We’ve blogged about the problem in the field of psychology that so many of their research experiments can’t be replicated. That means that, according to the scientific method, they are invalid.
The problem continues, and it’s compounded by the fact that the profession doesn’t seem to care!
The proliferation of peer-reviewed articles whose results can’t be repeated keeps building. Despite these findings, nothing is changing in the way psychologists do their research, the way journals vet their articles, or in the articles that get published.
An article on the subject, quoted and linked after the jump, says that as many as two-thirds of psychology articles “can’t be trusted.”
But let me pose a different way to look at this problem. Can it be that the same scientific method used for chemistry and biology is unusable in the study of the minds of human beings? People are active agents, not inanimate objects that follow only natural laws. So it’s no wonder human beings are unpredictable and inconsistent. And different subjects and groups react in different ways.
After I quote the article, I quote a commenter, who points out that there may be other ways to design, evaluate, and learn from various kinds of research, in addition to strict application of “the scientific method.”
In fact, the view that the scientific method is the only way to know truth–not logical reasoning (as in philosophy) and certainly not revelation (as in theology)–is surely one of the more reductionist errors of the Enlightenment.
I have no problem jettisoning 2/3 of the published research in experimental psychology–though it would help to know which 2/3–and the lack of response of the professionals in the field is inexcusable. But maybe what all of this proves, with an abundance of replication, is the protean quality of the human psyche. And that would be an important scientific finding. It would even be empirical and replicable. [Read more…]