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Author Topic: Do psychology majors need to be taught calculus?
the-womp
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I'm pretty surprised that you have to take calculus. I think all I had to take was a basic math class, which for me turned out to be one semester of pre-calc.

We also had to take two science classes with labs. For my first I took Chemistry, which baffled everyone in and out of my major. But it made sense to me to have at least some grounding in Chemistry when you begin discussing neuroscience and psychopharmacology.

However, I couldn't fit biology into my schedule like I wanted (and regret even now), so I took Physical Science. So I learned that there are four states of matter, liquids, solids... [Wink]

I don't think ANYBODY that can pass all their college courses is unintelligent. That's too extreme a sentiment.

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Ivan
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quote:
I didn't major in philosophy itself, because it's not nearly usefull enough to get serious about, IMO.
IMO, it's by far the most useful major if you want to go to law school and your school doesn't have a specific pre-law program. Learning how to write to back up a point seems about the best way to prepare for law school.

As an undergraduate, how would you grade your classmates in comarisson to those majoring in, say, engineering? I'm just curious.

-Ivan

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Zyne
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Pssst--if you want to go to law school, don't major in prelaw.
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Gaoics79
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"I don't think anyone really intends to go to law school, it just happens"

Yeah, that's pretty much the way it goes. The funny thing is, I don't think too many lawyers actually love law. I mean, yeah, it's kind of interesting at times, and it makes a good stable career (which is why I chose it, that, and it fit my aptitudes well) but is it something I'm just dying to do every morning? nahh, I'd rather cook and bake all day. And you're right: anyone who gets a history/english/psych major without intending to go to law school or graduate school is pretty much just jerking off for 4 years. Oh, and as a former History/English major whose friends are all engineers and med students, I can say as a fact that the hard science students do twenty times more work than the artsies; it's not even close.

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Ivan
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That depends if you consider writing two 12-page papers to be more difficult than taking bi-weekly exams throughout the semester.

It's all about person preference, IMO.

-Ivan

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Gaoics79
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Not really. I think writing two 12 page papers in one year (which is average for a standard mid level B.A. class, at least where I come from) is objectively ALOT less work than writing bi weekly exams throughout the year. Granted, some people suck at essay writing and would prefer the exams any day, just as the opposite is also true, but taking an average level of skill and aptitude, the science course will always be about quadruple the work. (And no, that's not an exaggeration, it really is about quadruple)

How do I come to such a conclusion? When I was taking my B.A., I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs throughout 90% of the term. It was only during the last few weeks of each term when essay and exam crunch time came around that I did ANY work. My friends in engineering and bio, by contrast, were working constantly; they actually had to be studying at the library during the middle of the school term. And am I smarter than my friends or something? Hardly. My friends are all vastly superior to me intellectually; indeed, I'd say they are better at what they do than I will ever be at what I do. This is why I am convinced there's plenty more work in the sciences.

[ June 10, 2004, 08:39 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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Zyne
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Don't lump the fine arts folks in with the liberal arts folks. It's a heck of alot of work to major in painting, dance, or, in my case, music.

On cheeziness, I would put the three-letter bachelors at the top of the list. Starting with the BBA.

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Gaoics79
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Who said anything about fine arts?
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Zyne
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Uh, me. Just chiming in with some work-intensive degrees. Okay?
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FIJC
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quote:
"Pssst--if you want to go to law school, don't major in prelaw."
Yeah, that's what my Con. law professor told me too. He told me just to major in English or Philosophy. But I never really wanted to attend law school, so I don't know why he spent time talking to me about it, LOL.
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Serotonin'sGone
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Man, I expected a better rise from the psych majors. If someone had dissed EE's in similar fashion I would have been all over them.

anyway,

quote:
At least we don't lack the intelligence to spell calculus.
Just kidding.
I definately lack the desire to master calculus. I hate it to be honest. However, this doesn't mean I lack the intellegence. Like I said, it's a required part of our degree (at least at IU).

touché. I used the logical or so as to not fence myself in completely. I'll be the first to admit that there are very intelligent psych majors--it's the average that's sub par. If I had majored in liberal arts I probably would have had great difficulty finding any desire to touch calculus.

