Psychologists Have a Plan to Fix the Broken Science of Psychology

3/20/2018 - Associate Professor of Psychology Simine Vazire at Live Science.

There was something wrong with psychology. A cascade of warning signs arrived all at once in 2011. Famous psychological experiments failed, over and over, when researchers re-did them in their own labs. Even worse, the standard methods researchers used in their labs turned out under close scrutiny to be wishy-washy enough to prove just about anything. Nonsense, ridiculous claims turned up in major journals. It was a moment of crisis.

Psychology isn't a science of sure things. Humans are weird, and messy, and do things for all kinds of reasons. So, when psychologists run an experiment, there's always a risk that an effect they see — whether it's ESP or, say, a tendency to get hungry when smelling hamburgers — isn't real, and is just the result of random chance.

But statistics offers a tool for measuring that risk: the P-value.

"P-value, put simply, is: If everything was just noise, if all the data were random, what are the chances I would have observed a pattern like the one I observed?" Vazire told Live Science. "What are the chances I would have seen a difference this big or bigger if it was just random data?"

Read the full story at Live Science.