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How a Rebellious Scientist Uncovered the Surprising Truth About Stereotypes

The Sydney Symposium

At the back of a small room at Coogee Beach, Sydney, I sat watching as a psychologist I had never heard of paced the room gesticulating. His voice was loud. Over six feet tall, his presence was imposing. It was Lee Jussim. He had come to the Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology to talk about left-wing bias in social psychology.

Left-wing bias, he said, was undermining his field. Graduate students were entering the field in order to change the world rather than discover truths.1 Because of this, he said, the field was riddled with flaky research and questionable theories.

Jussim’s talk began with one of the most egregious examples of bias in recent years. He drew the audience’s attention to the paper: “NASA faked the moon landing – therefore (climate) science is a hoax.” The study was led by Stephan Lewandowsky, and published in Psychological Science in 2013. The paper argued that those who believed that the moon landing was a hoax also believed that climate science was a fraud. The abstract stated:

We…show that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scientific findings above and beyond commitment to laissez-faire free markets. This provides confirmation of previous suggestions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science.

After describing the study and reading the abstract, Jussim paused. Something big was coming.

“But out of 1145 participants, only ten agreed that the moon landing was a hoax!” he said. “Of the study’s participants, 97.8% who thought that climate science was a hoax, did not think that the moon landing also a hoax.”

His fellow psychologists shifted in their seats. Jussim pointed out that the level of obfuscation the authors went to, in order to disguise their actual data, was intense. Statistical techniques appeared to have been chosen that would hide the study’s true results. And it appeared that no peer reviewers, or journal editors, took the time, or went to the effort of scrutinizing the study in a way that was sufficient to identify the bold misrepresentations.

While the authors’ political motivations for publishing the paper were obvious, it was the lax attitude on behalf of peer reviewers – Jussim suggested – that was at the heart of the problems within social psychology. The field had become a community in which political values and moral aims were shared, leading to an asymmetry in which studies that reinforced left-wing narratives had come to be disproportionately represented in the literature. And this was not, to quote Stephen Colbert, because “reality had a liberal bias”. It was because social psychology had a liberal bias.

Jussim explained that within the field, those on the left outnumbered those on the right by a ratio of about 10:1. So it meant that even if left-leaning and right-leaning scientists were equal in their bias, there would be at least ten times more research biased towards validating left-wing narratives than conservative narratives. Adding in the apparent double standards in the peer review process (where studies validating left-wing narratives seemed to be easier to publish) then the bias within the field could vastly exceed the ratio of 10:1. In other words, research was becoming an exercise in groupthink.

***

Jussim appears to have had an anti-authoritarian streak since day one. Born in Brooklyn 1955, his family moved to Long Island when he was twelve. He lost his mother the following year from illness, and after that, he lost his father as well, although this time not from illness, but from grief. It was at this tender age that Jussim entered into a life of self-reliance. Ferociously independent, Jussim describes having little respect for, or deference to, authority figures. In high school he says he purposely made life miserable for his teachers, and later he would become an anti-war activist.

In 1975, at the age of 20, he was a university dropout. He did not return again to study until four years later, when he began undergraduate psychology, and it was not until 1986, at the age of 30, that Jussim achieved his first publication. By this stage he was already married with a baby.

Jussim may not have known at this point that he was destined to continue living a life of non-conformity. He was a reformed delinquent and anti-Vietnam war activist. He had his PhD and a publication under his belt. He had settled down. His former life of rabble rousing and trouble making was over.

Or so he thought.

Very early in his career, Jussim faced a crisis of sorts. An early mentor, Jacquelynne Eccles, handed him some large datasets gathered from school children and teachers in educational settings. He tried testing the social psychology theories he had studied, but consistently found that his data contradicted them.

Instead of finding that the teachers’ expectations influenced the students’ performances, he found that the students’ performances influenced the teachers’ expectations. This data “misbehaved”. It did not show that stereotypes created, or even had much influence on the real world. The data did not show that teachers’ expectations strongly limited students’ performances. It did not show that stereotypes became self-fulfilling prophecies. But instead of filing his results away into a desk drawer, Jussim kept investigating – for three more decades.

The Crisis in Social Psychology

Some months after Jussim’s presentation at the 2015 Sydney Symposium, the results of the Reproducibility Project in psychology were announced. This project found that out of 100 psychological studies, only about 30%-50% could be replicated.

The reproducibility project follows in the wake of a crisis that has engulfed social psychology in recent years. A slew of classic studies have never been able to be fully replicated. (Replication is a benchmark of the scientific method. If a study cannot be replicated, it suggests that the results were a fluke, and not an accurate representation of the real world).

For example, Bargh, Chen and Burrows published one of the most famous experiments of the field in 19963. In it, students were divided into two groups: one group received priming with the stereotype of elderly people; the other students received no priming (the control group). When the students left the experiment, those who had been primed with the stereotype of the elderly, walked down a corridor significantly more slowly than the students assigned to the control. While it has never been completely replicated, it has been cited over 3400 times. It also features in most social psychology textbooks.