quote:
I don't think ANYBODY that can pass all their college courses is unintelligent. That's too extreme a sentiment.
My brother is living proof that this statement is false. To be fair, he didn't pass all of his classes as an engineer. but as a history major, he graduated with honors. Reading his essays I had to wonder what the hell the professors were getting from the other students. he would get A's on absolute crap--horrible grammar, poor research and logical inconsistencies floating in a thesis-less pool of drivel.
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the-womp
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That's interesting about your brother. I'm surprised to hear that about a history major because one I knew often had to complete 2 30p. papers per semester as an undergrad. It always seemed like he was doing more work than those around him.

I'll agree totally, when I went from majoring in music to psychology, I suddenly had GOBS of free time and a lot less work. If you take music seriously in your major, you are probably among the hardest working undergrads.

I guess what I think of unintelligent is a little different than you. Poor writings skills is not a good thing, but may indicate that your brother is average rather than unintelligent.

Crap papers should equal crap grades. Unless all students turn in crap papers, which may mean there are crap teachers and crap schools involved.

[ June 11, 2004, 11:09 AM: Message edited by: the-womp ]

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Serotonin'sGone
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I'm sure he improved by his senior year, the essays I read were from his sophomore year. But they were laughably bad, on par with dear Jeremy .

btw, that new essay they put up sucks. peter just doesn't measure up to jeremy.

[ June 11, 2004, 11:41 AM: Message edited by: Serotonin'sGone ]

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MrSquicky
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seagull,
To answer your question, Freud is still considered a giant, but I think you may be interpreting this regard in te wrong way. I work in the field of pesonality theory and I don't know anyone who's still a die-hard Freudian. We appreciate the work he did, we accept that a lot of it has some great validity, but it's not like we accept what he said as gospel verse. He laid a foundation, some of which has total crap and has been abandoned, and some of which has been worked on and developed and incorporated into new frameworks for the past hundred or so years.

Here's another way to put it. If what you know about Psychology centers around Freud, your knowledge is at least 60 years out of date and limited to one of the many semi-related subfields that make up psychology.

---

On a sort of aside and not directed anyone specifically, I get annoyed when people who know very little about psychology have no problems dismissing the entire field based on their terribly scant knowledge. Obviously, there's a bit of the defensive mixed in with this. However, there's also quite a bit of annoyance that they are acting so stupidly.

I'm in psychology specifically because I believe that it can help people. The knowledge that the field has discovered paints a very different picture than we as a culture assume is there. At times I feel like Galileo just asking people to look through the telescope and verify things for themselves, but very few people will. They know that there is no validity to what I say, so they don't need to even consider it.

In response to the Iraqi prison scandal, two dramatic psych experiments made their rounds on the news: the Milgram experiement and the Stanford Prision experiment. This bugged me because while one of them has been rigorously tested and verified, the other is a heap of steaming crap, in terms of scientific validity. However, most people seemed to be treating them with equal weight. Almost every time someone reports on a psychological study, they screw it up majory and people aren't able to distinguish the valid from the invalid.

We, as a field, do actually know things. A lot of this knowledge is negative, in that we know a lot more about what culture assumptions are not true than about thigns that are, but it's knowledge that you can have a high degree of confidence in.

And, if you want to check why you should have confidence in it, that information is all there to people who understand where scientific confidence comes from. The field has moved far beyond some guy saying things without a foundation and everyone else nodding. If you pontificate on things without a firm research basis, you're going to get reamed. Many of the now general rules of experimental methodology came from some psychologists ripping apart the flaws in other psychologists' work. Statistics grew up alongside the more nebulous areas of psych research. This stuff is really important to members of the field.

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Major Stubble
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I think what concerns me the most is that at my alma mater, you could get a degree (BA) in computer science without taking calculus.
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Ivan
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quote:
Not really. I think writing two 12 page papers in one year (which is average for a standard mid level B.A. class, at least where I come from) is objectively ALOT less work than writing bi weekly exams throughout the year. Granted, some people suck at essay writing and would prefer the exams any day, just as the opposite is also true, but taking an average level of skill and aptitude, the science course will always be about quadruple the work. (And no, that's not an exaggeration, it really is about quadruple)

Ahh, but you see, I am far more likely to do my work in classes where I have a constant stream of it rather than term papers. Perhaps this is a function of work distribution rather than net work done, though. And I meant two 12-page papers per semester. In the philosophy course I took, it was something like 25-30 total pages in the semester, and that was intro-level.

