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Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

From: Eugene Frison <cthulhu_calls.nul>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2012 21:26:48 -0500
Archived: Thu, 03 May 2012 07:42:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>From: Cathy Reason <Cathym.nul>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <post.nul>
>Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2012 18:11:15 +0100
>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>From: Eugene Frison <cthulhu_calls.nul>
>>To: <post.nul>
>>Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2012 21:47:40 -0500
>>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>For merely giving a list of methods used by science, I was
>>accused of believing that the scientific method was a
>>complicated and complex thing, of being obsessed with "elaborate
>>methodological ritual" and of possessing a "reverence for
>>logic." Simply for making a list.

>Ok, let's leave aside your claims about the reliability of human
>perception, since I think we've established that these hinge
>entirely on your rather idiosyncratic notion of reliability.
>Never mind. Let's turn to your other claims.

No... let's not "leave aside" my claims about the reliability of
the human perception system. Let's not just "never mind". We are
going to continue this aspect of the discussion.

First of all, these are not just _my_ claims. This is a claim
made by many scientists and they have produced a hefty amount of
evidence to back it up.

Secondly, we have not done any such thing as "establish that
these hinge entirely on my rather idiosyncratic notion of
reliability." These claims were made by others long before I
even got interested in them, so it simply can't be that they
rest on _my_ "idiosyncratic notion of reliability," let alone

What they do hinge on is hard fact from scientific research and
everyday observation.

>First, you claim that much or most of psychology does not depend
>on "operationalisms". Let's clear up one potential source of
>confusion at the outset - what actually do you mean by
>"operationalisms", a term you appear to have invented? If you
>mean operationalized measures, then your claim is simply untrue,
>since pretty much the whole of modern psychology relies on
>operationalized definitions of one sort or another. This
>includes the qualitative methods such as Participant Observation
>which I believe you referred to in an earlier post. If you know
>of any significant examples to the contrary, then I think it's
>time you produced them.

The word "operationalisms" should not have been written with an
's.' "Operationalism" is the doctrine. I intended to write
"operationalizations". Sorry for that confusion. These posts
have gotten unduly long at times, and, to be quite frank, I have
not had the interest to go back and edit them before sending
them out.

That should clear up the confusion.

Now, on to your false accusation above. You say, "you claim that
much or most of psychology does not depend on "operationalisms."
Well, that is not what I claim at all. Go back and reread my
post. My exact words were, "psychological research was much more
than the use of operationalisms." Of course modern psychology
depends on operationalized definitions of one sort or another,
as you say. But: the social sciences (including psychology) use
an eclectic mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods to
gather data and this approach is known as "mixed-methods
research." Qualitative methods can and do include quantitative
dimensions. Quantitative methods can give exact and testable
expression to qualitative ideas. Measurement can provide the
connection between empirical observation and the mathematical
expressions of quantitative relationships.

If you're going to accuse me of something, at least accuse me of
the right thing. Make the correct accusation, please, based on
what I actually say and not on what you think I am saying.

>On the other hand if you mean something else by
>"operationalisms", then perhaps you can explain what that is.

I mean "operationalizations". At times I meant to write
"operationalism" to refer to the doctrine itself, but at other
times I meant to refer to "operationalizations", i.e.
operationalized measures. You are correct to point out my lazy
and improper use of these terms by my interchanging them.

>Second, you claim that even if it is true that all modern
>psychology depends on operational measures, and even if these
>measures are systemnatically flawed, this would not alter the
>big picture for psychology. How you think the big picture for
>psychology would remain unchanged even if the whole basis of its
>observations were shown to be systematically corrupted is a
>mystery to me. Perhaps you can explain.

Nope, sorry. Never claimed this. I claimed that even if every
time psychological research uses an operationalization, it
confused operational notions of things with proxy notions of
things, it would not destroy psychology. For this to happen,
every one of psychology's premises, models, observations,
perceived relationships, etc. would have to be dead wrong. This
is not the case.

As you say, most of modern psychology is based on Cognitivism.
But there was psychology long before Cognitivism. There will be
psychology long after Cognitivism. Cognitivism began to take
root in the 1950's. Meyers was published in 1903. Even if
Cognitivism was shown to be complete crap and totally erased
from the picture, there would still be psychology. Cognitivism
has numbered days, as the post-cognitivists are proposing better
ideas. The big picture won't change because the big picture is
that Cognitivism is doomed; nothing is going to change this. You
clearly had your own ideas as to what I meant by the big picture
of psychology and, as usual, they had nothing in common with
what I was referring to.

