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Chapter 1

Psychology 46-115 Chapter 1: 46-115 Notes on Pseudoscience

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Ken Cramer

Chapter 1: Science and Pseudoscience in Psychology Science vs. Popular Psychology: Common vs. Uncommon Sense • Popular psychology Industry  a sprawling network of everyday sources of information about human behaviour Naive Realism: Seeing is Believing – Is it? • We trust our common sense because naive realism  the belief that we see the world precisely as it is • Yet appearances can be deceiving (ex. The Earth seems flat) • Common sense tells us that our memories capture everything we’ve seen When our common sense is right • Judgements on something we’ve just watched on a video • Also a helpful tool for generating hypotheses Psychology as a Science • A science is an approach to evidence • Communalism  a willingness to share our findings with others • Disinterestedness  scientists should try their best to be objective when evaluating evidence • Science again bias o Confirmation bias  the tendency to seek out evidence that supports our hypotheses and neglect or distort evidence that contradicts them o Belief perseverance  the tendency to stick to our initial beliefs even when evidence contradicts them • Scientific theory  an explanation for a large number of findings in the natural/psychological world • Hypothesis  testable prediction derived from a theory o Misconception: (1) a theory explains one specific event; (2) a theory is just an educated guess Scientific Skepticism • Attitudes: (1) a willingness to keep an open mind; (2) a willingness to accept these claims after research • Pathological skepticism  a tendency to dismiss any claims that contradict our beliefs • Disconfirmation bias  the tendency to seek out evidence inconsistent with a hypothesis we don’t believe and neglect evidence consistent with it • Oberg’s dictum  named after James Oberg; keeping an open mind is a virtue but not too open • Astrology  predict individuals’ personalities and futures from knowledge of the precise date and time of their birth Basic Principles of Critical Thinking • Critical thinking  set of skills for evaluating all claims in an open-minded and careful fashion (in media, self-help books, internet, psych course, textbook) • Scientific thinking  the form of thinking that allows us to evaluate scientific claims 6 principles of critical thinking: 1. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (ex. aliens) 2. Falsifiability  able to being disproved 3. Occam’s Razor (named after Sir William of Occam)  if two explanations account equally well, select the more simple, logical one 4. Replicability  findings duplicated consistently 5. Ruling out rival hypotheses 6. Correlation isn’t causation • Correlation-causation fallacy  mistakenly conclude that a correlation means causation • Variable  anything that can vary (ex. A caus
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