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Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

From: William Treurniet <wtreurniet.nul>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 14:05:17 -0400
Archived: Fri, 20 Apr 2012 11:41:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>From: Cathy Reason<Cathym.nul>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto<post.nul>
>Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 12:58:24 +0100
>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>From: Eugene Frison<cthulhu_calls.nul>
>>Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 12:48:23 -0500
>>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>The fact that there is such a thing as the DSM IV that is the
>>ultimate guide to mental disorders available to all the
>>professionals yet we still have the results of those experiments
>>shows that the process is breaking down with the psychologists
>>and psychiatrists themselves.

>Actually the DSM IV is not regarded as the ultimate guide to
>mental disorders outside of the United States. In Europe, for
>example, clinicians tend to use the International Classification
>of Diseases (ICD 10).


>>The experimental psychologists (and there have been lots of them
>>who were quite competent and who both understood proper
>>scientific methodology and applied same) have devised and
>>conducted many outstanding experiments and conducted much
>>excellent research. A lot of their data has come from
>>reproducible experimentation and results are often confirmed by
>>more than one completely different type of experiment - each of
>>which were designed to test something from different angles.

>It's been my experience that the reproducibility of experiments
>in psychology is generally rather poor. However I don't have any
>figures on this, so if anyone else has any reliable figures it
>would be interesting to know what they were.

>There are quite a few reasons why I disagree with your
>contention that psychology is a science. Here are just a few:

>*Psychologists regularly confuse operational notions of
>measurement with proxy notions of measurement. An operational
>measure should be defined in such a way that the outcome of the
>operation of measurement is identical with what is being
>measured.  However psychologists routinely start out by defining
>some measure as an "operationalization" and then proceed to treat
>that measure as a proxy for some other quantity (or assumed
>quantity) which cannot be directly measured.

>*The statistical methodology used in most psychological research
>is such that most psychological hypotheses cannot be falsified
>even in priniciple, since all negative results are automatically
>deemed to be insignificant.

>*Experiments that are published in the academic literature as
>"predictive tests" of some theory all too often turn out to be
>modifed versions of pilot studies from which the original theory
>was derived - in other words, not predictions at all. A clear
>giveaway that this is happening is when the theory and the
>predictive test are both written up by the same author(s) - and
>often in the same paper.

>*Most modern psychological research is based on the doctrine of
>Cognitivism, which rests on a large number of assumptions. These
>assumptions are not generally tested (or even acknowledged) by
>psychologists themselves - but research in other disciplines
>(such as neuroscience) has tended to undermine many of them
>pretty throroughly over the last thirty years or so.

>*Many of the findings which are atrributed to psychological
>research (such as the notion that human perception is
>systematically unreliable) turn out to be identical with
>Cognitivist assumptions on which the research was based in the
>first place. In other words, garbage in - garbage out.

>There's a good few more I could list but that should be enough to
>be going on with.

All these criticisms may or may not be credible. It's hard to
know since psychology is not defined here. Like physics,
psychology is broken down into a number of sub-fields such as
perception, cognition, social, clinical, etc., and the methods
and assumptions used for research vary across these different

Signal detection experiments, for example, treat the person as a
receiver like a radar system, and use the same methods used in
engineering to measure receiver operating characteristics.
Cognitive or social psychology has theories that generate
hypotheses about the behaviour of groups under certain
conditions. The null hypothesis is either accepted or rejected.
A 'negative' result may occur when the outcome is significant in
the opposite direction from that predicted. Statistical analysis
is done in a number of fields including psychology whenever
there is noise in the data.

Basing research on a number of assumptions is not unique to
psychology. Look at the recent research on dark matter. It's
existence is itself an assumption for which there is little
evidence. In fact, there is recent evidence that the much
balleyhooed dark matter predicted to be in the solar system does
not exist.

The comment that the unreliability of human perception is an
assumption is demonstrably wrong given the oft-demonstrated
variability in relevant experimental data.

I could go on too, but that should be enough to suggest that the
above critique of psychology is uninformed. Psychology can be
better criticized for the blinders that force it to assume that
consciousness is based on physicality. Most psychologists fear
to strike out against materialism, especially since the rise of
behaviourism in the last century. The one's that do are mostly
in the clinical camp (e.g., Freudians, Jungians), and there the
theories and methods are the most subject to criticism by

There is room in other areas of psychology like perception
research to venture into non-materialist interpretations of
data. But this is done mainly in the maligned area of
parapsychology which is perceived more negatively for
ideological reasons by psychologists than non-psychologists.


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