Kahneman Scathes Social Psychologists

Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate, recently wrote a scathing letter about experiments by social psychologists purporting to link social priming to associative memory (h/t reader Fred S). Kahneman described a “storm of doubts” about social priming results, inability to replicate claims and characterized the field as a “train wreck looming” and a “mess”. Kahneman’s letter was covered yesterday in Nature here.

A prominent academic in the field, one who has published both on priming and associative memory, is also well-known to Climate Audit readers.

Kahneman, undoubtedly stung by recent scandals in social psychology, wrote a remarkably hard-hitting letter:

I write this letter to a collection of people who were described to me (mostly by John Bargh) as students of social priming. There were names on the list that I could not match to an email. Please pass it on to anyone else you think might be relevant.

As all of you know, of course, questions have been raised about the robustness of priming results. The storm of doubts is fed by several sources, including the recent exposure of fraudulent researchers, general concerns with replicability that affect many disciplines, multiple reported failures to replicate salient results in the priming literature, and the growing belief in the existence of a pervasive file drawer problem that undermines two methodological pillars of your field: the preference for conceptual over literal replication and the use of meta-analysis. Objective observers will point out that the problem could well be more severe in your field than in other branches of experimental psychology, because every priming study involves the invention of a new experimental situation.

For all these reasons, right or wrong, your field is now the poster child for doubts about the integrity of psychological research. Your problem is not with the few people who have actively challenged the validity of some priming results. It is with the much larger population of colleagues who in the past accepted your surprising results as facts when they were published. These people have now attached a question mark to the field, and it is your responsibility to remove it.

I am not a member of your community, and all I have personally at stake is that I recently wrote a book that emphasizes priming research as a new approach to the study of associative memory – the core of what dual-system theorists call System 1. Count me as a general believer. I also believe in a point that John Bargh made in his response to Cleeremans, that priming effects are subtle and that their design requires high-level skills. I am skeptical about replications by investigators new to priming research, who may not be attuned to the subtlety of the conditions under which priming effects are observed, or to the ease with which these effects can be undermined.

My reason for writing this letter is that I see a train wreck looming. I expect the first victims to be young people on the job market. Being associated with a controversial and suspicious field will put them at a severe disadvantage in the competition for positions. Because of the high visibility of the issue, you may already expect the coming crop of graduates to encounter problems. Another reason for writing is that I am old enough to remember two fields that went into a prolonged eclipse after similar outsider attacks on the replicability of findings: subliminal perception and dissonance reduction.

I believe that you should collectively do something about this mess. To deal effectively with the doubts you should acknowledge their existence and confront them straight on, because a posture of defiant denial is self-defeating. Specifically, I believe that you should have an association, with a board that might include prominent social psychologists from other field. The first mission of the board would be to organize an effort to examine the replicability of priming results, following a protocol that avoids the questions that have been raised and guarantees credibility among colleagues outside the field.

Cited in the Nature article as an example of priming literature was a 1998 article by Djikerhuis and van Knippenberg, who postulated people who were primed by thinking about professors were at least temporarily smarter than people primed by thinking about secretaries (or at least better at Trivial Pursuits questions.) Apparently, spending more time meditating about professors led to even more smartness.

Stephen Lewandowsky, familiar to CA readers, is apparently among the leaders in the field of associative memory (“associative memory” being one of the concepts central to the Kahneman letter.) In 1993, Costa and Garcia-Marques (1993) described Lewandowky’s theory of associative memory as the “most prominent” in the literature:

The Theory of Distributed Associative Memory (TODAM, Lewandowsky & Li, 1994; Lewandowsky & Murdoch, 1989; Murdoch, 1993, 1995, 1997) based on the notion of associative chaining seems to be the most prominent theoretical proposal in the literature.

In a 1992 review here, Abhijit Sanyal stated:

Lewandowsky, Kirsner and Bainbridge (1989) have suggested a sense-activation view to reflect implicit memory for new associations…

For instance, past research found that simple perceptual manipulations can induce false memories, such as through immediate repetition priming (Jacoby & Whitehouse, 1989), immediate semantic priming (Lewandowsky, 1986), enhanced visual clarity of a test word (Whittlesea, Jacoby, & Girard, 1990), or fragment completion prior to testing (e.g., Luo, 1993; Watkins & Peynircioglu, 1990). In the current research, we investigate the claim that changes in recognition memory with immediate priming are due to changes in perceptual fluency

Lewandowsky had specifically published on priming. For example, in 1986, he published “Priming in recognition memory for categorized lists” (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cogni­tion, 12, 562-574).

In 1989, Lewandowsky, Kirsner and Bainbridge published “Context Effects in Implicit Memory: A Sense-Specific Account”, a section of a book edited by Lewandowsky and two co-editors entitled “Implicit Memory: Theoretical Issues”.

In 1993, Lewandowsky and two coauthors published “Context effects in repetition priming are sense effects” (Memory & Cognition, 21, 619-626).

Lewandowsky has continued to publish academic articles on the topic of associative memory. (See his publications here).

I do not know whether Lewandowsky was included in the list of recipients of the Kahneman letter or whether Lewandowsky’s results were among those which worried Kahneman.

However, the replicability of the results of Lewandowsky et al 2012 in a properly supervised survey of actual skeptics seems very dubious to me. Kahneman expressed serious concerns about the experimental set-up of important social psychology experiments on priming – concerns that apply even more forcefully to the Lewandowsky survey where no effort was made to ensure data integrity and which was carried out at anti-skeptic sites, sites that, in some cases, had been primed by prior knowledge of Lewandowsky’s conspiracy theory.

The Nature article viewed “skepticism” about social psychology articles as entirely justified, noting that some of the names involved in the prominent recent frauds in social psychology were also connected with “priming” research:

This scepticism has been fed by failed attempts to replicate classic priming studies, increasing concerns about replicability in psychology more broadly (see ‘Bad Copy’), and the exposure of fraudulent social psychologists such as Diederik Stapel, Dirk Smeesters and Lawrence Sanna, who used priming techniques in their work.

