Thursday, January 12, 2012
The Chump Effect
Yet the allure of “science” is too strong for our journalists to resist: all those numbers, those equations, those fancy names (say it twice: the Self-Activation Effect), all those experts with Ph.D.’s!
To their credit, the Stapel scandal has moved a few social psychologists to self-reflection. They note the unhealthy relationship between social psychologists and the journalists who bring them attention—each using the other to fill a professional need. “Psychology,” one methodologist told the Chronicle of Higher Education, “has become addicted to surprising, counter-intuitive findings that catch the news media’s eye.”
That’s a scandal, all right. Stapel’s professional treachery is a scandal, too. But the biggest scandal is that the chumps took him seriously in the first place.