Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Intelligent Design Psychology

Many moons ago, I posted a copy of an email from John Magruder, endorsed by Board of Ed. member Ken Willard. Magruder runs Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform, a group consisting of John Magruder, a vet opposed to Darwin.

But also with training in psychology. After long and careful cogitation, Magruder realized that he was duty bound to turn the tools of IDC to the psyche. As he wrote in an email which I received:

Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform is uniquely situated to extend the idea of Intelligent Design to psychology because its president is a former professor of psychology with a background in both clinical psychology as well as research design.,

We quote from a 16-page position paper that Prof. Magruder has written,  to show the problem and the beginnings of some solutions , beginning with a well know statement regarding the collapse of psycholgy by a major theorist of personality theory , Gardner Murphey. Murphey wrote this in his monumental  work of some years ago, "Personality, A Biosocial Approach to Origins and Structure:"

"Neither in content, nor in method can we be said to have solved the essential problem of the starting point from which a psychology, any kind of psychology, including a psychology of personality, could be written. These  difficulties are dwarfed by a more serious uncertaintly as to the nature of man and his place in the cosmos. The response of a part to the whole may be important. The response of man to his cosmos may be a clue to him and the cosmos alike. In a future psychology of personality there will surely be a place for directly grappling with the question of man's response to the cosmos , there may be a touch of neurotic phobia in the persistence with which  much of the modern study of man has evaded this question. The psychology of personality as it exists today will be crushed and pulverized and a new creation made from the debris, not because of the wisdom inherent in criticisms of it, but because in grappling with the problems of man , it will be weighed in the balance and  found wanting.

We speak and write today as if at last the full context and stature of man were known. But like our predecessors, we shall rectify mistakles, not primarily by the minor readjustment of the lines of the argument but by recognition of the limitations of the whole present system of conceptions. It is preparation for this destruction and rebirth of knowledge to which serious research should be directed."

Here are the initial assumptions with which this exploration of the ideas of Intelligent Design as related to psychology will begin. This is from our position paper, "An Existentialist Critique of Psychology " which is available at no cost by e-mailing with address.

1. Psychology must return to a new, more self-conscious relationship to philosophy, by which is meant all constructions with reference to the whole, including, of course, theology. It might be sufficient for purposes of psychology if the heretofore cyclical and inconclusive history of philosophy is factorially analyzed into the small  number of logically consistent positions within it with reference to which models of man  may  be constructed and tested.

2. Psychology must become more critical of its methods , analyzing and refining its version of the scientific method so as to exclude existential (philosophical) variables, and where this proves impossible, make this known in its statements.

3. The propagation of the faith of psychology , that is , scientism, as distinguished from the confusion of its actual constructs and accomplishments, must be minimized, not only because this is essentially unscientific procedure, but because of the vast pedagogic consequences of a metaphysics masking itself in the prestige of science, and because of its oppressive influence on new hypothesizing.

4. The existential elements in psychology must especially be made self-conscious and explicit in its practical  and therapeutic uses if the freedom of the patient is to be respected and his integrity before existence maintained.

A year or so ago Mr. Magruder did independent research under  Dr. Paul Mirecki of the Dept. of Religion at the University of Kansas on a new test to determine one's philosophical attitude, overt or covert. In August he will again be a student working on this test, plus another to study certain variables as related to one's view of  ultimate reality and the impact of that on one's personality. He will be available to discuss the progress of  the new Intelligent Design research project. There will be attempts to explore the relevance of Behe's concept of "irreducible complexity" to psychology, as well as Dempski's "exploratory filter" and concept of "specified complexity."

Could I dissect this, and the gross misstatements and misunderstanding of evolution which preceded it and succeeded it? Of course. But do I honestly need to point out the irony of the first quoted sentence? VVAR (not a group whose name claims any psychological or research expertise) is uniquely situated to do this research
because it has one member. It could equally well be called "Residents of **5 W *2 St. for Academic Reform." But it's principle titular qualification is military. It remains unclear how being a Vietnam veteran makes someone more qualified to be an academic critic, but that's a question for another day.

I don't know how he proposes to do anything. It's not clear how belief in "ultimate reality" would be related to intelligent design, specified complexity, or the explanatory filter. He seems simply to be claiming that psychology is scientistic but not scientific, but I don't know where that gets into ID.

I'm not convinced that I care, either.