British Psychology, at the moment, still claims to be a science.
To the extent that any discipline claims to be a science, there are standards that it needs to abide by – standards of open-minded truth-seeking, aspirations to be as bias-free as possible, and a commitment to revising current ideas and beliefs in the presence of new information.
However, psychology is unfortunately not abiding by its own rules, and there are a number of concepts that are widely promoted that have little to no evidence to support them. These ideas are so widespread that they have even made it into popular culture, for example:
- Implicit Bias
- Disparity = Discrimination
- Stereotype inaccuracy
- The Racial Attainment Gap
- The Gender Pay Gap
The persistence of these ideas could be partly due to the political leaning of the discipline, and partly due to the dominance of Social Justice Ideology within the field. Note that Social Justice as referred to here, refers to the ideology (capital ‘S’ and capital ‘J’) – rather than the notion of justice (as commonly understood as fairness) in the social context. The ideology of Social Justice is its own discipline and has infiltrated many others in academia, and increasingly in the wider world.
The problem is that Social Justice ideology can be seen as being fundamentally incompatible with science, focusing on activism and ideology, rather than pursuit of truth. Indeed, truth is often denied or hidden in the interests of pursuing and maintaining protected or fashionable ideas (such as those mentioned above).
The consequence of this is that psychology as it stands cannot be both a science and pursue social justice ideology. It has to choose which tenants it subscribes to. Currently it is trying to claim the status of a science, while still promoting inaccurate, non-evidence based ideas. Indeed, some have even tried to claim that psychology should not be a science (occasionally claiming that this is so because of its ‘white, colonial, male’ roots). However, others agree with us that when dealing with something as important as people’s health (and sometimes life or death situations), we need to base our understanding, our diagnoses, and most importantly, our treatments, on reality, evidence, and facts.