Sunday, June 21, 2009

Psyconoclasm - Psychology podcast review

A new podcast on science and psychology is Psyconoclasm by David Bradley. In the first episode it kicked off extremely well with an interview with Keith Stanovich on scientific and unscientific approaches in psychology. (feed)

Stanovich calls this subject 'the problem with Freud'. He explains Freud worked with case studies and works hard to show case studies are not enough to draw generalized conclusions from. Yet, it is Freud who people think of, when they think of psychology. Thus they have no idea of what other fields t here are and miss out on proper methodology.

The whole of the interview is dedicated to discussing that second aspect: proper methodologies for psychology as a science. (transcript) An important example to figures in his argument is the case of 'Clever Hans'. This was a German horse that was supposed to have mathematical talent. Stanovich takes the case to show how such a claim (this horse can do arithmetic) can be properly researched. This is not simply by observation, quite to the contrary. He makes a case for the rigors of controlled testing and defends the use of labs in the face of criticism that this can never be applicable to real life situations.
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