Sunday, January 30, 2011

Psychology the fake science

Subjective Modality Assessment

I work in manufacturing so I work with statistics. To make manufacturing engineering really easy essentially manufacturing engineers manage process variability. When trouble shooting a process you break it down until you find the most variable portion of the process and then you break that section of the process down even further until you can accurately predict and manage the results and the time it takes to achieve those results.

If you cannot accurately predict a specific variability at any point within a process your process is out of control.

Period. No ifs. No buts.

Psychology is the weirdest mix of subjective and objective assessment that I have ever had the misfortune of coming across.

Science is OBJECTIVE. Psychology is called a Pseudo-Science because it is primarily subjective.

Let me break it down.

Essentially a psychologist develops a characterization. Multiple Intelligences is a good example. We could use the traits of the P-E-N model of personality. In both cases a specific researcher subjectively developed characterization profiles based on their education and experience. These are both easy to read about on the web.

I used to work in a plating plant. We needed to do statistical process control. Management decided to measure and statistically control the temperature of various plating solutions. My question: Does temperature change the time or results? Answer, if the temperature is not maintained within a specific window, yes. My question: Will controlling the temperature more accurately influence the plating results? Answer, no or we would have installed better thermal controls.

In manufacturing engineering you seek out the process variability. Why does one part have a thicker or thinner coating than another. Voltage, amperage, connections between racks and bars, between bars and conductive bar rests, position on a rack, surface area of the bulk plating material? They measured temperature because it was easy and looked good and it did influence the results.

In psychology there is always argument about the categories that are developed. It isn't as easy to determine or define the various variabilities in human behavior. The fewer the categories the more generalized the outcome. The more specific the categories the less generalized and the more difficult the categorization is.

Psychologists use a combination of training, experience and subjective assessment to develop categories and determine the categorization of a specific individual.

People filter things through their own individual experiences and out look on life. You typically cannot change a person's core beliefs, even with a sledge hammer. It literally takes an act of God to change a person's core belief system. Even when presented with insurmountable evidence people will refuse to change their core beliefs.

Anyone who studies History will tell you that the Democratic political party in the United States provided the political support for the genocide of blacks in the United States.

Ask people if NAZIs are bad and they will tell you “yes”, ask them why and they will mention the history of genocide and suppression-segregation of minorities.

Ask people if Democrats are bad and they will typically say “no” or they will respond with “individuals may be”.

Both political parties supported the genocide and segregation of minorities.

Since people are just going to believe what they want to believe how can we expect psychologists not to filter their subjective analysis though this ridiculous core belief system that every person has.

We can't.

Until psychology becomes totally objective, until psychology can observe remote events without participation and objectively define characterization modalities without a subjective and individual filtration it cannot be considered a science.

Does that make it useless?

No. Talking to people who listen is always useful.

Should we use it to identify kids who could go postal in our school system? NO.

We will though, because most people have a core belief that includes the idea that stereotypes are based in reality.

Some well adjusted son of a police detective shoots up a school without warning and the psychologists run and hide.

Some communist nut case shoots up a congress person because of a personal snub and psychologists demand funding for schools so they can help kids with obvious problems before they shoot people up. The media demands Sarah Palin apologize because she said “retreat and reload” and used camera style cross hairs on a map (not a scope reticle as is often cited).

Until psychology can become an objective science we can use it, but, we should not use it to harass people because the may fit a stereotype someone has developed.

We should talk to people and help them as much as we can.


Anonymous said...

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Muito Bonito Continua deste modo !!

Charles said...

Logical argumentation is rarely encountered; this is a nice example. Many other things may be observed about psychology, which is part of the so-called "mental health" movement. It does need to be recognized that this is not science; it is frequently dead wrong; the basic premises it holds are faulty ("nonconformity = deviance = mental disorders")and these people wantonly call anyone they disapprove of "mentally ill." People play the "mental illness" card to try to trump their opponent in an argument--"There's something wrong with your mind!" Criminals use it to try to escape responsibility for their actions--"But Judge the disorder made me do it!" They imply that their degree confers immunity upon them, while no other medical specialty makes such bizarre claim. In junior high I was accused of "mental illness" by a social worker. Why? Ahh, my socks were mismatched--one black, the other brown. This is politically and socially dangerous to have a faction that is free to label virtually anything "mental disorder." They imply that when a minority does something, it's "illness" but if the majority adopts the behavior in question THEN it becomes "clinically normative." Example--women in pants were suffering from "permanent mental hallucination" New York Times May 27, 1876, page 6 editorial, "A Curious Disease." In real medicine, a disease remains a disease regardless of whether a minority or a majority is afflicted with it! Any "discipline" as severely flawed as this cannot be reformed--it must be scrapped.

John D. Ayer said...

Interesting point Charles, Psychology and Psychiatry are considered Pseudo Sciences. In reality they are ideas developed through subjective evaluation of human interaction. I disagree that these "disciplines" (and I agree with the quotes :-) need to be more objective. Statistics can identify multi-modalities when properly used and interactive computer simulations can be used to develop objective data, BUT, it would require a disciplined use of the technology. What would probably happen is that the psychs would constantly "develop" the data collection process the way educators "develop" nutrition education, food groups to food pyramids to ... This "development" process would invalidate previous results such that long term objective studies to actually develop boundaries would be impossible.

Worst Treatment Ever Had: Crisis in Substance Use Treatment said...

It is a science but clinicians practice it like a pseudoscience. I was typing a comment thru my cellphone. But I am frustrated because it delete it. So I give you some reference you can find in llibraries or internet or YouTube.

Lillienfeld Science and Pseudoscience in clinical psychology

Lillienfeld Assault on Scientific Mental Health

Dawes House of Cards: psychologyand psychtherapy build on myth.

Caplan They SaybYou are Crayzy.

Whore of thecourts cant recall author. Read the references in thosevbooks.

Shame shame clinicians for practiceing it like a pseudoscience.

John D. Ayer said...

Sorry I took so long to publish your comment. I have actually been pretty sick lately. There is a lot of science behind psychology, but, the big problem is that the results are usually ambiguous, open to interpretation and treated as if they are real. I've worked in Research and Development in hard science, and results are often interpreted different ways, often ways that make no sense statistically and yes, researchers do lie to "clean up" their results, pitch outliers, etc. Psychology is statistics dependent and in my opinion statistics is a very misunderstood science and this misunderstanding contributes to bad research in everything, but, especially in Psychology. Anecdotal evidence: A guy with an Engineering Masters in signal processing (heavy on statistics) told me that we couldn't use the average calculated from sample averages to estimate the population average because "averaging averages does funny things". I wanted to puke.