My intro-organic course, on the other hand, had daily homework as well as the bi-weekly exams. It was a TON of work, but I found passing that course to be less of a challenge...

-Ivan

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the-womp
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Seagull

I think I do consider it important for those in psychology to study and use the more advanced math techniques, although definitely not at an undergraduate level.

In fact, I have since noticed that some psych research studies are relying on such things to build better models to explain behavior. Recently, I toured a research lab which was using non-linear math to build individual relatioship models. With the help of these models, the researchers there have been able to predict divorce in many couples with up to 80-90% accuracy.

They said they use mathematicians to build those models though. But I can definitely see how psychologists having such tools in their bag from the start could help channel their thinking on what is possible in their research.

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seagull
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quote:
Reading his essays I had to wonder what the hell the professors were getting from the other students. he would get A's on absolute crap--horrible grammar, poor research and logical inconsistencies floating in a thesis-less pool of drivel.
You sound much like a friend of my father’s who was shocked to find his very intelligent daughter turning in meaningless drivel for her homework in high school.

He asked her about it and found out that not only did she actually know the material, she could easily have written the correct answers more concisely. When he asked her why she was turning in that drivel instead her answer was:

quote:
Are you crazy? If I turned that in I’d be lucky to get a B, this drivel is what the teacher wants me to turn in for an A!

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seagull
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quote:
He laid a foundation, some of which has total crap and has been abandoned, and some of which has been worked on and developed and incorporated into new frameworks for the past hundred or so years.
Same goes for Galileo (as well as Newton).

quote:
MrSquicky: At times I feel like Galileo just asking people to look through the telescope and
verify things for themselves, but very few people will. They know that there is no validity to what I say, so they don't need to even consider it.

Thank you for sharing that perspective. This and the responses from “the womp” and “Sunil” makes me glad I started this thread.
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seagull
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quote:
I think what concerns me the most is that at my alma mater, you could get a degree (BA) in computer science without taking calculus.
Used to bother me too. But computer Science (as opposed to EE and Computer Engineering) has developed into a more theoretical field where discrete math is much more important than calculus.

These days you can get along pretty well in computer science without ever needing to use a derivative (much less multivariate calculus or continuous probability distributions).

Not everyone has the capacity to handle calculus without having "their head explode" (don;t get me wrong, some of them are very intelligent). I think the field of psychology can make much better use of the few who can handle advanced multivariate math than computer science.

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seagull
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quote:
I think I do consider it important for those in psychology to study and use the more advanced math techniques, although definitely not at an undergraduate level.
Why not.
Engineers spend much of their sophomore and junior college years learning math techniques that they use in their other fields. But without those math skills, they would never be able to gain a quantitative understanding of the systems they deal with and trying to catch up in graduate school is VERY hard when your peers are proceeding to build on the knowledge they gained in undergrad.

Psychology is a much more challenging field! Why lower your standards?

quote:
They said they use mathematicians to build those models though. But I can definitely see how psychologists having such tools in their bag from the start could help channel their thinking on what is possible in their research.
I think it is futile to expect a mathematician to build your model for you. If engineers had to wait for mathematicians to build their models most of the advances of engineering would never have happened. Newton, Laplace, Lagrange, Gauss, Bernoulli, Euler and many others had to invent their own mathematical models because the models they needed did not exist until they needed them.

I do think we should expect even the most advanced math techniques existing today to be enough to address the needs of psychology. But how can we expect the leaders of psychology to invent new models without teaching them the existing mathematical models and the history of their development in response to the needs of science?

