Public Skepticism of Psychology

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In this article, the author, Scott O. Lilienfeld, examines six commonly used criticisms that attempt to disprove the scientific basis of psychology. He then offers his rebuttals and attempts to explain eight possible reasons as to why the public feels this way. Scott believes that the reason many professionals often criticize psychology is to make their own professions inadequacies look better. In reality though, psychology may be one of the most important sciences there is.

The main theoretical points in his paper are the six commonly used criticisms of the scientific basis of psychology and his rebuttals. The first one, “Psychology is Merely Common Sense” says just that. That everything in psychology is a commonly known fact amongst the general population. Lilienfeld offers some examples of these ‘facts’ such as “Strange behaviors are especially likely during full moons” and then states that scientific findings should be considered first over common sense. Now that’s just common sense. The second misconception is “Psychology Does Not Use Scientific Methods”. For this one Lilenfeld explains the commonalities across all sciences in the way they approach questions and conduct experiments. The physicist uses a scientific method approach in conducting his experiment on gravity; as such a Psychologist uses a scientific method approach in his experiment of the behavior of rats. The next one states “Psychology Cannot Yield Meaningful Generalizations Because Everyone is Unique.”. As his rebuttal, Lilienfeld argues that yes, of course everyone is unique, but the uniqueness may be entirely irrelevant to the way the treatment in question works. As an example, he offers this; “Although all individuals with melanoma are surely unique, 90% or more of cases of this form of skin cancer are largely curable with early surgery.”. With that he is saying that although everyone is unique, the disease that people may suffer from is all treated the same way. Therefore yes,...
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