Another classic study by Darley & Gross published in 1983, found that people applied a stereotype about social class when they saw a young girl taking a math test, but did not when they saw a young girl not taking a math test.5 Two attempts at exact replication have failed.6 And both replication attempts actually found the opposite pattern – that people apply stereotypes when they have no other information about a person, but switch them off when they do.6

In the field of psychology, what counts as a “replication” is controversial. Researchers have not yet reached a consensus on whether a replication means that an effect of the same size was found. Or that an effect size was found within the same confidence intervals. Or whether it is an effect in the same direction. How one defines replication will likely impact whether one sees a “replication” as being successful or not. So while some of social psychology’s classic studies have not been fully replicated, there have been partial replications, and a debate still rages around what exactly constitutes one. But here’s the kicker: even in the partial replications of some of these stereotype studies, the research has been found to be riddled with p-hacking.4 (P-hacking refers to the exploitation of researcher degrees of freedom until a desirable result is found).

***

When I went through university as a psychology undergraduate Jussim’s work was not on the curriculum. His studies were not to be found in my social psychology textbook. Nor was Jussim ever mentioned in the classroom. Yet the area of study Jussim has been a pioneer of – stereotype accuracy – is one of the most robust and replicable areas ever to emerge from the discipline.

To talk about stereotypes, one has to first define what they are. Stereotypes are simply beliefs about a group of people. They can be positive (children are playful) or they can be negative (bankers are selfish), or they can be somewhere in between (librarians are quiet). When stereotypes are defined as beliefs about groups of people (true or untrue), they correlate with real world criteria with effect sizes ranging from .4 to .9, with the average coming in somewhere around .8. (This is close to the highest effect size that a social science researcher can find, an effect size of 1.0 would mean that stereotypes correspond 100% to real world criteria. Many social psychological theories rest on studies which have effect sizes of around .2.)

Jussim and his co-authors have found that stereotypes accurately predict demographic criteria, academic achievement, personality and behaviour.7 This picture becomes more complex, however, when considering nationality or political affiliation. One area of stereotyping which is consistently found to be inaccurate are the stereotypes concerning political affiliation; right-wingers and left wingers tend to caricature each others personalities, most often negatively so.7

Lest one thinks that these results paint a bleak picture of human nature, Jussim and his colleagues have also found that people tend to switch off some of their stereotypes – especially the descriptive ones – when they interact with individuals.7 It appears that descriptive stereotypes are a crutch to lean on when we have no other information about a person. When we gain additional insights into people, these stereotypes are no longer useful. And there is now a body of evidence to suggest that stereotypes are not as fixed, unchangeable and inflexible as they’ve historically been portrayed to be.8

A Cool Reception

Studying the accuracy of stereotypes is risky business. For many, investigation into stereotypes is tantamount to endorsing bigotry. To understand why this is the case, one has to take a long view of the discipline’s history.

Social psychology arose from the ashes of World War 2. An entire generation had to come to terms with the legacy of the war, and the study of prejudice and authoritarianism naturally captured their imaginations. Gordon Allport, a mentor of Stanley Milgram, conceptualised stereotypes in his 1954 book The Nature of Prejudice as inaccurate, pernicious and unshakeable, and influential in shaping the social world9. From this point onwards, this conception has largely remained unchallenged.

Reactions to Jussim’s findings about the accuracy of stereotypes have varied on the scale between lukewarm and ice cold. At Stanford this year after giving a talk, an audience member articulated a position reflected by many within his field:

“Social psychologists should not be studying whether people are accurate in perceiving groups! They should be studying how situations create disadvantage.”

Jussim has heard this position over and over again. Not just from students, but also colleagues. One might find it surprising that psychology researchers would become so invested in shutting down research they find politically unbearable. But one shouldn’t be.

It is not uncommon for social psychologists to list “the promotion of social justice” as a research topic on their CVs, or on their university homepages. One academic, John Jost at New York University, who argues that conservatism is a form of motivated cognition, runs what he calls the Social Justice Lab. Within the scientific community, the blending of science with political activism is far from being frowned upon. One only has to take a brief look at Twitter to see that scientists are often in practice of tweeting about “white privilege”, “women in STEM”, “structural disadvantage”, “affirmative action”, and “stereotypes”. For many scientists, the crusade to change the world is seen as part of one’s job description.

Jussim has weathered aloof, and at times openly hostile attitudes to his work for virtually three decades. In an email to me earlier in the year, he wrote that he felt like his work life has been lived in solitary confinement. It is possible that Jussim’s citation count – or impact factor – has been artificially suppressed. And for renegade academics such as Jussim to get published, they often must resort to sugar-coating and camouflaging their results, leaving important findings out of journal titles and abstracts.

Yet he points out that despite the hostility towards stereotype accuracy, he has been well treated by social psychology – having been given an American Psychological Association Early Career Award in 1997 – and being cited by his peers over 6000 times. Jussim also points out that while doing research that breaks taboos and undermines political narratives is hard, it is not impossible. Ultimately the scientific method wins.

It is too early to know how research into stereotypes will unfold in the future. And we do not know yet if social psychology will ever be able to achieve ideological diversity, or realistically address its left-wing bias. What is certain, however, is that despite producing work that has been unwelcome and unpopular, Lee Jussim has remained a faithful servant to the scientific method. Even in the face of great personal costs.

