Nov. 4, 2013
“It’s not a great time for psychology. Diederik A. Stapel, a Dutch social psychologist, has recently confessed to serial fraud. That he gamed the peer review process of his field’s best journals so often and for so long calls into question the quality-control mechanisms of academic psychology. If garbage can pass peer review, as long as it is well-written and well-formatted garbage, then the authority conferred by appearing in peer-reviewed publications would seem to be slight….
“Most work in the psychological and social sciences suffers from a lack of conceptual rigor. It’s a bit sloppy around the edges, and in the middle, too…. It’s as if the precision of the statistical analysis is supposed somehow to compensate for, or help us forget, the imprecision of thought at the foundation of the enterprise.”
– From “Barbara Fredrickson’s Bestselling ‘Positivity’ Is Trashed by a New Study” by Will Wilkinson at the Daily Beast (Aug. 16, 2013)
The contemporary cases Wilkinson cites and the episodes of the day-care ritual-abuse era bear many dissimilarities. But they share all too closely the practitioners’ use of “the precision of the statistical analysis… to compensate for, or help us forget, the imprecision of thought at the foundation of the enterprise.”