Upon occasion, I find reading article abstracts on psycINFO (not being a student at the moment, that's all that's available) strangely calming and even fun. I get to think - How common to be identified with such sterile suffixes as -pathic! Look, this study found five hundred people with anxiety disorders! and also What naïve subscription to the scientific method! but not without How limited an application of it!
Imagine the hours of testing required for any one study, what each of the personless names attached at the top had to do with it (Who wrote which sentence of this abstract? Which paragraphs of the article? Who designed which graphic?), the unnamed RA's, the countless (though carefully enumerated), nameless participants seated in the same sticky plastic chairs before the same glowing digital representations of words (or was this a paper survey?) and all in the pursuit of the blurry, moving, malleable image of truth? The understanding of that same image? The solid sheet of paper and abstract letters of a degree? Tenure? Seeing your own name in that fine print below an appropriately convoluted and misleading title? Or does it come down to the nitty-gritty of an individual's decision? It unquestionably does, when you shoehorn your physical and mental experience into words, into a checked box or blackened bubble. When you answer a question face-to-face, it does. It does when you conceive of people as separate things and it does just as much when you admit to some commonality of experience. It did but no longer does when you decide which tick on the axis, which decimal place is far enough and which is too far to be considered truth.