 

Claire Lehmann is the editor of Quillette. Follow her on Twitter @clairlemon

 

References

  1.  Jussim, Crawford, Stevens, Anglin, & Duarte (in press).  Can high moral purposes undermine scientific integrity?  To appear in J. Forgas, P. van Lange, & L. Jussim (eds), The Sydney Symposium on the Social Psychology of Morality.
  2. Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, G. E. (2013). NASA faked the moon landing—therefore,(climate) science is a hoax an anatomy of the motivated rejection of science. Psychological science, 24(5), 622-633.
  3. Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows, L. (1996). Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotype activation on action. Journal of personality and social psychology, 71(2), 230.
  4. Lakens, D. (2014). Professors are not elderly: Evaluating the evidential value of two social priming effects through p-curve analyses. Available at SSRN 2381936.
  5. Darley, J. M., & Gross, P. H. (1983). A hypothesis-confirming bias in labeling effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44(1), 20.
  6. Baron, R. M., Albright, L., & Malloy, T. E. (1995).  The effects of behavioral and social class information on social judgment.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 308-315.
  7. Jussim, L., Cain, T. R., Crawford, J. T., Harber, K., & Cohen, F. (2009). The unbearable accuracy of stereotypes. Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination, 199-227.
  8. Jussim, L., Harber, K. D., Crawford, J. T., Cain, T. R., & Cohen, F. (2005). Social reality makes the social mind: Self-fulfilling prophecy, stereotypes, bias, and accuracy. Interaction Studies, 6(1), 85-102.
  9. Allport, G. W. (1979). The nature of prejudice. Basic books.
  10. Jussim, L. (1997). Distinguished Scientific Awards for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. American Psychologist, 52(4), 322-324.
  11. Duarte, J. L., Crawford, J. T., Stern, C., Haidt, J., Jussim, L., & Tetlock, P.E. (2015). Political diversity will improve social psychological science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X14000430 [See summary here].

78 Comments

  1. I’m guessing, like in so many things, pop culture adopts a newer definition and forgets the older one, so stereotypes are now identified with the negative effects of their misapplication and we’ve forgotten what they were at first – vague, often useful collections of information like every other clump of fuzzy information we’re so good at working with.

    Also, as in all things, authority is the enemy of truth, social young scientists being told search for the truth here and here, but not here . . .

    for the record, I’m about as liberal as they get, but if it’s a bias to the left that’s responsible for the crap parenting info people have been subjected to since BF Skinner, then I’ll be with you on this.

      • What supports modern Marxism, cultural Marxism(the cause) is logical and if it doesn’t support it’s not logical. The theme is tolerance? I get a dejavu with judeoChristanity when it was injected into the Roman Empire. On religion the Romans where tolerant to having many Gods and beliefs. Christianity was a totalitarian poison that helped destroyed the Roman Empire culture and economy from within. Marxism is the same. A totalitarian “final” ideological idea to destroy the Western culture and economy from within. Are we going to make the same mistake again?

        • chris says

          They agitate for social justice by destroying the old religious bonds of society, but without having an equally powerful glue to re-connect people. You can’t connect just by opposing. The net effect is fragmentation. Non-religious societies, societies without strong codes of conformity and belief, are weaker. Yes, there are the PC techniques to police & shame sexist language etc, but these moves are weaker than the forces of fragmentation and tearing-down.
          & the other side of cultural Marxism, ie economic Marxism, can’t help because even though it might unite the masses, it just doesn’t actually work economically.
          Therefore we’re unable to challenge any religiously-united group which comes along.

          • Stutz says

            Would be interested in any evidence supporting the claim that non-religious societies are weaker. Shall we create two lists and compare them?

        • Jonathan says

          Well, note that it was the Romans who were killing and persecuting Christians bc of Roman intolerance and totalitarianism. Also, note that many of the virtues and liberties that have existed in the US (rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.) were supported by theistic religious foundations, in contrast to the dearth of rights that exist in an atheistic Marxist state.

        • The Christians of that time would disagree with you. They were routinely butchered by the “tolerant” Romans for their refusal to worship the Emperor as a god. This was the line that Rome had drawn, “Worship any god you like, but also worship the Emperor”.

          The fall of Rome could be attested to many things. As with many things, it was complected.

  2. Barry Woods says

    The other thing was Prof Lewandowsky, knowingly surveyed 8 blogs that hated climate sceptics, no climate sceptic blogs took part…. Would you only survey republicans and come to conclusions that Democrats are nutters?

    They included a blog, that he was a regular contributor to, that lists climate sceptics as misinformers, including Dr Pielke Junior, Prof Judith Curry, Prof Spencer, Prof Christy and other scientists they don’t like. The invite to participate was to a private group email, of those blogs that he participated in, that all hated climate climate sceptics..

    Comments under the climate sceptic hating he blogs surveyed, thought not even deniers would be dumb enough to fall for what the survey was so obvious trying to achieve..

    even the locals didn’t think the ‘den­iers’ would fall for such a trans­parent survey…

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/survey-says/#comment-44097

    “Yeah, those conspiracy theory ques­tions were pretty funny, but does anyone think that hard­core den­iers are going to be fooled by such a trans­parent attempt to paint them as paranoids?”

