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Thread: Reducing psychology to neuroscience

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    creator kali's Avatar
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    Reducing psychology to neuroscience

    So the other day I was in my philosophy class and the tutor joked about psychology not being a "real science" (cue laugh track)

    Throughout my psych degree I've noticed there are two basic courses: humanitarian psychology courses and scientific psychology courses; the former focuses on social experiments (dependent variable is usually qualitative), and the latter of which focuses more on the effect of things on neurological states (dependent variable quantitative)

    Of course the humanitarian psych courses are seen through a scientific lens and all that, and utilise the scientific method, but it seems like the more a study examines brain changes, the more "legit" it is.

    So what do you see for the future of psychology? Will it be replaced by neuroscience?

    What are some disadvantages of reducing behaviour and emotions to neurotransmitters and neurons? To be honest, I think it fits perfectly in a pharmaceutical-capitalist paradigm, it sounds dystopic to me.
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    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    I notice the same dichotomy with social sciences generally. I think psychology is even closer to the divide which accentuates this issue all the more.

    As far as I can tell, the neuroscience research needs to get a lot further ahead than it is now to be applied properly. It's still in the state chemistry and biology was in before the 20th century in many senses, in as far as the mapping from physics and up was unclear and there wasn't a clear unifying theory - Darwinism didn't become that for biology until the genetics/statistic merger of neo-Drawinism later - and so on this basis I think it would be premature for neuroscience to completely engulf psychology yet. When sciences become prematurely simplified it is usually a consequence of an agenda of one sort or another. I should happen progressively in the natural spirit of the subject.

    What this will mean presumably is a more coherent and better understanding of the neurological understanding of the brain (I can't find an article, but current experimental techniques are still relatively primitive in terms of recognises the neural net structure) is necessary first. Some kind of simplification of the models upwards to accommodate useful psychological models would be necessary but this should be done in such a way that we know what simplifications are relevant or not e.g. Hartree–Fock method is based on simplifications of the Schroedinger equation that are understood, know to provide sensible approximations from Chemistry to Physics, because the fundamentals are known. Before this any simplification is rendered dubious if not well motivated.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Member synagogue's Avatar
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    The implications of such a proposal are pretty weighty (though certainly not unconventional). Jargon couldn't do that justice.

    I don't know where to start. I just think it's misguided.

    I do remember having e-mail arguments with my philosophy professor on this issue, though, and he agreed with you. I think it's known in philosophy as the "bundle theory."
    Last edited by synagogue; 04-08-2015 at 01:18 AM.

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    Senior Member BarIII's Avatar
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    A drug or surgical treatment that gets people to make better decisions through increasing intelligence won't come soon. Psychoanalysis may be the best way to treat mistake prone people for a long time.

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    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    I'm excited about the possibilities.

    fMRI and other such methods are prying the back off of the pocket-watch so that we may look inside at the clockworks.

    Everything in the mind is reducible to chemicals and electron transfer and is no different than gear ratios, Balance Springs, or Escapement Mechanisms in figuring out exactly how it works.

    pharmaceutical-capitalist paradigm???

    I don't see it. To the contrary, too many of the traditional human behavioral studies get grant approval from a Liberal dominated academia, and very often there is a politically oriented agenda in the design and interpretation of these studies.

    One of the More notorious of late, IMO, is featured in a recent book: Racism without Racist. Wherein the author speaks of the continuing damage being perpetrated on African-Americans from "Color-Blind Racism". Or innate racism we are all suppose to harbor subconsciously and act upon to oppress those not of our race.

    The author cites a study where whites and blacks are shown a video scene of a violent encounter between a knife-toting white dude and an unarmed black dude, and a significant number of the viewers mis-remember the black dude to be holding the knife.

    The study concludes that this demonstrates White's innate racism, but (LOL) it shows how Blacks have been infected by White innate racism.

    Doubtless, this study & book will be the catalyst of legislative and/or legal debate.

    Whereas I think there is an obvious explanation, not requiring a double standard in the answer while actually illuminating a problem needing to be addressed, and not 2-stepped around: African-Americans (13% of the population) commit 50% of the murders and a corresponding disproportion among other violent crimes.

    Thus, the study was reflecting the effects of nurture not nature. IMO

    So yeah, I'm all for letting the geeks get their hands on the brain scanners. I'm sure we'll reach a point, along with many other abilities, where we will be able to determine if a bias is hard-wired or learned.
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    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    When psychology and neuroscience merge, we'll have reached the "matrix" era... where we can generate our realities via external impulse.

    Honestly the prospect of that kind of technology is super exciting. I only wish it would come sooner.
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    Senior Member BarIII's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarIII View Post
    Psychoanalysis may be the best way to treat mistake prone people for a long time.
    Or maybe that's what life coaches are for. They won't make a drug to replace those.

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    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    What are some disadvantages of reducing behaviour and emotions to neurotransmitters and neurons? To be honest, I think it fits perfectly in a pharmaceutical-capitalist paradigm, it sounds dystopic to me.
    Probably wouldn't be a good idea to try to understand software by only looking at logic gates. Probably not a good idea to try to reduce behavior to neurons, chemicals, etc. There are many layers of abstraction in between and every level needs to be analyzed and understood.

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    Senior Member BarIII's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrionzRevenge View Post
    The author cites a study where whites and blacks are shown a video scene of a violent encounter between a knife-toting white dude and an unarmed black dude, and a significant number of the viewers mis-remember the black dude to be holding the knife.
    I was skeptical of this and was wondering exactly what's meant by "significant." If you have to guess who's the bad guy, a white or black guy, and know nothing else, I agree people would tend to guess the black guy. If you see a video showing who the real bad guy is, then you may still tend to err more towards the black guy but I'm skeptical that these days there would be a "significant" number of people misremembering. I tried tracking down details. I know nothing about this website and there must be better sources to be found on the web, but this is the first I found and it refutes the study alleged in the book. http://www.zebrafactcheck.com/cnn-mi...ic-study-race/ I didn't read the whole thing.

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    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarIII View Post
    I was skeptical of this and was wondering exactly what's meant by "significant." If you have to guess who's the bad guy, a white or black guy, and know nothing else, I agree people would tend to guess the black guy. If you see a video showing who the real bad guy is, then you may still tend to err more towards the black guy but I'm skeptical that these days there would be a "significant" number of people misremembering. I tried tracking down details. I know nothing about this website and there must be better sources to be found on the web, but this is the first I found and it refutes the study alleged in the book. http://www.zebrafactcheck.com/cnn-mi...ic-study-race/ I didn't read the whole thing.
    Thanks for the info. I'll have to fact check the fact checkers too. Superficially it looks very impressive.

    Yeah, CNN did this during the big build-up to the ratings bonanza of having Ferguson burned to the ground.
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