This post introduces my new blog series on political bias in social psychological science. My last series on political bias focused on personal experiences. However important such experiences are – and, to individuals who have born the brunt of political hostility, they can be quite important – they actually bear only indirectly on the quality of the science.
Saying, “Someone was treated badly” (my first political bias series) is something very different than saying, “Social psychologists often get their own science wrong because leftwing politics pushes scientists to reach conclusions that are unjustified by their own data.” This will be the topic of the second series.
This is my first post in about 3 months. Sorry for my absence! The hiatus, however, was extremely valuable. First, I have been out and about among the World of Social Psychology (literally, because, in addition to basic U.S. talks, I have also spoken at conferences and universities in Australia, Holland, and Germany), giving talks at universities and conferences, almost always focusing on how leftwing political biases distorts the “received wisdom” of social psychological science. Over the last year or so, I have given more talks than I had ever done before, at universities and major conferences, including three foreign countries.
I tell you this not to brag – indeed, giving talks is not really much to brag about in my field. I preach the scientific equivalent of Hellfire and Damnation – essentially telling my own colleagues that:
In the past, when I have given such talks, they have often evoked more than a little hostility from some of my colleagues. However, with Stanford’s Social Psychology program as a notable exception, see
this round of talks has generally been greeted with interest and more than a little support.
Giving so many talks at so many places, I feel like I have my finger on the pulse of social psychology more than any time recently. This striking turnaround in my experience – where hostility seems to have morphed mostly into interest and support -- says something quite good about my field. It suggests to me that many researchers are fed up with many of the dysfunctions of “scientific business as usual” and are open to seeing not only the errors of their ways, but to ideas and practices offering some hope of improving the quality of our science.
I hope that is true, and urge you to keep this in mind if you read my next few posts. They are very critical of the field – but, I hope, constructively so. You may disagree with all or some, and that is fine, indeed, it is healthy. An earnest willingness to listen (or, in this case, read) and consider is all any of us can ask for.