    Very early criticism of this paper, are in the comments here:
    http://talkingclimate.org/are-climate-sceptics-more-likely-to-be-conspiracy-theorists/

  3. Jussim points out that no peer reviewers had noticed that “out of 1145 participants, only ten agreed that the moon landing was a hoax!”

    He did not point out that this was pointed out at a skeptic blog within one day of (partial) underlying data being made available: see http://manicbeancounter.com/2012/09/01/lewandowsky-et-al-2012-motivated-rejection-of-science-part-3-data-analysis-of-the-conspiracy-theory-element/. This observation was rapidly covered at other blogs.

    In response, Lewandowsky accused his critics of “recursive” conspiracy theory, listing the above blogpost as supposed evidence.

    • Art Critic says

      Jussim stated “no peer review”. . . Do you really feel that the link you posted qualifies as a peer review journal in the scientific community?

      • Steven Mosher says

        “Jussim stated “no peer review”. . . Do you really feel that the link you posted qualifies as a peer review journal in the scientific community?”

        No the link does not count as Peer review which is an indictment of peer review.
        That “rank amateurs” could find such an obvious flaw in less than a day, doesn’t speak
        to well for the process of “peer” review.

        Steve’s comment is not a claim that the blog post substitutes for peer review. His comment, rather, establishes several things.

        1. The Priority of his criticism. In scholarship we do care about who said things
        first
        2. The Failings of peer review
        3. The Benefits of expert review from individuals OUTSIDE the discipline
        4. The Jussim’s failure to acquaint himself with all the the literature surrounding
        the paper in question

        • Curious George says

          An excellent summary. The Hockey Team’s redefinition of a peer review has been successful beyond dreams.

  4. As Stephen McIntyre points out the Lewandowsky papers were comprehensively shredded on various blogs shortly after publication. Getting comments into the formal literature has been trickier, but there are several around. My comment (joint with Ruth Dixon) published in Psychological Science concentrates on the statistics used, and shows that the conclusions of the Moon Hoax studies are an artefact of assuming a linear model when the data is strongly non-linear. The comment is available open access at http://pss.sagepub.com/content/26/5/664

    • The Lewandowsky Moon Hoax defied basic logic. Below is a comment I made on a short time ago.
      https://manicbeancounter.com/2013/11/14/lewandowskys-false-inference-from-an-absurd-correlation/

      Even more bizarre than absurd correlations, is to draw inferences of cause and effect from correlations, when there are a huge number of equally valid (or invalid) inferences that can be made.

      The title of the Hoax paper is “NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science“. The first part implies that, due to coming to believe that the moon landing was faked, survey respondents reasoned that climate science was also a hoax. But, given that this survey was only on climate blogs, is it not more likely that the respondent’s rejection of “official” or orthodox version of events goes the other way?

      Looking at the data there is a similar issue of low numbers on support of the paired statements. Only 10/1145 supported CYMoon. Of these only 3 supported CYClimChange. Of these only 2 scored “4” for both. And these were the two faked/scam/rogue respondents 860 & 889 whose support of every conspiracy theory underpinned many of the correlations. The third, 963, also supported every conspiracy theory. Let us assume that they are genuine believers in all the conspiracy theories. Further, let us assume that one of the 13 conspiracies in the survey did trigger a response of the form “because I now know A was a conspiracy, I now believe B is a conspiracy”. There are 2n(n-1) = 312 possible versions of this statement. Or, more likely, no such reasoning process went through any respondent’s mind at all. Given the question was never asked, and there is no supporting evidence for the statement “NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax” it most likely a figment of someone’s imagination.

  5. I dislike the comment from Barry Woods.
    When somebody “hates” (couldn´t we just say “dislikes”) for instance Dr. Christy and Pielke junior, it might possibly be because these persons produce something which is of really low quality (I would like to say “bad”, but that might be misunderstood).
    Stay open to the possibility that if some “scientists” are disliked by many, it might be because there is really a good reason to dislike them.
    As said in the article, when people have formed an opinion of somebody else, it might be roughly true in 80 % of the cases.

    • Hi Kare

      These are 6 of 8 of the anti-climate sceptic blogs that were surveyed,

      http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2010/08/counting-your-attitudes/
      http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/opinion-survey-regarding-climate-change/
      http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/08/29/survey-on-attitudes-towards-cl/
      http://hot-topic.co.nz/questionnaire/
      http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/survey-says/
      http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/take-a-survey/

      The unity blog, dd not have comment, and although Skeptical Science was claimed to have been surveyed, it was not, Cook and Lewandowsky continue to lie about it’s participation.

