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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #09 (Psych as Science)

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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #09 (Psych as Science)

In short: When considering whether parts of psychology are pseudoscientific, it is worth remembering that psychology as a whole conforms to scientific assumptions much better than many other fields commonly considered (without dispute) to be 'sciences'.

In short: When considering whether parts of psychology are pseudoscientific, it is worth remembering that psychology as a whole conforms to scientific assumptions much better than many other fields commonly considered (without dispute) to be 'sciences'.

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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #09 (Psych as Science)

  1. 1. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychology brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes
  2. 2. Are psychologists pseudoscientific?
  3. 3. Question: Is psychology a science?
  4. 4. Reminder: What is science? Science = “any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation” (Encyclopaedia Britannica) Science = “1. the systematic observation of natural events and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts. 2. the organized body of knowledge that is derived from such observations and that can be verified or tested by further investigation” (Academic Press Dict. of Science &Technology) Features of Principle Features of Practice Science Science Valorises falsifiability Publication of data Peer review Accuracy in measurement Argument “ad rem” Unproven as false = unproven Empirical evidence Emphasis on refutation Appeals to reductionism Prioritization of parsimony Acceptance of paradigms Burden on claimant, not critic Shared endeavour
  5. 5. Examples of Pseudoscience The unsubtle… Flat-earth theories UFO-ology Astrology Clairvoyance Telepathy Extrasensory perception [ESP] Psychokinesis “The facts are simple. The earth is Quantum healing flat” Crystal therapy
  6. 6. Examples of Pseudoscience …and the subtle? Biological reductionism in gender research Assumptions of “normality” Folk assumptions in mainstream psychology (e.g., social support theory) Nurture (as opposed to nature) Psychoanalysis? Psychotherapy as a whole?
  7. 7. HOT! NOT! Physics Chemistry Psychology Empirical Yes Yes Yes falsifiability Parsimony of Yes Yes Most of the time theory Experimental Yes Yes To an extent control Measurement Yes Yes Kind of accuracy Facilitates Yes Yes A bit prediction
  8. 8. HOT! NOT! Psychology Meteorology Astrophysics Empirical Yes Yes Kind of falsifiability Parsimony of Most of the time Not really Yes theory Experimental To an extent No No control Measurement Kind of Kind of Within limits accuracy Facilitates A bit A bit Who knows? prediction
  9. 9. HOT! NOT! Psychology Palaeontology Botany Empirical Yes No No falsifiability Parsimony of Most of the time Hard to say Not a priority theory Experimental To an extent No No control Measurement Patchy track Kind of Within limits accuracy record Facilitates A bit Not a priority Not a priority prediction
  10. 10. HOT! NOT! Psychology UFOlogy Astrology Empirical Yes Absolutely none Absolutely none falsifiability Parsimony of The antithesis of Most of the time Not at all theory parsimony Experimental To an extent Err, nope No attempt control Measurement Track record of Kind of Not a priority accuracy utter failure Facilitates A bit Not a priority Afraid not! prediction
  11. 11. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychology brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes

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