Wisdom from an old CIA hand:

James Woolsey writes:
I would add that, just as we eventually won the Cold War - and when I say 'we' here, I always mean Britain, the United States, the democracies, our allies - it was in no small measure because, while containing the Soviet Union and its allies militarily and with nuclear deterrence, we undermined their ideology.

We undermined it over a long period by convincing the Lech Walesas, the Vaclav Havels, the Andrei Sakharovs, the Solidarities, that this was not a clash of civilisations, not even a clash of countries, but a war of freedom against tyranny, and that we were on their side.

To exactly the same degree, we will surely be successful in this long war if we convince the hundreds of millions of reasonable and decent Muslims around the world who do not want to be terrorists, who do not want to live in dictatorships, that we are on their side and they on ours.
The surest way to demonstrate this is the unmaking of tyranny. Rhetoric, psyops, public relations--these are only good as long as they are tools to the actual, the physical destruction of tyrants. Freeing men is our business, and the only right purpose of our war. So it says in the Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was written in the days when Christian symbolism did not excite dissenters:
As He died to make men holy,
Let us die to make them free.
Arts & Sciences: Outrages

Jonah Goldberg takes on a survey from the "science" of psychology that purports to demonstrate that conservatism is a kind of mental deformity. The continued acceptance of psychology as a science is one of the worst problems with American society, and one to which people are almost entirely blind. Given that, I will test my readers' patience by reprinting below my full remarks on the subject:
Arts & Sciences:

From the beginning of a piece on failed civilizations:

In particular many of the so-called hard scientists such as physicists or biologists, don't consider history to be a science. The situation is even more extreme because, he points out, even historians themselves don't consider history to be a science. Historians don't get training in the scientific methods; they don't get training in statistics; they don't get training in the experimental method or problems of doing experiments on historical subjects; and they'll often say that history is not a science, history is closer to an art.

Historians often say that history is not a science because history is not a science. One of the central problems with modern society is its increasing inability to tell the difference between what is a science, and what isn't. This is directly related to the prestige that has come to be associated with the label of "science" during the 20th century.

In part because of the tremendous material advances brought us by science, the concept of science enjoys considerable standing. The best way to make sure that your ideas are put into practice is to convince others that they are scientific: to say that something is scientific is commonly thought to be the same as saying that it is true beyond the possibility of counterargument. Psychology (from the Greek, psyche-, or "spirit/soul," and -ology, or "study of"), which claims to be the science of the mind, has so convinced the majority of Westerners that it is scientific that a psychologist's testimony alone can strip a man of his freedom, serve as reason not to hire him, or to fire him from a job he already has. A man can be subjected to forced injections of drugs and imprisonment based on nothing more than a psychologist's assessment.

This all rests upon a misunderstanding of just what science is. Science is one kind of inquiry, a particular kind that rests upon two general principles: the method of making no assertions that cannot be tested and falsified; and the complete transparency and open debate of all assertions being made, none of which are ever to be taken as invunerable. Science is indeed a great thing; it is indeed powerful.

It isn't -everything-, though, and it isn't all powerful. There are some endeavors that are not, and can not be, science. History is one of them. So, as it happens, is "psychology," which would be more honestly called philopsyche, after the fashion of philosophy. Anything which involves the working of the human mind isn't and cannot be a science. This is simply because the human mind isn't observable, and therefore, it is not testable. Regardless of how cautiously you design your tests, the fact is that you are simply guessing about the why of a given decision. You can't really observe the process of decision making.

Stripping these so-called "social sciences" of the notion that they are sciences is one of the greatest services we could do for our culture. There is nothing more noble than art, exactly because there is nothing more human than art. We ought to be proud to be performing the arts, practicing the arts. There are too many, though, who are unwilling to compete in a fair and open atmosphere. They wish to hide behind the authority of science, even if they must do so illegitimately.

And they must: science was never about stifiling debate, but always about enforcing it systematically. Psychology, sociology, and the rest do not--as history does--recognize honestly the fact that their methods simply cannot be scientifically tested, cannot be falsified, cannot be proven nor disproven. As such, all of their assertions deserve a healthy scepticism. That scepticism should be the healthier for the fact that these so-called disciplines will not admit the truth about their methods. They are a blight upon our way of thinking, and of conceiving the world.

Arts & Sciences:

In response to my contention that psychology is not a science (see Monday's log), I've been asked to read Our Inner Conflicts by Karen Horney, M.D. Dr. Horney was one of the founders of psychoanalysis, both a friend and competitor to Freud, and compiled the basis of psychology's theories of neuroses. One of psychology's defenders asked me to consider her work at length before I made up my mind that psychology was not a science. I have now completed my study of the work, and am ready to report.
Dr. Horney's work has several things to be said in its favor. In particular the vision of sanity she presents is appealing, and in fact almost perfectly echoes G. K. Chesterton's vision of sanity from Orthodoxy. Chesterton, of course, was not a psychologist, but a Catholic: his thoughts on why men departed from sanity did not hinge upon theories of psychological conflict, but sin. Yet the two visions of sanity are almost perfect copies: each is a vision of wholeheartedness, coupled with responsibility and an ability to respond to things genuinely and without pretense. Both visions are powerful, appealing, and deeply human. Either, or indeed both, could be correct.

