From Unheard, Why We Stopped Trusting Experts:

Ritchie’s section on bias also includes a clear account of some technical elements of statistical reasoning, failures to adhere to which are Ritchie classes as “analytic biases.” These biases include things like only reporting a portion of collected data, excluding certain data points for arbitrary reasons, and deciding whether or not to continue looking for data based on initial results. These biases can in fact creep into a scientist’s work rather innocently, based merely on their conviction that their hypothesis is correct — the “bias” in question.

Serious though this is, there is also something more specifically pernicious about the replication crisis in psychology. We saw that the bias in psychological research is in favour of publishing exciting results. An exciting result in psychology is one that tells us that something has a large effect on people’s behavior. And the things that the studies that have failed to replicate have found to have large effects on people’s behavior are not necessarily things that ought to affect people’s behaviour, were those people rational. Think of the studies I mentioned above: a mess makes people more prejudiced; a random assignment of roles makes people sadistic; a list of words makes people walk at a different speed; a strange pose makes people more confident. And so on.

All of these studies involve odd effects from environmental cues. Taken together, they suggest an image of human behaviour which is highly irrational and highly manipulable. This is, in fact, the image of human behaviour which I think a great many educated people hold at the moment.


Perhaps we are more rational that the experts think and less conducive to simplistic and Skinnerian motives.