Oftentimes when scientific research is presented in a non-scientific context, such as in the news, someone will add the disclaimer that “correlation does not equal causation”. It’s a statement which has become more well-recognized in the general public in recent years, which is a great trend. However, I still find it problematic because it is sometimes used to dismiss correlational research as somehow invalid or subpar. The truth is that while the statement is correct, it is simplistic. So I’d like to offer a more nuanced understanding of how to evaluate research, at a level that an educated but non-scientific audience can understand and appreciate.Continue Reading
Posts Tagged “science”
Over the past year, psychology as a field, and in particular social psychology, has come under scrutiny after several notable cases of scientific fraud. The most notable was Diederik Stapel, who outright fabricated data for at least 30 publications. A couple other cases of data manipulation and fraud have just surfaced recently, leading to further resignations of researchers in the field. Amidst these news stories, some have asked the question, “Is psychology trustworthy? Is it even a science at all?”
Of course, these are not new questions for psychology to deal with. Making the case for psychology as a science has been a continual process over the years, and psychology to some extent still suffers from the impression that has remained from the psychoanalytic tradition of Freud. The psychoanalysts loved to sit people on couches and talk about dreams and repressed childhood memories and so on. But we’re past Freud. Honest.
However, given the recent scrutiny, I thought it appropriate to take the time to address the question again and argue that yes, psychology is indeed a science. I come from the perspective of a graduate student in social psychology—traditionally the most “suspect” of the areas in psychology—and as such, most of my experience and examples come from that area. I approach this question from the “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck” approach (see, I’m using the scientific method already!). I would like to argue that psychology operates very similarly to other fields of science that are not in dispute—the so-called “hard sciences”. So let me outline just a few of the ways in which psychology parallels these fields.Continue Reading
In Part 1 I discussed the physical structures of the brain, as well as a couple of the functions that it performs. In Part 2, I traced through the evolutionary development of the brain, from simple to complex. Now, in this final article, I’d like to talk about those things that we think of as making us “truly human.”Continue Reading
In Part 1 of the series, I discussed some of the basic structures and functions of the brain. Obviously there was much in that article that I did not cover, but for this next article I’d like to discuss how the brain might have developed through evolutionary processes. I’m going to use some of the things we learned in Part 1 to make my argument here. But let’s first talk just a little bit about evolution in general.Continue Reading
If there’s one thing that fascinates me most, it’s the brain. How such a drab pinkish-grey organ can achieve so much—the perception and interpretation of everything around us—is amazing. And as an aspiring psychologist soon to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and (hopefully) go on to graduate school, I happen to think that there is much we can learn about the brain. But of course, because the brain is a complex organ that even scientists do not fully understand yet, many people know very little about how it functions. In addition, the brain is sometimes used as the “magic bullet” of intelligent design. Some say, “The brain is too complex to have evolved by chance!” Others claim, “Science cannot explain consciousness, which suggests that it is a non-physical process that can only be explained by the existence of a soul.” Truly, the brain is shrouded in mystery, which allows for all manner of conjectures about what its “ultimate purpose” is.Continue Reading