NEW RESEARCH: Repression, defence, & the psychology of science

Boag, S. (2015). Repression, defence, & the psychology of science. In S. Boag, L. A. W. Brakel, and V. Talvitie (Eds.), Philosophy, Science, and Psychoanalysis (pp. 247-268). London: Karnac.

Boag 2015 Repression, defence, & the psychology of science download


In this chapter I propose that Freud’s theory of repression, broadly formulated, is essential for understanding the psychology of science. The possibility of self-deception and motivated ignoring in science is first discussed in the context of ‘turning a blind eye’, ‘blindness of the seeing eye’ and selective inattention. The relationship between human nature, unpleasure, and the aims of science is then addressed in the context of statistics, pathological science, and socially constructed blindness. Alfred Mele’s seminal work on self-deception is then considered and I propose that some account of Freudian repression appears to be required to satisfactorily account for selective inattention in self-deception. While determining whether any given scientist is engaging in self-deception is not easily determined, the in principle possibility of self-deception in science, is a serious concern for the discipline to acknowledge.