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Shouldn't psychology be labelled a pseudoscience rather than a science? (talk) 16:32, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

I can't tell if you are trolling or being serious, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt here, but will keep it brief. The answer to your question is no. Psychology is a basic and applied behavioral science. It is a mainstream scientific discipline studied at most if not all of the major world universities. Psychologists are often some of the strongest critics of pseudo-scientific thinking. There were incorrect and even bizarre ideas claimed early in the discipline's history, but that is the case in the history of nearly all sciences. A scientific discipline can be recognized by whether or not incorrect ideas are retained or scrapped when they are challenged by evidence. Psychology has unequivocally sided with the latter. Osubuckeyeguy (talk) 22:32, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Psychology should be labeled as pseudo-science unless references to scientific confirmation of all its subtheories are provided. In particular, the article cites dream interpretation as part of the "science". Please provide a reference to falsifiable evidence supporting that theory. Adam Sikora (talk) 07:05, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
The article appears to mention no universally accepted psychological facts or laws and refers to six quite distinct "schools". This is quite different from the situation in most sciences where there is a consensus over the main body of facts and laws and disagreement only over details. Isn't this closer to the situation in astrology and alternative medicine than that in astronomy and biology? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:47, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
See psychophysics for examples of scaling laws. See string theory for counter-examples to your claims about scientific consensus. Kiefer.Wolfowitz (talk) 15:12, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
Schools of psychology were simply different ways of thinking about what the "mind" is (a topic too abstract for any science to achieve consensus). You'll notice they are a part of the History section. The actual scientific findings of psychology are too numerous to mention in one place, which is why there is a list of sub-fields of psychology. Within those articles are hundreds of examples of consistently and scientifically observed psychological principles and effects. Keep in mind that unlike biology, chemistry and physics, psychology's primary interests involve the thoughts feelings and behaviors of humans, which are wildly inconsistent.-Nicktalk 17:00, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
In fact, since the comparison was made between psychology and physics, I went and looked at that page. I don't see a list of universally accepted facts of physics there either. For those of that know at least some physics, I do see pointers towards, and mention of, accepted physical facts, such as E = mc2 (in the box at the top), lightning is an electric current, etc (actually, many of the best examples are in the figure captions). Similarly, when those who know at least some psychology look at the main text of the psychology article, they will see things like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the stages of memory, etc. These are generally agreed upon principles within their domains of psychology. The complaint about domains is no more relevant here than it is in physics: In the same way that physics can be broken down into many sub-fields, with distinct areas of investigation and distinct methods, psychology can (and should) also be broken down into distinct sub-fields, with distinct areas of investigation and methods. In the case of psychology, these sub-fields are also generally tied to different historical antecedents, so Schwnj's comments above are correct. And, as in physics, the links between certain concepts within different subfields are still unclear. Certain phenomena like wave/particle duality (not to pretend for a second that *that's* completely settled!) within physics fit within quantum mechanics, but are also believed to be linked to cosmological phenomena at the largest levels. However, there is no grand unified theory (GUT) and so the findings are not entirely integrated. Similarly, questions of self-fulfillment and personality are appropriate to discuss within certain time-scales and certain frameworks of the individual's mental life. Other things, like how people remember and forget are appropriate within a cognitive