Nick Michalak: Thoughts on scientific rigor in the behavioral sciences

My first contribution to Biophilia (it’s older).

Biophilia

{Editor’s note: This semester, UST senior Nick Michalak is doing an independent study in which he is reading and writing about prominent books in Biology that are written for a general audience (the “lay public”). Here is the first of his entries.]

I’m mingling at a New Year’s party this past December, when the host calls me over to chime in on a discussion her fiancé and his friend are having. I bounce over, we exchange niceties, and the fiancé’s friend confidently states, “Psychology is a soft science.” He’s a chemical engineer, proud of his role as a “hard” scientist, and he goes on to say that, “You can ask a chemist to make a certain amount of a specific compound, and he can cook up almost exactly that amount. Psychology just doesn’t have that kind of predictive power.”

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