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British Psychological Society publishes article criticising PACE's withholding of data

Sasha

Fine, thank you
Messages
17,863
Location
UK
Professor Chris Ferguson said:
Last year was, in many respects, a bad year for academic psychology. [...] The British Psychological Society (BPS) was not immune from controversy, with the election of Peter Kinderman as President eliciting some critique regarding his public comments on mental illness (see Coyne, 2015a). And the refusal by scholars in the PACE trial of chronic fatigue treatment to release data revealed continued problems with transparency in published science (see Coyne, 2015b).

These are, in fact, only some of the most dramatic pieces of ‘bad news’ for academic psychology during 2015. It is worth taking a step back, all of us, and asking what has gotten our field into the credibility hole it currently finds itself...

Read the rest: https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-29/may-2016/our-struggle-between-science-and-pseudoscience
 

Sasha

Fine, thank you
Messages
17,863
Location
UK
No real surprise. It's a slow moving momentum, but it is hopefully picking up speed.

Actually, this is a surprise to me. It's proven very hard to get critical stuff on PACE into the British media, let alone the British establishment, and this is the British psychologists' professional organisation magazine that goes out to all its members.

It's a small mention but on a fairly big, but focused platform - and what I've quoted is at the start of the article, not buried at the end.
 

TiredSam

The wise nematode hibernates
Messages
2,677
Location
Germany
Well I think it's fantastic to be able to read something like this at last. I've been saying for a while that decent psychologists should be horrified at what some of their BPS colleagues are doing, and eager to distance themselves from it and put their own house in order. Never thought I'd see it, I'm over the moon. Makes a lot of excellent points, including the following that should be sent to Esther Crawley & co:

Stop picking on the kids. Nothing seems to get attention more than the latest study suggesting how youth today are worse than ever before. More narcissistic, less empathic, more addicted to video games, less interested in homework. Most of this is rubbish and makes us look bad. For some reason, youth appear to be the last demographic that psychological science feels free to disparage with complete disregard. Unfortunately, those youth eventually grow up and remember…

Most encouraging to see disapproval of the practices of Wessely, White and Co coming from within.

And a funny pic too - he looks like a naughty but rebellious schoolboy unashamedly playing video games when he knows he's not supposed to, on his psychologist's bean bag with his books behind him :).
 

JohnCB

Immoderate
Messages
351
Location
England
On a full reading of the article, I was disappointed. PACE was mentioned to spice up the introduction, but never got a mention in the discussion or conclusion. Overall the recommendations in the article were pretty weak. It invites you to think that it is a critical article, but gradually the author sinks back into his comfy chair. In fact, he reckons psychologists are reall a pretty good bunch of guys, they have their heart in the right place. With a bit more care and thought, really psychology is a pretty good science.
 
Messages
3,263
I think its pretty strong:

We think of ourselves as disinterested, our findings immutable because they’ve gone through peer-review, and consider our fields of research open to correction, even as we personally resist any correction to our own published research...

individuals who value science but are all too human, and apply scientific values unreliably. I think this is a fault all scientists have, and I do not exclude myself. But, by failing to acknowledge the human limitations of science, we fail to consider the human limitations of our endeavours and remain appropriately humble...

We forget too, that psychological findings very often report what the scientists wants to see, and most recent studies of catharsis have been by scholars advancing social cognitive theory, in many ways catharsis theory’s competitor. Just because Ford says Ford cars work better than Peugeot doesn’t mean we should stop thinking critically about the issue and challenging assumptions. But this is exactly what academic psychology has done on the catharsis myth/countermyth and so many other issues.
 

worldbackwards

Senior Member
Messages
2,051
An excellent, brave and frequently savage article with plenty of deserved home truths.
Instead, when presented with scepticism or doubt, we often see psychological science react defensively with ludicrous claims. Far too often I see psychological scientists defend their work by comparing it to climate science, medical effects or evolution.
Given the remarkable replication failure rate for psychological studies, and the potential particular susceptibility of ‘counter intuitive’ findings to exaggeration, the risk of highlighting these in ways that may result in changes in behaviour or policy are not trivial.
With spanking, my observation, once again, is a kind of dishonesty in representing weak and inconsistent results as more conclusive than they actually are…Public discussions of this study ignored the mishmash of significant to non-significant results, the high potential for type I error in marginal findings, and overall weak effect sizes. It is the failure of psychological science to put results into proper context that so often causes us harm.
We need to be more realistic about effect size. Much of the discussion of replication has focused on whether results do or do not exist across replication efforts. There’s been less discussion about results that may replicate but are so small as to be trivial. Unfortunately, psychology has no real conception of the trivial, and that has invited all manner of pseudoscientific efforts to extend tiny effects into important findings. Psychology needs to develop a healthy sense of the trivial, which, frankly, probably encompasses a majority of findings, and stop highlighting these as crucial for people to know about.
Death by press release. The urge to see one’s research get recognition from the masses in print is entirely human and understandable. But a certain recklessness often creeps into press releases, which are not bound by the peer-review of the original article. It’s curious that a science that seems so concerned about myths would be willing to blithely misinform the public based on novel findings, the replicability of which may be unknown.
Paging Professor Sharpe...
 

Chrisb

Senior Member
Messages
1,051
The Psychologist is on a bit of a roll at the moment .In the same edition there is another excellent article "Buried in bullshit" by Tom Farsides and Paul Sparkes which might be worth looking up by anyone so interested. Something went wrong when I tried to link it here. Someone with greater stamina and competence might like to try.