1. The Guardian has
2. Study delivers bleak verdict on validity of
3. The Best of Scribblers
This is a Nederlog of Friday
August 28, 2015.
This is not a crisis
blog. The previous file of today is a
crisis blog, and a bitter one,
though what I am bitter about won't harm most of my readers.
But the present file is not
a crisis log and is even a bit happy: Item
is about The Guardian's appearance: After 8 months of nearly imageless
pages (and those that appeared artificially fazed out, it seemed) at
long last there is - without any notification that I saw -
Guardian that appears a bit decent; item 2
is about a study of 100 papers in psychological top journals of which
1/2 to 2/3rd have results - in top journals - that are not
(which is strong support for my thesis that psychology is not a
science); and item 3 is about a
really excellent piece on the joys of reading Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of
the Roman Empire, by Joseph Epstein, that I strongly recommend you
read all of.
Guardian has pictures!!
The first article has a link, to the
site of The Guardian, but it has no associated article. First, here is
the site of The Guardian of today...
which should be compared to this,
that was served to The Guardian's readers since the
January of 2015, simultaneously with the news that The Guardian had
changed to a new web format, namely this:
For me - and I confess that when I was 14 I wanted to become a
graphical illustrator, which I gave up the next year because I
didn't draw well enough and
had (rather suddenly) developed strong intellectual interests - this
horrible, and I wrote several pieces about it, of which this is the
Well... it lasted until
yesterday, for then it suddenly, without any warning or
looked like so:
Click the image to see more of The Guardian WITH pictures
And the pictures are sharp! (For most of them
fazed out, the last 8 months, again for a completely unstated
wholly incomprehensible reason.)
I say! Well... it looks a whole lot better than the
1995-four-colours-no-images "New Style" from January 2015.
I grant that the lettering is still mistaken (it's fine on paper, but
mistaken on computer screens: really!) and I could not find one
of the horrible fading videos (they disappear when you move your cursor
to them) that were also introduced in January 2015, and which also can
only be played in order to find out
how long they take, but I like to be right, and this is a move
in the right direction!
Congratulations, Guardian! Well done!
delivers bleak verdict on validity of psychology
This is here because I
have an excellent M.A. in psychology, though I should add that nearly
all of it was done in mathematics, logic and physics,
and that simply because I had decided by 1980, when I also was thrown
out of the methodology group because I protested against including
bullshit about the excellencies of the government of Togo  as part of the methodology we were supposed to
learn, that psychology is not a real science,
apart from a few fields, and those mainly scientific methodology and
statistics (which also have little to do with psychology as such).
next article is by Ian Sample on The Guardian:
Note that this means that 2
out of 3 of the publications in top psychology journals
are irreproducible, and are therefore without any
support. This means - to an objective mind - that either most of these
100 (!) experiments were flukes or else psychology cannot be a real
science, for any real science has a majority of reproducible
experiments: Only non-sciences admit "experiments" of which the
majority (2 out of 3) fails when reproduced.
A major investigation
into scores of claims made in
psychology research journals has delivered a bleak verdict on the state
of the science.
An international team of
experts repeated 100 experiments
published in top psychology journals and found that they could
reproduce only 36% of original findings.
The study, which saw 270 scientists repeat
experiments on five continents, was launched by psychologists in the US
in response to rising concerns over the reliability of psychology
In case you doubt this, or are an M.A. or Ph.D. in psychology, you are
to read this essay, by Paul Lutus, who also thinks psychology is not a
science, and explains it well:
There is also this in the
Note also that until
these experiments were replicated and the results "vanished"
All of the experiments
the scientists repeated appeared in
top ranking journals in 2008 and fell into two broad categories, namely
cognitive and social psychology. Cognitive psychology is concerned with
basic operations of the mind, and studies tend to look at areas such as
perception, attention and memory. Social psychology looks at more
social issues, such as self esteem, identity, prejudice and how people
In the investigation, a
whopping 75% of the social
psychology experiments were not replicated, meaning that the originally
reported findings vanished when other scientists repeated the
experiments. Half of the cognitive psychology studies failed the same
test. Details are published in the journal Science.
Even when scientists could
replicate original findings, the sizes of
the effects they found were on average half as big as reported first
time around. That could be due to scientists leaving out data that
undermined their hypotheses, and by journals accepting only the
strongest claims for publication.
(3 out of 4 studies in social pscychology are not valid;
out of 2 studies in cognitive psychology are not valid -
and all in top journals) these results were
respected, at least among psychologists, politicians
and bureaucrats, and that
simply on the ground that it was "science" and it was "experimentally
Well... no: it was not "experimentally established",
then it were quite probably reproducible, and no: it was not
science, because it was not experimentally established, at
Next, there is a lot of bullshit by "professional psychologists" (who
have a lot of money to loose, personally, if there science is not
a science). First, there is this:
John Ioannidis, professor of health research
and policy at Stanford University, said the study was impressive and
that its results had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community.
“Sadly, the picture it paints - a 64% failure rate even among papers
published in the best journals in the field - is not very nice about
the current status of psychological science in general, and for fields
like social psychology it is just devastating,” he said.
It is not just "not very
nice": it shows - experimentally, with no less than 100
that psychology cannot be a real science,
for any real science has experimental results that are mostly
And what establishes that X - astrology, psychology - is not a
science is precisely that it does not produce experiments that are
reproducible. And that is what happened here. In 64 out of a 100
Here is another lie:
As Alan Kraut at the Association for
Psychological Science puts it: “The only finding that will replicate
100% of the time is likely to be trite, boring and probably already
known: yes, dead people can never be taught to read.”
