Anton Howes at Age of Invention:
Back in 2011, the field of psychology went into crisis. Some of the most famous and widely-cited experimental results — like the finding that powerfully posing for a few minutes gives you a hormonal boost in confidence, or that priming people with words to do with ageing makes them walk faster — could not be replicated by others. These were findings published in the field’s most prestigious academic journals, and going back for decades. Many of them had made mistakes in the experiments, through negligence, unintended bias, or simple error. A few, quite simply, had been faked. Whole swathes of research and media coverage, including some globally best-selling books, turned out to be based on foundations of sand. And since then, more and more scientific fields have turned out to have been the victims of replication crises.
Nobody had bothered, for years and years, to go to the trouble of actually checking the more unusual and interesting findings. The Scottish psychologist-turned-science journalist Stuart Ritchie wrote an eye-opening book about the scandals in science called Science Fictions. He and another science journalist, Tom Chivers, have also lately started a podcast to sort the reliable findings from the media froth, diving into the details of what scientific studies actually show — it’s called The Studies Show (har har).
But I’ve become increasingly worried that science’s replication crises might pale in comparison to what happens all the time in history, which is not just a replication crisis but a reproducibility crisis.