There is another, equally important, lesson to be learned from the op-ed and reactions to it. The contradictory statements above are a manifestation of the “it-is-too-complicated” syndrome, which is a symptom of the social sciences. “It-is-too-complicated” prohibits any firm conclusion of any detailed study in social sciences because, say social scientists, the object of study is too complex to allow “simple” conclusions. Neither the claimer nor the refuter can convince the other of the validity of their reasoning, and contradictory statements live on side by side. “It-is-too-complicated” does not exist in physics, chemistry, and (molecular) biology. Not in the sense that statements (theories) come “easy” in those fields, but in the sense that conclusions can be easily made about statements because quantitative experimentation and observation can either verify or nullify them. In other words, physical, chemical, and (molecular) biological statements are falsifiable, and this falsifiability is one of the most important characteristics of science. The disagreements sampled above is indicative of the non-falsifiability of social scientific statements.
With so many unresolved disagreements in the field of psychology, is it feasible to call it “science,” as psychologists want to?
When the public is so scientifically illiterate as to think that quantum healing, conscious universe, Tao of physics, quantum psychics (that’s “psychics” not physics!), Yoga of time travel, etc., are all legitimate sciences, wouldn’t it add to the public’s confusion and illiteracy if psychology, with all its contradictory ideas, is identified as science?
Wouldn’t the public be served better if we accept and publicize the fact that, despite its enormous usefulness, psychology is not a science? … just as sociology, medicine, and technology are not sciences, despite their indispensable utility?