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I know what science is!
A discussion with someone ... who doesn't know what science is.

Copyright © 2008, Paul LutusMessage Page

I know what science is! (part 1) | I know what science is! (part 2) | I know what science is! (part 3)

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  I know what science is! (part 1)
First things first: Do not make ad hominem attacks (these are prevelent in responses posted on your website); they will get you no where, and imply that you do not have the capability to actually argue your point. According to the Symmetry Principle I have the right to reply in the tone set by my correspondents. In any case, this issue isn't topical. No matter what communication style you or I choose, it won't affect the scientific standing of psychology. The scientific standing of psychology is the only legitimate topic. To clarify, I ask a question of you: What is science? I have already answered this question dozens of times, and I would answer again, but I suspect you are asking it rhetorically and intend to provide your own definition. Be careful with your response, as if you claim it is objective truth, you will have troubles; Only with a post-modernist, because science is strictly and clearly defined.

[A post-modernist typically denies the premise of shared, objective truths, then begins a conversation requiring the premise he has just denied]
either that, or you should write a book on forms of objective truth you've come across, and subsequently become the most prominent thinker/philosopher of our time. Nonsense. Any number of trained scientific professionals can define science, and yet they spend most of their time writing grant proposals and lecturing rooms filled with bored students. Science is generally defined as "Systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation." You're using a dictionary definition, not a technically accurate one. For reasons given here, this is a mistake — dictionaries only tell us what people think words mean, not technically accurate definitions such as one would find in an encyclopedia.

"Systematic knowledge" is the product of science, not the process. Science is defined by how it gathers and evaluates evidence, not by the evidence itself. Your definition of science as systematic knowledge is on a par with defining agriculture as potatoes. There is more to it than that — at some point, someone has to get his hands dirty.
Indeed, this is precisely what most clinical psychology does. Yes, I know, and that is the problem. Gathering information — describing — is not science, because it leaves out the part where we try to explain what we have described. If we stop with descriptions, we cannot shape theories, which are an attempt to explain. If we don't shape theories, we cannot make testable claims. If we don't make testable claims, we cannot ever falsify anything. Falsifiability lies at the heart of science, and its absence explains why psychology isn't scientific.

In case you think I made this all up, in the 1950s the American Psychological Association (hereafter APA) commissioned a study of the scientific standing of psychology. In 1963 the result was published in six volumes as "Psychology: A Study Of Science" (Koch, S. (Ed.). (1959-1963). New York: McGraw-Hill). Sigmund Koch, the director of the study, came to these conclusions:
"The hope of a psychological science became indistinguishable from the fact of psychological science. The entire subsequent history of psychology can be seen as a ritualistic endeavor to emulate the forms of science in order to sustain the delusion that it already is a science."

"The truth is that psychological statements which describe human behavior or which report results from tested research can be scientific. However, when there is a move from describing human behavior to explaining it there is also a move from science to opinion." (emphasis supplied)
Koch's distinction between describing and explaining is crucial to the issue of scientific standing. It is a simple matter to describe something, and descriptions are often repeatable, but one cannot shape a scientific theory based only on description. For a scientific theory, one must try to craft an explanation of what has been described. With an explanation in hand, one can design an experiment to see if the explanation has general validity. And crucially, the existence of a testable explanation allows the possibility of falsification, the key property of all scientific theories.

