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Saturday Overnight Open Thread (9/30/23) Short & Sweet Edition | Main | Sunday Morning Book Thread - 10-01-2023 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]
October 01, 2023

Daily Tech News 1 October 2023

Top Story

  • Betteridge Falls: How overly-convenient Obama-era psychological research continues to unravel, to the point that it endangers the entire field. (New Yorker)

    I've mentioned Dan Ariely and Francesca Gino before, and how their research data appears to have frequent disconnects with reality. A team of researchers called Data Colada has been doing a deep dive into over a decade of papers authored or co-authored by the two, and found a lot of problems.

    I say that because Data Colada is now facing a $25 million defamation lawsuit for daring to question Gino's methodology, even though it increasingly looks closer to masturbation than rigorous science.

    Speaking of which:
    George Loewenstein, a titan of behavioral science and a co-author of Ariely's masturbation paper, has refashioned his research program, conceding that his own work might have contributed to an emphasis on the individual at the expense of the systemic. "This is the stuff that C.E.O.s love, right?" Luigi Zingales, an economist at the University of Chicago, told me. "It's cutesy, it's not really touching their power, and pretends to do the right thing."
    CEOs and Democratic presidents.
    At the end of [Joe] Simmons's unpublished post [for Data Colada], he writes, "An influential portion of our literature is effectively a made-up story of human-like creatures who are so malleable that virtually any intervention administered at one point in time can drastically change their behavior." He adds that a "field cannot reward truth if it does not or cannot decipher it, so it rewards other things instead. Interestingness. Novelty. Speed. Impact. Fantasy. And it effectively punishes the opposite. Intuitive Findings. Incremental Progress. Care. Curiosity. Reality."
    It also cannot reward truth if the auditors can be sued into silence.


Tech News

  • So what's the fallout for all this, for the discovery that massively popular and highly-cited research in modern psychology may turn out to be a series of just-so stories?

    Nothing, because everyone kind of knew that psychology was like that. (Experimental History)

    There are serious psychological researchers like Jeremy Wolfe who has spent forty years figuring out how people notice things - what exactly is in the brain that converts a bunch of green on the retina into a frog or a tennis ball.

    And then there's the other kind:
    Earlier, the Colada boys had found evidence of fraud in a paper co-authored by Duke professor Dan Ariely. The real juicy bit? There's a paper written by both Ariely and Gino in which they might have independently faked the data for two separate studies in the same article. Oh, and the paper is about dishonesty.
    Really.
    (Both Ariely and Gino deny any wrongdoing. Since we're now in the business of suing blogs, let me state that I, of course, have no idea if Ariely, Gino, or anybody else ever engaged in research misconduct. There's no evidence that I have any ideas at all! I'm just a bunch of bees!)
    Buzz.
    This whole debacle matters a lot socially: careers ruined, reputations in tatters, lawsuits flying. But strangely, it doesn't seem to matter much scientifically. That is, our understanding of psychology remains unchanged. If you think of psychology as a forest, we haven't felled a tree or even broken a branch. We've lost a few apples.

    That might sound like a dunk on Gino and Ariely, or like a claim about how experimental psychology is wonderfully robust. It is, unfortunately, neither. It is actually a terrifying fact that you can reveal whole swaths of a scientific field to be fraudulent and it doesn't make a difference. It's also a chance to see exactly what's gone wrong in psychology, and maybe how we can put it right.

    More than 25 years ago, Alan Sokal proved that sociological journals will publish unmitigated nonsense if it appeals to the reviewers' prejudices.

    More recently Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, and Peter Boghossian repeated Sokal's work planting ludicrously implausible papers in supposedly academic journals. (Also note in that article that Sean Carroll criticised their essential work for "meanness". He seems like a nice enough guy when he's talking about physics, but he immediately blocked me on Twitter when I corrected him on a topic far outside his realm of expertise.)

    But hey, these are just three people, albeit three pretty famous people. Maybe the impact of any single scientist is simply too small to be seen from a distance. If you deleted a whole bunch of papers from across the literature, though, that would really make a difference, and we'd have to rebuild big parts of the field from the ground up. Right?

    No, not really. We did delete those papers, and nothing much happened. In 2015, a big team of researchers tried to redo 100 psychology studies, and about 60% failed to replicate. This finding made big waves and headlines, and it's already been cited nearly 8,000 times.
    If this happened in physics, it would be like finding out the Moon isn't real.

    In psychology, it makes no difference.
    But there's no world-changing insight like relativity, evolution, or DNA, nor any smaller-but-still-very-cool discoveries like polymerase chain reaction, CRISPR, or Higgs bosons. Only a few psychological discoveries are mentioned by more than one commenter, except for "most psychology studies are bunk." If Bloom can't think of any major recent discoveries, and if none of his friends can agree on any major recent discoveries, then maybe there aren't any major recent discoveries. (I know that might be a bummer to hear, but don't shoot the messenger. Besides, good luck trying to shoot a bunch of bees.)
    If someone tries to tell you that psychology has proved something, sting them.


  • If you want a single SSD larger than 4TB, go for U.2 rather than M.2. (Tom's Hardware)

    Enterprise U.2 8TB drives are cheaper than consumer-grade M.2 models. I don't know why, exactly, but it's consistently true.

    Enterprise U.2 8TB drives are in fact about the same price per GB as the cheapest consumer SSDs.


  • Progress is having more trouble with massive server software insecurities. (Bleeping Computer)

    Not with Progress itself, but with products from companies they acquired. It's a mess.


  • So is Exim, a mail server run by hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide. (Ars Technica)

    At least there's a patch you can install today to fix that.

    Lol. Just kidding. It's a critical vulnerability in critical software and there's no patch.


  • The Minisforum BD770i is a mini-ITX motherboard with a Ryzen 7745HX laptop CPU though nobody knows why. (Liliputing)

    The 7840HS would make sense: Eight cores, low power, strong integrated graphics.

    The 7745HX also has eight cores, but just one sixth the graphics hardware. It's slightly faster, but why not just use a regular desktop 7700?



Disclaimer: This is not a blog, the opinions found herein do not exist and are merely figments of your imagination, and very likely you do not exist either. We are all but bees.
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