Hey readers, It's Saturday .
1) On my mind this week: Bad science!
First, a 2014 study claiming that women wearing high heels were approached more in bars was retracted, years after researchers Nick Brown and James Heathers approached the author Nicholas Guéguen, and then the French Psychological Society with concerns about the study.
The pair finally went public with their findings in 2017 with a detailed analysis showing that many of the dozens of studies Guéguen authored between 2012 and 2015 described research that could not possibly have taken place as written. They also found implausibly high effect rates and response rates, among other red flags. Four years after they first asked for an investigation, the high heels study has been retracted; none of the other studies have. (Guéguen hasn’t responded to the retraction or recent correspondence about the study.)
“This is not unusual, or anyone’s fault in particular — this is the publication system we have designed. If it had a slogan it would be: ‘some accountability, eventually, if we feel like it,’” Heathers told Retraction Watch. That’s a depressing thought.
2) But not as depressing as this new paper arguing that the famous Stanford Prison Experiment was a fraud, with the guards instructed to rough up the prisoners to inspire the general public to support prison reform. (If you want to learn more about the experiment, read this.) Here’s the author of the paper on Julia Galef’s podcast Rationally Speaking, talking about why blatant evidence of dishonesty hasn’t been enough to get Zimbardo’s paper dislodged from psychology textbooks or favorable coverage, and here’s virtual piece from last https://bit.ly/33BT95i year when the story first broke.
3) Also on my mind this week: atrocities overseas, from Syria to China. Dylan talked on Tuesday’s newsletter about hoping that Future Perfect can expand its scope in its second year; for me, one of the most important aspects of that would be bringing you more international coverage from a Future https://bit.ly/36zMj2e Perfect perspective, especially of crises like these.
4) I want to end on a more uplifting note. I’m in London right now, attending a conference called Effective Altruism Global.
It was at an Effective Altruism Global conference 15 months ago that I first heard from Dylan Matthews that was starting a section called Future Perfect. You can watch last year’s talks online, and this year’s talks will be online eventually too. I’ll be speaking about Future Perfect, and why I believe people who want to do good should think about https://bit.ly/36zMj2e .
5) Finally: Like many effective altruists, I’ve signed the Giving What We Can pledge to donate 10 percent of my income to helping the world as much as I can. Giving What We Can lists all their signatories on their website, and one of the very earliest — #12, to be precise — is Nobel-prize-winning economist Michael Kremer. Without him, we’d know a lot less about where our money can do the most good. I’m honored to be on that list with him, and I’m absolutely going to take the opportunity to remind you that you can try giving too.