40% of science writing is junk: the replication crisis

An article by Peter Shawn Taylor in the C2C Journal covers the replication crisis in science. The result is in the title above: 39, not forty, percent of what is touted to be science is not reproducible. “Study shows”. That means that important assertions of science in every field, particularly politically important fields, such as climate change, or classes of inquiry, such as systemic racism, are false.

As regards social psychology (viz the Staley Milgram experiments in inducing people to administer shocks to others), the man who studied the field, Augustine Brannigan wrote:


“They are all very entertaining studies, and they ask some really interesting questions,” admits Brannigan. These dramatic “high-impact” experiments are also hugely influential, occupying large sections of undergraduate textbooks and representing the very foundations of the field. “But as science, they’re terrible,” Brannigan says. “Much of what passes for science in social psychology is just morality in an experimental idiom.” Asked what such a revelation might mean for the future of the discipline, he retorts, “If the entire field were to disappear overnight, I don’t think the world would be any worse for it.”

Taylor concludes:

If there’s an overarching message arising from the replication crisis beyond the fate of social psychology, it’s that relentlessly questioning all scientific work is the most effective cure for bad science. This includes scrutinizing new and flashy claims as soon as they are unveiled as well as re-evaluating long-accepted ideas that have already gained status as scientific certainty. Along with renewed emphasis on tough and unsentimental scientific replication must also come more rigorous fact-checking by scientific journals and a less chummy attitude towards the peer review process, with more emphasis on “review” and less on “peer.”