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111291Re: [evol-psych] News: Structure deep within the brain may contribute to a rich, varied social life

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  • Don Zimmerman
    Jan 2, 2011
      --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "Maarten" <m.aalberse@...> wrote:

      > Here's maybe another reason why replication studies aren't popular:
      > http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/395-science/4437-the-truth-wears-off.
      > Any comments on the article above will be appreciated.
      > Best to all,
      > Maarten

      It is possible that evolutionary thinking and evolutionary terminology can help in understanding the problem. We could think of "natural selection of expected results," or of "spectacular results," or of "Type I errors." Imagine a population of experiments, an average of 1 out of 20 or so leading to interesting but spurious findings by chance alone. After that single positive result, a large number of people leap on the bandwagon, and after another 20 or so experiments a confirming instance turns up, and so on. (However, if the experimenter who reported the first positive result actually repeated the same experiment, the probability of a confirming instance would be about .05.) Instead of "survival of the fittest" one could refer to "survival of the spectacular and interesting."

      The source of the trouble is the whole idea of a lot of different people doing "studies" one-by-one, the outcomes of which individually need to be classified as either positive or negative. (Too many experimenters competing for too little journal space seems a lot like populations of organisms competing for scarce food resources.)

      Best regards,

      Donald W. Zimmerman
      Vancouver, BC, Canada
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