[ June 16, 2004, 08:42 PM: Message edited by: seagull ]

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the-womp
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seagull -

I think that since there are pretty much two main career paths in psychology (clinical and research) that requiring ALL undergrads to take calculus would be unnecessary. Many psych undergrads are only looking to work in clinical situations and may only get a MA. They are often not interested in research at all and struggle through their basic stats classes. I believe that even clinician's need to know research and stats in order to decipher the literature competently to improve their ability to help their clients. Hence, one big difference between a therapist (MA) and a psychologist (PhD./PsyD.).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that Engineers really only need a MA level degree in order to "do" engineering. If that's is the case, then advanced math WOULD be necessary at the undergraduate level. Since to be a psychologist, in most cases you must have a Doctorate, there's less pressure to teach such things at the undergraduate level.

I'm really glad you brought this up, because I've never looked at this subject before. I've been wondering how such things could affect my own area of research.

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Serotonin'sGone
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quote:
I think it is futile to expect a mathematician to build your model for you. If engineers had to wait for mathematicians to build their models most of the advances of engineering would never have happened. Newton, Laplace, Lagrange, Gauss, Bernoulli, Euler and many others had to invent their own mathematical models because the models they needed did not exist until they needed them.
Plus the models that they did build were all mathematically "wrong." Newton's calculas was all incorrect, it was another 200 years before a mathematician filled in the gaps by means of limits. Did any engineers care? Of course not--newton's math worked just fine, even though it was theoretically wrong.

If you wait for a mathematician to make a model with an actual application you'll likely be waiting forever.

when my dad went back for his PhD in math, he attempted to get some of his EE courses accepted. One of them was stochastic processes. Now the course description was literally identical to the math course. However, the dean wouldn't allow it because, and i quote, "the course you took probably had applications."

[ June 17, 2004, 01:05 PM: Message edited by: Serotonin'sGone ]

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seagull
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quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that Engineers really only need a MA level degree in order to "do" engineering.
In order to “do” engineering, you need to get a PE (Professional Engineer) certificate. It does not require an MA (although IIRC the MA can substitute for more than one year of experience). But it does require very specific tests for each specific discipline of Engineering and a PE can only approve plans for the discipline he is certified for.

Many engineers (especially the best ones) never bother with the PE certificate. They design things and let someone else do the legwork, sign the plans and take the responsibility if something goes wrong. Engineering culture is much stricter about responsibility than most social sciences. If a bridge or building you approved as a PE falls down, there is a VERY good chance that you will lose your PE certification even if it was NOT your fault.

If Doctors, Psychiatrists, and social workers were subjected to the same standards (lose their license every time they lost a patient), nobody would want to practice in these fields and many more people would die for lack of ANY kind of care. Obviously the rules have to be different, at least until humanity’s knowledge about social sciences gets much better than it is today.

If scientists and engineers were discredited every time they used a scientific theory that happened to be wrong, most of the science and engineering advances we’ve had would never have happened. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and developing newer and better tools requires experiments which sometimes fail.

But once we have a theory that we know applies to your field, it is important to use it!

Advanced math that is useful for your work SHOULD be required at the undergraduate level so people can use it even if they do not go on to get a Doctorate. I may know quite a bit about calculus, stochastic processes, game theory and non-linear dynamics, but I do not know enough about psychology to know the relative usefulness of these tools to the different fields of work. This is the reason that I phrased the title of this thread as a question.

MrSquicky or Sunil are probably more qualified than I am to answer it.

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Ivan
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quote:
However, the dean wouldn't allow it because, and i quote, "the course you took probably had applications."
And this is why I make fun of my friends who are majoring in math almost as much as those majoring in psych. [Big Grin]

Come to think of it, there really isn't a major that I don't make fun of...

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aupton15
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Sorry I'm late...psych major to the rescue!

