kitchen table math, the sequel: Jerome Groopman on replication

Friday, December 25, 2015

Jerome Groopman on replication

I've been mulling over the replication issue, not least because I was using a lot of social science research for the book. Given that our topic is the cognitive unconscious, I was especially worried because the research on priming may be especially suspect.

I ended up jettisoning studies I had originally intended to include, just to be on the safe side (assuming there is a safe side).

I find this observation by Jerome Groopman helpful:
I have been intrigued by the controversy over the Open Science Collaboration, a loosely organized group of researchers who seek to reproduce the findings of published studies in a variety of fields. As the head of a laboratory, I know how daunting this can be. Even the most trivial deviation from a technical protocol—culturing cells, quantifying proteins, detecting RNA—can make an experiment difficult to replicate. A basic-science laboratory like mine is a relatively controlled environment compared with the human body, so it’s not surprising that confirming findings from clinical research, particularly experiments involving the mind and behavior, is even harder. In August, the Open Science Collaboration reported that it had reattempted a group of studies from the fields of cognitive and social psychology and failed to reproduce the results of nearly two-thirds of them. This should not be taken as an indication that the original researchers were either sloppy or dishonest. But it does suggest that we should regard such results with a skeptical eye, especially since experimental studies in psychology are too quickly touted in the general media as revealing fundamental truths about our nature.

The Most Notable Medical Findings of 2015

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