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Psychology - is it a science or not. The ultimate debate thread Watch

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    (Original post by Zen-Ali)
    All hail Feynman!



    Then again, he was heavily mathematically inclined/had a proclivity for physics.
    It's always great to hear Richard Feynman speak (or indeed to read any of his written work), thanks for sharing that

    (unfortunately I'm out of reps)
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    (Original post by RayApparently)
    ...
    No need for rep, friend.
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    Of course it is, yes. I've only ever heard snobs claim for it not to be.
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    (Original post by Zen-Ali)
    I implore you to hearken to the great mind that is Feynman.
    Strange. I have quoted this twice? I'll delete in the morning.

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    (Original post by Zen-Ali)
    I implore you to hearken to the great mind that is Feynman.
    How you implore... :rolleyes:

    I can hearken to him tomorrow, it's pretty much midnight!! My eyes are starting to hurt. :yep:

    Where is everybody? This is supposed to be the ultimate debate!!


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    (Original post by Zen-Ali)
    I implore you to hearken to the great mind that is Feynman.
    Interesting video, and his comments are fair enough, for its time. In psychology, statistical principles weren't followed in the past... was completely different to what it is today.
    That video is quite old, guessing at the end of the 70's?
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
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    Yep, it's definitely an old video (not sure when it was filmed—Feynman passed in '88 so it's reasonably old). Not sure on the specifics, but it's entirely possible Psychology has begun to implement more scientific techniques.

    Dat Feynman.
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    Psychology is not a hard science in my opinion, even James knew this. I have just finished a degree in it, and whilst I love studying it, and I am hoping to do a master's in it, one should not be afraid to criticise it and its methods.

    It is impossible to prognosticate human behaviour, to any worthwhile degree. Even the Libet studies in which movement was predicted before it occurred in consciousness have in my opinion, limited application.

    fMRI is also, when thought about properly, practically useless. What can be done with these studies afterwards? You can't go and manipulate someone's brain ethically to the degree that it would have any effect. The public and possibly a lot of students see areas of the brain light up (and not understanding that these are significant bold signals/contrasts), believe oh that is why such a person did this, or is different from a person who can do that. But since the techniques rely on physics, the uncertainty principle cannot be overlooked here. What are you measuring under fMRI, the task itself, or THE state of actually being under fMRI. Areas of the brain have been found to be active in dead salmon under an fMRI task, due to confounding type one errors! Also, It is always post hoc, there seem to be no psychophysical laws, and although psychologists claim they have solved the brain/mind dichotomy, it is not as clear cut.

    Psychology is interesting, intellectually stimulating, but VERY much subjective and not as watertight as other sciences such as chemistry, physics or biology. The confidence placed in techniques such as fMRI are in my opinion, at a distinct disparity with the practical application of what is actually done with the research afterwards. It is seemingly in vogue at the moment hence why it is so popular and receives a lot of funding.

    This is of course, just my opinion.
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    (Original post by Zen-Ali)
    Yep, it's definitely an old video (not sure when it was filmed—Feynman passed in '88 so it's reasonably old). Not sure on the specifics, but it's entirely possible Psychology has begun to implement more scientific techniques.

    Dat Feynman.
    That video looks like it was filmed around the time psychology was centered around Freud-style theories, which I agree is not scientific at all.

    These days it's a lot more so. Behavioural neuroscience, neuropsychology and cognitive psychology are a lot more evidence-based. The human brain is the most complex thing we know of, so naturally it's going to take some time to gather some sort of 'laws' that govern it.
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    I regard psychology as a science. There will forever be debates on whether or not this is a science. Those who don't see it as a science might also even think that biology isn't a science. That's another popular debate.

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    This:
    (Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
    Does it follow the scientific method? If so, then yes. If not, no.
    People, especially pre-university students, seem to forget that science isn't a list of facts to learn. It's a mode of investigating. Aspects of psychology that use the scientific method fall within the remit of science, regardless of how 'soft' some might consider it.
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    (Original post by paultheotherone)
    Psychology is not a hard science in my opinion, even James knew this. I have just finished a degree in it, and whilst I love studying it, and I am hoping to do a master's in it, one should not be afraid to criticise it and its methods.

