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October 2021

Normal science, pathological science and psychometrics

Journal/Book: Theor Psychol. 2000; 10: 6 Bonhill Street, London EC2a 4Pu, England. Sage Publications Ltd. 639-667.

Abstract: A pathology of science is defined as a two-level breakdown in processes of critical inquiry: first, a hypothesis is accepted without serious attempts being made to test it; and, second, this first-level failure is ignored. Implications of this concept of pathology of science for the Kuhnian concept of normal science are explored. It is then shown that the hypothesis upon which psychometrics stands, the hypothesis that some psychological attributes are quantitative, has never been critically tested. Furthermore, it is shown that psychometrics has avoided investigating this hypothesis through endorsing an anomalous definition of measurement. In this way, the failure to test this key hypothesis is not only ignored but disguised. It is concluded that psychometrics is a pathology of science, and an explanation of this fact is found in the influence of Pythagoreanism upon the development of quantitative psychology.

Note: Review Michell J, Univ Sydney, Dept Psychol, Sydney, NSW 2006, AUSTRALIA

Keyword(s): measurement; normal science; pathology of science; psychometrics; quantification; QUANTITATIVE SCIENCE; DEFINITION; PSYCHOLOGY; MICHELL; AXIOMS


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