Gone, I guess, are the halcyon days when psychology journals could publish articles on astrology without inconvenient criticism e.g. Fuzeau-Braesch (1992) “An empirical study of an astrological hypothesis in a twin population”, published in an Elsevier academic psychology journal, Personality and Individual Differences. At Lewandowsky’s blog, commenter John Mashey sharply criticized the publication of a second article by Fuzeau-Braesch in a lower-tier science journal, a criticism with which I agree. However, neither Mashey nor Lewandowsky took exception to the earlier Fuzeau-Braesch astrology article in a psychology journal, a class of journal for which they apparently have lower expectations.


68 Comments

  1. Jack
    Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

    Gone, I guess, are the halcyon days when psychology journals could publish articles on astrology without inconvenient criticism e.g. Fuzeau-Braesch (1992) “An empirical study of an astrological hypothesis in a twin population”, published in an Elsevier academic psychology journal, Personality and Individual Differences.

    Personality and Individual Differences is a reputable differential psychology journal. I suspect that the reason for the publication of the astrology article was that the journal was founded and was then edited by Hans Eysenck, who, despite generally being a hard-core empiricist, also had a bizarre soft spot for astrology. The same journal published a refutation of Fuzeau-Braesch’s article a few years later.

    Steve: the refutation focused on the statistical defects of Fuzeau-Braesch’s original article – a style of argument not unfamiliar at Climate Audit. Unfortunately, based on the acceptance of Lewandowsky et al 2012, psychology journals appear to still suffer from time to time from the same sort of editorial weakness that characterized the previous acceptance of Fuzeau-Braesch.

  2. rogerknights
    Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    Steve, here is a quirk in all your articles that has been bothering me for some time, and now I’ve reached a tipping point. You consistently get the placement of closing parentheses and periods wrong in both situations:

    1. “… in the field of associative memory (“associative memory” being one of the concepts central to the Kahneman letter.)”

    Should be: “… in the field of associative memory (“associative memory” being one of the concepts central to the Kahneman letter).”

    2. “… sense effects”. (Memory & Cognition, 21, 619-626).”

    Should be: “… sense effects”. (Memory & Cognition, 21, 619-626.)”

  3. Duster
    Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

    rogerknights
    Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    2. “… sense effects”. (Memory & Cognition, 21, 619-626).”

    Should be: “… sense effects”. (Memory & Cognition, 21, 619-626.)”

    Actually, no. Steve’s placement is correct. The citation is the source of the article, whose title is in quotes. Citation parentheses typically do not include terminal periods in citation formats used in many disciplines. The APA format, which is widely used is an example. Similarly when an abbreviation is defined the period falls outside the terminal period, e.g. American Pyschological Association (APA).

    Steve does seem to have a spare period in that second example though.

    BTW, your use of quotes within quotes confuses the reader. British use is ” ‘ ‘ “, US use is ‘ ” ” ‘, either way, neither uses ” ” ” “.

    • rogerknights
      Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 12:57 AM | Permalink

      “Citation parentheses typically do not include terminal periods in citation formats used in many disciplines.”

      OK, forget the citation-related example I used. The problem is that Steve usually places a period after a closing parenthesis when an entire sentence is parenthesized. For example:

      “Lewandowsky has continued to publish academic articles on the topic of associative memory. (see his publications here).”

      I considered distinguishing between my quotation marks and Steve’s, but I was worried that changing to single quotes for his quotes might also confuse the reader.

      “British use is ” ‘ ‘ “, US use is ‘ ” ” ‘”

      Nope, it’s the reverse. The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Single quotation marks enclose quotations within quotations. … British practice is often, though not always, the reverse: single marks are used first, then double, and so on.”

    • Keith Sketchley
      Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

      One has to look at the full sentence. From the fragment I think the complainer is wrong

      Certainly is a common error, I frequently correct myself in editing.

      • Keith Sketchley
        Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

        Oops, got that backward. The complainer is right, in case 1, as the words in parentheses are Stephen’s and the sentence ends there.

        (I suggest the mistake is easy to make as the aside thought is ending there, but wrong because the sentence ends outside the parenthetical aside.)

        I’ll stay out of case 2.

        Clean your own house first Keith. ;-)

        • tlitb1
          Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

          Re: Keith Sketchley (Oct 6 12:06),
          Speaking as someone who is clinically grammatically disabled, I can only say that I (and I suspect many other readers) have still somehow managed to struggle to a point in life where they are able to pick up – and interrogate when unsure – intention when and where it is necessary. I find my addition to this side issue very dull but self-satisfying ;)

          Idea.Say it. Respond to others afterwards. End of.

  4. Doug Badgero
    Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    From the comments at Nature:

    Brian Owens said:

    Posted on behalf of Daniel Kahneman:

    I write to complain about the irresponsible and damaging title that was affixed to Ed Yong’s piece on October 3. The headline asserts that Nobel laureates challenges … to clean up their act. There is no challenge in my letter, and certainly not a challenge for anyone to “clean up their act.” Instead, I offered friendly advice to colleagues whose work I respect, about an image problem they face and how they might deal with it. The misleading title outraged many of my friends, and probably caused real damage by making it harder for priming researchers to address my suggestion. I would not have expected misleading headlines from “Nature,” and hope you will be kind enough to publish this correction.

    Regards,
    Daniel Kahneman

    Perhaps Nature can learn to be less inflammatory in their tone.

    • Skiphil
      Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

      Actually it is Kahneman’s letter which used dramatic expressions like “train wreck” and “mess” and “rehabilitate the field.” He may have thought he was only talking about an image problem but he seems to address scientific methodology and not merely outsider perceptions. The Nature headline is slang but not unrepresentative of what Kahneman wrote in his very sensible letter. If Kahneman is dismayed by some of the reactions that reflects upon his letter (which I applaud) and not simply the Nature headline or article. I’d say Kahneman took the right tack in his letter but is now walking it back some distance because of the distress or vehemence of some colleagues’ reactions.