      The readers generally do hate skeptics, and are absolutely their opponents (and Prof Lewandowsky knew this when he approached them) the comments are mocking and extremely derogatory take a look through the comments, and blog posts in August 2010, or earlier the time of the survey… ie Deltoid which was pretty infamous back then
      http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/08/

      Lewandowsky claimed in his paper a survey of climate blogs with a diverse audience, and a prevalence of sceptics similar to the USA public. The group of blogs surveyed, are the absolute opponents of climate sceptics blogs, and any skeptical reader/commentator, was a rare and masochistic finding. Prof Lewandowsky, obtained a content analysis from John Cook of the Skeptcal Science blog, to claim this diverse audience with a high prevalence of climate sceptics for this paper (20%, magically matching the general public) somehow this analysis was also smeared across the other 7 blogs to represent their readership as well (how did that escape peer review)

      The fact that Cook’s blog never actually held the Lewandowsky survey, makes this even more problematic.

      John is Lewandowsky’s PhD student, and oddly in an interview with Yale just weeks after the survey, John Cook informed the interviewer that sceptics don’t read his blog much and a small group pf bloggers keep in touch. (Cook’s content analysis is undocumented, and unavailable, despite being requested)

      John Cook:
      “The kind of people who visit my site regularly are not the same people who look at the skeptic sites,” Cook said. As for skeptic sites that he sees as his competition, “the closest thing to mine in Australia” is joannenova.com.au, which he said gets about the same level of monthly traffic as his own site. He identified Anthony Watts’ WUWT site as a counterpart American skeptics blog, “though he gets an order of magnitude more traffic than my site gets.”

      Pointing to climate change sites such as Tim Lambert’s Deltoid, Tamino’s Open Mind, and Michael Tobis’s Only In It For The Gold, Cook said that “all the climate bloggers, we all keep in pretty close touch. There’s a whole bunch of them.” – Cook
      http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2010/12/skeptical-science-founder-john-cook/

      this is the very group of bloggers that Prof Lewandowsky approached, via a request to a private google group of these blogs, that Cook/Lewandowsky were part of and Prof Lewandowsky is a regular contributor to John Cook’s blog (none of which is declared in the paper)

    • Barry Woods says

      The nature of Skeptical Science is to have a page of Climate Misinformers – with photos, and quotes. Misinformer is a very loaded word for any scientist to be labelled with.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/skeptic_Roger_Pielke_Jr.htm

      It is enough for Skeptical Science to call Roger a Misinformer, without, actually giving any evidence.. no quotes, no links, etc,etc this is apparently good enough for their readership.

    • ATheoK says

      Kåre Fog:
      I find your comment puzzling.

      “When somebody “hates” (couldn´t we just say “dislikes”)…”

      You have a problem with the emotion description ‘hate’? The emotion ‘dislike’ is not the same as ‘hate’.
      Demoting ‘hate’ to ‘dislike’ alters the discussion. I take ‘dislike’ to be a mild aversion whereas the description ‘hate’ implies unreasoning intense passion.

      When someone, who researched the discussion mentioned extensively and documents them, as he demonstrated above, uses the word hate, it was a legitimate use of the word. The commenters he referred to are literally eaten up with hate for the people they view as real enemies instead of people with a different opinion.

      I have to wonder why you determined to demote hate to dislike? Were you determined to make out a ‘dislike’ argument regarding the scientists in question?
      A curious approach, since you refer to ‘low quality’ products and infer that certain blogs dislike the scientists for ‘low quality work’; something that neither Dr. Christy nor Dr. Pielke are known for. Dr. Christy, in particular, is known for very high quality science.

      “…As said in the article, when people have formed an opinion of somebody else, it might be roughly true in 80 % of the cases”.
      I have no clue what you are referring to. I am unable to find 80% or ‘roughly true opinions’.

    • John Benton says

      Kare Fog

      If you’re not even prepared to do the most basic checking of facts I don’t see what value your opinions have. Even the most rudimentary scan of the information freely available into Lewandowsky’s work will reveal the true nature of this charlatan.

      • goldminor says

        If you have an extra seat at that game, then I would love to sit in at the table.

        • goldminor,

          Sure, come along, but only if you’re face-illiterate. Like Jaime Lannister, I keep my armor unscathed by choosing my opponents well. 😉

  6. Barry Woods says

    Hi Kare

    These are 6 of 8 of the anti-climate sceptic blogs that were surveyed,

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2010/08/counting-your-attitudes/
    http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/opinion-survey-regarding-climate-change/
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/08/29/survey-on-attitudes-towards-cl/
    http://hot-topic.co.nz/questionnaire/
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/survey-says/
    http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/take-a-survey/

    The unity blog, dd not have comment, and although Skeptical Science was claimed to have been surveyed, it was not, Cook and Lewandowsky continue to lie about it’s participation.

    The readers generally do hate skeptics, and are absolutely their opponents (and Prof Lewandowsky knew this when he approached them) the comments are mocking and extremely derogatory take a look through the comments, and blog posts in August 2010, or earlier the time of the survey… ie Deltoid which was pretty infamous back then
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/08/

    Lewandowsky claimed in his paper a survey of climate blogs with a diverse audience, and a prevalence of sceptics similar to the USA public. The group of blogs surveyed, are the absolute opponents of climate sceptics blogs, and any skeptical reader/commentator, was a rare and masochistic finding. Prof Lewandowsky, obtained a content analysis from John Cook of the Skeptcal Science blog, to claim this diverse audience with a high prevalence of climate sceptics for this paper (20%, magically matching the general public) somehow this analysis was also smeared across the other 7 blogs to represent their readership as well (how did that escape peer review)

    The fact that Cook’s blog never actually held the Lewandowsky survey, makes this even more problematic.

