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Sailer in Taki's Magazine: "The Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis"

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From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

The Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis
by Steve Sailer
February 17, 2016

With data becoming ever more abundant, this should be the golden age of the social sciences. And yet they seem to be suffering two mirror-image nervous breakdowns—the Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis.

… One cause of the Replication Crisis has been that analysts grant themselves excessive post hoc liberties to crunch the numbers however many ways it takes to find something—anything—that is “statistically significant” (which isn’t the same as actually significant) and thus qualifies as a paper for publish-or-perish purposes. Hence, social scientists seem to be coming up with a surplus of implausible junk science findings on trivial topics, such as “priming” (the contemporary version of subliminal advertising), which then routinely fail to replicate.

In contrast, in what I’ll dub the Repetition Crisis (a.k.a. the Explanation Crisis), academics hamstring the interest and usefulness of their findings by ruling out ahead of time any explanatory factors other than the same tiny number of politically correct concepts that were exhausted decades ago.

The social sciences in 2016: Too little replication of exciting new findings, too much repetition of tired old rationalizations.

Read the whole thing there.


30 Comments to "Sailer in Taki's Magazine: "The Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis""

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  1. Happy International Galton Day, what’s left of it.

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  2. For example, in discussing crime or poverty, social scientists are allowed to imply that the dirt that white people live upon is inherently magic while the dirt under black people is obviously tragic. But anything smarter and more interesting could get them furiously denounced …

    Raj Chetty is surprisingly un-PC on this point. Maybe his internal crimethink Klaxon is defective because he didn’t grow up in the US.

    His website has the following Q & A.

    Areas with larger African-American populations have lower levels of upward mobility. Why is this, and what is the role of race in upward mobility?

    We do not observe race in our data, so we cannot directly measure mobility patterns by race. However, we do find that moving to an area with a larger African-American population reduces the prospects of upward mobility for a given child. In particular, we see that when a family with two kids moves to such an area, the younger sibling earns less in adulthood on average. Since race doesn’t vary within families, this shows that cities with large African-American populations reduce children’s odds of reaching the middle class – regardless of whether they are black or white.

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  3. A nit.

    Because you need to achieve a single result that would happen only 5 percent of the time by chance, if you can crunch your data twenty different ways, you have a 50-50 shot at statistical

    Close, but not quite right. Twenty data crunches will produce, on average, one “statistically significant” outcome, not a 50/50 chance of one “statistically significant” outcome. You only need 14 data crunches to have a 50/50 chance of a “statistically significant” outcome.

    Your point, of course, does not depend on this calculation, so this comment is pretty pedantic.

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  4. Priss Factor [AKA "Dominique Francon Society"]
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    “For many years now, there have been six sacred groups. You know, the big three are African-Americans, women and LGBT. That’s where most of the action is. Then there are three other groups: Latinos, Native Americans…and people with disabilities. So those are the six that have been there for a while. But now we have a seventh—Muslims.”

    Haidt practices what he condemns.

    Obviously mentioning the 8th group, the most important one, is taboo in his mind.

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    “The central distinction between science and marketing research is that the latter doesn’t strive to discover permanent truths.”

    The borderline between psychology as science and psychology as political/marketing tool has pretty much disappeared. Cass the Ass Sunstein seems interested in psychology not to make us understand better but to manipulate us more effectively without us knowing.

    He’s more an agent & advocate than academic.

    There are so many like him.

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  6. says:
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  7. says:
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    Yah, he’s a hype artist
    Just read this & behold the superscience:

  8. says:
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    The ‘Jason Richwine’ affair a few years back – worthy research involving big, ultimately overwhelmingly important questions concerning the future society of the USA, and the economic/fiscal implications, is an obvious case-in-point.

    But, apparently, such questions – few can be more important in US social science – cannot be explored by academics due to taboo – yes, taboo is the right word – reasons.

  9. How can he say “regardless of whether they are black or white” if he didn’t capture race data? The effect he’s describing “on average” could be entirely in one race.

    Your next comment was a great catch, by the way.

  10. In sane world, this piece would be prescribed in university courses such as Philosophy of Science.

    Let me put that a other way: we live in world where the obvious, stated in a few hundred words, reads like a seminal work of dangerous and profound insight.

  11. I rang a radio ‘talk show’ recently to tell the broadcaster that he really shouldn’t keep referring to stats as ‘facts’. But it’s too late, the majority population have no idea how stats are compiled and they are being used by MSM as some form of new religion.

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  12. Yes, Jews.

