Who Needs Psychology?!

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Don Gallogly

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Jun 16, 1992, 4:04:00 PM6/16/92
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I should read all my mail before I respond. Others made all the points I
did in my earlier post. I would like to respond to this topic, though.

Fred Detwiler writes....

>Do we really expect society to fund our research when
>it rarely has practical, useful purposes?

We have an obligation as members of society to provide explanations to the
mysteries around us. It's not a question of practical, useful purposes.
It's one of lifting humanity out of ignorance. I don't mean to sound
pompous, that's not the feeling I am intending. As long as *everything* is
not understood (or becoming understood, *everything* will surely never be
understood), we should strive to find answers, irrespective of any practical
applications. One of my undergrad. instructors said, that if differences
between populations exist (even experimentally produced populations) we should
look for ways to explain these differences.

As for expecting funds, we should not expect more than any other science.
We certainly don't get more than the others. The practicallity of a partical
accellerator is not in question when funds are allocated for its research.
Research should not be expected to justify itself on the basis of the kinds
of products it will generate.

> I seems imparitive
> that all psychologists regardless of area should be prepared
> to realistically address these issues. Are we worth our
> saline, and why....Prove it.

I agree. Those of us with a research orientation should be prepared to
show that our research is leading somewhere (or from somewhere, at least),
but not based on applications. Teachers should be judged on what their
students learn in the classroom, not whether their students are successful
in life. Researchers should be judged on the quality and continuity of
their research, not on its products.

Don Gallogly
EUP...@CWU.bitnet

Tim Tumlin

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Jun 16, 1992, 3:23:08 PM6/16/92
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Fred must have gotten a new flak jacket for his birthday recently; he
seems ready to draw fire from all quarters.
I've wondered the same things, particularly as the economy dries up.
I have no fear for clinical psych because I think most of my branch can
pay its way, i.e., we can show that we create value in return for the
money spent on research and application. But I can see a lot of others
worrying about their future. Knowing something about social influence
on streetcorners or memory nodes is interesting to me but I wonder if
society wants to spend millions for the knowledge,just as learning about
supernovas is neat but has virtually no application.
No doubt as budgets shrivel up, science will become more Byzantine.
Tim

Chris Cameron

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Jun 16, 1992, 10:07:43 PM6/16/92
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On Tue, 16 Jun 1992 12:04:00 PST Don Gallogly said:
>Teachers should be judged on what their
>students learn in the classroom, not whether their students are successful
>in life.


I disagree. Much of what I have learned in classes in my life has been
irrelevant. I remember next to nothing of what was taught to me by
my seventh grade english teacher, yet she was one of the most influential
educators in my life. I do think I owe some of my success to her and
judge her on how much she influenced my life rather than the knowledge
I retained (or not) from her class. Of course, part of what she taught me was
to go out on a limb with my ideas (one class project was to prepare for the
class a presentation of some unique combination of ideas (my words not hers)
and my group made a dessert island - with sand and chocolate sauce - in class).
and to aim high. But is this the kind of learning you speak of?
I'm sure we all know VERY bright people who CANNOT apply that knowledge and
"succeed in life".

Waiting for the tornadoes they are promising us :O - Chris at KU

Stephanie Fishkin

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Jun 17, 1992, 2:13:40 AM6/17/92
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Fred writes (and, of course I had to resond sooner or later!):

> What has society gained from knowing how many digits a person
> can hold in short term memory?

Well, as far as I remember from my cognitive psych class, this research
determined how many numbers make up our phone numbers! That seems to be
a very pracitcal finding...

> What good does it do to know that people tend to acquire schematic
> understandings of things they have read rather than verbatim?

This allows thousands of students to get through exams and standardized tests
and get an answer that is "correct" (on open-ended questions and on the
"jist" questions on the standard exams) without having to spend many many hours
memorizing massive amounts of information.
It also seems to be good for telling a friend how the movie you saw last
night was and what it was all about (can you imagine telling your friend
all the lines in the movie?!)

