Even fake science is unreproducible

The most famous experiments in psychology are no more reproducible than flipping a coin:

Over the past few years, an international team of almost 200 psychologists has been trying to repeat a set of previously published experiments from its field, to see if it can get the same results. Despite its best efforts, the project, called Many Labs 2, has only succeeded in 14 out of 28 cases. Six years ago, that might have been shocking. Now it comes as expected (if still somewhat disturbing) news.

In recent years, it has become painfully clear that psychology is facing a “reproducibility crisis,” in which even famous, long-established phenomena—the stuff of textbooks and ted Talks—might not be real. There’s social priming, where subliminal exposures can influence our behavior. And ego depletion, the idea that we have a limited supply of willpower that can be exhausted. And the facial-feedback hypothesis, which simply says that smiling makes us feel happier.

One by one, researchers have tried to repeat the classic experiments behind these well-known effects—and failed. And whenever psychologists undertake large projects, like Many Labs 2, in which they replicate past experiments en masse, they typically succeed, on average, half of the time.

Ironically enough, it seems that one of the most reliable findings in psychology is that only half of psychological studies can be successfully repeated.

Science is not, and has never been, a relevant vehicle for determining the truth. It is a philosophical category error to believe that it is. This is one of the many reasons for the failure of the New Atheists to make any substantive impression on society, as their entire worldview was based upon a false assumption.

It’s particularly amusing to recall that Richard Dawkins actually wanted to revise the legal system and establish its foundation for evidence upon science rather than eyewitness testimony, which despite its flaws has proven to be considerable more reliable than science. It is probably due to their social autism that the New Atheists did not realize that science will never be more reliable than the scientists who make a living from it, which means that science is no more intrinsically reliable than accounting, proof-reading, or used-car sales.