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From Wikipedia.

When Cattell moved into the field of psychology in the 1930s, he described his disappointment upon finding that it consisted of a wide array of abstract, unrelated theories and concepts that had little or no scientific bases. He found that most personality theories had their origins in philosophy and personal conjecture, or were developed by medical professionals, such as Jean Charcot or Sigmund Freud, who relied on intuition to reconstruct what they felt was going on inside people, based on observing individuals with serious psycho-pathological problems. Cattell (1957) described the concerns he felt as a scientist:

“In psychology there is an ocean of spawning intuitions and comfortable assumptions which we share with the layman, and out of which we climb with difficulty to the plateaus of scientific objectivity….Scientific advance hinges on the introduction of measurement to the field under investigation….Psychology has bypassed the necessary descriptive, taxonomic, and metric stages through which all healthy sciences first must pass….If Aristotle and other philosophers could get no further by sheer power of reasoning in two thousand years of observation, it is unlikely that we shall do so now…. For psychology to take its place as an effective science, we must become less concerned with grandiose theory than with establishing, through research, certain basic laws of relationship.” (p.3-5)

(Raymond Cattell)

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Forced pause

Exams are taking me so much time I can’t manage to continue writing my work. I am sorry. But there is a positive aspect: cognitive psychology exam provided me some interesting readings about the whole matter so I found out other brighter people had the thought before me! I am talking about Damasio, Dennet, Edelman and other ones like Searle, who wrote issues better than me. Reading some of their papers, I got impressed of how clear they defined what I had imagined some weeks ago!
I cannot provide any evidence, but I felt really excited my ideas are not as stupid as I thought they could have been! Just like reading some verses, keep them hidden and listening to them in a song or something like that. Just amazing… =)
I hope I have the time to continue my researches soon, after a well-done exams session! 🙂 That’s all about it.
Ga

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Prospect

A disclaimer for graduate school.

Suppose the doors to the lab featured a disclaimer for new graduate students saying: “Warning: years of hard work inside, with no guarantee of a career.” Some might think twice before entering. Although many graduate students recognize the pitfalls of striving for a position in academia, others still remain idealistic about their prospects.

At least one laboratory’s website now offers a measured dose of reality (http://www.biology.duke.edu/johnsenlab/advice.html). “Before you apply to this lab or any other,” writes Sönke Johnsen on his group’s website, “there are a few things to keep in mind.” Johnsen, an associate biology professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, stresses that graduate school in biology is not a sure path to success nor is it a certainty that students will achieve a career similar to that of their adviser. He underscores this argument by doing the maths. On average, a professor at a research university looks after 3 students at a time for about 5 years each, which equates to 18 students over a 30-year career. Given that the total number of academic positions has stayed roughly constant in recent years, these 18 people are, in effect, competing for one job.

Should more labs post such disclaimers? Quite possibly, given the positive response Johnsen’s note has received from contributors at http://www.scienceblogs.com. No wise adviser would allow for false promises or false hope — although lab heads should also be sure to emphasize that PhD scientists, especially those open to non-academic jobs, are generally quite employable.

Johnsen goes on to offer another reality check, albeit one related more to quality of life than job openings. Make sure to pursue your passions, he writes, before committing to an intense five or six years in the lab. And make sure that you don’t commit to a miserable, yet high-profile, lab on the assumption that the pay-off, half a dozen years down the line, will make it all worthwhile.

Once you’ve read and understood a disclaimer of this type, you’re probably ready to walk through those doors.

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Publish and be wrong

One group of researchers thinks headline-grabbing scientific reports are the most likely to turn out to be wrong


Oct 9th 2008
From The Economist print edition

IN ECONOMIC theory the winner’s curse refers to the idea that someone who places the winning bid in an auction may have paid too much. Consider, for example, bids to develop an oil field. Most of the offers are likely to cluster around the true value of the resource, so the highest bidder probably paid too much.

The same thing may be happening in scientific publishing, according to a new analysis. With so many scientific papers chasing so few pages in the most prestigious journals, the winners could be the ones most likely to oversell themselves—to trumpet dramatic or important results that later turn out to be false. This would produce a distorted picture of scientific knowledge, with less dramatic (but more accurate) results either relegated to obscure journals or left unpublished.

In Public Library of Science (PloS) Medicine, an online journal, John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, and his colleagues, suggest that a variety of economic conditions, such as oligopolies, artificial scarcities and the winner’s curse, may have analogies in scientific publishing.

Dr Ioannidis made a splash three years ago by arguing, quite convincingly, that most published scientific research is wrong. Now, along with Neal Young of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland and Omar Al-Ubaydli, an economist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, he suggests why.

It starts with the nuts and bolts of scientific publishing. Hundreds of thousands of scientific researchers are hired, promoted and funded according not only to how much work they produce, but also to where it gets published. For many, the ultimate accolade is to appear in a journal like Nature or Science. Such publications boast that they are very selective, turning down the vast majority of papers that are submitted to them.

(more…)

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Hello Everyone!

Hallo Everyone!

Welcome to my new web experiment. This is a wordpress-based web site i will use to collect information, articles, resources and whatever more I will find useful for my studies and my future career in psychology.

I am trying this stuff for I have notice it weeks ago and I wondered how it could offer me something interesting.

This is not for me to create a sort of psychology site (there are too many of them around the web) but to have a tool I can have access to everywhen I need it. I intend to fill it with interesting stuff that can be found on internet, magazines, academic material and so on.

I have a desire to create a good reference for my (and yours, if you are interested) researches through internet sites and web articles. I cannot manage to take written articles on this site for my own time denies me so (and I think law also does!).

Nevertheless, feel free to join my personal work and to upgrade it with everything that can belong to the contents.

Finally, I decided to run this site in english language for more than one reason. First of all, I egoistically need to experience my english usage! 🙂 Second, I want everyone who discovers this place to understand the stuff in it whichever language he/she speaks. Third and last, english is a necessary tool in my future career and for everyone who follows scientific studies; because of this, I feel coherent using it.

Moreover, I ask everyone not to judge the way I will collect articles and so on, for I am going to test this device and its possibilities, and I am sure in the next weeks there will be a lot of mess here. I will try to tidy up when I have clearer ideas! 😉

In conclusion, I hope you people will enjoy this thing and consider the idea of becoming part of this experiment. Stylistic ideas are also accepted!

Read you soon! 😉

Zampetta

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