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Lecture 4

46-115 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Opportunity Cost, Apophenia, Terror Management Theory

5 pages53 viewsFall 2017

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Scott Mattson

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Week Three (Sept. 25 - 29, 2017)
Introduction to Psychology
Lecture 04: Science versus Pseudoscience
Naive Realism
- The belief that we see the world precisely as it is → seeing is believing.
- Works well in ordinary life, but consider:
- The earth seems flat.
- We seem to be standing still, yet the earth is moving around the sun 18.5
Common Sense
- Sometimes our common sense is right.
- Guides us to the truth and future research ideas.
Psychology as a Science
- Science is an approach the evidence, a toolbox of skills used to prevent us from fooling
- Communalism: willingness to share our findings with others.
- Disinterestedness: attempt to be objective when evaluating evidence.
Science as a Safeguard against “Bias”
- Confirmation Bias: Tendency to seek out evidence that supports our hypothesis and
neglect or distort contradicting evidence.
- Belief Perseverance: tendency to stick to our initial beliefs even when evidence
contradicts them.
Scientific Thinking and Everyday Life
- Stive to think scientifically; think in ways that minimize error.
- Become aware of your “biases” or perspectives.
- Be open about them from the start.
- Recognize you might be wrong.
- Practice humility.
- “Use the tools of the scientific method to try to overcome them”; or at least
become aware of them.
What is Scientific Theory?
- Explanation for a larger number of findings in the natural world.
- Not just an educated guess; some survive repeated efforts to refute them.
-Hypothesis: testable prediction; your research question derived from a theory.
Popular Psychology
- Self-Help
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Week Three (Sept. 25 - 29, 2017)
- About 3,500 self-help books are published each year. 5% tested.
- The quality of the information can be good, misleading, or even dangerous.
- The internet offers easy and quick information but quality is questionable.
- Quick Fixes and Miracle Cues
- Quick fixes and miracle cures - there are hundreds for increasing intelligence,
memory, depression, and even for enhancing our sex lives(—perhaps by the
books that we choose to read in public?).
- An important part of this course includes discussion of how to discern the quality
of information.
Psychological Pseudoscience
- Pseudoscience: set of claims that seems scientific but isn’t - lacks safeguards against
confirmation bias and belief perseverance.
- Ie. Astrology, out-of-body experiences, polygraph testing, recovered memories,
multiple personality disorder, and some forms of psychotherapy.
- Sometimes difficult to discern from bad science.
- Metaphysical Claim: are unjustifiable (ie. God, the soul, or the afterlife: not necessarily
wrong, but testable).
Prevalence of Pseudoscientific Beliefs Among Americans in 2015
- Extrasensory Perception: 41%
- Haunted Houses: 37%
- Ghosts: 32%
- Telepathy (mind-reading): 37%
- Astrology: 25%
- Visits to the earth by aliens: 24%
- Communication with the dead: 21%
- Witches: 21%
Seven Deadly Sins of Pseudoscience
1. Ad Hoc Immunizing Hypothesis: escape hatch that defenders of a theory use to protect
against falsification, usually a loophole or expectation for negative findings.
2. Lack of Self-Corrections
3. Exaggerated Claims
4. Overreliance on Anecdotes: Can’t tell us about the cause and effect. Anecdotes are
often not representative. Difficulty to verify.
5. Evasion of Peer Review: Doesn’t allow work to be screened by colleagues.
6. Absence of Connectivity: findings don’t build upon prior scientific findings.
7. Psychobabble: oodles of psychological or neurological language that sounds highly
Why are we drawn to Pseudoscience
→ We are all prone to pseudoscientific beliefs
- Rational vs. Experiential Thinking.
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