Can Psychology Figure Out Humans?

first_imgPsychology is often considered a soft science.  Anything they pronounce one year is likely to be modified or overturned the next.    A few years ago (and still in some quarters), self-esteem was all the rage (now fading, though; see 05/12/2003).  We should be assertive and confident, we were told, and make our feelings known.  Two recent reports might place more value on self-restraint.    Last month Science Daily reported, for instance, that it’s OK to keep your feelings to yourself.  “Contrary to popular notions about what is normal or healthy, new research has found that it is okay not to express one’s thoughts and feelings after experiencing a collective trauma, such as a school shooting or terrorist attack.”  Many teachers and school counselors may feel a jolt at that idea.  Don’t the psychological counselors rush in after every disaster to help students express their feelings?  Might it be possible in some cases that such a response does more harm than good?    On July 1, a report on Science Daily warned about the perils of overconfidence.  A French psychologist tested subjects with a computer game and tried to measure the effect of overconfidence on their reactions.  His research “suggested” a pretty far-reaching conclusion: “Overconfidence is not limited to the realm of subjective beliefs and cognitive judgments but appears instead to reflect a general characteristic of human decision making.”  Is such a conclusion warranted by one little artificial test?  Can psychologists really find the sweet spot between underconfidence and overconfidence for all possible personalities in all possible situations?The usefulness of psychology as a science is very limited.  Some findings about memorization and learning methods have value, but any time they try to generalize about human nature, psychologists are right about as often as the proverbial broken clock.  The field is replete with discredited theories, contradictory speculations, and outright scandals (Freud, Jung).  Some of its teachings are indistinguishable from those of cults.  Who needs these guys?    The rational animal is far too complex for a science of the soul.  If lab rats under controlled conditions do what they darn well please (the Harvard Law), how much more people who can choose to deceive and mislead a researcher?  There are no scientific laws in this field anything as rigorous as the law of gravity.  You are likely to have far better luck figuring out how to interact with your fellow humans with good old folk psychology: the kind we learn growing up.  We learn by experience how to judge one another’s inner mental states, to anticipate what they will say or do, to empathize with what they are feeling.  We assume, without proof, that our fellow humans are rational entities, not just Pavlovian responders to neural states (see 06/21/2008, bullet 3), despite what the cognitive neuroscientists tell us.  In terms of explanatory power and practical utility, folk psychology has a pretty impressive track record over professional psychology.  It is arguably just as scientific.    Best of all is to get your anthropology from the operator’s manual.  Only the Maker understands how humans are put together.  First, we need to get reconnected to the power source.  The Bible says we are like walking dead needing life, rebels needing to lay down our arms, fools in need of wisdom, sinners in need of redemption (Romans 3).  Christ’s sacrificial work, accepted by faith, pays our debt, resurrects us back to spiritual life and imputes His righteousness to us.  Then, the Bible’s instruction manual, such as the Proverbs of Solomon and teachings of Jesus Christ (e.g., Sermon on the Mount – but don’t stop there) and the writings of Paul, James, John and the other apostles are the textbook for living.  The Bible is loaded with real, practical principles on all aspects of life.  It comes with numerous case studies.  No other source of soul-ology (psychology) has the Creator’s imprint on it.  Why would you go anywhere else?  The sweet spot for confidence is right there: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img

Leave a Comment