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October 2021

Smedslund the illusionist: How psychology came to look like a deductive science

Journal/Book: Scand J Psychol. 1999; 40: PO Box 2959 Toyen, Journal Division Customer Service, N-0608 Oslo, Norway. Scandinavian University Press. 89-92.

Abstract: Smedslund's target paper is, as usual, provocative and clear. His role in psychology has been, for several years, similar to the child in H. C. Andersen's story who creates a scandal by crying out: ''Look, the emperor has no clothes''! The difference is, of course, that Smedslund is not pointing to the emperor, but to the tailors and dressmakers of empirical psychology, who pretend to create innovative costumes out of pseudo-empirical material. There is also another difference: Whereas the child is naturally naive, pointing out what everybody can see (when allowed to believe their own eyes), Smedslund's naivete is a highly sophisticated one, asking us not to believe our senses, but rather to realize that it is all in our mind, or in our natural language. The present commentary rests on the assumption that Smedslund's attempts of undressing psychology are only possible because the emperor has several layers of garment on. It would perhaps be more appropriate, but create less of a stir, if the cry had been: ''Look, the emperor is over-dressed''!.

Note: Article Teigen KH, Univ Tromso, Dept Psychol, N-9001 Tromso, NORWAY

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