> And, social psych. get real!
> Gee, it does a lot of good to know (or sit around and think about) what
> causes violence and aggression. What about group think? Yes, a group
> of military people may get together and decide to take over a neighboring
> country even though most of them think its wrong. So!? What are we doing
> about it?

Now, now, now, let's not "flame" shall we?

> People who do evaluation are particularly useless. They get
> money to do program evaluations with elaborate methods, yet they
> know going in that any decisions will be made based primarily on
> political influence cf. empirical evidence!

OK, given this bit of information, can we not use our knowledge of social
influence (thank you, social psychology!) to prepare our program
report so that our findings will indeed be used?


Fred -- your comments sound as if one underlying frustration you see with
psychology is the difficulty translating theory into application.

So, psycgradders, my question is:
How can we, as future researchers, find methods that will enable the
general public to use these findings on a daily basis? Should we have
PR folks come in and send out press releases announcing our findings?
Would it make sense to force researchers to write technical and general
reports of their findings?

I think that's enough for the day; Good night.

Steph at USC

Kathryn Irene Snyder

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Jun 17, 1992, 10:31:00 AM6/17/92
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Somehow I don't think that applicability is a relevant factor in getting
funding. Take for example the multi-million (or is it billion?) dollar
particle accelerator there was all the fuss about last year...miles ins
diameter, a small village of employees, etc. That sort of high energy
physics doesn't seem to have trouble getting funded, and yet it is
supposed to be useful only in understanding how the insides of stars
works. How useful is that to our society? Sometimes I think there is
no rhyme or reason to funding programs, just whoever writes the best
grant app.
Irene Snyder
IRE...@UNC.BITNET

Tim Tumlin

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Jun 17, 1992, 11:05:49 AM6/17/92
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Re the funding of science projects such as the particle accelerator:
Au contraire, I think that project has been very controversial and we
have asked sources such as the Japanese government to kick in money to
finish it. If it were not such a plum for an influential state, I'm
sure it would have been killed.
The accelerator is one of many projects that gained momentum back in
the Days of Denial (The Reagan Years) when we put everything on the
national credit card. Star Wars, the space station and a lot of very
expensive Defense Department weapons systems got cranked up then and now
they're hard to stop. I'm betting that one difference in the economy
is that you won't see any of those bazillion-dollar projects getting
started nowadays.
Tim

Don Gallogly

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Jun 17, 1992, 3:17:00 PM6/17/92
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Chris Cameron writes...

>On Tue, 16 Jun 1992 12:04:00 PST Don Gallogly said:
>>Teachers should be judged on what their
>>students learn in the classroom, not whether their students are successful
>>in life.
>
>
>I disagree. Much of what I have learned in classes in my life has been
>irrelevant. I remember next to nothing of what was taught to me by
>my seventh grade english teacher, yet she was one of the most influential
>educators in my life.

The problem is that it is just as impossible to judge a teacher, 10 or 20
years later, on the success of students, as it is to judge basic research
on the applications it might produce. How much weight do you give to a
seventh grade teacher as opposed to a second grade teacher? How much
weight do you give Signal Detection Theory in the development of modern
radar scopes compared with advances in VDTs? You see, the success of
research is found in the knowledge it generates, not the applications.

Don Gallogly
EUP...@CWU.bitnet

Matthew Simpson

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Jun 17, 1992, 2:39:48 PM6/17/92
to
On Tue, 16 Jun 1992 23:13:40 PDT Stephanie Fishkin said:
>So, psycgradders, my question is:
>How can we, as future researchers, find methods that will enable the
>general public to use these findings on a daily basis? Should we have
>PR folks come in and send out press releases announcing our findings?
>Would it make sense to force researchers to write technical and general
>reports of their findings?

This is easy to answer.
Step 1:
Find out what you personally want to do or see done in this world.