I'm a grad student in experimental psychology. I consider myself to be intelligent, and consider some in my program to be brilliant. As far as calculus goes, I passed but I don't use it. I use statistics quite a bit, and the crossover between the two is limited until you need statistics for something like physics (which I don't).
So, if you want to give people advanced math just to see if they can do it, be my guest. But most psych majors will never need it, and the ones that do will have to learn it at the graduate level.
As far as psychology being a "soft-science", it clearly has been. But psychology is only a little over 100 years old, as opposed to the "true sciences" which go back much further. The other thing is that psychologists are spending more time now on more scientific ventures. We're not just about Freud any more! There are many research lines open today that use quantifiable variables and quite advanced computer modelling. Some of this is just as "scientific" as physics.
And the material can also be quite difficult. Try to quantify thoughts, or feelings, or even behaviors and you begin to see the issues that face psychologists. Should psychology be ignored because we haven't found a way to do that yet? I hope this begins to address some of the issues raised here. Send questions if you like. I'll answer with all the authority of a lowly graduate student.
Aaron

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MrSquicky
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Let's be honest here. The majority of undergrad psych majors are not going on in the field. They are in it because it is an interesting and relatively easy major to be in as they spend their four years to get a piece of paper that lets them get jobs. If you want to complain about the average psych major, I think you're really talking about the problems in our current conception of a liberal arts education and not the problems with a specific field of study. For me, many of the problems that I see in the majority of psych majors are the same with the problems with the average communications or history or english or whatever major. Our current system of education largely fails in the liberal arts promise of "teaching people to think". I'm completely willing to have that conversation, but not restricted to the context of one major.

For people who are going on in the major, it's been my experience that their undergrad experience tends to be a lot different and rigorous than the average. In a good program, there are opportunities for the dedicated majors to go far beyond the bare requirements for graduation. In my undergrad, psych was one of the largest majors (it was the largest if you included the Biological Basis of Behavior people) and lower level classes were huge (often 300+). However, in addition to these classes were higher level seminar classes that were restricted to (I think) 20 students. Access to these seminars was very limited and you didn't need to take them to graduate, but the people who were serious about psych were very serious about getting into these much harder classes. There were also smaller honors classes for the intro classes, which many majors took. Besides these smaller classes, there were opportunities to work in research labs and the expectation that each serious major would run their own independent research study. Not to mention extra-curilicular talking shop with professors and other students. Taken this way, psych was a much more difficult major (though, don't get me wrong, still not as much work as a CS degree).

I placed out of the math requirement for engineering, which included two semesters of calculus and wouldn't have taken the Arts and Sciences classes anyway, but I think that you had to take at least one semester of calc to graduate with a AnS undergrad degree anyway. However, I think that emphasis on calculus as some sort of "higher" way of thinking is a little misleading. I haven't used calculus once in any of my higher psych work. I can count the number of times I've used it at all on the fingers of one hand. (Granted, I'm only 5 years out of undergrad.) While the philosophy of calculus can be very useful, the actual nuts and bolts of it are largely just taking up mental space. Instead, the math that I've found most useful, both in specific regards to psychology and as a general aid to thinking, has been the stuff I learned as a psych undergrad, namely probability and statistics. When I look at the common mistakes that people make, it's not a lack of calculus I see, but rather a fundamental lack of this probability and statistical reasoning.

From what I can see, most "higher" math, such as calculus, is good mainly for more "higher" math. A worthy study, no doubt, and with many critical applications, but lacking in a sort of universal usefulness.

---

As a disclaimer, I'm a big fan of math. I get jazzed by number theory and I've found many parts of it, such as game theory (oh I love you Nash Equilibriums, even though you don't return my calls), very useful in my professional life. It's just that I see a sort of elitist aura around certain types of math. Which is fine, I'm all for elitism, as long as it is warranted, which, sorry to say, I don't think is the case with calculus and other "higher" maths. That is, they don't actually make you a better thinker in a general sense. Likewise, I see a certain disdain for the more pragmatically useful branches that I again think is unwarrented.

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MrSquicky
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I'm also a leery of the way many people treat science. I think there is a problem with treating it, as the wikipedia definition does, as including both the methods of scientific inquiry and the products of previous scientific investigations. I think this runs the very real risk of turning science into Science.

It may be my rather strange perspective speaking here. I'm largely a personality theorist, which means that, while I'm big on scientific bases and verification, actual science isn't my main focus. One of the things I deal in is models, i.e. things that are judged not on whether they are true or false, but on how useful they are. For example, our primary model of the world is that it is flat, even though we know it is round. It's just more useful for us to treat it as flat, so this is a successful model.

