[ Last updated 3 Dec 2003]
Why Cognitive Psychology is so lousy?
The rest of the texts in this site show that Cognitive Psycholofy is
pretty lousy, full of logical errors, myths, overinterpretations and
demagoguery. Why? Part of the answer is that every science field has
these problems, but Cognitive Psychology is definitely worse than
other fields. Why?
Cognitive psychology is worse because of three main reasons:
- In cognitive psychology, there is no successful framework of
research. Other fields have such frameworks, and research within these
frameworks generate useful results. These results define a standard of
achievement, and research within these areas that doesn't reach these
standards is rejected. In cognitive psychology, the lack of successful
frameoworks leads to lack of good standards. The result is that
research does not have to show real achievement to be acceptable. For
example, computational models are regarded as successful if they are
used to model some phenomena, which is clearly not an achievement as
far as understanding the brain is concerned (it is just shows that the
model is flexible enough to fit the data). A more serious criterion is
that the model generates new insights which are confirmed
independently, and current computatioinal models fail to do that, but
since no other model succeeded to do this until now, researchers in
the field ignore this criterion. Similarly, PET
and fMRI fail to come up with any useful results, but since no
other method did until now, they are still regarded as acceptable.
- Many people (probably most of them, if not all) have strong
illusions about how much they understand their thinking processes and
other people's thinking processes. These people, from inside cognitive
psychology and outside, put pressure on cognitive psychology to
confirm their prejudices rather than generate real understanding. Most
important is the pressure from philosophers with their ideas about
intentionality, computer scientists with their computational models,
and sociobiologists with genetic determinism.
- Cognitive psychology is a "problematic" research field, by which
I mean a field in which the conclusions affect directly the way we see
ourselves. This mean that the conclusions evoke strong emotional
responses in most of people, which strongly bias their judgement. Most
of people seem so bias that they fail to identify this bias.
- Central concepts in the field, for example 'mind', are mixtures
of real observations and fictitious ideas. Thus when somebody tries to
'explain the relation between mind and brain', for example, they
normally mean explaining how the brain relates to some phenomena that
are real, and to some phenomena that are fictitious. This neccesarily
causes confusion. As large part of the field is about these kind of
explanations, the field gets very confused.