Library / Theoretical Risks and Tabular asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the Slow Progress of Soft Psychology


Paul E Meehl “Theoretical risks and tabular asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the slow progress of soft psychology” (1978) // Publisher: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/0022-006X.46.4.806


  title = {Theoretical risks and tabular asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the slow progress of soft psychology},
  author = {Meehl, Paul E},
  year = {1978},
  publisher = {American Psychological Association},
  doi = {10.1037/0022-006X.46.4.806}

Quotes (3)

Sir. Ronald Fisher

You may say, “But, Meehl, R. A. Fisher was a genius, and we all know how valuable his stuff has been in agronomy. Why shouldn’t it work for soft psychology?” Well, I am not intimidated by Fisher’s genius, because my complaint is not in the field of mathematical statistics, and as regards inductive logic and philosophy of science, it is well-known that Sir Ronald permitted himself a great deal of dogmatism. I remember my amazement when the late Rudolf Carnap said to me, the first time I met him, “But, of course, on this subject Fisher is just mistaken: surely you must know that.” My statistician friends tell me that it is not clear just how useful the significance test has been in biological science either, but I set that aside as beyond my competence to discuss.

The Null Hypothesis is Always False

I believe is generally recognized by statisticians today and by thoughtful social scientists, the null hypothesis, taken literally, is always false.

Unimpressive Theories in Psychology

I consider it unnecessary to persuade you that most so-called “theories” in the soft areas of psychology (clinical, counseling, social, personality, community, and school psychology) are scientifically unimpressive and technologically worthless.