Monday, August 29, 2016

More Trouble Replicating Famous Psychology Experiments

   I typically just dismiss these kinds of nutty-sounding results out of hand unless they are confirmed by meta-studies. So this stuff doesn't actually surprise me all that much.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Churchlands were right all along!

...but really, what is there to do about this problem (if it is a problem at all)? Should we embrace an eliminativism to the entire field of psychology, or with respect to certain kinds of theories? Or is this chiefly a matter of identifying a means to clarify our psychological concepts in order to better frame questions and hypotheses to test?

I conjecture that terms such as 'happy' and other similar psychological concepts are vague, but I don't see where this is a death blow to the entire field.

It's certainly worrisome, though.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Isn't the problem with the experiment in question merely that it can't be replicated? I mean, I don't think it's a problem with any of the's just that (a) the hypothesis is likely to be false and (b) the experiment purporting to show that it's true was bogus. If the problem is widespread, doesn't it just show that a lot of psychologists are shitty at science?

I thought that was the most obvious explanation for it all.

On a side note:
Imagine the bloodbath if it were suddenly possible to test philosophical theories...

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps. I was just making mention of those detractors from psychology; namely the eliminativists who claim that psychology is flawed at a fundamental level, and judging by the comments in the article, some (who I've perhaps wrongly lumped into that category) seem to express the sentiment that this replication crisis is to be expected. Maybe this is just a sociological point, however.

I was thinking that an explanation for the aforementioned crisis is that psychological questions and concepts are necessarily vague to an extent that surpasses those of the physical sciences, and that due to this feature there are many variables that aren't accounted for in psychological experiments. Then again, as you have mentioned, this perhaps can simply be chalked up to the fact that psychologists suck at science..I dunno...

9:21 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I do see the point, and that *is* something discussed in the comments. I think I now agree that that possibility needs to be taken seriously.

I don't know whether this is a similar point, but:
The one dude defending his experiment in the article does, as one commenter notes, come awfully close to deploying a you-can't-step-in-the-same-river-twice defense.

5:35 AM  

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