Kenneth Kaye's publications on the Science of Human Behavior
Psychological Bulletin, 1980, Vol. 88, No. 2, 458-468. "In the analysis of temporal, sequential, or contingent relations among events within sessions, the observers' or coders' false-alarm rate and missed-event rate are more useful than coefficients of interobserver agreement as indices of reliability." Investigators in my field had been using a formula that someone had told them to use, to estimate the reliability of their coding. None had thought about the logic and mathematics of that formula, and psychologists probably couldn't understand it, so most ignored this and went on using inadequate estimates. But the statisticians did follow my reasoning, and confirmed it. I have no idea whether students of behavior are using better measures of coder reliability these days.
Piaget's forgotten novel (1980)
Psychology Today, November 1980. At the age of 20, before he'd begun any research in psychology, Jean Piaget published a novel in which he stated what would later be the "conclusions" from decades of studying the development of intelligence in children. What does this say about empiricism and objective research?
Context in context (1980)
Review of Urie Bronfenbrenner, The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. The Sciences, February 1980. "My army experience illustrates the gist of the 'ecological' view that Bronfenbrenner upholds, and it supports the view. It also illustrates, at a deeper level, what a limited view that is."
In Tiffany Field and Alan Fogel, eds. Emotion and Early Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1982. "It is not sufficient for an investigator to fall back upon the familiar excuse "this is an exploratory study," as though that were to sanction any and all informal, inspired, or intuitive manifestations of the spirit. Microanalysis, properly understood, belongs to nomothetic science."
In Luciano L'Abate, ed. Handbook of Family Psychology and Therapy, Vol. 1. Dorsey Press, 1985, pp. 38-72. Expanded the philosophical and scientific issues I had dealt with in The Mental and Social Life of Babies and many papers. I have often shared this chapter with fellow psychologists in the family business field, as it challenges all of us who subscribe to general family systems theory to work toward what I called p-models, or process models, arguing that mere metaphors are not explanations of how systems develop. "Individual persons are not simply building blocks out of which social organizations are composed. Social processes are fundamental and are the building blocks out of which persons are composed."
In Dale Farran and James McKinney, eds. Risk in Intellectual and Psychosocial Development. Academic Press, 1986, pp. 273-286. Much of what had been written about the concept of risk was based on concepts of assessment and intervention that were, I argued, problematic because the two concepts are usually discussed independently, and each is usually viewed unidimensionally. The assessment of any sort of developmental risk and the availability of interventions to reduce it are two dimensions of the same problem. Furthermore, the concept of developmental risk, as something that can be identified and ameliorated, involves not merely developmental psychology but economics, history, sociology, and politics.
Consilience -- No (1998)
In The Atlantic, June 1998 in response to E.O. Wilson's article "Back from Chaos." Although this Archive doesn't include other letters and published responses, I place this one here because with the exception of a couple of sentences in The Mental and Social Life of Babies, this is the only place I stated what is, for me, a deeply important principle:
Edward O. Wilson's erudite essay brilliantly disposes of postmodernism, and indeed all anthropocentric, ideology-driven anti-science. His presentation of "consilience," however, is dangerously misleading. Wilson defines it as "the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation," and regards it as the Enlightenment's most promising contribution to human understanding. Au contraire. The promise of science is its unity of method and its community of discipline -- not any convenient unity of principles across domains of natural reality. The entomologist reasons in the same disciplined way, and submits her data and conclusions to the same collegial scrutiny, as the etymologist. So do the astrophysicist, the botanist, and the geologist. However, the conceit that their work should converge upon common truths and common processes -- God's grand natural design -- is precisely what has led so many of those who think they already know those truths to find them confirmed in nature. Too many flimsy theories are buttressed by logically fallacious, selective analogizing across disciplines.
One reason for "all the bewildering varieties of deconstructionism and New Age holism swirling round about"
academia is that consilience makes every man or woman a scholar without portfolio, without the requirements
of actually having to study anything rigorously or to build new knowledge on a foundation of old. Hence the
paradox of a society in which more people have had more "education" than at any time or place in human
history, yet stupidity flourishes. Our young people are so ignorant of mathematics, science, the classics of
Western literature, and human history that they aren't even aware how ignorant they are.
The Atlantic Monthly, June 1998. Letters. Volume 281, No. 6