In addition to this, my specific orientation is towards free willed humanism, which means that I believe that increased maturity is going to be negatively correlated with predictibility. To put it another way, I plan (well, not really plan as such, it's more like a utopian goal) to use what we know about human nature to change human nature (or rather harness neglected parts of it) such that we will know longer be able to accurately predict what person A with qualities B will do in situation C.

Anyway, I think I have a somewhat uncommon conception of science. It seems to me that many people regard science as the pursuit of truth. I don't believe that this is accurate. Rather, I see it as the pursuit of confidence. This may be an artifact of being trained up in a probabilistic field like psychology, but I see the main benefit of science as being able to invest a certain amount of confidence in a hypothesis.

As part of this, I don't like including the products of science nor the pre-scientific hypotheses in the definition of science. The theory of evolution is no more scientific than the theory of creationism. They are just theories. However, from a scientific standpoint, we can say that we have reason to be confident in the theory of evolution and no reason to be confident in the theory of creationism. That doesn't mean that either one is true or false, just that, scientifically speaking, one has confidence and the other doesn't.

The theory of evolution isn't science to me. It may be Science, but that's not a church I go to. The creationist attacks on evolution shouldn't be disregarded because they are against Science, but rather because they possess scientific rigor. As such, they don't work if you consider scientific confidence as your basis of value. Someone could diminish or destroy the confidence we put in this theory and it wouldn't harm science in the slightest. If this ever happens, the new evidence will be incorporated by using scientific methodology.

When we reify Science, I think we do both it and reality a disservice. For example, the split between Religion and Science comes because both sides encroach on each other's domains without acknowledging it.

When a religion tries to deal with matters that are up for scientific investigation, such as cosmology or human nature, they are playing on the same field as science. Their predictions become scientifically testable. It is largely because many religions have put a lot of (in my opinion, unjustifiable) stock in the literal truth of their belief systems that there's been so much conflict betwen Religion and Science. Science comes along and says, we tested your theories and can conclude that they deserve no confidence. In large part, religions have answered, not with scientific evidence, but with the use of force and authority, relatively worthless things in a scientific context, but dang persuasive in the real world. And there you go.

On the other hand, scientists have, in my opinion, oftentimes overemphasized the role that scientce has had on the way they do things. Like I said, they mistake the search for confidence with the search for truth. For example, one of the things we don't alk about in the Yay For Science crowd is that the theories that we test are pre-scientific. They are stuff we come up with - why, we don't know. Science can furnish you with neither questions nor answers, those are brought for outside. All it can do is tell you how much confidence (I keep using that word. I just can't think of another) you can have in a certain answer. Try to apply science to explain the questions and answers themselves and you're left with puzzlement. It doesn't work; they operate by different rules.

There's a strong emphasis on keeping values out of scientific investigation. Certainly, this is very helpful in many cases, but it carries many potential pitfalls. For instance, my own field was for a long time dominated by the Freudians and the Behaviorists, who both espoused value-free science. The main problem with this is that neither of their positions were actually value-free, they were just value-invisible. They acted on unwarranted faith in their theorietic structures, in part because the underlying assumptions fit into their unspoken values. This was shown to great effect in the debate over whether homosexuality should be included in the DSM, whcih is sort of a list of mental disorders. The final reason why it was removed and the reason why the then current theortically oriented DSM II was soon replaced by the more flexible DSM III was that, despite homosexuality being in violation of the prevailing theories and evoking a strong yuck! reaction, there was no reliable scientific evidence that it was actually intrinsically something bad. Those who were against it thought that they were acting out of value-free scientific integrity, but, upon inspection, it turned out that they were imposing their theoretical and wroldy values on the question. This is not to say that homosexuality definitely doesn't belong in the DSM, only that, some 30 years later, we still have no conclusive scientific evidence that this should be so.

