Many bigshot social scientists during the last century or so were anything but rational (Foucault and Freud are two of many examples), but were able to convince other (equally biased people) that they were.

I understand that bashing Freud is a popular way to signal "rationality" -- more precisely, to signal loyalty to the STEM tribe which is so much higher status than the social sciences tribe -- but it really irritates me because I would bet that most people doing this are merely repeating what they heard from others, building their model comp... (read more)

As someone who has actually read a few Freud's books long ago (before reading books by Ariely, Ridley, etc.), here are a few things that impressed me. Things that someone got right hundred years ago, when "it's obviously magic" and "no, thoughts and emotions actually don't exist" were the alternative famous models of human psychology.

This is a completely inaccurate depiction of Psychology as it existed during Freud's time. You list Jung, one of Freud's victims, as the only example of a "rival." I think perhaps this is stand... (read more)

4satt6yAt the risk of outing myself as a smug STEM view of Freud is pretty dim, a big reason for which is that secondary sources (e.g. [] ), citing specific details, argue that Freud exaggerated the robustness of his theories, failed to keep basic factual details straight, and even fabricated observations outright. Admittedly, I haven't read Freud himself (I'm one of the people "merely repeating what they heard from others"), so the charges levelled at him might be groundless, but they seem plausible & well-substantiated. And once substantiated, a pattern of self-aggrandization, sloppiness, and fabrication seems to me fair grounds for calling Freud (epistemically) irrational, even though some of his ideas turned out to be true.
66Viliam_Bur6y(...continued) The general ability of updating. At the beginning of Freud's career, the state-of-art psychotherapy was hypnosis, which was called "magnetism". Some scientists have discovered that the laws of nature are universal [], and some other scientists have jumped to the seemingly obvious conclusion that analogically, all kinds of psychological forces among humans must be the same as the forces which makes magnets attract or repel each other. So Freud learned hyphosis, used it in therapy, and was enthusiastic about it. But later he noticed that it had some negative side effects (female patients frequently falling in love with their doctors, returning to their original symptoms when the love was not reciprocated), and that the positive side effects could also be achieved without hypnosis, simply by talking about the subject (assuming that some conditions were met, such as the patient actually focusing on the subject instead of focusing on their interaction with the doctor; a large part of psychoanalysis is about optimizing for these conditions). The old technique was thrown away because the new one provided better results. Not exactly the "evidence based medicine" by our current standards, but perhaps we could use as a control group all those doctors who stubbornly refused to wash their hands between doing autopsy and treating their patients, despite their patients dropping like flies. -- Later, Freud replaced his original model of unconscious, preconscious and conscious mind, and replaced it with the "id, ego, superego" model. (This is provided as an evidence of the ability to update, to discard both commonly accepted models and one's own previous models. Which we consider an important part of rationality.) Speaking about the "id, ego, superego" model, here is the idea of a human brain not being a single agent, but composed of multiple modules, sometimes opposed to each other. Is this something worth considering for

Open thread, 25-31 August 2014

by jaime2000 1 min read25th Aug 2014229 comments


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