Making It All Up: The behavioral sciences scandal

Making It All Up: The behavioral sciences scandal
OCT 19, 2015, VOL. 21, NO. 06
weeklystandard.com
BY ANDREW FERGUSON

One morning in August, the social science reporter for National Public Radio, a man named Shankar Vedantam, sounded a little shellshocked. You couldn’t blame him.

Like so many science writers in the popular press, he is charged with reporting provocative findings from the world of behavioral science: “.  .  . and researchers were very surprised at what they found. The peer-reviewed study suggests that [dog lovers, redheads, Tea Party members] are much more likely to [wear short sleeves, participate in hockey fights, …] than …

I’m just making these up, obviously, but as we shall see, there’s a lot of that going around.

On this August morning Science magazine had published a scandalous article. The subject was the practice of behavioral psychology. Behavioral psychology is a wellspring of modern journalism. It is the source for most of those thrilling studies that keep reporters like Vedantam in business.

Over 270 researchers, working as the Reproducibility Project, had gathered 100 studies from three of the most prestigious journals in the field of social psychology. Then they set about to redo the experiments and see if they could get the same results. …

These 100 studies had cleared the highest hurdles that social science puts up. They had been edited, revised, reviewed by panels of peers, revised again, published, widely read, and taken by other social scientists as the starting point for further experiments. Except . . .

The researchers, Vedantam glumly told his NPR audience, “found something very disappointing. Nearly two-thirds of the experiments did not replicate, meaning that scientists repeated these studies but could not obtain the results that were found by the original research team.”

Peer review is supposed to be the imprimatur that this is, to use the current bit of triteness, “settled science”. Sadly, it’s become a hollow idol. And while the “social sciences” seem particularly susceptible to error, fraud-for-funding, fame-seeking, axe-grinding, etc., other sciences are also troubled by like fraud and error. Were this just a tempest in an academic teapot, it would not matter too much, but politicians are committing nations’ economies to “settled science” (= “Global Climate Change”) that may be nothing more than a casserole of fraudulent analysis of selected & cooked “data”.

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I wonder how many of these wacka-doodle studies have turned into government policies and money grabbing scams.

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Think EPA

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Requiring steel shot for waterfowling was the result of one of many government policies that were based on unsound science (and the guy who did the less than scientific study on plumbism from lead shot in waterfowl didn’t even claim that his results should be taken as conclusive; only that it should be grounds for a more detailed study).

I heard about the OP study on the radio a few weeks ago.

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[quote=“Fantasy_Chaser, post:4, topic:47506”]
Requiring steel shot for waterfowling was the result of one of many government policies that were based on unsound science (and the guy who did the less than scientific study on plumbism from lead shot in waterfowl didn’t even claim that his results should be taken as conclusive; only that it should be grounds for a more detailed study).

I heard about the OP study on the radio a few weeks ago.
[/quote] Quite true. The “theory” (for those who don’t know) is that lead shot that MISSES the intended target, falls into the water, sinks to the bottom and is EATEN by the diving and dabbling ducks, poisoning them and therefore threatening them with extinction. And, if that’s not enough, ducks are a principle prey of other animals–including the peregrine falcon–which are also poisoned by the lead shot in duck carcasses that THEY eat. It’s all BS, of course, and there’s NO scientific evidence that it has ANY basis in fact any more than there is that lead fishing sinkers do anything similar. What this all boils down to is yet another effort on the part of PETA to stop hunting and fishing…in this case by making the equipment to do so too expensive for some.

The reason these progressives do this crap is that making similar claims about DDT “poisoning” eagles and falcons caused the government to ban the most effective mosquito-control substance then in existence, coincidentally costing tens of thousands of human lives lost from mosquito-borne diseases. The “reasoning” was, that if we can do it with DDT, we can do it with ANY chemical or substance. Oil, coal, salt, sweeteners, sugar, lead, butter, palm oils, coconut oil etc. etc. etc.

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Why do you think those studies are conducted in the first place?

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But anything that really works is quickly outlawed.

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I knew a lady once who said that, before they outlawed DDT, she used to put DDT powder on her cupboard shelves underneath the shelf paper.

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My grandmother did that. She lived in a lovely older house and said it kept ants away. She also put it all around the pipes and stuff coming into the house.

She lived to be 98. Maybe she had a point!

Purrs,
Tigger

See, here lies the problem… humans. Humans are corruptable. A Dollar for a Hollar has been around for studies for a long time. Telecommunication companies to try and get mergers approved fund groups that talk about how awesome it would be in charter bought time warner for example.

But see, science is self correcting here isn’t it? People are learning… hey, maybe you shouldn’t take the FIRST STUDY as the set in stone truth. In itself, science DISCOURAGES such thinking… FOR THIS VERY REASON. You must be able to reproduce results. Journals publishing these studies without the proper reproductions being in place makes those journals look bad. GOOD. That is as it should be. Now lets get back to the real science of things shall we?

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