      These are Kahneman’s own phrases, even if he now thinks he was talking about image problems and not scientific substance (but I don’t see how his remarks stop short of substantive problems int he field):

      “I see a train wreck looming”

      “I believe that you should collectively do something about this mess

      “immediately rehabilitate the field

  5. MikeS
    Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    I see Nature and/or Norbert Schwarz working the ‘availability bias’ in the Nature article.

    “You can think of this as psychology’s version of the climate-change debate,” says Schwarz. “The consensus of the vast majority of psychologists closely familiar with work in this area gets drowned out by claims of a few persistent priming sceptics.”

    Sound familiar??

    Schwarz says that “priming studies attract sceptical attention because their results are often surprising, not necessarily because they are scientifically flawed.”

    The problem in both fields clearly arises when flaws in the science ARE identified – reflex position is not to address the flaws.

  6. James Nickell
    Posted Oct 5, 2012 at 11:36 PM | Permalink

    It seems that fraudulent research is a serious problem in the field of psychology.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=massive-fraud-uncovered-in-work

    Having followed the Stephen Lewandowsky affair for the past weeks, I’m left to wonder whether the motivation for his sophomoric “research” was notoriety rather than the respect of his peers. Oh well, as they say, bad press may be better than no press.

    • A. Scott
      Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

      Nah … he appears to have simply wanted to create a piece of work to promote his agenda …

      I think Steve posted this earlier but bears repeating here:

      http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/33900.html

      … note the date – an angry rant about conspiracy and deniers – and then a few months later, the Big Lewandowsky began.

      He shows his contempt for Anthony Watts’ project:

      For several years now, armies of irate pensioners have been swarming the countryside, spurned on by feverish websites, taking photographs of thermometers in the belief that this would invalidate concerns about climate change — and seemingly unaware of the fact that the utility of a thermometer derives from the accuracy of its measurement rather than anything captured by a colour photo.

      He directly associates climate skeptics with 9/11 Truthers and other nonsensical conspiracy theorists:

      Thus, eventually all conspiracy theories collapse onto themselves under their own absurdity, until all that remains is a small cadre of hardcore aficionados who endlessly recycle stale “evidence” amongst themselves in a tedious treadmill of trash that no longer captures anyone else’s attention.

      In the case of the 9/11 “truthers” this point has been reached as the number of its disciples is dwindling rapidly.

      Precisely the same fate awaits the conspiracy theory known as climate “scepticism”.

      It will collapse under its own absurdity because as new scientific evidence amasses at a rapid pace, the presumed conspiracy must grow ever more grotesque and all-encompassing

      It would seem – after reading stuff like this – easily imagined as a spittle inflected maniacal rant, and the multiple posts at his own blog showing the same arrogance and disrespect for those who dare believe other than he does, that Lewandowsky is exactly the type Kahneman has in mind …

      I’m not sure how any reasonable person could read this rant from Lewandowsky conflating climate skepticism into some massive conspiracy theory, and NOT believe the Moon Hoax paper was purposely crafted to support an attack on climate skeptics – a transparent case of purposely priming if ever there was one.

      Add the attitudes shown in this article to the significant errors and failures in design, dissemination, data collection and integrity, and analysis and it is very easy in my opinion to see this paper for what it is – not science, but rather an attempt by Lewandowsky to provide “proof” for his own beliefs – simply more ‘ammunition’ – manufactured support – for his attack against anyone with the audacity to question the science behind climate change.

      Perhaps his title should have been ‘I Believe Climate Skeptics are Blithering Idiots and Raving Conspiracy Theorists, Therefore I Dredged up this Dreck to Prove It.’

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

        Lewandowsky’s work is particularly deceptive in that he failed to report that, among other things, his signature conspiracies – the Moon Landing conspiracy, 9/11 – were held more often by warmists than “skeptics” in his survey.

        If Lewandowsky is representative of the quality of work in social psychology, no wonder Kahneman spoke out as forcefully as he did.

        • RomanM
          Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

          There are more questions regarding a possible “failure to report” in the paper than what you have mentioned here. Lewandowsky states:

          We report a survey (N > 1100) of climate blog users to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science.

          I having been looking at the distribution of the location of “skeptics” in the data set. My idea was that the results from the different surveys would likely not be mixed, but rather entered into the Excel document as distinct blocks. By looking at the data properly, I thought this could give a reasonable view of the rate at which each of the various blogs contributed skeptical responders to the data set. The graph below represents the cumulative counts of how the respondents answered question 29, CauseCO2. Skeptical responses were defined to be 1s or 2s (Disagree or Strongly Disagree). There was a total of 162 such distributed throughout the data.

          Distribution of skeptics

          Changes in the slope appear to give a reasonable clear picture of distinct groups of responses. However, there are several anomalous features in the plot. In particular, there appears to be a rather large group non-skeptics in the positions 15 to 132 inclusive (a single 2 among 13 3’s and 104 4’s). If I was a suspicious person, I would guess this this group might contain data which was not gathered from the blogs as advertised above, but rather may have been collected elsewhere from a very different primed population of individuals possibly to boost the p-values into the required territory of significance needed to give an aura of scientific meaningfulness to the entire process.

          There are several other shorter “flat” sections as well as some groups of skeptical responders that might also bear some further examination as well.

        • RomanM
          Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

          Forgot the R script:

          plot(cumsum(lewdat[,29] < 3), ylab = "Cumulative Count",
          main = "Counts of Question 29 Disagree or Strongly Disagree",type = "l", lwd = 1)
          abline(h = c(50,100,150),col = "red")

          lewdat is the data from the Excel file.

        • A. Scott
          Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

          The claim that the climate is changing due to emissions from fossil fuels is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate “research”.

          Could there be a better example of priming than the above?

