Sunday, January 16, 2011

Brought To You by PSY 101

I'm not terribly impressed with the American Psychological Society, and the motives behind its formation.  Science is supposed to help people.  Yes, there should always be research.  How else would we get anywhere at all?  But the application of the knowledge gained through research (among other methods) should not be underappreciated, nor its impact underestimated.  If you need to tie everything back to gain, research would flounder if people who did not appreciate research for the sake of research were to disappear.  A project needs simple, tangible things to proceed; resources such as money, labor, and materials must be procured, and by someone who wants to study that particular area.  Resources will not be forthcoming if no one wants the research done, and the people with the most money (usually businessmen and/or governments) don't really care about research for the sake of research.  They want results; they want profit, or power, or prestige, or sometimes, as I elaborate on later, they want to "help people."  There are "real- world" repercussions of research, and therefore research must spring from the "real world."  If for no other reason than to perpetuate research, practical application should be given its due.

Describing science, any science, as "the study of…" only accurately describes one aspect of it.  The point of science is to further knowledge and understanding of a subject, but for a purpose.  Always, there is a purpose.  A motive.  In a way there is no "pure" science.  The gain, not necessarily monetary or financial, or for prestige or power, is always there.   Nothing is done without potential for reward.  Isn't that a tenet of psychology itself?  Perhaps just behaviorism.  But it is relevant to all the disciplines.

Humanism is kinda, sorta, um… crap.  (I said it! Oh, oh, burn!)  I will repeat: nothing is done without the potential for reward.  And this is the basis of my own personal philosophy.  Oooh, I shudder to call it that.   Okay, perception of the world and reality, and whatever else is relevant.  Nothing is magnanimous.  In my first draft of this piece, I wrote completely magnanimous. But I think now that I'll just leave the "completely" out entirely.  Because I put it in, I suppose, as a concession to the ideas of people before me and people around me.  Now I can finally identify this… weakness (don't I sound like a fanatical control freak?) as humanism.  Which I consider completely bunk.  (Haha! There's the "completely!")

I have removed the "completely" because (and now I'm back to my main point) my own perception of this topic leaves no middle ground.  Magnanimity is an illusion, sort of like free will.  I dislike extremes, and when there is no spectrum leaving room for doubt, but I see no way around this.  It's a yes/no thing.  An on/off switch.  And the magnanimity switch is off.  Stuck in the "off" position, in fact.  Everything is self-serving in some manner.  This is not necessarily a "bad" thing.  It seems nature or some god (in the form of evolution and natural selection) has built reward into the concept of "doing good."  When a person does something "good," e.g. giving money to charity, he receives a reward.   He feels good about himself, and is fulfilling his need for self-validation.  Or if he is pressed by an individual or individuals he cares about, he feels good about pleasing his loved one(s).  Or if the act is for a public image, he is released from the scrutiny of the aforementioned public.  Etc.

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