Over the last year, I’ve written several pieces about problems in psychology – namely, an overwhelming skew towards positive results, a lack of replications to check if they are correct, and a disturbing number of cases of misconduct. But of course, psychology is not alone here. These problems are pervasive in science, and it’s important to discuss them.
I did so at Bristol University last Friday, in a talk entitled “Science is only human”. The brief from Professor Phil Langton, who invited me, was to shake the graduate students out of an early reverie of the scientific process, and discuss why that process sometimes fails. Here’s the description:
The ideal, perhaps naive, conception of science is a self-correcting march towards greater truth and understanding about the world around us. In practice, it’s done and published by people, and people can be influenced by ego, motivated by power and swayed by personal biases. Science writer Ed Yong will talk about how this tension affects the conduct of science, its communication in the mainstream press, and how the internet is changing things for the better.
Tamsin Edwards graciously tweeted and Storifyed some salient points, but the full audio of the talk is now available. I’ve embedded it above. Do have a listen. Contrary to what I say at the start, it’s just 45 minutes long and, hopefully, should be interesting.
Photo by Lara