But as it is now constructed, psychology doesn't try to explain behavior, it is satisfied to collect descriptions of behavior. Those therapies that exist are meant to respond to descriptions, without ever taking the dangerous step of offering a testable, falsifiable explanation.
You have claimed that there are ethical matters involved in the use of CBT for an experimental group, but not for a control group. I have never said this anywhere. A study that uses experimental and control groups has ethical issues for both groups. You need to read more carefully. This claim is unsupported, and untrue. I'll say. It's unsupported by virtue of the fact that I never said it. It is certainly untrue. For example, Antorini has presented a model that links the beneficial effects of CBT stress management to its effects on the immune system of HIV-positive men (2003). This is a retrospective study and there is no control group. Retrospective studies have fewer ethical issues because the experimental populations are found, not created. But there lies the problem — it is difficult or impossible to establish a firm cause-effect relationship when the experimental group must be selected from the population at large. This is a well-researched issue, and the history of retrospective studies speaks for itself. Scientific studies have shown, with many replications, the CBT IS useful in aiding/treating illnesses/disorders. False, and the APA professional guidelines disagree with you. None of these studies has a meaningful control group — not one. None of them offered a make-believe therapy to a control group, to control for the placebo effect. Your claim is false. I have yet to see any support on your behalf, but urge you to read these studies before you (contrary to what you proposed to another poster) begin to "wave your hand." I have, the studies are flawed, and this is well-understood by professionals in the field — professionals like Ronald Levant, president of the APA, who at substantial risk recently exhorted his profession to begin moving toward evidence-based practice. Your extrapolation of disorders on the DSM is invalid. To propose that it will continue to grow in the manner which you have shown is not valid. Simply because something has occurred, or proliferated at a given rate, does not mean that rate will continue in a systematic manner. Yes, in a passage in which I ridicule my own conclusion. It's obvious that existing trends cannot continue, and that was the point I was making. About the chart I say:
"Based on this table and extrapolating into the future using appropriate regression methods, in 100 years there will be more than 3600 conditions meriting treatment as mental illnesses. To put it another way, there will be more mental states identified as abnormal than there are known, distinct mental states. In short, no behavior will be normal."
How did you miss the irony? It's perfectly obvious that I am saying the extrapolation is absurd and isn't going to happen. Had I said that this will happen on a day when pigs are flying, would that have helped?
Are you aware the physicists are uncertain of many phenomena in the world? Did you realize that, with some theories in mind, physicists decide to use wave theories, while in others (analogous situations), wave theories don't apply, but particle theories do, so they choose to employ particle theory? Does this mean that physics is not a science? No, it means you don't understand quantum physics, and your example doesn't remotely show what you think it does. In point of fact, the wave-particle duality is well-understood and has a foundation in quantum theory. It isn't evidence for inconsistency as you are suggesting.

If I flip a single fair coin, and if I assign heads a value of 1 and tails 0, I can only ever get 1 or 0 in a single flip. If I flip the coin a million times, I will get an average result very close to 1/2.

For a million flips, I would have a very, very hard time achieving a result of 1 or 0. For a single flip, I would have a very hard time achieving a result of 1/2.

Based on this result, based on the fact that in some experiments I can only get numbers near 1/2 (the wave analogy) and in others I can only get 1 or 0 (the particle analogy), do I have the right to assume that physicists have no clue?

Based on your wave/particle argument and with all respect, if I were you I would try to avoid discussing real scientific topics. You might be better off staying with psychology. Just a piece of friendly advice.
Moreover, physics tells us the internal temperature of the sun (as well as that of planets); do you believe this prediction of a "science"? Why? Have you actually measured the internal temperature yourself? What kind of a prediction is one that cannot be falsified, at least, at the moment? You call this science? In fact, you've chosen an example of science at its best, one in which a purely mathematical theory is confirmed in empirical experiments. Beginning with Einstein's famous equation E = mc2, which predicts that mass can be converted into energy, moving to examination of the sun's spectrum and our understanding of its composition, we conclude the process with laboratory experiments using fusion reactors that duplicate the process by which stars convert mass into energy. In the future, fusion reactors — based on our scientific understanding of stars — will provide all our power needs. This is science, where we assume nothing and verify everything. Contrast this with psychology, where you assume everything and verify nothing. At least with CBT we can use a control group and an experimental group No, you cannot. You cannot do this. You cannot ethically create a study of real people without telling them whether the activity is research, diagnosis or treatment, and acquiring informed consent. If the subjects know it is research, the study is doomed. If the [subjects or] experimenters know which group is which, the study is doomed. This is Statistics 101.

The very poor, unreproducible results that are standard psychology fare arise from the systematic problems that come up while studying human beings without violating their rights.

If the issue is important and controversial, if there is anything at stake, the study, defects and all, may not even get off the ground, as in the example of the just-canceled chelation study:

Mercury Chelation to Treat Autism

A quote from the article: "This study has been suspended." It was suspended because a treatment that might alleviate autism or Asperger's would only be applied to the experimental group, not the control group (and regardless of how the study came out, someone would be sued). Also there were concerns about the safety of the treatment.
When Newton speaks of "gravity," and makes predictions about this phenomenon (which I'm sure you buy as "science"), does he provide some essentialist explanation of just what gravity is? What is its underlying nature? Why does it exist? If you think Newton is the last word on gravity, it might benefit you to cross the hallway from liberal arts to hard science and see what's been happening during the past 300 years.

In any case, scientists understand that today's findings are still theory, subject to falsification, and physicists don't tell people to jump out of windows just to test our assumptions. By contrast, psychologists do the moral equivalent of this regularly.

