In The Psychology of Religion, Barry writes that scientific research is typically categorized into three major areas: studies of religious phenomena, theories about how religion functions, and applications or implications of these theories for helping individuals live happier lives.

He notes that most people associate psychology with the first category-religion studies. This seems reasonable as psychologists study mental processes, so studying anything related to thinking (such as beliefs, values, and emotions) is in some sense “studying religion.”

However, he says that while there are many interesting questions within this area, they don’t really tell us much about what religions mean nor do they help us understand why someone might choose one type of faith over another.

This kind of work is valuable, but it’s not the same as looking at the essence or purpose of religion. Doing that requires going beyond the domain of knowledge about religion, which is where psychological theory can be helpful.

Theories about human motivation and behavior can provide insights into the reasons that people believe certain things and engage in specific behaviors. By applying our understanding of these theories to the facts, we can make intelligent guesses about what happened and why.


Barry argues that although researchers may refer to their findings as “scientific” when describing them, their conclusions often lack empirical validity. He cites several examples of theories from other academic fields being applied in ways that seem incorrect because they fail to take account of important factors or contradictory evidence.

History of science

how does barry characterize scientific research

Another important part of what makes scientific studies powerful is how they are structured. What we call the “history” or “field” of research studies comes from an understanding of why previous experiments were conducted and what worked and didn’t work.

This history forms the framework for current practices in areas like medicine, nutrition, psychology, and engineering. For example, before antibiotics there weren’t many good options when it came to curing bacterial infections.

But as time went on, researchers found that some bacteria just can’t survive being poisoned by medicines such as penicillin. So doctors would have to find another antibiotic, one that works against different strains of bacteria.

Different types of science

how does barry characterize scientific research

There are many different ways to do scientific research, which characterize what type of science that particular study is. These categories are not set in stone, but there are some major ones that most studies fall into.

The three main categories for defining a field as scientific are empiricism, positivism, or pragmatism. Empirical sciences gather empirical evidence to prove theories about the world. For example, studying chemistry involves gathering enough information to determine the components of matter and how they combine with each other.

Positivist scientists use reason to prove theories. This includes using logical reasoning to come up with conclusions based on assumptions and pre-existing knowledge. Pragmatic researchers test out their theory by conducting an experiment to see if it works or fails. They may also add or modify parts of the theory to make it more successful.

There are several variations within these categories, making it difficult to classify any given topic as just one thing! That is why people often refer to a “scientist” as having their own style when doing experiments.

Medical science

how does barry characterize scientific research

In The Cure That Doesn’t Work, Barry writes about how medical research is done. He claims that most studies are funded by pharmaceutical companies who have an interest in proving their products work so they can continue to make money off of them.

He says that most academic researchers agree that placebo treatments are as effective as “real” medicine for some conditions. This means that people who feel improved after taking a sugar pill may actually be experiencing a reduction in symptoms due to the positive expectation.

For this reason, he said it’s important to evaluate whether the benefits patients receive from placebos outweigh the costs of using drugs. By doing this, you will get a more objective view of the effectiveness of certain therapies.

Another myth that Barry addresses in his book is that diets don’t work. He states that there are many diet strategies that reduce weight effectively. It all depends on what you believe of yourself as well as your expectations.

If you think that you’re not capable of eating healthy foods, then obviously going onto a fad diet isn’t going to help you. On the other hand, if you genuinely want to give these diets a try, then go into with a clear goal and no assumptions.

Political science

how does barry characterize scientific research

Another major area of research that has had significant impacts is political science, or as it’s sometimes referred to, politics and sociology. This field focuses not just on how individuals influence each other in groups, but how power structures work and evolve over time.

Political scientists have studied everything from presidential elections to mob bosses to see what types of leadership styles are most effective in different situations. They also explore why some people join groups with like-minded goals while others choose more diverse teams with differing agendas.

Barry writes that scientific studies show that “the individual who wants to lead a group must first gain the trust of those in the group.”

He goes on to say that this isn’t always easy because “those in the group may feel threatened by or even dislike the person trying to exercise authority.”

However, he notes that there are certain things leaders can do to earn members’ trust and start working toward important group objectives. These include showing interest in the same topics as everyone else, listening attentively, acknowledging good job performances, offering praise when someone commits to a goal, etc.

Spencer Korn quotes another scientist who says that “if you want to get along with others, put away your ego and focus on being helpful instead.” He adds that “being open and trustworthy makes it much easier to develop relationships and achieve team goals.

Economic science

how does barry characterize scientific research

Another area of scientific research that has gained popularity is called economic science or business studies. Companies have academic departments dedicated to studying how businesses work, what makes them successful, and what can be done to improve their efficiency.

Business majors in college are increasingly likely to specialize in one specific field such as finance, marketing, or accounting. Many employers look for these skills because they’re needed to run a company effectively.

These areas focus more on practical applications than psychology does. For example, economists would study why companies need to produce more products and increase production, while psychologists might explore why some people feel compelled to keep buying things.

But economics students do learn about motivation sometimes, and it’s not always related to money. They may investigate why people perform certain actions, such as donating money to charity or working hard at something. These concepts are known as psychological sciences.

Social science

how does barry characterize scientific research

In his book, Barry argues that scientific research is inherently political. This means that studies often have an agenda to promote or discredit certain products or services. For example, studies funded by big corporations look more favorably on their product, while studies conducted by outside parties for money agree with the company’s position.

Barry also says that most contemporary academic disciplines are biased towards liberal causes due to funding constraints. For instance, people who study psychology are mostly funded by either pharmaceutical companies or governmental agencies (like the Department of Health and Human Services), both of which aim to prove drugs work.

On the other hand, economists are almost exclusively sponsored by banking institutions, so they tend to back financial products like loans and derivatives.

Online science

how does barry characterize scientific research

Another way to evaluate the effectiveness of a product is by looking at its reviews online. There are many sites where you can look up products, their benefits and risks, and whether or not they have worked for people in the past.

By reading these reviews, you will get an idea of how well supported each product is, as well as what changes another users may have made that helped them work more effectively.

You should also read between the lines to see if there are any warnings about the product. Some companies will put out false information to make themselves seem more trustworthy.

Overall, trying out different types of yoga depends on your body type and personal preferences is the best way to find the right one for you.

Applying science

how does barry characterize scientific research

A lot of people get stuck thinking that because scientists are trained in how to perform scientific experiments, therefore they can apply their knowledge to things outside of the lab.

This assumption is false. While there are some ways that you could arguably use concepts from experimental research in your daily life (like by applying mathematics to determine whether an ingredient is safe for consumption or not), it’s more accurate to say that everyday people have been doing so ever since humans began living together in tribes.

Using math and logic to evaluate risk and benefits goes way back! Before we had laboratories and equipment designed specifically to do scientific experimentation, everyone was practicing basic experimentation and using reasoning to assess risks and rewards.

So while it is true that employing the skills of a scientist would make you a better decision maker, it is very misleading to suggest that you should try to be like Dr. Smith. That kind of rhetoric only serves to alienate individuals who already feel excluded from mainstream culture.