This put simply is whether or not psychology should be open for all to understand or whether it should be reserved purely for scientists and those that are knowledgeable on the subject. This poses questions of whether or not the findings in psychology (a field that professes to study in order to improve society) is actually of any benefit to everyday life. On the one hand in order for scientific research in general to be understandable to the public certain aspects have to be simplified as without a technical understanding the whole concept would be lost on the majority of the population. However in the ‘dumbing down’ process is not some part of the findings lost in translation and therefore does this not detract from the overall concept?
The wording that goes into research and the publication of research is chosen specifically by the researcher in order to convey their findings exactly the way that they understand them and how they wish them to be presented. To paraphrase words where such thought has gone into their presentation cannot help but to take away from the findings even if it is just marginally. For example no one would think of taking a timeless classic novel and changing the setting and plot in order to make the story easier to be understood by todays generation. This would be seen as a desecration of culture. So why is it viewed necessary for science? The main culprit of this ‘dumbing down’ of science is the media and seeing as their aim is to improve ratings I seems that they are the most likely to twist the findings of any study. For example a Telegraph article in Jan 2009 claimed that a scientist had found evidence to suggest that it was greenhouse gases that caused an ice age. They then went on to misquote the scientist himself and ignore any attempt to correct the mistake- his research had actually found that a hot greenhouse gas filled atmosphere could co-exist with a cold ‘snowballed earth’. This just shows that when research is taken by none specialists and put into ‘understandable’ words often the information is misrepresented.
However the answer to the question of why science is treated this way seems, to me, to lay in the fact that areas like science study things in order to improve society, how can they do this if their findings are illegible to anyone without a PhD in the area of study? Not only is it important that findings are understood in order to be implemented but also it stands to reason that people will only ever take an interest in something if they can understand it. Take for example physics very few people understand the simple theories let alone the complexity of Quantum physics. This is being reflected in the declining number of people choosing to take physics at a higher level of learning. In order to maintain interest in psychology and to inspire future researchers theories and studies need to be understood by none specialists.
In conclusion though it is important for fields like psychology and science to make themselves accessible to none experts the way that this is done needs to be monitored in some way to ensure misrepresentation isn’t given. Maybe the researcher themselves could create a laymen friendly version of their findings? Just an idea.