Prompt: Is psychology a real science?

Psychology can not be a “real science” until it acknowledges the simple truth that it is not making objective, deductive claims. In reality it is making inductive claims based on limited data. This distinction is vital. Throughout history psychologists have reached countless absurd conclusions which have done enormous damage precisely because they failed to adequately qualify the inductive claims they were making, misrepresenting them instead as deductive claims. Freud only studied insane people who lived in the extremely patriarchal authoritarian society of Vienna. The idea that any inferences made on that population could necessarily translate to universal deductions is just absurd.

This problem still happens today. We see countless examples every day where a study was done on affluent white males who were students at a particular research university, and then that extremely limited dataset is used to extrapolate universal conclusions about all of humanity.

Whatever route psychology takes, if it is to be a real science then it must acknowledge that it is a soft science (an inductive science) and not a hard science (a deductive science).

This is the fundamental problem with all the disciplines we’ve discussed so far. They have all assumed that whatever they think based on their limited perspectives and limited data must somehow necessarily be an absolute fact about all people. Most of the disciplines we’ve studied so far have actually made some interesting observations which — if they were properly qualified as inductive claims based on limited data — would actually yield some interesting results. This would be particularly true if those researchers actually tried to falsify their data by comparing very different kinds of people and other animals.

For example, what does an IQ test tell us about the intelligence of an octopus? Absolutely nothing.

What do Hirschfeld’s ideas about sexual orientation being real tell us about indigenous cultures with a dozen or more genders and sexualities? Absolutely nothing.

But either of these examples would be valuable if they had properly qualified their results as limited and inductive (soft) rather than universal and deductive (hard).