Walter Freeman drove about the country in his "lobotomobile," performing altogether about 3500 lobotomies in the clinics of any number of professional psychologists, who were persuaded to coöperate based on — evidence? research? — no, based on Freeman's persuasiveness. Little has changed since those times. One thing that has changed is that psychologists now freely acknowledge the fact that psychology isn't rigorously scientific.
What is possible, however, is to make predictions about phenomena; psychology does this in a scientific manner - a manner by which theories can be falsified ... This is false — theories are neither shaped nor falsified in psychology, for reasons given here. As a result, any number of entirely unsupported and unsupportable practices are common fare among practicing psychologists. Hypnotism. Aroma therapy. Recovered Memory Therapy. Facilitated Communication. Alien abduction recovery therapy. None of these can be falsified by a rigorous scientific tradition within psychology, for the simple reason that there is no rigorous scientific tradition within psychology.

Sometimes a client dies, like Candace Newmaker or Rebecca Riley, after which the courts assume responsibility rather than psychologists. But theories are rarely crafted and never [rigorously] tested nor falsified within psychology.
It appears (though I am uncertain) as though you, much like many other people, are asking for essentialist answers from psychology. Essentialism [a requirement that certain things be present] is a property of science. Science is not art, it is not a matter of personal judgment, and it cannot coexist with a post-modernist outlook.

Science must create theories, the theories must relate to evidence (and vice versa), and the theories must be testable and falsifiable. That's the essence. There is more, but that is the essentialist heart of science.

Psychologists go through the motions of science, but when it comes down to the essentials, when it comes down to denying clinical application of a treatment until rigorous research has been conducted, it cannot meet accepted scientific standards.

You, on the other hand, probably have little knowledge of other "sciences,"
  1. What happened to your prohibition against ad-hominem attacks? Oh, was that meant to apply only to me, not you?
  2. There is precisely one science. There are not "other sciences." A field either toes the scientific line, or it doesn't, and the subject matter is irrelevant to this assessment.
  3. Remember in this connection that science has no essential connection to particular subjects of study, for the reason (again) that science is not the product, it is the process for acquiring the product. For more depth on this topic, read this article.
I recommend (since I hope you value support, rather than "hand waving") that you read the book "How to Think Straight about Psychology," by Keith Stanovich. He dispells many of your arugments in the book (as would I, but I have limited time to do so). All its qualities aside, this interesting book doesn't address or refute any of my (or Ronald Levant's, or Sigmund Koch's, or Richard Feynman's) position on the scientific standing of psychology.

To argue that psychology is useful and ought to be a science is not remotely the same as arguing that it is. It isn't.
You claim to value science so much, yet, in a specific example, claim something along the lines of "CBT may be useful, but talking to a friend would be just as useful." I never said this. I did say that the outcome with the friend would be statistically indistinguishable from therapy. This is well-established, and to refute it, psychologists would have to design a rigorous, double-blind study — and not get sued in the process. For someone who points the finger at clinical psychology as "not being a science," you appear to lack scientific understanding. Where is your evidence? What happened to your prohibition against ad-hominem attacks? Since there is no evidence offered for this claim, it is an ad-hominem attack. Furthermore, you have not provided any peer-reviewed, empirical support for your claims ... False! One of many examples that I provide and that you could have noticed: in the 1950s, the APA funded a six-volume study named "Psychology: A Study Of Science" (the irony of the title quickly became apparent to everyone who read the work) that has survived the closest scrutiny over the decades, and that concludes that psychology is not a science.

And these are not my claims. The claims in my articles are derived from published works, and lengthy bibliographic notes accompany each article — here's an example.

Finally, because psychology is widely recognized not to be a science, even by people like APA president Ronald Levant who has every incentive to say otherwise, you are trying to shift a burden of evidence onto me that is rightly yours.
Please, to support your claims, provide citations to scholarly, peer-reviewed articles; otherwise, quit playing with your bellybutton. 1. Wow. Is this the same person who said this: First things first: Do not make ad hominem attacks Apparently! At this point I want to say you have now reached lower in the rhetorical arms race than I ever dreamed of going with anyone.

