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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Psychology Awards, December 2012

Here are the mock-awards for papers in "top" psychology journals for this month... along with a few real awards! I'm still working on refining the categories and format, but it is starting to feel pretty good. Please, add your own suggestions in the comment section.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

You don't know what you want!

Sometimes discussion on other people's blog get so big, it is time to move at least part to another location. Neuroskeptic had a great post about the trap of extreme scientism, which combines the ideas that A) science can solve all problems and that B) one should not act except based on scientific evidence. The post is "My Breakfast With Scientism", and it starts with a man trying to determine which of two cereals he wants to eat. He realizes he needs some scientific evidence to determine which he should eat.... and things get much, much worse from there. Because an over-worship of science involves significant skepticism of normally routine claims and decisions, you end up in a very similar place to Descartes's over-worship of rationalism. You know:
Hey Descartes! You claim you are doubting everything.... but how can you be sure? }:- P
The comments on Neuro's post got into some really interesting ground that seems more appropriate for this blog... so I'm moving it over here. In particular, a commenter named "DS" asserted that "what he wants" is a scientifically admissible fact of the highest caliber. It isn't. But explaining why is can be difficult....

Monday, December 17, 2012

The APA Publication Manual: How could a good thing go so wrong?

The professional manual in the news right now is the DSM V, which has drawn quite a lot of criticism. However, we shouldn't forget the other major manual, the APA publication manual. As the fall semester ends, with student papers to grade, and manuscripts to revise, we will all be griping about the publication manual in due course. Some recent reviewers informed me in no uncertain terms, for example, that I was a horrible and insensitive person because I referred to people who like to have intercourse with members of the same sex as "homosexual". A quick check of the new APA manual, which they directed me to forcefully, informed be that such people were "gay". It didn't seem to matter that "gay" was a pejorative term not too long ago, nor that people who like to have intercourse with members of the opposite sex were still called "heterosexual". This type of arbitrary rule making, especially when it leads to blatant inconsistencies of style, have caused many of us to question why the hell we let the APA tell us how to write. How did we get into this mess? Who ever thought this was a good idea?

For those who have felt this way, even a little, I highly recommend an article in this month's Review of General Psychology:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Neuroskeptic Part 1 - Misunderstanding Neursocience

For those who don't know, Neuroskeptic is one of the more popular science bloggers in the world. He is a research-active British neuroscientist, who has been highlighting important findings, and criticizing public (and professional) misunderstandings of those findings for several years. He does this anonymously, and even the people in his home department do not know his identity. His blog-icon is what initially appears to be a stupid picture of a disembodied brain with two eye balls; though that is closer to what he looks like than you might think.

I'm going to assume he will be posting about his talk in the near future, but before he gets a chance, I'm going to scoop him a bit, at least by discussing what I thought was the highlight of his talk. The talk was in Philadelphia, at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Neuroscience and Society. It was worth the drive to listen to the talk and get to shake his hand, because once I had wiped the cerebral spinal fluid off with a wet-nap, our discussions covered many topics (hence the "Part 1" for this post). For now, I'll stick to discussing his formal talk, starting with a picture of the talk in progress:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Things worth seeing on the web

I just got back from visiting with Neuroskeptic down in Philidelphia, and have notes for a few posts regarding our discussions and his talks. In the meantime, there are a few things I found on the net I think readers might have a lot of fun with....

The editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science has set up a blog to discuss things from that journal, and in particular the last months issue about the replicability crisis. I don't know if it will take off... but it would probably be a good place to put some thoughts and read the thoughts of others.

Also, Microsoft is trying to set up some cool academic webware, and it is pretty fun to play with. (Note, I reserve judgement on the usefulness... but it is fun.) It is "Academic Search" and is still in beta...
Check out the "co-authors" feature, as well as the "citations" and "cited by" features, both produce pretty cool visualizations (including mapping several paths to your Erdos number).

Monday, December 3, 2012

A behaviorist (and radical empiricist) theory of emotion

Behavior and Philosophy is an odd, but important journal. It has, for four decades now, provided a venue for papers about the philosophy of behaviorism and the relationship between behaviorism and related disciplines. The table of contents for the recent volumes, and more information about the journal, can be found here. Alas, being run by a small group of generous academics, they aren't always on top of the little things you would like a journal to do... like notifying you when your article comes out. Thus, it wasn't until fairly recently that I found out about last year's printing of:
A Behaviorist Account of Emotions and Feelings: Making Sense of James D. Laird's Feelings: The Perception of the Self, by Charles, Bybee, & Thompson
As the title implies, we present a system for explaining the phenomenon of emotions and feelings within a behaviorist tradition. The discussion is set off by the consideration of ideas presented in Jim's book, which build's upon William James's approach to emotion. The short version goes something like this:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The myth of knowledge... and ethics

Lee Rudolph, a topologist I have collaborate with on emotion perception, emailed an inquiry relevant to discussion my blog's continued discussion of the myth of knowledge... in this case knowledge regarding ethics. Recall that they myth of knowledge holds that there is a tight connection between "having learned about", "being able to articulate", "demonstrating capacity for doing", and "doing in the moment". I'm modifying what is below from an email Lee wrote to the K-group (or Kitchen group), an large international research group which centers... for the moment... around activities at Clark University. It is about a good, old-fashioned financial scandal (though it has the scent of some of psychology's recent scandals).