Daniel Kahneman Calls for Change

Nobel laureate and frequent Freakonomics visitor Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking, Fast and Slow)  has written an open letter to psychologists who work on social priming, calling for them “to restore the credibility of their field by creating a replication ring to check each others’ results.” Here’s an excerpt:

My reason for writing this letter is that I see a train wreck looming. I expect the first victims to be young people on the job market. Being associated with a controversial and suspicious field will put them at a severe disadvantage in the competition for positions. Because of the high visibility of the issue, you may already expect the coming crop of graduates to encounter problems. Another reason for writing is that I am old enough to remember two fields that went into a prolonged eclipse after similar outsider attacks on the replicability of findings: subliminal perception and dissonance reduction.

(HT: BPS Research Digest)


I am a psychology (not social) professor, and I would never let a talented student go into Social Psych. It is "science" at its worst. It has the fad-ish aspect of the humanities, but at least humanities people know thet their fields are fadish. Social Psych people think that they are doing high flying science and God's work at the same time.

sociologist of science

You may be right (as in correct) about some, but not all and certainly not accurate with respect to the social scientists whose work I have assessed. Many changed their minds along the way and were persuaded to do so by the facts. I do hope that you will keep an open mind as things develop and the truth comes out.


Listen,. I am not saying that they are unethical or close minded people. It is just that the field has some really deep problems:

1. They are way too focused on hypothesis testing (pray for p<.05!).
2. The field rewards freakish and unexpected results and discourages looking for invariances and performing parametric manipulations
3. Because of (2) they forget that correlation is not causation if one of the possible directions of causality make for a very sexy story.

Werner Kwiatkowski

Good call Brownian. I am studying psychology on the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, and even at such an early stage and with such a limited knowledge yet social psych sounds all bogus to me.

Werner Kwiatkowski, Germany.


make a border around your field and give it a name a name that will remember u and make a sign board that will helps u to find ur field.