‘Psych-illogical’, public lecture in Dublin, 1 December 2016

From the Psychological Society of Ireland

The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) is delighted to announce a public lecture on 1 December. This will be the final lecture in a series of five public lectures running from September to December 2016. Registration for this event will be available shortly.

Psych-illogical: How Bad Science Threatens To Ruin Psychology

presented by

Professor Brian Hughes

6.30pm
Thursday 01 December
Robert Emmet Theatre (Arts Block), Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2

Abstract:
We have truly entered a golden age of psychology. Psychological subject matter receives daily mass media and popular attention. Professional psychologists are recognised as highly trained experts with wide-ranging skills. Psychology is one of the most sought-after science subjects in education systems around the world. And more psychology research is being conducted – and funded – than ever before.

But some psychologists argue that this unprecedented success now threatens to undermine the field. The problem is that despite its standing as a scientific activity – aimed at producing and using empirical evidence to resolve disputes and develop interventions – psychology frequently attracts interest from people who have ambivalent attitudes towards science. In essence, modern psychology faces a scientific crisis: it is hampered by widespread poor logic, sloppy scientific practices, unacknowledged bias, groupthink, and (worst of all, perhaps) blindness to its own faults.

Bad science has become a significant problem in modern psychology. This lecture examines the extent to which imperfect science threatens the impact and credibility of psychology, and argues that society at large stands to gain when psychologists promote and defend scientific standards.

Brian Hughes is a Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway, and a specialist in stress psychophysiology. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, and medicine. His recently published book ‘Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience’ (2016, Palgrave) examines the relationship between psychology, science and pseudoscience, and explores the biases impeding many psychologists from being truly rigorous. He is a Fellow and former President of PSI.

‘Trust Me, I’m a Psychologist’ public lecture in Galway, 29 September 2016

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From Psi Chi NUI Galway, 16 September 2016

We are delighted to announce that our first event of the semester will be a public lecture by Professor Brian Hughes, entitled “Trust me, I’m a Psychologist” (Said No One Ever): Distinguishing Good Behavioural Science from Bad.

When? Thursday September 29th at 7pm
Where? O’Flaherty Theatre, Arts Concourse, NUI Galway

Abstract: It is often easy to forget that psychology is a scientific discipline, and that its core activity is the production of findings that help resolve debates about human behaviour and well-being. It is so easy to forget this that sometimes psychologists themselves fail to remember it. Scientifically limited research — in other words, bad science — has become a significant problem in modern psychology. This lecture examines the extent to which imperfect science threatens the impact and credibility of psychology, and argues that society at large stands to gain when psychologists promote and defend scientific standards.

Brian Hughes is Professor of Psychology and Dean of International Affairs at NUI Galway. His book ‘Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience’ examines the relationship between psychology, science and pseudoscience, and explores the biases impeding many psychologists from being truly rigorous.

‘Rethinking Stress and Anxiety Research’ keynote lecture, Zagreb, 7 July 2016

Presidential Lecture at the 37th world conference of the Stress and Anxiety Research Society (STAR)

Abstract. Attempts to explain the joys and stresses of the human condition have attracted popular fascination for centuries. This led to the emergence of scientific psychology, a modern empirical enterprise that uses scientific methods to resolve uncertainties in our understanding of people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Psychology often attracts significant attention from people who hold ambivalent, or even deeply negative, views about science. This lecture considers the way science shapes the study of stress and anxiety. It considers the scientific nature of psychology, as well as ways in which scientific shortcomings creep into mainstream research, and asks: to what extent does imperfect science threaten the impact and credibility of our work?

Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience

Imprint: 2016
Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience
Author: Brian M. Hughes
Publisher: Palgrave, London

ISBN-10: 1137303948
ISBN-13: 978-1137303943

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From the cover: Psychology is one of the most popular subjects in universities across the world, offering unique insights into the human condition. However, its very popularity threatens to undermine its value as a discipline, and it often attracts those who lack scientific rigour. Taking a fresh look at common practices and pitfalls, Brian Hughes examines the relationship between psychology, science and pseudoscience, and explores the biases impeding many psychologists from being truly rigorous.

Brian Hughes has written an important and engaging book exploring the relationships between science, pseudoscience, and psychology. He argues persuasively that psychology itself can properly be considered to be a true science but one that is marred within by pockets of pseudoscience. This book should be read by anyone with a serious interest in the subject.” — Professor Christopher French, Goldsmiths, University of London

“Hughes provides a timely and comprehensive reminder of the critical role of science in both academic and professional applications of psychology. It covers an impressive breadth of topics with incisive clarity and illustrates clearly the integral role of scientific approaches to understanding psychological phenomena.”Dr David Hevey, Trinity College, Dublin


 

Contents

PART I PSYCHOLOGY AND PSEUDOSCIENCE IN THEORY
Chapter 1 What is Science and Why is it Useful?
Chapter 2 What is Pseudoscience and Why is it Popular?
Chapter 3 The Scientific Nature of Psychology
Chapter 4 The Scientific Nature of Psychology
PART II PSYCHOLOGY AND PSEUDOSCIENCE IN PRACTICE
Chapter 5 Examples from the Fringes: From Healing the Mind to Reading the Body
Chapter 6 Examples from the Mainstream: Biological Reductionism as Worldview
Chapter 7 Examples from the Mainstream: What Some People Say about What They Think They Think
PART III PSYCHOLOGY AND PSEUDOSCIENCE IN CONTEXT
Chapter 8 Biases and Subjectivism in Psychology
Chapter 9 Religion, Optimism and their Place in Psychology
Chapter 10 Psychologists at the Threshold: Why Should We Care?