          “climate change”
          “emissions”
          “fossil fuels”
          “hoax”
          “corrupt”
          “spend taxpayer $”

        • Bob Koss
          Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

          It seems Lewandowsky and the STW blog were brought up a couple weeks ago at the Convocation of UWA Graduates. I don’t know what will come of it, but it will be interesting to see if the UWA takes a serious look.

          http://joannenova.com.au/2012/10/lewandowsky-part-viii-formal-moves-for-a-governance-review-of-the-stw-blog/

        • mt
          Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Permalink

          RomanM, I noticed something similar, that the first 14 records were skewed skeptic. Quoting myself from Lucia’s:

          The first 14 records in the spreadsheet seem skewed vs the rest of the spreadsheet. For instance “I believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperature to some measurable degree.” has 127 of 1145 responses of 1 or 2, but 11 of the first 14 responded 1 or 2 (disagree). And the climate change is a hoax question has 134 of 1145 agree, while 10 of the first 14 agree. There’s 6 responses of 4 for unrestrained free markets in the first 14, and 69 overall.

          It’s plausible that this is just the multiple survey sets being merged together. There were a few different versions of the survey, joining the results may cause this clustering.

        • A. Scott
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 2:59 AM | Permalink

          mt … if I recall only two of the “versions” were ultimately used – two went to skeptic sites and 2 to pro-agw sites … with none of skeptics responding, unless there are other sites provided the survey its likely only the two forms.

          The copy of Lew data I received had no markings about time of survey. The data set could have been sorted in some fashion?

        • mt
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

          A.Scott, I think the current tally is 3 or 4 different survey IDs that were sent, Steve gathered 3 here, so I assume those would be different datasets that would need to be merged. And the link was in the comments on a few skeptic sites (at least WUWT and Bishop Hill), so there’s a possibility of a small set of responses from those. There may be a sorting on some column we don’t have access to, but a trivial loader would simply read each datafile and pull the desired columns, appending into one dataset.

        • Skiphil
          Posted Feb 11, 2013 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

          It could be valuable for someone to write up a comparative analysis of cognitive and research biases possibly present in Lewandowsky et al. and in some of the Mann et al. Hockey Team climate papers. Not suggesting it is worth your time Steve, only that perhaps some semi-regular at CA or BH, WUWT, etc. might have enough familiarity with diverse scientific literature pertaining to stats, psych, and climate to do something interesting along these lines. I would like to volunteer but I’m not there yet in terms of my own steep learning curves, I know.

          I may be too naturally charitable, but I suspect a lot of the problems we see are more related to intricate cognitive biases and blind spots than to any conscious malfeasance. Of course charges of bias can be flung in all directions and must be carefully documented to convince. Mann and Lewandowsky, along with a variety of associates, seem much given to various forms of bias sometimes termed “confirmation” and/or “publication” or “file drawer” and/or “failure to report” sorts of cognitive biases, e.g.,

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publication_bias

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

        His scorn for photography of weather stations shows a vast lack of knowledge of the problems which poor siting can produce. Also scorn for amateur scientists and retirees.

      • Jeff Alberts
        Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

        For several years now, armies of irate pensioners have been swarming the countryside, spurned on by feverish websites, taking photographs of thermometers in the belief that this would invalidate concerns about climate change — and seemingly unaware of the fact that the utility of a thermometer derives from the accuracy of its measurement rather than anything captured by a colour photo.

        I resent that. I’m not a pensioner (yet).

  7. sHx
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 2:12 AM | Permalink

    For the benefit of laymen like me:

    “Priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus. It can occur following perceptual, semantic, or conceptual stimulus repetition. For example, if a person reads a list of words including the word table, and is later asked to complete a word starting with tab, the probability that he or she will answer table is greater than if not so primed. Another example is if people see an incomplete sketch that they are unable to identify and they are shown more of the sketch until they recognize the picture, later they will identify the sketch at an earlier stage than was possible for them the first time.[1]”

    I dare speculate that the CAGW hysteria is a result of ‘mass social priming’.

  8. tlitb1
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 4:12 AM | Permalink

    Wow! Nice find. I have been restraining an itch to plonk a reference to Kahneman on discussion boards about Lewandowsky (and other skeptic pathologizing quacks) for ages but couldn’t find it in me to justify it and to sully his name by association – this find fits the bill 100% :)

    Seeing this quote from him just adds to his reputation for me. I think I see exactly what he calls for – a tight link that parsimoniously shows causality and adds to the reputation of social science. Not cheap leaps of faith that are clearly designed for taunting at enemies from privileged places in a sympathetic media.

    FWIW I recommend to everyone Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”. I picked it up not expecting much and knowing nothing of him but just because of the praise from Steven Pinker on the dust cover, and then became an instant fan. I’ve now decided that the only annoying thing about Kahneman is that he single handed buoys up the reputation of both the Nobel economics prize and studies of social science ;)

    In his book you see years of experience from a person genuinely curious about how humans come to their decisions. As opposed to Lewandowsky who seems to have learned just enough how to design test to confirm his prejudices to fool himself and fan base. OTH Kahneman’s shows how a hypothesis is laid out and the tests designed and followed through with rigorous attention to experimenter bias and his own thinking process.

    I think if anti-skeptic fans of pathologising their interlocutors read Kahneman’s work then some may come away and hold their heads in shame for even giving the time of day to some of the quacks out there.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

      Steven Pinker in “The Stuff of Thought” deals with priming and associative memory in the context of language. He asks “does language structure influence how we solve problems, what we can think, and how we function?” There are competing theories. Instead of just pushing his own theory, he examines a number of interesting cases, such as how people navigate vs their language for people living in different environments (Manhattan, the side of a volcano, etc) and speaking different languages. He elegantly teases out cases that contradict the competing theories, leaving his own nicely standing. The point here is that he uses the incompatible evidence to actually reject some of the theories. In distinct contrast, there is too much confirmation bias in the social sciences (doing experiments which can only confirm and never reject one’s pet theory) and denial and attack against disconfirming evidence in climate science.

      • AJ
        Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 6:49 AM | Permalink

        Yeah, I could “demolish” temperature reconstructions based on dendrochronology. Simply pick non-dendro series, no matter how wacky, and plot the results :)

  9. logicophilosophicus
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 4:12 AM | Permalink

    Was that a joke (rogerknight)?

    Rules of punctuation are stylistic, vary from time to time, place to place and publisher to publisher, and, above all, are secondary to the requirements of clear expression. Why would you even stop to notice a punctuation placement that had absolutely no effect on clarity of expression. The meaning is unaffected, and unambiguous.

