Ranking on Psychology

Doubts towards Psychology

I have had doubts about personality psychology’s ability to define traits because of the difficulty in controlling for situational factors as well as, more recently, the methodologies that social psychology has been using, or not using, which has resulted in a replication crisis.  But to say it is pseudoscience is not only discouraging honest inquiry into a field that asks important questions about our nature but is also, quite frankly, interesting enough in its own right to write about.

I am reminded of the time I was schooled by someone on the field of medicine as being the “hard” science whereas psychology was the “soft” science if one at all.  The contemptuous tone and smug face made it all the more memorable which served to not just stoop my posture but also to taunt me.  I was hoping for rational discourse but instead provoked a reaction that I have no doubt seen before when challenging others, and I soon realized that I was engaging in tribal warfare guise as truth-seeking.

Not Judging Just Saying

I am guilty too of using contempt as some of my posts have been described as “vitriolic” and “scornful”.  But I’m more careful now in how I present topics so that issues can be discussed without severing our prefrontal cortex.  To be clear, I am not judging those who use contempt but instead am offering analysis on the emotion of contempt.  I would like to understand it and assess if the benefits of its use – stoking our own egos and bolstering our tribe’s beliefs – outweigh the costs.

By discussing psychology’s progress towards understanding our emotions, part I, we will be able to say at the very least that the field attempts to be a science since it asks questions on how things work and accumulates a body of knowledge, and at the very most, part II, we can say it meets the five criteria often cited to qualify an endeavor as a science.

Furthermore, the question should not be framed in terms of absolutes, as that only serves the victor when disparaging it, but rather to what degree does it adhere to these five criteria.

Stay tuned!


  1. says

    As an attempt to quantify why humans feel the way they feel, do the things they do, psychology is crucial – to finding help for people in a very bad way, and possibly for figuring out how to keep the human species from extinction. I don’t know that I’m convinced it will ever succeed to a fully useful degree. I think there’ll probably never be a decent lasting treatment for most mental illnesses – or maybe I’m just hopeless about that based on the lives of people around me – and I don’t think we’ll ever figure out how to keep the mob mentality masses from being easily duped into fascism and the devastation of the biosphere. But I see psychology as essential to those goals, which are crucial on the levels of the personal and the political. Whether it is possible to rise to the level of those goals or not, I don’t know. I would hate to see people stop trying.

    • musing says

      I agree with you that there are limits to the application of psychology and medicine – such as what is practiced today and labeled as psychotherapy, psychopharmacology and psychiatry – because as I argue in “Therapists’ Inadequacies” they are largely interpersonal in nature in which some individuals are just more predisposed than others.

      As far as the concern on the tendencies that people exhibit in groups – which if I had to identify the big ones, they would be authoritarianism, demonization, tribalism and magical thinking – I think it starts with each person becoming mindful about how their own behavior affects others as well as be reminded that we are all susceptible to being influenced by others, some more so than others of course.

      This is not easy though, and I agree with you when you say that it can feel at times hopeless. And I guess I’m a bit selfish in that I’m content with just sitting back and learning about how we function, but I’d like to think that I will one day have a more focused message to pass on in order to help others. I just don’t know what that is yet. Thanks for your comment.

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