In another aspect, more near and dear to my heart, since it's inception and continuing on to the current day, psychology has been imposing values on the study of human nature. In our quest to be value-free regarding human nature, we've focused on sickness are largely left healthy (except the abscence of sickness) alone. We've focused on describing the human condition, catologing it's various weakness, and left the possibilities in human nature to poets and dreamers. When asked to decribe the human being, the average psychologist will draw from the mean of the normal curve, ignoring the people out at 2 or 3 or 7 standard deviations above the mean. These people, the healthy, are apparently not "natural". Nor will they talk about potentionalities, or at least positive ones, preferring either decribing what is or pessimistic prognostication. To return to an earlier point, we have a problem, not with our science, but with the questions we ask. The field's problem with values come in, not when testing the answers, but in formulating the questions. The field we've built up is formed largely from investigating negative questions. This almost exclusive focus on negative question is a problem with values and a disservice to the study of the whole person. It's sort of like looking at physics as only a way to blow things up and ignoring all the constructive uses of physical forces. There are values in this process, even if it is true and vital that we keep them out of the scienctific, methodological parts.

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MrSquicky
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Hey wow, editting is now time limited. Anyway, somewhere up there I said creationist attacks on evolution possess scientific rigor when what I meant to say is that they lack it.
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seagull
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bump
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aupton15
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Thanks for the bump. I would like to take back everything I said about psychology and statistics five years ago and replace it with the opposite. I'm only about half kidding.
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Dave at Work
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I haven't read the thread yet. This is just based on the thread title.

If the psychology major in question is planning on developing something along the lines of what Hari Seldon did in Assimov's Foundation series, then yes. [Smile]

Otherwise I just do not know enough about what psychology majors do after graduation to be able to say. I will read the thread tonight to see what was said back then.

Hey this thread was started around the time I joined. I see a lot of familiar names, and with a little relief, I see that I did not put my uninformed 2 cents into the thread back then. Okay it was a few weeks before I joined.

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DonaldD
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Did someone cast turn undead?
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seagull
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Aupton15, five years is a long time to learn and get a different perpective. I'd be fascinated to hear about how your opinions changed. Can you please elaborate.

Dave, I love the Foundation series too but that is not what this thread is about. Psychology is a protoscience, AFAIK, psychohistory is still fiction. One of the things I learned from starting this thread is that advanced statistics, stochastics processes and game theory are of more useful to psycholgy majors than the calculus and differential equations that are so prevalent in physics, chemistry and engineering (Asimov was a Doctor of Chemistry). Many of the new fields in Mathematics were developed after Asimov wrote his wonderful stories so I suspect that Hari Seldon would make use of them as well if he were written today.

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aupton15
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I will sum up briefly. Calculus itself may not be helpful, but if you want to learn statistics in psychology, a good theoretical understanding of mathematics is invaluable. I got into psychology in part to avoid math, but I find that I really enjoy statistics now that I know how to think about them a little better. Basically I would say that most psych majors don't need calculus, but anyone who wants to pursue a career in psychology, either as a clinician or an academic researcher, would benefit from as much math as they can stomach.

aupton15 said:
quote:
There are many research lines open today that use quantifiable variables and quite advanced computer modelling. Some of this is just as "scientific" as physics.
What an idiot! Not only is psychology not remotely as scientific as physics, it should not aspire to be. I work as a clinician, and my biggest concern about the field is that people are trying to take all of the variability out of the therapy process, only it is completely artificial. Research tries to scientifically "prove" that a type of therapy works, and then they just leave out the part about individual differences. The truth is that clinicians need to be able to think on their feet and make variations in therapy. But some of the field is trying very hard to implement a much more rigid system in which clinicians are nothing more than individuals programmed to implement a particular therapy, without deviating from the protocol. Of course we should have a basis in research for what we do, but that is very different from having exact specifications in the way that other sciences do. We aren't like physics, and we should not try to be. It's a bad goal to set, and I'm a little afraid of where this mindset could take the field.

Disclaimer: This does not apply as much to the more traditionally academic areas of psychology like social psych or human development. Keeping things as standardized and controlled as possible is the best way to get consistent and useful information. But when people come to us for help, we need to break protocol and treat them as individuals.

[ November 05, 2009, 06:38 PM: Message edited by: aupton15 ]

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by seagull:

Do you really think the reason psychology is not a real science is that psychologists lack intelligence?

Ah, I see the problem here. You think there's some sort of causal link between being a psych. major and becoming a psychologist [Smile]
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