Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The pursuit of scientific understanding

Lehrer’s faith that the scientific experiments he cites offer a valid explanation of the effects of electronic gadgets and web surfing on the brain calls to mind an older post by Norman Holland on his “Psychology Today” blog. So, I am quite relieved – apparently, my mind hasn’t yet gone completely the way of HAL’s. Here is what Holland says regarding the mountain of psychological experiments that have piled up over the decades: “Each experiment defines its independent and dependent variables in unique ways and adds a unique methodology. The result is a collection of discrete experimental results, each of which is thoroughly scientific, but that, as a whole, do not cumulate in the manner of a science. Rather the collection of experiments maintains a continuing conversation in the manner of the humanities.” I guess this wouldn’t resonate emotionally with someone like Lehrer, too – to say nothing of the more technically smart researchers who have not given up their research careers to write non-fiction.