Scientific Thinking and Scientific Skepticism

Select one or two of the six principles you think are most important to the study of psychology, and explain your reasons why it is most important?


The first principle I found to be of most importance is the “ruling out of rival hypothesis”.  With the ever growing amount of social media platforms, it is very easy to read a quick blip on a topic, then regurgitate to a peer without exploring other explanations on the soundness of the claim. This principle is especially important when dealing with daily politics. Depending on who you are listening too, it is very easy to hear a claim and automatically think it is sound. However, with anything there are two sides to the road. Moreover, it is critical when we hear any headline or claim that we take a minute and think about other possibilities.


The second principle that I believe has the most relevance is the rule of “correlation isn’t causation”. This rule states that just because 2 variables are correlated it doesn’t mean that one causes another. An example being, just because my dog barks at 4 AM, and roughly at the same time the paper boy comes, it DOES NOT mean there is a casual relationship between the two. Simply, my dog can have a bad dream that causes her to bark. 


  1. Now find:

a recent newspaper or magazine article, or a “pop psychology” article or website, that presents a simplified psychological theory/explanation


a psychology-related advertisement that makes claims of success about their method of learning, memorization, thinking ability, etc.



  1. Identify in your own words, what part of this article, website or ad appears like pseudopsychology and/or is pseudoscientific.  Attach an electronic link to the sourceso others can read the content too.




Title of Article: People who feel younger at heart live longer.




This article claims that people who feel younger by heart will live longer. Although the sample size for this study was roughly 6,000 people with the average age of 65, to me the sample size is still extremely small. Moreover, the results of the study after 8 years did not show a significant difference between those who thought they were younger verses the ones who thought they were off age or older. The sign of pseudoscience is the over reliance on anecdotes.



  1. Finally, describe how you might use or have recently used some of these six principles to think more critically about psychology or related topics?


One principle that I use most frequently is the principle of falsifiability. In laymen terms I call it “playing devil’s advocate”. (Lilienfeld, et al, 2014) Our brains are predisposed to make order out of disorder and find sense in nonsense (PG. 15). Understanding falsifiability, it is critical to examine a way to disprove the claim in principle. If you cannot falsify the claim, then the argument is not sound.


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