Fiddling Psychologists

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In

Contemporary Psychology


Reviews the book, Psychology and the Liberal Consensus by Charles C. Anderson and L. D. Travis (1983). In Psychology and the Liberal Consensus savage criticisms are leveled at areas of psychology including cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, artificial intelligence, social psychology, educational psychology, behaviorism, the study of personality, and the psychology of intelligence measurement. The central thesis of the book is that for at least the past century American social policy has been guided by a (presumably false) "liberal consensus" and that psychology has been a servant to this consensus. According to Psychology and the Liberal Consensus, psychology has contributed to this conception by claiming to be a natural science yielding general laws of human nature that could be mined for a host of technologies, including a technology of education. It is a pity, too, because the book may well be right in identifying (a) psychology's dismal failure to deliver the technology of the liberal consensus that it claimed it could deliver, (b) its role in helping to sustain that consensus, and (c) its remarkable staying power in the face of failure.

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