Step 2:
Find the best way to do this. If "best" to you, for example, means "easiest,"
then find the easiest way to do this.

Step 3:
Report how you know that what you find is indeed the "best" way to do
something (or at least report that what you find is indeed a good way
to do this).

Step 4:
Teach people how to do the one thing you want to do. Or, do the one thing
you want to do. If other people like it, then they will come to you to
learn, or they will just learn. I think the best way to spread the good
word to others is by doing it yourself. If what you find is valuable,
when you do the things that you like to do, people will observe and learn.
This is taking the notions"physician heal thy self" & "practice what you
preach" to their fullest extent.

O======================================================================O
| _ l _ * Matthew Simpson * Clinical, Behavior Medicine |
| \_l_/ * School of Psychology * Experiential, Hypnosis |
| l * 145 Jean Jacques Lussier * Post-positivism, Philosophy |
| l * Ottawa, Ontario K1N 8P5 * Science, Epistemology |
O======================================================================O

Matthew Simpson

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Jun 17, 1992, 3:05:03 PM6/17/92
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On Wed, 17 Jun 1992 11:05:49 EDT Tim Tumlin said:
> The accelerator is one of many projects that gained momentum back in
>the Days of Denial (The Reagan Years) when we put everything on the
>national credit card. Star Wars, the space station and a lot of very
>expensive Defense Department weapons systems got cranked up then and now
>they're hard to stop. I'm betting that one difference in the economy
>is that you won't see any of those bazillion-dollar projects getting
>started nowadays.

Call me optimistic. I see the particle accelerator as something that may
give us clues on how to accomplish cold fusion. If we can convert cold
fusion into a usable energy source, then we the worlds coal, fossil fule,
and nuclear problem licked. Virtually, we can start taking electricity for
grated, like we do to the gravity we use.

I think we need to stop defending the rest of the world with troops stationed
abrOad. Bring them home. Now there's bazillions of dollars. Put the money
into internal resourses, research and development.

Chris Cameron

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Jun 17, 1992, 5:46:28 PM6/17/92
to
On Wed, 17 Jun 1992 11:17:00 PST Don Gallogly said:
>You see, the success of
>research is found in the knowledge it generates, not the applications.

Here I am in my little applied science world, but please humor me.
The knowledge is generated for who(m?)? What do you mean by success?
How do you know if any knowledge is generated? Do you have examples
of research results that have absolutely NO application?

Curious in Kansas - Chris

Stephanie Fishkin

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Jun 17, 1992, 5:57:18 PM6/17/92
to
>
> On Tue, 16 Jun 1992 23:13:40 PDT Stephanie Fishkin said:
> >So, psycgradders, my question is:
> >How can we, as future researchers, find methods that will enable the
> >general public to use these findings on a daily basis? Should we have
> >PR folks come in and send out press releases announcing our findings?
> >Would it make sense to force researchers to write technical and general
> >reports of their findings?
>

Matt answers with:


> This is easy to answer.
> Step 1:
> Find out what you personally want to do or see done in this world.
>
> Step 2:
> Find the best way to do this. If "best" to you, for example, means "easiest,"
> then find the easiest way to do this.
>
> Step 3:
> Report how you know that what you find is indeed the "best" way to do
> something (or at least report that what you find is indeed a good way
> to do this).
>
> Step 4:
> Teach people how to do the one thing you want to do. Or, do the one thing
> you want to do. If other people like it, then they will come to you to
> learn, or they will just learn. I think the best way to spread the good
> word to others is by doing it yourself. If what you find is valuable,
> when you do the things that you like to do, people will observe and learn.
> This is taking the notions"physician heal thy self" & "practice what you
> preach" to their fullest extent.
>

Matt -- Your comments above were a sarcastic reply to my question, right?
If not, I don't mean to sound like I'm flaming, but, come on, get real! This
may sound nice in theory, but try doing this. Not everyone will agree that
my way is best. Nor will they agree that what I perceive as a problem is
indeed one that needs a solution; if it's not in their back yard, why
bother (if it ain't broke don't fix it).

