0b. Preparing a Précis of Methodology for Psychologists who Think Freely

I would like to contribute to a public controversy about the methodology of scientific research in psychology. I hope to draw attention of people who feel concerned on the way psychological research is conducted, in order to enable them to comment freely on ideas to be detailed and organized in a book on the methodology of psychological research.

The public debate that is possible on the web is helpful in elaborating such a book. Instead of thinking to oneself then to publish, I would prefer to formulate criticisms and propositions already submitted to critical appraisal of people who, at some point, feel concerned. I wish to encourage opinions (disputable by definition) and questions (even not well formulated).

My main criticisms can be summed up under the following four headings: (1) Responses to test items are not measurements if they are not simply ordered. (2) To save the belief that test scores are measurements, the test validation doctrine requires the epistemological norm according to which logical validity of reasoning is not mandatory in psychological science, which entails that the resulting discourse is not scientific. (3) More generally, mainstream methodology aims at saving the belief that psychological theories are explanatory and testable. (4) But such a belief grows to the detriment of the simple idea that a scientific explanation of empirical facts consists in arguing for testable, sufficient or necessary conditions to these facts.

I propose that psychological scientists should be accustomed to the ideas that (1) scientific investigation in their fields of specialization is useful to explore our objective ignorance of the laws that would govern what occurs in the currently available descriptive windows, rather than to built a fallacious sense of understanding or mastering of how people (and animals) behave– such a perspective does not preclude the discovery of general facts if they exist; it precludes the institutionalization of a form of modern obscurantism in academic psychology–; (2) psychological assessment based on psychological tests should be reframed in the the context of a philosophical, socio-cultural, economic, and politic analysis of decision making under uncertainty, as what is at stake is assigning values to people in ad hoc, non-natural evaluative spaces.

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