• All posts,  Psych science

    The sin of the perpendicular pronoun

    Many psychologists, myself included, want to make psychology more like the natural sciences. Psychology, as a scientific discipline, may be a couple of hundred years younger than chemistry or physics, but with cautious work we will be able to reach the same level of replicability and confidence in our findings, despite the complexity of our subject matter. Unfortunately (and for some reasons too complex to delve into here, perhaps deservedly), most scientists do not regard much of psychology as scientific. The result is that psychologists find themselves on the cusp of scientific respectability, and perhaps that is why psychologists are sometimes behind the curve when it comes to changes in scientific…

  • All posts,  Psych science

    Data or datum? Let the data decide.

    You might be surprised how often scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and statisticians argue over whether the English word data ought to be treated as a singular or a plural noun. Surely they should be spending their time making discoveries and inventing things? Ah, but what you are forgetting dear, naïve reader, is that scientists, programmers and their friends tend toward an acute interest in details. And of course we’re glad they do lean that way, so let’s forgive the navel-gazing. (I hope you’ll forgive my gazing at the navel of scientific discourse in this post.) “The data were analysed using analysis of variance.” “The data was analysed using analysis of variance.” Which is right?…

  • All posts,  Psych science

    The emotional scientist

    Humility is the defining characteristic of science. To admit that you don’t know, early and often, is contrary to most people’s psychological make-up. It means that science, the dispassionate discipline, requires us to battle through emotions (like pride) to get at the truth.