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layman77

Is Psychology not a real science?

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So, I've heard proponents of the three hard sciences, physics, biology, and chemistry say, that it isn't scientific or scientific enough. If so, who should you go to if you are having an emotional or mental problem, rather than a psycologist of psychiatrist? Also, I'm not sure they qualify as scientists per se, just like a medical doctor just uses the medical techniques/methods they've been taught, they don't actually perform research.

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12 minutes ago, layman77 said:

So, I've heard proponents of the three hard sciences, physics, biology, and chemistry say, that it isn't scientific or scientific enough.

That's pure BS.

Science is not physics, it's knowledge (science literally means knowledge!). Knowledge about the psyche is just as valid as knowledge about atoms, molecules and stars. As long as it's consistent and has patterns and predictability, it's value is as high as the others.

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9 hours ago, QuantumT said:

Science is not physics, it's knowledge (science literally means knowledge!). 

This the etymological fallacy.

Science does have a (secondary) meaning of “knowledge” but that does just mean any knowledge. It specifically means knowledge gained by the scientific method 

9 hours ago, QuantumT said:

Knowledge about the psyche is just as valid as knowledge about atoms, molecules and stars. As long as it's consistent and has patterns and predictability, it's value is as high as the others.

Too much of this “knowledge” is just made up, not based on any evidence: Freud, Maslow, etc

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There are two major divisions of science. We have natural sciences and social sciences. Natural sciences are disciplines designed to predict and explain events that occur in our natural environment (Physics, Biology, Chemistry...) On the other hand, social sciences are usually fields of academic scholarship which explore aspects of human society (law, history, sociology...)

While natural sciences study the psychical world, social sciences study human behavior. 

Psychology represents the science which subject of study is the psychological/psychiatric life of humans. And that psychological aspect of life comes and is developed from the brain, while manifested by a large number of psychological notions. Every reaction and behavior of humans is studied and is directly or indirectly linked to the various methods of how one's mind functions.

Now, my opinion here is that, while psychology mainly studies human behavior (making it fall in the category of social sciences), it is still known that the psychological aspect of our way of thinking and reacting, is influenced by the condition of the brain and its parts, such as the frontal lobe, the central nerve system, neurons...In other words, the main organs that are responsible for the development of the psychological life of humans are the nervous system and receptors (making it fall in the category of natural sciences, or biology, to be more specific).

According to this, I would say that psychology is a little bit of both, as it can't be defined entirely as a social science, nor entirely as a natural science. 

However, I personally consider and admit that psychology definitely is a real science, containing social and naturals aspects of study. 

Edited by Space Babe

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layman77

Is Psychology not a real science?

 

Hard science is moving ever further away from cut and dried determinism towards probabilistic theory.

Statistical methods have long played a major role in evidence based Medicine generally and this is increasing. For Psychology in particular such methods are even more important in the relative abscence of a comprehensive hard science theory base.

We are a very long way from the famous "Second Foundation" status, envisioned by Asimov.

Edited by studiot

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1 hour ago, Space Babe said:

Now, my opinion here is that, while psychology mainly studies human behavior (making it fall in the category of social sciences), it is still known that the psychological aspect of our way of thinking and reacting, is influenced by the condition of the brain and its parts, such as the frontal lobe, the central nerve system, neurons...In other words, the main organs that are responsible for the development of the psychological life of humans are the nervous system and receptors

In which case we’ve left the primary realm of psychology and entered a related, but separate, domain known as neuroscience. Their Venn diagrams certainly overlap, but one is about behavior and learning and related areas, whereas the other is about structure and chemistry and cascading flows across a network.

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49 minutes ago, iNow said:

In which case we’ve left the primary realm of psychology and entered a related, but separate, domain known as neuroscience. Their Venn diagrams certainly overlap, but one is about behavior and learning and related areas, whereas the other is about structure and chemistry and cascading flows across a network.

Yes, I agree with your opinion. 

My point, however, was that psychology, at least according to my opinion, cannot simply be discarded for "not being a real science".

I have this impression that the majority of people don't really value social sciences as much as natural sciences. And since this topic is specifically about doubting the scientific credibility of psychology, I personally don't think that it's fair to not consider it as real science, just because it mainly focuses on human behavior, when in reality, natural sciences such as biology and neuroscience, have a direct or indirect impact upon it.

I am sure that almost everyone are familiar with (transorbital) lobotomy, which starting in the 30's, was conducted upon patients who suffered from psychological/psychiatric disorders. Without getting into too much detail, lobotomy was considered as one of the methods to cure these psychological/psychiatric disorders by entering the field of neuroscience, as a neurosurgical treatment (by approaching the frontal lobes of the human brain).