    Anyway, if you want to be picky, note that the “consistent” error you adduce isn’t present in the very first sentence of the blog post. Your use of the word “consistently” is wrong.

    Back in the real world, I enjoyed and learned from the blog post – I have a deep distrust of wishy-washy and idelogical social “science”. I can recommend, for example, Josef Keulartz’s “The Struggle for Nature: A critique of radical ecology”.

    • rogerknights
      Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

      Rules of punctuation are stylistic, vary from time to time, place to place and publisher to publisher, …

      Not this one. It’s universal and never knowingly violated by any copy editor or any publication’s style book. Here’s the Chicago Manual of Style: “When parentheses or brackets are used to enclose an independent sentence, the period belongs inside. If the enclosed matter is part of an including sentence, the period should be placed outside the parentheses or brackets.”

      … and, above all, are secondary to the requirements of clear expression. Why would you even stop to notice a punctuation placement that had absolutely no effect on clarity of expression. The meaning is unaffected, and unambiguous.

      First, the minor reason: It’s illogical to parenthesize only a part of an enclosed sentence or to enclose the terminal period when the whole sentence hasn’t been enclosed. It is thus slightly jarring to the logical reader. This is especially so when the practice has become so widely adopted. The reader’s expectation of what belongs where is disturbed, and he may feel he has to reread the sentence to make sure he hasn’t misread it, which wastes his time.

      Second, the major reason: Observation of this rule is a shibboleth among educated persons–or some of them, anyway. People who don’t observe it are subject to sneering “[sic]“s–put-downs that leave their mark. Steve is in a position where he needs to avoid being open to such jibes, which imply that he’s an amateur whose opinion can be ignored.

      I should, perhaps, have sent this comment to him privately. But it might have been missed among the deluge of stuff he presumably gets. (Watts said recently that he gets thousands of unworthy-of-attention e-mails per month.)

      “… the “consistent” error you adduce isn’t present in the very first sentence of the blog post. Your use of the word “consistently” is wrong.

      You’re correct. I should have said “usually,” as I did in my response to Duster above. But my flubs don’t matter; Steve’s do.

      • Bob Koss
        Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

        rogerknights,

        You may be correct concerning this triviality, but using an American English style guide as an authority to correct a Canadian leaves you looking rather foolish. Better to have cited no authority than one which may not apply. Canada is not bereft of Canadian English style guides. You should have quoted them.

        You say:

        Second, the major reason: Observation of this rule is a shibboleth among educated persons–or some of them, anyway.

        Your pedantry leads me to think you would have used the word “most” instead of “some” in the quote above if you could justify it. So even you allude to the fact that a large portion of whatever you consider “educated people” don’t follow that rule. I can’t think of a better demonstration of the triviality of your point.

        One last thing. You seem to be big on the Chicago Manual of Style as an authority. I find it odd a pedant such as yourself doesn’t follow their recommendation when using ellipsis. Surround each of the three periods with spaces.

        • Mooloo
          Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

          Following the Chicago Manual of Style is not “pedantry”. Roger has cited some evidence he is right, and the requirement of good behaviour is that you argue the evidence, not attack the source as “pedantry”. Especially such a well respected source.

          As Roger points out, his errors are unimportant, while Steve’s are not. So again attacking his errors is not arguing the substantive point.

          Thinking and educated people – the sort of people who one assumes is the target audience of this blog – do notice grammar and spelling errors.

      • logicophilosophicus
        Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

        Read for content: no problem.

        I can tell you, for example, that your *”usually,”* rather than the logical *”usually”,* in your penultimate sentence was not for one microsecond “slightly jarring” to this logical reader, nor did I have to “reread the sentence to make sure” I hadn’t got the meaning right. Nevertheless, your “error” there is very informative. You certainly violated the Style Guide; but, to quote form “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “It’s more guidelines really.”

        Thus Eric Partridge:

        “For American usage an important authority is the University of Chicago Press ‘A Manual of Style’… [but] Many American printers prefer a general practice of setting all periods and commas within the quotation marks…”

        Two opposing views coexisting? Well, only in America…

        Fowler contrives sentences which should be punctuated with endings such as *!).*, remarking that his preferred authority, Beadnell, would disagree, but is falsely guided by a compositor’s sense of style than the logic of the grammar. (Partridge discusses this distinction, too,suggesting that some writers prefer to place a comma in relation to quotation marks either inside or outside depending on aesthetic judgements – for example, what is acceptable in published type may not be acceptable in em-spaced typewritten manuscripts.)

        Two opposing views coexisting in the UK too?

        Fowler (“The King’s English”) had more to add. Punctuation “has to convey to the reader differences of more than one kind, and not commensurable; it has to do both logical and rhetorical work.” (I believe Fowler is breaking one of his own semicolon guidelines there. I wouldn’t use a semicolon.)

        So, while I would not have punctuated the examples as Steve did, I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to claim that there actually is a “correct” way. Punctuation needs to be effective and expressive. Beyond that, it is a minefileld of personal preferences and smug shibboleths. Picking fault with soeone’s spelling or punctuation instead of addressing his ideas always makes the picker look stupid and leaves the pickee with the intellectual moral high ground: “You’re so short of arguments you have to pick up on slips and typos?”

        BTW I would suggest you don’t cite Lynn Truss as an authority. I’d classify her as short on authority and long on self congratulation. Her title was great, but after that the book was downhill most of the way.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

          Enough on punctuation please.

          I had cut-and-paste references in the criticized sentences and failed to ensure that the resulting punctuation was consistent with my usual practice (which may or may not be consistent with the recommended styles) but which is different than the criticized sentences (which I’ve amended to my more usual style.)

        • theduke
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

          Thank you, Steve. I apologize for my outburst which was justifiably snipped.

        • Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

          I thought I was nerd enough for this blog but before Steve placed his full stop here I was finally having doubts.

        • logicophilosophicus
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

          It’s a fair cop. I can be very pedantic on the subject of pedantry. Apologies.