I want world peace and an end to hunger. Do you really think that I can do
this via the above four steps? I may be able to influence (or help)
some people, but on my own I am not going to have the world's problems
solved in my lifetime!

Cynically yours (although hopeful!)

Steph

Matthew Simpson

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Jun 17, 1992, 6:10:25 PM6/17/92
to
________Please, my friends call me Matthew.
V

On Wed, 17 Jun 1992 14:57:18 PDT Stephanie Fishkin said:
>Matt answers with:
>> This is easy to answer.
>> Step 1:
>> Find out what you personally want to do or see done in this world.
>>
>> Step 2:
>> Find the best way to do this. If "best" to you, for example, means
>"easiest,"
>> then find the easiest way to do this.
>>
>> Step 3:
>> Report how you know that what you find is indeed the "best" way to do
>> something (or at least report that what you find is indeed a good way
>> to do this).
>>
>> Step 4:
>> Teach people how to do the one thing you want to do. Or, do the one thing
>> you want to do. If other people like it, then they will come to you to
>> learn, or they will just learn. I think the best way to spread the good
>> word to others is by doing it yourself. If what you find is valuable,
>> when you do the things that you like to do, people will observe and learn.
>> This is taking the notions"physician heal thy self" & "practice what you
>> preach" to their fullest extent.
>>
>
>Matt -- Your comments above were a sarcastic reply to my question, right?

No, not at all. I fully believe in this type of approach in the development
and reporting of psychotherapy.

>If not, I don't mean to sound like I'm flaming, but, come on, get real! This
>may sound nice in theory, but try doing this. Not everyone will agree that
>my way is best. Nor will they agree that what I perceive as a problem is
>indeed one that needs a solution; if it's not in their back yard, why
>bother (if it ain't broke don't fix it).

This is meant to be very real, sound nice, and practical in its application.
Sincerely, I do not rationally try to have everyone agree that my way is the
best (this is one of the Irrational Thoughts, a la Ellis?). Not everyone will
agree that what I see as a problem is indeed one that is a solution. We
agree. Yet, correct me if I am wrong, *some* of the people may value what
ever it is that I think is best. Some of them might want to receive service
from what I do. Some may want to learn how to do it themselves.

>
>I want world peace and an end to hunger. Do you really think that I can do
>this via the above four steps? I may be able to influence (or help)
>some people, but on my own I am not going to have the world's problems
>solved in my lifetime!

Whoa Whoa Whoa! Wait a minute. This is an entirely different question than
what you originally asked. The question I answered was...


>
> On Tue, 16 Jun 1992 23:13:40 PDT Stephanie Fishkin said:
> >So, psycgradders, my question is:
> >How can we, as future researchers, find methods that will enable the
> >general public to use these findings on a daily basis? Should we have
> >PR folks come in and send out press releases announcing our findings?
> >Would it make sense to force researchers to write technical and general
> >reports of their findings?
>

And then I offered my version of how to do these things above. I gave
4 simple steps to follow. I thought they were a very real and sincere
answer to these questions. Were they not?

Where did world peace and hunger come from? I didn't volunteer to become
accountable for that. I am hopeful also that we find the solutions.
I really hope we do soon for our sake. :)

So, to sum up. I hope I didn't say anything wrong or sarcastic in my
proposed solution to how one researcher could find things that the
general public could apply on a daily basis. I think the answer starts
with the person finding something that he or she wants to do his or her-
self on a daily basis. The next step is to identify why this one thing is
a good thing to do. The next step is to report what you have discovered.
The last step is to help others who are interested (if any) to do this
one thing that can be done on a daily basis. Simple, huh?

Sincerely,
Matthew (My friends call me Matthew)

Have fun!

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