With this example, I am only trying to emphasize that psychology cannot be considered as "not a real science" just because most people think it's a social science, when practice shows that there is a relevant aspect of it linked to some of the familiar natural sciences as well. And without that aspect, psychology would not be a complete science, as we usually  know it. 

 

Edited by Space Babe

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Cognitive neuroscience (biopsychology) is the arm that straddles the pure biological aspects and sociological aspects of behaviour; it's more evidenced-based.

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3 hours ago, Space Babe said:

However, I personally consider and admit that psychology definitely is a real science, containing social and naturals aspects of study. 

It can be a real science, as long as it relies on high quality evidence and not Freudian fairy-tales.

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19 minutes ago, Strange said:

It can be a real science, as long as it relies on high quality evidence and not Freudian fairy-tales.

Of course, I agree with your opinion. Every science must be based on strong evidence. So far, Freud's work mostly relies on his psychoanalysis and theories.

And theories are not equal to proved evidence.

I wonder if there is even a possibility or method to confirm his psychological theories as valid? Maybe through analyses or conducted experiments? Because, as far as I know, Freudian theories about the brain and mind were never scientifically validated. However, with this, I am not saying that his work isn't interesting or not worth reading.

But on the other hand, I imagine that it would be difficult to analyze his theories from a scientific point of view, mainly because they cannot be easily subjected to an observational state.

Edited by Space Babe

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18 minutes ago, Space Babe said:

Of course, I agree with your opinion. Every science must be based on strong evidence. So far, Freud's work mostly relies on his psychoanalysis and theories.

And theories are not equal to proved evidence.

I wonder if there is even a possibility or method to confirm his psychological theories as valid? Maybe through analyses or conducted experiments? Because, as far as I know, Freudian theories about the brain and mind were never scientifically validated. However, with this, I am not saying that his work isn't interesting or not worth reading.

But on the other hand, I imgine that it would be difficult to analyze his theories from a scientific point of view, mainly because they cannot be easily subjected to an observational state.

1

That depends...

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3 hours ago, Space Babe said:

psychology, at least according to my opinion, cannot simply be discarded for "not being a real science".

Agreed

3 hours ago, Space Babe said:

I have this impression that the majority of people don't really value social sciences as much as natural sciences

Also agreed, though I still chuckle at this one:

 

purity.png

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2 hours ago, Space Babe said:

And theories are not equal to proved evidence.

Theories require to be confirmed by, or consistent with, evidence.

2 hours ago, Space Babe said:

But on the other hand, I imagine that it would be difficult to analyze his theories from a scientific point of view, mainly because they cannot be easily subjected to an observational state.

If they can't be validated by use of evidence then they should be discarded. This is not my subject, but I have seen some attempts to test his ideas; from what I remember most of them are, as would be expected, just nonsense.

Quote

I am not saying that his work isn't interesting or not worth reading.

It may be of historical interest. Or an insight into his personality and psychological problems.

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2 hours ago, Space Babe said:

Of course, I agree with your opinion. Every science must be based on strong evidence. So far, Freud's work mostly relies on his psychoanalysis and theories.

And theories are not equal to proved evidence.

I wonder if there is even a possibility or method to confirm his psychological theories as valid? Maybe through analyses or conducted experiments? Because, as far as I know, Freudian theories about the brain and mind were never scientifically validated. However, with this, I am not saying that his work isn't interesting or not worth reading.

But on the other hand, I imagine that it would be difficult to analyze his theories from a scientific point of view, mainly because they cannot be easily subjected to an observational state.

'Theories' in science are those ideas with the greatest preponderance of evidence; they are the gold standard. Proofs only exist in mathematics.

Edited by StringJunky

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38 minutes ago, Strange said:

Theories require to be confirmed by, or consistent with, evidence.

Exactly.

I said that theories are not equal to proved evidence because I was mainly referring to the fact that Freud's theories have not been properly proved as valid, at least from a scientific point of view.

38 minutes ago, Strange said:

If they can't be validated by use of evidence then they should be discarded.

Either that or someone should try and test them from a different approach, but that would still be considered as a valid evidence.

I remember how one of my professors said that without Freud, we would still be in a psychological dark age, since he first suggested that humans have a subconscious, the notion of a mental aspect,  that he coined the terms "ego, superego, id" which are still used today (although some people disagree with these terms as well).

I think that she was trying to say that although Freud may have been wrong about most things, she believed that he correctly guessed some fundamental understandings about human behavior and thinking.

38 minutes ago, Strange said:

It may be of historical interest. Or an insight into his personality and psychological problems.

Perhaps, yes.