O no! We are not
talking about some statistical deviance around a norm: We are talking
about 3 out of 4 papers in social psychology and 1 ot 2
papers in cognitive psychology, all plucked from top journals,
all therefore undoubtedly offered as a 90% or 95% certainty, but even so false in half or three
quarters of the cases.
Mr Kraut seems to me to be therefore just producing bullshit.
Finally, there is this sickening and lousy excuse:
Munafo said that
the problem of poor reproducibility is exacerbated by
the way modern science works. “If I want to get promoted or get a
grant, I need to be writing lots of papers. But writing lots of papers
and doing lots of small experiments isn’t the way to get one really
robust right answer,” he said.
Total bullshit: Physicists, mathematicians and
chemists have precisely the same problems. The difference is not
in their working conditions, but in the fact that
physics, mathematics and chemistry are real sciences, and
psychology is not.
But OK: Now you have a large slew of evidence - 100 experiments
show that the majority of the experiments done in psychology are not
reproducible, and are therefore not science. 
today is by Joseph Epstein on Commentary Magazine:
The best of scribblers
is Edward Gibbon
(<- Wikipedia) and Joseph Epstein's evocation of him is excellent.
It starts as follows
This starts as
Yes, indeed! And these
are just the first three paragraphs of this excellent
why any intelligent man or woman should read The History of the Decline and Fall of
the Roman Empire, for
this is both one of the best texts
I have read and one of the best histories I have read.
A pudgy man with a big
head, double chin, and pursing mouth, under five feet tall, foppishly
overdressed, stilted in conversation, Edward Gibbon was easily the
greatest English historian and quite possibly the greatest historian
the world has known. How did this preposterous little man—a snob with
often ludicrous opinions who was known as he grew older and fatter as
Monsieur Pomme de Terre—produce The History of the Decline and
Fall of the Roman Empire, a panoramic work of roughly a million
and a half words with some 8,000 footnotes, covering 1,300 years of
history? More than two centuries after Gibbon wrote it, the
entertainment value of his history is as great as it was when it
appeared in three volumes between 1776 and 1788, its standing as
literature as firmly fixed.
Psychotic tyrants, savvy
eunuchs, cunning courtesans; brutal barbarian tribal chiefs;
battlefields bedewed with blood and strewn with the white bones of
human corpses; Byzantine luxuriance; Saracen leaders “never seen to
smile except on a day of battle”; ragtag Roman crusaders no less
fanatical than the forces they were recruited to fight; Russians,
Hungarians, Persians, Moors all engaging in tortures of a rare
exquisivity—cutting off noses, ears, tongues, hands; putting out eyes
with needles; poisoning husbands; the rope, the rack, the axe all
finding full employment—in Gibbon’s pages it all goes whirring by,
leaving one in a state of nearly perpetual dazzlement.
Through it all there are
the emperors, the central figures of the history—and what a rogue’s
gallery they are! Caracalla “was the common enemy of mankind,” a
“monster whose life disgraced human nature”; Elagabalus was no
“rational voluptuary,” also a transvestite; Maximin, “though a stranger
to real wisdom…was not devoid of a selfish cunning”; the reigns of
Valerian and his son Gallienus, provided a 15-year period that “was one
uninterrupted series of confusion and calamity”; Maxentius was “a
tyrant as contemptible as he was odious”; Valens “was rude without
vigor, and feeble without mildness”; Theophilus was “a bold, bad
man…whose hands were alternately polluted with gold, and blood.” Gibbon
writes: “Such was the unhappy condition of the Roman emperor…almost
every reign is closed by the same repetition of treason and murder.”
I could quote a lot more, but instead refer you to the original.
But there is one detail I like to mention, which is inspired by Joseph
How today is one
to read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? I recently
did so at the rate of roughly 20 pages a day, early in the morning,
over a five-month period. The greatest compliment I can pay it is to
say that I regretted finishing it.
I did so in 2004, in
about 3 months, which shows I must have read around 50 pages a day, and
I agree with Epstein that I regretted finishing it. But what I wanted
to say are three - no: four things:
First, your command of English must be really good, and you must be
quite intelligent. If either is missing, you will not enjoy
him. Second, and probably also for native Englishmen (which I am not):
it probably does take a little getting used to Gibbon's very fine, much
layered, ironical style. And third and most important:
Read all of the seven volumes and not one of the main
shortenings of it (although there are fine ones), and do not forget to
read Gibbon's often very fine footnotes.
Fourthly, although I like Gibbon very much, there are two other
historians I liked nearly as much: Thucydides and Jacob Burckhardt.
In fact it was there (it seems: I repeat what I was told) because the
leading members of the ASVA (the student organization that had the
power in the University of Amsterdam, most of whose leaders - it was
admitted in 1991 - were members of the Dutch Communist Party) had a
deal with the leaders of Togo that the top members of ASVA could have
free holidays in Togo, provided they advertised the excellencies of
Togo in the University of Amsterdam...
(I don't know whether this is true. I do know I was told
this as if it were true, ca. 1981.)
In case you need remembering: Diederik Stapel was a Dutch psychologist,
who was a major fraud, and was discovered as such in 2011. Here is a
link to the first article I wrote