For decades, the behavioral sciences have been at a dramatic disadvantage to the hard sciences. When a biologist hypothesizes that the addition of a particular ligand to a cell will cause a certain gene to turn on and thus produce a certain protein, all she has to do is to introduce the enzyme and then test for the protein. If it's there, she publishes a paper; if it's not, she quietly discards the work.

The psychologist has a much steeper hill to climb. Let's say he's trying to prove his hypothesis that most people who hate their fathers also secretly desire their mothers. Relying on the subject to tell you how he feels has too many obvious landmines that can corrupt the data. How can the psychologist scientifically prove that the connection exists?

Well, now he can. Or at least he can claim that it's a provable hypothesis. Thanks to...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?