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

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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 Psychologybrian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes
  2. 2. Question:Is psychology a science?
  3. 3. HOT! NOT! Physics Chemistry PsychologyEmpirical Yes Yes YesfalsifiabilityParsimony of Yes Yes Most of the timetheoryExperimental Yes Yes To an extentcontrolMeasurement Yes Yes Kind ofaccuracyFacilitates Yes Yes A bitprediction
  4. 4. HOT! NOT! Psychology Meteorology AstrophysicsEmpirical Yes Yes Kind offalsifiabilityParsimony of Most of the time Not really YestheoryExperimental To an extent No NocontrolMeasurement Kind of Kind of Within limitsaccuracyFacilitates A bit A bit Who knows?prediction
  5. 5. HOT! NOT! Psychology Palaeontology BotanyEmpirical Yes No NofalsifiabilityParsimony of Most of the time Hard to say Not a prioritytheoryExperimental To an extent No NocontrolMeasurement Patchy track Kind of Within limitsaccuracy recordFacilitates A bit Not a priority Not a priorityprediction
  6. 6. HOT! NOT! Psychology UFOlogy AstrologyEmpirical Yes Absolutely none Absolutely nonefalsifiabilityParsimony of The antithesis of Most of the time Not at alltheory parsimonyExperimental To an extent Err, nope No attemptcontrolMeasurement Track record of Kind of Not a priorityaccuracy utter failureFacilitates 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 andits phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematicexperimentation” (Encyclopaedia Britannica)Science = “1. the systematic observation of natural events and conditions in orderto discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on thesefacts. 2. the organized body of knowledge that is derived from such observationsand 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 asscience17th century: separation of scientific andreligious subject matterPsychology part of the non-physical;thus, considered religious rather thanscientific“Psychology” = philosophy up to mid-19thcentury1870s: James (Harvard); Wundt (Leipzig)1900s-10s: Watson (Johns Hopkins)1960s-70s: Cognitive “revolution”1980s--present: Successive “biologicalrevolutions” (neuroscience, genetics)
  11. 11. How psychology compares with theother sciencesComparison of assumptions(Elizabeth Valentine, 1992) Overall assumption B e h a v i o u r i s
  12. 12. How psychology compares with theother sciencesComparison 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 theother sciencesComparison 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 theother sciencesComparison 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 theother sciencesComparison of assumptions(Elizabeth Valentine, 1992) Conclusion: Psychology’s possible problems are of degree rather than kind, rendering psychology a competent science
  16. 16. SummaryScience is not a subculture per se, and cannot beidentified on the basis of appearances alone Pseudoscience often manifests the appearances of science, without being scientific in the true senseScience is a philosophy or practice aimed atsystematically producing unbiased information Pseudoscience is rarely aimed at reducing biasScience is characterised by theoretical assumptionsabout how knowledge is best acquired Formal psychology shares these assumptions, and so is very much a scienceScience expects human fallibility and tries to workaround 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 alternativemedicine/therapies CAM = “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, Five NCCAM categories:Category ExamplesAlternative medical systems Homoeopathy, acupuncture, AyurvedaMind–body interventions Deep meditation, psychic healing, quantum healing, autogenic training, Tai ChiBiologically based therapies Herbal medicine, other digested supplementsManipulative and body- Chiropractic, osteopathy, massage therapy,based methods craniosacral therapyEnergy therapies Crystal therapy, bio-energy healing, magnetic therapy, Reiki, Qi Gong
  20. 20. Complementary and alternativemedicine/therapies
  21. 21. Complementary and alternativemedicine/therapies Most common? acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic; herbal medicine; bioenergy healing; reflexology; crystal therapy; aromatherapy
  22. 22. Complementary and alternativemedicine/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 alternativemedicine/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 alternativemedicine/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 alternativemedicine/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 alternativemedicine/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 Psychologybrian.hughes@nuigalway.ie @b_m_hughes

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