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    Usually two-tailed significance tests, so 2.5% on each side.

  14. Razor sharp writing nice argument and I Did Not Know that freedom is a slippery degree with strange grip.

    For example, in discussing crime or poverty, social scientists are allowed to imply that the dirt that white people live upon is inherently magic while the dirt under black people is obviously tragic. But anything smarter and more interesting could get them furiously denounced by angry know-nothing students (or Watsoned out of their jobs if they lack tenure). So it’s safest just to blame everything and anything on white people.

    But there is so much literary potential when hahahaha. The white dirt is happy while the black dirt is tragic. Black and White Dirt Magic. ahahahahaha White Dirt. LOL. Black Magic TRICKERY.

    But there’s also an underlying factor that Steve is well aware of and has written about how he used to do it, which is studying people without knowing they are being studied, manipulating variables and seeing what they do and not allowing them to see that you’re studying their response. That research is what has lead directly to the justification of daring to call Edward Snowden a traitor, because we’re monitoring aggregates not individuals, until the individual escapes the aggregate, and then we watch him, and yeah we play with him a little bit, but just to see what he’ll do, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it, and actually its almost like we figured out what exactly it means to be the devil, all in the name of everyone’s safety, kinda ironic right? We laugh about it sometimes but ya know its just ya know the world we live in.


    But let me explain the real problem here, what I’ll call The Republican Crisis. I hate DC politics as much as I hate social science statistics, so I stay on the periphery of them and pick up bits and pieces here and there, but yes its obvious that they’ve both basically destroyed each other. The Selling of The Presidency marked the beginning. Now the media says stuff like, “Well they told us they’re only gonna stay on message, and so far they have, and haven’t lost yet, and look to be about ready for the victory lap. Back to you!”

    Pupppetts who play their own strings and talk about the script their reading from on the stage called a debate. I mean, we’ve forgotten its all so sinister.

    When I see that statistic from Haidt, seems obvious to me its almost worse what he does not say next. Which is that we are literally succumbing to a national psychosis of self-delusion, and its not funny at all anymore. Stopped being funny a certain emergency ago. And btw, is Frank Luntz not the most insidious snake-oil salesman since the first?

    So the Republican Crisis then is this: How do you defeat the guy who’s been oblivious to what we’ve been conditioning the public to believe while he’s been out and about making deals worth billions?

    You call him a conspiracy theorists about 9-11, and see if he blinks.

    Trump builds towers. He knows what happened. And he’s only saying what they can’t deny. Bush was reigning, it was his watch and he fell asleep. Don’t tell anybody, but this is the most historic election in American history.

    I expect the convention to be very interesting indeed.

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  15. “For many years now, there have been six sacred groups. You know, the big three are African-Americans, women and LGBT. That’s where most of the action is. Then there are three other groups: Latinos, Native Americans…and people with disabilities. So those are the six that have been there for a while. But now we have a seventh—Muslims…

    Something like 70 or 75 percent of America is now in a protected group.”

    Actually, you could get to the correct number – 70% – by subtracting the percentage of Americans who are straight white males. Quicker that way.

  16. Are you suggesting that there is a religion other than Islam that is above criticism. Certainly not the Catholics, most of the protestants ( except maybe for the SJW Episcopal Church ) are easily mocked. Criticizing the Amish is a waste they ignore you. I am at a loss.

  17. I know what you mean, it’s basically impossible to say anything vaguely critical of Israel or Jewish people nowadays, especially in left-leaning sociology departments.

    Sometimes one really does wonder whether commentators at have really been locked in a box for 30 years, or they just pretend to.

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  18. Canadians??

  19. I think the 1860 election was a wee bit more important. Then again in a few years your hyperbolic claim here might be vindicated.

  20. Good article.

    Scott Locklin wrote a great post on the same subject last August:

    He mentions UC Berkeley psych faculty casually telling underlings to mine for p-values in public.

  21. Still, as the generations roll by, that’s increasingly sounding like a senile conspiracy theory.

    This alludes to something I’ve repeatedly tried, without success, to explain to some of my left-leaning friends.

    We’ve currently got a generation of young people who have developed an infatuation with socialism, largely because they have never experienced a world where real, hard-edged socialism has been able to present itself as a plausible alternative. They know socialism only through its gauzy promises of a glorious future; the old farts who’ve had direct experience with it and are trying to warn them away sound like a bunch of grumpy fossils with incipient Alzheimer’s. When these folks talk about Reagan, they sound to the new generation the way my grandparents did when talking about FDR.

