August 22, 2009

Dan Gilbert on the Situation of Psychology

Also read: What should the further development of psychology look like?


  1. Interesting.

    Good point about throwing out the baby with the tub water.

    Future psychology question: psychology of human robot interaction - EMotional impact of having to deal with robots and intelligent machines.

  2. At first I thought, "we don't throw out the baby, we merely make room for the new one" (electic practioners abound) but then he mentioned the funding of research in the neuro-brain studies direction and I see his point more clearly.

  3. Yes, very good points, I agree with just about everything he said, and very eloquently. We do tend to exhibit irrational exhuberance in trends, which more importantly has a cognitive equivalent as well.

    Sociologists Collins and Pinch beautifully captured it as the mythical Golem turning his face in different directions based on what catches his interest.

    It is funding, but also remember that although the "sciences" maintain a textbook record of their models, people in practice have limited interests and working memory and we ask questions that don't always take previous ideas into account. Research by its very nature tends to ignore certain past ideas when it focuses in new directions. We dropped Freud by the wayside when behaviorism was largely replaced by cognitivism, but we still have in the back of our mind the notion that moral reasoning consists of ideals that are internallized partly by attachment to significant figures, which is central to old Papa Freud's thinking. And Minsky mentions this in "The Emotion Machine" as part of the architecture of the mind and credits Papa. The Golem turns back. The emphasis shifts and things are forgotten and re-remembered depending on what questions fascinate us at the time.

    Thanks for referencing this, Gilbert is a great thinker with a deep perspective on behavior science. I wish there were more guys like him in decision making roles in the U.S..


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