Incentive Malus

September 22, 2016

(The Economist) – Wind the clock forward half a century and little has changed. In a new paper, this time published in Royal Society Open Science, two researchers, Paul Smaldino of the University of California, Merced, and Richard McElreath at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, show that published studies in psychology, neuroscience and medicine are little more powerful than in Cohen’s day. They also offer an explanation of why scientists continue to publish such poor studies. Not only are dodgy methods that seem to produce results perpetuated because those who publish prodigiously prosper—something that might easily have been predicted. But worryingly, the process of replication, by which published results are tested anew, is incapable of correcting the situation no matter how rigorously it is pursued.