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Settled Science

2013-09-11 23:07:52.434612+00 by petronius 2 comments

There are some scientific studies that become watchwords far beyond their original field, and after a while nobody questions them. However, eventually somebody looks at the data again and begins to wonder. The notorious Popcorn Subliminal manipulation study is one such, and the controversies over Margaret Mead's fieldwork in Samoa continue to this day. Now maybe another idol is falling: Stanley Milgram, author of the notorious experiment where an imperious researcher could easily bully the subject into allegedly torturing another human with electric shocks. It is a famous proof for the theory that humans are really shits.

Now a new book revisits the original data and discovers that the tests were not as controlled as claimed, and that Milgram fudged his data. Maybe we aren't so bad after all?

[ related topics: Books Health Invention and Design fraud ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2013-09-12 16:53:20.92809+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've been thinking recently about a lot of what I see as tautological boosterism among popular "thinkers", where the authors who get a lot of press (Be they the Gladwells or whichever PhD is getting popular coverage at the moment) are largely reinforcing existing prejudices. We're not learning anything new from them, we're getting our existing mental structures reinforced.

If you're the current media darling trying to stay on top, it's hard to believe that that feedback loop effect won't be really strong, and the willingness to see patterns in randomness becomes a subtle amplification of what you think those patterns are becomes outright fabrication.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-09-12 20:24:54.207128+00 by: petronius

And sometimes the existing prejudice is to tear down whatever is there. Apparently the guy who has been trashing Margaret Mead for the last 20 years is not without sin. However, tearing down the icons has become a growth industry in some fields. Just look how Freud keeps swinging into and out of fashion, and how he gets used by various political factions to prove or disprove current practice.