Friday, November 26, 2021

Researchers Ignore what is Abhorrent

Researchers often just look for what they want to see. Social science researchers often exclude possibilities that seem philosophically objectionable. Here is an example.

Julia Galef said:

I wanted to tell you when you were talking about how common it is in a lot of social science research to just ignore the alternate hypothesis that genes are causing the correlation, as opposed to the parenting causing the outcomes... It reminded me very much of my experience reading through a lot of the research on — as I was researching for my book — the research on how self perception affects your success.

Julia: Because there's all these studies looking at how people's self image affects their success at various things. And the conclusion is always: “You should have a positive self image, because people with positive self images tend to be more successful.”

And either it's just not acknowledged that a possible alternate explanation is that people with positive self images are more likely to actually have positive traits that help them succeed... Either that's not acknowledged, or occasionally it is acknowledged, and just dismissed out of hand as, “Well, of course not.”

I remember this one paper where they were reporting these results, and then there was a footnote where it said “Some people might object that people with positive self image have greater inherent talent than people without. But we can dismiss that, as it is obviously abhorrent.”

Wow. If you discover that success is correlated with positive self-image, then the obvious explanation to test is that the success causes the positive self-image, and failure causes negative self-image. But the reseearcher refused to even consider the possibility!

I don't even see why it would be abhorrent. It seems good and natural that success would improve self-image. Don't we want to succeed in order to improve ourselves?

I can only guess that there is some leftist repulsion of some people doing something to make themselves better than others. But the reverse causality seems abhorrent to me.

Michael Shermer writes:

Scientific American Goes Woke

A case study in how identity politics poisons science

In April of 2001 I began my monthly Skeptic column at Scientific American, the longest continuously published magazine in the country dating back to 1845.

He goes on to explain how the magazine became leftist and unscientific, and rejected his columns with comments like these:
But we’re unwilling to publish a piece that suggests — even in a quote attributed to someone else [Carol Tavris] — that sexual harassment and the phenomenon of abused children growing up to be abusers are less of a problem than most people imagine. ...

You say, essentially, that things are better, especially for minorities of various kinds, than ever in history, your evidence being, basically, “you can look it up.” It may be true ...

Driving while black” is still a thing, as is getting shot by cops ... And worldwide, fascist and authoritarian regimes are on the increase.

In essence, you cannot report facts if they counter exaggerated stories that usefully promote a leftist narrative.

Here is a NY Times article complaining about scientists collecting data:
In 1981, when scientists in Hungary sampled the blood of Roma people incarcerated in Hungarian prisons, they classified prisoners as Romani based solely on their appearance, which the authors of the new paper argue is unscientific.

In 1993, another group sampling Romani DNA concluded that there were three distinct ethnic groups in the country, drawing a line between “the genuine Hungarian ethnical groups” and “Jews” and “Gypsies” — a research premise the authors of the new paper argue was racist.

Any data collected inevitably draws attention to differences between ethnic groups.

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