    John is Lewandowsky’s PhD student, and oddly in an interview with Yale just weeks after the survey, John Cook informed the interviewer that sceptics don’t read his blog much and a small group pf bloggers keep in touch. (Cook’s content analysis is undocumented, and unavailable, despite being requested)

    John Cook:
    “The kind of people who visit my site regularly are not the same people who look at the skeptic sites,” Cook said. As for skeptic sites that he sees as his competition, “the closest thing to mine in Australia” is joannenova.com.au, which he said gets about the same level of monthly traffic as his own site. He identified Anthony Watts’ WUWT site as a counterpart American skeptics blog, “though he gets an order of magnitude more traffic than my site gets.”

    Pointing to climate change sites such as Tim Lambert’s Deltoid, Tamino’s Open Mind, and Michael Tobis’s Only In It For The Gold, Cook said that “all the climate bloggers, we all keep in pretty close touch. There’s a whole bunch of them.” – Cook
    http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2010/12/skeptical-science-founder-john-cook/

    this is the very group of bloggers that Prof Lewandowsky approached, via a request to a private google group of these blogs, that Cook/Lewandowsky were part of and Prof Lewandowsky is a regular contributor to John Cook’s blog (none of which is declared in the paper)

  7. this topic has me all excited. Here’s an excerpt from the blog you’ve inspired. I hope it’s applicable . . .

    All the ramifications of the work summarized in The Blank Slate are boiling over these days, and yes, it’s true: Left wing ideology has had far too firm a hand in social science generally. However, contrary to what all the talk out there about irreplicable studies and the beating social science is taking, this isn’t news, that ideology is what drives the studies of human things, crime, child-rearing, politics, etc.
    Most of those things have been the province of religious teaching and law, forever, right? That’s ideological. So let’s put this thing in perspective. Religious teaching and law is pretty static. The religious – fair to associate today’s political Right with religion, I think? – weren’t interested in social science, and if the great preponderance of social scientists were from the Left, then it’s probably true enough to say that the Right just wasn’t f@#$%^g interested. So social science just marched off towards the future and turned Left at nearly every fork in the road.
    Right? I mean, correct?
    So now, that’s the debate, between a science that has been left to its own devices, the checks and balances of the opposing viewpoint absent during the centuries of its development (maybe this is one major cause for the apparently widening divide between the secular and the religious generally) – and the same old static, incurious attitudes of the world’s churches (not to mention the world’s parents), now armed with the tools of medical and brain science and knee-jerk Twitter clickbait headlines. Of course the researchers in the articles rarely share the world-shattering enthusiasm of the headlines . . .

    • Historically, one can argue that religions were the FIRST social scientists. Mainly in that a number of them (such as Judaism) were as much about governing and managing large populations, as they were about hacking the head off a goat before burning the rest for their chosen deity.

      Examine, for example, Leviticus, and imagine that “abomination before God” just means “this is a bad thing”. It reads like a health and behavior code, applicable to the society for which it was written: a nomadic, desert-dwelling tribe of thousands (if not tens of thousands). The prohibitions on various types of food, on various types and timings of sex, in particular, correspond rather closely to prevention of virus-, fecal- and blood-borne disease transmission vectors.

      None of which requires God actually handed down the literal Law, but after decades or centuries of tribal custom it was simply noted what behaviors had what bad effects and how to avoid them. Draconian punishments weren’t “the wrath of God” so much as deterrence against someone spreading dysentery (in a primitive, massive, desert-region encampment with few sanitation options).

      Indeed, a common criticism of religion in general is that it was invented to control human behavior for some presumed betterment (whether of the clergy, the nobility, or society at large).

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  9. ATheoK says

    Claire Lehmann:
    Thank you for an excellent description of Lee Jussim’s presentation and his findings. I found your article uplifting and rather inspirational.

    On a negative side: Here is another one of those biased social psychology research studies:
    “Climate-change foes winning public opinion war”: ‘http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2015/climate-change-foes-winning-public-opinion-war/’
    “This is the first experiment of its kind to examine the influence of the denial messages on American adults,” said Aaron M. McCright, a sociologist and lead investigator on the study. “Until now, most people just assumed climate change deniers were having an influence on public opinion. Our experiment confirms this.”

    Lee Jussim can add this study to his list of egregiously bad design studies.

  10. John Benton says

    What surprises me is that Bristol University continues to employ Lewandowsky. I know they’re not anywhere near top notch, but even they must surely realise how detrimental to their reputation this character is.

    • Would that be the Bristol University whose main achievement to date is its brief appearance in The Inbetweeners 2? I assumed it was a clown college, and Lewandowsky was on the fast track to Chancellor.

  11. If you want to understand how human beings use stereotypes, you’d be far better served to ask evolutionary biologists, or possibly even neuroscientists, rather than social scientists. If social science wants to be classed as a ‘real’ science it should really start with the basics.