Both are empirical. Neither is scientific. Understanding why psychology is not science requires a short examination of what science is. The religious view is not in any danger of being taken for science, as it has no pretenses in that direction. The religious view takes its authority from faith, which is ultimately not testable beyond the confines of one man's heart. But psychology partakes of studies, not prayer; it holds conferences, publishes journals, engages in peer review and debate: how can I hold that it is a thing more like religion than like physics?

Science requires that all principles be not only testable, but falsifiable. Newtonian physics felt, at the turn of the 20th century, that it had basically solved all but a few straggling problems, and was remarkably close to a complete explanation of how the universe worked. It still viewed atoms as unsplittable, and had no knowledge of quarks or quantums. When the "new physics" came along, it undermined the entirety of the discipline as it existed. Everything had to be cast out or reexamined: a resolution is still out of reach.

Psychology's bedrock claims are not similarly falsifiable. Behavioral psychology claims that the mind is an illusion of the brain: its evidence is that it can explain behavior by reference only to chemical properties of the brain, and therefore a mind is unnecessary. That kind of argument is a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad ignorantiam, that is, the argument from ignorance. The fact is that behavioral psychology cannot show that there is no mind, any more than it can show that there is. At the last, it is engaged in an act of faith, upon which principle no scientific inquiry is possible.

Behavioral psychology is not alone: all psychology ultimately is based upon unscientific principles which must be accepted, or not, on faith. Freud's Oedipal complex, for example, was meant to exist in all men; if analysis showed something consistent with it, the psychologist said, "Aha! The Oedipal complex at work!" If analysis failed to show anything consistent with it, the psychologist replied, "Aha! You are repressing your Oedipal complex." The fact that the complex might not exist was not possible, therefore it could not be the case. Jungian psychology similarly posits a "collective unconscious," and it is ultimately your acceptance of the existence of that collective unconscious which qualifies you to practice Jungian analysis. You can't be a Jungian and not accept the collective unconscious. Cognitive dissonance theory posits that the human mind (or brain) can't accept two mutually exclusive propositions without feeling agitation to resolve them. I have occasionally debated this point with cognitive therapists, and found that evidence against this central proposition is finally dismissed. It has to be, as the central principle can't be proven, nor can it be disproven: it must be accepted on faith.

Yet psychology retains the respect due only to real sciences, and with it the force to legally deprive a man of his freedom, his job, or certain rights which are available only to those held to be "mentally competent" to exercise them. Psychology's ability to maintain this illusion is due to its empiricism--that is, to the fact that it bases its conclusions on real-world examples, which gives it the flavor of science. Empiricism, practiced by Aristotle, was indeed the precursor of science. I said that Dr. Horney was empirical, and she is. She really has done a lot of research, and a lot of analysis, and a lot of thinking about the examples she has met. Empiricism is not science, however. That is another way of addressing the line of questions which takes the form, "But if (e.g.) behaviorists can in fact explain all human behavior without reference to a mind--if they can really do it--does that not show that they are right?" The answer lies with the Greeks.

Ancient Greek navigators developed a complex mechanical device for navigation, called the Antikythera mechanism. It aided navigation by predicting where certain stars should be in the sky at given times of the night, at given points of the year. The Greeks thought that the earth was the center of the universe, however, which should pose a problem for correct prediction of astral movements. When they encountered those problems, though, they just thought around them:

The Greeks believed in an earth-centric universe and accounted for celestial bodies' motions using elaborate models based on epicycles, in which each body describes a circle (the epicycle) around a point that itself moves in a circle around the earth. Mr Wright found evidence that the Antikythera mechanism would have been able to reproduce the motions of the sun and moon accurately, using an epicyclic model devised by Hipparchus, and of the planets Mercury and Venus, using an epicyclic model derived by Apollonius of Perga. (These models, which predate the mechanism, were subsequently incorporated into the work of Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD.)

Epicycles were able to correctly account for the movement of astral bodies without discarding the core--and inaccurate--principle of the earth's centrality. The development of epicycles is an astonishing, indeed a magnificient, human accomplishment. It is a beautiful piece of human artifice. Its only flaw is that it fails to be correct.

Psychology is in just this position. Insofar as it simply wishes to guide a given ship to a given port (say, an unhappy person to that vision of sanity) it may serve as a perfectly useful model. So long as it is applied to that, and only that, it may be functional. The problem arises when you start making wider judgements based upon its core principles--for example, what sort of people ought to enjoy freedoms, or ought to hold jobs. If the core principle is wrong, you could end up making very bad, hurtful judgements.

Ultimately epicycles were set aside because they partook of the realm of physics, and better methods of observation allowed us to see plainly that the earth was not the center of the universe. Psychology is a different animal because its core principles are finally untestable, unfalsifiable, and unscientific. There is no evidence that can be brought to bear, either today or conceptually in the future, that could really put an end to the question of whether or not we have minds separate from our brains; or whether "inner conflicts" yield "disorders" from some kind of normality, rather than simply informing the development of a unique person who wasn't meant to be anything other than what they are. These things at last can't be tested.

I have nothing against people making decisions in their personal life on the basis of psychology, if they feel inclined. I don't mind them choosing this thing over that thing on the basis of Tarot card readings, for that matter. I have said that arts are the noblest of human endeavors precisely because they are the most human. Psychology is an art. It should be proud of it. It must also, however, discard the false authority that it has laid claim to under the guise of being a science. People can--should!--choose to build their lives around the mastery of some art that is particularly appealing to them. No government or corporate entity, though, should make decisions involving fundamental liberties on the basis of signs and portents, the readings of seers, or the analysis of a psychologist.