A recent article tries to tackle some important and often-missed points of social psychology.
[Unbridled skepticism] has given rise to a belief that what we think about ourselves and our lives together cannot be held with any confidence until objective, scientific insight into these problems is obtained. The result of taking such a stance on our knowledge in this realm is that we become thoroughly unsure of the only seat of experience available to us: ourselves. Doubt penetrates to the deepest level such that we begin to wonder if we are merely mirages, and the scientific method is seen as the sole means of reassurance that this is not the case. In consequence, the prospect of making genuine discoveries, ones that invite reverence and further inquiry, wilts because method is crowned the despot without which rescue from uncertainty is believed impossible.
Interestingly, that’s very similar to the ideas of Dr. Rakover as expressed in the recent AM-Nat conference. In short, methodological naturalism means that we must ignore the most blatant realities of our lives in order to participate in science.
What does it look like for this to be fixed?
First, there would need to be a genuine shift in how the human person is viewed in social psychology. Having taught themselves to doubt those things most intimately human and that the techniques of science are required for countering this problem, social psychologists see themselves as holding the Rosetta Stone that outsiders lack. This encourages social psychologists to grant themselves a status above the individuals in their studies and feeds an emotional disposition toward them that is of a degrading sort. People become objects of prediction to be bested by the greater ingenuity of experimenters, who have the scientific method at their disposal, and this besting ratifies the cycle of doubt-and-method myopia that sustains their reality.
Healthier and potentially more wonder-evoking visions of the human person can be found in other halls of psychology, as well as beyond them. In my own readings, I have been struck by the ideas of Carl Jung, William James, Carl Rogers, and Sigmund Koch. Some of these names will cause my colleagues discomfort because these men play the game of science by broader rules—or, we may say, by the spirit of the thing—but I hope it is clear that I see this discomfort as a symptom of the very problem I am describing.
It’s a great article – I encourage everyone to read the whole thing.