framework. Psychologists believe in some way that the two are related (for example, cognitive dissonance, wherein someone's memory is retrospectively colored by the choices they've made), but we are similarly far from a single psychological GUT. In the Kuhn/Popper vein, the key thing is experimental methods that permit falsifiability, and cumulative knowledge base. In this respect, psychology is no less a science than other fields. This is one place where psychology has made great progress in the past 50 years; the quantification of behavior. However, the complexity of the phenomena in question makes it substantially more difficult to run a single experiment that will completely and utterly falsify a particular theory. Despite these challenges, psychology, through the use of repeated experimentation, replication and linkages with other domains (like neuroscience and genetics) has built a large body of agreed upon facts, a larger body of agreed upon phenomena with more controversial interpretations, and an even larger set of research questions. Given that Popper and Kuhn were writing more than 40 years ago, their opinions of psychology at the time do not necessarily reflect the current state of psychology today - bearing in mind that psychology has been around as a topic of investigation for about 120 years, maybe 150 years max, this means that a substantial proportion of the history of psychology has occurred after these classic philosophers of science wrote anything about psychology. Edhubbard (talk) 17:46, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
One of my lecturers (in history and philosophy of science: distinguishing science from pseudoscience) made the argument that psychology exhibits characteristics of pseudoscience. One the the examples he used was EMDR and cited Popper's and Bunge's criterion for distinguishing science from pseudoscience. Critically, EMDR adherents (typically psychologists) use ad hoc maneuvers to avoid refutation and continue to practice it despite its failure in empirical testing.[1] "From this Popperian [3] perspective, Herbert et al. (2000) have accused Francine Shapiro and other EMDR advocates of practicing pseudoscience. According to these critics, EMDR mavens do not behave like real scientists, who, according to Popperian dogma, derive bold conjectures from their theories and then relentlessly seek theoretical refutation by exposing these conjectures to risky empirical tests." According to McNally, EMDR (and many other what he calls "wacky therapies") continues to be advocated and used by those with Ph.Ds in clinical psychology despite lack of empirical validation. If EMDR remains popular with clinical psychologists (in clinical training and practice) and clinical psychology is a paradigmatic subfield of psychology. Then, some parts of psychology exhibits characteristics of pseudoscience. This is based on the premise the psychology is defined by what psychologists do. After setting up this argument the lecturer admitted that the term pseudoscience in clinical psychology is inflammatory and hotly debated (see Richard NcNally's article: [2]). Returning the to EMDR example, even if pseudoscience is often practiced in clinical psychology and promoted by those with Ph.Ds in clinical psychology it does not necessarily make psychology a pseudoscience. The term pseudoscience is thrown around in debate over sociobiology and evolutionary psychology to dismiss opponent theories. It really does not add much to the debate there except to raise emotions which is a logical fallacy by itself. Similarly, calling psychology or one of its subfields or theories pseudoscientific adds little to the debate. Its little more than emotive name-calling. NcNally argues that rather than dismissing a theory or practice as pseudoscience (or an individual theorist as pseudoscientist), we should ask its adherents, How do you know it works? What is the empirical evidence for it? ----Action potential talkcontribs 08:54, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
This seems more trolling/political than completely earnest. Most people label psychology a science or social science, so it would be uncharacteristically aggressive to label at pseudoscience. But I strongly believe the Criticisms section should make the case for psychology being a pseudoscience much stronger. The issue is not that hypothesis tests get misused, for example. Criticisms run much deeper than that and the article fails to reflect that. E.g. the use of hypothesis testing at all as taught to doctoral students is controversial to anyone who knows math or stat. (talk) 17:59, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

