Sabancı Üniversitesi


Psychology Public Lecture: James D. Herbert (Drexel University)


Sabancı University
Faculty of Arts and Social Science




Science and Pseudoscience in Psychology and Related Fields:  Why Learning to Think Scientifically is Hard, but Essential


James D. Herbert

(Drexel University)


Monday, April 15, 2013
13:00-15:00 FASS G022


Abstract: The subject matter of psychology is inherently interesting to most people.  As scientific approaches to psychology have expanded, growing tensions have emerged with traditional, pre-scientific understandings of human behavior.  Some approaches make no pretense of being scientific, but pseudoscientific theories and technologies adopt the trappings and appearances of science but without its substance.  Occasionally pseudoscience is the result of fraud, but more commonly, it results from a fundamental lack of understanding of what science is and how it differs from other “ways of knowing.” In this talk, he will examine common ways in which human cognition leads people to believe strange things, and to maintain these beliefs even in the face of contradictory evidence.  The scientific method will be discussed as a unique tool for overcoming cognitive biases.  The distinctions between science and pseudoscience will be explored, using examples from the field of clinical psychology.  Specific topics to be explored may include extrasensory perception (ESP), “recovered memories” of childhood sexual abuse and alien abduction, multiple personality disorder, questionable psychological assessment methods (e.g., the Rorschach inkblot test), and controversial treatment methods (e.g., rebirthing, facilitated communication, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, tapping therapies).  He will conclude by examining why learning to think like a scientist, including balancing open-mindedness and healthy skepticism, is critical to addressing problems in today’s world.

P.S.: The seminar will be in English.

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