It's very, very simple. It is my contention that every time
psychology uses an operationalization, it is not guilty of
confusing operational notions of things with proxy notions of
things, and that it is not always starting out with bad
premises. Some of its premises - such as the one that human
perception is flawed - are indeed factual and are a good basis
from which to start. If you're starting out with a healthy
premise - such as one based on everyday observation and backed
up with repeatible and reproducible empirical experimentation -
then you're not always going to end up with bad results if you
apply a methodology that conforms to the standards of the
scientific method.

Many of psychology's experimentation _is_ both repeatable and
reproducible. (Repeatable refers to getting the same results by
the same researcher, using the same eqiupment, lab conditions,
etc over a short period of time. Reproducible means getting the
same results by various researchers, in different locations,
over a long period of time. I mention this just to avoid

>Third, you appear to be suggesting that since psychology uses a
>lot of complicated statistical procedures, and since a lot of
>these procedures are used in other sciences, then psychology
>must be a science. This is faulty logic. It isn't the technique
>that makes a science, but how it is used. The best method in the
>world will only yield nonsense results if it is used on bad
>observational data.

Is this how it appears to you?

Where did I suggest "psychology uses a lot of complicated
statistical proceedures"? It was _you_ who brought up the word
"complicated" - during your accustion of my being obsessed with
"elaborate methodological ritual". Remember?

All I ever said or implied was that one of the methods used in
psychological research was statistical analysis. An that this is
an accepted method of obtaining data, used in many other fields
of science.

I am not saying that "since a lot of these proceedures are used
in other sciences, then psychology must be a science." Go back
and re-read my posts. You are falsely accusing me of this.

I simply gave a short list of methods that conform to the
standards of the scientific method and stated that psychological
research uses these same methods. (These methods went way beyond
statistical analysis.) Psychological research employs the
accepted methodologies of the scientific method. You simply
can't claim that every time psychological research attempts to
use one of the methods that conform to the standards of the
scientific method that it is starting off with nonsense in its
attempt to apply that method. This is sheer folly.

>Lastly you claim that most psychology does not depend on
>Cognitivism. In an earlier post I listed the Gibsonians, the
>psychophysicists and a handful of applied (that is,
>atheoretical) experimenters as examples that don't. To these I
>should have added some counseling psychologists and a handful of
>Behaviorists (there are still some of these knocking around
>somewhere). But that's about it. If you know of any other
>examples, then once again, I think it's time you produced them.

No. Another false accusation from you. Go back and re-read my
posts. I agreed with you that Cognitivism was the dominant
factor in psychology. I even stated that it has been this way
since Noam Chomsky did his number on Behaviouralism.

You are clearly misunderstanding what I mean when I say that
psychology is more than Cognitivisim. But that has been a
regular and consistent feature of this disccusion. There are
many systems within psychology. There is good within each of
these systems. There is bad within each of these systems. The
point is that something good can be salvaged from each system
and what is not good should be discarded. Every system - from
the Humanism of William James, to Behaviouralism (Cognitivism is
not a complete rejection of Behaviouralism), to the various
'depth psychologies' (such as the "psychoanalysis" of Freud, and
the "analytical psychology' of Jung), to the Gestalt's, right up
to the newer ideas of the post-cognitivists and the
transpersonal psychology of Groff and Tart, all have something
to contribute. This is what I meant when I said in an earlier
post that psychology will not disappear but will continue to
improve itself and grow. Since the 1990's, post-cognitivist
ideas such as 'embodied cognition', 'embodied embedded
cognition', 'situated cognition', 'ecological psychology', etc.
are starting to take psychology past Cognitivism. Sure, Jame's
J. Gibson's 'direct realism' is a post-cognitive proposition but
it went too far and is shown to be wrong by modern physics.

I never claimed psychology is perfect. In fact, I stated in my
very first posts that it had a lot wrong with it. But it _is_
science. Not all of its premises are wrong. It will sort out its
mistakes and advance, just like every other field of science has
had to do.

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