    It is impossible to prognosticate human behaviour, to any worthwhile degree. Even the Libet studies in which movement was predicted before it occurred in consciousness have in my opinion, limited application.

    fMRI is also, when thought about properly, practically useless. What can be done with these studies afterwards? You can't go and manipulate someone's brain ethically to the degree that it would have any effect. The public and possibly a lot of students see areas of the brain light up (and not understanding that these are significant bold signals/contrasts), believe oh that is why such a person did this, or is different from a person who can do that. But since the techniques rely on physics, the uncertainty principle cannot be overlooked here. What are you measuring under fMRI, the task itself, or THE state of actually being under fMRI. Areas of the brain have been found to be active in dead salmon under an fMRI task, due to confounding type one errors! Also, It is always post hoc, there seem to be no psychophysical laws, and although psychologists claim they have solved the brain/mind dichotomy, it is not as clear cut.

    Psychology is interesting, intellectually stimulating, but VERY much subjective and not as watertight as other sciences such as chemistry, physics or biology. The confidence placed in techniques such as fMRI are in my opinion, at a distinct disparity with the practical application of what is actually done with the research afterwards. It is seemingly in vogue at the moment hence why it is so popular and receives a lot of funding.

    This is of course, just my opinion.
    Why is fMRI that unreliable? Scientific articles? I honestly don't understand the argument about the MRI. You don't really go into any details.

    There is movement artefact sure amongst a few others, but as far as I remember it is pretty reliable. There are other types of MRI as well, which provide significant insights.
    There are also a load more neuroimaging methods that are also give reliable data and provide biomarkers; not just fMRI.

    How is the brain-mind dichotomy not clear cut?

    I don't think its as clear cut as the other sciences, as its just not that simple (as behavior is as you say, hard to predict - with less clear rules and laws), though it certainly is as scientific as medicine. And who would say that medicine isn't a science?
    ... discounting all the psychoanalytic crap in psychology... of course. I agree about that.

    Just graduated? How did you do? Best of luck with the MSc
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    Psychology a science :giggle:
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    science
    ˈsʌɪəns/
    noun
    [COLOR=#878787 !important][/COLOR]

    • the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

      According to this definition yes. However personally if it's not biological i count it as social science.




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    I would consider parts of it to be a science, and parts of it to be a social science.
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    (Original post by Lincoln_R)

    • According to this definition yes. However personally if it's not biological i count it as social science.

    What do you mean?
    Do you mean that something like astrophysics isn't science or do you mean the 'non-biological' elements of psychology aren't science?
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    Why is fMRI that unreliable? Scientific articles? I honestly don't understand the argument about the MRI. You don't really go into any details.

    There is movement artefact sure amongst a few others, but as far as I remember it is pretty reliable. There are other types of MRI as well, which provide significant insights.
    There are also a load more neuroimaging methods that are also give reliable data and provide biomarkers; not just fMRI.

    How is the brain-mind dichotomy not clear cut?

    I don't think its as clear cut as the other sciences, as its just not that simple (as behavior is as you say, hard to predict - with less clear rules and laws), though it certainly is as scientific as medicine. And who would say that medicine isn't a science?
    ... discounting all the psychoanalytic crap in psychology... of course. I agree about that.

    Just graduated? How did you do? Best of luck with the MSc
    I did ok (First), but I certainly realise I am still ignorant and have a lot to learn. I am in no way claiming to be an expert and am willing to change my mind.

    Is it as scientific as medicine in the context of practical application? Say we looked at the fusiform face area using fMRI, you couldn't, unless there was a blatant ablation, say that a person has prosopagnosia WITHOUT subjectively assessing them (asking/testing them do you have problems recognising faces). I realise this is what a lot of psychology is, assessing subjectivity, but fMRI in this case is a bit redundant in that the person has already told us they can't recognise faces, and fMRI alone can't confirm this (unless there is a lesion). We then can't attempt to 'fix' this problem without using behavioural strategies which the person possibly already incorporates anyway, so apart from intellectual curiosity, fMRI hasn't been that helpful in either diagnosis (I use the term very loosely) or what can be done to help the individual. I have been speaking to one of my lecturers on this same topic, and he pointed out that "fMRI is done by a physicist, sonographer and a radiologist (medic)."
    What is the role of a psychologist in this, other than to philosophise about the results (basically, be a philosopher) teach it, and inevitably suggest more research needs to be conducted if writing a scientific paper. If there was a brain lesion, this becomes the neurologist's (not the neuroscientists') department. In medicine, practical application to an affected organ/illness can be subjected to intervention that deems necessary the examination of said organ/body in the first place. To me, this is simply not true of fMRI. Again, I am not intending to challenge its merits as an intellectual pursuit and realise it is a very young science, but question its standing in a practical context to other sciences which validates the research (and therefore the money spent-of course this is political) conducted in these areas to a higher degree.

