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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


A little C.S. Lewis on theorizing

It's been awhile.

Re-reading Pilgrim's Regress by C.S. Lewis and came across this:

"Hypothesis, my dear young friend, establishes itself by a cumulative process: or to use popular language, if you make the same guess often enough, it ceases to be a guess and becomes a Scientific Fact."

This stated by Mr. Enlightenment to John the traveler who was looking for his Island (desire). I believe I could say this about a lot of theories but a regular reader will surmise that I might apply it to both reparative theory and to the direct biological theory of sexual attractions.

Or to any other psychosocial theory of sexual attractions? Sauce for the goose and all.
I would say theory is one thing - scientific fact is another. Theories are fine as long as the illusion is not created that they represent fact. I think this has happened within conservative circles about reparative theory and the same with biological causes of all sorts.
And with other psychosocial causes besides reparative theory too? Sauce for the goose and all.
Why yes, of course. Some theories have more research support than others. Those should be held tentatively however.
How do you (and by this I mean 'you', not 'one') distinguish between scientific fact and a theory? All scientific 'facts' are subject to revision. There are some facts, however, that are part of a framework within which one postulates theories.

How does that work for psychology, where much of the entities one theorizes about are mental--like moods, disorders, etc.--and, from my perspective, at least another degree away from the subject matter of sciences like physics where the descriptive language for quarks isn't itself influenced by quarks (but in psychology, how one describes mental function and interaction within society seems to be influenced by those very things)?

Clear as mud?

(This is why I've been asking you about Popper....I'm a bit of a skeptic when it comes to classifying psychology as 'science')
What I've learned is the science takes a back seat to personal convictions and beliefs--whether you be a gay activist or a religious zealot.

In my experience, gays who completely buy into the biological determinism theory of sexual orientation tend to be angry activists with a chip on their shoulder.

And, those who maintain that change is possible for everyone tend to be religious people who feel gays should change.

Those gays who are happy with themselves and who have moved beyond fixating on their sexuality honestly don't care how they became that way. To them, anything is possible, and not worth thinking too much about.
Been very busy; not ignoring this. I think I use scientific fact loosely. I do not think there is much scientific about personality research. Under certain conditions some people will do and say certain things. At the same time, other people under those same conditions will do different things. Why do some feel or do or think one thing versus another? Multiple explanations exist> i tend to call them descriptions rather than explanations.

Private events (thoughts, feelings, awarenesses) are very much changed by language and the scrutiny that explanation brings. I think Popper's criticisms of intrapsychic theories makes sense. Part of why I am now making sense of things through a more contextual mindset is due to the observation that any given behavior can be "explained" in many different ways. I think the need for explanation is part of the context that shapes the explanation. If I think my therapist wants to locate meaning for my actions in past events (my therapy context), then I will be thinking of how current behavior can find a meaningful referent in my history. He will become a shaper of my private events and my verbal outputs by his responses to my attempts to locate meaning in my history. Now, when clients ask me if a current behavior implicates a certain history, I say I don't know, or something like that. I suppose it could be related but I cannot know that. I think it might be better to try to refute the idea that past event A leads to current event B. I believe, if I understand Popper correctly, is how his thinking is relevant to therapists seeking to find a narrative that explains it all. Yes?
Anon: I suppose many of us are curious about how things come about. I love the blues and I am sometimes curious how I developed such a response to that style. I don't think it would change anything for me to learn that it was due to a set of historical events versus some wiring that was pre-set. I would actually be a little disappointed to think that my love for blues was genetic, although I am not quite sure why at this moment.

You may feel disappointed because to be hardwired towards liking the blues implies some sort of cold, deterministic, mechanistic power that over shadows your free will.

I dunno, I think if researchers were to compare people who hate scary movies, and those who love scary movies (and have loved them from a young age), I wouldn't be surprised if their data yielded statistically significant data of the genetic/biological variety.

But of course...well...just think about what I said and you can fill in the blanks.

It is possible that I was born to hate restrictions on my free will. I think the sensation seeking gene may be at work there for you. In my case, it plays out in a love of roller coasters and driving fast. Then again, maybe I learned all of that. Then again, maybe its both.
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