On flashy research

I’d love to have research that is flashy to more people than a grouchy set of reviewers at Journal X. That said, I do spend time wondering if this is true (the page’s author quotes an email from Dan Kahan):

“…another problem is the “wtf?!!!!!!” conception of psychology.  Its distinguishing feature is its supposed discovery of phenomena that are shocking bizarre & lack any coherent theory.

The alternative conception of psychology is the “everything is obvious — once you know the answer.”  The main point of empirical research isn’t to shock people. It’s to adjudicate disputes between competing plausible conjectures about what causes what we see.  More accounts of what is going are plausible than are true (emphasis SCC); without valid inference from observation, we will never separate the former from the sea of the latter & will drown in a sea of “just so” story telling.

I often get a little grouchy when I talk about my research and people say, “Well…that seems obvious.” Of course it does, now that I told you about it.

Bonus–Kahan, the commenter who said this is a dead ringer for Dwight Schrute.

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