2. There is no shortage of scholarly citations attached to my articles. You do have to read them, however.
"There was something bothersome about Isaac Newton's theory of gravitation.... How, after all, could "action at a distance" be realized? Nweton side-stepped such questions. Ever since Newton, physics has followed his example. Physicists make no attempt to explain why things obey the laws of electromagnetism or gravitation." (Robert Wright, 1988). This is the most perfect variety of ignorant nonsense I have ever read. But it only reveals the weakness of your position. You don't understand that the above quote is false, and you somehow think finding someone willing to disparage physics will make psychology look better. This next one seems to be aimed at people such as yourself:

"We can tell nothing of other people except by seeing what they do or say in particular circumstances....The empirical method is a way of reconciling differences. If one rejects it, the only way of dealing with a disagreement is by emotional polemic." (Donald Broadbent, 1973).
This is an empty ad hominem attack with no imaginable bearing on the topic.

Well, let's wrap up. You tried to hold me responsible for your burden of evidence, you falsely claimed that I didn't provide literature references for the claims in my articles, you argued that wave/particle duality represents a deplorable inconsistency in physical theory, you quoted some scientific ignoramuses, you demanded that I not engage in ad-hominem attacks, then you abandoned your own clearly stated principles.

In the meantime, APA president Ronald Levant is trying to build a consensus for rebuilding psychology as an evidence-based pursuit, but with little success among rank and file psychologists. I wonder why?
I know what science is! (part 2)
Please, if we are going to discuss matters, do not crop the message to best suit your argument. You are clearly unfamiliar with current correspondence practice. An adept correspondent quotes only the passages he intends to comment on — which, by the way, is the practice you adopted in your original post to me.

Such quotations must not unfairly characterize the originator's intention, but that's the only rule.

Since you have already adopted the normal practice, since you feel free to quote selectively, it is hypocritical to claim I don't have the same right.
Furthermore, if you're going to quote what the APA has written about psychology as a science, use an article that isn't almost 60 years old. Psychologists try to avoid repeating past mistakes, so since Koch's seminal work in 1963 (that's 45 years, not 60) they have avoided this issue like the plague. What you fail to acknowledge is that, 45 years and counting, nothing has changed and, in spite of every incentive, there is no refutation of the original analysis, indeed in many ways the situation has gotten worse — instead of Walter Freeman and a traveling lobotomy carnival, we have "recovered memory therapy".

If the original work were not relevant to current practice, APA president Ronald Levant would not be parroting the original author in his campaign to nudge clinical practice toward an evidence-based model.
Let us start from the beginning. Too late. We've already started. You are trying to erase the original exchange, which went very badly for you. Forget it. Also, by making the request, you have contradicted your demand for full quotation. "We're starting over, erase everything you just said. Now, quote my every word!" The argument is this: Psychology is not a science.

I, first, need to clarify two things with you. 1)Are you referring to all psychological field when you make this claim?
Yes, obviously. The reason? If psychology were a science, there would be a solid, unifying theoretical core that would govern all psychological research and practice, as is true for physics. Do you suppose someone can start an anti-gravity school of physics and build bridges and airplanes based on such a fringe belief? Certainly not, because that would contradict the theoretical core of physics. But such things happens regularly in psychology, where any imaginable fad gets its day in the sun, and its survival depends on — theory and evidence? — no, on willing, paying clients.

The reason this happens is because the field of psychology doesn't have a solid, tested theoretical core to guide activities in the field. Psychologists perform and publish experiments, but the experiments do not refer to, support, or falsify basic psychological theory, because there is no basic psychological theory. Psychology is not a unified structure like most scientific fields, it is a loose collection of otherwise unrelated belief systems.

That is why you can ask your question. You wouldn't — couldn't — ask this about physics. If I claimed that gravity isn't what current theory says it is, no one would think to ask, "does your claim apply to all of physics, or only parts of it?" But it's perfectly reasonable to ask this about psychology, because psychology is not unified by theory. Because it is not unified by theory, it is not a science.
2) We need a working definition of science (this time, I won't go on to provide the general definition; let's hear it from you). What? I have already provided it. Stop pretending that we're starting over. It is childish and unproductive. Here it is, a word-for-word quote from my prior post:

"Science must create theories, the theories must relate to evidence (and vice versa), and the theories must be testable and falsifiable. That's the essence. There is more, but that is the essentialist heart of science."
Again, you expect to be able to reply to my posts without quoting fully, while at the same time demanding that I do so. By the way — I am not demanding or even encouraging full quotation. It's a waste of time and space. Feel free to quote only what you want to reply to, nothing else. Since you are already doing this, my advice may serve no purpose.
I study perceptual processes and human memory; I hope, for the sake of this future discussion, that you are familiar with experiments in this field. If not, you need not worry, I'll provide enough resources to demonstrate to you why you are bound to be incorrect with this argument if a) you believe all psychological studies are not science and b) if you provide a definition for science that is reasonable, and one that can be applied to physics, biology, chemistry, etc.
  1. I already provided the definition.
  2. Stop making demands that you have no intention of meeting yourself.
  3. You are just not getting it. If psychology were science, there would be a unified, tested theoretical framework, and experiments that either supported or falsified prevailing theory. This isn't how psychology works.
If your described specialty were both scientific and part of psychology (it cannot be both), it would have been used to refute the "recovered memory therapy" craze just now coming to an embarrassing close. But your specialty cannot do this, because, regardless of its content, it doesn't refer to underlying psychological theory, because there is no underlying psychological theory.

