trust them, because some people just aren’t trustworthy.

            However, this all started with rebel playing around with the phrase “common sense” to suggest a sort of lowest common denominator agreement that “everybody knows” and yet could be totally false. Rebel also argues that “Psychology can’t be science, because nothing is science.” And Truth thought that made “no sense.”

            So we’re just playing around with the meanings of words here. If you keep your feet on the ground you realize that there are processes that people use for obtaining knowledge that they call “science.” But in the case of psychology, this process seems to have totally missed its mark.

            Meanwhile, rebel reminds us that there is some amount of art in everything, which is something that science tends to ignore. (The early scientists, however, tended to believe that their work was helping to reveal the beauty in God’s creation.) You can’t “measure” art, can you? But we are certainly affected or influenced by art. So there seems to be a quality of life that science is simply incapable of embracing. In some ways, that might be true.

            But…I don’t think these shortcomings point to any inherent limitations of science. I think they point to some very baked-in limitations of scientists (us). If we can find ways to “unlimit” ourselves more, we should be more capable of using science to work with subjects like art, beauty and Spirit in ways that are helpful to our fellow humans.

          • @snowyowl

            “Because if matter can exist in paradox: a particle & a wave…”

            In this particular case I think you’re talking about light not matter, and the shortcoming may lie in the conceptual categories (particle vs. wave, some physicists have begun using the portmanteau “wavicle” for this reason).

          • Actually, according to quantum mechanics, all matter has both a wave and a particle aspect. The wave aspect of large, solid objects is so small as to be negligible, but when you break it down to a molecular/atomic level, the chair you’re sitting on is a particle/wave phenomenon, and there is an infinitesimal possibility that it could suddenly become empty space and you’ll fall on the floor on your butt!

  5. Interesting article. Unfortunately, most of the complaints concerning psychological research has been made about many other fields. To give just one example. It is a common criticism of medical studies that journals and authors suppress or ignore negative results leading to over reporting of positive findings. Biased abstracts and the refusal to share raw data are also commonplace along with the undue influence of special interests.

    • These criticisms do apply in other fields but in other parts of medicine that there is a much stronger element of external validity compared to psychology; also other fields are not as inherently difficult to fit into an empirical model, nor do they tend to have as many confounding variables.

    • Marie, You are correct and I think this is a problem is all “sciences” but traditional medicine, in particular, now takes it cues from psychiatry, psychology, etc. I believe it Steve McCrea who said it’s not very profitable to cure people. If you consider all the non-profit organizations now created for almost every disease known to man; whether “real or made up” why would you want a cure for any of these diseases and put all these people out of work. Plus, there is a lot of corporate money involved with endorsements, ad campaigns, etc. Also, there is the insurance business. Also, you must consider Big Pharma’s role in the proliferation of “maintenance drugs” at the expense of even antibiotics, etc. There is just to much money involved to make us healthy, whole and having a decent sense of well-being anymore. The “medical industry” which maybe the biggest industry ever has a stake in keeping us sick on many levels. Thank you.

      • I’m not sure that the rest of medicine takes its cue from psychiatry, traditionally the rest of medicine does not even consider psychiatry to be a real medical (sub)field.

        Also I think the big money is not really is “killing” (or failing to develop) cures for diseases (you would actually become rich and famous for curing them) but rather inventing and/or creating disease categories which are chronic and uncurable to begin with (e.g., defining people as “at-risk” for developing diabetes and prescribing them preventive pills). (Almost everyone is “at risk” for multiple disorders, part of being alive means you’re at risk of dying lol.)

        • Yes, I’m not sure how rebel meant that. But perhaps it has to do with how psychiatry likes to just leave people on their meds for the rest of their lives. Yes, doctors are discovering more diseases that seem to require that. But do they really?

          I know a guy who discovered a lot of cures. He became somewhat rich and famous, but the mainstream treats him very poorly. He wasn’t a doctor! How dare he cure anything?

          This is where all the power structures seem to be right now. Just trying to maintain, to protect or expand their income flows. The enthusiasm for cures is gone, despite any public displays to the contrary. If we don’t find a way to kick the whole system in the butt, it’s going to atrophy totally.

          • Many psychiatrists do like to prescribe drugs for life, but that’s not the same thing as “killing a cure”. And it’s not really doctors that are inventing diseases or at-risk categories/syndromes, it’s the pharmaceutical companies.
            (And don’t get me started on people who claim to have cures for everything; it’s a fallacy to believe someone is honest just because they’re mistreated by the mainstream.)
            (But I agree the system needs a reboot and is wholly too focused on profiteering.)

          • It is a logical fallacy to assume that just because the mainstream rails against someone, that they must be the opposite. But it IS a distinct possibility! That is how the criminal mind works, and it is criminal minds that are feeding the mainstream many of its stories.

            At this point I would look very carefully at anything hated or ridiculed by the mainstream. There is a good chance it involves something truly valuable to human life.

  6. @Steve McCrea:

    We are working you tonight!

    You said, “I usually distinguish between science (an activity) and Science (a demigod). They are not even close to the same!”

    Now we only have to unscramble the two from the minds of 7+ billion people on the planet!!!

    Piece of cake!

    O.K., maybe it’s not that many people. I’m using my dark humor to cheer me up tonight. And I love making fun of Scientism.

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