Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Interlude: When Social Sciences Become Social Movements

I found this very positive take on the recent SIPS conference in Rotterdam earlier today. Am so glad to have seen this. As someone who either grew up in the shadow of various social movements (including the No Nukes movement that was big when I was in my mid-teens) or was a participant (in particular Anti-Apartheid actions, as well as an ally of the feminist movement of the time and the then-struggling LGBT community that was largely at the time referred to as "Gay Rights"), I feel right at home in a social movement environment. They are after all calls to action, and at their best require of their participants a willingness to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of raising awareness, changing policies and so on. All of that was present when I attended in July and what I experienced left me cautiously optimistic about the state of the psychological sciences. Questionable research practices still happen, and powerful players in our field still have too much pull in determining what gets said and what gets left unsaid. What's changed is Twitter, podcasts, etc. Anyone can listen to some state-of-the-art conversation with mostly early career researchers and educators who are at the cutting edge, and who are not afraid to blow whistles as necessary. Anyone can interact with these same individuals on Twitter. And although eliminating hierarchies is at best a pipe dream, the playing field among the Open Science community in my corner of the scientific universe is very level. I'll paraphrase something from someone I would prefer not to name: Some people merely talk about the weather. The point is to get up and do something about it. We've gone well beyond talk. We have the beginnings of some action thanks to what started as just a few understandably irate voices in the wake of the Bem paper and the Stapel scandal in 2011. We have a long way to go. And yes, if you do go to a SIPS conference, expect to meet some of the friendliest people you could hope to meet - amazing how those who are highly critical of bad and fraudulent science turn out to be genuinely decent in person. Well, not so amazing to me.

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