Pseudoscience Classes #10-13

Class #10: Psychology and Philosophy of Science // First Case Study: Complementary and Alternative Therapies

In short: The real question is: ‘How good a science can psychology be?’ Psychology meets the various philosophical assumptions of science. This brings us to our case-studies. The first set is from the fringes of psychology, and relates to complementary and alternative therapies.

Targeted reading:
Hughes, Chapter 8 (pp. 97-110)
Valentine, ‘Conceptual Issues in Psychology’
Hughes, ‘How Should Clinical Psychologists Approach Complementary and Alternative Medicine? Empirical, Epistemological, and Ethical Considerations’

Class #11: Homeopathy

In short: Complementary and alternative therapies have in common (a) biological implausibility and (b) therapeutic inefficacy. Our first example is homeopathy.

Targeted reading:
Schick & Vaughn, Chapter 7 (pp. 227-234), Chapter 5 (pp. 142-151)
Shang et al., ‘Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects?’
The Skeptic’s Dictionary, ‘Homeopathy’
From the blog: The Irish Times: Promoting homeopathy, endangering children?; I’ve decided to do my bit for homeopathy awareness

Class #12: Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Placebo

In short: Like homeopathy complementary/alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic lack plausibility and efficacy, despite claims to the contrary. Placebo and other psychological effects of treatments may explain their popularity.

Targeted reading:
Schick & Vaughn, Chapter 7 (pp. 227-234), Chapter 5 (pp. 142-151)
Stewart-Williams & Podd, ‘The Placebo Effect: Dissolving the Expectancy versus Conditioning Debate’
Wikipedia, ‘Placebo’
From the Blog: “Pregnant thanks to acupuncture”; The BMA’s dodgy claim about British GPs and CAM

Class #13: Telepathy, Psychokinesis

In short: Our second case-study of psychology-related pseudosciences from the fringes is ‘Telepathy and Psychokinesis’.

Targeted reading/viewing:
Schick & Vaughn, Chapter 6 (pp. 197-211)
Bösch et al., ‘Examining psychokinesis: The interaction of human intention with random number generators–a meta-analysis’
Wiseman [Video], ‘”Heads I Win, Tails You Lose”: How Parapsychologists Nullify Null Results’
From the Blog: “Extraordinary people, ordinary evidence”

Click here to move on to Classes #14-17