    Stereotyping is an important part of how humans learn to interpret the world so effectively. If you don’t know too much about the person you’re confronted with, a stereotypic generalisation is a good start. As you learn more, that stereotype is modified and fades into the background. Stereotyping is also a good way of communicating verbally a trait or feature, or a set of features, that will help the guy you’re communicating with. It’s an intrinsic, essential part of the way we operate.

    Of course, such classifications can, and have, lead to the justification of some dreadful episodes in our history, as we well know, and I suppose that is what underlies the relentless attempts to banish it from our society, and even to banish from our language words and phrases which seem to tolerate the idea of the stereotype. That’s sad. Stereotypes and generalisations are an integral part of our intelligence, and they are a powerful tool – for good or evil.

    The PC folk should be saying instead – ‘stereotypes are fine, as long as you don’t visit upon the individual the consequences of stereotyping him. Let him show his individuality’ They shouldn’t be trying to fiddle the science to serve their preconceived narrative.

  12. Charles Black says

    Very good article. And mothercatchers more in depth description of stereotypes is helpful. It’s been evident to me for some time that stereotyping— aka, generalization— is a necessary part of cognitive functioning. We’d be completely incapacitated without it. My rule of thumb is that stereotypes are okay, but try to be precise and don’t be an asshole. Problem solved:)

    When someone says something like, “Social psychologists should be not be studying whether people are accurate in perceiving groups! They should be studying how situations create disadvantage,” you have to wonder what they would be saying if the results had come out the other way. Results showing stereotyping to generally be inaccurate would have met this person’s criteria of what “creates disadvantage.” It’s not the subject matter (stereotyping) that upsets them, it’s the results and the discomfort the results give them when they realize that reality doesn’t map onto their worldview as well as they thought. In their mind, these are “bad facts” that bad people use for bad purposes. If research on the subject supported their worldview they’d eat it up, whether it’s on stereotyping, intelligence, or biocriminology.

  13. Curious George says

    I’ll contribute a stereotype of my own. “Social psychologists should be not be studying whether people are accurate in perceiving groups! They should be studying how situations create disadvantage.” That’s too long. Social psychologists should be not be.

    • Stop Thought says

      Curious George–good grammatical catch. Should the statement be corrected to just “Social psychologists shouldn’t be?”

  14. Perry says

    Stop Thought-could not resist this. “Social psychologists shouldn’t be allowed aloud?”

  15. Pingback: Lee Jussim on stereotypes « Samizdata

  16. I wonder what Jussim’s take on anti-male psychology would be.
    I have found this both personally & in psychology papers I’ve read. Especially in papers coming out of gender study depts.

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  19. Clovis Sangrail says

    @ Brade Keyes
    “Would that be the Bristol University whose main achievement to date is its brief appearance in The Inbetweeners 2? I assumed it was a clown college, and Lewandowsky was on the fast track to Chancellor.”
    Sadly, Bristol is a top 10 (or so) UK university by most measures and generally regarded as a good second to Oxford and Cambridge.

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  21. Mongoose says

    If so-called leftists realised it was eco-fascist money behind the hatred for carbon dioxide, they might save the world, after all.

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  24. infovoy says

    You’re ignoring what a stereotype is. They are not ‘simply beliefs about a group of people’ but ones specifically for use in the act of stereotyping, that is, in assuming that statistical generalizations about groups hold for individuals in those group, without knowing them.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=stereotype

    Therefore, while statistical generalizations can be right or in error depending on their accuracy stereotypes are always in error by definition, regardless how well they predict.

    You could of course disagree by thinking it’s fine to make assumptions about individual people without knowing them and this would then be the core disagreement here. But the short term for that is ‘prejudice’.

  25. “Graduate students were entering the field in order to change the world rather than discover truths1.”

    I suspect this is true of other fields as well, particularly the environmental sciences.
    This begins in primary education where I also suspect a majority of teachers hold the “liberal” perspective.

  26. EMyrt says

    The low quality of climate “science” has already been covered so I can just second all the skeptics here. Although I would add that unscientific abuse of skeptics was already visible in the 1990s–see the ad hominem and appeal to authority arguments used to attack Bjorn Lomborg in Scientific American back then.

    My other point is that I fled the social sciences (physical anthro) in 1974 for two reasons, one economic, one ethical:
    Most of the tenured positions in my field were already taken by people ten years older than me, so, since I could count, it was pretty clear there was little opportunity for a tenure track career.

    More importantly, an incident in a social psychology graduate seminar pushed me from leftism toward my present libertarian politics. We were discussing human traits and Bell curves; several of my classmates opined that if the data showed that some groups performed less well than others than that data should be suppressed.
    I delivered a passionate rant on the importance of intellectual honesty in science and the next year moved to economics and an MBA–which completed my political conversion.

  27. cephus0 says

    While interesting this hardly comes as a major revelation. The entirety of western academia is infested with far left dogma to the extent that demonstrating one’s leftist credentials is a far more important pursuit that any merely trivial result in science or the arts and everything is malleable in the overarching march to totalitarianism.

