Can the behavioral sciences self-correct? A social epistemic study.

Citation data:

Studies in history and philosophy of science, ISSN: 0039-3681, Vol: 60, Page: 55-69

Publication Year:
2016
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Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12957
PMID:
27938722
DOI:
10.1016/j.shpsa.2016.10.002
Author(s):
Romero, Felipe
Publisher(s):
Elsevier BV
Tags:
Arts and Humanities
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article description
Advocates of the self-corrective thesis argue that scientific method will refute false theories and find closer approximations to the truth in the long run. I discuss a contemporary interpretation of this thesis in terms of frequentist statistics in the context of the behavioral sciences. First, I identify experimental replications and systematic aggregation of evidence (meta-analysis) as the self-corrective mechanism. Then, I present a computer simulation study of scientific communities that implement this mechanism to argue that frequentist statistics may converge upon a correct estimate or not depending on the social structure of the community that uses it. Based on this study, I argue that methodological explanations of the "replicability crisis" in psychology are limited and propose an alternative explanation in terms of biases. Finally, I conclude suggesting that scientific self-correction should be understood as an interaction effect between inference methods and social structures.

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