    Well, a similar problem will soon arise with the boogeyman of racism. My dad is 70, and his generation was the last one to experience open, legally sanctioned white racism firsthand. We’ll soon have a generation of kids for whom MLK’s “I Have A Dream” will seem as distant and irrelevant as William Jennings Bryant’s “Cross of Gold” speech.

    For kids raised in such an environment, it’s going to be increasingly hard to sell them on the idea of permanent white guilt. That’s a thorny enough issue to deal with, but modern leftists insist on making the issue much more intractable by concocting these increasingly insane ideas about white evil and black saintliness.

    By disconnecting so completely from reality, they are unwittingly setting up the eventual correction to be far more severe than it needs to be. Instead of gently adjusting the views handed down to them, future generations will likely conclude that everything their elders told them was a lie — even stuff that probably 95 percent of today’s iSteve readers would find unobjectionable.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I was born into a world where the only people who seriously embraced Naziism were bitter, graying old men. I fear I shall die in a world where my great-grandchildren see Naziism as the hip, cool thing that all the kids are into.

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  22. You can criticize Israel, but not American Jewry. That hasn’t changed in the last 30 years. And you can criticize Israel only because leftist Jews do.

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  23. What criticisms of American Jews are American sociologists inhibited from making? Are they inhibited from criticizing them for being too left-wing? For being too pro-immigration? Why would leftist sociologists be minded to criticize them for that? Alternatively, are they supposed to criticize them for being a community with relatively low levels of delinquency, drug addiction etc? That would be a bit of stretch even for Leftists. Perhaps you mean they don’t criticize them enough for all their nefarious evil schemes, but that’s because they don’t exist.

    If you imagine that people in Sociology departments are inhibited about criticizing Neoconservative Jews, or Zionist Jews, or Orthodox Jews then I’m afraid you are mistaken.

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  24. I just saw that LGBT now comes with an “I” for “”Intersex”. I guess they check the box for “Undecided”.

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  25. New religion same as the old religion.

    It’s always been about control. Used to be, the tribal Elders and shamans would “explain” things to the rabble and the rabble would fall in line.

    Now, just label it, “science!” and (how amazing!) the rabble falls in line.

    No wonder very little “science!” today is funded truly privately. From NIH to NHLBI and the ACS, there is very little difference between funds that come straight from the US Treasury and those that have an intermediary.

  26. Naw, this is just a sop to the LGBTXYZPDQ crowd’s current pet, the “T” part. Very few debates with “T” advocates don’t eventually resort to the perfect non-sequitur of those very few people born without a straight-up XY or XX code.

    Of course, those who “identify” as the polar opposite of their plain-vanilla XX or XY chromosomes would be lying if they checked “Intersex,” not that lying is the 3rd rail or anything.

    I have corn ready to pop for when an actual biologically intersex person does a Full Lloyd Benson on some tranny’s Dan Quail.

  27. I disagree. Lots of kids today are getting Full Immersion in Diversity ™, especially at colleges that have “special programs” for inner city utes.

    There is no helping young adults exposed to that who stick to their white-privilege stupidity, just as there’s no saving Apologists for Black Crime who insist on getting murdered by blacks (using my Ouija Board to for color commentary by David Ruenzel.)

    For the rest, lots of millennials’ fathers were passed up for promotion because the job was reserved for a Diversity ™ Candidate. Lots of Gen X or Y members have probably experienced the “you’re too white to hire, we have the EEOC on us” rejection letter.

    More and more young adults are learning about the Knoxville Horror and like Memory-Hole Crimes, The Color of Crime, and other double-plus badthink (which has a certain cache to it, no?)

    I do, however, agree that when this folie a plusiers about race (debt, finance, politics, etc.) ends, the amount of energy now stored behind the PC-dam augers poorly for the towns of Peace and Tranquility sited in the valley just below.

  28. I made no mention of leftist sociologists. I would not mind so much if only leftist sociologists refrained from criticizing Jews, I am put out that nobody outside the Alt Right or the Neo-Nazis can afford to criticize Jews. Any mainstream public figure who calls out Jewry for its in group/out group morality, its support for affirmative action and diversity for White Goyim, coupled with their grossly disproportionate share of power and influence, will have his career destroyed. Jews hog the trough and call Whites greedy, and destroy anyone who points that out.

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  29. Well, the article and quote you were responding to was about Leftist sociologists. Maybe you should try and make pertinent comments.

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