PSY 5107 Interpret the Scientific Method and Pseudoscience

PSY 5107 Interpret the Scientific Method and Pseudoscience

PSY 5107 Interpret the Scientific Method and Pseudoscience

Scientific Studies and Pseudoscience Studies

In the era of information technology, people are bombarded with multiple studies with various claims and conclusions. However, not all the studies one comes across are credible. A scientific study follows strict guidelines from methodology, and data collection, to the interpretation of results. The strict guideline ensures the quality and credibility of scientific studies. To meet the threshold for scientific research, a study must be deterministic, falsifiable, empirical, public, and provisional. Studies that do not meet this criterion are not considered full scientific studies referred to as pseudoscience studies. A pseudoscience study is considered one with flaws in methodology; hence not adopted into the scientific community. The purpose of this assessment is to explain pseudoscience studies and evaluate the credibility of the study I participated in using the elements of scientific research.

Pseudoscience

Pseudoscience refers to ideas or studies that appear factual and based on the scientific method, but in reality, they are not consistent with scientific guidelines. Pseudoscience studies are presented as scientific studies, but they lack the rigor, which is essential in determining the quality and credibility of research studies (Dawes, 2018). Pseudoscience studies have fundamental flaws in methodology; hence they remain unaccepted by the scientific body. Pseudoscience studies can deviate from scientific guidelines in various ways. For example, in the methodology, the researchers might skip a step, yet all the steps of scientific studies are required to create a credible and complete study. Similarly, the research might lay claim to a factor that is not verifiable because the studies cannot be replicated (Dawes, 2018). A scientific study must follow a methodology that is easily replicated. Other pseudoscience studies lay claim to characteristics that are immeasurable or untestable; hence it becomes difficult to prove their acclaimed qualities. A good example of this is the unconscious state popularized by Sigmund Freud in his Freudian theory.

My Chosen Study

In the study participants on PsyToolKit website, I chose the experiment Fitts’s Law. The study is based on eye-hand coordination, which states that hand coordination is a response to what one sees. When a person sees an object, they estimate the distance between the object and the hand unconsciously for the hand to grasp the object. The experiment provides an opportunity to experience it using a demo. My demo was based on 20 attempts and produced a graph of a scattered plot, which more attempts, there is a chance of producing a more defined plot. Fitts’s Law shows that eye-hand coordination is based on the distance and size of the object. Hence the law states, “the amount of time required for a person to move a pointer to a target area is a function of the distance to the target divided by the size of the target” (Fitts, 1954). If the distance is long or the object is small, it would take longer to move compared to if the object is bigger and at a long distance.

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The study I selected is scientific because it strictly follows the guidelines spelt out for scientific experiments. First, the study is empirical because it involves observation and experiment that leads to the documentation of certain patterns or behaviors. In Fitts’s Law, the experimentation involves recording the motor movement of the hand with eye coordination. Thus, it involves speed and accuracy, which occur as a tradeoff element (Tang et al., 2018). The second reason that makes the study credible is that it can easily be replicated. Replication means following the methodology used by a study to produce another research, which supports the conclusion drawn by the original source (Dawes, 2018)e. Replication of a study is the quality that allows it to be generalized to the larger public.

Furthermore, the selected experiment is open to revisions and serves the wider public, which is part of the

PSY 5107 Interpret the Scientific Method and Pseudoscience
PSY 5107 Interpret the Scientific Method and Pseudoscience

requirements for a scientific study. The Fitts’s Law study is open to anyone who may want to improve it. Additionally, it is readily available for use by people. For instance, Fitts’s Law is a universal law used by everyone (Keshavarz et al., 2020). The law outlines the relationship between hand and eye coordination, a concept that has been applied by other researchers to further the study or use it to explain things. For example, Gillan and Bias (2018) use the concepts of Fitts’s Law to investigate the impact of the penalty on moving a cursor across the computer just like in Fitts’s experiment. The study concluded that penalty leads to motivation as the group that received the penalty was highly motivated while the group that did not receive the penalty showed no motivation. The ability to use the law in various studies means that it is available for revision and accessible to the public.

Finally, another way to evaluate whether a study is scientific is through publication in a reputable peer-reviewed journal. Before publication, every article submitted to be published is thoroughly reviewed to ensure that it has no mistakes and meets the quality standards. The study I chose is published in journals, meaning it has undergone scrutiny to ensure its credibility. According to (Tang et al., 2018), Fitts’s Law is one of the most studied principles in psychology because its credibility has been established through publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Conclusion

Understanding the credibility of studies is critical in selecting quality sources to use for evidence in supporting care decisions. Some sources may appear credible but they are pseudoscience research because they lack strict application of the scientific guidelines. In the experiment exercise, I chose the study Fitts’s Law, which follows all the scientific criteria for a scientific study.

 

References

Dawes, G. W. (2018). Identifying pseudoscience: A social process criterion. Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 49(3), 283-298.

Fitts, P. M. (1954). The information capacity of the human motor system in controlling the amplitude of movement. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 47 (6), 381–391. doi:10.1037/h0055392.

Gillan, D. J., & Bias, R. G. (2018). Fitting Motivation to Fitts’ Law : Effect of a Penalty Contingency on Controlled Movement. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 62(1), 265–269. https://doi.org/10.1177/154193121862106.

Keshavarz, H., Esmaeili Givi, M., & Norouzi, Y. (2020). Credibility evaluation of scientific information on websites: Designing and evaluating an exploratory model. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 52(4), 1086–1101. https://doi.org/10.117.

Tang, R., Shen, B., & Sang, Z. (2018). Fitts’ Law is modulated by movement history. Psychon Bull Rev , 25, 1833–1839 (2018). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1367-8.

Tang, R., Shen, B., Sang, Z. et al. Fitts’ Law is modulated by movement history. Psychon Bull Rev 25, 1833–1839 (2018). https://www.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1367-8. (n.d.).