TED Conversations

Ariel Ramirez

Frustrated psychologist,

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What is your take on what 'Psychology' is 'supposed' to be?

My field of study, if indeed it can be called that, has a rather, I would say 'confused' identity. As with any science that is relatively young, the only way to study something that we have little idea of, is to study what everyone else's opinion about it. On the objective cliff, the cognitivists, behaviorists, and experimentalists may maintain that we should treat it with cold calculation, critical reasoning, and impersonal analysis. On the subjective side of the cliff, we have the existentialists, humanists, and empathists that stand by the notion that we should look at it with an understanding and encouraging eye, that we as humans are far from 'robotic' machinations. There are, many other cliffs mind you, about as many as the perspectives that cast down an eye on the largely unknown abomination of a study that is psychology, with many claiming to be an expert of the same field, but of differing understanding. Even some people who have no background on the science can claim to be an expert in his/her own right. As such I ask, what IS 'Psychology'? What is this black void we all like to gaze upon but no one seems to be in complete agreement as to what it is. Like the blind men and the elephant.
Note: Please no copy and paste textbook definitions. In this science, as you read more books on it the more confusing it gets, at the same time everything would start to seem like a deja vu. Same concept again and again but no agreement, fascinating...


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  • Feb 28 2014: I suppose its a science whose purpose is the study of the inner workings of the mind. Unfortunately, its so horrendously inaccurate (by the standards set up by its exact brethren like physics and chemistry anyway), that it belongs in the same category as economics and sociology in the sense that its only a science in the broad definition of the word.

    The field of biology may one day overtake it and absorb it completely as our understanding of the brain improves and things start being properly modeled, but that day is nowhere in the foreseeable future.
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      Mar 2 2014: Horrendous yes, but inaccurate, I would have to disagree. It's just you you see. I would like to draw an analogy on physics hundreds of years ago where the behavior of physical objects are attributed to 'natural states' or unseen things like 'ether' and 'phlogiston'. We are measuring accurate things but we just don't know how to interpret such measurements because we still do not have a universal well accepted theory.

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