Fuzzy logic

September 3, 2004

"Who is Smithers to call us fuzzy?" (Letters, August ). He is a chartered psychologist. In my remarks to The Times Higher (August 20), I was reflecting my own disappointment at psychology's lack of development as a subject.

When I moved into the field after an early career as a research scientist, I expected to find a coherent body of methods and understanding.

Instead, I found a warring collection of approaches ranging from the biology of the nervous system to branches of English literature. Would that psychology had made the valid findings about raising children, negotiating personal relationships, learning new skills, motivating and working with other people that Tony Ward claims.

Roger Lindsay rather underlines what I was saying when he points to the great variety of things in the A-level psychology syllabus. It is better for schoolchildren to study subjects such as the sciences, mathematics, humanities and languages, which have through the ages helped human beings to make sense of the world through their distinctive approaches to establishing what can and cannot be held to be true. Then those who are drawn later in their education to the very difficult, and in some cases ineffable, questions that psychology tackles - the nature of consciousness, for example - will have the maturity to recognise a truth when they see one.

Alan Smithers~
Buckingham University

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