Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Idealized vs actual psychological science

I have been reading recently about the philosophy of science, which has got me thinking about the scientific method, both as it's taught in most psychology classes and as it's commonly practiced in psychology.  This thinking has led me to the following conclusion: the version of the scientific method that is usually taught in psychology classes is a farce, to the detriment of the science as a whole.  Let me explain.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What we can learn from the LaCour data fabrication incident

Mike LaCour, author of a paper on
canvassing that was later retracted
About two weeks ago, news broke that Michael LaCour, the first author of a study about how, purportedly, gay canvassers can successfully improve people's attitudes toward gay men and same-sex marriage initiatives, likely fabricated his data. Although news about fraud is always troubling, this news was particularly troubling -- after all, the study was published in Science, one of the most high-profile journals for scientific research (as the joke goes, the shorter the title, the more prestigious the journal). In addition, the methods of the study appeared to be rigorous, and the findings just "felt good" -- according to the study, brief, 20-minute conversations with canvassers who admitted they were gay created dramatic changes in attitude that persisted up to nine months.