There are any number of fields that have fallen into the same basket and labeled "psychology" even though they are not tied together by underlying theory. Some of them might even be scientific in small and peripheral ways, but they are not tied to psychology and psychological theory in the way that particle physics is tied to physics and physical theory.

The question is not whether an isolated experiment, theory or field is scientific, the question is whether psychology is scientific. If it were, your field (assuming it has any results that can be used to construct a general statement) would have refuted and halted "recovered memory therapy" before the arrests began.

If instead your specialty had no useful results with respect to the issue of "recovered memories" and if psychology were scientific, your specialty would have been able to say, "we have no evidence to support this practice, so stop it," which is how mainstream medicine stops pseudo-scientific therapies.

But this is not what happened — practitioners of recovered memory therapy didn't look into the theory of human memory, because they were under no obligation to do to before commencing clinical practice, in turn because ... psychology is not a science.

This is how "recovered memory therapy" got started. It happened because research into human memory is not part of a unified theoretical framework that embraces both psychological research and practice. This in turn is because psychology is not a science — it doesn't have the structure required of a science.

Which means your specialty and its content is irrelevant to the question being discussed. The only way you could refute this is to demonstrate that results from your specialty are compelling on the behavior of clinical psychologists. This is clearly false — "recovered memory therapy" was determined to be bunk by the legal system (not by psychology), the falsely arrested, tried and jailed victims have been released, and the American legal system has reluctantly ruled that no more cases will be heard in which "recovered memories" are the primary evidence.

This outcome didn't result from psychological science and professional housecleaning, it resulted from many individual recantations by victims of the therapy.

No cropping, please. What? You failed to quote any of my prior message even while commenting on its content, and you even demanded something that was already present in the original message, which made it necessary for me to provide a quote that you did not. So stop this hypocrisy — you obviously have no intention of meeting your own demand, which means I am not bound by it either.
For you to determine which parts of my argument are important and which are not is unfair But you have already adopted this practice in your original post and in your reply. Are you really unable to see the inconsistency and hypocrisy of your position? (I'd imagine you'll claim that my response was too long, or that some parts were so ridiculous that you didn't want to respond), I imagine that, with respect to your original post, you will try to claim that all my articles were too long to quote in full, and with respect to your present post, that you simply couldn't bring yourself to quote my definition of science and chose to demand it all over again, as though it had not been provided.

All you are doing is revealing your unfamiliarity with the practice and standards of contemporary correspondence.
however, I have read all of your responses, You failed to notice that I responded to your request for a definition of science, and you then asked for it again, as though the original post didn't exist. So no, you didn't read all of my responses, or if you did, there was a temporary communication breakdown between your eyes and your brain. Given your specialty, I expect you would want to study this scientifically rather than making a demand of me that you have no intention of meeting yourself. so if you want to have a discussion, please be fair about it and respond to everything I say, not just what you deem appropriate. "Don't do what I do, do what I say." I am beginning to realize you are younger and less seasoned than I first guessed. The very young expect to be able to impose standards on others that they personally cannot or will not meet. This is also true of malignant narcissists, but I won't go there ... yet.
I know what science is! (part 3)
Since you have already adopted the normal practice, since you feel free to quote selectively, it is hypocritical to claim I don't have the same right.

Fair enough, you are correct. The reason that I have not been quoting you in full is because of the limitations on the length of a given post on your website.
When you received my first post, all you needed to do was hit "reply," like a computer-literate person, not try to re-use the message board, which is a spam-filtering measure meant only for first contacts. Indeed, it is inconvenient for me to attempt to copy a reponse or original proposal you have made, and then respond to it, when I do not have enough room to do so (you, however, do). When I said that you didn't know how to manage an e-mail exchange, even I didn't appreciate how right I was. " ... in the 1950s, the APA funded a six-volume study named "Psychology: A Study Of Science" (the irony of the title quickly became apparent to everyone who read the work) that has survived the closest scrutiny over the decades, and that concludes that psychology is not a science."

