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Psychology undergrads misled about science by their textbooks?

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What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

Could that be a factor in the recent meltdowns? A recent open access study of textbooks out of the University of Nevada addresses that case:

Almost a quarter of the sampled textbooks explicitly and boastfully stated that there is no difference between psychology and other “hard” sciences such as chemistry and physics. Yet only one textbook discussed “methodological freedom” – the idea asserted by the philosopher-critic of science, Paul Feyerabend, that all scientific techniques are different. Only one textbook mentioned the issue of improper use of ad hoc hypotheses, a characteristic of pseudoscience. Similarly, there was only one reference to the ideas put forward by Feyerabend and Alan Gross that persuasion and rhetoric are a key part of science – i.e. that the scientific endeavour is not merely about “the dispassionate evaluation of evidence”.

There were also just three mentions of such important issues as “evolutionary epistemology” (how knowledge accumulates), “social constructionism” (how social context shapes our scientific understanding), and “Kuhnian paradigms” (a discussion regarding Kuhn’s idea of paradigms, including that knowledge is only interpreted within a certain paradigm and how Kuhnian paradigm shifts occur), and the question of whether psychology is a pre-paradigmatic science or mature science. Only four textbooks contained any sort of discussion regarding whether or not the definition of science itself is a controversial topic. The roles of competing theories and evaluations in science were mentioned only six times.

Unfortunately, the content of textbooks in undergraduate psychology suggest that they serve not only to instruct, but also to essentially indoctrinate students into a particular way of thinking. Tomasz Witkowski, “Many undergrad psych textbooks do a poor job of describing science and exploring psychology’s place in it” at The British Psychological Society Research Digest

Unfortunate for whom? If all that the psychology faculty wants is to get flimflam published in compliant media, it’s a Golden Age. For the development of a discipline, it’s a disaster. One must choose.

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See also: Science writer: Academia is in meltdown Berezow: A new survey by Gallup shows that only 48% of U.S. adults have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in academia, down from 57% in 2015.

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2 Replies to “Psychology undergrads misled about science by their textbooks?

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    OK, but for Hiring Managers in the world AFTER college, what is a Psychology Major supposed to KNOW? That is, why would I want to hire a Psych Major over an English Major? (Um, the English Major is expected to be able to WRITE competently.)

    If a Psych degree is actually LESS than worthless, i.e., the Psych major has learned evil, stupid, FALSE ideas, then students who make the mistake of declaring a major in Psychology are doomed to either working at MacDonald’s or sinking an even bigger pile of cash (well, actually LOANS) into completing a PhD so they can get a job in the Worthless Degree establishment.

  2. 2
    timbetancourt says:

    Not having a school recognition or degree can matter, however for some it’s not required. I’m right around 30 and don’t lament not advancing my instruction after bachelor’s degree. I’m not a tycoon, but rather once more I have a better than average occupation, I don’t live paycheck to paycheck and I’m doing okay.

    While I ended up returning to class and got my degree, I didn’t have it when I began working out in the open security and I have profited throughout the years with awesome medical coverage. You can locate a great job without a degree. And that’s where freedom in philosophy of life lies.
    Methodological freedom has never been mentioned during my studying years. And the first time I read about it was in the this freedom of speech sample.

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