Wheel turnin' 'round and 'round
July 8, 2014 7:31 PM Subscribe
posted by wintermind (34 comments total)
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Jason Mitchell, a scientist in the Harvard Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab
recently published an essay on his website titled "On the emptiness of failed replications"
. In the essay he makes several controversial arguments, the most notable of which may be his assertion that studies designed to replicate previous work have no inherent scientific merit:
Because experiments can be undermined by a vast number of practical mistakes, the likeliest explanation for any failed replication will always be that the replicator bungled something along the way. Unless direct replications are conducted by flawless experimenters, nothing interesting can be learned from them.
He also expresses the opinion that, "...authors and editors of failed replications are publicly impugning the scientific integrity of their colleagues." However, there is general agreement in the scientific community at large that there is a need to systematically improve the way in which science is done
, and there are concerns about reproducibility (or the lack thereof) in social psychology
as well as other fields
As research techniques and protocols grow in complexity, so to does the challenge of replication
. It is frequently argued that failed replications are often interpreted as evidence of incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the original experimenters
, but investigators have also argued that is evidence of inability on the part of the replicators
. Pete Etchell argues in "The Guardian" that the solution is two-fold: scientists need to develop a thicker skin and remind themselves that replication is an integral part of the scientific method, and practitioners and the public alike need to be taught that failures of replication simply mean that the results of the new experiment did not match the original experiment
Previously: the Many Labs Replication Project.