(undent) AP, your comments made me think of two books that I like quite a lot by Michael Shermer, The Borderlands of Science and Why People Believe Weird Things. In WPBWT he talks about the famous N ray example, and how people within physics believed that a new form of radiation had been identified for a period. He describes many of the things that made N rays somewhat questionable, what made smart people believe them, and how eventually they were shown to not exist. I think that the lesson here is not that a scientific enterprise never has a dead-end (even one believed by many people) but rather that there is a method for eventually replicating and verifying results from a field, and failing that, to purge them from the field. Physics has its stories like the N rays, or more recently, failed attempts at cold fusion, but nobody takes such false starts and says, "physics isn't a science!" because of them. Somehow, people seem much more willing to suggest that psychology isn't a science because of false starts like EMDR and the fact that a group of clinicians refuse to accept the evidence against it. Edhubbard (talk) 10:12, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

I think that many people are willing to suggest that psychology is not a science due to significant differences in the practice and practical tools that psychology has produced in comparison to sciences such as physics and chemistry. There is not a single profound or remarkably useful tool that psychology has produced, and those who identify as psychologists have fantastic disagreements as to basic definitions used in the discipline. The evidence for, and the practical uses of, modern psychological tools is not on the level of a nuclear reactor, photovoltaic cells, differential equations, or an internal combustion engine; it is on the level of herbal medicine: there may be significant effects, but those researching them do not possess the mathematical models or computational tools to provide proof as to the causation of any observed effects. (talk) 14:21, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm coming into this conversation a bit late, but I'm in the middle. I agree with the general consensus that calling psychology in blanket form a pseudo-science is too aggressive. But I think the criticisms section does a nice job of noting the weaknesses of psychology, even vis-a-vis other fields, and of course there has been some discussion of this now in the literature (e.g. Simmons et al., 2011) as well. I think though, the willingness of psychologists themselves to discuss weaknesses in their field sets it aside from pseudo-science. I think that's why we have the designation of "soft science" or "social science"...its distinct from the "hard sciences" but not blatantly pseudo-scientific either. Avalongod (talk) 16:17, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

All major orginizations consider psychology a science! Leavesteps789 (talk) 04:14, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

There has been some recently published research indicating psychology may in fact have some of the hallmarks of a pseudoscience, I would strongly consider adding to Category:Pseudoscience if this can be confirmed on a larger scale. 3AlarmLampscooter (talk) 06:32, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
That's a horrible misunderstanding and misapplication of an article that primarily focuses on (a) the relationships between p-value, effect size, and sample size especially in smaller studies and (b) publication bias favoring studies with larger (and perhaps overestimated) effect sizes. ElKevbo (talk) 08:33, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
I can't argue there is anything close L. Ron Hubbard levels of pseudoscience occurring, but I think (a) and (b) taken together reflect poorly on the scientific integrity of the field. 3AlarmLampscooter (talk) 16:54, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

The American Psychological Association is the largest and oldest Psychology body, yet it refuses to discipline it's members who participate in torture, nor discipline psychology institutions engaged in torture. Psychiatry has also been accused of systemic torture by the UN. Psychology still supports gay conversion therapy, a concept legitimatized by certain religious groups. While one could argue the organizations themselves are corrupt, Psychology itself is not a member of the Natural Sciences, and yet all reputable dictionaries define Science as "the study of the natural world". If Psychology identifies itself as a "Hard Science" instead of a "Soft Science"; isn't that the difference between Economics and Creationism? Just a few thoughts. --Flyingducks (talk) 07:47, 18 October 2014 (UTC)


Craighead,W.E. & Nemeroff, C.B(2004) The concise corsini encyclopedia of psychology and behavioral science(3rd):NY.NY.John Wiley and Sons. Just to let you know I made some changes that I thought would be helpful in completing this assignment;

Replication Crisis[edit]

I wonder, perhaps in the section on criticism, if there ought not be some discussion of the replication crisis issue in psychology? See some of the recent furor over the special edition of the journal Social Psychology on replication studies (most of the furor appears to be regarding just one of those studies).

Semi-protected edit request on 27 February 2016[edit]

I would like to modify the paragraph on quasi-experimental design, which is currently this:

Quasi-experimental design refers especially to situations precluding random assignment to different conditions. Researchers can use common sense to consider how much the nonrandom assignment threatens the study's validity.[1] For example, in research on the best way to affect reading achievement in the first three grades of school, school administrators may not permit educational psychologists to randomly assign children to phonics and whole language classrooms, in which case the psychologists must work with preexisting classroom assignments. Psychologists will compare the achievement of children attending phonics and whole language classes.

