What We Really Need is a Slice of Humble Pie

Daniel Nexon, over at Duck of Minerva:

We now have a lot of different meta-narratives about alleged fraud in “When Contact Changes Minds: An Experiment in the Transmission of Support for Gay Equality.” These reflect not only different dimensions of the story, but the different interests at stake.

One set concerns confirmation bias and the left-leaning orientations of a majority of political scientists. At First Things, for example. Matthew J. Franck contrasts the reception of the LaCour and Green study (positive) with that of Mark Regnerus’ finding of inferior outcomes for children of gay parents (negative). There’s some truth here. Regnerus’ study was terminally flawed. LaCour and Green’s study derived, most likely, from fraudulent data. Still, one comported with widespread ideological priors in the field, while the other did not. That surely shaped their differential reception. But so did the startling strength of the latter’s findings, as well as the way they cut against conventional wisdom on the determinants of successful persuasion.

We might describe another as “science worked.”

This narrative sometimes strays into the triumphalist: rather than exposing problems with the way political science operates, the scandal shows how the discipline is becoming more scientific and thus more able to catch—and correct—flawed studies. Again, there’s something to this. To the extent that political scientists utilize, say, experiments, then that opens up the possibility of creating fraudulent experimental data but also of uncovering such fraud.

More here.