Peer reviewers getting sophomoric, unreliable & subjective + Is social priming bogus?

#1
C C Offline
What’s next for psychology’s embattled field of social priming
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03755-2

EXCERPT: . . . Known by the loosely defined terms ‘social priming’ or ‘behavioural priming’, these studies include reports that people primed with ‘money’ are more selfish; that those primed with words related to professors do better on quizzes; and even that people exposed to something that literally smells fishy are more likely to be suspicious of others.

The most recent replication effort, however, led by psychologist Doug Rohrer at the University of South Florida in Tampa, found that students primed with ‘money’ behave no differently on the puzzle task from the controls. It is one of dozens of failures to verify earlier social-priming findings. Many researchers say they now see social priming not so much as a way to sway people’s unconscious behaviour, but as an object lesson in how shaky statistical methods fooled scientists into publishing irreproducible results.... (MORE - details)



Rude paper reviews are pervasive and sometimes harmful, study finds
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/...tudy-finds

INTRO: There’s a running joke in academia about Reviewer 2. That’s the reviewer that doesn’t bother to read the manuscript a journal has sent out for evaluation for possible publication, offers condescending or outright offensive comments, and—of course—urges the irrelevant citation of their own work. Such unprofessional conduct is so pervasive there’s even a whole Facebook group, more than 25,000 members strong, named “Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped!” But it is no laughing matter, concludes a new study that finds boorish reviewer comments can have serious negative impacts, especially on authors belonging to marginalized groups.

Peer reviewers are supposed to ensure that journals publish high-quality science by evaluating manuscripts and offering suggestions for improvement. But often, referee comments stray far from that mission, found the new PeerJ study, which surveyed 1106 scientists from 46 countries and 14 disciplines. More than half of the respondents—who were promised anonymity—reported receiving at least one “unprofessional” review, and a majority of those said they had received multiple problematic comments.

Those comments tended to personally target a scientist, lack constructive criticism, or were just unnecessarily harsh or cruel, the authors report. For example, one author received a review that stated: “The phrases I have so far avoided using in this review are ‘lipstick on a pig’ and ‘bullshit baffles brains.’” Another reported receiving this missive: “The author’s last name sounds Spanish. I didn’t read the manuscript because I’m sure it’s full of bad English.”

“It wasn’t like it was just a certain group receiving these comments—everybody was getting them,” says ecologist Amber Stubler of Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, a co–lead author of the study. “That is really very disturbing in and of itself.”... (MORE)
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#2
Syne Offline
Those seem like especially bad examples of social priming, and using then to disparage the legit uses might, itself, be suspect.
Legit social priming has a articulated psychological mechanism connecting the priming to the action being studied. Just showing people money when doing a puzzle or smelling fish when rating trustworthiness do not have good theoretical mechanisms of influence upon actions or judgements.

They'd need to show replication problems for much more theoretically grounded priming for me to buy that this is a problem with priming itself, rather than just misuses of priming.
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