  28. Pingback: Stephan Lewandowsky’s “Moon Landing Paper” scathingly criticized by team of psychologists in a new book | Watts Up With That?

  29. Robert says

    The author, and apparently Lee Jussim, have completely misread what the study claimed – to the point of making me wonder if the misreading was intentional. The study said very clearly that:

    “We…show that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scientific findings above and beyond commitment to laissez-faire free markets. This provides confirmation of previous suggestions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science.”

    What the author and Jussim imply is that the study said that the converse is also true. that client skepticism predicts belief in conspiracy theories like the faked moon landing. This is a logical fallacy known as “affirming the consequent”.

    If the author and Jussim have a valid point to make then they need to show that belief in conspiracy theories like the faked moon landing do not predict belief in climate skepticism. Showing the converse by citing the fact that “Of the study’s participants, 97.8% who thought that climate science was a hoax, did not think that the moon landing also a hoax.” is pointless, unless the point is to mislead. The rest of the article follows from a false premise, or at least an unsubstantiated one.

    • Robert says

      Sorry, some typos. In the third paragraph “client skepticism” should be “climate skepticism”. I should have also said “Disproving the converse” rather than “Showing the converse” in the last paragraph.

  30. Sadly, the Lewandosky paper is a microcosm of how badly climate science is done — bad data, bad methodology, bad peer review.

    There’s a lot of good, solid, unbiased climate research being done, but a few terrible studies tend to grab the headlines and a few prominent nincompoops promote claims for which there is very little evidence in order to drive policy.

    Most climate scientists do not believe long term temperatures can be predicted given the state of our knowledge about climate (2008) but the antics of the Hansens and Lewandosky’s make the whole field look silly, if not creepy or even fascistic.

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  32. If you’ve read “The Culture of Critique” by Kevin MacDonald, this will come as no surprise.

  33. This article is pretty fallacious
    People are convinced to doubt things they gave for granted, and as a result they doubt their other beliefs too; that doesn’t mean they are more likely to reject “science”, but rather just anything in general that they were convinced to believe but there is no evidence for.
    And it isn’t surprising considering people (especially in America) are coerced to believe in a lot of absurd, unproven narratives by using guilt-tripping like “if you don’t believe in this you are a conspiracy theorist/extremist/racist/etc”.

    Think of the American view of “Holocaust denial” for example.
    The official Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, made by Israel, claims 5 million deaths, but to Americans if you don’t believe the 6 million claim you are a conspiracy theorist; absurdly, according to this logic all Jews are anti-semitic conspiracy theorists.

    There is so much lingering fearmongering about believing narratives in the US (and partly UK, Canada, Sweden and Germany), especially in schools, that people just accept beliefs not because they are credible but because they are afraid to challenge them.

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  35. A standard effect size of 1 means the average difference is equal to 1 full standard deviation.

  36. Pingback: CLAIRE LEHMANN: How a rebellious scientist uncovered the surprising truth about stereotypes. – the Revision Division

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  40. Rainer Möller says

    Claire Lehmann writes:
    “Gordon Allport, a mentor of Stanley Milgram, conceptualised stereotypes in his 1954 book The Nature of Prejudice as inaccurate, pernicious and unshakeable, and influential in shaping the social world.”
    I suppose that one might begin this story earlier, with Adorno e.a.: The Authoritarian Personality, or rather the papers Sanford and Levinson published before the book. Then began the problematic blending of empirical science and activism. (Adorno himself had no inclination forempirical reearch, so I think we should emphasize the role of Sanford and Levinson).

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  44. Pingback: Paper: The reproducible social science of stereotype accuracy | Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar

  45. Stephen Lew is much missed by me. He used to post outrageous climate change articles on the drum and I got a good laugh from them and him. He was so out there, that even climate change, strongest supporters were wavering in their belief.

    They just don’t make people like him anymore. He makes the world a happier place.

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  49. This is an article from last December about a growing sub-field in social psychology. It goes by the name stereotype accuracy, and it does the opposite of what social psychology has been doing for the last half century: it investigates the accuracy of stereotypes empirically before deciding whether they’re inaccurate or not.

    Weird, right? It gets worse.

    It turns out that despite some recent revelations that many studies in psychology have not been successfully reproduced in follow-up experiments (up to estimates of 50% fail this test of reproducibility), the findings from stereotype accuracy studies are wildly reproducible, and the effects are quite stable.

    So why don’t more social psychologists look into stereotyping in order to more honestly figure out why we do it, what adaptive function it serves, and in which contexts it is most likely to lead to gross predictive error?

    Here’s one of the leading lights in the field, Rutger’s Lee Jussim, to explain the state of play:

    “Social psychologists have long been concerned with alleviating social problems, especially those that arise from prejudice and discrimination. As such, much foundational and influential research, and many social psychology textbooks, have decried the many ways stereotypes reflect and cause social problems. Because stereotypes were so obviously (to many psychologists) bad things, ipso facto, they must be inaccurate.”

    This is a bad way to do science. Perhaps we should consider whether we are willing to do science, given that we can’t guarantee how comfortable we will be with the results. I’m open to this sort of trepidation. But if we decide to do it, then let’s leave our wishful thinking at the door.

    Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.

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