The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology

The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology : A Manifesto for Reforming the Culture of Scientific Practice

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Why psychology is in peril as a scientific discipline--and how to save it Psychological science has made extraordinary discoveries about the human mind, but can we trust everything its practitioners are telling us? In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that a lot of research in psychology is based on weak evidence, questionable practices, and sometimes even fraud. The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology diagnoses the ills besetting the discipline today and proposes sensible, practical solutions to ensure that it remains a legitimate and reliable science in the years ahead. In this unflinchingly candid manifesto, Chris Chambers draws on his own experiences as a working scientist to reveal a dark side to psychology that few of us ever see. Using the seven deadly sins as a metaphor, he shows how practitioners are vulnerable to powerful biases that undercut the scientific method, how they routinely torture data until it produces outcomes that can be published in prestigious journals, and how studies are much less reliable than advertised.
He reveals how a culture of secrecy denies the public and other researchers access to the results of psychology experiments, how fraudulent academics can operate with impunity, and how an obsession with bean counting creates perverse incentives for academics. Left unchecked, these problems threaten the very future of psychology as a science--but help is here. Outlining a core set of best practices that can be applied across the sciences, Chambers demonstrates how all these sins can be corrected by embracing open science, an emerging philosophy that seeks to make research and its outcomes as transparent as possible.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 27.94mm | 567g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 2 ed
  • 8 halftones. 9 line illus.
  • 0691158908
  • 9780691158907
  • 76,617

Back cover copy

"The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology is an unflinching self-examination of the state of psychology. At first Chambers's account might seem pessimistic, even fatalistic. But the rising narrative ultimately reveals his optimism about the discipline's future via the collective action of its practitioners. Part historical account, part methodological review, The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology will get psychologists thinking, talking, and maybe even acting to overcome the status quo and align the cultural incentives with scientific values."--Brian Nosek, Center for Open Science

"This book could change how science is done. The issues Chambers raises are starting to be taken very seriously, especially by major funders in the United States and beyond, because of concerns that current practices are wasting resources by fostering irreproducible research. This is the only book I know of that is addressing these issues head-on."--Dorothy Bishop, University of Oxford

"Written by an influential young leader in the science-reform movement, The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology takes on a very important topic of great interest to a lot of people in behavioral science and beyond."--Hal Pashler, University of California, San Diego
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Table of contents

Preface ix 1 The Sin of Bias 1 A Brief History of the "Yes Man" 4 Neophilia: When the Positive and New Trumps the Negative but True 8 Replicating Concepts Instead of Experiments 13 Reinventing History 16 The Battle against Bias 20 2 The Sin of Hidden Flexibility 22 p-Hacking 24 Peculiar Patterns of p 29 Ghost Hunting 34 Unconscious Analytic "Tuning" 35 Biased Debugging 39 Are Research Psychologists Just Poorly Paid Lawyers? 40 Solutions to Hidden Flexibility 41 3 The Sin of Unreliability 46 Sources of Unreliability in Psychology 48 Reason 1: Disregard for Direct Replication 48 Reason 2: Lack of Power 55 Reason 3: Failure to Disclose Methods 61 Reason 4: Statistical Fallacies 63 Reason 5: Failure to Retract 65 Solutions to Unreliability 67 4 The Sin of Data Hoarding 75 The Untold Benefits of Data Sharing 77 Failure to Share 78 Secret Sharing 80 How Failing to Share Hides Misconduct 81 Making Data Sharing the Norm 84 Grassroots, Carrots, and Sticks 88 Unlocking the Black Box 91 Preventing Bad Habits 94 5 The Sin of Corruptibility 96 The Anatomy of Fraud 99 The Thin Gray Line 105 When Junior Scientists Go Astray 112 Kate's Story 117 The Dirty Dozen: How to Get Away with Fraud 122 6 The Sin of Internment 126 The Basics of Open Access Publishing 128 Why Do Psychologists Support Barrier-Based Publishing? 129 Hybrid OA as Both a Solution and a Problem 132 Calling in the Guerrillas 136 Counterarguments 138 An Open Road 147 7 The Sin of Bean Counting 149 Roads to Nowhere 151 Impact Factors and Modern-Day Astrology 151 Wagging the Dog 160 The Murky Mess of Academic Authorship 163 Roads to Somewhere 168 8 Redemption 171 Solving the Sins of Bias and Hidden Flexibility 174 Registered Reports: A Vaccine against Bias 174 Preregistration without Peer Review 196 Solving the Sin of Unreliability 198 Solving the Sin of Data Hoarding 202 Solving the Sin of Corruptibility 205 Solving the Sin of Internment 208 Solving the Sin of Bean Counting 210 Concrete Steps for Reform 213 Coda 215 Notes 219 Index 263
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Review Text

"This book could change how science is done. The issues Chambers raises are starting to be taken very seriously, especially by major funders in the United States and beyond, because of concerns that current practices are wasting resources by fostering irreproducible research. This is the only book I know of that is addressing these issues head-on." - Dorothy Bishop, University of Oxford
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Review quote

"Chris Chambers's portrait should sit high on the wall of heroes in the movement to reform science. A cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist, Chambers has had an important role as an editor and advocate in identifying, challenging and changing practices responsible for the reproducibility crisis... This book is written for anyone curious about how science might repair itself. It should be required reading in university courses on research methods."--Barbara A. Spellman, Nature "Psychology: it's not dead yet. But Chris Chambers makes a stark case for its having engaged in sins that call its validity into question."--Luna C. M. Centifanti, Times Higher Education
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About Chris Chambers

Chris Chambers is professor of cognitive neuroscience in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University and a contributor to the Guardian science blog network.
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Rating details

93 ratings
4.4 out of 5 stars
5 51% (47)
4 41% (38)
3 8% (7)
2 1% (1)
1 0% (0)
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