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"Why summaries of research on psychological theories are often uninterpretable" (Meehl, 1990) (free)

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Dolphin, Jul 20, 2014.

  1. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

    I just saw the influential and renegade psychologist, James C. Coyne re-tweet a message linking to this paper:
    Free at:

    It looks interesting, but I don't have the time to read it at the moment, but will be interested to read what anyone says who does read it.
    Roy S and Valentijn like this.
  2. anciendaze

    anciendaze Senior Member

    He hits a number of points I've made elsewhere. I particularly like his reference to Jacob Cohen's work on statistical power. This is widely ignored when people shop for metrics which will give their papers more impressive numbers. Applying Cohen's D to the PACE data would pretty well damp down claims of effectiveness.

    His references to work by Carnap and Lakatos on inductive reasoning in science are also pertinent. These are far from trivial objections to common practices.

    His overall thrust has to do with the effect of many flawed studies on a field of research as a whole. This is where he states that combined results are uninterpretable, i.e. not even wrong.

    Here's a quote which will give you the flavor of this paper:
    Again we are well aware of biological attributes of subjects which were ignored in PACE because these were not the subject of the study. The most striking was age, compared to the mean value for the general population. Physiological status was also largely ignored. Showing that patients could be compared to people over 65 with heart conditions was not exactly the same as showing their problems were psychological.

    While he is not specifically attacking medical recommendations based on psychological theories, you may also appreciate his conclusion concerning some professional psychologists:
  3. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

    Logan, Queensland, Australia
    I am working my way through this paper slowly. Its based on logical rational analysis. So its the kind of thing I am interested in but most wont be.

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