        • rogerknights
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

          logicophilosophicus wrote:

          I can tell you, for example, that your *”usually,”* rather than the logical *”usually”,* in your penultimate sentence was not for one microsecond “slightly jarring” to this logical reader, nor did I have to “reread the sentence to make sure” I hadn’t got the meaning right.

          That’s because you’re acclimatized, or accustomed, to the illogical practice in America. I wish we’d change to the “logical comma” style used in the UK. (There’s even a “movement” to make it happen, which I stumbled across online a few months ago.) Britons are offended by our illogical practice, and rightly so.

          OTOH, the style used by Steve is jarring because we are not inured to its illogicality. No copy-edited book or periodical knowingly uses it. No style guide recommends or condones it. E.g., the MLA Handbook says, “The period follows a parenthesis that falls at the end of a sentence. It is placed within the parenthesis when the parenthetical element is independent . . . .”

          Nevertheless, your “error” there is very informative. You certainly violated the Style Guide; but, to quote form “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “It’s more guidelines really.”

          Thus Eric Partridge:

          “For American usage an important authority is the University of Chicago Press ‘A Manual of Style’… [but] Many American printers prefer a general practice of setting all periods and commas within the quotation marks…”

          Two opposing views coexisting? Well, only in America…

          I certainly did not “violate the Style Guide,” assuming you’re referring to The Chicago Manual of Style. It does not recommend the logical comma. It states: “When the context calls for a comma at the end of material enclosed in quotation marks . . . the comma should be placed inside the quotation marks . . . .” I can’t find my copy of Partridge’s Usage and Abusage, but if he implied that the Chicago Manual recommended or condoned the logical comma, it must have been in an old edition. (A clue that this may be the case can be found in its current title, which is The Chicago Manual of Style, not Partridge’s “A Manual of Style.” Would you provide Partridge’s full quotation, please?

          Fowler (“The King’s English”) had more to add. Punctuation “has to convey to the reader differences of more than one kind, and not commensurable; it has to do both logical and rhetorical work.” . . . .

          On the contrary, Fowler did not make a general statement that Punctuation “has to . . . do both logical and rhetorical work.” He was referring only to certain kinds of punctuation. Here’s what he wrote:

          the four stops in the strictest acceptance of the word (,) (;) (:) (.) . . . form a series (it might be expressed also as 1, 2, 3, 4), each member of which directs us to pause for so many units of time before proceeding. . . .

          The first difficulty is that this single distinction has to convey to the reader differences of more than one kind, and not commensurable; it has to do both logical and rhetorical work. . . . The difference between these two:

          The master beat the scholar with a strap.
          The master beat the scholar, with a strap.

          is in logic nothing; but in rhetoric it is the difference between matter-of-fact statement and indignant statement: a strap, we are to understand from the comma, is a barbarous instrument. (The King’s English, p. 229)

          Fowler went on to say, when dealing with the period (aka “full stop”), which is the mark under discussion:

          there is no reason for using within the parenthesis any stop that has not an internal value. (The King’s English, p. 279)
          And:
          There are only six stops . . .; or, with the dash, seven. The work of three of them, full stop, question mark, exclamation, is so clear that mistakes about their use can hardly occur without great carelessness. . . . (The King’s English, p. 228)

          Thus, your “So” below doesn’t follow:

          So, while I would not have punctuated the examples as Steve did, I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to claim that there actually is a “correct” way.

          Punctuation needs to be effective and expressive. Beyond that, it is a minefileld of personal preferences and smug shibboleths.

          Your erroneous conclusion follows only from your misrepresentation of what Fowler wrote. Some matters of punctuation are fuzzy and personal; some are not. Steve’s style is not. It can’t be defended on the grounds Fowler gave; indeed, he implicitly and explicitly condemned it. There is no rhetorical or expressive benefit to be gained from violating this simple and universally accepted convention: When parenthesizing an entire sentence, include the period, which is part of it; when parenthesizing only part of a sentence, don’t, because the period pertains to the whole sentence. (The logic of this rule is so strong and self-evident that it is probably observed in other languages too.)

          Picking fault with soeone’s spelling or punctuation instead of addressing his ideas always makes the picker look stupid and leaves the pickee with the intellectual moral high ground: “You’re so short of arguments you have to pick up on slips and typos?”

          Sneering at an unintentional misspelling or typo would qualify as that sort of captious criticism. But politely pointing out an author’s commonly made error is constructive criticism, especially in the context here. Commenters on this site can be viewed as informal peer reviewers. Steve’s articles can be viewed as first drafts of articles that he might submit to journals or collect in a book. Even if not, they are targets for his critics, who are looking for excuses to put him down. He should avoid painting bulls-eyes on himself in future articles.

          I failed to explain my constructive intent in my original comment, but it should have been evident even there that I was not taking the “nyah, nyah” tone you accuse me of. I wrote, “Steve, here is a quirk in all your articles that has been bothering me for some time, and now I’ve reached a tipping point.” In a subsequent comment I wrote:

          Observation of this rule is a shibboleth among educated persons–or some of them, anyway. People who don’t observe it are subject to sneering “[sic]“s–put-downs that leave their mark. Steve is in a position where he needs to avoid being open to such jibes, which imply that he’s an amateur whose opinion can be ignored.

          I should, perhaps, have sent this comment to him privately. But it might have been missed among the deluge of stuff he presumably gets.

          So it should have been apparent to you by now that I wasn’t “picking on” Steve.

          BTW I would suggest you don’t cite Lynn Truss as an authority. I’d classify her as short on authority and long on self congratulation. Her title was great, but after that the book was downhill most of the way.

          I cited Lynn Truss as a best-selling “writer on the subject.” I deliberately avoided the word authority, although I suppose I implied it. I should have cited some other work as employing the closely spaced style of ellipsis.

          Her own mis-usage and inconsistency, plus a few bad recommendations, left her open to criticism, and her hubris deservedly sharpened the criticism she received from reviewers like Louis Menand in the New Yorker, who wrote that the book went “downhill from there” (the start). Amazon reviewer “Oily Buxton” made this biting comment: “The first rule of hubris is: if you’re going to be a clever-clogs, make sure you’re right, because readers won’t cut you any slack if you’re not. Lynn Truss isn’t always right.”

