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Issue 4/2008

Okładka pierwszego numeru czasopisma Psychologia Społeczna

 

Rational reasons for acceptance of pseudoscientific theories: 
Need for simplicity, division of labor in science 
and false conceptual dichotomies

Maciej Haman
Faculty of Psychology
University of Warsaw


Abstract
T. Witkowski's provocation has shown three groups of mechanisms (irrational, rational, and socio-economic) of building pseudoscientific "theories" at the junction of scientific psychology and practice. This paper is focused on rational mechanisms. It is argued that pseudoscientific concepts are often accepted on the basis of an implicit assumption that they are guaranteed by experts and the research in other domains from which they borrow their terminology. This assumption is a consequence of the division of labor in science. A complementary mechanism is the tendency to build false conceptual dichotomies, illustrated in the commentary by the concept of explicit/implicit memory (Bedford, 1997), as well as the dichotomized assignment of mental function to brain hemispheres, inspired by works of Sperry and his colleagues on the "split brain". Finally I try to show how these mechanisms together may lead to the false feeling of understanding and belief that functions of the mind can be controlled.

Key words: pseudoscience; reductionism; the division of labor in science; false dichotomies

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