Being scientific;

[From Tom Bourbon (951108.0859 CST)]

[From Bill Powers (951108.middle of the night)]

NOTE: Mary is alive and well. I posted that excerpt at her _behest_, not
in the process of executing her _bequest_.


Bill said the following, at the beginning of his reply to: 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. . . .

Yes. This is the point I tried to make in my brief reply to Bruce earlier
this morning. Our problem with traditional scientists is not that they are
(necessarily) dishonest or incompetent. The problem is that, in light of
the fact that so many of them (virtually all of them?) are unaware of the
universal phenomenon of control, their causal models, hence their
experimental methods, hence their theoretical explanations, are wrong.
Wrong, insofar as they might give us any clear insights into the workings
of living things as perceptual controllers.

To borrow an example from astronomy, people in many earlier cultures gave
accurate, reliable descriptions of what they had seen in the heavens, and
were often able to make accurate predictions of what they would see later.
Those observations still stand. What has changed is the explanation for
what they saw. The transition from earlier explanations to current ones
was not always easy for people who believed the old stories -- or for the
tellers of new stories, either.

If we stipulate that most scientists are honest, competent, and
consistent, what is left to discuss but the substance of the different
points of view? One can be honest, competent, and consistent and still
be on entirely the wrong track. That's the hard truth of scientific
life: one can in fact waste a career. Even worse; in the effort to avoid
reaching that shattering conclusion, one can honestly, competently, and
consistently refuse to consider any evidence that this may be true for
oneself. . . .

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

Yes. I wish those traditional scientists who believe PCTers necessarily
question their rigor and honesty and competence might realize that we are
actually questioning two of their core assumptions: that IV-DV methods are
the best ones for studying the behavior of organisms, and that lineal
models of cause and effect provide the best explanations of organisms'
behavior. With regard to our attempts to understand organisms as
controllers, those assumptions are wrong and the science that grows from
them is inadequate, It is as simple as that.