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“Positive” Results Increase Down the Hierarchy of the Sciences, 2010, Fanelli

Discussion in 'Health News and Research unrelated to ME/CFS' started by Michiel Tack, Jul 9, 2021.

  1. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Abstract
    The hypothesis of a Hierarchy of the Sciences with physical sciences at the top, social sciences at the bottom, and biological sciences in-between is nearly 200 years old. This order is intuitive and reflected in many features of academic life, but whether it reflects the “hardness” of scientific research—i.e., the extent to which research questions and results are determined by data and theories as opposed to non-cognitive factors—is controversial.

    This study analysed 2434 papers published in all disciplines and that declared to have tested a hypothesis. It was determined how many papers reported a “positive” (full or partial) or “negative” support for the tested hypothesis.

    If the hierarchy hypothesis is correct, then researchers in “softer” sciences should have fewer constraints to their conscious and unconscious biases, and therefore report more positive outcomes.

    Results confirmed the predictions at all levels considered: discipline, domain and methodology broadly defined. Controlling for observed differences between pure and applied disciplines, and between papers testing one or several hypotheses, the odds of reporting a positive result were around 5 times higher among papers in the disciplines of Psychology and Psychiatry and Economics and Business compared to Space Science, 2.3 times higher in the domain of social sciences compared to the physical sciences, and 3.4 times higher in studies applying behavioural and social methodologies on people compared to physical and chemical studies on non-biological material.

    In all comparisons, biological studies had intermediate values. These results suggest that the nature of hypotheses tested and the logical and methodological rigour employed to test them vary systematically across disciplines and fields, depending on the complexity of the subject matter and possibly other factors (e.g., a field's level of historical and/or intellectual development). On the other hand, these results support the scientific status of the social sciences against claims that they are completely subjective, by showing that, when they adopt a scientific approach to discovery, they differ from the natural sciences only by a matter of degree.

    Link to article here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0010068
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2021
    oldtimer, inox, Wonko and 6 others like this.
  2. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Location:
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    This study looked at how studies that tested a hypothesis, reported positive findings per scientific discipline. It reports that:

    "Space Science had the lowest percentage of positive results (70.2%) and Psychology and Psychiatry the highest (91.5%)"
    upload_2021-7-9_12-37-49.png
     
    oldtimer, inox, geminiqry and 9 others like this.
  3. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think most people will guess that the psych collective will report their results most positively. When framed this way, it just seems to fit the mould. The less definitive the science, the less definitive the results need to be to claim success.

    It's as if it is a science attracting a proportion of people wanting their science to be easy, without excessive rigour (but note I say a proportion - I'm well aware there are plenty of psychs strongly intent on scientific rigour, some of whom we know here). If only the BPS psychs would keep their noses out of where they have no entitlement to be, patients would be a whole lot better off. But a sense of entitlement is one of their key traits sadly.
     
    oldtimer, inox, Wonko and 4 others like this.
  4. TiredSam

    TiredSam Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
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    Psychiatry/Psychology seem to be attractive options for those who like being right more often than everyone else. Especially those who like being right without having to think much. Perhaps it's time for a study on the personality traits of those who chose a career in psychology. The whole field of personality traits is as dodgy as most other research in psychology, but that shouldn't matter, someone would get to churn out a few papers and claim to be right about something on the flimsiest of evidence, and that's the whole point of the enterprise.

    I note that Sir Simon famously said that he chose a career in psychology out of altruism, nobly sacrificing his talents which could have been put to better use elsewhere. I'm not sure where, maybe he meant he could have joined the likes of Billy Graham and Jimmy Swaggart and been 100% right all the time. But a delusion that you are "helping" no matter the evidence to the contrary seems to be one identifiable trait.
     
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