Why psychology is not a science

1. Materiality

The material basis of mind is the brain. Psychology studies the mind without the brain!

2. Specificity

The building blocks of brain are neurons. Only molecular neurobiology – which studies the physical and chemical processes involved in the communication between neurons – can be called the science of the brain.

3. Observation, Theory, and Prediction

Despite the “instruments” used in Wundt’s laboratory, there is no quantifiable observation in psychology; there are many opposing theories (see this as a recent example); and there are no predictions; even if there are, they are after the fact!

4. Historical Continuity

There is no continuity in the history of psychology. Just like sociology, it popped into existence in the 19th century, largely out of philosophy. The first school, structuralism, was opposed by another, psychoanalysis, both of which were opposed by the “imageless thought school” from which gestalt psychology evolved! Then came behaviorism, cognitivism, descriptive psychology, functionalism, existential psychology, ….

5. Mathematics

Although some psychologists tried to force mathematics into psychology (for a farcical account of the use of mathematics in psychology, see the last paragraph of this page), no natural requirement of its use exists as it does in physics, for instance.

6. Communication in Psychology

Every school of psychology has its own journal in which its own ideas are communicated. Each journal prints theories and conjectures which could be in complete opposition to theories and conjectures in other journals.

7. Prevalence of Controversy

There is an abundance of controversy among various schools of psychology.

8. Sensitivity to the Removal of Statistics

As in sociology, many “scientific” investigations in psychology rely heavily on statistics. If you remove statistics, no “science” will be left! Statistics is so important in psychology that a journal called psychometrika is devoted entirely to statistics!

 9. Relation to Technology

There is not a single invention that is based on psychology. Here I want to emphasize the distinction between neuroscience and psychology. Neuroscience, the branch that studies the electrochemical responses of the brain to stimuli, is crucial to the development of drugs and treatments for mental illnesses.

10. It is “Too Complicated”

Many psychologists admit that human mind is “too complicated.” Therefore, all ideas are only partially right and wrong!

Psychology, like sociology, does not pass any of the  characteristics of science. Therefore, like sociology, it is not a science, despite the -ology at the end of its name.

17 thoughts on “Why psychology is not a science”

  1. Correct, the main problem is that the practitioners of this pseudo-science get to deternine fait of people. Jobs, profiling all this bullshit.

    1. The opinions of these pseudo-scientists played a large role in my divorce and custody case. The courts know no difference in rigor between psychology and physics.

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  3. I am a Clinical Psychologist and have to say you are correct maybe with one small exception…experimental psychology. Unfortunately, experimental psychology remains a very small part of all the different psychological schools but they do at least stick to the scientific method.

    1. Then first they must have agreed upon definitions for the terms and subjects discussed. Then they must be able to formulate a hypothesis based upon those definitions and observations. Those hypotheses then must be subject to peer review with the relative fields. Experiments are then devised to test the hypothesis with repeatable results by other independent researchers and laboratories. If the results are not accurately repeatable then part or all of the hypothesis is wrong. Please correct me if I am mistaken about this process.

      1. The problem is that in social sciences no “experiment” is repeatable. Two Cornell psychologists do an “experiment” and conclude that “Academic math-intensive science is not sexist” (http://bit.ly/2qmVctn). Then others repeat the same “experiment” and conclude the opposite (http://bit.ly/2qn3LE1).

        This is related to falsifiability, the definitive test of science. Social sciences are not falsifiable (see the 7th characteristic of science http://bit.ly/2qmP6IW).

  4. I’m glad you specified that you don’t think less of Psychology for not being a science. I can tell you’re really passionate about the topic, and I encourage you to keep looking into it further! I’m sure you’ll understand it a bit better one day.

  5. I’m a roboticist with a former background in Neuroscience.
    Neuroscience and the entire human experience is based on psychology. To say that it is not useful is complete and utter nonsense.
    Without psychology we would not have any form of criminal profiling, understanding of addiction or any other phenomena, an understanding for any behavioural disorder or anything to base the entire field of cognitive and behavioural neuroscience. Obviously, you have no background in psychology, but to have the audacity to claim that its useless is a bit of a stretch.

    1. So, as a neuroscientist, did you study in a science faculty and did you also study neurology in a medical faculty or are you simply a humanities phrenologist?

      1. Don’t accept the premise of the question, guys. Neuroscience is NOT based on psychology, it’s based on biology.

  6. Science or not, the field does not perform bio-chem testing to rule out possibilities of organic physiological imbalances. which do have correlations with psychological imbalances. This was proved early on by Abram Hoffer,MD,PhD but not accepted due to the politics of psychiatry & med industry.Old case in point is ‘mad hatters syndrome’ who suffered from mercury poisoning. Symptomatic ‘diagnosis’ which match the DSM ‘bible’ for insurance billing & drug prescribing is the business, not science, of psychiatry. I’ve had this conversation with my psychologist brother for many years. Symptoms are billable & toxic drugs are prescribed. A psychologist needs 6-mos. of pharma study to prescribe, i.e.,license to suppress symptoms.

    1. Really? The rules might be different where you’re from but in Australia a psychologist actually can’t prescribe any medication. A psychiatrist has had years and years of education and training on mental illness specifically and therefore can. A pharmacist only accepts and distributes prescriptions; they don’t actually write them for you.

  7. Psychology does not fulfill the necessary elemental aspects of the scientific method in any repeatable fashion; wherein the results of a scientific experiment are manifest and repeatable for any number of attempts using the same hypotheses and materials. This cannot be said of the field of psychology.

  8. I think you are all over complicating it. If there is no tangible quantifiable data then no science can be applied. And in psychology there is no tangible quantifiable data.

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