In Defense of Cognitive Psychology

A recent Donald Clark post generated an extension from Stephen Downes. I respect both of these folks as people and as intellects, but while I largely agreed with one, I had a challenge with the other. So here’s a response, in defense of cognitive psychology. The caveat is that my Ph.D. is in Cognitive Psychology, so I may be defensive and biased, but I’ll try to present scrutable evidence.

Donald Clark’s post unpacks the controversies that surround efforts to measure the complicated concept of ‘intelligence’.  He starts with the original Binet measure, and talks about how it’s been misused and has underlying problems. He goes through multiple intelligences, and emotional intelligence as well, similarly unpacking the problems and misuses. I’m reminded of Todd Rose’s End of Average, which did a nice job of pointing out the problems of trying to compress complex phenomena into single measures.

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