Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Decline Effect is Stupid by The Last Psychiatrist

The Decline Effect Is Stupid by The Last Psychiatrist does a nice job revealing the errors in a piece titled The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method? by Jonah Lehrer

The problem isn't that the Decline Effect happens in science; the problem is that we think psychology and ecology and economics are sciences. They can be approached scientifically, but their conclusions can not be considered valid outside of their immediate context. The truth, to the extent there is any, is that these fields of study are models, and every model has its error value, it's epsilon that we arbitrarily set to be the difference between the model and observed reality.

The Last Psychiatrist doesn’t touch on this but I believe the New Yorker article is a symptom of postmodernism’s attack on science and objectivity. If the scientific method can be discounted as untrustworthy this opens the door for refusing with impunity to accept conclusions derived from this approach. To be replaced with what? That is the question.

Check out Stephen Hicks’ site on postmodernism at

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