It was a widely reported “pathbreaking and provocative” study:
For decades, political scientists and psychologists have tried to understand the psychological roots of ideological differences. The piece published in Science offered some clues as to why liberals and conservatives differ in their worldviews. Perhaps it has to do with how the brain is wired, the researchers suggested—specifically, perhaps it’s because conservatives’ brains are more attuned to threats than liberals’. It was an exciting finding, it helped usher in a new wave of psychophysiological work in the study of politics, and it generated extensive coverage in popular media. In 2018, 10 years after the publication of the study, the findings were featured on an episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast.Kevin Arceneaux, Bert N. Bakker, Claire Gothreau, and Gijs Schumacher, “We Tried to Publish a Replication of a Science Paper in Science. The Journal Refused.” at Slate
But qualified researchers who wanted to replicate it couldn’t.
We drafted a paper that reported the failed replication studies along with a more nuanced discussion about the ways in which physiology might matter for politics and sent it to Science. We did not expect Science to immediately publish the paper, but because our findings cast doubt on an influential study published in its pages, we thought the editorial team would at least send it out for peer review.
It did not. About a week later, we received a summary rejection with the explanation that the Science advisory board of academics and editorial team felt that since the publication of this article the field has moved on and that, while they concluded that we had offered a conclusive replication of the original study, it would be better suited for a less visible subfield journal.Kevin Arceneaux, Bert N. Bakker, Claire Gothreau, and Gijs Schumacher, “We Tried to Publish a Replication of a Science Paper in Science. The Journal Refused.” at Slate
The researchers say they begged the journal to reconsider but “We were rebuffed without a reason and with a vague suggestion that the journal’s policy on handling replications might change at some point in the future.”
That’s how the story ended up at Slate.
But is anyone really surprised? Maybe these days it’s only science if it tells Top People what they need to believe.
See also: Could the replication crisis be good for science?
Does liberal bias deepen the replication crisis in psychology? Consider the sheer number of ridiculous Sokal hoaxes that have played psychology journals. That would only be possible in an environment that is so overwhelmingly of one persuasion that few academics step back and say things like “What? ‘Misgendering’ dogs? This is ridiculous! They daren’t because someone’s feelings might be hurt.
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