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Scholars of the field know this debate has continued on and off, right up through the present day.The debate flared in the blogosphere a couple of years ago, after an op-ed piece by a microbiologist in the LA Times declared definitively that psychology was not a science, followed by several pieces in Psychology Today and Scientific American declaring definitively that psychology is, in fact, a science. The answer is that it is complicated and the reason is that both science and psychology are complex, multifaceted constructs.
If one is a psychologist or even has a passing interest in the field, one has likely encountered the question about whether psychology is truly a science or not.
The debate has been prominent since psychology’s inception in the second half of the nineteenth century, and is evident in comments like that by William James who referred to it as “that nasty little subject”.
Ideally, the body of knowledge will have a center that is consensually agreed upon (e.g., the Periodic Table in chemistry) and peripheral domains that represent the edges of scientific inquiry and where one will find much debate, innovation, and differences of the opinion.
A final element that is particularly relevant in this context is that the term science has much rhetorical value in our culture.
These are solid definitions, but we need to flesh them out a bit.
I consider science to be made up of four elements: 1) the scientific mindset; 2) the scientific method; 3) the knowledge system of science and 4) science as a rhetorical label.The ultimate desired product of the method is a cumulative body of knowledge that offers an approximate description of how the world works.In concrete terms, this refers to the body of peer reviewed journals, textbooks, and academic courses and domains of inquiry.The scientific mindset also includes the following characteristics: emphasis on empirical evidence (i.e., data collection) to develop explanations; attitudes of openness to possible (natural) explanations and a skepticism about tradition, revelation and authority; an emphasis on objectivity (i.e., independent from the bias of the observer); an emphasis on logical coherence; and the belief that humans can build systems of knowledge that do, in fact, correspond to the way the world actually works.Another defining feather of science is its reliance on systematic methods of data collection and critical analyses of the ideas of science.Your access to the NCBI website at gov has been temporarily blocked due to a possible misuse/abuse situation involving your site.This is not an indication of a security issue such as a virus or attack.It's rooted in the tired exasperation that scientists feel when non-scientists try to pretend they are scientists.Thus for Bezerow, (real) scientists dismiss psychologists because they are rightfully defending their turf.Indeed, if science were solely a method, then it would not be all that valuable, a point that is sometimes lost on empiricists enamored with the scientific method.Thus, it is crucial to keep in mind that the scientific method is not an end unto itself, but rather is a means to an end.