In this article, Justin Ykema argues that psychology fails to meet the criteria necessary to qualify as an empirical science. Particularly problematic is how psychology could ever fulfill those criteria centered around the concepts of testability and reproducibility. However, this controversial conclusion should not be taken to imply that psychology has nothing to offer that is worthy of study. On the contrary, Ykema argues, psychology can thrive as a discipline centered on the statistical analysis of the data collected by psychologists, but as more of a mathematical pursuit than a scientific one.
Published on the Secular Web
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this quick follow-up interview with Justin Ykema, author of "A Critique of the Free Will Defense: A Comprehensive Look at Alvin Plantinga's Solution to the Problem of Evil," about his forthcoming Secular Web Kiosk piece on whether psychology, as it's currently practiced, is genuine science. Ykema notes how his discussion with a speech pathologist about children with autism fall on a "spectrum" spurred his thinking about how psychology seems more like statistics than science. For example, those on the autism spectrum can be high-functioning, moderate-functioning, or low functioning. Given such large differences between autistic individuals, Ykema suggests that psychology is closer to a branch of mathematics than one of science, in the sense that it foretells statistical probability in the same way that baseball players' future performance is extrapolated from their past performance, but doesn't involve experimental tests of hypotheses that can be replicated given the that each individual is unique. Ykema goes on to clarify that he won't be offering an abrasive stance against psychology, or arguing that it lacks empirical content, but simply pointing out that psychology might have been improperly classified as science when it's really more like data analysis (and thus been miscategorized in the same way that the general public has miscategorized a tomato as a vegetable when, by biological standards, it's unequivocally a fruit). Check out this intriguing interview!
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this roughly 15-minute interview with Justin Ykema, author of "A Critique of the Free Will Defense: A Comprehensive Look at Alvin Plantinga's Solution to the Problem of Evil." The discussion canvasses Ykema's main points of critique and motivation for writing his paper, such as the problem of evil casting doubt on any God being worthy of worship (since you would have to give up at least one of God's perfect power, knowledge, or goodness in light of the amount and kinds of suffering in the world). The discussion then turns to whether psychology is really a science, or whether it's closer to mathematics, given how heavily psychology relies on statistics, and given that the uniqueness of each individual makes it difficult, if not impossible, to replicate experiments across individuals. Ykema goes on to discuss what he's been doing since he got his philosophy degree before diving into what have been effective teaching styles in Ykema's experience. Check out this wide-ranging interview!