Good news. Psychologists are not going anywhere. Ever

As we all know, the robots are coming. With the singularity all but a certainty (and not in any way pseudoscientific), sooner or later artificial intelligence will develop to become a runaway technological splurge that disrupts and supplants all of what we know today as human civilisation.

Heck, even our most basic human proclivities will be sated by robotic intervention.

The good news, however, is that not everyone will become obsolete. Psychologists, for example (in other words, me and my kind), will be fine. No matter what happens in the future, psychologists are destined to live long and prosper, scuttling away like the cockroaches of academia, offering our uninterrupted insights to ever-eager (perhaps even increasingly hungry) audiences, oblivious to the very collapse of cognitive order and human collective sanity.

While you might be well and truly doomed, we, on the other hand, will be fine.

So, as I say, good news.

I found this out by checking this website called “Will Robots Take My Job?

And, apparently, robots will not be taking my job:

The people at “Will Robots Take My Job” have established a database drawn from the work of engineers at Oxford University, who statistically modelled the impact of automation on over 700 occupations based on their reliance on social and creative intelligence:

In 2013 Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne published a report titled “The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?”. The authors examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation, by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a Gaussian process classifier.

According to their estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk. Although the report is specific to the US job market, it is easy to see how this might apply all over the world.

We extracted the jobs and the probability of automation from the report and have made it easy to search for your job.

Perhaps paradoxically, the website itself is very user-friendly. Its overall pastel-and-cream UI is just so pleasant, you will virtually enjoy the experience of researching your own obsolescence.

By way of controlling-for-baseline, I ran a check of a few other cognate professions, just to see what kind of margin-of-error the Will-Robots-Take-My-Job people were working with.

JobProbability that a Robot will Take this Job
Psychologists0% (yay!)
Anthropologists1% (ooh!)
Sociologists6% (ha!)
Physicists10% (woah!)
Managers25% (“Automation risk level: Start worrying”)

Overall, seems legit to me. I mean, look at the exactitude of those numbers. Very specific. And the findings are just so convincing. After all, what psychologists do is certainly hard to automate.

As the authors note, automation works best for tasks that follow

well-defined procedures that can easily be performed by sophisticated algorithms.

In other words, psychology is so ill-defined, so unsophisticated, so anti-algorithmic, that it defies the power of even the best imaginable logic-machines to successfully imitate, in any way, shape, or form. Their efforts to do so will forever result in 100% failure.

I mean, even anthropologists can’t say that!

Hmmm. Maybe, for psychologists, it’s not such good news after all…

Replication crisis, anyone?

The HRA report does not exonerate the PACE trial, it merely confirms that its Research Ethics approval was in order

Great news. The PACE Trial controversy has been resolved! Oh, wait…er, no it hasn’t.

Rather, the spin cycle of eminence-based medicine continues.

The UK’s Health Research Authority have released a report on their assessment of the beleaguered PACE Trial, and have concluded that they are happy with it.

Cue the usual well-paid, eminent, professorial figures haughtily patronizing the great unwashed with their I-told-you-so put-downs and human webs of self-congratulatory mutual back-slapping.

You know the drill. Patients, scientists, academics, advocates, and public representatives point out glaring errors in the PACE Trial design — errors that would return a failing grade in an undergraduate research methods assignment — and call on regulatory bodies to withdraw their approvals accordingly.

Meanwhile, the PACE Trial’s authors, together with their extensive network of professional contacts (which in a place like the UK is so intertwined, convoluted, and overlapping as to make genuine peer-review a real practical challenge) chime together to defend what is literally bad science and, moreover, to condemn those who criticize it as amateurs, upstarts, and know-nothings.

It’s a true class system. The aristocracy have produced their PACE Trial, as befits their status as well-off denizens of civil society. The patients — those proles — must shut up and learn to know their place.

Now that the HRA say they are happy with PACE, the aristocrats have been crowing, as aristocrats are wont to do.

However, it is worth paying close attention to what the HRA set out to do here. See, for example, their own very words (emphasis added by me):

In assessing the HRA’s findings, it is important to remember that the agency’s remit is relatively narrow—it focuses on process. As the report notes: “Our concern as a regulator is whether the study was properly approved by the Research Ethics Committee (REC).

The report includes this important disclaimer: “It would not be appropriate for the HRA to seek to resolve…debates about the quality of the study. Discussion of the meaning and robustness of results is how science is expected to proceed.

And this: “We also note that some of the criticisms of the PACE trial which have been brought to our attention are outside our regulatory remit and so we are not in a position to comment on them.”

In short, the HRA do NOT find that all with the PACE Trial is ay-yippety-eye-okay.

They do not find this because they do not even try to find it. Let me — or, rather, let them — repeat the point:

“We also note that some of the criticisms of the PACE trial which have been brought to our attention are outside our regulatory remit and so we are not in a position to comment on them.”

Here it is again in larger font:

“We also note that some of the criticisms of the PACE trial which have been brought to our attention are outside our regulatory remit and so we are not in a position to comment on them.”

The good news of course is that several other authoritative figures have been “in a position” to comment on these criticisms, and have done so very extensively.

Hence the panic among the PACE Trial community to find anything — anything at all — that they can use to muddy the waters of debate, and make it look like they have been wronged. David Tuller has elaborated on several points made in the HRA report that reflect the pernicious spread of argumentation errors and groundless assertions that such efforts provoke.

Caution: Spin cycle alert!
(Photo by on

One final thought.

Academics, scientists, and researchers — even professors — carry ethical obligations to ensure that facts are conveyed accurately to audiences at all times. The HRA report simply does not vindicate the rigour or soundness of the methods used in PACE, or the soundness of its research design. The HRA report simply assesses whether the trial met the requirements of research ethics committee approval at the sites where it was carried out.

Anyone who uses this report to imply anything other than that the relevant paperwork was filed correctly is misrepresenting the role of the HRA and the scope of their review.

If this is not stated clearly by those with vested interests in the PACE Trial, then I really do hope it is as a result of genuine human error on their part. After all, everyone is subject to human fallibility (even aristocrats).

Anything else would constitute a deliberate effort to mislead, and would be — simply — shameful.

‘Psychology of Christmas’ media round-up

So this is Christmas; and what have you done?

Well, this is what I’ve done: a whole lot of media, surrounding my public lecture on ‘The Psychology of Christmas‘ just the other week. Turns out lots of people are interested in Christmas. Who knew?

I’ve made a list (I’ve even checked it a few times):



Dublin City FM:

Irish Independent:

The Irish Times:


Channel 9 (Australia):

* * *

I know. That’s probably enough, isn’t it? Well, time is certainly running out, so soon it will all be over…

Happy You-Know-What!

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