    Apologies if this is not making sense, and I am quite prepared to be schooled in this area.

    Neuroscience (I think) rests on the premise that this is what we found after an act has occurred. It can't predict anything to any degree of certainty that the other sciences can, because of its laws are based on human will.

    One of the main problems I came across during my degree is the bestowment of the title Dr after the requisite study period. Some psychologists, not all, seem to think this is akin to becoming a medical doctor. It is not, and does not give such a person to make diagnoses based on Likert scales, questionnaires and non objective physical tests. (I'm now talking about the social construction of certain disorders in psychology). Medical doctors, as far as I know, arrive at the confirmation of an illness using different criteria from psychologists (certainly not questionnaires, or scales) and are impersonal diagnoses. Social sciences (oxymoron?) is not a medical diagnosis but a measure of what is socially acceptable during the time period which as we know, changes. Thus the label(diagnosis) given by a social scientist to a person can actually be very damaging itself, and essentially one cannot prove one is now not 'disordered' as there was no objective criteria for demonstrating this in the first place. Thus, if we are comparing social science to medical science, there is an obvious demarcation in the methods and diagnoses both use. These views are largely based on Thomas Szasz's writings, and whilst linked to fMRI research, are different to the objections I spoke of above regarding that method.

    The mind/brain dichotomy is something I will have to cogitate on before posting, but is to me, a largely linguistic problem and also a physical problem. If mental events are just ephenomenalism (non-physical), does that not present a problem for physicalism?

    Sorry if this is incoherent or nonsensical.
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    The title 'Dr.' shows the individual is an expert in their field and have obtained a doctorate degree. The typical doctor is a doctor of medicine (M.D.) but there are also doctors of philosophy (PhD) and psychology (PsychD).

    A clinical psychologist goes through a three year doctorate of clinical psychology (ClinPsychD) where they're given extensive and in-depth training on mental disorders and how to treat them. They usually work for the NHS and are classed as doctors. Whilst there is a debate on whether they should 'diagnose' mental disorders, they're trained how to and what methods to use. Clinical neuropsychologists and psychiatrists are very similar in that they both look at the physical brain as the cause of disorders. As someone who hopes to enter neuropsychology as a career, I personally agree with the ability to diagnose and treat mental illness. However, I can sympathise with the debate on whether mental disorders should be formally diagnosed.
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    (Original post by DannyYYYY)
    Clinical neuropsychologists and psychiatrists are very similar in that they both look at the physical brain as the cause of disorders.
    Does a psychiatrist/clinical neurologist look at the brain at the time of making a diagnosis?

    Sectioning is a power only a psychiatrist has, to detain someone on the basis of their behaviour, not by looking at their brain. They may do brain tests afterwards, but initially they give credence to the 'thing' then look for evidence to give credence to the 'thing'. Normal physicians at a surgery cannot legally detain someone. I can be diagnosed (objectively) as having cancer and continue my life as I please. I can be diagnosed non-objectively as having schizophrenia, and my life (freedom) will be at he whim of a psychiatrist.

    In my opinion, there is a clear demarcation between a physician's diagnosis and a psychiatrist's diagnosis that means they are not the same. One is objective, one is social. Hence psychology is not nearly as scientific as it claims to be in this context.
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    (Original post by DannyYYYY)
    The title 'Dr.' shows the individual is an expert in their field and have obtained a doctorate degree. The typical doctor is a doctor of medicine (M.D.) but there are also doctors of philosophy (PhD) and psychology (PsychD).

    A clinical psychologist goes through a three year doctorate of clinical psychology (ClinPsychD) where they're given extensive and in-depth training on mental disorders and how to treat them. They usually work for the NHS and are classed as doctors. Whilst there is a debate on whether they should 'diagnose' mental disorders, they're trained how to and what methods to use. Clinical neuropsychologists and psychiatrists are very similar in that they both look at the physical brain as the cause of disorders. As someone who hopes to enter neuropsychology as a career, I personally agree with the ability to diagnose and treat mental illness. However, I can sympathise with the debate on whether mental disorders should be formally diagnosed.
    Their day-to-day work is hugely different. Their similarities are thin on the ground.
 
 
 
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