Though I did not clarify, this was the reference that I was referring to (which, as you can see, was not work from 1963).
Yes, it was exactly that. The work was commissioned in the 1950s, begun in 1959 and published in 1963. It is 45 years old. In any case, you appear to believe 45-year-old work is scientifically invalidated solely on the basis of its age. Only in psychology do ideas drop out of sight for reasons of declining popularity and fashion.

Meanwhile, in the world of science, Einstein's special (1905) and general (1916) theories of relativity are much older than the study you are trying to dismiss as too old, but they have not been discarded. The reason? Physics is a science. Scientific theories can only be refuted by evidence, not by fatigue or changing fashion.
Further, I will admit that I have claimed that you not make ad-hominem attacks, and I have, in a hypocritical manner (fueled by your attacks), Your characterization — "fueled by your attacks" — is false. Your first post, made to my message board, was filled with gratuitous ad hominem material, and we had not yet made contact. You raised the curtain, as a solo act, with ad hominem content already present, accompanied by a demand for no ad hominem content. ... made a few attacks on you. I, again, request that you do not do this ... You are suffering from some kind of disturbance that makes you think normal behavioral rules only apply to others, not to you. Since I am not a psychologist, I won't try to guess what it is. ... also, that you do not use witty remarks... Sorry. You cannot prohibit witty remarks. I am beginning to see the dimensions of your world. "Let us start from the beginning."

Too late. We've already started. You are trying to erase the original exchange, which went very badly for you. Forget it. Also, by making the request, you have contradicted your demand for full quotation. "We're starting over, erase everything you just said. Now, quote my every word!"

I am not trying to erase the original exchange,
"Let us start from the beginning" has precisely one interpretation. and would appreciate it if you did not pretend to know how the original exchange "went" for me. I know how it went for you — very badly. I don't mean as you subjectively saw it. Let's stick to logic and reason, not childish games. What? To avoid childish games, you would first have to stop pretending to understand science, and stop rejecting textbook definitions of science out of hand. What I was implying, was that our discussion had moved away from the grounds that I wanted to discuss, That's what happens when you agree to talk to someone else. After a monologue becomes a dialogue, two people, and two sets of priorities, have equal standing. primarily as a result of my posting. I realized that I mentioned some things that I do not care to argue, things that are not relevant to the topic of whether psychology is a science. With this, by "starting over" I mean, let us focus on the real issue here. But because of your contribution to this dialogue, we've been discussing everything but the real issue since the beginning. I offered the accepted definition of science, I have shown that psychology cannot meet it, and I have provided literature references to that effect. I have pointed out that the president of the American Psychological Association agrees with me. All to no effect. The reason I asked you for a definition of science (and why the previous one you provided for me is not acceptable) Say what? You're prepared to declare the textbook definition of science "not acceptable"? Is this the same person who just said, "Let's stick to logic and reason, not childish games"? It's now clear that you want to reject accepted definitions of science in order to claim psychology is a science — and I have had this same discussion more times than I care to remember. By the way, the "intelligent design" people (creationists) want the same relaxation of science's definition, and for exactly the same reason (it allows anything to be labeled "science").

When you asked me to provide a definition of science, and then declared the response "not acceptable" with no further comment, you ended this conversation for reasons that you should understand but probably don't.

Note 1: When this correspondent realized he couldn't engineer a monologue with two participants and that I was terminating the exchange, he suffered an emotional meltdown and began writing repeatedly and abusively, using multiple disposable e-mail addresses to illegally circumvent my having blocked him from this site (an experience I've had with other psychologists). I finally and reluctantly ended his blizzard of emotional messages by threatening him with prosecution under the federal Can-Spam act.

This conversation began with:

"First things first: Do not make ad hominem attacks"

as its first line, and ended with:

" ... next time you want to pretend as though you have half a brain, try a little harder, would you?"

as its last. At no point did this correspondent attempt to either verify or discuss any of the evidence presented in my articles or in this exchange. What began as a normal conversation quickly devolved into a blunt demand that I accept his position in toto and only appeared to be an exchange of ideas. In retrospect, when he demanded "do not use witty remarks," I should have realized what that meant — I was dealing with a malignant narcissist and the exchange was futile.

Note 2: I've noticed a pattern with my psychology correspondents — they expect to be able to define science for themselves, but with no apparent insight into what that means:

This is not rocket science — indeed, it's not any kind of science.

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