It is also worth mentioning that Freud, as well as other famous psychologists, usually came up with some pretty bizarre concepts such as "Penis Envy" or "Womb Envy". This is due to the fact that they worked during  an era in which sexual repression was very characteristic. From this we could say that the majority of these theories were biased and subjective, of course, according to the mentality that was manifested in the society where they lived, worked and practiced.  

Edited by Space Babe

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3 minutes ago, Space Babe said:

Exactly.

I said that theories are not equal to proved evidence because I was mainly referring to the fact that Freud's theories have not been properly proved as valid, at least from a scientific point of view.

Either that or someone should try and test them from a different approach, but that would still be considered as a valid evidence.

I remember how one of my professors said that without Freud, we would still be in a psychological dark age, since he first suggested that humans have a subconscious, the notion of a mental aspect,  that he coined the terms "ego, superego, id" which are still used today (although some people disagree with these terms as well).

I think that she was trying to say that although Freud may have been wrong about most things, she believed that he correctly guessed some fundamental understandings about human behavior and thinking.

Perhaps, yes.

It is also worth mentioning that Freud, as well as other famous psychologists, usually came up with some pretty bizarre concepts such as "Penis Envy" or "Womb Envy". This is due to the fact that they worked in an era in which sexual repression was very characteristic. From this we could say that the majority of these theories were biased and subjective, of course, according to the mentality that was manifested in the society where they lived, worked and practiced.  

Yes, he got the ball rolling, even if his ideas don't hold water in the end.

Edited by StringJunky

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6 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

'Theories' in science are those ideas with the greatest preponderance of evidence; they are the gold standard. Proofs only exist in mathematics.

Yes, thank you for the explanation. 

I mentioned that theories are not equal to proved evidence mainly because Freud's theories have not been properly proved as valid, at least from a scientific point of view. In fact, it is even taken in question if any ideas that Freud had are still relevant in the present.

In other words, maybe I should have been more clear saying that most psychological theories are not considered as valid due to the fact that others find them hard do conduct observational experiments upon their claims. 

I apologize for any misunderstandings...

Edited by Space Babe

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8 minutes ago, Space Babe said:

Yes, thank you for the explanation. 

I mentioned that theories are not equal to proved evidence mainly because Freud's theories have not been properly proved as valid, at least from a scientific point of view. In fact, it is even taken in question if any ideas that Freud had are still relevant in the present.

In other words, maybe I should have been more clear saying that most psychological theories are not considered as valid due to the fact that others find them hard do conduct observational experiments upon their claims. 

I apologize for any misunderstandings...

No problem, I was just nit-picking because theories and proofs have specific, conventional meanings in science, which differ a bit from their everyday usage. As far a validity of Freud goes, he was working with what he had at the time. Like I said: he is to be credited with starting that particular conversation. Through the lens of history, all theories, even the best, fail eventually, so he is not unique in that respect.

Edited by StringJunky

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3 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Yes, he got the ball rolling, even if his ideas don't hold water in the end.

That is very true. I think that the very relevant question many people ask themselves is why Freud is still considered as relevant and important, even though the scientific community claims that his theories are invalid.

Freud still matters and is associated with the science of psychology because without him it is believed that humans would not have any conceptions of psychology whatsoever. He is still very popular, maybe because some of his concepts were considered as taboo, but also because our personality and behavior, according to him, is mostly biologically explained. 

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2 minutes ago, Space Babe said:

That is very true. I think that the very relevant question many people ask themselves is why Freud is still considered as relevant and important, even though the scientific community claims that his theories are invalid.

Freud still matters and is associated with the science of psychology because without him it is believed that humans would not have any conceptions of psychology whatsoever. He is still very popular, maybe because some of his concepts were considered as taboo, but also because our personality and behavior, according to him, is mostly biologically explained. 

He's still mentioned because his work is dyed into the psychology lexicon... he started it after all.

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1 minute ago, StringJunky said:

He's still mentioned because his work is dyed into the psychology lexicon... he started it after all.

I agree and as I have previously mentioned, for instance, Freud is responsible for coining the terms id, ego, superego in the first place. A lot of people still use these terms in their papers, as they still consider them to be relevant and possibly valued in the field of psychology. 

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Reading this Psychology Today piece, the author notes that psychology lacks any foundational paradigms in the same way that physics has Newton's and Einstein's et al and that have a wide consensus.  I think it's a good article because it outlines the landscape of this question.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/theory-knowledge/201601/the-is-psychology-science-debate

Edited by StringJunky

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Quote

 
layman77

Is Psychology not a real science?

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought.

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Psychology is a science because scientific method is used in it as in any other science. Psychology uses scheintific methods of collecting data, analyzing them, conducting experiments etc.

 

And psychology of today is vastly different from the one 50 years ago. It is turning more and more into direction of applied neuroscience - more and more use of brain imaging and hard data rather than hypotheses about phalluses.

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