“There was this prevalent, incestuous, backslapping research culture. The idea that their work should be criticized at all was anathema to them. Let alone that some punk should do it.”

December 6, 2017
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(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

[image of a cat reading a comic book]

How did the outsiders upend social psychology?

CATRON: We used basic reporting techniques. We’d call up somebody and ask them about thus-and-so, and they’d mention so-and-so, so we’d call so-and-so, and ask about thus-and-so. I’d say, “OK, you’re saying this but the first guy said this other thing.” People didn’t like that.

. . .

GROTH: I think we were dealing with an industry that had repressed itself for 40 or 50 years, so you had an industry filled with professionals who were, often quite legitimately, filled with bitterness and anger. And then you had the new generation who were aware of how the previous generation had been treated and didn’t want to be treated like that . . . The previous generation was raised to be polite, to follow orders, not to make waves. (Except for Paul Meehl.) There was this code of silence where you didn’t talk about problems.

. . .

GROTH: There was this prevalent, incestuous, backslapping research culture. The idea that their work should be criticized at all was anathema to them. Let alone that some punk should do it.

Above quotes from Mike Catron and Gary Groth, from We Told You So: Comics As Art. I changed “Gil Kane” to “Paul Meehl” and “comics” to “research,” otherwise ran as is.

Seth Roberts used to talk about his insider-outsider perspective. Similarly, the editors of the Comics Journal were insiders enough to discuss and have informed opinions about good and bad work, but they were outsiders enough to not owe anybody anything and to not have a stake in the system. Same thing for social psychology, evolutionary psychology, etc.: It can be hard to criticize if you’re coming from the inside, so it ends up being the “punks” (i.e., “methodological terrorists,” “second stringers,” “replication police,” “shameless little bullies,” etc) who do the hard work and take the heat.

The post “There was this prevalent, incestuous, backslapping research culture. The idea that their work should be criticized at all was anathema to them. Let alone that some punk should do it.” appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.



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