I would like to change it to this:

Quasi-experimental design refers to research designs that take advantage of naturally occurring events that mimic true experimental random assignment[2]. A significant difficulty is in determining how much the nonrandom assignment threatens the study's validity.[3] For example, in research on the best way to affect reading achievement in the first three grades of school, school administrators may not permit educational psychologists to randomly assign children to phonics and whole language classrooms, in which case the psychologists must work with preexisting classroom assignments. Psychologists will compare the achievement of children attending phonics and whole language classes. behavioral genetic research takes great advantage of quasi-experimental designs including the use of twin studies, adoption studies, and other study designs to test for heritability. One example of a behavioral genetic quasi-experimental design is Mendelian randomization. Another example is the use of identical twins discordant for an environmental exposure[4]. In a study of how drug use affects brain development in humans for example, purely observational or correlational studies are confounded by the possibility that brain changes and drug use are both caused by a third variable. Identical twins are matched for genetic influences and rearing environment, so comparing brain function between two twins, one of whom has used a drug and the other who has not, effectively controls for all unmeasured genetic and shared environmental confounds.


  1. ^ Melvin M. Mark, "Program Evaluation" in Weiner (ed.), Handbook of Psychology (2003), Volume 2: Research Methods in Psychology.
  2. ^ {}
  3. ^ Melvin M. Mark, "Program Evaluation" in Weiner (ed.), Handbook of Psychology (2003), Volume 2: Research Methods in Psychology.
  4. ^ {}

Vrie0006 (talk) 04:45, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template.  B E C K Y S A Y L E 05:31, 15 March 2016 (UTC)

New matter; genes and the enviornment[edit]

Vrie0006 in this dif you added a big chunk of content, all isolated from the rest of the article. The thing is much of that matter is already in the article, in other sections. It is not useful to the article as a whole, to drop in a section like that, not integrated with the existing content.(by the way, people taking classes and working on a class assignment often edit this way - is that your situation?) Also, there is a whole bunch of content in WP about genes and environment, like

and god knows what else, that touches on this stuff.

What i am trying to say is that while contributions are very welcome it is unlikely you are going to find raging gaps, and the real work is really knitting, integrating, tweaking, trimming, and some plugging, yes, for sure. Jytdog (talk) 04:43, 3 March 2016 (UTC)

jytdog Hi, thanks for your comments. The stuff I wrote is not contained anywhere in the psychology page, whether in one chunk or dispersed throughout. The psychology page never mentions the basic fact that behavioral traits and disorders have a genetic basis. I was indeed trying to fill a raging gap on the psychology page. Some of that content may be present elsewhere on wikipedia but from the psychology page you would never know that a major component of etiological research in psychology is disentangling genes and environment. Genes and environment, nature nurture, all those pages you mention are relevant, but again they are not included on the psychology page. Nature versus nurture is not there. Gene-environment interaction is not there. Gene-environment correlation is not there. Genetics, gene, DNA, are not there. The only reference to genes is in discussion of eugenics, which is an historical issue from the early 20th century. The word "genetic" is used twice, once in reference to genetic background in chimps and once in the history of psychology in the soviet union. In reading the psychology page you would have no idea of the importance of these concepts in understanding and studying behavior. The inclusion of this new section is essential to the page to serve as a place where these ideas can be expanded. You asked about my situation. I'm a psychology professor. Please reconsider your removal of that text. Vrie0006 (talk) 04:54, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
Thanks so much for talking and for letting me know you are not a student (far from it!) . The Psychology#Biological subsection in the Schools section does talk about this, but I see what you mean about this being absent from the Themes section and I agree that this should be there. thanks! (and welcome, btw!) This is just what experts are the most useful for in Wikipedia, seeing places where there are gaps or something is given too much WP:WEIGHT Jytdog (talk) 05:06, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
jytdogI very much appreciate your flexibility on this. Hopefully the section can become an improvement to the page over time! I'm slowly learning how to navigate all these issues on wikipedia so I certainly appreciate your help and advice on my talk page. Vrie0006 (talk) 05:30, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
Happy. Jytdog (talk) 05:33, 3 March 2016 (UTC)


the fundamental function is not good too seeing. U can`t understand what they do! Sorry is important for this entry — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:50, 3 May 2016 (UTC)