Lawyers can do anything, including the practice of psychology without a license.
Once or twice or three times again . . .
Predictors – witchdoctors, cops, electrical contractors, or political consultants – can explain a plague, a criminal, a fire, or Mitt’s defeat. None of those events is predictable. In every case you have to lock-up thousands (literally!) in order to prevent one bad actor, one suicide, or one dead teacher.
Explanations are easy. They are usually guesses. They are often wrong. True for explaining mechanical problems in your automobile, true from a pulpit, true from a legislator’s desk. True for “background checks” that make long lists but only of possibilities. Heisenberg’s uncertainty is still with us: We never know which atom will split, which politician will forget the purpose of the 2nd Amendment, or which of us 91% of men or 84% of women with lethal, detailed thoughts will act on them.
Paradox: The harder the task, the more interesting its achievement and the more fame from that achievement. Obama’s army of secret service agents merely increases the chances that someone will try to evade them.
Most women, newscasters, teachers, politicians, and lawyers believe their great talents for sharing feelings and talking are the prevention, cure, and substitute for systematic observation – observation that the high murder rates in Chicago, Manhattan, or even the recent tragedy in Newtown, occur despite tough restrictions on gun ownership. And our mothers in pin-stripe suits “do something” by always giving us more rules and never erasing one of them.
Baron-Cohen, Simon (2003) The essential difference: Male & female brains and the truth about autism. NY: Basic Books (about $3 used)
Buss, David. (2005) The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill. NY: Penguin.
Swets J, Tanner WP, Birdsall TG (1961) Decision processes in perception. Psychological Review, 68: 301-340.