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Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

And this is why people think Psychology is full of crap.

Posted by Lissa on February 3, 2011

[Disclaimer -- I'm not saying that Psych *IS* a bulls*** science.  I know a certain person in Wisconsin who a) is smarter than me; b) writes papers and studies on Autism in which I rarely understand more than "the" and "and."]

Last night brought the transcendent joy of the second Developmental Psychology class discussion.  I really want to do well in all my classes, so I’m doing the readings and taking good class notes and trying to find interest in the material.  Unfortunately, I keep getting sidetracked.  Why?

Because the book and my prof insist on teaching us how bad the United States is.

Chapters 2 and 3 were supposed to be on “biological and environmental foundations” and prenatal development.  Why, then, did we delve into the following highly educational tidbits?

  • It’s shameful how the elderly are treated in America.  In Japan, there’s a culture of reverence for the elderly.  It’s a disgrace that we don’t share it.
  • Also, China has playgrounds and parks specifically for the elderly.  We, on the other hand, have ten times their income but we won’t spend it on the elderly because we think they don’t matter. How sad!
  • Furthermore, Americans have these horrible stereotypes about the elderly, e.g. that they can’t drive.  The Prof doesn’t know how we formed such ageist, hurtful stereotypes, but lots of elderly people remain active their whole lives and such derogatory stereotypes just hurt them terribly.
    [I'm biting my tongue hard enough to bleed at this point.  It keeps me from raising my hand and asking, "Are you frickin' SERIOUS? Those stereotypes exist because THE ELDERLY CAN'T DRIVE.  We've seen our grandparents lose their verbal acuity and their motor reflexes; it happens to some earlier and some later, but it happens to all of us eventually (if we live long enough).  That's a fact. So now actual facts that most people have observed personally equals an AGEIST STEREOTYPE. Good grief."]
  • Prenatal care is very important for the mother and for the fetus.  And yet somehow people are arguing against national health care.
    [Yes.  Yes they are.]

And my personal favorite?  This:

Because (the professor kindly explained) it’s important to know how big a problem it is in America, that so many of our elderly live in poverty, and that so many countries care for their aged population better than we do.

Now, y’all know I’m no statistician myself, but . . . . seriously? Because fewer Romanian elders live below the Romanian poverty line than in the United States, this is a terrible country?

That’s right, folks — it’s better to be elderly in Russia, Estonia and Slovenia than here.  Also, the Czech Republic takes better care of its elderly than does Austrailia, the UK or Switzerland.

And this nugget of wisdom is important enough to appear in CHAPTER TWO of our textbook.

*cue sound of Lissa’s head exploding*

Now, I’m not saying that a chart like that has no use.  I think a discussion of how the elderly are perceived in each country dependent on economic status relative to the national average — and the resulting social stature — could be very interesting.  Unfortunately, that’s not what the book was trying to teach me.

This may be a long semester.

P.S. Also?  Sorry, book, but when you blithely state that one-sixth of all couples who try to conceive discover that they are infertile and list absolutely no backup for that rather astonishing number, I will probably assume that you are talking out of the southernmost aperture of the gastrointestinal tract.

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10 Responses to “And this is why people think Psychology is full of crap.”

  1. bluesun said

    Haha! For my social studies credit I searched and searched the curriculum for something, anything, that wasn’t Psych–found one called “Society and Technology” that was acceptable by my department. What did we do in S&T? We watched old science fiction movies and wrote a blog about them.

    Wrote. A. Blog.

    It was, without a doubt, the stupidest, most worthless class I took the entire four and half years I was there, but at least I DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE PSYCHOLOGY!

    • Lissa said

      See, the funny thing is, I enjoyed Psych 101 in college — the prof was interesting and knowledgeable and the concepts were cool (zeitgeibers! Gestalt principles!). But classes like the one I just had seem determined to take all the worst stereotypes (ha!) about Psychology and prove them true.

  2. Jennifer said

    First, thanks for the disclaimer.
    Second, I think we’re equally smart. ;)
    Third, if you were in *my* Developmental Psychology class, the only partial point we would have covered above is that prenatal care is important. However, I would have gone on to explain, for example, that folic acid is important in neural tube development in early stages of pregnacy…

    I’d love to know what text you’re using. I am *not* trying to defend your text especially because I’m not sure how the tidbit about infertility is written. However, about 85% of couples who have regular, unprotected intercourse for 1 year will become pregnant (about 90% after 2 years). In the US, couples are considered to be infertile after 1 year of “trying”… so about 15%. My guess is there wasn’t a citation because this is considered to be a well-known fact.
    I can only find the US reference for women right now (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/fertile.htm), but here’s one for the UK: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/index.jsp?action=download&o=29271

    • Lissa said

      Interesting! I definitely didn’t know the stat about 1) 15% not becoming pregnant, 2) “infertile” being defined as not-pregnant-after-one-year-of-trying. I’ll email you the book title.

      I’m relieved you weren’t offended — I tried to be clear that I don’t think Psychology is BS, it’s just that my prof and this book are trying to convince me otherwise :)

  3. Wally said

    Applying some math to the values in the graph, and with the median individual income in 2010 at $39500 : 40% of US citizens over age 65 are earning less than $16k annually

    1) I think I’d be okay at $16k/yr, assuming I had a few decades to get the mortgage paid off.

    2) Most folks over 65 are eligible for social security, which is not considered earned income.

    But that is insignificant, because the US is bad.

  4. Aaron T. said

    There’s several things that the bar graph doesn’t take into consideration. 1st, as Wally hinted at, many (maybe most) individuals 65 and over own their homes outright. I know that I saw a stat on that a while ago, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now. So if you have no mortgage payment, you don’t have to drive to work everyday (lower gas and auto maintenance costs), probably also own the car outright, etc. you only really need enough money for the essentials, i.e. food, electricity, and such. 2nd, if it is true about SS not being counted as earned income then we have a huge boost right there. 3rd, many of these people went through or were raised by people who went through the great depression. I suspect that those type of people have a mindset to save more money than your average 20-30 something does today, so they might have a decent size piece of money that they can use that is not “income”. I guess what it comes down to is really point of view and what you want the data to say. Even in the more objective sciences you see people cherry picking the data to give a result. I know that I have tried to repeat experiments published in respected science journals and couldn’t for the life of me come up with the same thing that was published.

  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html?_r=1&src=me

    How topical! Does it now seem so clear?

  6. WF’NM-
    Does he not realize it was the hippy generation that decided to call their parents by their first name that shows a lack of respect for your elders. Everyone I know still use Sir and Mam when refuring and speaking to our elders.

    F’N morons.

    This why I did go to college. Could force my self to pay to make myself dumber.

    Josh

  7. counsel said

    I will say the physicians do not tell enough expectant parents the rate of having a miscarriage… Maybe it was just OUR physician. After we lost one, we find out from our friends how many they all lost! I can just say…wow.

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