          But she’s done better than you. You haven’t been right yet.

        • James Evans
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

          rogerknights:

          Surely that should be “Roger Knights”.

          I think you’ll find that Faber wrote in his famous “Guide to Tedious Rules” that any blog user name should be correctly spaced and capitalised.

        • rogerknights
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

          @ James Evans:
          Wordpress inserts that lower-case, jammed-together version of my name for me automatically, and won’t let me change it. I’ve tried several times. It used to insert the correct version, but its update a few months ago changed things.

        • rogerknights
          Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

          “Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance”
          By Stephen McIntyre & Ross McKitrick
          In GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 32, L03710, doi:10.1029/2004GL021750, 2005
          At http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/mcintyre-grl-2005.pdf

          Includes these samples of the correct parenthizing of sentence fragments and sentences:

          [2] The term ‘‘hockey stick’’ is often used to describe the shape of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) mean temperature index introduced in Mann et al. [1998] (hereinafter referred to as MBH98).

          [3rd paragraph] (The effects reported here would have been partly mitigated if PCs had been calculated using the covariance or correlation matrix.)

          Similarly, “CORRECTIONS TO THE MANN et. al. (1998) PROXY DATA BASE AND NORTHERN HEMISPHERIC AVERAGE TEMPERATURE SERIES”
          By Stephen McIntyre & Ross McKitrick
          In Energy & Environment, Vol. 14, No. 6, 2003
          At http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2005/09/mcintyre.mckitrick.2003.pdf

          Follows the same style (with one exception, presumably an oversight).

          Why fly in the face of this standard style, which copy editors are going to impose regardless? Why make their job harder? Why give captious critics something to pounce on? It’z nutz.

  10. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 5:59 AM | Permalink

    Win some, lose some. In childhood I was primed with “Little Bo Peep has Lost her Sheep ….” which often refluxes now as “Trenbeth has lost his missing heat ….” and then to the (words only) logic of the following, which put me in a good mood to write a neutral blog.

    [audio src="http://www.geoffstuff.com/Johnny%20Standley%20-%20It%27s%20In%20The%20Book.mp3" /]

  11. LearDog
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 6:19 AM | Permalink

    Idk about anyone else – but (periods and quotes notwithstanding ha ha ha!) when do you find the time to read, comprehend and digest this manner of material? I mean – good grief!

    I’m impressed….. ;-D

  12. John
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    Steve, this is excellent, for several reasons. There does seem to be a rot in several fields of science, where the scientists involved no longer seem to need to live up to rigorous standards of proof or of evidence. You are branching out, no longer just finding issue with bogus claims in the warming and hockey stick literature (where stakes are so high that, as with love and war, the first casualty is truth), but in other fields as well. Hopefully your work will gradually stiffen the backbone of the people and institutions that can return science to the highest levels of integrity.

    • Mickey Reno
      Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

      I realize many here are academics, and some of you may be challenged personally by this opinion. Please understand, I’m not maligning all academicians with this brush, and Climate Audit participants no doubt include more who pursue science in the traditional and honored manner, that of being curious and asking questions to which one really wants an answer, than are many who’re not asking at all, but merely pretending to ask, having already arrived at the politically correct “two legs bad, four legs good” thought-stopping conclusion being peddled for public consumption, and who now only look for the evidence appropriate to advancing their advocacy and narrow self interest.

      Frankly, there are just too many dumb-ass experts and Ph.Ds being generated in the West, right now. Many of these folks are the modern equivalent to John Maynard Keynes’ government employed hole diggers and hole fillers. They add little or no value to the economy (or even actively destroy preexisting value), but earn a really decent living in exchange.

      When I see Lewandowsky rabidly defending his “science” or Michael Mann writing his silly book, this is what I think is underlying their defensiveness. They are among the too many credentialed “experts” that we pay for, and who give us back worthless BS. This world economy can no longer afford to have so many men like this suckling at the public teat. I fear we must reduce their funding, and force them into a competition amongst themselves for substantially fewer spots at the trough. If it were up to me, I would take every penny NASA is spending on GISS and divert it to creating a new manned launch vehicle. I’d fire Hanson and Schmidt, and let them earn their living by peddling their scare stories on the private book market, which they undoubtedly could.

      POP – aw, crap, that was the sound of my head exploding…. few more keystr..a@#aab ;-)

  13. David
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    “purporting to link social priming to associative memory”

    ? There is a “scientific” field where astute scientist notice that people who are actually interested in a subject tend to learn more abot it then those who are apathetic to the study?

  14. DEEBEE
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    Only a matter of time before Lewandowsky becomes an act like Lewinsky.

  15. mpaul
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    The computer age has led to two phenomenon that I think the scientific establishment needs to come to grips with. The first big data science. The tenancy to mine big data to find support for one’s conclusion is ever-present. The second phenomenon is model twiddling. Its become really easy and fast to build big, complicated deterministic models with lots of variables. And, its really easy and fast to make little tweaks to each variable to “get” the result you’re looking for.

    The modern funding climate creates a strong incentive for scientists to produce results that the funder is looking for. Its the best way to ensure follow-on business. Its time to acknowledge that peer review is an inadequate mechanism for finding these kinds of problems in modern research. The only real answer is to put in place mechanisms that allow independent, outside replication — open code, open methods, open data.

    • HAS
      Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

      I’d second this comment re technology encouraging short cuts, it came to mind when thinking about the Lewandowsky paper.

      40 odd years ago when working in applied social science research the problems and cost of data capture (paper based) and analysis (mechanical calculators and stacks of punched cards) just forced one to be very careful about all aspects of experimental design (or even exploratory research) before one started.

      I’m much less convinced of the argument that peer review can’t find the duds. It is just that the wrong peer reviewers get involved. It is trivial for anyone with a background in experimental design to look at L. et al and say it doesn’t pass muster, at its most basic it confuses inductive with deductive research.

