Fixing Psychology

A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Railway Man - Highlights of Holt's writing

I'm reviewing materials in preparation for an ENSO (Enactive Seminars Online) session on 3/3/16. This is one of the most important sections of The Freudian Wish (Holt, 1915). Something well worth meditating upon:
Let us consider, then, the higher forms of behavior, in human beings, and the question of consciousness and thought.

If one sees a man enter a railway station, purchase a ticket, and then pass out and climb on to a  train, one feels that it is clear enough what the man is doing, but it would be far more interesting to know what he is thinking. One sees clearly that he is taking a train, but one cannot see his thoughts or his intentions and these contain the 'secret' of his actions. And thus we come to say that the conscious or subjective is a peculiar realm, private to the individual, and open only to his introspection. It is apart from the world of objective fact. Suppose, now, one were to apply the same line of reasoning to an event of inanimate nature. At dawn the sun rises above the eastern ridge of hills. This is the plain fact, and it is not of itself too interesting. But what is the ‘secret’ behind such an occurrence?  "Why this is, as everybody knows, that the sun is the god Helios who every morning drives his chariot up out of the East, and he has some magnificent purpose in mind. We cannot tell just what it is because his thoughts and purposes are subjective and not open to our observation. We suspect, however, that he is paying court to Ceres, and so cheers on by his presence the growing crops."

Monday, February 1, 2016

Why Experiment?... Why Science at All?

A lot of people wonder what the big deal is about experiments. Why do people care if, say, some particular dietary supplement has been supported by randomized experiments or not? If taking two St. John's wort pills a day helps me out, and my friends say it helps them, why should anyone care what some guy in a lab coat thinks? To answer that question, we need to start with explaining science in a slightly different way than most people are used to.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Political correctness IS curtailing free speech, and that's just fine!

There is much talk about political correctness on college campus. This is including, but not limited to, discussion about Halloween costumes, trigger warnings, safe spaces, and issues involving feminism and race relations. I am not going to write here about my opinions regarding political correctness, or trigger warnings, or any of those issues. Instead I am going to focus on a very weird dynamic of this dialog: The fight over whether or not being politically correct is a restriction on free speech. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

The academic job market has gotten harder, very recently

There have been many stories recently about the "overproduction" of Ph.D. students in science, and about the increasingly competitive job markets. This isn't going to be a comprehensive post about that, but rather a highlight of a short, but significant paper that might otherwise be under the radar. It is Academia's never-ending selection for productivity by Francois Brischoux and Frederic Angelier, in the journal Scientometrics. It's focus is on evolutionary biologists hired by the National Centre for Scientific Research France, between 2005 and 2014, 55 people in total from what I can tell. The NCSR has a stable and formulaic hiring process, which makes easy to compare hires across years. Despite the small sample, and the narrow focus, I suspect the same trends would be replicated in most scientific fields, at most academic institutions, in the U.S. Here is what I thought was the crucial paragraph :

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Stats Help Part 2: Null and Alternative Hypotheses


Many struggle with discussions of null and alternative hypotheses. The logic behind phrasing research questions in that way can be a bit unintuitive. The logical involves what you can or cannot prove given an if-then statement, and I'll put a paragraph about that down at the bottom. In the meantime, here is a much easier way to understand what is going on:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hey white people, listen up! This is what conversations about "racism" are about

So, after spending a long time in conversations about racism --- some time talking, but mostly listening --- I pressed those involved about on the "now what?" question. In response, I have been informed that it is my duty to go out and educate other white people. Seems odd, but there it is, and I'm gonna give it a try.