The two most dangerous words in the English language today …

When it comes to human behavior, “studies show” are becoming “the two most dangerous words in the English language today.”


According to Andy Kessler, writing in the WSJ

Many of the cited studies on human behavior are pure bunk.

For example:

The 270 researchers working under the auspices of the Center for Open Science spent four years trying to reproduce 100 leading psychology experiments.

They successfully replicated only 39 of the 100 psychology experiments.

A survey of 1,576 scientists published in Nature reported that “more than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments … and more than half are unable to reproduce their own experiments.”



What’s going on?


According to Kessler …

Behavioral scientists “have churned out mountains of books proving some intuitive point” that “sound right but don’t really reflect your own experience … and turns out to be wrong.”

Most behavioral science is based on “the study of college kids in psych labs.” Not necessarily a generalizable population.



And, there’s the “agenda problem”.

Some of the studies are done or reported by pop scientists (think: Malcolm Gladwell) who make a lot of money being, well, pop scientists or, more accurately, pop writers and speech-givers.

Others are done by behavioral scientists with political agendas.

For example, in his book “Nudge”, Cass Sunstein, called for “libertarian paternalism” to push people in the right direction.

But who decides what’s the right direction?

Turns out the answer is Mr. Sunstein.

He was hired by the Obama administration in 2009 to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Call it psychobabble authoritarianism.


Bottom line:

“It world easy to write this off as trivial, except millions take these studies and their conclusions seriously. So stay skeptical.”



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