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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Apr > Apr 21

Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

From: Cathy Reason <Cathym.nul>
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2012 15:13:47 +0100
Archived: Sat, 21 Apr 2012 11:06:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>From: Eugene Frison <cthulhu_calls.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2012 19:18:28 -0500
>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary


>I think I spoke too soon when I said you displayed a deep
>understanding of how psychological researchers proceed. They
>also use empirical methods. You clearly can't get past your view
>that psychology is nothing but Cognitivism.

The vast majority of psychologists, whatever their area of
interest, are Cognitivists. Even the modern fad for Evolutionary
Psychology is based on Cognitivism.

There are some exceptions - in perception research there are the
Gibsonians, for example, and psychophysics owes little or nothing
to Cognitivism. And there are the applied social psychologists,
who try as hard as possible to be completely atheoretical. But
these are very much the exceptions, not the rule.

>Use of statistics is not infallible but used in science. Meta-
>analysis improves things. Being aware of 'publication bias' and
>of the "file drawer effect" - if taken into account - allows for
>falsification. (When the number of experiments producing
>negative results reaches such a degree as to seriously outnumber
>experiments producing positive results.)

The file drawer effect does not allow for falsification. It
isn't intended to - it's purely a way of correcting the
statistical significance of a result by estimating the number of
unpublished studies. It does nothing to address the problem that
negative results are by definition non-significant, which means
the underlying theory is not falsifiable even in principle.

>Operationalism is not the demon you make it out to be. It is
>used in other sciences, particularly in the medical and physical
>sciences. Here it is used to preserve the unambiguous empirical
>testibility of hypothesis and theory.

Where exactly did I make Operationalism out to be some sort of
demon? Of course it is used in the physical sciences - it was
invented by a physicist, P W Bridgman.

But what psychologists are actually doing when they claim to be
using operational definitions is both confused and self-
contradictory. In psychology an "operational " definition is a
proxy for some other quantity which cannot be directly measured
and which has no rigorously defined relationship to the proxy.
This is absolutely not what Bridgman meant by an operational

>Your remark that neuroscience has produced data during the past
>thirty years that invalidates the notion that human perception
>is inaccurate is just wrong. It may have invalidated some
>cognitive assumptions but certainly not this one. This one has
>so much backing it up that it's solid. Human vision is a grand
>illusion and, as Jay Ingram says in his book entitled Theatre of
>the Mind (in Chapter Six, The Grand Illusion), "If you want to
>keep believing in your visual prowess, then it's a grand

It has a lot of evidence backing it up if you accept the
premises by which that evidence is interpreted. If you challenge
these premises - as for example the Gibsonians have been doing
for thirty years now - you find most of that evidence disappears
like mist.

Of course the human visual system makes mistakes - but the
errors are specific to the circumstances which produce them. And
in the case of perceptual experiments those circumstances are
_designed_ to be highly contrived and unrepresentative of normal
life because that's the whole point of experiment; to be able to
control circumstantial variables in a way that can't be done in

But Cognitivism is based on the assumption that the brain
doesn't extract information from the visual world because there
is no information there to be extracted. Instead the brain is
assumed to interpret the visual world by means of a sort of
elaborate guesswork. In other words, Cognitivism assumes that
the visual system is highly fallible right at the outset and all
experiments are interpreted as yet more evidence of that
fallibility. But change the assumption, and the evidence ceases
to support that conslusion - which is something J J Gibson
realized more than thirty years ago.


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