28 February 2011

Pet Peeves about Psychological Testing

It often happens that a psychologist will make some new discovery using a test. The discovery will usually involve some neurological observation. The psychologist will then pronounce that his or her test has proved that the nervous system has made or can make a mistake and that this proves or suggests x, y, or z. That’s a wholly spurious conclusion. The nervous system does not make mistakes. Evidence of abnormal functioning is evidence of an underlying state of being. The brain or nervous system is doing precisely what it is supposed to do under the new conditions discovered by the psychologist. Thinking that the brain has made a mistake can lead to many strange conclusions that are all products of the experimenter’s mind. The right question to ask is: “what is the brain doing now?” And proceed from there.

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