      On the complex modelling, any model worth its salt should have validation systems built in, so peer review becomes the much more manageable task of ensuring they exist, are robust etc. Unfortunately those model built in academia can lack these QA systems, but all this requires is a caveat on any publications based on them.

  16. AJ
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    Sounds like there the need for a Psychology Audit. Should be lots of low hanging fruit to start things off.

    • Mooloo
      Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

      Not only lots of low hanging fruit to start with, but you will never run out of them. In any field with a lot riding politically* and people doing statistics who aren’t statisticians you will have a field day.

      I would suggest Education Studies Audit would never run out of material either.

      An analogous blog I go is http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org and the poorly designed studies and bad analysis there is just the same.

      (* I use political in it’s widest sense, meaning where policy decisions are made. Contrary to some excited sceptic types, I don’t think *real climate science* is a liberal plot.)

      • AJ
        Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 6:36 AM | Permalink

        My thoughts exactly. The proprietor is set for life! (Assuming that one can live on the interest of a really really narrow target market.)

        Perhaps *unreal climate science* is a libertarian plot? Or is it a guerrilla movement? Both?

  17. jim2
    Posted Oct 6, 2012 at 11:08 PM | Permalink

    Sounds like polywater in a glial matrix.

  18. AJ
    Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    Steve, how long are you going to focus on Lew’s paper? It seems like it’s a debate about what color lipstick the pig is wearing. Personally, I think it’s purple. I know that some say it’s red and others say it’s blue, but I like purple.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Oct 7, 2012 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

      AJ, With respect, I don’t buy “the pig is a boar”.
      A decades long primer in scientific literature has been CO2. People have written strange papers because of a perceived need to do something about CO2. For example, U.S. Patent 8,277,769 announced on 3rd Oct 2012 describes large scale capture of CO2 from industrial plant using algae. One is then left with ponds containing algae-captured CO2. What is a recommended way to fix the CO2? Why, react it with calcium oxide to make it insoluble. But then, from whence do you get the calcium oxide? Traditionally, by heating of limestone in a kiln to about 825 deg C, at which temperature it breaks down to produce CaO + CO2.
      Where is there sense in this? The logic would fail a senior school chemistry student.

      • clazy8
        Posted Oct 8, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Permalink

        Geoff, I haven’t looked at the patent, but wouldn’t the “technology” be useful if the algae has been genetically engineered to produce valuable fats, oils or proteins? Or perhaps the algae could be incorporated into livestock feed. I don’t understand why you suppose the patent is transparently illogical.

        • HAS
          Posted Oct 8, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

          From the patent it is pretty clear what they are doing – solving the very problem Geoff is fretting about:

          “This invention thus proposes the integration of a CO.sub.2 transformation process into a fossil-fuel power plant in order to produce bicarbonate species which are useful by-products, and thereby reducing at the same time the CO.sub.2 emissions. This CO.sub.2 transformation process is based on a biological reactor which enables CO.sub.2 transformation into bicarbonate in an aqueous environment. The CO.sub.2 is then precipitated into a stable solid product, safe for the environment.”

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Oct 8, 2012 at 11:30 PM | Permalink

          clazy8 & HAS, They are not solving the problem I fret about. The patent clearly states that there is to be a reaction whereby “The CO2 is then precipitated into a stable solid product, safe for the environment.”
          For many decades, this process has been known but has not been used because the (almost) only useful precipitation agent is lime. Lime produces heaps of CO2 in its production. We’re in perpetual motion territory again.

        • HAS
          Posted Oct 9, 2012 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

          My bad, I snipped the final sentence of the quote from the patent ” As can be appreciated, in the present invention, only water, a biocatalyst and a cation source are required for carbon dioxide sequestration. ”

          The last sentence of the bit I quoted earlier that has confused Geoff describes the process that has been disclosed, not what is left to be done.

          The patent is easy to read and wouldn’t be novel if all it claimed was what Geoff suggests.

          Whether it is much use in practical terms is another matter.

    • PaddikJ
      Posted Oct 8, 2012 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

      It’s because there’s so little material lately from The Team for skeptics to mock. Satirists need material. Even Steven is reduced to picking apart sub-amateur studies by nth-rate academics, and now he’s demonstrated that this academic got his chops in the time-honored academic tradition of tarting up commonplace notions like biasing with pseudo-technical patois like social priming. (I do agree w/ AJ about the purple, though; kind of . . takes me back)

      Arrgghh – it’s gotten so boring. Where is Mann when we need him?

  19. PaddikJ
    Posted Oct 8, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

    Love Steve’s “verbising” of scathing; maybe this should be the preferred term when criticising sub-standard academic work: Professor Lew received a thorough public scathing upon publication of his latest ill-thought study.

    Steve: glad you noticed. I thought for a while about an appropriate word. Though “scathe” as a verb is rare, it exists and seemed very apt. It’s odd that “scathing” is a familiar adjective, while the verb is so rare.

  20. johanna
    Posted Oct 10, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    ‘Priming science’ sounds an an absolute intellectual quagmire. It potentially covers everything from incremental vs instinctive learning, to confirmation bias, to word association and inkblot tests, to … the list goes on. It is not hard to see why it is riddled with ‘results’ than cannot be replicated.

    Why am I not surprised that Lewandowsky feels at home in this particularly murky (to my mind, plodding slave of fact that I am) corner of a discipline which relies so heavily on assertions and cultural prejudices?

  21. HAS
    Posted Oct 11, 2012 at 1:24 AM | Permalink

    I see the New England Journal of Medicine is carrying a study “Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates” Franz H. Messerli, M.D. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMon1211064

    “There was a close, significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries .."

    "The slope of the regression line allows us to estimate that it would take about 0.4 kg of chocolate per capita per year to increase the number of Nobel laureates in a given country by 1. For the United States, that would amount to 125 million kg per year."

    Well worth a read.

  22. BillB
    Posted Oct 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

    Megan McCardle links to Uri Simonsohn’s investigation of fraud in social sciences

    http://www.nature.com/news/the-data-detective-1.10937

    He says that he hopes his work will lead to journals requiring data to be submitted along with articles

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