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Eugen Tarnow


      The great sadness that goes with the American Psychological Associations Style Manual

      Eugen G Tarnow  August 29 2018 04:22:23 PM
      We already know that social science, and psychology in particular, is suffering from a problem of replicating reported findings - in other words - what goes into the psychology research journals cannot be trusted.

      But I am going to go one step further: I believe social science in the US is at such a low point that one would be hard pressed to see a difference from Communist Russia. Only certain people get published (just like in Communist Russia only writers who were in the Writers Union were published) and quality and success can be perpendicular.

      The other day I had some time to read a prestigious social science journal and I fell off my chair several times when realizing just how bad the articles were.
      Claims were made about short men that when scrutinized showed a tiny effect size, a claim was made that the happiness from receiving presents is determined by social class but this so called determination also originated in a very small effect size and then gentlemen from Yale compared racism to opinions of chemical mixtures including urine and cyanide. I kid you not - here is the link.

      The closest analogy with Communist Russia that can be easily documented is that the "style" of the writing is imposed from above - it is decided by bureaucrats rather than by the authors and editors themselves..

      Thus the American Psychological Association, alone among all scientific societies I know of, publishes a style manual.

      Interestingly, a new finding about Grievance Studies (
      https://youtu.be/kVk9a5Jcd1k ) shows that if complete crap is published in APA format and using the terms of art, articles are likely published with complete disregard to the actual content - even Mein Kampf drivel is accepted.

      I am not sure how many readers actually read psychology research journals but the APA Style manual (with its own website apastyle.org
      !) is trying its best to prevent them from doing so. The APA style manual has made research articles several times longer than they used to be (the APA style manual functions in an environment with no consequence for excessive erudition). One can read an introduction over a lunch only to find out over coffee that the results did not justify any reading at all.

      Just one example that would baffle anyone outside the field, the guidelines for the Methods section - how many words do you think compliance with this will require:

      "Participant characteristics Eligibility and exclusion criteria, including any restrictions based on demographic


      Major demographic characteristics as well as important topic-specific characteristics (e.g.,

      achievement level in studies of educational interventions), or in the case of animal

      research, genus and species

      Sampling procedures Procedures for selecting participants, including:

      The sampling method if a systematic sampling plan was implemented

      Percentage of sample approached that participated

      Self-selection (either by individuals or units, such as schools or clinics)

      Settings and locations where data were collected

      Agreements and payments made to participants

      Institutional review board agreements, ethical standards met, safety monitoring

      Sample size, power, and


      Intended sample size

      Actual sample size, if different from intended sample size

      How sample size was determined:

      Power analysis, or methods used to determine precision of parameter estimates

      Explanation of any interim analyses and stopping rules

      Measures and covariates Definitions of all primary and secondary measures and covariates:

      Include measures collected but not included in this report

      Methods used to collect data

      Methods used to enhance the quality of measurements:

      Training and reliability of data collectors

      Use of multiple observations

      Information on validated or ad hoc instruments created for individual studies, for example,

      psychometric and biometric properties

      Research design Whether conditions were manipulated or naturally observed

      Type of research design; provided in Table 3 are modules for:

      Randomized experiments (Module A1)

      Quasi-experiments (Module A2)

      Other designs would have different reporting needs associated with them

      The APA Style Manual and its imposition on journals (and thereby authors) in order for the journals to be included in PsychInfo is nothing but an experiment in "will anyone ever say no"? Stanley Milgram asked this question of people giving each other electrical shocks 56 years ago and found that few people would say no.

      The Milgram obedience experimental result has never changed.

      But even Milgram would have been sad that among psychology researchers NOT ONE has ever told the APA Style Manual and its enforcers to fuck off.

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