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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Psychology Professor on Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience

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Scott Lilienfeld has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Emory since 1994.  He wrote a brilliant article a while back, published in "Observer" Vol.18, No.9 September, 2005.  Aimed at fellow teachers of psychology, he lays out some desperately needed groundwork.

Lilienfeld's focus is teaching his psychology students how to distinguish science from pseudoscience in a methodical fashion.  Once learned, I daresay, these are skills would benefit literally every individual in the public.


Stories of his experiences in class kick off the article and show why these skills are much needed.

The beef of the article is also the title of the article: 
"The 10 Commandments of Helping Students Distinguish Science from Pseudoscience in Psychology"


Read the actual article for an eloquent paragraph on each of these commandments.

First Commandment
Thou shalt delineate the features that distinguish science from pseudoscience.


Second Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish skepticism from cynicism.


Third Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish methodological skepticism from philosophical skepticism.


Fourth Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish pseudoscientific claims from claims that are merely false.


Fifth Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish science from scientists. 


Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt explain the cognitive underpinnings of pseudoscientific beliefs.


Seventh Commandment
Thou shalt remember that pseudoscientific beliefs serve important motivational functions.


Eigth Commandment
Thou shalt expose students to examples of good science as well as to examples of pseudoscience.


Ninth Commandment
Thou shalt be consistent in one’s intellectual standards.


Tenth Commandment
Thou shalt distinguish pseudoscientific claims from purely metaphysical religious claims.



Association for Phychological Science on Lilienfeld: "Much of your current work focuses on revisiting old controversies in the field of psychology and debunking commonly believed myths."

Right on!


My overview pales in comparison to the actual article, which you can find here.




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