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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #10 (Psych: Phil of Sci)

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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #10 (Psych: Phil of Sci)

In short: The real question is: 'How good a science can psychology be?' Psychology meets the various philosophical assumptions of science. This brings us to our case-studies. The first set is from the fringes of psychology, and relates to complementary and alternative therapies.

In short: The real question is: 'How good a science can psychology be?' Psychology meets the various philosophical assumptions of science. This brings us to our case-studies. The first set is from the fringes of psychology, and relates to complementary and alternative therapies.

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Psychology, Science, and Pseudoscience: Class #10 (Psych: Phil of Sci)

  1. 1. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychology brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes
  2. 2. Question: Is psychology a science?
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. Question: Is psychology a science? Short Answer: YES!!!
  8. 8. Remember… 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
  9. 9. Real Question: How effective a science can psychology be?
  10. 10. (Brief) Development of psychology as science 17th century: separation of scientific and religious subject matter Psychology part of the non-physical; thus, considered religious rather than scientific “Psychology” = philosophy up to mid-19th century 1870s: James (Harvard); Wundt (Leipzig) 1900s-10s: Watson (Johns Hopkins) 1960s-70s: Cognitive “revolution” 1980s--present: Successive “biological revolutions” (neuroscience, genetics)
  11. 11. How psychology compares with the other sciences Comparison of assumptions (Elizabeth Valentine, 1992) Overall assumption B e h a v i o u r i s
  12. 12. How psychology compares with the other sciences Comparison of assumptions (Elizabeth Valentine, 1992) Metaphysical assumptions Determinism Problems for psychology: Free will? Moral responsibility? Predictability Problem for psychology: Unpredictability? Mechanistic model Problem for psychology: Are “actions” different from “happenings”?
  13. 13. How psychology compares with the other sciences Comparison of assumptions (Elizabeth Valentine, 1992) Theoretical assumptions Systematicity Problems for psychology: Diversity, multiplicity of variables? Reflexivity? Generality Problem for psychology: Psychological theories contingent on space and time? Uniqueness of individual? Falsifiability Problem for psychology: Indirect observation? Major schools of psychology characterized by non-falsifiability?
  14. 14. How psychology compares with the other sciences Comparison of assumptions (Elizabeth Valentine, 1992) Methodological/empirical assumptions Observation Problems for psychology: Psychological entities not open to direct observation? Reflexivity? Measurement Problem for psychology: Non-quantifiability of the non- physical? Experimentation Problem for psychology: Control?
  15. 15. How psychology compares with the other sciences Comparison of assumptions (Elizabeth Valentine, 1992) Conclusion: Psychology’s possible problems are of degree rather than kind, rendering psychology a competent science
  16. 16. Summary Science is not a subculture per se, and cannot be identified on the basis of appearances alone Pseudoscience often manifests the appearances of science, without being scientific in the true sense Science is a philosophy or practice aimed at systematically producing unbiased information Pseudoscience is rarely aimed at reducing bias Science is characterised by theoretical assumptions about how knowledge is best acquired Formal psychology shares these assumptions, and so is very much a science Science expects human fallibility and tries to work around it Pseudoscience typically ignores human fallibility, and/or falsely accuses science of claiming to be infallible
  17. 17. Case Studies: Examples of Psychology-related Pseudoscience
  18. 18. Case Studies from Outside Mainstream Psychology: 1. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies
  19. 19. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies CAM = “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, Five NCCAM categories: Category Examples Alternative medical systems Homoeopathy, acupuncture, Ayurveda Mind–body interventions Deep meditation, psychic healing, quantum healing, autogenic training, Tai Chi Biologically based therapies Herbal medicine, other digested supplements Manipulative and body- Chiropractic, osteopathy, massage therapy, based methods craniosacral therapy Energy therapies Crystal therapy, bio-energy healing, magnetic therapy, Reiki, Qi Gong
  20. 20. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies
  21. 21. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies Most common? acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic; herbal medicine; bioenergy healing; reflexology; crystal therapy; aromatherapy
  22. 22. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies Most common? acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic; herbal medicine; bioenergy healing; reflexology; crystal therapy; aromatherapy Other examples: autogenic training, Alexander technique, acupressure, applied kinesiology, Ayurveda, Bach flower remedies, Bowen technique, bio-magnetic therapy, biodynamic massage, Buteyko Preath therapy, craniosacral therapy, Chi Kung (no contact), colour analysis therapy, dowsing, energy balancing…
  23. 23. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies Most common? acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic; herbal medicine; bioenergy healing; reflexology; crystal therapy; aromatherapy Other examples: autogenic training, Alexander technique, acupressure, applied kinesiology, Ayurveda, Bach flower remedies, Bowen technique, bio-magnetic therapy, biodynamic massage, Buteyko Preath therapy, craniosacral therapy, Chi Kung (no contact), colour analysis therapy, dowsing, energy balancing, electro- crystal therapy, iridology, Indian head massage, kinesiology, the Melchizedek method
  24. 24. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies Most common? acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic; herbal medicine; bioenergy healing; reflexology; crystal therapy; aromatherapy Other examples: autogenic training, Alexander technique, acupressure, applied kinesiology, Ayurveda, Bach flower remedies, Bowen technique, bio-magnetic therapy, biodynamic massage, Buteyko Preath therapy, craniosacral therapy, Chi Kung (no contact), colour analysis therapy, dowsing, energy balancing, electro-crystal therapy, iridology, Indian head massage, kinesiology, the Melchizedek method, the metamorphic technique, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, on-site massage, pilates, polarity therapy, Qi Gong…
  25. 25. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies Most common? acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic; herbal medicine; bioenergy healing; reflexology; crystal therapy; aromatherapy Other examples: autogenic training, Alexander technique, acupressure, applied kinesiology, Ayurveda, Bach flower remedies, Bowen technique, bio-magnetic therapy, biodynamic massage, Buteyko Preath therapy, craniosacral therapy, Chi Kung (no contact), colour analysis therapy, dowsing, energy balancing, electro-crystal therapy, iridology, Indian head massage, kinesiology, the Melchizedek method, the metamorphic technique, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, on-site massage, pilates, polarity therapy, Qi Gong, Pranic healing, Reichian therapy, Reiki, spiritual healing, Shiatsu, Shen therapy, touch for health, Tai Chi,
  26. 26. Complementary and alternative medicine/therapies Most common? acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic; herbal medicine; bioenergy healing; reflexology; crystal therapy; aromatherapy Other examples: autogenic training, Alexander technique, acupressure, applied kinesiology, Ayurveda, Bach flower remedies, Bowen technique, bio- magnetic therapy, biodynamic massage, Buteyko Preath therapy, craniosacral therapy, Chi Kung (no contact), colour analysis therapy, dowsing, energy balancing, electro-crystal therapy, iridology, Indian head massage, kinesiology, the Melchizedek method, the metamorphic technique, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, on-site massage, pilates, polarity therapy, Qi Gong , Pranic healing, Reichian therapy, Reiki, spiritual healing, Shiatsu, Shen therapy, touch for health, Tai Chi (non-contact), trigger point therapy, Tuina, zero balancing
  27. 27. PS409 Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience Dr Brian Hughes School of Psychology brian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes

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