Being scientific

[From Bruce Abbott (951108.late afternoon EST)]

Bill Powers (951108.middle of the night) --

Bruce Abbott (951107.2025 EST) --

I understand the point you're trying to make, which is that even though
psychologists have been using an inadequate theory, they have conducted
themselves as scientists while doing so. I have to agree with you,
insofar as science consists only of honest observation, accurate
calculation, and consistent use of theory and methodology.

If a field could qualify as scientific merely by exhibiting honest
observation, accurate calculation, and consistent use of theory and
methodology, then astrology, palm reading, and "facilitated communication"
would qualify as sciences. That is not my argument for claiming that
traditional psychological research is scientific research, as opposed to "mush."

There is more to science than honesty, competence, and consistency.

I agree completely. You seem to believe you have addressed my argument by
showing that my claim--that honest observation, accurate calculation, and
consistent use of theory and methodology define a science--is false. But
that is not my claim, and your argument does not speak to my claim.

One can present arguments as debate teams do--each side presenting evidence,
appeals to emotion, misdirection, and so on in an effort to pursuade
whatever audience there is of the correctness of one's views--or one can
engage in a genuine attempt to see the issue from the other person's
perspective, and perhaps sometimes find merit in it and thereby reach a
greater understanding. Of course, the latter approach requires one to read
the other guy's posts, not just for places from which to launch a
counterattack, but for real understanding of his arguments, and then to
conduct an honest evaluation of their merits, even if that evaluation might
force a change in one's own position. Alas, I see the game we're playing
(debate team), and it's not the one I thought we were playing, nor the one I
wish to play.

Regards,

Bruce