Psychology and the Liberal Consensus


153 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88920-127-7




Reviewed by Alexander Craig

Alexander Craig is a freelance journalist in Lennoxville, Quebec.


Is psychology really scientific? Can it ever be? It may well be, to paraphrase Churchill’s remark about economics, that if you asked three psychologists you’d get four different answers. The debate doesn’t look likely to end soon.

The authors of the book under review make their point of view very clearly. They’re opposed to the present pantheon of establishment psychologists — “the liberal consensus” — and attack them at great length. Their tone is at times a bit shrill, but like many another verbal fight, it can be fun for the observer.

It can, however, like other conflicts, become too much of an insiders’ scrap, fighting over their own dirty and not too interesting linen. Much of this book is taken up with surveys of who studied what, which is unlikely to be of much interest to anyone outside the community of university psychologists. On occasion the authors make some good points, but frequently the language can be just too dense and Latinate.

The criticism at times can be refreshingly uninhibited, however. One mainline specialist on cognition has his work summed up as a case-study in “social affairs where information is systematically rigged to maintain establishment ideas and profitable practices.” Basically, however, this is an academic book, of a type, and its main value to the lay reader will be its synopses of developments in modern psychology — not impartial, of course, but that begs the authors’ question. There is a very extensive bibliography.


Anderson, Charles C., and L.D. Travis, “Psychology and the Liberal Consensus,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,