Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Funny, but sad

Here is something that amounts to some light relief:

Soooooo....what is the independent variable again? Please, dear authors, keep your story straight. Is it game type or movie type? Hint: the article is supposed to be about violent video games. Also, why is gender italicized? There are of course other questions. If you read the paper, it becomes obvious that the analyses do not fit the definition of a MANCOVA: there is a difference score used as the DV and no covariate identified anywhere in the paper. So we don't have multiple DVs and no covariates, hence no MANCOVA as any sane human being with basic statistics training would understand the term. The table itself makes no sense. Yes there are numbers. Wonderful. We have no idea what those numbers mean. We can be certain of something: an F value of less than 1 is not going to be statistically significant under any circumstances in the known universe. That is truly impossible.

I can't help but laugh when I read this paper. Note that this is one that is early enough in Zhang's career where he was still putting his family name first in his English-language publications. That would change not too long afterward. Yes I do laugh when I read an error-ridden paper that made its way through peer review. But it is out of sadness. Many years ago, I had a Spanish instructor in high school who noticed that we as a class were having a bad week. We weren't studying, we were not responding to his questions in Spanish, we simply were not there. So he started making jokes. At some point he said, "I just have to laugh, but really this is sad." I got the message loud and clear. He was disappointed. We could have done so much better. As I read this and other papers from this lab, I find myself with that same sense of disappointment. Maybe productivity was more important. Maybe playing the game, which seems to consume so many of us in the academic world (including me for a while) took precedence to our charge of being truth seekers and truth tellers. Whatever the motivation, the end result is another botched paper. We collectively in the psychological sciences deserve better.

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