 

‘Rethinking Psychology’ public lecture in Cork, 2 June 2016

‘Rethinking Psychology’ lecture to Cork Skeptics, 2 June 2016

From Cork SkepticsMay 19, 2016

About the Talk:  Attempts to explain the workings of the human mind have persisted as a popular cultural fascination for centuries. This has led to the emergence of scientific psychology, a modern empirical enterprise that uses scientific methods to resolve uncertainties in our understanding of people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Nonetheless, psychology attracts significant attention from people who hold deeply negative views about science, and is often studied by students and researchers who lack true scientific rigour. This lecture examines psychology’s relationship with science and pseudoscience. It explores the nature of scientific reasoning, the contrasting way fringe scientists study the mind, and the creep of pseudoscientific practices into mainstream psychology.

It also considers the peculiar biases impeding psychologists from being truly rigorous, and argues that pseudoscience not only damages psychology, but threatens the coherence — and dignity — of humanity at large.

 

About the Speaker: Brian Hughes is Professor in Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He can be found on Twitter and maintains a blog at thesciencebit.net

His book ‘Rethinking Psychology’ is available now.


This talk begins at 8:00pm on Thursday 2 June. The venue is Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork.

It is free to attend and all are welcome—we look forward to seeing you there!

‘Rethinking Psychology’ launched in Galway

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New book by leading psychologist challenges scientific standing of psychology

A new book by a Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway argues that many psychologists fail to take a scientific approach to their work, and that much of the field’s research suffers from serious methodological flaws.

The book, ‘Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience’, by Brian Hughes, was published worldwide this month by Palgrave, and was launched at NUI Galway this week.

Psychology is one of the most popular subjects in universities across the world and is widely regarded to be a modern empirical science. Despite this, Hughes argues that psychology attracts significant attention from people who hold deeply negative views about science. As a result, psychology is often studied by students and researchers who lack true scientific rigour. According to Hughes, “Psychology has become a field where science meets pseudoscience.”

“This is important because psychology touches all of our lives,” Hughes said. “When we talk about mental health, education, social conflict, or crime, our ability to think clearly about these topics depends on how well we study them. Psychologists often try their best to conduct rigorous scientific research. But many psychologists have a casual, and sometimes naïve, approach, and often overlook the limitations of their most conventional research approaches.”

“Psychologists are excellent at identifying controversial studies and debunking them, such as the way empirical science quite rightly dismissed the alleged link between MMR vaccination and autism. But psychologists are often less effective at critiquing the quality of mainstream research, such as research about gender differences in human behaviour, evaluations of behaviour change interventions, or studies of how psychotherapy works. In short, psychologists are often very poor at critiquing their own work.”

Leading British psychologist Christopher French, Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, agrees. “Brian Hughes has written an important and engaging book exploring the relationships between science, pseudoscience, and psychology,” according to French. “He argues persuasively that psychology itself can properly be considered to be a true science but one that is marred within by pockets of pseudoscience. This book should be read by anyone with a serious interest in the subject.”

David Hevey, Associate Professor at the School of Psychology in Trinity College Dublin described the book as “a timely and comprehensive reminder of the critical role of science in both academic and professional applications of psychology.”

Anna Phillips, Reader in Behavioural Medicine at the University of Birmingham praised the book’s message for psychology students. “This book will help students to question more critically the research they read during the course of their degree, rather than simply accepting published work as quality science,” said Phillips.

Hughes’s own research focuses on the links between psychological stress and physical health. He has held visiting academic appointments at the Universities of Missouri, Leiden, and Birmingham, and at King’s College London. He is the current President of the International Stress and Anxiety Research Society, and a former President of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

‘Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience’ is published worldwide by Palgrave and available from all good booksellers.

ENDS

Photo 160421-8594 L-R: Brian Hughes, Professor of Psychology, NUI Galway and Douglas Carroll, Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Birmingham at the launch of Professor Hughes’ book ‘Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience’. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

Photo 160421-8637 L-R: Donncha O’Connell, Established Professor of Law, NUI Galway, Brian Hughes, Professor of Psychology, NUI Galway and Douglas Carroll, Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Birmingham at the launch of Professor Hughes’ book ‘Rethinking Psychology: Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudoscience’. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

For more information contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Acting Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway on 091 495695 or gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie

About NUI Galway

NUI Galway* is one of Ireland’s foremost centres of academic excellence. Over 17,000 students undertake an extensive range of studies at the University, which is renowned for the quality of its graduates.

NUI Galway is a research-led University with internationally recognised expertise in areas including Biomedical Science and Engineering, Web Science, Human Rights, Marine Science, Energy and Environmental Science, Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy, and Humanities, in particular literature, theatre and Irish Studies.

For more information visit http://www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here.

*The University’s official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway